We recently had the opportunity to visit the Costa Atlantica in Venice, during a turnaround between her seven night itineraries. Everything we had seen and read about her, including Paul Motter's review in Cruise Mates, aroused our expectations of seeing a very new kind of vessel… and we were not disappointed.
After quite a few years in this Industry, I have visited and sailed on many vessels. Nothing had quite prepared me for the Costa Atlantica. No picture I have seen and no written word, including this, can quite capture the exquisite detail and nautical design refinements one finds here.
We spent all of Sunday, October 1st, from about 9:30am until shortly before she sailed in the late afternoon, on board. The morning was spent exploring her public areas and, after lunch, we visited virtually every cabin category on board. Here are a few of my impressions. One should note that the entire ship is themed around Felini's movies, evidenced by the choice of deck names and decorations in many of the lounge areas.
Carnival's Interiors Architect, Joe Farcus, has achieved the near impossible… a remarkable blend of the modern amenities considered the normfor cruise ships catering to an American market and a dramatic Italian/European decor that is truly unique. From the moment one steps on board the Costa Atlantica there is no mistaking her Italian heritage yet one is in a comfortable and familiar cruise ship environment. And what an environment it is!
Upon embarking, we enter the ship's La Dolce Vita Atrium… a spacious Atrium that ascends from deck two to deck ten. Three scenic elevators travel silently and look out on an opposite wall beautifully painted from top to bottom. An attractive bar is located in the center. It is a breathtaking space that exudes an Italian flavor and is both awesome and inviting.
The ship's Tiziano Restaurant is a well designed two level affair at the stern end of the ship. Spacious and attractive, the Tiziano has a painted ceiling, resembling in a way the famous Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Tables are nicely spaced and the busing stations are all located against the walls, giving the room an uncluttered look and good functionality. I spoke with a number of the assistant maitre d's and some of the waiters we knew from other Costa ships and their happiness with the layout assures me that it is a smoothly functioning restaurant.
Costa Atlantica's Botticelli Buffet and Napoli Pizzeria are located on Deck 10 and are nicely laid out and quite attractive. Her alternative dining venue, the Club Atlantica is gorgeous and spans two decks. It features cuisine from Italy's renowned Chef, Gualtiero Marchesi.
The ship has three pools, two for adults (one with a retractable dome) and one for the kids. It also has some outdoor Jacuzzis. The Ischia Spa and Olympia Gym also span two decks and offer a wide range of treatments, activities and fitness equipment.
The Costa Atlantica's many lounges have a variety of different decors, ranging from a Japanese "Madame Butterfly" motif to the Via Veneto Lounge… a photo tribute of Felini, and the dramatic and beautiful Coral Lounge. There is an Internet Cafe located in the library. These lounges and, in fact, all the public areas of the ship exhibit a remarkable attention to detail and artistic embellishment. The total effect is stunning.
And then there is the Caffe Florian! On the evening before we visited the ship, we visited the nearly three hundred year old Caffe Florian, in Venice's St. Marks Square. First opened in December of 1720, this delightful space is a typical Venitian cafe, with many small rooms all exquisitely decorated with paintings on the walls and ceilings. Each room opens out onto St. Marks Square where there are additional tables and chairs. And, there is a small orchestra playing the classics just outside on the sidewalk. The ambiance is remarkable as the music and good cheer wafts through the Cafe. We were invited by the Cafe Florian's owner, Daniela Gaddo Vedaldi, a vivacious and elegant lady who gave us the interesting history of the Cafe. For the first time in its long history, the Cafe Florian has entered into an arrangement with another Company and allowed the Cafe to be exactly reproduced on the Costa Atlantica.
I have never seen anything like the Cafe Florian on any ship. It is a remarkable reproduction, down to the tables, chairs and flooring. And, it is a venue in which people can enjoy the classics in elegant, historical surroundings, removed from the other activities on board. It is an exciting and pleasant surprise… something really new and different on board with all the magnetism and elegance of the original in Venice.
We enjoyed a delightful lunch in the Tiziano Restaurant… and were particularly impressed with the low noise level… helped I would think by the high ceilings, ample space between tables and many varied surfaces and decorative touches.
On to the staterooms! After lunch, we took several hours to visit every Category of stateroom on the ship. As a general statement, they are all generously proportioned and well laid out… lots of closets, storage space and good sized bathrooms and showers.
