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The Streams

Age: 41

Occupation:Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Atlantica

Sailing Date: January 12th, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean


We recently returned from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean tour upon the Costa Atlantica. While we had an overall enjoyable experience, we would not choose to cruise with this company again. We have cruised on two other occasions on other ships, traveled internationally, and have many hotel and resort stays under our belts so feel justified in reviewing the hospitality of this tour.

The embarkation was disorganized and lengthy. Once upon the ship we were told to proceed directly to our cabins, which was odd, but we were pleased that we would not have to wait any longer! The bags got to the room in a short time, and we were on our way to enjoying the cruise.

CABIN
The cabin was standard, we had an upper deck with a “verandah”, equipped nicely with 2 patio chairs and a table. The cabin was small but fitted with hidden drawers under the sofa bench for extra storage and we were able to place our empty suitcases under the bed so we could make full use of the closets. The beds were comfortable, thought the blankets were frightfully worn. The toiletry amenities were absurd, some generic soap and a shampoo dispenser mounted to the wall of the shower. Be sure to bring your own soap, shampoo & lotions - I was glad I did. The shower was good though, with plenty of heat and water pressure.

EMPLOYEES
Our steward did a fine job in maintaining the room, and we found him to be one of the most pleasant employees on the ship. Because of the language barrier (Asian) he was unable to communicate more than general hospitalities.

We found most of the employees on the ship to be unable to converse, and poorly trained outside of their specific duties. If you asked someone in the restaurant, for example, about Catalina Island (their own private retreat) they were unable to provide any information on it having never been allowed to visit that port. In my opinion, all employees should know what the ship is happening on the ship (activities, on-board offerings, venues, and entertainment) , where it is going. Not to say everyone should be able to do every job, just a slight knowledge of why their guests are there!

In addition to the inability to communicate we found many employees to be somber. We probably saw 4 or 5 that actually smiled, other than the canned expressions of those teaching the mambo du jour poolside. We also noted that the employees do not have their own facilities for exercise & we found it odd that they used the gym . We skipped a game of tennis because two employees were playing. On other cruise lines we’ve found that the crew have their own areas for their onboard leisure.

CHILDCARE
“Costa loves Children” is printed in their literature. Someone forgot to tell Costa! The kid’s pool amounts to little more than a 12’ diameter wading pool, and it was CLOSED the entire cruise. The water slide which is posted to be open twice a day was closed all but two times the entire sailing and that was while we were in port. Understandable that they cannot have it open in high winds, but there were plenty of nice days that it could have been open. (The adults enjoyed it too while it was running.)

The childcare givers were wonderful & seemed genuinely happy to see the kids (they are included in the 4-5 happy employees on the ship!) Because of the lack of amenities for the kids on the ship they should keep the childcare center open all day. The kids enjoyed being there and they had a variety of projects & activities for them.

FOOD
Breakfasts of Eggs Benedict and French Toast in Tinziano were the HIGHLIGHT of my culinary experience on the ship. My husband ordered a southwest omelet and asked the waiter for salsa. He and two other waiters didn’t know what salsa was, trying to bring ketchup and Tabasco. Came back from the kitchen empty-handed. It’s one thing not to have it, another entirely not to know what it is. PLEASE!

We had one good dinner ( in seven nights) in Tinziano (swordfish and salmon). The other meals were bland or overly sauced. The vegetables were always good. The bread selection (Italians have GREAT bread!) consisted of hard white rolls and harder wheat rolls.

The Botticelli Buffet was standard. We liked the fresh green salad and the pizza (our kids ate their body weight in pizza as the other kid fare (hotdogs & burgers were not as good). Thank goodness for the frozen yogurt - there were no other desserts available for the kids, not even a cookie.

I am a sugar fiend and love dessert! Don’t waste your calories, stick with the fresh fruit; even the tiramisu and napoleons were disappointing. We did love their sherbets offered at dinner in Tinziano... again, not what you would think should be appreciated on a cruise.

We also got tired of handing over our card EVERY time we ordered a glass of wine or a drink. Can they not come up with a less invasive room charge system such as running a tab?

THE GOOD NEWS? You shouldn’t gain weight! : ^ )

PORTS OF CALL - Eastern Caribbean
We had a great time at every stop. We did not choose any of the excursions, instead venturing out on our own. We found you can do most tours and monuments on your own for much less, and at each port Costa offers a free ferry service to the dock or shuttle into town.

The other ships we’ve sailed on go right to the docks, but for some reason Costa has to stay in the harbor in St. Thomas and even their own private retreat Catalina. The ferry out is usually quite easy to board, but be prepared for a wait in St. Thomas, and even the shuttle back for San Juan. We heard some cruisers yelling at Costa over the wait time and inefficiency of the service.

One note - Costa gives you towels to use on the beach in port. You have to bring them back or they will charge you $20 (for a threadbare green Costa-stamped towel). We used ours in St. Thomas & returned them, but they were not replaced. We assumed (our mistake) that because they were not replaced that the next day on their own island where they provide chairs & umbrellas that they would have towels too. Oops.

After taking the ferry to the island & finding a spot 5 minutes down the beach, we asked about towels. NO, you have to bring your own. We explained they hadn’t been replaced, etc. and could they have some sent over on a ferry? NO. My husband had to take the ferry back, go to the room, track down the steward who was on break, and return on the ferry, which in all took over an hour. Can someone say customer service? NO, apparently not.

ENTERTAINMENT
Yawn.

AMBIANCE
The ship is BEAUTIFUL, a little over the top Italian glitz, but really pretty!

CRUISERS
Mostly seniors, many European, and mostly smokers. Toga night with them is a TRIP!

NOTES:
* No personal laundry or ironing facilities, you have to have them sent to be done.
* Dinner photographs for sale are of very poor quality and composition. Be sure to bring your camera.

DISEMBARKATION
The procedure was nightmarish. We were asked to clear the cabin by 7:30 am (which is customary on ships) and our tag-color group was to be the last to depart at 9:30 which was fine. We entertained ourselves in the Botticelli Buffet until time to go to the Caruso Theatre to await the call for our group. We were not called to leave until close to 11:00 a.m. (even without kids that is a long wait) and in the meantime we were kept apprised of the fact that the departures were taking longer than expected by a girl who spoke poor English with a heavy accent and kept saying “I know it is not your fault, but it is not my fault also”. Maybe not hers specifically, but we felt Costa was really avoiding any responsibility for the delay. No one in the room was able to decipher whatever else she said.

When we finally got through to the luggage area, it was a disaster zone. The luggage was scattered far and wide, and several people lost their baggage as there is no accountability or baggage check system. It took my husband & I around 15 minutes to round up our bags.

Costa docked at a different dock than we departed from so again, another shuttle, and another hour lost.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE:
Are you depressed yet? In spite of Costa’s attempt to ruin our vacation we had a GREAT time! We didn’t worry about all of the stuff above, but it would have been nice if they had lived up to our expectations. It would have been a lot better if the meals were good, the waits shorter, and the employees courteous. So, if you want your voyage helped by the cruise line rather than hindered I would suggest sailing with someone else!

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