Costa Tropicale review

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8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I will start this thread by stating that my wife and I have been on 6 Carnival Cruises in the Caribbean before deciding to venture into the Mediterranean. I have never complained about the service or any other entity on the previous cruises in fact I always compared them to being as close to heaven as you can get. I always thought the people who usually complain about trips are ones who are never easy to please and complain about everything.
I booked this cruise on Costa thinking that since they were in the Carnival family things would be close to the same. After booking I had a few questions so I emailed Costa through the website 3 times and NEVER received a reply. That should have been a sign of things to come in itself. My questions were simple such as transportation from FCO and what time were actual disembarkment times as we had flights that were going to be tight if we went by the itinerary listed on the website.
I must caution all Americans going on this cruise that it is 80% Italians and they definitely come from a different culture than us. I am currently living in a Muslim country and I thought the Muslims were rude until I ran into the Italians. In fact my wife and I were seeing each other for the first time in 5 months to celebrate our 21st anniversary. I will get into those specifics later but want to discuss Costa issues first.
On the day we arrived we noticed a sewage smell in the hallway of the 4th floor. It continued throughout the entire stay. I hate cigarette smoke but was actually desiring it when I walked downed the hallway just to kill the smell. On the 3rd day of the cruise we discovered that a German couple had raw sewage backed up in their shower. I was amazed that Costa had no other rooms to put them in and they were pretty much told tough luck. I can only hope Costa compensated them for 3 days of sewage. I would have got off at the first port and flew back to Rome.
When you are sailing on the Carnival cruises in the Caribbean the waiters around the pool areas provided immaculate service sometimes overbearing but I usually get to know one or two of them and they know when to get me something without asking. On the uppr deck of the Tropicale service was non existent. Several times I had to get up and go down 2 flights to get my own drinks. You might see a waiter once every hour if you are lucky. I can only imagine the reason for this is because the Italians don't drink that much like we Americans.
The ports that you arrive at are generally a waste of time if you like to shop and don't take an expensive excursion. If you notice the times they arrive are usually around 1 or 2 pm, well guess what, all the shops are closed because the locals are taking Ciesta during that time.
Costa does not enforce their rules at all. Kids are not allowed in the hot tubs, in the casinos, in the bars, or in the discos but that rule does not apply to Italians because we were told "They just don't get it." One kid actually did a cannon ball in the hot tub that was filled and the parents just laughed.
Italians also don't understand that when the elevator door opens you are supposed to let some of the people off of the already full elevator before you try to cram yourself in. They also smoke where ever they feel like it even with all the non smoking signs posted. They pull up the lounge chairs on the decks and block passage ways where you cannot get by at all.
At dinner we sat with 3 other english speaking couples and after a few nights we all noticed that Americans were always the last to be served. We would actually leave the dining room 30 minutes after all the others had finished. This was not just our table but a few others that were near ours.
I must say thought the food was excellent at dinner. The lunch buffets around the pool were disappointing.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have concerning this post. I will monitor it for a few weeks.
Roseville, CA USA
2,810 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Sorry to hear your experience was not the best. DH and I were considering Costa for Baltic or Europe next year but decided on Carnival (actually our favorite line) to Europe.

Costa is not sounding very appealing to me anymore unless it were a Carribean cruise.
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3 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Hello Z Man

I knew a guy from Michigan with that name.

Sorry to hear about your experience. I’m going on the Tropicale leaving on 8/1/2005. I hope my experience is better then yours. The bathroom thing sounds disgusting! I’ve been on for cruises in the Caribbean with Carnival (twice), Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. Personally I think cruise food is better at quantity not quality. I just hope there aren’t a lot of children on the ship.

Questions I have for you are regarding the posts. Was there any tours worthwhile taking? The stop in Turkey is 12 hours was the shopping good there? Upon return the ship is scheduled to disembark at 10:00am what time were you allowed off?