The Inside Staterooms measure a comfortable 158 square feet and are beautifully decorated. Category 1's are located on Deck 1… Categories 2 and 3 are on decks 6, 7 and 8. The only difference between these Inside cabins are their location.
80% of the Staterooms on the Costa Atlantica are OceanView and 85% of those have private verandas. Category 4 cabins, the least expensive of the OceanViews are really quite nice and quite unique. They are Obstructed View cabins (with Life Boats mounted outside) but, they have a unique feature… they all have French Balconies. Two doors with floor to ceiling windows, open inwards allowing fresh air and light to come in. They are really quite nice and an interesting alternative to the Inside Staterooms. These cabins measure a comfortable 175 square feet. Category 5 cabins are located on Deck 1, have large picture windows and also measure 175 square feet.
Categories 6 through 11 are veranda cabins. They all measure 175 square feet and have verandas measuring from 40 to 70 square feet. Prices vary mainly by location on the ship and by the size of the Veranda. The Costa Atlantica offers a wide range of choices of veranda cabins, including many that are much more affordable than those available on other ships.
A wide variety of Suite Accommodations is available, varying in size from 272 square feet to 367 square feet, plus veranda's ranging from 40 to 282 square feet. The suites are all well laid out and attractive. Their bathrooms feature double sinks, whirlpool bathtubs and are spacious. Butler service is available. The suite categories offer many different layouts, even within the same category, frequently depending upon the suite's location on board.
In general, the staterooms on board the Costa Atlantica are well proportioned, cleverly designed and laid out. From the minimum Inside to the Suite Category, all are fine examples of modern shipbuilding techniques. I didn't see one that I would not be comfortable sailing in!
I reluctantly left the ship shortly before she sailed on Sunday, October 1st. The overall effect of this vessel is overpowering. She is clearly one of the most interesting vessels I have seen in years. The amount of detail work… the quantity and quality of original art, the Murano Glass found on display in stairwell nooks… the incredible variety of her public rooms… the superb spa and health club facilities… her large Children's area (the Pinocchio Children's Room) and special pool with water slide… all of these combine in such a way as to make the total ship greater than the sum of her parts! I have no question that the Costa Atlantica will be enthusiastically received when she arrives in the Caribbean in November.
We took our family on the Costa atlantica cruise Feb.4th our travel agent Mr.Ernie Grossman suggested this line for the children programs,we had a wonderful time our great-grandchildren are 3 years and 6 years of age, there was something for them to do all the time- my grandchildren could take them to be enterained by the childrens staff or keep them with them, the boys loved the ship as did there parents this was there frist cruise, my daughter and her husband also had a wonderful time as did we.
The staff was wonderful with the boys they went out of there way to bring them strawberry milk and differnt flavored milk plus a childrens menu which had most of the things they liked.
If there are parents or grandparnets considering taking there family on a cruise i highly recomend this ship you will love it , the 3 year old just asked when he could go back on the cruiser and the play room sincerly,
I went on the December 24 cruise on the Costa Atlantica. Here is my review of the ship and the cruise experience.
Cabins: I had a standard balcony cabin on Roma deck. It was large but not as large as the Disney ship. There was a queen size bed and an upper and lower birth. One thing that annoyed me was that the steward would never put the upper birth up during the day, so you really loose your living area. The bathrooms were very large with an easy to use shower. There was many shelves in the bathroom to put things on. The balcony was also large with good dividers(there is a light for the balcony near the door). The Tv selection for American I would sayy is poor. There is only one english speaking movie channel, news channel, and nbc. This didn't surprise me though because I mean it is an Italian ship right?
Restraunts: The lido buffet set up and service was the best I have ever seen on a ship. There never a line for the buffet(due to that there was 10 buffet stations) and thefood was very good although it never changed the week of the cruise. There was a pizza section in the middle area onf the lido under the skylight and a pasta station on the left hand side of the outdoor buffet that changed everday. The food itself was very general so it could cater to anyone. The pasat station was very Itlaian with a squid salad one day!
The dining room is another story. It may have been because it was a holiday cruise, but the service was very slow. If you got an appetizer it would not be cleared until the waiter had the next course in his hand. The food was very good espeacially the pasta dishes and the soups. The Club Atlantica was never opened due to that a large group had reserved it for their private dinning room.
