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Excursion Desk Overcharges - And Refuses to Correct the Problem when Caught!
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

My son (4) and I were on the Baltic itinerary. The food was great. The staff was attentive. But the Excursion Desk overcharged me by half and simply refused to take it off my bill. The Tour Manager, Samuela Sambo, accused me of lying about a hop on hop off bus and said I would not get a refund of 14e. Amazing. I'll never choose Costa again.

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Azamara Journey (Wine
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

Azamara Journey (Wine & Food Cruise) August 2014 Southampton to Lisbon

 

Booking & embarkation was both swift & straight forward. As with many airlines we were able to carry out our check-in process on line & print the paperwork so that things flowed in the terminal.
We were greeting with a glass of fizz, and advised that the self-serve eatery was open where we could relax whilst waiting for the cabins to be 'released'. This worked very well and we enjoyed a good selection from the buffet. I should add a note here that Azamara's ships are small (ex Renaissance R's) so there is no concept of 24 hour dining,or round the clock room service.

Our cabin was an obstructed outside cabin which afforded plenty of natural daylight. We were also fortunate that on the tendoer port days our tender was always in use so our room became an outside with large window :o)

The cabin stewards (each room has 2) were both very nice & very efficient, we rarely saw them, yet the room somehow got tidied & turned up/down without issue. In the minibar they explained that

all the drinks on the upper shelf (sodas) were free of charge, as was the bottled water ( which they added to each day used or not ). Many drinks, including spirits, wines, cocktails & sodas were free of charge in all bars at any time. Wines were also free but in a revolving selection… Day 1 had one red, one white and a rose, day 2 had 3 more wines added to the selection, day 3 saw another selection added & so it continued until there were a total of 19 free wines available, all of which were included in the cruise cost, some were better than others, but certainly a good range. It was however with the wines that I had my main disappointment (see Entertainment below).
In addition to these drinks there is also a lovely coffee bar (Mosaic) with a good range of hot & cold coffees & teas, we were a little confused when we first sat there as the drinks list have prices next to them, but it turns out that these costs ONLY apply to the 'Nespresso' capsulated coffee, the standard coffee shop 'Gaggia' type coffees were free.
If you wanted to take the drink away, they provided take away cups, holders & lids – and many people took drinks from here into the MDR instead of ordering there. The cafe also had a selection of light snacks, cookies, cakes, and, hors d'oeuvres available that you could help yourself to.

Food
- MDR. There was never a delay in getting a table, such is the beauty of small ship cruising, and we were always offered any table size we wanted. The food itself was acceptable, but really would have benefitted from being hot rather than tepid to warm.
Please note that Azamara rarely open the restaurant at lunchtimes, so it's either eat ashore, use room service, or use self-service. The exceptions to this were a Pasta Bar which ran one day & allowed you to have pasta meals cooked in the MDR to your making as you watched, and something they called the "Azamara Brunch" which ran on one day from 10:00 until about 14:00, and seemed to be a way of clearing out any old food that they wanted to shift - but food is food and despite mostly being cold, was enjoyable.
- Self Service. This area always had a good variety of options, with 2 soups, multiple styles of bread, a sushi bar, carvery, pizzas, pasta, cold meats, and a reflection of the options in the MDR. Although we wouldn’t normally opt for this style of dining we found ourselves eating here quite often as we were in port overnight and we either got back late or wanted to eat & go back out again. Also it was lovely to eat al fresco overlooking the towns from the back of the ship.
- On-deck grill bar, provided freshly cooked (ok reheated) BBQ style food, fries, nachos etc. It did get busy, but was always worth the wait.
- On-deck BBQs. We had 3 or 4 of these, and all had a very large selection of meats, salads, pasta, and ethnic food, as well as several types of salads and a wide range of desserts.
- We didn't get to try room service breakfast or afternoon tea, nor did we use the speciality dining as others were reporting it not to be worth the money – also time didn’t allow. However we did get talking to one gentleman who left the payable "Captain's Table" dinner held in the library as the service was too slow that it became a painful experience.

