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Posts posted by Luffe

  1. Funny thing... We were doing some preliminary cruise shopping for 2026.  Celebrity had some nice 6 day Caribbean cruise on Silhouette in a concierge class balcony for 780 € per person. With "all-inclusive" it was 1400€ per person. We are three persons ie me, wife and our daughter (at that would be 14 yrs). Now the even more funkier web site stuff happens... That 1400 € All included had classic drink packages+wifi for three of us so total 3*1400=4200. With non ai aka basic cruise was 780*3= 2340. So with our Captains club discount the premium drink package would be about 1000€ for two of us and classic drink package about 900€... Why on earth I would take a classic drink package when the price difference is that low? And taking either of those drink packages would be still cheaper than the "All included" version... The kid does not drink soda etc so no need for a drink package for her. And wifi does not matter that much to us as we both have company provided mobile phones with big data usage plans (even if roaming outside of EU)


    This pricing was Celebrity Cruises  Finnish/EU website from about two weeks ago. Sadly I didn't take any screenshots because this was so utterly idiotic that my brain died at that moment.

  2. 2 hours ago, KeithJenner said:

    The odd thing is that the Cagney appetisers are 100% seafood. My wife for one would love them to make some savings by cutting back on the seafood there.

    And as seafood allergic that annoys me a lot. There should be a non seafood variant in the appetisers in all restaurants -that  would cover some of the allergies and preferences. 

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  3. It is Italian line... So food is italian, most likely passengers will be Italians etc. However the crew will be multinational so announcements will be in several different languages. 

    Usually cruise lines don't change the dinner times due to the itineraries. Early dinner is bit late for Finnish but it is doable at 6:30pm. If you get the late evening seating ask cruise line for early seating. Most likely you will get it because later seating is much more crowded than the earlier. Of course no guarantee and will depend on the nationalities on board. But on previous Costa cruises the earlier seating is not that crowded compared to the later seating which was packed full.


    And there will be parties all around the ship. But the noise level will in the theatres etc. The cabin areas are quiet depending on the location. Just don't take the cabin next to pool area... 😁 

    It is Italian but I say it is good value for Europeans as the experience is European/Italian. But for those coming from US based cruise lines it is very different. And I think Costa cruises are good value when comparing the prices against RCL, NCL etc. 


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  4. At least it used to be 99€. For us it was worth it as it included all pictures they took. Next day you could pick/select the pictures from a terminal and they would print those out for pick up. Main issue was that you had to "teach" the system that who you were. So those picture would show up in the terminal when you swiped the key card. But due to EU privacy laws the children pictures were not tagged so you had to search those in the terminal which was a chore.  

    The camera people would be all around the ship during the evening. In the MDR they would take several pictures people in that table then in the terminal there would different backgrounds+styles (portrait, landscape) etc for selection. On some evenings there would be props like a scooter where you would sit and get some nice shots of you. Note that there were also formal proper studio picture(s) which would not be included in the Photo package. 

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  5. 3 hours ago, Aussie Jeep said:

    Thank you  Would you suggest if only one of us drinks, is the drink package a better deal or just purchase say 6 or 7 drinks a day is better than the package


    So both have to have the package...  A Coca Cola  is about 5€, a basic drink is about 9 €. So let's say 55€ for that 6-7 drinks. Seven day cruise is 7*55 = 385 €. And the other drinks only water on the breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

    The question is how much the drink package costs for you? Note that I am using costacruises.fi pricing so taking our previous cruises the whole "all-inclusive" package was 480 € total for a 7 day balcony west Mediterranean cruise. So 240 €  per person which is 35 € per day. I can easily consume that amount... A few glasses of wine, few coca colas, a Prosecco glass at sail away, few expressos and after dinner cocktail... And Mrs. Luffe also enjoys her wine glasses and cappuccinos. And our daughter got the non alcoholic version for free. For us the drink package is a must - no need to be surprised when the cruise ends. But that it is for our family.  Each person/family has their own needs or requirements.

  6. Beautiful ship inside and outside. We did Mediterranean cruise 2022 on Smeralda. No complaints. Just understand that it is an Italian ship marketed to the Italians. So lots of pasta dishes, euro food etc. The crew speaks English but the announcements are usually Italian, followed by multi language barrage. 2023 Toscana was running close to max capacity and it was approaching the upper limit. So if there is lots of passengers the queues will long, the elevators crowded etc.  


