I am not 65 and I would never sail on a costa cruise again. The entertainment on deck one afternoon was the entertainment crew each holding a bottle of water and taking turns at spitting at each other. another day they had people trying to bust a baloon under their armpits. you call that entertainment.
Prices in Euros) eg., stubbie beer 4.89, wine (glass) 4.60, cocktails 6.90. Gerrman Weiss (wheat) Beer @ 5.46 (bigger than a stubbie), cocktail of the day 5.46. If, you like a wine with dinner, there is a package (in dining room) for 4 bottles of wine (2 x red, 2 x white) plus 7 bottles of water for 55.00 (it was advertised as dearer?). You can drink 1/2 bottle one night and they will keep the other half for next night etc. All these above prices include 15% surcharge.
I have just completed the cruise on the Costa Allegra commencing at Hong Kong and visiting Manilla, Borneo, Brunei, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh city and Da Nang, Vietnam, Sanya China before returning to Hong Kong.
I went on this cruise because of the itinary and so did most of the people I spoke to. It was a fascinating and enjoyable trip for the most part. I thought I would like to mention a few thoughts about various things and keep things fairly brief.
I found the food to be excellent in the evening at the main dining room. The menu was based on Italian but also had an asian recommended menu and also some basic foods if you were doubtful about what was on offer. The dining staff were superb and couldn’t do enough for you. The other main dining place was the yacht club which was usually busy but provided a nice buffet selection. The Pizzeria was hardly used and did not tempt at all and was dominated by a chocolate fountain which also was more for decoration than use as far as I could see.
The Allegra was not in the same league as the purpose built monsters we see on the waters now but is was ok for most part. It would just not compare to others on offer in different waters. People complained that there was not enough to do but the entertainment staff did their best with what they had available.
I thought that there was insufficient shade outside on the days at sea, lets face it the sun in that area of the world is pretty strong and high in the sky.
The evening shows were of a high standard. I did feel after the first show that it was going to be a farce as there seemed to be no linking of songs or dance numbers and the pace was frenetic but the rest of the time the whole thing was first class. The individual performers were very talented and prepared but sometime the shows were not put together too well.
The description of the ship by Costa bears no relation to the reality. Looking up from the atrium was like looking into an inverted telescope and the bits about the light playing on the water?? The large windows at the stern had the curtains drawn all the time as far as I was aware.
Comments on the tours and places visited:
The ship provided talks on the locations to be visited the next day and the ones I managed to attend were well worth the time spent even though I had done quite a bit of research beforehand.
Manilla I would suggest taking a taxi to the Catholic Cathedral and hire a pony and trap to tour the Intramurous, Spanish old town for $20 each which will drop you off at the port at the conclusion. A few dollars more will get you a few more interesting stops along the way. We went to the "the largest shopping Mall in Asia" but that was a waste of $20 dollars out and $7 dollars back to the Cathedral – our bargaining improved after that experience – but really we were just unlucky with our first cabbie.
Kota Kinabalu- Borneo. The people who did best took a taxi at the dock gates to the town for a look around and you could also take a boat to a nearby island for beach and taste of a tropical island. We took a taxi to the mountain which was shrouded in mist and it rained all the way home.
Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei. We hired a taxi at the dock gate with Jaini Mohamad +6738652816. He was excellent showing us both Mosques and the Royal Regalia Hall and then the water village for an extra few $ US. We had time to visit the market and some shops before returning home.
He told us it rained most afternoons so it was best to do what you wanted in the morning but the rains held off that day.Another taxi driver was dressed like an admiral in tropical whites but we avoided him, especially after he mentioned the price which was many times what we paid.
Singapore, From the terminal you can board the Singapore underground which is usable and very efficient. Just aim to do a limited number of things within a fairly close proximity seemed to be the best idea if it was a DIY day.
Ho Chi Min City. The locals still call it Saigon. We had a tour guide and transport to the hospital laid on by the ship doctor as my wife had a nasty fall entering the ship at Kota. I doubt that passengers will be left to their own devices entering the ship in the future! The trip to the hospital was an experience in itself driving through the city and also the experience of being dealt with in the hospital. I’ll just say we made the best of the day. We spent the afternoon sitting on the ship being fascinated by the activities on the river. Leaving the dock was a continuation of that experience and one of the best sight seeing we did on the holiday.
Da Nang. We did one of the trips on offer and went to Hoi An, enjoyed the sights and visited a silk workshop where most people made some purchase. Then we had a motor up the river on a boat, visited a small village where they made pottery and were given a small gift. We enjoyed the day which was not too demanding.
Sanya Hainan island. We took an organised tour, because as mentioned previously it includes the price of a Chinese visa. The one we took which was the cheapest and shortest seemed to be as good as any. We went to the Luhitou park followed by a visit to a beach for coconut drink and beach beds with parasols and other facilities. There we were entertained by a kite seller who was better at flying kites than making deals and had no idea of the currencies being tendered. When the business side of the family appeared in the shape of his son it was clear that he thought the father had lost them a lot of money. Then there came the parade of an alligator followed by a python for photos, but they kept away from the parasol area which I was glad of. Our guide, out of the goodness of her heart and possibly a backhander asked if there were anyone keen to visit a silk factory and so that was added to the trip for those keen on the idea.. Once again a lot of purchases were made. All the tour guides sang to their guests and the songs sounded melodic which is not my experience of oriental singing and it was not until afterwards when comparing notes withy other passengers that we realised just how much training must have gone into training all the guides. Perhaps they will be moved to Beijing for the games.
Hong Kong.We arrived at China Merchant Pier Port, a different location from which we had set out from. Shuttle buses were provided by Costa. We did an organised tour on both days as on the second day there was a tour terminating at the airport which suited us as our tour agent, Fastrack, had not included a link. What an amazing place.
To conclude I thought the trip was superb for the locations visited but there is no way I would cruise the Med or Carribean in the Costa Allegra as there are many better ships on offer. I should mention that the price of drinks on board were higher than I have experienced anywhere on land or sea. As mentioned before the daily special cocktail, if it was to your liking, was probably the best option.
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