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Kate Myers

Age: 36


Number of Cruises: One

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Mediterranea

Sailing Date: February 21st, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

I don't know where I read it, but I agree with the person who wrote that a Costa cruise is not the worst time he ever had -- just the worst time he ever had and paid for it.

I also love the one about feeling like the woman Sigourney Weaver rescues in "Alien Resurrection," where she simply says, "Kill me." That is how my husband and I felt when we finally got off this hellish nightmare of a cruise.

I'm new to this board, but I wish so much that I had found it before deciding to go on a Costa cruise. My husband and I joined a group from NJ for the February 21-28 western Carribbean tour on the Mediteranea. I'd never been on a cruise before, and after this unbelievable experience, I doubt I'll ever go on one again. It was truly the worst money I've ever spent in my life.

(I'm going to leave out comments about Discovery Travel, Inc. in Marmora, NJ. They engaged in their own particular brand of incompetence, from start to finish, regarding our flights to and from Ft. Lauderdale and ground transportation to and from the ship. I'll reserve my comments here for Costa alone.)

Good points:

1. Embarcation: I thought the embarkation process was extremely well-organized, efficient and speedy. No complaints.

2. Cleanliness: The ship itself was very clean and well-appointed. However, the decor was Vegas times ten -- gaudy to the point of garishness. Our cabin (8219) was a good size with a nice little balcony. The bathroom was adequate and the shower water pressure was good. The room steward kept the room very clean.

3. All-inclusive: The tips are charged at the end of the trip and were reasonable. We chose to give our waiter and waiter's assistant an additional tip in cash. It was nice to be able to order our drinks without concern for cost. However, you are only allowed a drink up to $7.00. Any drink costing more than this will be charged to your room. This made going to the wine bar a bust because the ones I wanted to try were over this limit.

Bad points:

There are really too many to list, but here is a smattering of the worst offenses:

1. The food was truly awful. I had a feeling it was going to be bad when our first meal consisted of greasy burgers and scary-looking hotdogs by the pool. But we were tired and hungry, and several Long Island iced teas helped lubricate the meal. Most lunches were of this caliber, including cold cuts or pizza from the buffet. On one truly frustrating day, we went on a 7-hour outing in Grand Cayman and were not given the opportunity to stop for lunch at any point. When we returned to the boat, lunch had stopped being served both in the buffet and the grill by the pool. Once again, pizza was the only food available regardless of the hour. The room service menu was laughable -- continental breakfast (no eggs or meat), sandwiches and salads. No real dinner food was available from the room service menu -- not even a burger. The dinner food tasted like it had all been frozen, defrosted and cooked to lukewarm. Everything tasted bland. The meats were tough, overcooked and stringy. The vegetables were forgettable and sauceless. The grilled salmon, which is always available on the menu, tasted very fishy and smelled bad -- inedible. The desserts were mediocre; all of the sherbert we ordered was half liquid by the time it was served. The gourmet restaurant on the 10th floor, Club Medusa, was hugely disappointing. For an extra $92.00 for four people ($20.00 surgcharge plus a service charge), we got to enjoy the likes of, for instance, a very confusing whipped parmesean cream cheese swirl served alone in a parfait glass (do you eat it straight, spread it on bread or what?), cold sliced veal with a disgusting pureed tuna sauce (tasted like canned tuna and mayo blended in a food processor), a watery, tasteless soup, and just-okay filet mignon.

We did not have one really great meal the entire time. We had expected good seafood, fresh fruits (and there were a few on the breakfast buffet), lean meats, lots of salads and decadent desserts. Instead, it was crusty breads, pizza, a lot of pasta, greasy-to-tough meats, and soft-serve, machine ice cream. We were really disappointed with the food.

2. Uncomfortable temperature
We were hot the entire time. This is unforgivable in the stateroom, where we struggled to get the temperature below 80, even with the lousy A.C. on full-blast. We all sweated in the restaraunts and in the casino. The only relief we got was when we went on deck and could enjoy a windy breeze to cool us.

3. No access to swimming pools
There were three pools, one purported to be adult-only. However, all three were filled with people and children the entire time. We could not get into any of the three hottubs because they were constantly filled with children. The pools are filled with seawater and are drained each night. So much for a midnight swim or sitting in the hottub after dark. Worse, there were not enough deck chairs or towels. So if you wanted to get some sun on the days at sea, you had to have claimed a chair by 8:00 a.m. or they were all filled. We finally got chairs in a shaded area, but there were no towels. The only swimming we did on the entire cruise was on an excursion in Grand Cayman. (Swimming with the sting rays was probably the only fun we had on the cruise).

4. Slow and excessively expensive internet access -- $.50 per minute, and each page takes minutes to load.

5. Major sicknesses acquired on the trip -- all four of our traveling group were stricken with what the doctors are calling "cruise ship virus" or "traveller's virus." Each of us have missed several days from work after returning from the cruise due to flu-like symptoms with nausea, fever, upper respiratory infections. I got it the worst due to the salmonella or e coli poisoning I had from eating something on the boat. This gave me two straight weeks of diarrhea. which made me so dehydrated that I couldn't weather the viral part. I was in the hospital for dehydration issues and missed more than a week of work. Today is the first day since we returned (2/29) that I am well enough to write these comments. I'm thinking about filing a complaint and trying to get a refund -- if anyone has heard about someone being successful in doing this after getting sick on a Costa cruise, please e-mail me.

6. Nothing to do on the boat
There were only two real "shows." Unfortunately, we had the second seating for dinner, and to attend a show, we'd have to go to the 11:00 p.m. show. Why they didn't offer a showtime before the seated dinner is beyond me -- but I imagine it had something to do with the Europeans eating later and going to bed later than we Americans do. In any case, unless you liked cards or the casinos, there was almost nothing to do on the boat but drink. And that was only fun for the first afternoon.

7. Too little time at ports of call
Plan on five hours, tops at any given port of call. They were all touristy and a waste of time anyway, unless you really like t-shirt shops in Key West and cheesy diamond jewelers in Cozumel. Grand Cayman was the only stop worth getting off the boat.

8. Unbearable beds
The beds, if you can call them that, are plastic and metal frames with a solid plastic slab foundation. Atop this is a horridly thin, 4" foam sheet covered with a bedsheet. There is a hard ridge of plastic running down the middle of the bed, which made intimacy impossible -- not that we'd have wanted to do anything like that, given the diarrhea, seasickness and general nausea from the wretched food.

9. Rude, rude rude Europeans
Both the staff and the European guests were exceptionally rude. The guests had no concept of waiting in line and would physically push us out of their way. The staff were not helpful when we were hot and complained that there surely must be something wrong with the A.C. in our room or when I became ill from eating spoiled food. The European guests stank, frankly, to the point that we had to abandon a meal from the buffet when some unwashed Italians sat next to us at lunch.

10. Chaotic disembarkation process
Plan on spending the morning sitting in a big room waiting to go through a cattle-call process. Don't plan on anyone caring about you in any way, shape or form, including your need to make a scheduled flight. You are assigned a color to tag your bags. If you don't have red or green, your morning will be screwed entirely. Enough said.

Overall, it was an awful waste of money. We felt like, as my husband put it, we were on a floating prison without bars. We truly contemplated flying back fromCozumel and abandoning the rest of the trip. I wish we had. At least then, we could have returned home to edible food, a bed in which we could approach sleep, and an escape from terminal boredom. Instead, we are $5,000.00 down the toilet and a week of vacation time from work completely wasted. Top that off with two weeks's straight of hospital-level sickness, and all I can say about Costa crusies is that I regret this trip more than I can possibly ever say.

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