Just back from Madeira and a long-arranged four day break there with old friends.
My thoughts kept returning to Costa and their shabby treatment of their 'customers' as I made direct comparisons between their 'customer service' and that which everyone else provides.
We stayed in a four star hotel in Funchal, and the degree to which our experience there soared above our time on the Europa was striking. "Ah", you might say, "Costa doesn't offer a four star standard, so that's not a fair comparison." Well, just take a look at the Europa on their web site and see what you think of their hype, e.g.
'class with refined international taste', 'intimate places', 'elegant lounges', 'extraordinary art collection'.
Then look at their general claims for their fleet as a whole: ' comfort, entertainment and pleasure in unmistakable Italian style', 'elegant, comfortable and beautiful', 'spectacular', 'personal and intimate ambience.'
Those sound like at least four star claims to me.
Our hotel in Funchal, the Porto Santo Maria, is so incredibly good that we've just returned for our third visit in eighteen months, and once again we found our expectations to be exceeded. It seems that the Portuguese really do understand how to delight their customers, unlike Costa's Italian leadership.
Yesterday there were two cruise ships in Funchal harbour; the Aida Bella (centre in the above phot) and the Thomson Celebration (to the left). My wife and I have no experience of the former, but I'm fairly confident that German efficiency wouldn't tolerate a Fred Karno outfit like the Europa, its officers and its Head Office. As for the Thomson Celebration, I'm sure that Costa would claim to be vastly superior to their competitor. However, my wife has incredibly fond memories of her cruise on that ship, and having had one holiday with her on the Thomson Destiny I can well understand why she feels that way. Simply put, Thomson offers that wonder ingredient, Value For Money, does exactly what it says on the tin, and then a bit more on top.
And there are no compulsory gratuities.
My congratulations to Terry for having learned how to update this site and kept everyone up to date in my absence!