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Old 04-05-2018, 10:55 AM
58 posts, read 38,274 times
Reputation: 64


Word of warning: If you're taking a trip to the Mediterranean, DO NOT (I repeat: DO. NOT!) ever consider traveling on any Grimaldi Lines vessel. Grimaldi Lines is an Italian company, and it is an utter abomination. You can get from point A to point B around Italy, Spain, Greece, etc. We recently took an overnight trip on one of their "cruise ferry" ships. It was basically like a "stripped down" version of a smaller cruise ship with an area for cars & trucks. Reason for taking the trip was two-fold: a) I like to minimize my flying as much as possible. b) Taking this ship offered a "break" in our busy trip and was substantially cheaper than a one-way flight to our destination. Here's a recap of our experience:

The good:
1) Miraculously, we still made it to our destination on time, even though the ship departed about an hour late.

And that, my friends, is the only "good" thing I've got.

The BAD:
1) There is ZERO SECURITY. Anyone can do anything on this ship if they really wanted to. Even passports are barely checked.

2) The entire ship was filthy. Maybe it gets a surface clean once a week - I'm being generous here. It's probably only cleaned once a month, if that. We booked an oceanview cabin. We had clean sheets, thank goodness, but our bathroom was atrocious. We had this sticker on our toilet saying it was clean. That toilet was NOT CLEAN! Neither was the rest of the bathroom. If it weren't for me packing some Lysol wipes we would have had to suffer with a disgusting bathroom.

3) The ship departed in the late evening. It was an overnight trip. Our muster drill did not take place until about 1030 the next morning, when the trip was nearly over! The workers distributed life vests to only a few passengers in our station. The workers kept alternating between speaking Italian, Spanish and English. It took them at least an hour to "complete" the "drill" (or at least pretend to do so...). If there was an actual emergency, everyone on the ship would be dead. Well, everyone except the crew because I'm sure they would have found a way to save themselves and ONLY themselves.

4) We prepaid two meals (thankfully, the dining area was relatively OK - I did see this area being cleaned, and this was the ONLY area being cleaned!). Even though we prepaid two meals, we were still charged extra both times. I'm not really sure why because we were pretty conservative with what we ate (given the whole creepy vibe of the ship and all). We asked the workers what food we were actually entitled to. That wasn't made clear (e.g. there were no signs posted anywhere). The workers, who spoke enough English (and I also understand a little Italian, too...) simply REFUSED to answer our questions. REFUSED. There is ZERO customer service. Honestly, I think we said "that's OK, we don't want anything to eat," I think we would have even been charged extra for NOT eating.

5) Since there is ZERO customer service and ZERO safety, I'll go out on a limb and say the workers have ZERO work ethic. I could not tell if these workers are trying to gather some training and experience to work on an actual cruise line or if they're cruise line rejects. I've come across many people who hate what they do and are completely ungrateful to even have a job at all. These workers are even more miserable than that!

You get the drift. TRULY TERRIBLE. Think Amtrak train at sea, but 1,000 times worse. Taking this "cruise ferry" makes a Carnival cruise look like it's a luxury cruise! I hate to admit I've sailed Carnival and definitely don't plan on doing so anytime soon.

I've had some frustrating travel experiences, but my experience on Grimaldi Lines was far and beyond my worst travel experience ever. Thank goodness we survived - traveling with Grimaldi means you are risking your life to the extreme.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:24 PM
Status: "I am Blessed." (set 11 days ago)
Location: Spurs country. "Go, Spurs, Go!"
3,423 posts, read 3,975,533 times
Reputation: 8904
Thanks for posting this very important information.
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Old 04-06-2018, 01:53 AM
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,448 posts, read 1,689,855 times
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You didn't say your ports of departure and destination, nor the fare. What would have been the alternate means of going to the same place? You said it was cheaper than air, which for some passengers, a strlong plus that would outweigh your entire list of abominations. One can put up with anything for 18 hours, including my stopover Guam last year.

