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Question about food hours and gratuities on Costa


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I've only sailed on MSC before and loved that everything was included from the day 1 price and the availability of food 24/7 onboard.


If I buy the drinks package, will I need to pay any gratuities/tips/service fees each time I get a drink? I'm aware there is an 11 Euro per day per person general gratuity fee but I read that bars add 20% on any orders too?


How many hours a day can you have access to the inclusive food on board? Be that MDR, buffet or any other snack bars etc.


I noticed that with MSC travel agents will often have prices £200 cheaper than booking direct with MSC - is this the case with Costa, or is there generally any other way to get money off a cruise with Costa?


Thank you in advance!

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If you prebook a package you don‘t pay a service fee for your drinks as long as these are included in your package. You only pay 15% service fee for drinks billed aboard - if you have no package at all or you order a drink that is not covered by your package. It‘s quite easy to know, there are colored dots in the bar list and every package has another color. You might be surprised by the choice you will find on Costa. Of course you always can ask a waiter. Whether minibar is included depends on the package.
Mostly you find something to eat from 7 AM to 5 AM, in ports called early in the morning breakfast starts earlier. Talking about the included food: for the main meals you can either go into the MDR or the buffet. The opening times of the MDR for breakfast and lunch are shorter than in the buffet. Costa cleans the buffet area and closes it for mostly one hour between breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner. Costa is Italian and this means that the focus is laid on the MDR for dinner, for Italians this means celebrating a full four course dinner. In result only a few guests use the buffet and so opening times of the buffet are limited in the evening. If you really need something to eat at 3 AM it is available, but a small fee is involved. The quality of food in the Costa MDR is already so much better than on MSC that you probably don‘t feel the need of using the special dining. However, if you want to experience something special it is not the worst idea to try that as well.
At least within the EU the prices of Costa website and travel agencies are identical in the same country. Between the countries there are differences. But of course every agency may offer you a discount on his own account.

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Considering inclusive food only, from about 05.00 to 21.00 (as noted, may vary depending on port stop), but note closures for cleaning.

Regarding extra-cost pizza and hamburger overnight, you get a discount as a Costa Club member, it's not too expensive.

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Perhaps I wasn‘t specific enough. The buffet I wrote about isn‘t locked, but for example breakfast service often stops at 11 and resumes at noon for lunch. Again: every timing is depending on port times. While the doors of the MDRs can and often will be closed out of service hours this would be problematic with the buffet, since it connects areas on the same deck, on some ships it is even situated between two pool areas. And yes, the time between services is used for cleaning. As I said before, it doesn‘t mean that there wouldn‘t be food available elsewhere. Where one can eat is depending on the ship, the larger ones have more restaurants, but this shouldn‘t be a surprise. And in the very end there is much more food available than one could eat. BTW free dining options don’t end at 9 PM, in the MDR are the orders for the second sitting collected or first antipasti served at this time.

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