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About Stefan_Varong

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    little village 3rd rock from sun
  • Interests
    History, architecture...
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
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  1. Stefan_Varong

    Costa Versus MSC, Opinions?

    I wouldn’t even send a container with MSC! Done MSC once and from handing back the wrong cruise card (my door didn’t open, am I at the right door? No, not even on the right deck and since when is my name Anastasia?) over dirty plates in the buffet (“so what” was the reaction from the staff) up to really dangerous situation by pressing more and more people into the already overly full atrium, where people already were unable to stand. It would have been sufficient that one got in panic. I am no anxious person, but in my job I need to pay attention to escape routes and know what mustn’t happen in any time. In that case I did what I never did before: I looked where to escape to in case of an eventuality and especially where no masses of people would follow. MSC? Never again!
  2. Stefan_Varong

    Costa onboard account - need help

    Bob, indeed, you're right. Today I got mine with the information "I would like to remind you that the Carnival Shareholder Benefit is not transferable, cannot be exchanged for cash and cannot be used to pay Casino Charges or Service Charges".
  3. Stefan_Varong

    Costa onboard account - need help

    Would make things easy of course, but no need to. If you have spent 1,000 € your card should have a limit of 1,000 € (no problem of course if it is higher, but no need to). Preapprovals are made to ensure your card will bear the bill, for nothing else. Worst case happened to me, when my bank's system detected a card fraud, while I was abord a ship and the entire card was blocked. I went to the hospitality service to discuss the problem, but it had no effect at all to the preapprovals and my bill was paid as it should. The only situation that more might get blocked than the actual bill is if you book something that doesn't happen and will be cancelled from your definitive bill, relase of a preapproval takes a couple of days, while putting them on your card happens immedeately. Generally drinking package and service charge (if to be paid on board) are blocked directly, excursions when tickets are issued (a couple of prebooked tickets you might find in your cabin on arrival, perhaps even all). If you buy anything aboard it will be preapproved at the moment you buy...
  4. Stefan_Varong

    Costa onboard account - need help

    I've never seen any regulation that a shareholder OBC mustn't be used for the service charge. Up to now I just got a notification that my claim is approved - without any restrictions. I usually register my credit card aboard and the balance is taken from the card. Last time and with my cruise over a couple of weeks the service charge had already been included into the price anyway, so it doesn't appear on my bill at the end of the voyage. Debit cards are not accepted by Costa, but nobody knows whether a credit card is linked to a credit or is prepaid. The difference is just that you either need a spending limit high enough or enough money on that card, both nobody knows - except you and the issuer of course. My bank allows even to transfer money onto my credit card as well to expend spending limits above my credit limit - and even pays a relative high interest, although in these days even that is...
  5. Stefan_Varong

    Costa Delizosa alcohol question

    Well, rules and enforcement are not always the same: No drinks and food during embarkation. Once I had half a bottle of water and because there was no waste bin I put it just aside. Costa staff attended me that I forgot my bottle. No alcohol from the shore aboard. On Martinique I bought rum - as being on a TA and Martinique being within the EU quite a coupleof bottles, also as presents. Packed in the bags with the name of the destille on it they went through the scanner and I took them to my cabin. According to the rules I would have gotten them back before debarkation only. Anyway, I have my drinking packages and opened the first bottle at home. I never tried to order a bottle of wine to my cabin, but it shouldn't be a problem. As a club member I got already a free bottle to my cabin. You only mustn't take open drinks to your cabin (package drinks are not allowed in the cabin and not handed out in bottles). Just as you may take a bottle of water to your cabin, you also may buy a bottle of wine and take it to your cabin. All for your health is allowed, contact Costa as soon as possible (I know, they are not very responsive) and what they don't provide anyway take with you. Your waiter in the MDR will take care of your dietary needs, I had a guest at my table with multiple problems once, who got a personal menu with remarks what could be ordered and what not. Even if not about your health, they try their best to please you, I remember a guest every evening getting an extra large portion spaghetti - nothing else. Taking rare meat to your cabin would cause a problem I suppose and would be pretty understandable. But originally packed industrial products not needing any cooling should be fine, especially if you have a note of your doctor.
  6. Stefan_Varong

    What are your best Costa secrets?

