We booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary and this was our first taste of a Costa cruise. I did not have high expectations of Costa after reading the reviews here and so was not disappointed!!. Our cruise was in February 2019 visiting Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Reunion. . My review is about the ship and not the ports visited.
What is the first thing you associate Italy with and would presume an Italian ship would deliver??.....Pizza and Ice Cream!!!. What a let-down… Ice cream available at a cost from a small freezer cabinet at the back of the buffet on the rear deck in the style of a Cornetto. Pizza only available from one of the specialist outlet at €8.50. What a lost opportunity for them to incorporate an ice cream bar like other cruise lines and serve some of the amazing Gelatos you find in mainland Italy. Also, instead of serving beef burgers and chips (everyday) at the pool bar, this area could have served slices of pizzas, at, I’m sure, a lower cost than burgers.
Arrival: This was one of the quickest embarkation we have experienced(Mauritius). N.B. Debit cards cannot be assigned to your account, only credit cards. Also, if you usually pay your account at the end of the cruise by cash, this money must be deposited within 48 hours of boarding.
Drinks packages: These are a nightmare to work out…I believe there are about 30 different types. Here are a few: 24 Cappuccinos €75, 24 Expresso €44, 12 x 1ltr water €36, Brindiamo (beers, juice, coffee, wine by glass, shorts) €28 per day per person. Piu Gusto (as Brindiamo but includes some cocktails) €33 per day per person. Intenditore (total freedom for any drink up to €9 each) €46 per person per day. Coffee and water packages can be taken by one person per cabin but beware drinks packages must be taken by all persons in same cabin over 18 years old. We drink very little, and so only went for the water package and purchased drinks as and when we wanted them. We found the prices were not as high as some cruise lines i.e. €5.50 for glass wine, €3.45 for Coca Cola, €5 for a draught beer. Prices mentioned here includes the 15% surcharge. Minibar drinks not included in the drinks packages. N.B. No water or coffee is served with lunch or dinner in the MDR. Coffee, tea and water by the glass is available free in the buffet areas from approx. 6.30am to 9pm.
Food: (Lack of hand sanitizer used by many passengers and no staff enforcing this)
Buffet: Oh, what a let down. Same old, same old….. The buffet deck has 4 different food areas, but the choice changed very little day to day. No hot plates, so by the time you got to your table, the luke-warm food was now cold! The tea urn supplied during the evening in the buffet is very poor. I think they show the teabag to it as it was so weak.
MDR: Breakfast and lunch is open seating with Dinner being served at 2 different times, depending on which dining room you are allocated. The 2 sittings are 6.30pm and 6.45pm and then 9pm and 9.15pm.
Breakfast in the MDR was part self service and a few set items on the menu…again this was a fixed menu for the whole cruise. Beware some items are pre prepared and kept refrigerated, so arrive cold and solid. Coffee and tea available, but had to ask for a teapot otherwise it’s just a small cup, which takes ages to get a refill.
Lunch: again very little choice and at best luke-warm food served.
Dinner: A very basic 3 star affair and they know how to put you off eating too much!!...on entry to the dining room they display each of the meals on a plate in a cabinet, talk about a turn off. Any drinks, water etc is not free at the table, unless you have purchased a drinks package. I think this is the first cruise we have ever been on where water is not served free of charge with a meal ( I can get it free in the buffet, but not the MDR!).
Formal nights/Gala nights were no different to any other night. We also saw people arriving in t.shirts etc to sit in the dining room. When I challenged the waiters to this ,they just shrugged their shoulders and said they couldn’t do anything about it…memo to myself: if I go on a Costa cruise again I will only pack casual clothes.
Speciality dinner in Club Victoria…DON’T DON’T DON’T!!!! For a special offer of only €14 per person (this price is only if the lead person of the cabin books, otherwise the cost is €28pp) you can have a ‘gourmet dinner in an elegant environment’. We tried the restaurant one evening. The seating and décor is very well laid out but the food was nothing special. We took the menu with us to compare it to the MDR……guess what. IDENTICAL!!!! Word for word the menus read the same, even the wine they suggested with the meal. So for an extra €28, We ate the same food as if we had eaten in the MDR!!. By the way anyone who would prefer to eat in Club Victoria for the whole cruise, it will set you back €330 pp.
Cabin: We booked an inside cabin. Our first cabin was 80527. It was the average size for a cruise ship. It had a hanging wardrobe with a few huge hangers locked onto the rail..grrrr, why oh why do they have to do that. Also it means there is very little room to hang more than about 12 items. There were also 4 drawers, 3 shelves, safe, fridge etc. Bathroom was a corner layout. Soap was in a dispenser in the shower and a small bar of soap on the side of the sink. No other toiletries were supplied. That evening we went to bed and then realised there was massive banging going on as much as 27 times in 15 minutes. By 2.30am my husband got dressed and went to reception, to be told it was ‘normal and just the waves outside’........it was flat calm outside!!!. With barely any sleep, in the morning, we asked our cabin steward to come in and listen..he agreed something was wrong. Complained again to reception and they sent an engineer. Again he agreed and even said he could hear it in his cabin. Anyway after a few more calls and meetings, they moved us to another inside cabin 90534…oh bliss, no noise.
There is no turn down service in the evening and no chocolate on the pillow!
There are no launderettes on board any Costa ship. In addition there was no washing line in the bathroom. To have a shirt laundered by staff was approx. €2.50.
Shops on board: There was not much choice unless you like watches!. 3 watch shops, 1 handbag shop, 1 clothing shop and a general store. Toiletries were very limited in the general store. There was the usual sea day sales bonanzas going on. The best was the ‘scrum’ at these events, which seemed much livelier due to mainly European passengers!.
Sunbeds etc: Usual complaints regarding sun beds being commandeered by passengers with towels left on them, unattended for hours on end. Again staff did not do anything about it. We had some passengers pulling sun beds across gangways and again staff just walked around them. Maybe staff don’t do anything as they are forcing you to buy time in the quiet area..€10-14 pp per day!!
Tours/port transfers: Tours costs as usual were much higher than if you did them on your own. I only did one tour, on my own, by the ship (2nd day in Reunion). We did visit all places mentioned but due to the traffic congestion, time was cut from the stops, so we still arrived back at the same time. For all independent travellers there is no information or maps given out. Any port transfers to town were charged approx. €7.
Generally…the staff are very friendly and helpful. We felt the staff were much happier than on other cruise lines we have cruised with. I wonder if this is due to the automatic tipping system that cannot be cancelled. On Costa it is called Hotel Service Charge at €10 pp p.n.. Finally, would I cruise Costa again??..never say never, but the itinerary and price would have to reflect another Costa cruise!