On 17th June 1972 five burglars were caught in the Democratic National Committe headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington. With luck, and in the absence of a free investigative press, we might never even have heard of it. However, thanks mainly to the Washington Post, the murky facts behind the crime were dragged into the daylight. Two years later, after mounting a vicious rearguard defence, the President himself and the majority of his administration had been driven from office for their complicity in the cover-up of an illegal campaign against their political opponents.
Why does this seem relevant to Costa, you might ask? Well, Terry and I have received a couple of attacks for this blog by people (who weren't on any of the cruises affected) who seem not to be able to see beyond the itinerary issues. I think we need to make it crystal clear to anyone reading this blog that our main cause for anger with Costa was its unannounced itinerary changes; to this day we've not been told that Mayotte had been removed from the schedule, we just happened to notice that we didn't call there ;o)
Just as the Watergate break-in led to a cascade of revelations so Costa's cavalier attitude over a single issue has led to a crescendo of complaints over other issues. Anyone who says that we're 'cry-babies' for complaining about something that couldn't have been avoided either hasn't read this blog properly or is a Costa employee - maybe both.
As complaints mounted towards the end of our cruise we were told that Genoa had their attention focused on another problem in their fleet, so we shouldn't expect to hear from them. It's now clear that this problem was; one of their other ships had caught fire! A fire broke out in the engine room of the Costa Romantica, leading to passengers, after great delays and chaos on board, being removed from the ship at sea by ferries and taken to the nearest port.
If you Google 'Costa Romantica Fire' you'll see a whole host of reports, but all of them have the fingerprints of Costa's PR department all over them, e.g. this one. Notice the absence of critical comment, despite the name of the blog? If you would like to see how things really were for the unfortunate passengers on board then take a look at the comment made on one of our earlier postings. - thank you Patricia! Notice the similarities with our own experiences? e.g. chaos and disorganisation amongst senior officers and crew. You couldn't possibly have an confidence in Costa's crisis leadership that in an emergency evacuation of the ship there wouldn't be unnaceptable loss of life.
So, to those anonymous critics who thinks that we've been complaining unnecessarily the response should be:
1. The leadership of Costa is appalling, from ship's officers right up to Genoa
2. Their ships are poorly maintained and simply break down, e.g. Europa and Romantica
3. Management of routine cleaning on board is apparently non-existent, e.g. Classica
4. Passengers across the board give Costa calamitous ratings
5. Costa as a corporate entity fail to take responsibility for their failures and say they were unavoidable.
On that last point, how else could one explain how Costa could put the Romantica's passengers through Hell and still expect them to be satisfied with '2 days discount plus 20% off on any future cruise' - simply laughable. They just don't get it, do they? They think that all of us are such mugs that we'll take a pittance and then go back for more of the same.
So, returning to the Watergate theme, if the moral of that story was:
1. Tell the truth from the start and at all times
2. Make recompense early and honestly
3. Clear out the incompetents
then that seems like good advice for Costa if they don't want their cruise line to become a pariah of the seas.