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Truszko

Costa Mediterranea review -EC 03/13

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Hi,

 

Let me start with saying that I'm new to this board. Before we went on our first cruise ( yes, this was our first time..) I’ve read many posts here and you guys helped me big time with shaping up my expectations before the trip. In return I would like to share my experience with you. We (my wife and my 3y old daughter) just came back from EC on Mediterranea Sunday ,March20th I booked it with Orbitz.com in Jan. Total cost with taxes and travel insurance was $2200 for two adults and 3year old in cat 8 cabin (deck 7).

 

Embarkation/Disembarkation Transfer from FT Lauderdale was $11.50 (by taxi) plus tip. Took about 20 min.We were at the terminal at around 10:40 AM. There were around 50 people already waiting inside the building.My number for embarkation was 4. Don't remember correctly but I think they've starter to let people in @ around noon and at that time number 21 was given out . I was nicely surprised how smooth and fast line was moving. It took around 15- 20 min before our number was called and another 10-15 before we were on the ship. They put us all in the theater where we waited another 40min before announcement was made that our cabins were ready. There was already food available in the buffet. At around 4 pm our luggage was in the cabin. Leaving the ship on Sunday after the cruise was also fast and well organized. (took about 15 min) Taxi line outside the terminal with about 60 people moved fast up to the point when amount of available cars dried out and there were no new taxis arriving. We end up leaving the taxi line (with about 10 people still in front of us) when had opportunity to get a shuttle van for $10 per person. Overall with this amount of people to deal with I would rate this Excellent.

 

The Ship. Tobe honest we prefer contemporary style and looking at the ship interior pictures before the trip scared me a bit. It looked overdone Our opinion changed later on as we explored different areas of the ship. Overall, the whole ship design holds together and make sense.Some areas (like main lobby) are quite spectacular.As you all know from the previous reviews this ship is spotless. You would have a hard time finding area with extensive wear and tear on this ship.And it gets cleaned everyday. Once I've noticed a bartender cleaning a drop ceiling above his station for 10 min during the slow time. Pool water quality gets monitored as well. However ,I've found one area that will need to be soon addressed.Outer part of wooden balcony handrail is in the need of light sanding and new coat of polyurethane. But again, this is just a minor imperfection that I’ve noticed compared with the pretty flawless rest.For those traveling with kids ages up to 3-4 years old: There is no dedicated (safe) pool for your kids to play unattended. ( unless they know how to swim). Overall Mediterranea gets the highest mark for cleanness.

 

Food.

 

We’ve had 1st seating on deck 3 at the end of the ship. Again, this was our first cruise and what the Costa information material said we were about to experience fine Italian cousin. We've dined NY Italian restaurants before and this was (sorry to say) not exactly fine Italian dining. Inconsistency -is the only word that can describe food on Mediterranea. If anyone would like to know what was served I can maybe scan all the dinner menus I’ve collected and post it on the website to share with you? Just let me know ? General notes: Food was lacking character and was many times dull. The very first night I've found myself reaching for salt and pepper with every dish but dessert. Now to more details:( rating 1-10, with 10 being the best) Appetizers:8 Some of them that we make and eat often like raw beef, tuna or air cured beef carpaccio were very good ( but they are simple and hard to screw up) Duck mousse with blueberry souce and chicken liver pâté with egg and parsley could be easily served @ 4 star restaurant. Escargot and fried calamari were also delicious.

 

Salads: 4 ( disappointment) The following items were missing from the menu: Arugula, cilantro ,artichokes ,beansExpected italian salads were americanized to the point that I just stop ordering them altogether.You could find salt, pepper, decent balsamic vinegar and very good EV olive oil on each table.Quality and variety of salads matched the one available at many NY diners.

Pasta: 8 for taste, 4 for variety (No gnocchi and I believe only one risotto dish (but very good) would like to see more ravioli dishes . One pasta dish had porcini mushrooms listed in the menu. Dish was served with ****akes. It was good but I could be better with porcinis. Pasta was cooked to perfection every time with some level of inconsistency in the sauce department. Some sauces were blunt and just needed more spices

 

Soups: 6 (not even one fish soup) Soups were OK, nothing really to rave about.