Thanks in advance
Orlando, Florida USA
1,842 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
We were on Costa Tropicale a couple years ago right after the ship had been converted from Carnival to Costa. We had a great experience. In fact, my passenger review is posted over at and it's the only review on there for this ship.

But your observations are correct. Italians from Italy are U.S. standards. But they aren't being rude on purpose, it's their culture, it's their history, it's the way they were raised. They're not intending to cause offense. What we consider inconsiderate behavior is just normal for them. So Americans on that ship need to cut some slack and not hold them to our standards. You're in their land on their ship. When in Rome......

As I point out in my Review, the passengers on Tropicale are mostly from Italy and other European countries. Few English speakers and even fewer Americans. Doesn't mean you won't have a great long as you can thrive in an international environment. If you can't, you're better off on one of the newer, larger Costa ships (more Americans) or on an American-branded cruise line.

8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Hey Mango,

You must be taking the 14 day cruise. Mine was 7 days and did not stop in Turkey.
The ship actually docks at 7am and if you ask for early disembarkment you can actually get off around 8:30. We were on our way to the airport at 9 and got there in plenty of time for our flights.
8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Hey King,

No to be in such disagreemnet with you but if anyone can thrive in an international environment it would be me. I just left Iraq after spending 9 months there and have now been in Kuwait for 5 months.
I've even mentioned to my wife that after having been over here I have come to realize that we Americans have NOTHING to complain about. The reason I posted this review was for that reason - to let Americans know that it will be different. We just don't appreciate how good we have it in the States. Having incoming rockets and mortars being shot at you daily, sometimes 3-4 times a day gives you a different outlook on life.
47 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
You are right.

Italians are rude and don’t wait people to get out the lift before trying to get in, Italian childrens are savage (and their parents don’t care) etc. etc.

They do not hang around drunk the whole day
They do not pretend to be served first because they are Italians
The do not think they are superior as they have money
etc. etc.

This is just to answer some stereotypes with other stereotypes.

In my opinion it would be wise to avoid extending to a whole nation a bad experiece you had with some people of the same nation, otherwise I’m afraid Americans would loose the race by a mile.
Orlando, Florida USA
1,842 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
zMAN, I don't feel we're in disagreement at all. I was merely pointing out the Italian culture to explain why you experienced what you experienced. Your initial post did state you had come from a Muslim country which I assumed was in the middle-east somewhere. So I would have expected you to be ok in an international environment far better than most Americans. Certainly having sewage in one's cabin is unacceptable, but the other examples you gave (getting off the elevator, not being able to get a waiter up on the top deck, unsupervised children) should not have ruined your cruise. None of those are a big deal to me, anyway.

giabra, your points are well-taken. Those are stereotypes of Americans but they are based on observation and come close to the truth.....not for every American of course but for many of them. I think my observations of (many but not all) Italians comes close to the truth as well, as you have acknowledged. But I love sailing on Costa because there are so many Italians and I enjoy the difference. In general, Italians know how to have a good time!

47 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
Thanks for your reply, but I do not totally agree with it.

America is a bunch of different cultures and nationalities, and Italy has such an history that caused so many differences among Italians (the same apply to Germans, Britons and other Europeans in my opinion).

So I believe what makes the difference is the level of education, politeness and so on of each single individual. I think zMan was particularly unlucky with people he met, but the meaning of my post was to warn that extending to a whole category a bad experience with some individuals of the same category is completely wrong.

Just my opinion
Orlando, Florida USA
1,842 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
giabra, there is the stereotype of the "Ugly American" who goes to Europe and complains constantly because the hotel is not like the hotels in the U.S., the food is not like the food in the U.S. and he can't understand why everyone doesn't speak English. While this is a stereotype, it is at least partly based on fact.

And I agree with you that we should not categorize a whole group of people based on experiences with just a few individuals. However, what zMan found annoying I would have accepted as part of the differences between cultures. I believe there are cultural differences beyond just education and that's what makes the world so interesting to explore.

