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Charlotte

Age: 44

Occupation:Professional

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Mediterranea

Sailing Date: February 1st, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Before I go on with our Costa’s cruising experience, let me tell you that we have cruised before with Carnival Cruise Line and the experience had been so wonderful that we decided to go again.

Our travel agent told us that Carnival Cruise Line had acquired Costa in the past year and that Costa had a brand new ship, that Costa was a notch over Carnival Cruise in terms of food, atmosphere and that in terms of decor it was more subdued.

We browsed the Costa Cruise internet site for more information, look ed at the itinerary proposed by Costa and finally decided to reserve an air to sea all inclusive vacation. We based our decision on a worry free vacation. We were two couples travelling together with our teenage children. We had two prerequisites at reservation time, we wanted adjoining rooms so that we could share balcony space and have breakfast together plus onboard activities for our teenage daughter and son.

We received our Costa Cruise package from the travel agent the first week of January 2004.

Now the experience begins :

February 1st, 2004

1. Montreal Airport at 05h00 am to board on Flight DL1084 with Delta (reserved by Costa). Departure scheduled for 07h30 to Atlanta

1.1 Flight DL1084 left Montreal Airport at 08h40 (technical difficulties with aircraft)

1.2 Missed connecting flight, DL1510 in Atlanta

1.3 Rebooked on flight DL1017 with departure scheduled for 12h58.

1.4 Called Costa 800 line to advise of change of flight schedule (was not done automatically)

1.5 Flight left Atlanta 50 minutes late

1.6 Arrival in Fort Lauderdale at 15h15

1.7 No luggage at Fort Lauderdale Airport

1.8 Filled in luggage claim while Costa representative was calling the boat to confirm our arrival

1.9 We were advised by Costa representative that if Delta representative did not hurry up with the paper work, the boat would not wait.

2. Arrived at Port 19 to board at 16h25… actually ran to boat while evacuation drill was going on onboard.

2.1 At 16h35, we were onboard Costa Mediterranea and at information desk in order to inform them that we had no luggage.

2.2 Fill out necessary claim forms

2.3 17h00, the Costa representative at the information desk gave us 6 basic toiletry kits (one each), told us that it was the best he could do for us, that our luggage should be delivered at the next port of call « San Juan » on February 3rd (in 2 days).

Your basic toiletry kit consisted of : Toothbrush & paste, mouth wash, comb, rasor & shaving cream, after shave & make-up remover.

Our comment on the Costa toiletry kit : Was it designed only for men? What about Shampoo & Conditionner? When asked to our steward, reply was he did not have any.

2.3 We arrived from Montreal where it was –20C and are now on a boat where it is +20C. Our clothes were too warm to wear for 2 days. When asked our Costa representative at the information desk what he suggests we could do? His reply was « you will have to buy clothes.

What happened to our Air to Sea worry free vacation???

2.4 We made our way to the shops on the 3rd floor.

We were able to find shorts & tops and bought for 88US$ + 96US$ worth of clothes with Costa logo on it (2 couples, two bills).

We were unable to buy the following :

Conditioner (Women have colored hair and conditioner is a must). What about Bathing suits, sandals?

We could have bought dresses and purses but impossible to get shoes to go with them. What is the use? No place to rent dress up clothing (for men, women or children).

3. We received plenty of « we are sorry » from the Costa personnel and they had no problem communicating their inability to assist us.

4. We finally get to our stateroom and requested to open the balcony door between our stateroom « 6230 & 6228 ». We were now asking for the impossible.

Comment : We have been cruising with the other couple before and have always enjoyed the open balcony door. We have never had a problem with this request from other Cruising line before. When we asked why to our steward, he simply said that this was the guidelines he had to go by.

We had been looking forward to this trip and in the past 13 hours it had been going from bad to worse and we were on day one of our 7 day cruise.

We, then, proceeded to our late dinner in the main dining room. Our reserved table was taken. Could you believe it… we had to settle for a table in the corner near the wine cellar.

5. On February 2nd, our steward offered to arrange Express free laundry until our clothes arrived. That was appreciated by all.

We had breakfast on our balcony (we had dreamed of this moment for months now). Could not enjoy our fellow traveling companions like we had been expecting. This balcony door was closed to everyone's great disappointment.

After breakfast, we went about to discover this beautiful ship. Our traveling agent was right when he said the decor would be subdued in comparison to the Carnival Cruise line.

We also discovered that the average passengers were subdued. Most were over 70 years of age.  We were at sea on a golden age cruise ship. I am not kidding, on that first day we saw :

A man with a gangrene leg with puss leaking out of it going into the hot tub! This was probably a great therapy for him but what about other passengers’ hygiene? We were appalled.

We called the elevator, when it came there were 3 people in it with walkers. We called another elevator which had two canes and a walker … well, we took the stairs, these people needed the elevator more than we did.