    For Finnish market the drink package is very cheap and highly recommended as it contains not only alcoholic drinks but also the expresso, cappuccino, sodas, juices, daily water bottles etc. 

    Do the math and see 2023 Toscana drink price list(s) (which was about same price as in 2022 Smeralda cruise) in my previous post: 


  7. Used to cruise with Celebrity - did few Costa cruises lately as those are cheap. As our anniversary was coming up I started to compare pricing for a bit more up scale experience than Costa for our family (me, wife and 12 yr daughter). As I had previous positive experience with Celebrity I started there doing some test bookings and reading Cruise Critic posts. The negative amount of changes mentioned in the posts  and pricing forced me to do some alternative searching for more options. NCL came up, did some booking tests, read even more Cruise Critic posts. At first the Celebrity seemed cheaper than NCL  but then I realised that the ship was Summit and for bit more modern ship the price tag will be much higher. Add few requirements such as a balcony, drink package and price was out of question. NCL has a modern ship (Viva) and some perks are included like special dining. The price tag was still expensive but doable as NCL does not charge full cruise fare for the daughter. Funny thing that RCL was most expensive for us as they charged full adult price for the daughter.  


    So now we are in a long wait for the Viva Greek Isle cruise to start but it is going to be interesting comparison between Celebrity, NCL and Costa... In the end Celebrity lost a customer booking simply due to all late changes, Cruise Critic posts, pricing etc.  

  8. The usual route for Costa Toscana/Smeralda is a west Mediterranean roundtrip where passengers are embarking/disembarking on almost all ports. So there is no traditional embarkation day for all passengers. After the buffet closes at 16.00 there is a coffee, tea and dessert buffet starting at 16.30 and ending at 17.30. This summer on Toscana the buffet closed ie they removed the lunch food, cleaned it for 20 minutes then setup the snack food offering but the actual restaurant was open whole time so some passengers just took the last minute food from the lunch buffet and just waited for the dessert for 30 minutes while the waiters were trying to get the empty plates, tables cleaned from the restaurant. 

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  9. I haven't used it but a slight warning. One cruise(-22) was during covid so it might be just an exception that green train was downgraded but this summer with fully loaded Toscana the Green train excursion was also downgraded to a bus service.  The amount of busses in the morning was astonishing - the port was packed with the busses. And the earlier busses had already left the port. The end result was that when Toscana left the port it was delayed  1 hour due to busses being stuck in Rome traffic etc. We had a balcony view on the show 😂


  10. Never tried to order drinks from room service. We just carried the drinks with us to the cabin balcony. The MyDrinks Plus is very limited and expensive compared to the basic MyDrinks - some "premium" drinks are included and you can order a drink made of a specific brand instead of a generic "gin tonic".   See my older post about Toscana menus. Even if the ship is not same it should be similar enough to give a rough idea what are the differences in those two packages. However if there was a minibar in the cabin I might consider the Plus package just for the convince factor. 


    Last time I needed ice I just walked to the bar and asked if I could have some ice cubes. The bar tender asked then "How many?" I answered that  "a few for some medical usage". The bar tender grabbed a glass and filled it with ice and gave it to me.  


  11. Due to all negativity in these Costa topics I want to bring out some positive feedback too. So this is about our 2022 cruise in Costa Smeralda.


    The original plan was to celebrate our wedding anniversary in summer 2020. In January 2020 Costa ran an ad campaign in Finnish media. The cruise price (flight not included ) was nice (about 2500 € in balcony, drinks included ) for 2 adults and 1 child. Wife and I have previously cruised on two different Celebrity cruises but those prices are insane for us (comparable mediterranean cruise is 6000+€) so we decided to try Costa. If it is crap we still see some nice places and have a small vacation. Well, covid hit and the cruise was multiple times delayed, changed etc. Costa kept us informed nicely and nothing to complain about that process. Finally 2022 the cruise was actually happening.... The rescheduling flights is an another story... 


    We got embarkation bracket late after noon and I emailed Costa asking for earlier bracket.  We got the midday bracket which fit nicely into our flight schedule (ie early morning departure from Helsinki, short lay over in Munich, then Barcelona). The embarkation process was chaotic due to covid. Outside was this huge queue with people and their luggage mountains. At least there was shade but it took some time as people had to show passports, tickets, covid certificates etc to get the luggage tagged. Some people did not listen to the instructions so tempers were short on the staff side and the people. Finally we got the luggage off our hands... Our child commented "How hard it is to have all the paper work ready, instead of starting to dig/hunt around your belongings at the desk" Actual process was rather quick with the papers checked multiple times, temperature taken etc.   Finally the adventure can start...


