Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gathering our strength

Now we've all returned home it might be tempting to let the dust settle and simply accept that Costa simply outwaited and outwitted us. After all, what can we do to gain appropriate reimbursement from a company that's so experienced in deviousness and has already made fools of so many customers on this route alone?

Well, we must take care not to allow ourselves to slip into complacency, especially given that so very many of the victims of the cruise that ended yesterday have already banded together to continue the fight. Terry, the Englishman who did so very much to bring us all togther. With the help of people like him we kept up the pressure on the cowardly senior officers on the Europa who were content simply to hide from us all, took over 250 e-mail addresses from people who were determined not to let Costa sweep our complaints under a stone once we left the ship.

Terry's e-mail ID is - please contact him so that we can buildup a mailing list through which we can coordinate our campaign against Costa for full cash reimbursement for their disastrous Indian Ocean cruise.

I'd love this blog to become an archive of personal experiences about Costa in general and the laughable Europa in particular, so if you have an account of your treatment by Costa in the past two weeks that you'd like to share with fellow passengers and also the wider world please send it to me at and I'll feature it here.

One good thing that emerged as the cruise dissolved into chaos was the way that passengers came together to defend themselves against Costa. I've always been a huge fan of the European Community (why can't the UK use the Euro??) and it was truly heartwarming to see everyone trying to make themselves understood in a common cause across language barriers.

Come on folks, we have work to do!


  1. Thanks David for entering my email address etc. We must not forget the hard work also that Jo put into this along with Simon our legal brain behind the wording of the 2nd proposal. My thanks goes out to you both Jo, Simon and David for building this blogsite for us. It all adds to informing Costa Cruise lines that we are not going to sit on our backsides and let them dump all over us still, as they have for the 2 weeks unforgettable cruise around the waters of the Indian Ocean. This is the only promise that they have kept to us.
    I shall be compiling a new proposal to send off to Costa (Head Office) in Genoa and also to Costa UK. If anyone has any other Costa offices in their country of residence or where they have booked their cruise, then please email me with your email address and address of the local Costa office and I shall include copies of our proposals and letter of intent to them also

    If there are any other interested parties out there who have other comments to make on other Costa Failure on other cruises then please let me know and we can all get together along with the 1800 other passengers on this cruise to show Costa that they should not keep upsetting there paying passengers and taking them for a ride.

    If anyone at Costa has any interesting facts that they would like to convey to us (anonomous if necessary) then we would be very happy to hear them, and I thank you in advance.

    Just to confirm my email address is;....

    Dont forget to convey to your travel arranger what we are doing and if they require any confirmation, such as copies of proposals, then give them my email address to contact me. We MUST all work together on this.

    Thanks to British Airways for their excellent service and good food on both outward and homeward bound flights.

    Thanks also to White Sands for the excellent service of their taxi drivers in Mauritius, especially Hassan. Thanks for the last minute drive around your lovely island on the way to the airport.

    Best wishes to you all and get those email addresses coming in to me as soon as possible.
    Regards, Terry

  2. Have contacted our travel agent as soon as we returned. Their Customer Services have promised to contact Costa Cruises and put our list of complaints to them. We are determined not to let this rest. Many thanks to Terry and David

  3. Dear Shipmates across the Atlantic Ocean,

    I am writing to you from Buenos Aires Argentina and unfortunately have something in common; Costa Cruceros!!!! On the 18th of February 2009, my husband and I, along with aprox. 260 other friends, boarded Costa Romantica for a 9 day cruise to Brazil and back to BA. As many other passengers from Europa, we too saw a lacking of professionalism as well as not to the standards or at least poor crew knowledge and service. But that was the least of our problems, long and behold on our last night, February 25th and the closing of a 5 year planning for my husband's 25th Anniversary of graduation from Military School, we had "a little fire in one of the funels" as quoted by the Capitan of the Costa Romantic, and ended in 29 hours of ordeal and poorly handled crisis on board.

