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Overall Rating
Food
Service
Cabins
Entertainment
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Value
Dana

Age: 35

Occupation:HR Professional

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Concordia

Sailing Date: 2010-06-12

Itinerary: Mediterranean

We enjoyed the ports, particularly Barcelona, Naples (Pompei), Marseille, and Tunis. We did not, however, enjoy much of the time spent on the ship. This experience did not measure up to the glowing reports that experienced cruisers (who had used other cruise lines) had shared previously.

The food made available in the buffet and via room service is extremely poor in quality. We enjoyed much of the food served in the main (assigned seating) restaurant named Milano, but we grew tired of the similar offerings from day to day.

The cabins were nice in terms of cleanliness and space.

Probably great for families, but not much adults-only fun. We tried not to venture to the 9th floor deck, where many activities took place, since it was chaotic, there were always too many people and it seemed to be overrun with children.

Our best excursions were in Naples (where we visited Pompeii) and Tunis (where we visited Carthage, Medina, and the Souks); the locations were beautiful and the tour guides were great, offering interesting and honest advice and commentary on their respective countries. Both of these excursions were booked through the cruise line. We chose not to do an excursion in Savona and found the port to be pleasant and relaxing, but ultimately boring. We loved Marseille; we'd purchased a city pass through Viator. We used Viator's affordable hop-on-hop-off buses in Mallorca, Barcelona, and Palermo. Though in some locations (like Palermo and Barcelona) these buses were crowded, we still considered them to be great deals that allowed us to get around and take in the most important sights easily. Viator's offerings come at over half the cost of the cruise line's excursions, and you get to see more. I recommend booking an excursion through the cruise line only when you're interested in an in-depth exploration of a particular site/attraction that will take up a significant amount of your time ashore and leave you at risk for missing the boarding deadline for your ship.

My sister and I were first-time cruisers excited about our first cruise and visit to Europe. We enjoyed the ports, particularly Barcelona, Naples (Pompei), Marseille, and Tunis. We did not, however, enjoy much of the time spent on the ship. This experience did not measure up to the glowing reports that experienced cruisers (who had used other cruise lines) had shared previously. It left us wondering whether experienced cruisers had been exagerrating on the joys of cruising or we'd just chosen the wrong cruise line. After comparing notes with the more experienced cruisers on the Costa Concordia, we were convinced that the latter is correct.

There's a laundry list of things that made this experience less than ideal, but here are the major observations:

1) This cruise ship is a shuttle boat. There is an embarkation and disembarkation at every single port, meaning that there is constant rotation of guests and you will hear many hallway and some in-room announcements over the loudspeaker in at least four different languages on a daily basis.

2) The food made available in the buffet and via room service is extremely poor in quality. If you lower your expectations to food that will keep you from starving well then you won't be as disappointed. If you want more than survival, your best bet is to stick with the Milano and Roma restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is mediocre (but more acceptable than what you'll find at the buffet), lunch is decent, and dinner is pretty good though exclusively Italian (as much as I love Italian food, it can get boring if it's offered every day). You can always opt to pay to visit the fancier restaurants (we didn't, since we already felt ripped off after boarding this ship and didn't want to risk additional disappointment) or you can smuggle some food from ashore.

3) The ship is full of families with children running about, and courtesy is not in abundance here. By the way, if you plan to use the cruise line's shuttle to get from the port to the city, know that Costa makes no attempt to enforce a line and people tend to crowd the bus instead of lining up, often cutting in front of others.

4) The cabins were nice in terms of cleanliness and space. Housekeeping services were a bit uneven at times (for example, wash cloths were there one day and completely absent the next day). Sometimes the attendants would knock on our door late in the night to see if we wanted them to turn down the bed or change out the towels in the bathroom. We didn't understand why they didn't do this earlier, when they'd apparently been in the room performing some of the other housekeeping activities.

5) Though Costa indicates, in its written material, that tipping is discretionary and that guests can adjust or remove the daily tip that is automatically billed to their account, I was told (upon inquiring at the Guest Services desk) that the daily tip amount was "compulsory" and couldn't be adjusted. I've never heard of such a thing. I recognize that people work hard and when they do a good job, a tip is warranted, but what if their service is not up to par and the customer merely wants that to be reflected in the tip amount?

Not everything can be perfect, we know, but this cruise was so far off the mark that we focused on the excursions and destinations more than anything, making lemonade out of lemons. We did note, however, that the Italian and other European guests seemed to be enjoying the cruise, while American guests that we talked with expressed disappointment. Perhaps expectations of a cruise vary from culture to culture? Regardless of the answer to this question, it felt like Costa was more focused on profit, shuttling people from location to location and feeding them like they were cattle, instead of balancing the concern for profit with an interest in achieving good quality and customer satisfaction.

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