 

If you are not a soup person I recommend that you experiment with chilled soups and gazpachos They’re my favorite.. ( so refreshing after a hot day outside) I also recommend: Rustic tomato soup, cream of strawberry, chilled avocado soup ( excellent)

 

Main course: 4

 

Why only 4..? well….For us this is what makes the whole dinner and we expect it to be something we would talk about sipping afternoon drink on the veranda. There was nothing to remember and talk about…Disappointing… There was not a dish that would be a standout. Both, fillet mignon (cut to thin to be good) and lobster (overcooked) were big disappointments. Beef Wellington was coated with some mixture of mushroom and something that tasted like chicken liver that gave the beef funky taste.Lack of character. It looked like the chef did not have guts to add spices to many dishes. Just played it save to make most of the crowd happy. Common,!!! we eat this type of food everyday in the cafeterias. I wanted something that could scream: Italian. Meat pared with sauces flavored with porcini or tarragon. All beef dishes we've tried tasted the same and were all overcooked. Same goes for quail and lobster on Friday night. Both spent to much time in the broiled and were dried out. I would recommend Prime Rib and Poached corvina fish

 

Desserts : 9 ( I love sweets so may opinion is probably biased) Simple but good. Not to sweet, just right to complete a dinner.There is this one "joke" item on the menu that reads “cheese plate” Don't even go there. (I wish they would put some real Italian cheeses on the appetizer/ desert menu)

 

Breakfast: 5 In the restaurant:Eggs Benedict ,Salmon Benedict and omelets were the main items.Hollandaise sauce that makes the whole Benedict dish was not made fresh but from powder. My wife detected it the first morning and she ate omelets for the rest of the cruise.Poor quality of orange and grapefruit juices ( very thin with high acidity)Fresh squeezed OJ available in the bar for $.Coffee was ok ( I was able to drink it black after dinner )One day morning coffee @ restaurant was very bad.Someone mentioned stale bread in the Costa review earlier.That was a fresh breakfast rolls that have hard baked skin and are soft inside.( good just with butter) Smoked salmon was very good and also available in the buffet daily. But only the first two days with capers.

 

Lunch: 7 taste and 6 for variety

 

This opinion is only based on our 3 visits to the restaurant. We could always pick something interesting.

 

Buffet: 6 for quality, 3 for variety Food quality in the buffet is not easy to be judged. It may be there for an hour and will taste awful. Overall ,stations were quickly refilled with fries burgers, dogs and other items There was one cold salad that was very good. cabbage and carrots mixed with mayo and other spices (looked like overmayoed cole slaw) Pizza itself was a different animal. I would rate it 8. Thin crust and not greasy . Made plain or with hints of spinach, feta, peppers, mushrooms...Very good.

Used buffet for breakfast after 3 day's of not really interesting restaurant experiences. They have at least two omelet/ egg stations and also regular breakfast items: sausage, bacon waffles, pancakes etc. Ice-cream machines were very popular and often empty. However, buffet staff was always trying to bring them back to service which took time ( for milk to turn in to cream) One last note regarding seating location. Avoid seating in the back of the ship on deck2. A lot of vibrations that would make 2hr dinner uncomfortable. We sat there twice for breakfast. I was ok but longer dinner may not be. On another hand there is beautiful view from the back windows.

 

Service:9 The summary of service on Mediterranea could go like this: Smile, Professionalism and Flexibility Even if food was lacking Italian character and punch service made you forget about it.Here are some examples:Our stewardess Ana ( from Peru) was excellent.Kept the cabin clean and ice bucket full.She was even trying to translate the medicine description from Italian to English and kept the minibar opened until Sunday morning to keep the antibiotic for our daughter cool.No issues. We were very happy.Our waiter, Walter. Very nice and polite. Few times he forgot or mixed up our order but that was not a big deal.However, my request for extra hard copy of the menu was always waiting for me without any remainders. I've ordered a wine package on the costa site. $92 with the tip.I would recommend it. You get 3 reds,2 whites, 1spumante plus 10 (.5 ltr )sparkling or flat water.The same wine is betw $18-20 in the restaurant or bar. Spumante cost $21. Water is $2.15 each.We liked the 2 whites: Rocco dell Macie and another called MASI and I was able to substitute the remaining reds for the white we liked twice. One time at the bar on deck 9 and once in the restaurant. Initially Walter said is impossible but I was able to convince the floor manager and we've got our white wine to go with overcooked lobster and quail. Third time we failed and end up having a bottle of Prosecco sparkling wine( it was quite good ) and sharing it with other people on the floor.Also, that same manager let us have dinner ( we were first seating @ 5:45) late at around6:30 PM on the day we came back late from San Juan city tour. Again, staff in the restaurant was very polite and they were not trying to be to friendly with the quests (something that you can experience in places like Little Italy in NYC) Of course we saw them dancing with the patrons on the floor or flirting a little with the ladies on the way to the table, but that was never forced and they made you feel really comfortable. which is sometimes hard to balance with American clientele) It looked fun and professional at the same time.

