Our second cruise with Costa had some good points but some unbelievably bad points too. We chose a suite because my husband had worked interstate for the past year and we wanted some quality time together.
Embarkation was a nightmare - over two hours standing outside in a queue outside in the sun to drop cases. The delay was the people checking for visa's who struggled to read English. There were two people checking passports and a queue that stretched way to the back of the car park. There were over 1000 English speaking passengers on this voyage. So much for priority embarkation. There was no priority until you were inside the port building. Once inside we were given the no 1 card and proceeded straight to a desk for check in.
We had late lunch in the Club dining room - we asked if this was possible and were told that we had to go to the buffet and we couldnt access Club dining. We went anyway and found that we could. The meals in the Club dining room were quite nice. The menu is much the same as the rest of the ship with a few changes. However, the atmosphere is supposed to be "refined, exclusive and a private environment for suite guests". They forgot to tell you that the basketball court is overhead. Lots of thumping and banging from the courts use totally put us off our dinner and we ended up in the buffet regularly. The buffet - although very busy and noisy provided and excellent choice and all food that we had there was of a good quality. When we complained later in the cruise about the banging overhead at reception we were met with folded arms, a no care attitude and a response where we were told that the "teenagers have to have something to do".
Around 2pm our cabins were ready and ours was old but nicely appointed and comfortable. Until that night!! We were tired after travelling and had an early night, the music from the Concorde Plaza was loud. At 10.45 it was deafening. I was wearing noise cancelling headphones and could still hear every word of every song. We thought ok this is the welcome party. However, 21 night cruise and the band played every night - deafening, tiring, outrageous that this could not be fixed by moving the band elsewhere. It kept all the suite guests awake for the sake of a few (6 when I went to investigate) late night partygoers. They played the same songs over and over every night. When we tried to rest in the afternoon they practiced most afternoons. When we complained about the afternoon practice at reception we were told we were wrong that there were no bands playing. !!!! Our cabin was also inundated with smells - paint, varnish and turpentine smells from the maintenance room and the replacement of the outdoor carpet. The maintenance room surprisingly had an airconditioning system linked to the deck below -our deck. Once it was discovered where the smells were coming from maintenance was stopped on sea days (the day before we left). The suites do not have opening windows so for 9 of the 10 sea days it was impossible to breathe in the cabin and it caused headaches and vomiting.
Entertainment was provided and was reasonably good. We attended quizzes and dance lessons. The people who did craft reported that they enjoyed those sessions. Although there was a majority of English speaking people there was no English speaking entertainment organiser. So you got weird translations that didnt make sense. Such as "which is the river with the most affluence" !! so we felt that the Italians and French had an advantage at quiz and it got to the stage where everyone was groaning when the same people won nearly every quiz. Priority seating for suite guests was a joke - filled with people who were not in a suite. Mistaken for disabled seating by some. For the first week it was at the first show which was at 7.15. Our dinner was open between 6.30 - 8.30 !!!
We took two Costa excursions and these worked well for us although we usually do our own as we do not like travelling with crowds of people where you cannot hear the guide. We also do not like waiting for people who can't make it back to the meeting place on time so the only Costa excursions we took were to places that we found difficult to get to on our own. We went to Matera from Bari and Masada and the Dead Sea from Eliat. These were excellent places to visit and we would go again. We went Petra from Aquaba with a private tour company and the rest we did with taxi's and public transport. We had two tender ports and both of these were well organised and we had no difficulty getting ashore.
We felt the service from the crew that we dealt with on a daily basis was excellent, service in the bars, the room steward, the dining staff but the administration and management were either unwilling or unable to resolve any issues. They just did not care. We were told that they understood our cruise had been a disappointment and we had not received what we had paid for. We were told we had to complain when we arrived home and we would be compensated. We were given an email address to write to. However, the complaint and request for compensation was viewed as "feedback" and an apology was given. So we felt we were brushed aside during the cruise and there has been no resolution from Costa. All in all our romantic holiday together for my 60th birthday turned out to be anything but.