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Two Americans on a South America Cruise with Costa - would not recommend


CupKayke
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I am going to try to make this short and if you have questions, ask away. I will answer anything.   Let me say something quick - COSTA is a great cruise line and they are doing a wonderful job.  They are a lot like Carnival, HAL, RC, etc.  They are a normal cruise ship.  However, COSTA is NOT meant for Americans or English-only speakers and quite frankly, they need to remove themselves from allowing anyone who writes or speaks English from booking their ships.  That is my opinion, and I will stand by it. 

 

Having said that, my husband and I, two Americans who are well traveled (not just on cruise ships), flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina and took a 9-day cruise from BA, Argentina to Rio, Brazil and back through two more stops in Brazil then to Montevideo, Uruguay and back to Buenos Aires.  We did have a nice time and we did enjoy ourselves because we aren't pushy or rude Americans and we always find the best in every situation.  Also, we booked a suite which came with a lot of perks that we didn't realize and made our cruise enjoyable.  Had we not booked a suite, I think we would have been upset.   Also, we were told by the tour/excursion desk and by the hospitality desk that we were the only Americans onboard (which surprised us) and we were the only English speakers onboard until Rio when two Australians got onboard.  We did meet a couple of people here or there that knew some broken English and one very American-looking man who was married to an Argentinian lady and he spoke excellent English as did his daughter.  The cruise holds 2,057 passengers with only a handful of English speakers.  Thank goodness for our dinner staff who all spoke English!


Having said that... here's the deal.  Costa is 100% setup to NOT cater to ANYONE who speaks English.  NONE of the announcements are in English.  Near the end of our 9-day cruise, there was an announcement for the crew, asking the "Stretcher crew" to get the stretcher and go to a room number (1108?).  They said it over and over in English.  My husband and I looked at each other, sorta sad for whoever it may be or whatever was going on, and then it dawned on us that was the FIRST announcement we'd ever heard in English.   By the way, all of the crew speak English (some not very good). 

 

You cannot use an American iPhone on their ship... not for anything, including to access the Costa App - where your bill, your menus at some restaurants, your excursions, etc are located.  We did speak with the lovely Israel IT guy twice (I really liked him and his brother is an American) and he told us he always feels terrible telling anyone with an American iPhone that they cannot use their phone on the ship but it is what it is.  Also, Costa blocked all the websites I use.  I asked if I could please access my blog (it is on travelblog dot org) and nope - Costa has that totally normal website blocked.  So odd. The only website I could access to contact my family was Facebook.  

 

NONE of the excursions are available in English.  On this cruise, they tried to split the excursions between Spanish speakers (the older Argentinians/Italians) and Portuguese speakers (Brazilians).  They would not allow us to take any excursion spoke in Portuguese-only, even when we asked.  We did have two excursions we signed-up for pre-cruise cancelled by Costa because they didn't want us taking excursions in Portugese. 

 

I could write a lot and I thought about writing a full day-to-day review of this cruise but really, I just don't want to encourage any Americans to book a Costa cruise again.  It is absolutely not worth it.  We greatly regretted not booking Holland America or NCL for this cruise, but we still had a good time, it just wasn't enjoyable as it could be and there were some concerns occasionally that we did not have a clue what was going-on.  I do want to say the myths and the crap reviews about Costa are just that - crap.  Costa is a fine cruise line.  They are doing a great job.  They are feeding their people, giving them water, selling them drink packages, and taking them on excursions.  Is the food or the eating times anywhere near normal for an American cruise?  Absolutely not - but that is to be expected.  Is the water rusty brown or the rooms or hallways dirty? Absolutely not!  This ship was in tip top condition (kinda) and the water was fine.  So, there are some goods and bads but basically, Costa isn't meant for English speakers.  Period. 

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We were on a Costa cruise from Dubai on their new ship the Toscana  in February. We are from the UK. We were certainly in the minority but all announcements were in several languages including English. Every staff member we encountered spoke English. The ship was stunning. The food was good and the entertainment was amazing. I’ve never had such late nights on ANY cruise. We never do ship tours. For the price we paid we thought it was great value for money. Must just depend on the itinerary and where you are sailing from. 

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I'm on Diadema heading for the Canary Islands. Announcements are made in Italian and English, Portugese is in printed material only.