8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I did have service issues with Costa that were not related to the Italians. I believe if you are going to have rules then someone must enforce them or don't have them at all. This is a management problem not a cultural problem. If the rules were enforced then the class of people who are on the ship wouldn't matter.
Kids are not allowed in the disco after midnight according to Costa. My wife and I actually had to dance at 1:00 am with kids that barely reached our waist. On Carnival a worker was at the door and kept teens and children out at their desiganted time.
An Italian Costa employee is the person who informed us of the way Italians were and made the statement "They just don't get it" when it comes to observing rules. My statement to him was that they shouldn't have the rules then if they can't be enforced.
Kids are never allowed in the Casino according to Costa. Though I never went into the casino I saw chidren in there everytime I passed it.
Costa has nonsmoking signs everywhere but you can smoke anywhere you please except the dining room.
Kids are not allowed in the hot tub at anytime but were always in there.
I saw at least 2 teenagers maybe 15 years old getting drinks at the bar. When we were on Carnival last year I tried to get my daughter (17) to get me a drink special and they wouldn't sell it to her.
There was no music on the upper deck around the hot tub. There are no lounge chairs around the middle but that's because this was an old ship. The lunch buffet is located by the pool and you had to fight someone to get a table to sit at at either breakfast or lunch and don't dare get up for second servings because you will loose your seat even if you have a bag, towels, or whatever there. The people who are on the cruise (notice I didn't say Italians so as not to offend anyone) will just move it.
I mentioned service on the decks and it was assumed I was a heavy drinker but with the heat I would just like a bottled water periodically. I live in a country where alcohol is prohibited and have been without beer (which I love to have a Michelob Ultra every once in a while) now for over 15 months. I had one Heineken (yuck) while I was on the cruise. I am used to drinking 9 liters of water a day because I exercise a lot and because of the 120+ degree heat here in the mideast. We purchased 2 sets of the water coupons before boarding the ship. I still have about 8 coupons left and would have used them if a waiter would have at least appeared once in awhile.
Costa also misplaced a portion of the laundry that we sent down. My wifes jeans were in the missing part and we needed them to go ashore in Tunisa because I do respect other customs and know that in a Muslim country women need to wear pants that come below their knees and tops that cover their shoulders. We had to complain bitterly and finally they found our other set of laundry that had gone to someone else's cabin. When leaving the ship at least 75% of the female passengers were wearing shorts and/or sleeveless tops. In today's environment what a way to show you are a tourist (target).
Houston, TX
315 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Apparently, the Tropicale sails both Western and Eastern itineraries. We were on the July 4th Eastern to Sicily, Turkey and Greece. I was disappointed in the timing and length of the port calls. If you didn’t do the ships 50 Euro pp excursions, you usually weren’t able to get off the ship on tenders until an hour plus after arriving. Santorini is a tender stop that really didn’t give enough time to do much. I read about neat villages and black sand beaches, but, when we got off the gondola, we could only see souvenir shops. We never saw a taxi or anyplace that looked like you could get one. I might consider one of the ship’s excursions here if I had it to do over again. That’s not always the case though. Patmos was interesting because for a total of 25 Euro, my family of 4 took a taxi to the Cave of St. John and then to the St. John Monastery and then back to the port shopping area. Others from the ship paid 49 Euros each to ride on a big bus do the exact same thing we did through the ship.

Also, in Turkey, they made it seem mandatory to buy a return shuttle ticket for 5 Euro each. After we took their shuttle into town we walked around the flea market type shops and then strolled along the water’s edge. We were a little surprised when we turned a corner and saw our ship staring us in the face. It would have been silly to walk back to the bus area and wait for it, so we walked back to the ship without ever using or showing our tickets to anyone. Granted it was a little indirect to walk around the pier, but it was more fun to do this and look at the beautiful boats docked than riding on a hot bus.

