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  #21  
Old February 18th, 2013, 05:59 PM
camarodrivenrs camarodrivenrs is offline
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I really enjoyed my Costa cruise on the Atlantica. It was a very nice ship. I would suspect that the teen programs are sort of lacking because European teens start the club scene a bit earlier than whats normally accceptable for Americans. I cruised with my brother and we are both in our 20's. From talking with some other guests we met (we both speak Italian and Spanish) it was clear Costa did not take the 18 and up in the night club seriously or did we see them ID anyone. I would probably consider a different cruise line if I had an American teenager and wasnt comfortable with them "clubbing".
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  #22  
Old February 21st, 2013, 06:20 AM
sthelder sthelder is offline
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After living in this great country (China) for about a decade, I felt sorry to say this...

Please don't go on those Costa cruises targeting Chinese market.

I have met and made friends with many locals, sad to say that many of the cruise passengers here are amongst the worst behaved.
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  #23  
Old February 21st, 2013, 09:11 AM
barante barante is offline
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Default What is Chinese?

sthelder -- Please explain. We spent a month on the Costa Victoria in November. The first leg, 17 days, had maybe a hundred passengers of Chinese descent, mostly from Canada. The next leg, 14 days, had more Asians, mostly from Singapore. Yes, they were of Chinese descent. Never saw a passenger from the PRC.

Everyone behaved, even the kids. There were quite a lot of preteens because of Costa's pricing practices.

So who are these Chinese you urge us to avoid? Is your advice based on a cruise experience or are you commenting on your overall societal perception?

Last edited by barante; February 21st, 2013 at 09:14 AM.
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  #24  
Old February 21st, 2013, 06:46 PM
sthelder sthelder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barante View Post
sthelder -- Please explain. We spent a month on the Costa Victoria in November. The first leg, 17 days, had maybe a hundred passengers of Chinese descent, mostly from Canada. The next leg, 14 days, had more Asians, mostly from Singapore. Yes, they were of Chinese descent. Never saw a passenger from the PRC.

Everyone behaved, even the kids. There were quite a lot of preteens because of Costa's pricing practices.

So who are these Chinese you urge us to avoid? Is your advice based on a cruise experience or are you commenting on your overall societal perception?
Having lived this country for almost a decade, I believe I am quite well equippd with the way the society works/behaves. I am quite happy to say, despite some initial discomforts, it is a great place to live.

I truly believe there are wonderful cruisers regardless of their descent or ethinic groups. The two groups that you mentioned are, exposed to cruise markets. For decades, Star Cruises have been operating in Singapore (formerly set base in Hong Kong too, and most of the Canadian Chineses that I know of were migrated there in the 1990's, I am making a presumtion here).

Personally, I rate Star Cruises quite highly, for its unique Asian flavour. Had it not for the acquisition of NCL and shifted attention by its parent (Genting Group Malaysia), Star Cruises might have sailed to greater height and we would be discussing whether the bad reviews for Star Cruises are warranted.

My comments on the Chinese market mainly means those Costa cruises that set sails from mainland China (Tianjin/Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, Sanya etc). China is rather new to cruising (may be river cruises, but those are also frequently marketed to foreigners), and at this stage, from the feedbacks, pictures and eyewitness reports, there are still a lot of teething problems. And

I will just quote some of these problems and may be you can judge whether they are valid issues to be concerned with:

1. Poorly trained/rude/lying staff
To cater for the mainland China market, many of the crew members are recruited locally. I believe their standard of service is actually above the average you would expect from the land tours, and some greeness in cruise-related questions is understandable.

But I am surprised to hear that the most vociferous complaints were from my personal friends and some other well-regarded and experienced local cruisers. Quite a number of local staff treated their countrymen in a very rude manner, and in one instance, a casino cashier even lied to his superior.

The reporter's mom wanted to exchange for some chips, but for unknown reason, he just ignoring the old lady who doesn't know how to speak in English. You would think he was hired specifically for the purpose of communicating with local guests? So when the old lady was ignored repeatedly, a supervisor noted of it and came over to enquire the staff what's happening. The staff lied (in English) about what had been going on and said the old lady was making unreasonable demands. Luckily the reporter was standing not far from her mom and she clarified the situation with the supervisor, the supervisor was shocked to say the least. He personally entertain the old lady's request and asked his staff to apologise. Guess what, the staff not only refused, and walked off.