Service

Entertainment
- Dance Troupe. Given the restricted area available on this small ship, the troupe (2 singers, the 2 dancers who also did the daytime lessons, and 2 fillers) did a wonderful job putting on multiple shows. The use of a bank of screens to support them was inspired.
- Local entertainment. Unlike other ships of this size, Azamara only brought on local entertainment in one port - Bilbao. We were overnight in most ports, so they could have done better in our opinion
- Special Events
- White Evening, was a pleasant evening with local musicians & dancers onboard (see above). The food was a well-planned (if as usual cold) self-service BBQ, and everyone seemed to have a great time.
- Enrichment Talks. (Time for me to moan) Why-oh-why were there no Wine talks on board, after all this was sold as a Wine & Food voyage, yet there was no effort to offer insight & education into wines, pairings, different types & methods etc. I had expected evenings where you would be able to learn about the wines that Azamara offer to help us learn from the cruise, but nothing. Very poor and disappointing in my opinion.
The only talks on board were the Port Lectures, which you'd hope for, plus a REALLY annoying speaker droning on about various European Royals which really had no bearing on this cruise. We lasted just 5 minutes so maybe she had some interesting info, we (plus quite a few others) will never know

Ship
Dress Code - very casual to lax, many pax looked liked the had rolled straight off their sunbeds & stumbled into the MDR in the evenings. I understand that many pax were flying, but come on tee-shirts and shorts in the MDR for dinner, are you serious?

Rooms – were very well presented & thoughtfully laid out – Azamara had the sense to leave the ship in her original Renaissance format, which worked great. The Casino lounge bar was always lively with a great service from the guys there. The Looking glass was a little bit slower, and quieter, as the side areas weren’t obvious to the waiting staff, so you had to go & find them or order at the bar. The same was true of the deck bar, great service once you chased a waiter down.

As mentioned above Azamara have been very clever in using screens on the stage to give an impression of size & allow shows to be grander that would otherwise have been possible. Again an excellent service from the bar staff here.

There is a small lounge with bar just outside the MDR which was always a good place for pre-dinner drinks or relaxing evening listening to the very talented guitarist. This is the bar closest to the coffee bar, so the waiter soon got to know our habits & had our late night coffee liqueur ready for us to take to the Café :o)

The gym & spa were of standard offering and charges, so I’ll save space by skipping over those.
The library still has her Renaissance layout, which was wonderful, but note it gets closed often as it’s used for group gatherings.
The internet access was abysmal. Azamara had 2 lines of reply when people complained, the first was that it is going to be upgraded later this year & that will solve everything, the second – which kind of contradicts the first – was that the signal from a ship has to travel so far that response times are impacted. So how will upgrading on the ship improve that, unless the upgrade is a REALLY big aerial to get closer to the satellites ;o)

Well I think I have taken up enough time & space here, if anyone would like more details, or have any specific questions, please feel free to ask, or PM us & we’ll do out best to answer.

Happy cruising everyone,
Alan & Katrina

 

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MSC - NEVER AGAIN
Publication Date: August 26, 2014

We were on a cruise with MSC DIVINA from Rio De Janeiro - Miami.

This was the WORST experience ever!!!!

The buffet food was the same for 20 days, the staff in the reception was horrible!

And it felt like the ship was more suited for italian och portugese people.

BUT the worst was the disembarkation in Miami.

Due to a gasleak in the terminal we had to wait for hours. Imagine over 2000 people in the terminal. It was CHAOS!

We had an excursion too. But when we finally got outside the terminal, there was some MSC staff holding a MSC sign, telling us to take the bus on the other side. We then asked about our excursion. The lady told us it had been cancelled due to the gasleak. So the bus would take us to the airport right away instead.

We were told to get in touch with our Msc office back home to get our money back. So we did. We still had the original tickets of the excursion and told them all about the gasleak.

But the respond we got was horrible! They basically told us that we're lying about

this. That they have contacted MSC's office in Italy and they are telling us that there was no gasleak, that we just didnt turn up to the excursion. So we're not going to get our money back for the excursion which was CANCELLED!!

Ive never been so badly threated before!

Now they are just saying "Sorry we cant help you anymore".

How can a big company like MSC tell their customers that they are lying? When other people have written about the gasleak on different reviews sites on the Internet. Im speechless!

I've never in my entire life met a company as MSC before who lies and don't care about their customers as soon as they have disembarked their ships!

I will NEVER recommend MSC to ANYONE. This has been the worst experience ever!

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