I have two tablets, one from the US (proprietary OS, many apps don't work) and one from Mexico (most apps work). On Firenze last year, for both “app not available for your device”. IT Help had no workaround. Spoke to one of the English-language hostesses about this the first day (there are two on this trip), she said she is finding this very common with US phones. BUT- I was on Sky Princess in January, their Medallion app didn't work either (Canadian group; everybody had problems).

US providers upgraded their networks to 4G LTE last year, I had to replace my US phone (which has never worked in Canada, for political reasons). Canadian providers did not want to spend the money, so Canadians now have obsolete phones which cannot roam in the US- I'm pretty sure there's a thread somewhere on CC about this.

This whole thing is way more complicated than it appears, an equal mix of fat-cat greed, programmer incompetence, and crooked politics. The cruise lines are adamantly refusing to publish specifications about what hardware and software is required for these oh-so-wonderful ideas. I expect this will be catching a lot of people by surprise in the coming years as systems change.

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Thanks CupKayke for your account. My mother and I are setting off tomorrow from the UK, via Madrid, to join the Costa Favolosa from Santos, Brazil to Spain. I started a roll call on CC months ago - needless to say there has not been one taker. I expect we will be in a very tiny minority of native English speakers. Still, if there are any others, we should be seated together for dinner! As you point out, the staff will mostly have English as the second language so we should be fine. 

 

Unfortunately we are not in a suite category - quite the opposite, we are booked in to the lowest inside guarantee cabins. They have been allocated and we each have one of the 17 'single' inside cabins. The luxury is having a cabin each. I usually associate booking an inside cabin with an all-inclusive drinks package so that one only spends time in the cabin sleeping, washing and changing. This time we haven't booked a drinks package because the prices didn't look worth it for us. We are primarily wine drinkers and 'C Club' membership appears to give 25 or 50% discount on most of the Italian bottles. Of course, every sailing has slightly different offers and terms so I will reassess this once onboard. 

 

The only thing bothering me now is the mandatory Covid tests before we board. I have not had any certain information as to where we can get these (must be within 24 hours of departure - so well after we leave the UK). 

 

Any tips on maximising value on board would be much appreciated. 

 

On 4/8/2023 at 2:54 PM, CupKayke said:

I am going to try to make this short and if you have questions, ask away.

 

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Costa is defiantly a Italian cruise line catering for Italians, MSC is far more European. I did Toscana from Barcelona to Dubai in November and have just returned on the return voyage back to Europe from Dubai. The vast majority of the customers are Italians, however there are plenty of English speakers on board and all the crew speak English. I have done Costa Fascinosia and the Diadema a number of times and again there are plenty of English speakers on board, but the vast majority are Italians.

Perhaps, before you booked you should have done some research on Costa. There will have been plenty of clues on these boards regarding the language on Costa ships. 

You say that they need to stop English speakers from booking their cruises, utter nonsense. Many English speakers who travel with Costa, travel for the Italian experience and many of them like myself are repeat customers. 

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11 minutes ago, gerryuk said:

 

The current Costa information I have is there is no need to be tested except for South American departures of over 15 days, e.g. to Europe. Ours is 16 days! It clearly says we will be denied boarding without a negative certificate from a pharmacist, doctor or clinic. This was confirmed by Costa Customer Service, Italy.

 

I have emailed both our hotel for the night before boarding and the port authority about getting a Covid test, neither have replied. Travelling to the other side of the planet with a prospect of being denied boarding is not sitting well with my constitution. 

Edited by Skipper Tim
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4 hours ago, Skipper Tim said:

The current Costa information I have is there is no need to be tested except for South American departures of over 15 days, e.g. to Europe. Ours is 16 days! It clearly says we will be denied boarding without a negative certificate from a pharmacist, doctor or clinic. This was confirmed by Costa Customer Service, Italy.

 

I have emailed both our hotel for the night before boarding and the port authority about getting a Covid test, neither have replied. Travelling to the other side of the planet with a prospect of being denied boarding is not sitting well with my constitution. 

Don't stress about it, Skipper! I'm sure your hotel will point you in the right direction. There seems to be a chain of pharmacies in Santos called Droga Raia that do the tests. You only need a rapid antigen so you'll have the results within an hour or so. I'm sorry but I don't remember seeing a testing facility in Santos cruise terminal (although there was certainly a big one in Rio).