 

Cabin: 9 Clean, new and very quiet.We were on deck 7 at the back of the ship. I’ve read on this board about shower curtains being to short and bad TV reception in the cabin.When you close the curtain all the way it stays in place and water does not get on the bathroom floor.TV reception issue. TVChannel showing the map with position, speed, direction, temp etc was very bad, grainy and no color. It stayed like that for the whole cruise. The other channel I was watching or browsing through were OK. My total TV time on the cruise was about 30 min. and only to see replay of ship activities that we missed. ( well, our baby was sick so we missed all of them...More on our activities in the next section)

 

Activities :N/A Our daughter was pretty much sick (ear infection) the whole cruise. So our ship activities were at the pool (that was not save for small kids) and the hospital/ pharmacy located on deck A in the front of the ship. I don't wish anyone to get sick on the cruise and I know visiting deck A is not on your itinerary, but I will give my feedback anyway. Just in case. You can only visit during the hours posted on the door. (call 99 for emergencies and they will charge you $5 to get someone there to assist you) Hours of operation changing from port to port. Generally, mornings from 8-10am ,Night 8-11pm Scheduled visit cost $30 ( they've never heard of Cigna J) follow-up visit $25. Other visits or emergencies up to $60 per visit. Antibiotic- $30 Italian version of Tylenol ~ $5.50 ( big bottle)

 

Hospital Staff : 3 nurses (from Philippines ) speaking Italian and English. They were also acting as translators. Very nice and helpful. Hospital director ( I will call him doctore) and another assisting doctor. Both first language Italian and some English. Doctore was around 70 years old and had a little hearing problem. Also, all the tools he used during examination had to be assembled by other staff members. Looked like they all worked as a team. My daughter was first examined by doctore, then assisting doctor. Antibiotic and ear drops were prescribed with the indication that if fever drops after couple of days we can stop giving the antibiotic. I could be wrong but In US your doctor will always make you finish the antibiotic. Anyway, we are back home and she is OK now.

 

Ports:

 

San Juan- we took $15 bus tour from the Pier 4 around the city with 3 stops ( small beach, fort and old town) Overall nothing special. Panoramic view of the city from the fort was quite good .Driver dropped us off in the center of old Town to do some shopping. It was about 5:45 Pm and the shops closed @6 so not much shopping was done. Walk along the pier back to the ship with the sunset in the background was nice 10min walk and the area felt save.

 

St Thomas: we rented a car from Budget and took a ferry to St John (it is $35 now round trip) and went to TrunkBay beach. What a gem that was. Admission was $3 or 4 (kids free) little place to eat and showers. Excellent half day beach ( I would stay there for weeks… actually) That was pretty much what we saw. ( had to go back to the ship to let my daughter rest)

 

Catalina Island -Many people said it was a waist of time and for us ( we are beach bums) it was great. Beautiful beach with small palm trees providing needed shade ( umbrellas were all taken by the time we got there) Little bit to crowded with all the people from the ship, but you could walk down the shore and have more secluded location away from the crowd, bar, activities but also from the restrooms. Barbecue on the beach was a nice touch but I don’t even try to review it. We ate some of it and lets leave it at that. We could always go back to the ship but beach was more fun. That same night we arrived in the port and took a tour to Altos de Chavon. It was dark already but baby was feeling better. The shuttle was only few bucks and the village was very nice and alive with shops and restaurants. Shuttle bus was new and the whole trip felt save. It appeared that we drove thru a gated community all the time with nice houses and clean streets. ( I think this area was a part of Casa del Campo resort) This was a nice stop.

 

Nassau- overrated. Looks better on postcard..Went to Straw market ( pretty much the same stuff in every isle) Did not see Cable beach. Atlantis- not our type of place ( lot of fun for our daughter in the aquarium, however) Cost- $29 to see the resort and aquarium ( no beach access) We were done in 1hr. Don’t get me wrong, the whole resort is magnificent with all the water slides and pools and beach but this is just not for us

 

What other passengers told me… Since this was my first cruise and I’m planning to book another one soon, I was asking other passengers about their opinion .Three times when asked other passenger for their opinion, they would compare it to Princess. (don’t know why?) and they’ve always say Costa was better. Four people (all cruised at least 6 times before) stated this was the best cruise they’ve ever been on. Two of the four pointed out the buffet was better on another ships. One travel agent I’ve talk to said that when she cruised with Costa 15 years ago the food and service was awful. She said this was the best time ever and also had many good thinks to say about her conversation with cruise director (Paul). According to her Paul was the best cruise director she ever met. Down to earth, respectful and with sense of humor.

 

Final word: OK, maybe food was not a first class, but honestly… I think we’ve got more than we paid for. This was a wonderful experience and an excellent value for the money. I’m planning to book another cruise soon and will consider going on Costa again. Thank you for not falling to sleep.

 

Jacek.

 

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I was also on that cruise. I've been on Carnival, Holland America, Orient Lines and Celebrity. I love Costa and would do it again in a minute.

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I am also a Costa newbie, it seems the food is the only downside, but the ship is spotless. We always feel that cruise food is banquet/wedding food, they are making it for hundred/thousands of people.

 

I would LOVE for you to scan the menus.

 

TIA

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Thanks for the honest and informative review. I've booked the Med for next Feb for a group of singles and I was beginning to regret the decision after some of the reviews I read. But, it sounds like overall you had a good time. Makes me feel a little better . . .

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