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S Schneider

Age: 37

Occupation:Self-employed

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Mediterranea

Sailing Date: 2012-11-21

Itinerary: Port Miami - Nassau - Ocho Rios - Grand Cayman - Roatan - Belize - Cozumel

A cruise that combined excellent, varied and interesting destinations with appalling management, organisation and service. Very mixed feelings from us, as the holiday was far from cheap and we are both exhausted from the constant problems we faced, instead of feeling refreshed and ready to return to work. Even something as simple as ordering a drink can be a very stressful experience that takes up to half an hour on this ship. Don't book if you are looking to unwind, or if you have any experience in what a "real" cruise should be like.

At times, and in the restaurant on decks 2 and 3, the food was acceptable, if uninspiring and heavily pasta-based. As others have said about Costa, one would at least expect the pasta to be well done, but it was usually cold and rubbery. Service was slow, and we often waited 30 mins just to get water. We were unlucky enough to be seated with another German couple whose names we never learned and insisted on using only the stuffy "Sie" form for conversation, which further detracted from the dining experience. Not Costa's fault, but we tried unsuccessfully to be moved to a table for two.

Breakfast on decks 2 and 3 was acceptable, but the service was poor and very confused most of the time. It took a long time to get a simple order of eggs, often requiring us to chase lost orders and usually receiving someone else's eggs cooked a different way to how we ordered them.

The buffet restaurant, however, was consistently simply appalling. It served the same limited menu every day for the entire cruise, for both breakfast and lunch. The scrambled eggs tasted artificial or pre-prepared. There was only one variety of pizza available for those that didnt want to attend the restaurant (margherita). A real let down compared to the buffets we have experienced before on both MSC and Costa vessels.

Our cabin had a rotten carpet due to an AC leak, which resulted in a constant rancid smell. After complaining, instead of being moved or relocated, the steward was unfairly tasked with shampooing and drying it with a huge fan daily, which made no difference to the smell and only served to be a further inconvenience to us.

The onboard activities consisted of very loud games on deck 9 for the (already loud enough) Italians. The shows in the theatre ranged from badly rehearsed and poorly produced to mediocre. The opera themed around the Costa Meditarranea included a background film of the ship and its singers, which amounted to nothing more than an overly sentimental, back-slapping exercise for its egotistical "stars" and a thinly-veiled protracted promotional trip for Costa cruises. Best avoided completely.

Thank heavens for Ron, the English guitarist and one-man band, who was simply excellent. He was a wonderfully gifted and accomplished performer, inviting the audience to collaborate with him and genuinely enjoying the participation. He brought a real human touch to the entertainment, which was otherwise completely lacking on this horrifically globalized, sterile ship.

The excursions are necessary on this route, as there is generally very little to see at the ports themselves. Often even a beach visit requires a booked excursion. Unfortunately, we were almost left behind on several of them because we were waiting at the bar or wherever (with others, all clearly numbered with stickers) to be taken to the next part of the excursion. We had to actively seek out Costa staff who told us most of the buses had already left for the next location. This was simply appalling, as the ship would not have waited for us, had we missed the last bus.

The destinations on this cruise, however, were fantastic, and we were happy to get off of the grotty ship with its poor service, if just for 6 or 7 hours.

It was apparent to us after a very short time on-board the Mediterranea that Costa are trying to claw back as much money as possible after the loss of the Concordia, through rigorous cutbacks in all areas of service. The food was average at best, and diabolical at worst. The communication with passengers on excursions was non-existent and on several occasions we would have been left behind or missed one of the sights/activities had we not actively sought out excursion leaders for information. The ship was dirty and has seen its best years. Our cabin had a rotten carpet and no amount of shampooing from our poor steward would eliminate the smell (no upgrade or cabin relocation was offered).

This unfortunate experience has put us off Costa for life and cruising for at least a few years. A special mention has to go to the inept travel agency Berge & Meer who reached new levels of incompetence with this holiday, requiring us to travel for nearly 48 hours each way just to reach the ship docked in Miami from Germany. It seems Berge & Meer, on Costa's own admission, do not communicate with the cruise line in any way, making life very stressful for the unfortunate passengers who are customers of both.

Our transfer from Miami port to the airport was on bus 7045 of a company called Miami Jet Tours (presumably hired by B&M) which we almost missed due to bad planning. After sitting in the empty bus for two hours waiting for other passengers and being preached to aggressively and without respite by its fanatically religious nutcase driver from Cuba, we wished we HAD missed it and paid for a taxi instead.

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