It’s funny that Zman said something about being the last served in the dining room. Our American group always seemed to be the last ones to leave the dining room also.

I made the mistake of skipping formal dining one night in order to eat casually at the buffet. I found out that they don’t have a buffet for dinner and they don’t offer dinner room service. I had to wait until 10:30 to eat the pizza by the pool. I’m not sure why they wait that late to start making the pizza? The food was ok. You could get free espresso and cappuccino during breakfast in the dining room. But, the buffet had made to order eggs and omelets. Lunch was my least favorite.

The older smaller ship definitely lacked the entertainment that most of the larger newer ships offer. My kids made due with ping pong for the most part. Even the stand by’s like bingo and trivia were not the same because you were usually the 3rd or 4th language down the list. The party games usually involved getting Italian men to dress in drag and do crazy things. I’m not sure why this is so funny to them. The only show I did go to was a rock and roll special that was 98% English language songs.

This was my 4th cruise with Costa and the crew was actually the friendliest of all. I was prepared for the lack of order when it came to waiting in line for anything. I’m actually getting pretty good at knowing what to expect there with the elevators, smoking, etc. However, The Italians that I do know personally are some of the nicest people in the world. While in Santorini, another ship was anchored there from Celebrity. It seemed like it was mostly Americans on that ship. That was the most English I’d heard spoken for the whole trip.

I did notice the bad smell in the hall a few times. And, my toilet didn’t flush too well. I was told to just wait for a while and try again. I guess there is good reason to send this ship to another company after this season.

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8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
The Tropicale actually goes to the Western one week and then the Eastern the following. You can actually take a 14 day cruise and stay on board. They also allow passengers to embark in Cantania on Tuesdays of each week. I thought this was pretty neat. Also we had fun with our waiters at dinner. Our waiter was also the maitre de for lunch so I always saw him in the hallway and we joked around quite a bit. I am a bodybuilder so he was always bulking up when I came close to him making fun of my size. Our room steward was terrific. Our American host who is Italian hung out in the bar with us at night a few times. He was a quite a guy to get to know and has some great stories to tell. I am actually thinking about going to Rio for Carnivale and he has been quite a few times and gave some good info. I was raised close to New Orleans so I want to see something that is wilder than Mardi Gras.
67 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Just wanted to say that I agree with zMan. My wife and I were seated at the same table with him and share the same reactions to the cruise - and to our Italian shipmates.

I wish cruise ships would "capacity control" the number of kids. Some of us prefer not to have the experience hijacked by unruly children. So far as I am aware, the best option is to refrain from cruising during the summer - or look for cruises that cater more to the mature market.

I also think that Costa (and other lines) could do a better job communicating with passengers. Before we came aboard, had no idea that we'd have to pay - or how much - for water (bottled, 2.5 euro, faucet - free and perfectly OK to drink), coffee, tea, soft drinks. At 5 euros, a 330 ml bottle of local beer is crazy!

Also, we were essentially double-charged on our credit card. Each day, Costa put a 'hold' on our expenses, then at the end of the cruise charged our card, but didn't release the 'holds' - essentially tying up our cash twice. Two e-mails to Costa and no answer yet!

Of the ports we visited, we took only one excursion - in Tunis. The problem with being an English-speaker on a Costa cruise is that you are in the minority, linguistically. That means they may not sell enough tickets to make the English-language excursion you want available. You can skip the excursion or opt to tag along on the tour given in another language. Also, at about 50 euros apiece, these are expensive options.

My wife and I found Sicily a totally forgettable stop (dirty, thanks to Mt. Aetna and pedestrian-unfriendly due to narrow sidewalks) , thought Tunis was OK (we probably would have been more impressed but we've both been to Egypt before, so the Arab culture and markets are known to us). We loved Ibiza and Palma, and Corsica would have been interesting except we visited on Sunday afternoon and it was tightly buttoned-up.
Brisbane, Queensland Australia
172 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Hi - I am researching these boards for any information on the Pacific Star (Costa Tropicale) and just read your posts and I am hoping when she comes to Australia under P&O Cruises to start her cruise season here as Pacific Star, it will be an enjoyable experience....... .