    Club members get a small OBC, I think it is 20 € for Perla, not grown above that yet. And shareholders (at least 100 shares) get an OBC depending on the length of the cruise. Reminds me to apply for mine. Others you might get on occasion (I got one for delayed bording, since the ship wasn't in port on time), but I don't know about other regular programms.
  7. Stefan_Varong

    Costa onboard account - need help

    Generally you have the choice between cash and card. But regarding an Italian law you mustn't pay any more than 999,99 € cash. If paying cash you need to pay a deposit, as I know correctly at least 150 €. If you spent about that amount you will have to add funds to keep your card working. Separately booked drinking packages are taken at the beginning of your cruise, the rest - including service charge, if not already included in your fare - on daily basis. Cash will only be returned if the deposit has been higher than your actual spending and you did not use a credit card for amounts above the legal limit. If you use your credit card they'll block an amount. If your spending is higher they will block more. But it is never higger than what you booked before your cruise plus your additional costs aboard. On a longer cruise you can get a row of approvals, but at the end only one amount will be booked from your card (I can see all approvals and bookings by internet banking). Regularly you won't have a higer amount blocked from your card than to be paid, of course for example an excursion blocked from your card, that didn't take place by any reason, will not be billed at the end and that amount will be released. There won't be amounts blocked plus amounts billed, this is not how credit cards work and if somebody makes such a kind of error this is not your fault, and as you said that double amount won't be approved by your bank anyway. At the end of your cruise you will get a bill to your cabin, but if you used your card you don't need to do anything as long as the bill is correct, you just leave the ship. Remaining cash you need to collect in person, time and place will be announced. From the TV in your cabin you can regard your account in real time whenever you want, if there might be a problem just report it. By the way: you also might buy a prepaid card and wire there the money needed. I don't know whether you have them in Russia, but you can get them from another country as well, there are companies accepting customers from all over the world. It just needs to be a physical card, not a virtual one, as you need to put it into a machine aboard to link it to your cruise card(s). I use one for some internet transactions, never have a lot of money on it, but as long as it is no payment service offered by a reputated bank or pay pal I protect my regular cards this way.
  8. Stefan_Varong

    Costa Neoriviera India Visa Help

    From the governmental website: " Instructions for e-Visa ... 8. The validity of e-Visa will be 60 days from the date of arrival in India. Double entry is permitted on e-Tourist Visa and e-Business Visa. Triple entry will be permitted on e-Medical Visa." You may apply for 3 visa in one year. Besides 26 airports you can arrive through the following ports only: Cochin, Goa, Mangalore, Mumbai and Chennai, but leaving through any checkpoint is permitted. I hope that this information is practically usable at all. When cruising from Italy to India in 2017 the e-visa was just extended as quoted, but Costa told that we need a multi-entry from the Indian embassy (got one but single entry would have been sufficient according to the embassy as my journey ended with the first visit of India although visiting two ports). Obviously there were people with e-visa aboard as we had quite a lot of announcements for those travelling with e-visa. As far as I know Mumbai seaport had none of the needed e-Visa facilities at all those days.
  9. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Drsel, do you really think it's a good idea to ask the same question four times in a row (three times here in the review and one on my old roll-call)?
  10. Stefan_Varong

