Friday, March 6, 2009

Not a happy ship

We've all been outraged more than anything else by Costa's hacking back of our itinerary to virtually nothing, but my wife and I had issues with them from the very first night.

I initially thought that the food in the Orion restaurant was quite good, actually, although it was far from hot. On the first night (Valentine's Day) for dessert she chose melon, and to our amazement and disgust it was 'off' - not just a bit off but completely rank. I had no idea that melon could deteriorate like that.

It transpired that this melon had been on display in the afternoon in one of the upper deck buffets, had been left over and had been transferred downstairs. Talk about dreadful food handling standards.

We complained to one of the senior restaurant staff who really wasn't interested. He shrugged, offered neither an apology nor a replacement and walked off with the plate. He was always too busy to come back to us on subsequent nights and check if everything was OK, but he was never too busy to miss out on a chat with an attractive passenger on the next table that he clearly had designs on. Unprofessional and, frankly, sleazy.

Every single night we were on board the food arrrived barely luke warm, indicating that it had been waiting on plates for 10-15 minutes before being brought out of the restaurant. Sometimes it was congealed. We could have complained every night, but in the end, when there's no improvement, you just give up. Terry and I asked for a tour of the kitchens so that we could understand the whole process. At first it seemed that this would be agreed to, but then it became clear that they were stalling for time and had not the slightest intention of letting us see behind the scenes.

Terry, who has experience of working on cruise ships, said early in the cruise, 'This is not a happy ship', and one of the restaurant managers agreed with him. The reason for this has subsequently become clear, as follows.

Remember that mandatory €5 per person per day gratuity? How do you think it's distributed? Good question, eh? Well, it looks as if the distribution depends on those questionnaires that we completed at the end of the cruise. If the consensus of cusomers is that a certain area performed poorly then the tips distributed to staff in that area are cut correspondingly.

And what if customers are so outraged about the cruise as a whole that they mark everything savagely - I know that I tended to do this. I suspect that the distribution of the compulsory gratuity is slashed all round meaning that it doesn't all get handed out. And who keeps the excess one wonders? I think we should expect to see how the share-out works given that it was supposed to be a tip over which the right to decide was taken away from us.

The compulsory gratuity stinks, both in its collection and its distribution. Because, I suspect, the poorly paid staff think it's all a scam, they are correspondingly demotivate, which is why the Costa Europa is not a happy ship.

Quite apart from the engines ...

and the food quality...

and the ship's leadership ...

and the ship's generally poor state ...

etc, etc ...

1 comment:

  1. You are right, the compulsory gratuities are a disgrace. I was told by a member of staff that after the previous cruise he had had his wages cut by £200 because of a poor questionnaire rating in his area. So where did the tips go?? Its a wonder we got any service at all.