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DrCrovatt

Just returned from Costa Victoria Greek Isle Cruise

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My family enjoyed our trip on the Costa Victoria this past week. I feel I can share information that can help future cruisers maximize their enjoyment of this cruise. First of all the ship has a very nice decor and is exceptionally clean. I found the staff to be extremely pleasant and the service was excellent. The room was nicer than I expected. I loved all the ports of call with the exception of Bari. The entertainment was very good. Although the food was good, it did not meet my expectations which may have been unreasonably high. I felt an Italian cruise line would have a higher quality of food than I would find in the US and that is not the case. I prefer touring on my own and I feel the cruise line tried to make it more difficult for the independent excursioner than it should have. Basically they give very poor or no maps trying to encourage passengers to only use their tours. On the first port Bari we followed the map. Bari has very narrow "streets". Although very clean and unique looking, narrow streets from my part of the world can be considered alleys. We were lucky not to be mugged. The only reason we were not mugged was due to the high number of police. It is easy to wander into unsafe areas. On the Bari stop I do recommend either using the ship's tour or walking left when you reach the main road and going to the Basilica only. The next stop is Olympia. I advise walking off the ship and taking a taxi. The cost is 80 Euros. The ship cost for 2 would be about 100 Euros. The taxi will stop wherever you want and the driver will wait for you while you tour the ruins. If the driver does not speak english which was the case for us, he has a cell phone where you speak to someone to translate for you. Try to leave on the first group off the ship as the time is a little tight but you do have plenty of time. The next stop was magnificent. Santorini is very nice. I advise taking the cable car up the cliff. The cost is reasonable and the other choices are going up by donkey or walking. The smell of the donkeys is extremely objectionable and if you walk you are walking up the same path with the donkeys. You can decide on the top which option you wish to use to get down. The next stop is Mykonos. Pretty straight forward. Just take the shuttle in. I don't think there was even a ship excursion option on that one. The next stop "Rhodes" was my favorite. I was lucky enough to hire a taxi driver who spoke excellent english, is incredibly pleasant and knows the Greek history exceedingly well. He took the 3 of us for the day in his air condition mercedes to Lindos and the beaches with stops anywhere we wanted and at the places he suggested for 130 Euros. Had we taken the equivalent tour from the ship it would have cost 291 Euros. When we were returning from Lindos to Rhodes he called a restaurant for us for a wonderful lunch which was prepared by the time we got there. The food was wonderful and economical. The owner spoke no english so our driver translated and there is no doubt we were getting the authentic cuisine. If you go to the taxi stand our driver is known as "George the American". I would ask for him. You can reserve him in advance by calling him at home at 2241064056 or on his cell at 6945943408. If he is booked he will recommend another driver. I give him my highest recommendation. Dubrovnik was our last stop and it is wonderful. No need for taking a tour. Just take the shuttle bus and walk around the walled city. Catch lunch within the walled town. You really don't have enough time to tour the rest of the city. I did take some photos from our trip and if you are interested in seeing them go to http://community.webshots.com/scripts/misc.fcgi?action=invitePickup&uri=album/365462669oQSHRl If you have any questions for me I will occasionally check this thread or you can email me at mcrovatt@tampabay.rr.com Enjoy your trip. Mike C

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WOW, what a fantastic trip, wonderful photos!

 

Thanks for the review and tips. This would be my dream cruise, hope to do it in 2 years.

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We were on the Costa Fortuna last summer, and we absolutely enjoyed the experience. Our balcony room was beautiful and as good as anything were ever had on Princess and Celebrity. The only drawback was that summer is family time in Europe and many of the guest rooms were filled with families (4 people instead of 2), making the ship feel very crowded at peak times.

 

We found the food to be good in the dining room and not that good on the buffet for breakfast and the few times we were on the ship at lunch. However, we always found something that we liked and we were never hungry.

 

All of the ports were interesting and when we got back to the ship at the end of the day, we felt as though we were still in Europe. Evenings on the ship, whatever shows we saw or public spaces that we visited were grat fun for people watching. We identified many "characters" and enjoyed pointing them out each time we ran into them.

 

We are looking forward to Venice and the Greek Islands and are pleased to hear that other people have had positive experiences on Costa.

 

In our opinion Mediterranean cruises are really about the ports and the feeling of being in Europe instead of in North America. Costa delivers at that level.

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Sir,

 

My wife and I along with my 13-yr old daughter are registered for the same trip starting 11 July. Your review was very informative and look forward to applying it on our trip. Our biggest concerns is of the overall quality of the ship and smoking. Could you please provide some feedback. Additionally, do you have any other recommendations for pre-boarding activities over the web.

 

Again, great review and look forward to your response.