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4 hours ago, gerryuk said:

Costa is defiantly a Italian cruise line catering for Italians, MSC is far more European. I did Toscana from Barcelona to Dubai in November and have just returned on the return voyage back to Europe from Dubai. The vast majority of the customers are Italians, however there are plenty of English speakers on board and all the crew speak English. I have done Costa Fascinosia and the Diadema a number of times and again there are plenty of English speakers on board, but the vast majority are Italians.

Perhaps, before you booked you should have done some research on Costa. There will have been plenty of clues on these boards regarding the language on Costa ships. 

You say that they need to stop English speakers from booking their cruises, utter nonsense. Many English speakers who travel with Costa, travel for the Italian experience and many of them like myself are repeat customers. 

Gerry, I agree with you about liking to sail with Costa for the multicultural experience, but I can sympathise with CupKayke in relation to the South American experience, having just been on the Favolosa and Fortuna for week-long cruises out of Buenos Aires. 99% of the passengers were Spanish or Portuguese speaking. Announcements (apart from the safety ones) were in those languages only and the entertainment staff were all Argentinian or Brazilian. We managed because we speak some Spanish. However, the upside was that the Filipino, Indonesian and Indian crew were so delighted to be able to speak English to us that we got fantastic service in the restaurant and bars!

We are now almost at the end of the transatlantic on Fortuna from Buenos Aires and the experience has been much better. There is still a majority of South Americans, but many more Europeans and even a couple of dozen Brits. 

 

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On 4/10/2023 at 6:17 AM, Dancer Bob said:

US providers upgraded their networks to 4G LTE last year, I had to replace my US phone

 

Sorry, G2, G3, G4 and now enrolling G5 is about the mobile phone signal including internet through mobile. This is completely different from the WLAN connection aboard, which you use for reading menus or connecting to the internet package you buy from Costa. On your phone you can select how to connect to internet through mobile signal or WLAN. Costa has technically an open WLAN with login for paid services. Open networks are not the most secure and can be blocked by the security of a device.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 4/8/2023 at 3:54 PM, CupKayke said:

However, COSTA is NOT meant for Americans or English-only speakers and quite frankly, they need to remove themselves from allowing anyone who writes or speaks English from booking their ships.  That is my opinion, and I will stand by it. 

Typical American attitude, expecting the rest of the world to speak English.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

On 5/8/2023 at 9:31 AM, crazyank said:

Typical American attitude, expecting the rest of the world to speak English.

 

Yeah, this post reads like a parody on American travelers. Why would anyone expect an Italian cruise line, sailing in South America, to cater to English speakers? 

Edited by tiptip
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2 hours ago, RD64 said:

With all due respect, on a ship full of Europeans, the clothing was the first thing that made him a very American-looking man.

 

I am not too convinced whether the Argentineans and Brazilians who according to CupKayke filled the ship are happy by being called Europeans. And an American living in Buenos Aires, married there long enough for having a daughter speaking English perfectly, of course buys his cloths in the US! - ???
 
Statements as “they [Costa] need to remove themselves from allowing anyone who writes or speaks English from booking their ships” or that Carnival would be one of the ultimate cruise lines and a Costa wouldn’t be a cruise ship at all should worry. Although I do write in English here I never had any communication problems sailing with Costa, actually speaking English is very helpful for communications aboard. And why extremely on Americans only focused cruise lines should set standards of what a cruise should be? They neither invented cruising nor do they even try covering as much of this beautiful planet as solely Costa does - and travelling the world instead of remaining in the same spot is pretty much the essence of cruising.

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17 hours ago, crazyank said:

in what way?

I find that Europeans make us (North Americans) look slovenly. Italians, French, and Spaniards have a certain chic sense of style. Germans, Austrians, and Swiss have a unique sporty sense of style. When was the last time you saw a European wearing cargo shorts???

 

Quite frankly European body types are suited to more tailored clothing. Let me give you an example - men’s Lacoste polo shirts. Here we can purchase the traditional green crocodile shirt - but size wise, they are manufactured for a more robust body type.  It is a struggle to find the silver crocodile version here because those are a slimmed down version.

 

One more example even in North America sizing differs. I am six foot four / 190 pounds. My relatives in Italy have no problem telling me to my face that I am extremely overweight. That being said, most of my clothes are size large. If I purchase the exact same clothes / brands in the US, I can get away with a size medium.

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On 6/7/2023 at 2:42 AM, At7Seas said:

And why extremely on Americans only focused cruise lines should set standards of what a cruise should be? They neither invented cruising nor do they even try covering as much of this beautiful planet as solely Costa does - and travelling the world instead of remaining in the same spot is pretty much the essence of cruising.

