This was our third Costa cruise and we booked flights, transfers and an inside cabin on Tosca deck (9) through a UK travel agent who were offering an excellent deal. We arrived at Rome airport and waited 45 minutes at the baggage carousel for our cases! We then met the Costa rep who advised us the coach would be 10 mins and we could wait in the airport, nip for a coffee or wait outside. We chose to get some fresh air. After 10 mins I went back in and saw a different Costa rep who very rudely told me we should not be outside but to “Wait here now” This rude rep moved all the crowd of us down to the front entrance which was really good planning as we were all blocking the entrance.
We got the coach, no rep got on with us and arrived at Civitavecchia about 1 hour 15 mins later. Again no organization and people were taking their own luggage so we thought we had to take our luggage on the ship. Then the porters appeared. Embarkation was quite slow, we waited about 45 minutes. Finally we get on board and were shown to our cabin. Well that was the real disappointment. The cabin was so small, not even big enough for one person. There was a double bed and there was around 12 inches at either side of the bed and at the foot of the bed. There was one stool which you couldn’t possibly sit on as there was no room to pull it out. It actually felt like a prison cell. It was made worse by others people horrible stale cigarette smoke wafting through the air conditioning.
The safety drill was a complete and utter shambles. Nobody knew it was happening and the loudspeaker system they used was absolutely awful and deafening. People were literally standing with their hands over their ears as the noise was so loud. We complained heavily to an Officer who just moved us.
Food was not that good. The buffet restaurant it was always lukewarm. In the evening we ate in the Fantasia restaurant and again we found the food not as good as it was on previous cruises. Hubby sent his steak back as it was cold, for him to get a replacement which was equally as cold. Although our waiter and assistant were very nice, the assistant was quite clumsy often spilling drinks and on the night when they get people up to dance she was trying to get us up and we were still trying to eat our meal.
Another big disappointment was the duty free shop. On the previous Costa cruises we purchased alcohol in the shop and were allowed to take it back to the cabin. Well no more. The first night we went to purchase and were told they would keep it until the end of our cruise. We told them to forget it, they have lost a good sale. We purchased alcohol and mixers on shore. Drinks on the ship were quite expensive when you add the 15% service charge on.
The main pax were Italian and they have never bothered us before but on this cruise they were loud, extremely rude and impatient constantly jumping queues and barging in the lift. We went to a few of the shows which we found quote enjoyable.
Our ports of call were Catania (scruffy and dirty) Izmir (not very nice) Patmos and Mykonos and Santorini. The Greek ports were definitely the best.We did not do any organised tours.
Disembarkation was a complete nightmare. People were taken off at 9.00am that had evening flights and dumped at Rome airport. On the subject of Rome airport it is the worst airport we have even encountered. Our Costa tickets said Terminal B. We arrived at terminal B and looked for our flight on the board and couldn’t see it. We asked at a desk and were told we should be in terminal A. So off we go with all our luggage to A, again we couldn’t see our flight on the board so found another desk to be told no you should be at terminal B. This girl gave us the check in desk. So off we trek back, find the check in desk and join the he queue. After 45 minutes of queuing, the flight number on the desk was not ours so I went off to find a KLM staff member to be told….. Yes you have guessed it, we should be in terminal A. The stress levels were through the roof by this time. Eventually we get checked in and went to our gate which changed gate number 3 times. Boy were we glad to get home.
To summarise we didn’t really enjoy our week. We felt Costa service on the Victoria was not as good as we have experienced in the past. We have another cruise booked for February 2008 with Costa then I think it will be Costa no more. Time to try another cruise line. A pity as I have always been a big Costa fan.
Oh and finally I object to being told how to complete my questionnaire they give you so to the English speaking host who stressed we should all mark excellent for the entertainment, I am sorry but you were just average.