Thus far, most of the reports of cold-shoulder treatment were from local cruisers. Apparently they are more inclined to serve Western guests than their own countrymen.

Some also claimed if you need to resolve on-board problem (minor) or get information, it is often easier to deal with supervisors or non-Chinese crew members, as they seem to be more willing to go the extra miles to help.

Of course, there are some great local staff too, but just that it might be useful to note an unusually high number of complaints.

2. Rude passengers
Not queuing is common problem in many places, not just on-board of a cruise ship. I have came to accept it as a way of life here.

I won't go into details on unruly smokers, door-bangers, kids in casino/adult zones etc., they are in many other cruiselines too.

However, when there's no order when disembarking, getting off for port visits and grabbing shuttle bus seats, it might become a safety hazard. Those reports when compared to the Costa/MSC reports, made me wonder whether Italians are actually very orderly.

3. Food wastages
When was the last time you heard a cruise director said (of course, in private conversation) the food is running out after the first two days (both were sea days, if I remember correctly)? It happened on Costa's maiden sail away from Shanghai.

There are other tales, such as the eventful cruise taken by Costa Classica (a widely reported ramming incident, luckily it's its on the way to disembarkation port and no one was seriously injured, also a less widely known incident, a group of mainland Chinese guests disappeared at a Japanese port...probably illegal immigrants, apparently it's not uncommon, just the year before, a HK mother also ran off ship with her child), but I already feeling too depressed to go on.

I would like to stress that the above is more like an interim observation. More and more mainland Chineses are taking to cruising, with exposure, I believe it will not be long those wonderful local cruisers and cruise staff that I met/knew off, will become the norm rather than exception.

On reflection, the lying casino cashier is probably an isolated case. Royal Caribbean also has regular summer cruises from China, and apparently they have a higher satisfactory rate.

Last edited by sthelder; February 21st, 2013 at 07:05 PM.
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  #25  
Old February 21st, 2013, 08:41 PM
sthelder sthelder is offline
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One thing that may not concern most of the cruisers here, but may help explains the relatively new China cruising experience is that the local travel agents love to promote those cruises as premium and luxurious. Common descriptions used including five-star or even six-star cruiseships (yes, they apply that to Costa ships too).

Undeniably the mainland Chineses mostly paid a premium price if compared to more matured cruise markets such as the Caribbean. As an indicator, I just logged on to a local discount cruise website, a 5-night last minute Costa Victoria cruise sailing on 6 March 2013 (Shanghai-Seoul-Inchon-Sea-Shanghai) that is on sale at 50% of "normal" price will still cost about RMB 3000/US$ 475 pp for an inside cabin.

It's no wonder sometimes the guests treated the wait staff badly, as they might think after paying a premium price, they didn't get a comparable level of service in return.

Not to be overly worried if you happen to meet some mainland Chinese cruisers in other regions of the world. There is a budding and booming cruise community here, many love to cruise with their elderly and kids (most are well-behaved!). Some of them are frequent cruisers and it's not unusual a growing number has elected to go on cruises with Seabourn, Silversea etc.

Many things have changed since I first set foot in China in 2003, and I am happy to say, most changes are for the better! May be we should also give the local cruises a couple more years and am sure it will also get better.

Last edited by sthelder; February 21st, 2013 at 08:51 PM.
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  #26  
Old February 21st, 2013, 11:33 PM
barante barante is offline
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Default A tricky market

My November "live" reports from the Costa Victoria contain entries in which I discuss my views on the China cruise market. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1730507

In brief, I wondered whether a very brand conscious region of the world would be satisfied with a non-premium cruise brand, such as Costa. Certainly our North American Chinese-descended passengers and Singapore crowd were not impressed. (We had PRC crew members but no, or very few, PRC passengers.

I'm not even sure it was Costa's level so much as it was the lack of any wow factors that disappointed passengers, aside from the occasional chaos on the ship. When we were parked next to Celebrity Solstice at two ports, they longingly looked at a ship filled with balconies. To them that promised luxury.
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  #27  
Old February 22nd, 2013, 12:48 AM
sthelder sthelder is offline
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Great live review, will read through the thread after work today.

In fact, many cruising friends I met here, they took to cruise in overseas because of much better cruising experience and the ridiculous pricing policy. Even with the air fare and visas costs, the total overseas cruise costs are not that much higher than booking a cruise targeting mainland China market. A couple could do a Mediterranean cruise for about US$3000+ (balcony), and that's roughly what Costa is charging the local cruisers for a similar grade balcony (full fare, not last minute...as I mentioned earlier, hardly any early bird price, either because the cruiselines are not willing to committed or the locals are not used to book holiday months ahead)!

