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Joe Kampa

Age: 40

Occupation:House Husband

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Fortuna

Sailing Date: April 15th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

When I first started planning a cruise for my family I had very little info to base me decisions on. I searched the various sites but was given little information that would make me comfortable with such a big decision. Our family of 4 ranges in age from 40 to 4 so I wanted to make sure that I did a good job planning so that we'd all have a great time. We are an American family living in England so I was even more concerned than a seasoned European traveler. We Americans are accustomed to a few more services and extras as part of any inclusive vacation.

After finding a special price with a travel agent (cruisedeals.com) I decided to book it. I though I'd found all of the reviews I could that told me about the ship and what to expect when we arrived to began the cruise. We booked our own flight through a discount airline and flew to an airport in Milan. Now here's the kicker: We went to the wrong airport. The travel agent and I had emailed several times about where we would fly and they never told me that I'd have to take a bus or taxi to the airport where we'd meet our coach to the port. I never asked but they never volunteered any info that would make our transfer easier. After finding that we didn't have enough time to take a bus we took a taxi for 120 euros. We flew into Bergamo and needed to be at Marpenza so I came to realize that there are many of these small airports which the bargain airlines fly into. I'm still not sure I saved any money on the flight but the home airport was closer to home so I was happy.

We met the Cost cruise rep at the airport in plenty of time to take a breather and get a bite before the journey of 2.5 hrs to the port. Now this cruise line stopped at 6 ports while we were on our 7 day trip and I found that we could have gotten on it at any of these ports. I also found that our bargain (Ryan Air) airline flew to within 30 minutes of the port at Genoa Italy. I also came to know that we could have gotten on board at any of the ports on the day the ship would have docked there. Big mistake on my part but the travel agent knowing where I was flying still never helped me out. Lesson learned; do it yourself then you only have yourself to blame.

I found this site (cruise reviews) after I had made all of the arrangements and my heart dropped after I read the reviews. I'll tell you that the bad reviews could not be further from the truth. I gave the cruise the "American abroad" approach and even with that standard the cruise was excellent. The cabin accommodated all 4 of us comfortably even though it was small with 2 overhead berths for the kids, it was what I expected. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on the cabin since we wouldn't be in it very long anyways. The ship was clean and being cleaned all of the time we were aboard. The crew where the hardest working people and so eager to please all of the time. I can't recall ever seeing anything out of place even late in the night. The crew were the most dedicated workers I've seen in a while even thought they work 8 months without a day off.

I expected for there to be smokers everywhere too but smoking was controlled really well and in very few places. Smokers can enjoy the cruise as well but it was nice for we non-smokers.

The food met our expectations. Because of the reviews on this site I was worried but I soon found that all of the food was fresh and tasty. Plenty to eat everywhere and the evening meal was always great. Our meal was always hot and served in a very timely manner. Since we had kids we chose the early seating which was at 7. Don't rush to the main door at 7 because all of the diners will be there waiting to get in. Go at about 10 after and you'll go right to your table without shoving and pushing. I'll tell you I think sometimes that the people on board though they'd miss out if they didn't push their way to something. The cruise folks won't let you get left behind so take your time and relax.

The kids programs were super and my kids loved them. My 12 yr old went into one and my 4 yr old another. The crew spoke 4 or 5 languages so neither of my girls felt left out.

The excursions were adequate and the coach rides to the locations weren't too long. The great thing that Costa did was to offer to put English speaking guests into one coach so that you didn't have to listen to several translations from the guides. This wasn't always possible though because there wasn't enough English speaking travelers. Ask the on board English excursion coordinator for advise on this issue. We were always safe and taken to clean well managed sites, although the sites aren't the responsibility of Costa.

I could go on and on with each aspect of the cruise but suffice it to say Costa is a fine cruise line and we would definitely go again if we were so inclined. You are welcome to email me with questions: jk1766@hotmail.com
 

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