We also met people with body parts missing (ears, nose, fingers, legs, etc..). Other ones were going about on disabled scooters. Someone was going about with a oxygen carry on tank. And yet another person with a saline sack hanging from his wheel chair.

HELP SOMEBODY! NO ONE EVER TOLD US WE WERE GOING ON A GERIATRIC BOAT.

Although, we feel for the elderly and are respectful towards them. We understand that there will come a time when we will be older and in need of assistance. What we did not understand was why did no one tell us. Your internet site does not indicate that you prefer to cater to the older population. We discovered it at sea when it was too late to do anything about it.

6. As we were trying to adjust to this situation came Captain’s night… with our traveling clothes on. We had to explain the the Maitre D why we were not dressed up in order to enjoy our late dinner table in the corner.

7. February 3rd : Request to open balcony door again. Request denied again.

The children wanted to play basketball… Reservations are necessary and the court that is advertised in all Costa documentation is nowhere near like the one we found on the boat. It was one quarter of the size of a real court, the net was unstable and the balls were not inflated correctly.

We decided to check the water slide… It is open from 10h30 to 12h00. What the hell service is that. We have teenagers who need to reserve court time for basketball and cannot go sliding.

Up to now, we have no clothes, can’t suntan, can’t play sports, can’t slide. We cannot open the balcony doors and enjoy breakfast on our balcony with our travelling companions. And we are traveling with teenagers. We resorted to the arcade as a last resort. We had to place a service call on the change machine, it was empty.

We are on vacation and have to stay indoors since the only other thing available at this time is bingo or a game of bridge with the golden age.

16h30 : We call information « 7777 » to inquire about our luggage. They have just arrived since we just docked in San Juan. We proceed to the information desk and identify our belongings. They will be delivered to the stateroom shortly.

17h15 : We received our luggage. We proceed to open them put fresh clothing on and are finally out in San Juan by 17h50.

17h55 : We find a cab driver that informs us that all attractions close at 18h00 and that the shops are closing between 19h00 and 20h00 pm. We negotiated with him for a quick tour of San Juan even if we can’t get into the tourist sites. At 19h30, our overview tour of San Juan is over and we are now perusing the downtown district where 2 out of 3 stores are closed. We shopped at the grocery store and went back to our boat for 20h30 since there was nothing else to see.

Comment : Why on earth did we stop in San Juan?

8. February 4th : St. Thomas
We had a good day at Meagans’bay. Had little time to shop. This port of call could have used more time ashore.

9. February 5th : Catalina Island
Had a fantastic day on the beach. We are young (in our forty’s with teenagers) and wanted to rent Sea doos / Jetski… The rental place told us it was impossible to rent… orders from Costa Cruise line.

Comment : We traveled with full insurance coverage. We own motorcycles, cars and boats back home and are qualified drivers. This intervention from Costa was NOT appreciated.

When we returned to ship, we received a call from our neighbor’s cabin asking us to keep our voices down they were trying to sleep. It was 16h30 pm. We were not screaming, we were on the balcony enjoying ourselves quietly. With the door closed.

10. February 5th : Casa de Campo
We were looking forward to this port since we had great review from friends who visited the Dominican Republic in the past. We were also looking forward to some shopping. We were directed towards Altos de Chavon. We got there it was dark, we were stuck behind slow elderly people and had toured the site in 30 minutes. Imagine without traffic jam from the Golden We asked our steward for beach towels since we were planning to go to the beach on our own. He answered that beach towels were available only for the guest that were participating with an activity reserved from the boat. That we were not on any list and therefore we could not have beach towels. At that point, I lost my cool and told him at the price we paid for this CRAPPY trip, I wanted the beach towel and there were no arguments that were receivable on my part.

We received our beach towels, got off the ship, rented a cab, went to the beach, rented Jestki’s… had a great time. We had time to see Atlantis, did some shopping and were back on time. All that in 5 hours.

Our kids had a great time. Upon our return, the steward was requesting the beach towels.

Went to dinner and when we returned, our bar was locked. At that point, we had the feeling that Costa could not get rid of us fast enough.

12. February 7th : Fort Lauderdale
We went to breakfast in the main dining room. Waited for our turn to debark and left. The week spent with Costa was… A great ship, great food and wine.

Our main disappointment is that we booked a worry free vacation « Air to Sea, all inclusive package » and we never had so much trouble. We travel every winter to a warm destination and Costa will never have the pleasure to take us along again. We will not recommend it to anyone under the age of 75.

It would have been nice to be offered acknowledgement from Costa for our problems. After all, we paid extra for this « worry free vacation ». We had to pay for clothes that had your logo on it, had to do without a shared balcony, had to argue with your personnel for beach towels and deal with traffic jams from the elderly folks all week long.

We don’t know how else to tell you how disappointed we are with the trip we just had. Thank god for sunshine and warm weather… that helped us soothe a bad situation. Thank god it was not provided by Costa since you would have probably managed to screw this one too!

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