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I found the ship quality excellent. It was exceptionally clean and very modern. I only found the smoking annoyance to be an issue around one particular bar on the 7th floor. Otherwise I did not notice any smoke at all. I advise not boarding the ship until after 4:00. There is a service in the St. Lucia train station in Venice (this is the train station next to the venice canals) that will take your luggage to the ship for 5 Euros per piece and the next time you will see your luggage is in your room. Be sure you have the Costa tags, your travel agent gives you, on your luggage. As you face the trains this service is located on your far left. I highly recommend this so you are not lugging your luggage all over venice. I recommend going to the canal and purchase your ticket to cruise the grand canal going left and getting off at St. Marks Square. You can see the palaces on the way from the water. It is nice to take walk through Doges ? palace (might not be correct name) in St. Marks square then walk to the rialto bridge. We ate at an out of the way spot on this walk that was wonderful. Then cross the bridge and follow signs to Piazza Roma. Try not to arrive before 4:00 to maximize your stay in Venice. The water ride takes about 40 minutes and the walk takes about 45 minutes. When you reach Piazza Roma, walk to the parking lot and go to your far left and you will find shuttles to the ship. Don't attempt to walk from here to your ship. If you dropped your luggage off you can skip the luggage check in point and go to the loading area. When you walk into this building be sure to go to customer service to get your number for the group you board with. Enjoy your cruise. I am sure you will.

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I had a request to bring this thread forward for people planning trips on the Costa Victoria in the greek isles.

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wonderful review. How were Americans treated on the ship? I expect some hostility but would like to avoid it as much as possible.

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Thanks for all your detailed tips. I found at least four things I will definitely use on our Costa Victoria cruise this summer. The luggage service at the train station info alone probably salvaged a few quality hours for us in Venice. Your Webshots page only made me more anxious to go. Great photos.

 

After the cruise, we have an 11:30 am flight from Marco Polo Airport. Do you have any tips about the fastest way of getting off the ship and to the airport? I'm told we may be cutting it close. Thanks.

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I never noticed any hostility whatsoever directed towards Americans. Just like anywhere, there were some passengers who I would consider rude but nothing to be concerned about. An 11:30 am flight will definitely be tight. I believe the first group off the ship was about 8:45. You will definitely need someone to pick you up at the port, not at the plaza. Not many people travel as light as I do but if possible use carry on. They are not strict on size luggage to carry off the ship and if you don't check luggage to get off you can leave with the first group. Not retrieving your luggage will be one less thing to delay you. With an early flight they will let you off first also.

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Dr.Crovatt, we're hopping around Switzerland & Italy before our cruise from Venice and I was wondering if on the formal nights if any of the men didn't wear jackets. We're trying to keep our luggage light but don't want to appear rude. Would nice slacks & shirts do or must hubby take a jacket?

Thanks,

SOM

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Hello Sominex, I did see some people without jackets on formal nights but they were in the extreme minority. I don't think anyone would give you a hard time about it but I would advise bringing a jacket. Sorry, I know how hard it is to keep luggage light. Enjoy your trip. DrC

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Thank you DrC.....will advise hubby on this; I guess he really should take one and a tie? I was the one who said don't.

Thank you,

SOM

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I would like to bring this thread forward for others taking this cruise in 2006.

SOM

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Hi Dr. Crovatt..

 

Courtney here, just checking this link for my parents who depart on this cruise tomorrow.. and I saw your post..small world.. I will give them a heads up on some of the things you listed here.. Hope all is well. I should be in Clearwater again permanently by end of the year with my new husband from South Africa. He is actually sailing the same cruise right now but on Royal Caribbean(he is an employee). Call you soon to make an appointment in the next few months!

 

Sounds and looks like you all had a great time...wish I was with them.

 

Kind regards,

 

Courtney

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Great review.

 

I laughed when I read your comment about Santorini: "Santorini is very nice. I advise taking the cable car up the cliff. The cost is reasonable and the other choices are going up by donkey or walking. The smell of the donkeys is extremely objectionable and if you walk you are walking up the same path with the donkeys. You can decide on the top which option you wish to use to get down."

 

We were there in the 80's, and I noticed that even though the donkey ride was a roundtrip ticket, no one was riding the donkeys back down the cliffside, leading me to believe that the ride up must have been particularly unpleasant. We took the tram. Later that night at dinner we heard from many who had gone the donkey route that it was very smelly, very hot, and very scary. Not one had use the return ticket!

 

Anyway, thanks for bringing back memories of our very first cruise -- we were on an old Epirotiki ship, just about a week after Chernobyl exploded and not that long after the Achille Lauro incident. We were two of the total four Americans on board the otherwise half-filled cruiseship, and darned happy to be there even if the eggs were cooked in olive oil.:eek:

 

Cheers,

Barb K.

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We just booked this very same cruise last night. We will be leaving in late Sept. The pictures are fabulous! Thanks for Ur reviews and recommendations. Hope I can still find George the American.

 

I do have a question. I'm still shopping for air tickets. I found that a return ticket roughly costs 1000USD, departing from Detroit, MI. Any suggestion on getting cheaper tickets? Oh! one more question (just remember, sorry). Is insurance critical? It's about 300 USD for two people? Seems a lot to me. Thanks again.