Balcony or suite is very pricey here. But may be not that attractive to certain group of guests. I overhead a conversation between some elderly guests (hard not to, they were loud), they were fine with inside cabin, as they came solely for the casino!! To them, it's easier (not necessarily cheaper though) than flying to Macau or Australia (lately, Singapore also has a casino). My travel agent friend told me that Costa made tonnes of $ from these gamblers, it's the biggest on-board revenue generator for them. Well, I won't be able to ascertain whether it's real, but logically, I think it makes sense.

Personally, I don't like Costa because I think they are just milking the China market and not doing enough education or promotion of cruise knowledge.

The insufficient cruise knowledge, huge expectation gap and most importantly, short-sighted pricing policy may mean a higher than necessary percentage of first-time cruisers will be put off from future cruises.

*I just realised I finger-pointing at everyone other than myself*

Last edited by sthelder; February 22nd, 2013 at 12:54 AM.
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  #28  
Old April 3rd, 2013, 11:19 AM
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Tapi Tapi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcruiser27 View Post
even costa is owned by Carnival
I'm looking at the 2014 itineraries and I'm tempted by the E. Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Magica. I knew that Costa is owned by Carnival Corp, and that the ships and interior designer are the same, but looking at what's on the Carnival website, they look almost identical.

Having sailed on Carnival many times (and looking at trying something different for our upcoming Eastern Mediterranean cruise) I have to say that the many similarities with Carnival are actually a turn off.
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  #29  
Old April 3rd, 2013, 03:31 PM
AmoMondo AmoMondo is offline
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Just got back from my third Costa cruise and it was a good experience on the whole. I was on the Atlantica and found that a much nicer ship than the newer Joe Farcus gawdy brash designed ones like the Favolosa etc. I believe those are very similar to Carnival.

I'm not keen on the embarkation process, it's just goo bitty with too many different people to queue up to see to complete it all and I'm not a fan of the interior layouts but overall a good experience for what I paid. I was seated with people who regularly cruise on Carnival and Costa because their daughter works for them. They said that ship layout was almost identical on both lines but the older Costa ships had nicer decor. Big difference on Costa is it definitely has a Italian feel rather than American and the passenger mix is very different. Costa caters for 5 or more languages onboard which means things are done differently than on Carnival which I believe is only in English.
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  #30  
Old April 3rd, 2013, 10:25 PM
hoytlakes hoytlakes is offline
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this thread asking is costa really that bad? well we were just on costa pacifica in a triple rm in the western med. for the price we paid (all three of us in balconly cabin 2,599 usd (total including taxes) it was a very good value. the cabin was very nice, food above average and drink pkg very good. for the price we pd I am satisfied. you do generally get what you pay for. in this case you get what you pay for plus a little extra. we looked at it as a means to an end i.e. a traveling hotel/restaurant. we really flew to Europe to see the cities, sites, etc. not just go on a boat. if I were to be going on a cruise for just the cruise i'd pick a different line but for a floating hotel it was wonderful.
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  #31  
Old April 4th, 2013, 08:52 PM
cruisetrail cruisetrail is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapi View Post
I'm looking at the 2014 itineraries and I'm tempted by the E. Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Magica. I knew that Costa is owned by Carnival Corp, and that the ships and interior designer are the same, but looking at what's on the Carnival website, they look almost identical.

Having sailed on Carnival many times (and looking at trying something different for our upcoming Eastern Mediterranean cruise) I have to say that the many similarities with Carnival are actually a turn off.
The Magica is on of the worst - same as old Destiny.
Favolosa/Fascinosa subclass - significantly (very well) redesigned Destiny.
Luminosa/Deliziosa - a mix of Vista and Spirit classes.
Carnival does not have ships like those four.
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  #32  
Old April 4th, 2013, 09:14 PM
OCruisers OCruisers is offline
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We've only been on two Costa cruises -- both short 7 day cruises to the Caribbean in mid spring ... and several years back.

Totally enjoyed both and have nothing but positive things to say about Costa!
Remember ... ours were to the Caribbean with many from the US and Canada.

