We've been contacted by a fellow passenger who's had the misfortune to have been stung twice by Costa in 2009 alone!
She and her husband booked the 'Jewels of the Indian Ocean' cruise last year when the itinerary looked fantastic. Having booked and paid for it they then decided at short notice to go on the Dubai and Emirates cruise as a short break in January 09 on the Costa Classica.
Their experience was that the cruise was fine in terms of the itinerary but the Classica was a bit shabby. Their cabin when they arrived had Christmas debris around the bed (this was 4th January!) and the bathroom floor looked a bit grubby. Attempting to clean it they discovered that the mess was excrement. They immediately called the cabin steward and complained. The cabin was then cleaned as it should have been previously.
Later in the week on two separate occasions she attempted to use the public restrooms in two separate areas. Each time she was confronted with the sight of toilets overflowing on to the floor with excrement. Both times she reported this health hazard and stressed the need for regular inspection of the toilets. There were no disinfectant hand gels available anywhere and she was understandably worried about infection spread amongst people in a confined environment.
When she got home she wrote to Costa's Customer Services regarding the issue of cleanliness and expressing her misgivings about their next cruise with Costa (if only she had known!). Costa's reply was that that antiseptic hand wipes were always available at the gangways for passengers returning from excursions and that Costa had a very good hygiene record. She also received €100 on board credit for the Europa!
On joining the Europa she made a point of looking for these hand wipes and did see them, positioned at the far side of the lobby on a table furthest away from the X ray machine and in such a position that most passengers would not even see them. I certainly was unaware that there were any such hand wipes anywhere on the entire ship. As she points out, it should be absolutely mandatory for all passengers to clean their hands antiseptically before entering any food service area. This is common practice on all other cruise lines, and I thought that they were obliged to make such hand cleansing facilities available - obviously not Costa.
She also made an excellent point concerning the mandatory service charge and I'll return to this later.
So, as suspected, Costa's poor management practices have spread around the fleet - it's not just the Europa.