    What can be said about the ship? It is beautiful, huge and has some quirks.... The quirks have been told already by many others. Like blocked views in the central entertainment area etc. Due to the ships size prepare for some transit times. Especially the elevator usage in the evening was utter chaos. Kids running around, pressing elevator buttons, people jamming into a full elevator that is going up and then waiting it to go down instead of waiting the down elevator to show up, cutting elevator queues, rude behaviour etc. As our cabin was in 17th deck forward, we started to take some odd routes to avoid the elevator chaos. Example walk from MDR 5th floor, aft to 7th floor forward elevator... The child commented on 5th day that "There needs to be an elevator access training added to the cabin key, and misbehaving can remove the elevator privileges" 


    What can be said about the entertainment? No complaints, basic cruise stuff. However sometimes getting the seating with good view was hard - we solved the problem by taking our evening drinks with us into our cabin and just watched the show from cabin tv. 


    What can be said about the food? It depends. If you hate pasta don't bother. 😀 The breakfast was normal hotel stuff - the order from the menus in a MDR was better but trying to figure out how much or what shall you order from the menu was hard. Ie. some of the dishes were small (2 hams, some melon) some large (3 large croissants stuffed to brim with ham+cheese). The lunch buffet was also bit basic but nothing to complain about. The MDR lunch was  good bordering on excellent depending on the staffing. The bread, pastas, hams were excellent. Also the pizza was excellent. The dinner was good, only that anything "grilled" was rather bland compared to anything that was done slowly. Ie anything that was to be heated then brought to table was not so good. Those that had been simmered, sous-vide etc were good. The regional special dishes were nice idea to bring the food for tasting.  Also mixing adult menu with child menu was not issue with our kid. Sometimes we asked to bring some "special" dish as an extra dish for our child for her to taste. And the ice cream and Nutella bar got some high points from our kid.  The teppanyaki special restaurant was fantastic - good show with good food. And the afternoon tea was excellent - some nice cakes, cookies etc to fill your belly while waiting for the dinner. You quickly learned what is excellent and what was not. 


    I think drink package is not optional - it made our life so much easier as 99% of stuff was included in the package so we could just enjoy life. I can understand if you are not heavily drinking wine, cocktails etc why you would want to skip it. For us it is not optional and the basic "my drinks " is good value.


    Ship excursions? Most of the our preplanned excursions were cancelled and hem getting refunded or replacement was annoying. 


    What can be said about the staff? Very friendly and willing to help you. No difference in Celebrity except the cabin was not cleaned often nor throughly. No complaints. At 3rd day the  bar tender at our favourite  corner did not ask any specifics anymore, just "The usual?" Also majority of the staff was not Italian so English was used most of the time. At few times there was language barrier but the usual "smile, point, smile" technique worked. At the end of cruise I went to ask about any future cruise discount at Costa desk - the first agent didn't speak good English but after a quick chat he switched the clients with his colleague - The new agent spoke almost perfect English and we got a nice offer for this summer...


    In the end we were so happy about the cruise and the price that we decided to try Costa Toscana this summer. Sure Celebrity had better food and some better stuff but the price is too way too high for us - we can take 2-3 Costa Cruises instead of one Celebrity cruise.

    • Like 6
  12. At MDR you will most likely have to ask them to bring the better wines. Last summer with My Drinks package (non plus version) the wine was usually "house" variant ie not bad but nothing special. If you wanted a specific wine by glass you had to ask for it. One evening the next table to us provided very good entertainment for us as they ordered a specific bottle of wine and then later on complained about the bill. The waiter told them multiple times "Wine by bottle is not included in the drinks package.But wine by glasses are..." 


    The difference between the drink packages are  easy to spot in via colored dots and bar tenders will ask multiple times that "This is not included in the package. Are you sure?" 

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  13. For our  cruise (8 day Mediterranean):

    100% alcohol-free( 40 beverages) is 119 € per person (child price is same as adult price)

    100% alcohol-free (20 beverages) is 75 € per person (child price is same as adult price)


    Our cruise fare included the Brindiamo package so I can't add the drink packages only upgrade them..  

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