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Costa Concordia: Our Experience

The Costa Concordia sinking is just too terrible for words. There are still people trapped on the ship, including a 5 year old girl, and the search is too dangerous to continue. There are reports that this accident occurred because the captain was showing off. I cannot imagine having to jump off of a cruise ship into the water, even to save my life. When I saw the photos of the Costa Concordia on its side, I just stared and cried.

It's no secret that Sexy Nerd and I love to cruise. Of the 4 cruises we have taken, twice on Norwegian, once on Holland America and Costa, the Costa ship was undoubtedly the most beautiful. The Costa Concordia, built at a cost of almost half a billion dollars, was just over 5 years old. It's difficult to imagine all of that - the amazing glass chandeliers, the artwork, the theaters - all sinking to the bottom of the sea.

Based on our Costa cruise experience, I was not at all surprised to read about the chaos onboard. We cruised on the Costa Atlantica in 2010 and did not enjoy our trip. There were many problems caused by poor management, none of which we have ever witnessed on other cruise lines.

The majority of the passengers on the Costa Atlantica, ourselves included, became sick with Norovirus. The CDC requires cruise lines to notify them of outbreaks on their ship. Costa crew members insisted to me that we were the only people onboard who were sick and that we must have had food poisoning from something we ate when we were not on the ship. The dining rooms were almost deserted because everyone was ill. The crew was constantly cleaning vomit from the hallways and staircases. Costa did not report this to the CDC.

They also refused to quarantine or care for sick passengers, preferring to ignore the problem. They would not send someone to check on us. They would not even bring us food. I do understand that Norovirus is a common cruise ship problem and that perhaps it is not something I should hold Costa responsible for. However, the way Costa chose to handle the outbreak was inexcusable. Everyone we spoke to on the ship was miserable and no one was receiving any compassion from Costa.

It was no wonder that Costa had a Norovirus outbreak. In the buffet, the same utensils were designated for multiple food items - cross contamination. This is Food Safety 101. There was also a small refrigerator that had a sign warning it was out of order, not keeping food at a safe temperature, and should not be used, yet the crew continued to use it. We believe the problem was that the sign was in English, which many of the crew members could not speak.

Our ship spent over an hour attempting to dock in New York. When we returned home, I read posts on the Cruise Critic message boards from people who had been watching our ship from their homes and offices. They wrote that they couldn't figure out what was wrong with the Costa Atlantica and that they had never seen anything like it. Many times, it looked like our ship was going to crash.

On our final day, no one was permitted to disembark the ship while Costa worked out a billing problem with one passenger. This took over an hour. The doors were locked and everyone was forced to wait in line until we were allowed to leave. Because of this, we missed our ferry to New Jersey. I am sure there are guests who missed their flights home.