    Laundry Services on Costa

    Yes Mariann, the do iron, I use the Magic Bags during longer sailings. The only limitation is that they only do washing, ironing and folding, but no dry cleaning or something else within the Magic Bag. Such a service you can order by piece only. Done this with a silk waistcoat after I decorated it with sauce and they did a good job. The price was different of course, but not to bad at all.
  11. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Thanks to all for your wishes. This has been my first time with Marella (or Thomson or TUI) at sea. I booked once though Thomson a cruise on the Nile, but that hasn’t been their own ship. More will follow, but not on the Costa pages.
  12. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Yes Maryann, socialising on our Favolosa cruise was quite different - better - compared to that one to India, although the roll call was pretty poor indeed. Well, not that poor as the one I started for the tour to India - I’ve got no single response! And skip the lunch in Petra, the long walk through the Siq is quite a big part of the visit, every minute extra you have you can spend in the centre and there is so much to see. Riana, I have my own website and made a subdomain just for storing stuff like these pictures. The originals I resized to 800 x 533 px before storing, this is fine with CC and I copy the address of each picture into my posts. Turning off the airco uphill reminds me in some way to my first visit in India. It was in Rajasthan during January and on a bit colder evening I asked the driver to turn on the heating. His response: “This is no luxury car, there is no heating!” And to everybody: thanks for the kind remarks you had. Right now I am in a hotel next to the airport and I’ll fly tomorrow morning early to Newcastle, where my cruise to Norway will begin.
  13. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Hello Caryl, Indeed, the excursion “Toilets of Goa” was absolutely a waste of time and money – especially as I got an idea what I've missed! And you're right an excursion is very much depending on the quality of the guide. But this is always the same as long as you depend on others. Long before departure I do research of what can be done in port, what can be done on my own, what locals have to offer and if there is something interesting offered by the ship. Also on this cruise I've done all three. For example Petra is way to far away to visit independently, private excursions were even more expensive (I'm traveling alone) and there haven't been joint excursions offered. On Maldives I've had great days completely without buying any excursion from Costa, in fact I've got much more for even less. But in Goa there were no offers from locals, taxis I only take for short drives when I can change them in case of a breakdown or if they run out of petrol (both already happened to me, luckily without serious consequences, but let it happen one hour from the ship on your way back in the middle of nowhere between Indian villages). Very different situation if it would happen somewhere in Mumbai of course. Yes, getting ordinary visa for India is not funny. I did it twice with very special rules as I am German national living in Hungary. Seems they have put together the different requirements and I had to show even more documents. There should be reading machines for e-visa at the ports now as they are on mayor airports. The change of rules was announced early 2017 and when I was on the neoClassica it was legally in force since a few weeks only - but no official knew about and there were no reading machines... Stefan
  14. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Days 29, 30, 31 Mumbai and back home. According to the hospitality service everybody with hotel booking in Mumbai would stay until noon, just the cabins needed to be left earlier. This was valid until I got the luggage tags and the last diario, I had to leave at 6. am - even before breakfast. I decided to ignore that and left cabin at 8 am and took breakfast. Another cappuccino in the Grande Bar later I went off, found my luggage and as the taxis in front of the ship didn't accept a ride to a downtown hotel I took the shuttle to the gate. There I had no papers from the customs that my luggage would have been cleared - not surprising as I hadn't seen any official at all up to that point. Five minutes later this paper wasn't needed any more. By taxi I arrived at my hotel and I asked for storage of my suitcases, but they even gave me a room way before check-in time. I went to Elephanta Island and visited the temples there. The boats depart from the Gateway of India and it takes about one hour to get to the Island. You have to pay for the boat, taxes near the landing place on Elephanta and entrance once you are at the site. The little train getting you just over the pier is funny, but no serious transport. It end soon even way before the stairs to the caves begin. These are covered and accompanied by stalls offering typical souvenirs as models of the Eiffel Tower... Okay, the point of interest is uphill and it is really worth the effort getting up. The caves are built into the rocks, just as Petra is as well. Of course the caves on Elephanta are dedicated to Shiva. This god you also find on several carvings and sculptures. The first cave is the largest one, but the others are also really worth a visit, although it seems most people don't walk further than the first. Here some impressions: Gateway of India with Taj Mahal Hotel boats mooring at Elephanta First cave Shiva another cave That evening I went to a street food walk, a great experience. Very easy food, but delicious prepared, tastes no Costa will ever offer you. And very much better than the lunch at Panaji. The next morning I was brought to the airport by a hotel owned shuttle, sure for more money than a taxi would have been, but also much more comfortable. I flew with Emirates to Dubai, where I spent another night and took the opportunity to get onto the Burj Khalifa, before returning home. Dubai Back home I contacted the Costa customer service and asked them to refund ticket price and drinking package for one day as I was unable to use the ship and wanted a compensation for the delay. First Costa first rejected because of the “heavy storm” in Marseilles, where the ship had been in the yard before. Indeed in the afternoon there was some windy time, but according to the weather tables only a few hours in the afternoon, at no time there was classified as a storm as Costa told, during morning and noon the weather was very calm and already in the night there was no wind at all. This means if departed as late as 2 am. from Marseilles the Classica could have been in Genoa in time. When I confronted Costa with these facts the response was that a captain doesn't make mistakes and they offered me 16 € (yes, sixteen Euro). Later they were that generous to pay back the part of the price I was unable to use the services I've paid for.
  15. Stefan_Varong

    From Italy to India - a diary

    Day 28, Mumbai. For this day I had booked an excursion with a local company. I've got my own car, my own chauffeur and my own guide all for a ridiculous price. And the tour was great, there were about the same visited places as on the most extended ship tour, but no rushing and no pressure - and no shops I had to enter. Where I went in I wanted to do so. Fishing harbor Laundry Modern Mumbai from Back Bay in the Gandhi House Market Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (former Victoria Terminus )