Actually, it sounds like my kind of travel. These are called 'Ro-ro ferry", for transporting trucks, and they also have passenger accommodations. I sailed on one from Odessa to Batumi, which took three days, and there was absolutely nothing. No TV or cell, no security, no safety muster, no crew visible except cursory dining room wait staff. No provision for entertainment of any kind. Meals were excellent, no extra charge. Im not the kind of traveler who notices whether anything is clean or not, but I didn't notice anything gross.

In other words, it was not a "cruise" , it was a ferry that takes people across the water and drops them off on the other side, alive and dry.
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Old 04-06-2018, 11:41 AM
2,695 posts, read 1,548,358 times
Reputation: 2603
From Wikipedia:
Grimaldi Lines operate ferry-lines with routes in the Mediterranean. They have routes to Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Malta and Italy. Under the Grimaldi Lines brand they operate six ro-ro ferries. The ships in the Grimaldi Lines fleet vary in size and design, with the larger ferries being able to carry up to 2200 passengers and a cruise-speed of 22.5 knots
What were you expecting from a ferry? Entertainment? A fancy bar?
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:33 PM
Location: Woodstock, GA
2,069 posts, read 3,506,055 times
Reputation: 2558
Originally Posted by modegirl79 View Post
You can get from point A to point B around Italy, Spain, Greece, etc.
1) There is ZERO SECURITY. Anyone can do anything on this ship if they really wanted to. Even passports are barely checked.
Open borders. When traveling between different countries within the EU, passport checks are unnecessary and usually not done. Now if you're complaining about a general lack of identification check, then that's a different issue.
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:38 PM
Location: North State (California)
39,773 posts, read 3,006,691 times
Reputation: 13025
A ferry is not a cruise line, so I think your expectations, might have been a little unrealistic. If this was an option for us in future travels, I would definitely look into it, & probably use it, if it was the cheapest way to travel.

In my youth I took some ferries around the Mediterranean, & as far as I can remember they were dirt cheap & only had the bare bones of necessity on board, & that was all I expected.
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Old 04-06-2018, 01:53 PM
58 posts, read 38,274 times
Reputation: 64
The trip was from Barcelona to Civitavecchia. I do my research and certainly read reviews going into this. The reviews were mediocre, as many reviews are for many things. Some positive, some negative. I figured, let's try it and see for ourselves. Well, we certainly fall into the negative category on this one.

They market this ship as a "cruise ferry." Literally, that's what it's called. So, I understand that it's not a cruise. But at the same point in time, it's also not JUST a ferry. So, I would expect at least a little bit higher level of service than we received. I understand this was not a luxury trip and wasn't expecting that by any means.

Grimaldi operates smaller actual ferries on shorter trips. But for longer trips, they have a few of these "cruise ferry" ships. And believe it or not, there IS an attempt at on-board activities and entertainment. Let's see...there's the cafeteria style eatery, but there's also a smaller full-service restaurant. There's a cafe. And yes, there are a few bars. They even have a nightclub, a small casino, a gym and and outdoor pool. This was not some "bare-bones" sort of vessel by any means. I just feel very strongly that if you're going to offer something a bit nicer than a more standard ferry, there should at least be some level of effort made to make things kinda OK, at a minimum.

Let's put things in better perspective - last summer, I begrudgingly took one of those longer overnight Amtrak trips. Amtrak was fresh in my mind, so that's why I sort of compared Grimaldi with Amtrak. Anyway, we got one of the sleeper cars and had our meals included. Not luxury at all, but you know what? We had actually had GOOD food, we had GOOD and friendly!) service. The train was older and not particularly clean, however. That train had the same kind of reviews (mediocre) as the Grimaldi Cruise Ferry we took. All in all, I had a better experience on that Amtrak train than I anticipated. It wasn't great, but it also wasn't that bad. I'd rather be stuck on that Amtrak train for an eternity than take another Grimaldi trip. I don't love flying, but next time, I'll just fly no matter what the cost.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:03 PM
Location: North State (California)
39,773 posts, read 3,006,691 times
Reputation: 13025
How much more expensive was the cruise ferry vs the regular ferry for the same route, or was this the only one?
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