Costa, ‘designed to meet… interests of many cultures’

This item appears on page 30 of the July 2011 issue.
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On Oct. 18, 2010, four of us left the US for an 11-day Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Cruises liner Costa Mediterranea, sailing from Savona/Genoa, Italy, to Rome and on to ports in Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey before returning to Savona on Oct. 31. My longtime girlfriend and I had a suite for $8,400.

At the beginning of the cruise, the butler who was assigned to our suite was supposed to help us get our luggage unpacked. He wasn’t there.

After the butler fouled up our first excursion in Rome, I didn’t use him anymore. I found out at 11 p.m. that an excursion he was supposed to have booked for us for the next day had not been booked. When I tried to contact him, I learned he was off duty till the next morning. After ranting and raving, I was told that we could join the tour group and to just show up at 7 a.m. and listen for our names to be called.

The ship always seemed to take the farthest berth in port. We had to walk distances of up to a half mile to get to the gate to the street — a long, long walk for a 77-year-old with a bad leg.

In our suite, the bathroom always had a foul smell. And for 11 days, the only program in English on TV was BBC News.

There were only about 90 Americans on board out of about 1,900 passengers. Hardly anyone spoke English. There were kids, kids, kids running all over the place. I thought I was on a Disney cruise.

The food on the ship was terrible, in my opinion. Beef was tough, veal was tough and pasta was not cooked all the way through. I was told that this was “European food.”

The waiters in the dining area were nice, but at dinner it seemed they were constantly rushing us.

I yelled when I found out that I was being charged $12 per day for tips, especially because my butler was getting some of this.

The maître d’, Cosmo, saved the trip for me. He was by our table every dinner. Special foods, a birthday cake — he couldn’t do enough for us. The best of the best! I gladly gave him a 50-dollar bill and the girl cleaning our suite $50.

OTTO SCHUMACHER
Wake Forest, NC

ITN mailed and e-mailed copies of the above letter to Costa Cruises (200 S. Park Rd., Ste. 200, Hollywood, FL 33021) and was e-mailed a copy of their response to Mr. Schumacher, as follows.

First and foremost, thank you for sharing your cruise experience aboard the Costa Mediterranea with us. We regret there were areas of your experience that did not meet your expectations.

Costa is an Italian cruise line that welcomes an international clientele from around the world. Our onboard experience is created to satisfy guests from many countries. This includes everything from itinerary and destination to entertainment, cuisine and much more. We strive to offer excellent service, filled with the signature feeling of “la dolce vita” for which we’ve become known.

We are thrilled to learn our maitre d’ and cabin stewardess were helpful to you during your cruise. You described your disappointment of the service of the butler. We appreciate that you brought this to the attention of the ship’s staff so that we were able to make the accommodation for you (regarding the excursion to Rome).

We also recognize you were disappointed in the cultural diversity of the guest list. Costa entertains an international mix of guests and is designed to meet the needs and interests of many cultures. While English may not be the primary language on all sailings, we provide staff who are versed in many languages.

Your displeasure in the number of children on board is acknowledged. Costa is a “family friendly” cruise line, particularly during holiday periods, the time you sailed.

The entertainment (including televised programs) is designed to provide an eclectic variety that will entertain all.

We are particularly disappointed to learn that you found the food to be unappealing. Our culinary and dining staff work diligently to accommodate the diverse interests and palates of our guests.

We regret to learn your expectations were not met in other areas also: the bathroom, policy on gratuities, and walking distance from the docking area.

Mr. Schumacher, you and Ms. (L.) are valued Costa guests. Your comments are important to us. It is with your input that we can acknowledge, understand and correct any areas that are contrary to our mission.

CAROL PENNINGTON, Senior Advisor, Office of the President, Costa Cruise Lines

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

On Oct. 18, 2010, four of us left the US for an 11-day Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Cruises liner Costa Mediterranea, sailing from Savona/Genoa, Italy, to Rome and on to ports in Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey before returning to Savona on Oct. 31. My longtime girlfriend and I had a suite for $8,400.

At the beginning of the cruise, the butler who was assigned to our suite was supposed to help us get our luggage unpacked. He wasn’t there.

After the butler fouled up our first excursion in Rome, I didn’t use him anymore. I found out at 11 p.m. that an excursion he was supposed to have booked for us for the next day had not been booked. When I tried to contact him, I learned he was off duty till the next morning. After ranting and raving, I was told that we could join the tour group and to just show up at 7 a.m. and listen for our names to be called.

The ship always seemed to take the farthest berth in port. We had to walk distances of up to a half mile to get to the gate to the street — a long, long walk for a 77-year-old with a bad leg.

In our suite, the bathroom always had a foul smell. And for 11 days, the only program in English on TV was BBC News.

There were only about 90 Americans on board out of about 1,900 passengers. Hardly anyone spoke English. There were kids, kids, kids running all over the place. I thought I was on a Disney cruise.

The food on the ship was terrible, in my opinion. Beef was tough, veal was tough and pasta was not cooked all the way through. I was told that this was “European food.”

The waiters in the dining area were nice, but at dinner it seemed they were constantly rushing us.

I yelled when I found out that I was being charged $12 per day for tips, especially because my butler was getting some of this.

The maître d’, Cosmo, saved the trip for me. He was by our table every dinner. Special foods, a birthday cake — he couldn’t do enough for us. The best of the best! I gladly gave him a 50-dollar bill and the girl cleaning our suite $50.

OTTO SCHUMACHER
Wake Forest, NC

ITN mailed and e-mailed copies of the above letter to Costa Cruises (200 S. Park Rd., Ste. 200, Hollywood, FL 33021) and was e-mailed a copy of their response to Mr. Schumacher, as follows.

First and foremost, thank you for sharing your cruise experience aboard the Costa Mediterranea with us. We regret there were areas of your experience that did not meet your expectations.

Costa is an Italian cruise line that welcomes an international clientele from around the world. Our onboard experience is created to satisfy guests from many countries. This includes everything from itinerary and destination to entertainment, cuisine and much more. We strive to offer excellent service, filled with the signature feeling of “la dolce vita” for which we’ve become known.

We are thrilled to learn our maitre d’ and cabin stewardess were helpful to you during your cruise. You described your disappointment of the service of the butler. We appreciate that you brought this to the attention of the ship’s staff so that we were able to make the accommodation for you (regarding the excursion to Rome).

We also recognize you were disappointed in the cultural diversity of the guest list. Costa entertains an international mix of guests and is designed to meet the needs and interests of many cultures. While English may not be the primary language on all sailings, we provide staff who are versed in many languages.

Your displeasure in the number of children on board is acknowledged. Costa is a “family friendly” cruise line, particularly during holiday periods, the time you sailed.

The entertainment (including televised programs) is designed to provide an eclectic variety that will entertain all.

We are particularly disappointed to learn that you found the food to be unappealing. Our culinary and dining staff work diligently to accommodate the diverse interests and palates of our guests.

We regret to learn your expectations were not met in other areas also: the bathroom, policy on gratuities, and walking distance from the docking area.

Mr. Schumacher, you and Ms. (L.) are valued Costa guests. Your comments are important to us. It is with your input that we can acknowledge, understand and correct any areas that are contrary to our mission.

CAROL PENNINGTON, Senior Advisor, Office of the President, Costa Cruise Lines