    It all started around 21.20hs when my husband left the cabin to buy locks for our luggage, we were preparing them for the unboarding of the following morning just like they told us early that afternoon along with the quality questionaire that we had to fill with "Excellence" service, (as suggested by the Animation Coordinator, Patricia"), when I noticed that there was a smell of something burning. Didn't pay much attention to it at that momment, but 10 minutes later after he got back and we left for the 9th bridge, we were on the 4th Bridge, there was smoke in the passage way as well as a very strong smell of something electrical burning. People where gathered outside of their cabins, and some of them with their lifejackets in their hands. We looked at each other and he just simply said don't worry it's nothing. When we got to the elevators there were more passengers with their lifejackets and the smell was even stronger. People asked the cabin crew what was going on and they didn't know and didn't know what to do. My husband insisted that there was nothing to worry about and as we headed for the 5th Bridge, by stairs since the elevators/lifts didn't work, an officer passed us and was telling the passengers to please leave the lifejackets in their cabins as there was nothing to worry about and that this was not an emergency. To make a long story short, at 21:49 the lights went out and the emergency system kicked in. Up till then only coded messages were being announced over the speakers "TANGO ....F Bridge 3". Then Patricia, the gentle, carismatic and right hand of the Capitan came on the speaker saying that there was nothing to worry about that a small fire had started in one of the funels and that it was being taken care of. About 30 or 45 minutes later the final announcement saying that the fire had been totally extinguished succesfully and that they were trying to fix the problem with the motors to start them up again and get the essential services back on. What were these essential services you might ask, well, electricity, water, air circulation, the functions of the bathrooms, and everything else, since we all know that the ship runs totally on electricity!!!!!

    Apparently all Costa's Capitans are cowards and flirt with young blonds, since ours didn't address the passengers until the following morning. We were suppose to have dinner at 22:15 (we were in the second shift) and all we were served were sandwiches (more bread than anything else), juice and water in paper glasses, and left over sweets from the night before it had been the Chef's Gala Dinner. Oh I forgot to mention that when the lights went out and we found a couple from our group and sat next to them in the Piazza Italia Lounge, I started to have an anxiaty attack and my husband went to get me a glass of water but the barman refused to give him one his exact words were "NO MORE WATER BAR CLOSED". So as you can imagine the third time he didn't ask for it he demanded it, and got it.

    We were told to go up to the 11th Bridge (pool area) then back down to the 8th and 9th Bridges which were inclosed areas no open areas all 1429 passengers confined in two bridges which one of them had the restaurant at one end and closed may I add and the other bridge had cabins in the other half. Around 0130hs my husband went to see if anymore food could be given to the passengers since half of us didn't have dinner and there were lots of children and elderly persons who were hungry. Much to his surprise he found all the waiters sitting at tables eating....... His reaction was not one of calm and polite.... hell broke loose. Since he is a Ltn. Cnl. in the Quartermaster Division he knows that you must have the people satisfied and not hungry, that they must be as satisfied as possible under the circumstances and this was definately not the case.

    Around 0200 they told us that the rooms were now free of smoke and that we all could return to our cabins, not true. We still had the smell of electrical fire, no ventilation what so ever and in some cases the smoke detectors were still going off due to the intense smoke in the cabins. My husband and I, along with a lots of the passengers, slept on the 11th Bridge next to the pool, we pulled to lounge chairs together, he went and got the sheets, pillows and the bed cover and we slepted under the stars..... Romantic and doing honors to the ship.... Costa Romantica!?!?!??!?!?

    We were gathered in the theater at 1130 for a briefing of the Captain who asked us to give him till 1330 to fix the engine problems and that if not resolved then he was asking Buquebus (a ferry company from Buenos Aires and Montevideo Uruguay), to come and get us. The problem was that the two ferrys could only take 900 passengers what was going to happen to the remaing 524?? We were going to be evacuated in different shifts, in other words we would have to wait approximately 7 more hours since it takes about 3 to 3 and half hours from Buenos Aires to where we were.