Travel operator: Costa
Eventually we set off to find the coaches which seemed to a considerable distance from the arrivals hall, at no point were we prompted to get trollies for our luggage which we were still handling at this point. At least when we loaded it(yes I do mean that we the passengers loaded most of our luggage onto the coach) it was delivered to the cabin in due course without further effort. After a relaxing coach ttip to Civitavechia we were directed to the 'cruise terminal' and soon had our first experience of Italian 'queueing', as we had no priority over other passengers joining. Sorry to go on about getting there but it is relevant to the overall opinion.
Costa Victoria is , by current standards, a medium size ship and externally at least is in superb condition, although some furniture is looking a bit weary, presumably items which were not replaced in the refit a few years ago.The layout has plenty of sunbeds on the upper decks but beware those near the pools can be very noisy when the entertainment is on. There is a shaded buffet area astern under a canopy which is pleasant for outdoor eating in fine weather. Unusually on the promenade deck (Traviata Deck) there are no chairs at all, although there is plenty of room even if anyone used the (unmarked) jogging track. Another odd feature is that if you go the wrong restaurant by mistake, (both are on Deck 5), it is necessary to go back to Deck 6 to access the other. The general standard of cleanliness is high, but we felt that odd bits of litter on deck would have been swept up more promptly on other companies ships. Our inside cabin had a reasonable shower and toilet , good cupboard space but was extremely tight on floor space, even the tv was positioned overhanging its shelf(do not judge by the inside cabin in the brochure). Our steward was pleasant but there were some issues with missing towels and tissues not replaced and he never formally introduced himself in the way we would normally expect. On the subject of cleanliness it is worth noting that no attempt was made to ensure hands were cleaned/disinfected before entering the dining areas, a feature common on most cruise liners nowadays. The only time any effort was made was to be offered something similar to a babywipe when we rejoined the ship having been ashore. Even more remarkable was that passengers were not only allowed to tour part of the galley area,but a midnight buffet was held within part of the galley again without any hygiene requirement. The galley was immaculate to give due credit to the staff.
The food was very disappointing, we have heen to Italy on six holidays in the past and we were looking forward to this cruise as we enjoy most Italian food.
The choice, especially in the buffet was frequently very limited, and the desserts on offer very basic and in small portions. The restaurant was probably the best organised area of the ship , but we still felt that it was not in the same class as P & O. Princess or RCI, in the week we were on board we struggled to find any meat dish that had good quality meat. We were also aware that there was not a true 24hr dining facility, one evening when we missed our restaurant sitting there was no alternative until the pizzeria opened an hour or so later. On a positive note a complimentary continental breakfast could be served in the cabin, a service which worked well on three mornings we tried it.
The staff were polite and pleasant and coped well with the variety of laguages they encountered, but there was no sign of any supervision other than in the restaurant, children played in the lifts, teenagers threw salt and table napkins at each other in the pizzeria and youngsters played in the casino without any sign of supervision from parents or crew.
We found the entertainment to be remarkably good considering that they are trying to appeal to five or six language groups, the singers and dancers were of a high standard and the crew show was worth a visit. The major failiure was a ventriloquist who was extremely clever to perform in five languages but jokes won't stand retelling five times. Deck entertainment was principally noisy games but attracted plenty of support and whilst it was not our scene they clearly appealed to the majority of the passengers.As a guide we would guess at 80% Italian and 10% British, 10% others. We did not take any organised excursions but went ashore independently at each port, the tender service was average, only made more difficult by the Italian inability to queue.Catania took the prize as the dirtiest place we have ever been, despite having cruise ships calling, whilst the Greek islands all deserve more time than this cruise allows. Izmir seemed worth a visit although one has to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers touting for business at the dock entrance, to be fair a shared taxi to Ephesus offered good value compared to official excursions.
To sum up, check your flight details and be prepared for a long days travel, ensure that you go when Italian children are not on holiday, and think again if you are a non smoker, certain areas are just not usuable if you do not like smoking and the no smoking rules are NOT enforced. Smoking is even permitted in cabins , which you may feel raises a safety issue.The ship is fine, but expect less than perfect service and limited food choices, which leaves only one problem, your fellow passengers, if queueing is not your style and excuse me(mi scusi, I Think) is not in
your vocabulary you may well enjoy it.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
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