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Terry Thompson

Age: 65

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 16

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Victoria

Sailing Date: February 16th, 2003

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Embarkation/Debarkation:
Because of our late booking we had to pick up our documents at the dock. They were waiting for us at a station outside the lounge and there were only two people ahead of us in the line. Embarkation and debarkation were orderly and well planned. Passengers were kept informed of the status regularly. Seating in the lounge area was comfortable, but space between rows was limited and made passage between aisles difficult.

The Cabin:
We were in an outside cabin 60141 (category 7) on the Manon Deck (really deck 6 1/2.) There was adequate space and the room was clean and equipped with a desk, two chairs, T.V., hairdryer, safe, refrigerator and a large porthole. We had problems closing the door to the head and on the last day the door fell off the slider twice.

The The ship is old but generally well maintained. The decorations are O.K. The open area atrium, several decks high with glass elevators, is attractive as are the tile mosaics in the bar. There are plenty of lounge chairs on the decks around the two pools and hot tubs. Entertainment and Activities: We learned the hard way that we had to get to a show early to get a seat. We enjoyed the crew show and the stage production. The dancers and singers were very good as was the Irish Tenor. The lounge musicians were very talented. We were drawn to a number of shows that were predominately classical. We sat down every evening with the next days schedule and circled the events that appeared interesting. We kept very busy without playing bingo or other gaming activities since we were on a limited budget. We particularly enjoyed the cooking demonstrations and arts and crafts projects presented on at sea days. The shore-excursion talks focused on where to shop. There was no effort to educate us about the history and people of the islands.

The Food:
After a cruise on Costa in 1992, I had vowed I would not go on another, mainly because of the food - predominately southern Italian with lots of tomato sauce. (I am not fond of tomato sauce.) But because the price was so reasonable and the timing right for our anniversary, I gave the line another chance; I’m glad that I did. We ate all of our meals in the Sinfonia dining room because neither of us has much will power when faced with all of the choices of a buffet. We both tend to try everything. We were able to better control ourselves by ordering from the menu. It did limit our calorie intake and we managed to keep our weight gain to a pound or two. (Also, we never took an elevator.) The breakfast menu did not change but there was a wide assortment of choices. Dinner includes seven courses with many items in each category of appetizer soup, salad, pasta, entre, cheese, and dessert. It was easy for me to skip the pasta course because they were generally tomato based. On two nights they offered northern style cream sauces. The soups were particularly delicious but cream-based (calories).

The Crew:
I expected the crew to be rude and unfriendly, based on reviews Id read before the trip. I did NOT find this to be the case. All the personnel were friendly and helpful, from boarding to departure. We developed a close relationship with our wait staff and looked forward to seeing them at meals. Our preferences we noted and remembered. We were treated like we were special.

Tipping:
Before the cruise, we prepared envelopes with tips for the staff based upon the guide on the Costa web page. They were less than I had seen on other cruises but that is what we put in the envelopes. On board, they passed out envelopes and a printed guide with rates much higher than those given on the web. We increased our tips as a result. My guess is that the web guide is for passengers from other countries who tend to tip less.

The Ports:
San Juan, P.R. --
We were only in port for a few hours in the afternoon and evening. Our shore tour for flamenco music and dancing was canceled and we ended up walking around the old town on our own. This was our fifth visit and we had been on the two other offered tours on previous visits.

St. Thomas, V.I. -- We were again disappointed to find that our shore tour had been canceled and we ended up on a driving tour of St. Johns rather than the nature hike through the national park. We enjoyed the cruise from the ship to the island, the many stops for photos and the tour of the Annaberg ruins. This was our fourth visit to St. Thomas, so we skipped that island this time.

Catalina Island, D.R. -- This is Costas private beach. The swimming was good and there were lots of lounge chairs and coconut trees for shade. I was disappointed to find no hammocks. There were several shops with locals selling a variety of handmade items and art just down the beach from the ships area. The bargaining was hot and heavy. Pity on those who paid the first price asked.

Casa de Campo, D.R. -- At last we got the shore excursion we asked for. We were bused to Altos de Chavon - a replica of a 17th century Mediterranean village with lots of upscale shops, with time to shop. The evening show Kandela, in the open-air arena, was well worth the $25. However, the stadium seating was hard on my back. I hope that they get a concession renting stadium seats before our next visit.

Nassau, The Bahamas -- This was a relatively short stop (4 1/2 hours) and we had been here many times so we chose to spend our time walking through the shopping area near the ship.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- We live in Florida and have visited the Everglades recently, but even though we didn’t take it, I was glad to see that an excursion to this area was offered to passengers.

Summary:
The cruise was well worth the price (second passenger free) booked just 4 days before departure. The cabin was clean and spacious, the crew friendly and helpful, the food good but generally not gourmet and there was plenty to keep us busy on sea days. The show room filled quickly and we missed the first show but enjoyed the other two. We were frustrated by cancellations of two shore excursions (not enough passenger interest). Time in port was too short. (Of course, it was only a 1-week cruise.)

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