    1330hs came around and still no engines, we were then told that the two ferrys had already left Buenos Aires and that they should be arriving around 1630 latest 1700hs. If the engines were started by then that these two ferrys would accompany the ship along its sides for safety and insuring us that if it should be necessary they would evacuate us. Now if the engines would not have been started by then, we were going to be evacuated and we were going to be briefed on how it was going to be done. That we should have all our luggages ready if not done so already so as to be ready for the evacuation without any problems. Needless to say that 1630hs came and no ferrys were in sight, nothing but the horizon and the seashores of Punta del Este about 10 nautical miles.

    By the way I forgot to mention that at 0700 when we got up, I couldn't sleep due to the hammering and cold, the smell of sewers was already invading the ship on all levels!!!

    Around 1700hs I was walking down to our cabin when I noticed that a lot of passengers were taking their luggage out into the hallways but no announcement was made, no instructions were given over the loud speaker, nothing, all I was told when I asked the information clerk was to ask my cabin crew member for instructions. Long and behold we were suppose to leave our luggage properly tagged in the hallway but what about the passengers that were not in their cabins, the ones out on the external bridges who were waiting for the famous announcement??? My husband and I went bridge by bridge looking for our friends and anyone we had had any type of conversation with, letting them know what was going on. In some cases the luggage of some bridges had already be picked-up and passengers with cabins on those bridges did not do so. Totally dissorganized!!!!

    Well I did say I was going to make it short, but sorry I just couldn't. We were to go with our hand luggage to the 8th and 9th bridge and wait for instructions leaving the key on the door. My husband and I, along with other passengers, decided not to take the luggage just yet, thank God. Around 1800hs (20 hours into the ordeal) one engine started and some of the electricity was restored, slowly some of the bridges were given partial electricity. In our case half of the bridge had electricity and the other didn't. Our husbands went to the cabins to flush the toiletes since this was an essential and crucial necesity (sorry for being so blunt but I had only gone twice and that was only number 1, I ate lots of cheese...) but unfortunately the electricity was never restored in our cabin.

    Around 2130hs we were told that dinner was being served in the Botticelli Restaurant and that afterwards we were going to be evacuated. The ship started to move about half an hour later towards the seashore of Punta del Este. For dinner we had to wait like in a 75% discount rage at a retail store; 2 persons came out 2 went in, even though there were lots of empty tables. Later we found out that they were told that only once a table was properly set could they let passengers in to be seated. What????? Totally outragous!!! If you have tables free, and the passengers need to serve themselves, and the waiter only brings them their drinks, what is the big deal if the table is set or not. It totally reminded me of the Titanic for 3 reasons; 1 the pianist in the Theater kept on playing between announcements at the time of the fire, 2 no lifejackets were necessary we were told, 3 all the clocks in the ship stoped at 2149, and 3 the ridiculous orders given by superiors to make it look like everthing was just pichy pink and nothing was going on.

    AT 0045 the evacuation process started, previously the announcement that due to our missfortune we were going to be given 2 days discounnt plus 20% off on any future cruise.... lol what a joke.

    Along with some friends we left the ship at 0345 on their tenders with all our hand luggage
    we were lucky, some evacuated on rented small vessels carrying only 10 passengers and having to sit in the kitchen area of the vessel.

    We arrived at 0415 and had to get our own luggage and walk about one and a half blocks to the sidewalk were there were buses and 18 passenger vans waiting to take us either to Montevideo, a 3 hour drive on a two way lane route, to take the ferry to Buenos Aires, or stay at a hotel. Others, like ourselves, stayed in Punta del Este where we were lodged at a 5 Star Diamond Hotel. We along with 46 other passengers were the lucky ones, some of our friends were lodged in low quality hotels or motels. We have to acknowledge that lodging 1429 passengers plus crew members is not easy. Not only were we lucky in the hotel sense, but we only had to pay for alcoholic beverages, even the phone calls to our families were covered. Some passengers in other hotels had to pay for their meals or were not allowed to leave the hotel to get something to eat!!!!! How absurd can it be!!!!