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Great to hear from you. Actually I flew into Milan, took a train to Veronna and stayed there for the evening. I highly recommend seeing Veronna. Very interesting and beautiful town. I exchanged money in Italy. I found it best to use my debit card at atm machines. Be careful to conceal your pin when entering your number into the machine. Be sure you know which bank atms are compatible with your bank card before you leave. A book that discusses much of this type thing is Italy for Dummies which I found very useful. Matt, with the airfare, you may consider flying into Milan and taking the train to Venice stopping in Verona. It's possible that may be less expensive than flying into Venice and you get to see more of the country. Have a great trip. I never buy the insurance but prefering to gamble my plans won't change.

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To MOSTA:

 

Hi. My daughter and I did this cruise in June of this year. You will have a wonderful time! I found many things in DrCrovatt's posts that were most helpful.

 

We spent one night pre-cruise in Venice at a very nice, reasonable hotel named Hotel Abbazia (http://www.abbaziahotel.com/en/). Our rate was 190 euro per night for a Superior Double. The hotel is a former monastery, so the public spaces are very interesting. The best thing about it is the location . . . literally just a few hundred feet from the train station. Since we traveled by Eurostar from Rome to Venice, we found this very convenient. If you take DrCrovatt's advice about flying into Milan and taking the train to Venice, you might agree. Moving around Venice with luggage can be difficult, since there are no taxis (except by water) and nearly every path leads to a bridge and lots of steps!

 

Also, I recommend taking advantage of the luggage service offered at the train station. After 8 am on embarkation day, you can take all your bags back to the train station, go thru the building toward the train platforms, then take a left and go all the way to the end. Cruise terminal employees will, for 5 euros per bag, check and transport your luggage to the ship. (Be sure you have your Costa tags affixed to each bag.) We did this early in the morning, then spent the entire day touring Venice sans luggage.

 

We took a waterbus from St. Mark's around 2:30 in the afternoon directly to Piazza Roma, where Costa provides a shuttle bus to the pier. We arrived at the Costa check-in area around 3:15, and there was virtually no line for embarkation . . . we were quickly processed and walked right onto the ship. (Note: You'll need an "Embarkation Number" before you get in line, even if there is not much of a line.)

 

We had a great time on our Costa Victoria cruise. We found the ship very clean and comfortable even tho the cruise was SOLD OUT, our balcony cabin was quiet and well appointed, and the service excellent.

 

ENJOY!

 

Lori

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Hi,

We are taking this cruise next week - can't wait! The comments here have been really useful. One question on the dress code: how formal is formal? Should I be taking my DJ and my wife taking her long dress - or are we talking jacket / suit and cocktail dresses? To be honest I'd quite like to get dressed up - but not if we are going to stand out as the mad Brits on board!!

Thanks

Phil

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Phil:

I think you will feel comfortable in either full formal dress or jacket/tie and cocktail dress mode. We saw just about everything on formal night.

 

I thought in general that the crowds dressed pretty nicely for regular nights, too. Not really formal, but just a little more polished than an American crowd might dress.

 

If you enjoy dressing up, go all out and have fun. You are going to love the cruise!

 

Lori

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To Reading cruiser. Definately take your evening finery. getting dressed up is part of the cruise and we Brits usually do it well. is this your first costa cruise? Hope you have a great one ,

daff.

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:) Hi Daffodil / Red Dragon - can't guess where you live then!! This is our first 'proper' cruise. We did a 2 nighter on Celebrity Century in June which was great, but this will be our first full length feature!

Lori - Thanks for your comments too.

 

My only slight worry is that we will be the only english speaking group on board! I really am quite happy mixing it with my fellow Europeans, but it will be nice to understand at least one conversation during the week. My efforts at teach yourself Italian have not yielded the results that I had hoped for!

Phil

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Phil:

I had the same concerns about the language barrier and being in the minority on this very European cruise. But I can assure there were no language problems at all. Virtually everyone on the staff spoke fine English, and at least one or two other languages as well.

 

As for the other passengers, well Costa will make sure your dinner companions are English-speaking. And, on our cruise in June, Costa hosted a cocktail party on the first night for all the English-speaking guests, which gave us a chance to get to know some others on the ship. I think they only do this if there are a minimum number of native English-speaking people on the ship. I believe there were about 70 on ours.

 

We were surprised to learn that most Europeans knew enough English to converse with us if they wanted to. In fact, English seems to be the common language used between many Europeans who otherwise wouldn't be able to communicate in their native tongues. We witnessed many broken-English conversations between French, Italians and Germans. They managed just fine.

 

Having said that, I can relate a funny story about our day in Rhodes. At a wonderful beachside restaurant on Faliaraki Beach, we were waited on by a young woman who addressed us in English and asked for our order. I wanted a "dirty martini", so I explained to her that would be a vodka martini with some olive juice. She nodded as if she knew exactly what I wanted. But what I got was a vodka martini topped with olive OIL! (which is, in fact, olive juice) Not very good, I can tell you. But it was hilarious! Can you imagine her trying to explain to the bartender that I wanted olive oil in my drink?

 

So, no worries about language, just write down the funny stuff. And have a great time!

 

Lori

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