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  #33  
Old April 5th, 2013, 08:08 AM
Blondie008 Blondie008 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapi View Post
I'm looking at the 2014 itineraries and I'm tempted by the E. Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Magica. I knew that Costa is owned by Carnival Corp, and that the ships and interior designer are the same, but looking at what's on the Carnival website, they look almost identical.

Having sailed on Carnival many times (and looking at trying something different for our upcoming Eastern Mediterranean cruise) I have to say that the many similarities with Carnival are actually a turn off.
I am not sure if its the same cruise we did last September - is it a loop cruise? 7 nights? if so - be wary..
There were I think four embarkation points on this cruise, nearly every day hoards coming and going. FREE family places - buffet was just a pizza war! Magica REEKS of cigarette smoke - if you dont smoke dont even think about going on Magica. The ceilings are very low, and the filtration of cigarette smoke is almost non existant! I was a smoker at the time and even I could not stand it (so much so I quit when I came home!).
I would rate Carnival in a few leagues above Magica..
I guess if its dirt cheap - you get what you pay for. We only paid £699 each - so - we took it just as a cheap break in the sunshine. From what I gather though, £699 was actually a top end price to pay for this cruise and many sailed for less than a third of what we paid
Lunch - we avoided the buffet - it was just incredible - pack of wild animals on a wild scavenge. The best food on the ship was the MDR at lunch time in the Gluten Free section. That was the most civilised meal we had during the cruise.
If you can bear treating it as a bus around the med - then go for it. But that is what you will get.
The piano bar was quite nice (if you could stand the haze) -
The rest ...hmmmmmm as I say, makes Carnival look like Crystal!
Madness - it was just chaotic mayhem. Ive never in my life seen anything quite like it...
We absolutely did NOT complain about our cruise - we paid so little for it we just thought "ah well - wont do it again"...
Even at a third of the price - even at bargain basement - I wouldnt do a 7 day loop on a Costa mass ship ever again.
Each to their own of course, but no, not even remotely on a par with Carnival We did Carnival B2B earlier last year - on Freedom - actually it was great - better than we expected - and absolutely leagues above Costa Magica.... Yes, the ships are similar in design, but thats as far as it goes.
We ARE sailing with Costa again, but on NeoRomantica which is a totally different ball game and in a league of her own.
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  #34  
Old April 5th, 2013, 08:16 AM
Blondie008 Blondie008 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapi View Post
I'm looking at the 2014 itineraries and I'm tempted by the E. Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Magica. I knew that Costa is owned by Carnival Corp, and that the ships and interior designer are the same, but looking at what's on the Carnival website, they look almost identical.

Having sailed on Carnival many times (and looking at trying something different for our upcoming Eastern Mediterranean cruise) I have to say that the many similarities with Carnival are actually a turn off.
I am not sure if its the same cruise we did last September - is it a loop cruise? 7 nights? if so - be wary..
There were I think four embarkation points on this cruise, nearly every day hoards coming and going. FREE family places - buffet was just a pizza war! Magica REEKS of cigarette smoke - if you dont smoke dont even think about going on Magica. The ceilings are very low, and the filtration of cigarette smoke is almost non existant! I was a smoker at the time and even I could not stand it (so much so I quit when I came home!).
I would rate Carnival in a few leagues above Magica..
I guess if its dirt cheap - you get what you pay for. We only paid £699 each - so - we took it just as a cheap break in the sunshine. From what I gather though, £699 was actually a top end price to pay for this cruise and many sailed for less than a third of what we paid
Lunch - we avoided the buffet - it was just incredible - pack of wild animals on a wild scavenge. The best food on the ship was the MDR at lunch time in the Gluten Free section. That was the most civilised meal we had during the cruise.
If you can bear treating it as a bus around the med - then go for it. But that is what you will get.
The piano bar was quite nice (if you could stand the haze) -
The rest ...hmmmmmm as I say, makes Carnival look like Crystal!
Madness - it was just chaotic mayhem. Ive never in my life seen anything quite like it...
We absolutely did NOT complain about our cruise - we paid so little for it we just thought "ah well - wont do it again"...
Even at a third of the price - even at bargain basement - I wouldnt do a 7 day loop on a Costa mass ship ever again.
Each to their own of course, but no, not even remotely on a par with Carnival We did Carnival B2B x 14 nights, earlier last year - on Freedom - actually it was great - better than we expected - and absolutely leagues above Costa Magica.... Yes, the ships are similar in design, but thats as far as it goes.
We ARE sailing with Costa again, but on NeoRomantica which is a totally different ball game and in a league of her own.
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