Age: 61 to 70
Number of Cruises: 3-5
Cruise Line: Costa
Ship: Costa Allegra
Sailing Date: June 26th 2000
Itinerary: 11 night cruise to Barcelona, Casablanca, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Madiera, Malaga
When we received the documentation for the cruise, including airline tickets, both my travel agent and I contacted both Costa Cruise Lines in Miami and Alitalia in LAX concerning the 55 minute connections in Milan. We all received assurances that "this is a connection made all the time with no difficulty". Well, EVERYONE was wrong. We will NEVER again attempt to make a cruise sailing on the same day we arrive in the port city. Although Costa Cruise Lines told us that Alitalia would give us hotel and meal vouchers, the airlines advised the delays were "not their fault", but condescended to changing our connection from Milan to Genoa to a connection at Milan to Barcelona which ws the first port of all for the Costa Allegra the following day.
By the time we got things straightened out with Alitalia, it was too late to contact the Costa Cruise Lines office in Miami (they closed promptly at 5:00 EST) to advise them that Alitalia had done nothing to ensure we had accommodations in Barcelona. We did arrive in Barcelona and we did find a hotel and we did find where the ship was to dock at 1:00PM the next day, but not without a great deal of problems!
We had to haul all of our luggage a great distance (probably the distance of 2 to 3 city blocks) at the port of Barcelona because of major construction of their new "world trade center" buildings at the site where the ship was to moor. Port police would not let the taxi any closer to the area where the ship was going to dock. We also missed the land excursion in Barcelona, which we could have taken had we boarded the Costa Allegra in Genoa the previous day. When all of the passengers who were participating in the Barcelona excursion left the ship, we were finally able to board the Costa Allegra and get to our stateroom. By that time it was mid-afternoon and the ship was due to sail at 6PM. It took us several hours to get our luggage unpacked, get wet up with our ship credit cards and familiarize ourselves with where things were on the ship. By that time, we were ready to sail from Barcelona.
The Costa Allegra accommodations were very pleasant - ample closet and drawer space for two people. The cabin decor was pleasing as was the decor throughout the ship. Housekeeping overall was superior; the only complaint we had was hearing the vacuums running outside our stateroom in the middle of the night. We thought that was a bit out of line. We felt that the service of the ship's staff was extremely good and we had no complaints about the service whatsoever.
However, the one thing that was very disappointing was that out of 625 passengers on this cruise, only 22 of them were English-speaking passengers!!!! While I realize that Costa Crociere or Costa Cruise Lines is an Italian based cruise line, and would logically draw customers from Italy, Spain and other European countries, I felt that the organization did little to provide excursions and ship activities in English!!
If there were not at least 15 English-speaking passengers signed up to take a land excursion, the excursion was canceled or you were coupled with another language group. For example, on Tenerife, the English-speaking passengers were combined with the French-speaking passengers. While I am sure that this saved the cruise line company money, it didn't give much to either the English or French enjoyment of the excursion. By the time the tour guide had explained something in one of the languages and before the second language explanation was made, we were miles down the road from whatever the guide was trying to tell us. I wasn't a good land excursion except for the actual sights we saw - the dialogue didn't work out for anyone! Additionally, the guide was very unprofessional in asking people to refrain from talking among themselves while she was speaking. When the guide spoke in English, the French people chatted among themselves; likewise when she spoke French, the English-speaking people chatted as well. Instead of politely asking them to hold back personal conversations while she was speaking, she was extremely rude in telling everyone that "if they didn't pay attention to her that she would just leave because she had better things to do with her time." Most disagreeable!
Several English-speaking passengers were looking forward to an excursion from Malaga to see the Moorish Castle in Granada. Unfortunately that excursion was cancelled in English. Inasmuch as we missed the Barcelona excursion (we really wanted to see La Familia Sagrada), those were big disappointments. While I know I can get some compensation from our travel insurance for the hotel, meals and taxi rides in Barcelona, there isn't any way to compensate for missing two of the key highlights of Spain that we had hoped to see on this cruise.
The main dining room menu and service were excellent. We were seated with other English-speaking passengers and with a waiter that was most accommodating and provided everything we wanted. The other dining accommodations (cafeteria style) were not as good. Attempts at Greek and Mexican dishes were disappointing. Most of the breakfast fare was adequate but not overly tempting.
The ship activities as posted daily on the newsletter were not much to get excited about, mostly because they were conducted in Italian and the few English-speaking passengers that attended them were disappointed in the turnout and what was supposed to be accomplished by them.
The evening stage shows were for the most part enjoyable although they all were more "glitz" than talent. The magician show was very good. We also enjoyed the movie of Il Trovatore that was shown. My grandson (who is 21) thought sitting in the middle of the amphitheater surrounded by Italian and French spectators during the World Soccer Playoffs between those two countries was something he will not soon forget!!
The English Tour Director was pleasant in personality, adequate but very inexperienced and didn't do much to enhance the cruise. She appeared to be more of a spectator along with the passengers than someone who handled any issues that arose.
The Captain and some of his officers did have a very nice cocktail party for the American to celebrate the 4th of July. That was very considerate and is certainly worthy of mention.
Would I take another Costa Cruise? Only if I had some assurance that the airline accommodations would get us to the port city the day BEFORE sailing and if I had some assurances that the English-speaking passengers would have been provided more ship and excursion events that the ones experienced. This wasn't my first cruise (actually my 4th) and it certainly won't be my last. It was disappointing in several areas where I think Costa Cruise Lines could improve and the comments tendered here are for the purpose of recommending those improvements.