We have booked 2 outside rooms (on deck 5 5079 & 5091) for the 4 of us on a 7day cruise around the South Pacific on May 6 2006. Do you think she will come over with Italian crew? I know the decks and bars etc on board have been renamed, eg deck 5 is to be called Caribe Deck.

Any hints to make our cruise a better one?

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8 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I think when the ship goes to Australia it will have a different crew. The crew we had was friendly my issue was with how things were managed. Plus you will be going to different ports that aren't closed due to ciesta time. It will be a totally different experience than the one I had.
Toronto, Canada
7 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by thezman
Also we had fun with our waiters at dinner. Our room steward was terrific. Our American host who is Italian hung out in the bar with us at night a few times. He was a quite a guy to get to know and has some great stories to tell.
Hi thezman!

Is the English host you're talking about Leonardo? He was the best, very fun and informative. We were 3 Canadian girls so he was always looking out for us in a fatherly way 'cause he said we Canadian girls were always trouble! We had a great time with him! As well, our waiters at dinner (who was your waiter as ours worked the lunch buffet also?) and cabin stewart were great. The staff in general were fantastic, very helpful and polite.

We were on the Tropicale from Jul. 25 - Aug. 1 and we all had a great time. I'm sorry to hear your sailing was not as enjoyable. Lucky for us, as our cabin was on the 4th floor, there was no foul smell at all, in any part of the ship. Also didn't really have a problem with smoking either, as a non-smoker myself, I was pretty conscious of it.

You're right, the Italian passengers on board were rude. Being Italian myself, I was pretty embarassed about it but i'm use to it (although not to that extent). Italian parents are very carefree when it comes to minding their kids...something we North Americans are not use to. But all in all (maybe it was just the week we had) there were no real problems with kids running all over the place in places they shouldn't be in.

Having read the message boards before going, I has seriously lowered my expectations for what I should expect on the Costa cruise and was pleasantly surprised with our cruise experience on the Costa Tropicale!
91 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by thezman
... I am currently living in a Muslim country and I thought the Muslims were rude until I ran into the Italians...

I also live in Kuwait and I also happen to be a Muslim (though not Arab). I believe is wrong to stereotype a whole group based on experiences with some of them. I've been living and working in more than 15 countries around the World and I've found rude people in all of them, including the USA and my own country. I prefer to remember the nice things and nice people I met rather than label a whole community for my bad experiences with some of them.
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4,730 Posts
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Originally posted by aussiecruisers
Hi - I am researching these boards for any information on the Pacific Star (Costa Tropicale) and just read your posts and I am hoping when she comes to Australia under P&O Cruises to start her cruise season here as Pacific Star, it will be an enjoyable experience....... .

We have booked 2 outside rooms (on deck 5 5079 & 5091) for the 4 of us on a 7day cruise around the South Pacific on May 6 2006. Do you think she will come over with Italian crew? I know the decks and bars etc on board have been renamed, eg deck 5 is to be called Caribe Deck.

Any hints to make our cruise a better one?

P&O Australia's crew and their onboard management are much better than what I've seen described in these posts. I'm sure you'll love your cruise on, what will be by then be, Pacific Star.

I've sailed on Pacific Sky and Pacific Sun in the last year - and have no complaints about either - and see no reason to expect that Pacific Star will be any different.
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7 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Hi thezman, question for Corsica for you: can we easily get around by ourselves or do we need to do an excursion with the cruise? is the port within walking distance to the main attractions (what's there to see)? if not, can taxi be easily hired? We normally like to run around ourselves but decided to take a cruise because of our 6 months old baby. Thanks for any info you can give us.