Designed by Joe Farcus of Carnival Cruise Lines fame, CostaFortuna's theme is inspired by the Italian transatlantic liners that left their mark on history. Passenger decks are named after the ports that Costa ships visited during the liner epoch: Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Buenos Aires, Santos, Genova, Lisbona, Caracas, Vigo, Napoli, Barcelona, Cannes, Funchal and Las Palmas.
One of the ship's most stunning areas is the CostaFortuna's Atrium, surrounded by a span of nine decks and decorated in startling shades of pinks and reds. Bordered on one side by glass elevators, the curved crescent bar is a popular gathering place for passengers. And it is here that Farcus let his imagination run wild. To show how the Costa fleet evolved over the years, he transformed the ceiling into the surface of the sea where all 26 Costa Crociere passenger ships, on a scale of 1:100, are depicted sailing upside down.
I was impressed with the decor even though I found it ranged from tacky chic to overdone glitz. (I could never understand what the oversized Faberge-type green and gold eggs on posts were all about.) But viewing the art throughout the ship was like a stroll through a Florence gallery. Even the elevator doors are decorated with reproductions of advertisements from the 20s and 30s, illustrating the interiors of the famous liner Rex. So striking were these panels that I found myself not minding the wait for an elevator.
Anticipating more European passengers, who are less into gambling than Americans, the Neptunia 1932 Casino is smaller than those on other Costa ships. An interesting feature is the disco right below, which is connected by glass-enclosed walls so you can watch the fun downstairs while gambling.
Both dining rooms serve three meals a day at set times with assigned seating. Since this was an inaugural cruise, I don't want to judge the food for the long run. I have an idea there will always be a tiring array of fish, veal, and pasta, but the famed Italian desserts are worth saving room for, especially the tiramisu.
There are two other options for dinner. The Club Grand Contea 1927 was not yet open when I sailed, but it looks like it will be ideal for romantic evenings. A gourmet a la carte restaurant, it is located in the highest point of the ship and covered by a large glass dome for viewing the star-studded sky. Zeffirino, the famous Genoese restaurant, created the menu, which includes typical Italian and Ligurian dishes. There is a 23 euro service charge. Then, after 9 p.m., the Cristoforo Colombo—the Lido deck cafe open for breakfast and lunch at poolside—becomes a delightful Italian pizzeria with candles and table linens.
Dinner is dressy; formal nights are very dressy.
Spa facilities are abundant and varied--hair stylists, beauty and massage treatments, saunas, Turkish baths, and an extensive fitness center with a view over the sea toward the ship's bow. A huge Jacuzzi is in the center of the complex, complete with waterfalls and palm decor, creating a tropical forest ambience. There are also three swimming pools onboard.
The Galleria Shops and boutiques include the Art Gallery, where passengers can admire or buy works of art displayed on the ship.
There are plenty of activities for youngsters. The Squok Club is dedicated to children, and there is a video game room for teens. There is also an Internet Cafe.
My cabin was an outside with veranda, decorated in dark woods, with ample storage and closet space. There was also a sofa, TV, and a very pricy mini-bar offering mini-liquors and snacks. Room service was limited—a choice of three small sandwiches and a 2 euro service charge. For breakfast, think very-light continental, and expect to be hungry until lunch.
The CostaFortuna will sail on 10-night Western Caribbean/Canary Islands itineraries from Savona, Italy throughout this winter. Next summer seven-night Western Mediterranean voyages will be offered; then the ship heads to its winter home port in Ft. Lauderdale to sail alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean seven-night itineraries.
Overall, the CostaFortuna is a wonderful choice for those who want a European-style cruise experience. But those sensitive to smoke should beware. While smoking is not allowed in dining rooms, the halls outside are sometimes zero visibility due to cigars and cigarettes. But, after all, they say in Italy there are only two sections in restaurants on land – smokers and heavy smokers.