    More inconsistencies and lies kept coming. First we were going to be picked up at 1100hs to be taken to Montevideo for the ferry, then it was at 1400hs then it was 1600hs and finally it was 1830hs and we were going to be flown to Buenos Aires. We arrived at Buenos Aires city airport at midnight, on Saturday .... yep 50 hours later.

    The ship sailed on one motor to Montevideo with the assistance of the Coast Guard, it was docked up til this past Saturday where it sailed to Italy to be fixed and who knows what they will do now, since after its 14 day journey to Ushuaia, Islas Malvinas, The Falklands to you, with all my respect, Chile and back to Buenos Aires, it was on its way to Italy for its final rest stoping at Brazil and the typical European 28 day Cruise.

    I just read this in the news paper from Uruguay and also read that another ship was arriving yesterday at Montevideo to pick up 128 crew members to pick up the passengers who already had the cruise bought in advance.

    Now our travel arranger is presenting a claim of a free three day cruise but what some of us want and believe it to be just, is a 100% refund since some of our friends do not want to ever go on a cruise again, especially if it means one owned by Costa Cruceros. On the other hand finding out about your missfortune really makes me wonder if there is something we can do internationally since it is an Italian company and now we weren't the only ones with a cruise that suffered "engine problems". Something is not right, were are all the controls of these ships, what about the Rina and Surveyor Certificates, the first being issued by Italy and the latter by the UK??? How can one go on one of these cruises and be totally assured that they meet the supposedly strick controls of these organizations.

    Costa talked to us about being the first cruise line to receive the ecological certificate, the highest certificate a cruise line could get, a lot of good this piece of paper did for us while we were at opened sea with no help from anyone.

    At all times we were told that the Crisis Commission in Genova was handling our situation, that they were looking at all the possible immediate solutions, that they were looking out for our wellbeing, I don't know about you guys, but we got fed up with hearing this especially after the Capitan never spoke to us after 1330hs, never!!!!

    We, as you do, also believe that the Capitan was not capable of handling a critical situation and that it was handled in the worst matter possible. There was an evacuation drill that was half way practiced, plus the passengers that boarded in Rio de Janeiro never did one, oh right I forgot they only had a 3 day cruise on the Atlantic Ocean!!!!

    Well this is as short as I could make it, there are a lot more details I have omitted, for time reasons, and I would love to hear from you and if there is anything that I can help you with, please feel free to contact me at

    At this time I would also like to appologize for any misspelling or the use of American English, but even though I am Argentinian I lived in the States half my life, and American English is my mother language. Again my appologies to the British passengers, no offense intended at all, it's just that it is in my blood even though my children speak British English since they go to a Bilingual school here.

    Signing off with my upmost regards,
    Patricia Chazo de Marquez
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    A shipstranded passenger

  4. Hi shipmates.I have read very many of our comments since returning from custa cruises dep 13/02/09 i find them all to be true,and sad.what i did enjoy very much more than the cruise was the flight there,and even better the flight back to our home.the best things to come out of this cruise were,the lovely friends we made,the sunshine,and nothing else.If you are reading this you may be thinking of cruising,search the web for comments,the later the better,ask questions,times to vacate cabin,drinks,tips,added charges trips,read,read,read up.when you return from holiday,you should be happy,rested,with great memories,the mauritius cruise left a dirty taste in our mouths,but with 100% backing for our shipmates micky/jo as of 17/03\09 we have still not had any coments back from costa.Is there anybody there?Virgin are looking into costa looking into it

  5. Hi shipmates michael and jo calling.We received our letter from costa yesterday,and to cut a load of rubbish short.The engine was being serviced,this did not affect our cruise,and the reasons for the failed stops,our safety.The letter wines on for 2 pages,jo has e mailed back with are veiws re the commical response,and also virgin,plus a request for R BRANSONS e mail address, we have not yet received the later,if anyone knows it please e mail us thanks

  6. Hi ship mates The 19/05/09 and still no joy yet,R BRANSONS/VIRGIN have after our cruise of the 14/02/09 still not replied to our letters of complaint, possible phone problem or computor down i suppose.Next step is to write to micky mouse he might be able to contact that comedy cruise/holiday outfit.