I am not loyal to any cruise line but have been on Costa 2023 World Cruise and am booked on 2024 World Cruise because I like their itinerary more then other cruise lines. And the price for solo cruiser is just right.

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1 hour ago, BVILady said:

I like their itinerary more then other cruise lines. And the price for solo cruiser is just right.

 

Two reasons that make me more often using Costa than other lines. I think the value you get for your money is pretty good.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/10/2023 at 10:28 PM, BVILady said:

I am not loyal to any cruise line but have been on Costa 2023 World Cruise and am booked on 2024 World Cruise because I like their itinerary more then other cruise lines. And the price for solo cruiser is just right.

 

Hi BVILady, I'm still trying to narrow down my World cruise - can you tell me were there many English speakers onboard.  The last Costa Cruise we did in November 2022 we were the only ones.  It kind of put me off going with them and steered me more towards MSC

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On 6/10/2023 at 2:28 PM, BVILady said:

I am not loyal to any cruise line but have been on Costa 2023 World Cruise and am booked on 2024 World Cruise because I like their itinerary more then other cruise lines. And the price for solo cruiser is just right.

Hi BVI Lady

 

We are doing a couple of sectors of the 2024 world cruise - Chile to Singapore. Have you received the notification re. replacing New Zealand with more South Pacific islands? We aren't happy, and especially not about missing Hobart, Tasmania, because we've visited Samoa and Tonga before.

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12 minutes ago, kremerlorraine said:

We are doing a couple of sectors of the 2024 world cruise - Chile to Singapore. Have you received the notification re. replacing New Zealand with more South Pacific islands? We aren't happy, and especially not about missing Hobart, Tasmania, because we've visited Samoa and Tonga before.

 

I am booked on the full cruise and got yesterday a notification that there would be problems visiting New Zealand and the new calls in Samoa, Tonga, Fidji, Vanatu and two destinations in New Caledonia. Tasmania seems to be too far away from our new route. New Zealand is a destination I was really interested in and I have no idea why visiting could be problematic.

 

BTW there is a roll call on the world cruise as well: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2806805-costa-deliziosa-world-cruise-january-2024/#comment-61974408

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22 minutes ago, gerryuk said:

I may be wrong but don't cruise ships have to have their bottom (below the waterline) cleaned. within so many days of entering a New Zealand port? 

 

Thanks, you could be right. I asked Aunt Google and there were several problems of ships not allowed entering New Zealand indeed - including a sister brand of Costa. I didn‘t hear about that earlier. If Costa - or even Carnival as whole - was unable to establish a procedure New Zealand accepts this could be a reason. Not to forget that arrival in New Zealand was planned for day 56 on this cruise.

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On 6/7/2023 at 7:52 PM, RD64 said:

I find that Europeans make us (North Americans) look slovenly. Italians, French, and Spaniards have a certain chic sense of style. Germans, Austrians, and Swiss have a unique sporty sense of style. When was the last time you saw a European wearing cargo shorts???

 

Quite frankly European body types are suited to more tailored clothing. Let me give you an example - men’s Lacoste polo shirts. Here we can purchase the traditional green crocodile shirt - but size wise, they are manufactured for a more robust body type.  It is a struggle to find the silver crocodile version here because those are a slimmed down version.

 

One more example even in North America sizing differs. I am six foot four / 190 pounds. My relatives in Italy have no problem telling me to my face that I am extremely overweight. That being said, most of my clothes are size large. If I purchase the exact same clothes / brands in the US, I can get away with a size medium.

 

You forgot to mention the Belgians.  They have a look that is superior to even the Italians, French, Spaniards, Germans, Austrian, and Swiss.  And the Dutch, they make the Belgians look like peasants, like their poor cousins to the south.

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/25/2023 at 6:30 PM, gerryuk said:

I may be wrong but don't cruise ships have to have their bottom (below the waterline) cleaned. within so many days of entering a New Zealand port? 

 Yes, NZ has strict biofouling requirements. There's more to it but generally speaking, the cruise ships need to have the hull cleaned not sooner than 30 days before calling into a NZ port. The rules allow for vessels to have a cleaning booked within 24 hours after arrival but since the only approved treatment option in NZ is haul out/dry docking, and that too only for smaller vessels as large dry docks don’t exist in the country, I would think that this option is out of question for even the smallest cruise ships.

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