Public Areas: There was no grand lounge like on the Costa Victoria. The decor was very Carnival with the blinking lights on the atrium elevator. The only room(which was my favorite) that looked like Costa was the Coral Lounge. The atrium itself was very tall with three elevators going the length of it with a glass stairway hanging over the atrium. The madame butterfly loung was a nice general lounge for drinks and horse racing. There were stairs(with a water fall that did not work) that lead up to the Cafe Florian. That was another nice lounge on the ship that was very elegant and had the best bar service on a ship. All drinkes were served on a silver tray with snacks and water.
Outdoor Areas: There are three pools, with the aft one being for adults only. The pools are not that small but smaller than most ships. The water slide was only opened once. There is a lot of deck space but the crew never put out any deck chairs besides the pool area.
The Experience: The ship is truly an Italian ship. Most of the passangers were from europe and did not speak english. I would not recomend this ship for a first cruise or for a first holiday cruise. It can at times be very confusing.Nccqe2@aol.com
This was the fourth cruise of my life, the third with Costa Cruise Line. The first time, in 1979 I sailed on Romanza a 5,500 tons. Chandris Cruise Line's ship, in 1993 on board Eugenio Costa and last Summer on Costa Victoria. With me in this cruise there was my girlfriend Federica, 22 years old, for her this was the second cruise after Costa Victoria last Summer with me. As you know I'm 24 and I live in Venice and I study at University.
The itinerary was Venice-Bari-Katakolon-Kusadasi-Istanbul-Athens-At Sea-Venice. Thanks to informations office I received the break down nationalities of this cruise, it is the following: total passangers 2587 divided into 1750 italian, 313 spanish, 145 french, 143 swiss, 63 americans and others passangers from 14 nations. There were also 638 passangers with the age range 35-50 and 565 with the age range 50-70 and 386 with the age range 25-35, others age ranges are very similar with about 100 passangers for each.-------
The embarkationwas very good and fast even if the ship was full booked; it started at 10:30 am with check-in and at 2:00 pm with the real embarkation.
For passangers arrivedby train or airplane there were Costa 's shuttle buses from the Airport and railway station to the pier.
If you arrived early as me there was the possibility, without pay an extra fee, to go to S. Marco square by aquataxi with the departure directly from the pier every 15 mins. This service was avaible after the check-in which takes from 10 until 30 mins. where there was the registration of ticket, credit card and Costa card for the cashless system.
About Costa card there is an important thing to say: from the first Atlantica cruise passangers have to register every time your exit or entrance in the ship putting it into an optical reader, so Costa 's crew know in real time the passanger's position ( on board or out of the ship).
From 2:00 pm passangers embarked in order of the check-in; I arrived at 11:00 am and I checked-in with numbers 540-541.
From the airport I remember to all there is the possibility to arrive directly to the pier by private aquataxi with about 80$ (there is the possibility to transport about 8 people at the same price).
After the check-in there was the possibility to book shore excursions and water,wine packages as boy and girl or honeymoon packages; all about drinks at the restaurant or at bars.-------
About the itinarary I can say it was very good, in all ports of call there was the right time to spend in excursion. Only Bari was not good because ship docked only for 3 hours and there was only the possibility to go to do the city excursion and it wasn't interesting because in Bari there aren't a lot to see; this port is used by Costa to embark south Italian people.
From Katakolon to Athens every day there were 3 or 4 shore excursions and all interesting: Katakolon ( olimpia and museum, olimpia and shopping, skafidia Costa private beach); Kusadasi ( efeso, efeso and virgin home ); Istanbul ( superistanbul, istanbul with lunch on board, istanbul, half day tour); Athens (acropoli and museum, acropoli, capo suion, corinto and the canal, corinto canal by boat). I did every day a tour and I didn't find any problems, all the organization was very good and we had the time to visit all places as programs said. I spoke with a lot of people who did different excursions and they said me same impressions, the worst thing was the temperature: 35° in Katakolon, 43° in Efeso, 38° in Istanbul and 45° in Athens!!!!!!!!! For all the week we didn't see any cloud....-------
The general overview of this cruise was very good for services and for organization but only sufficient about the ship, and not only for the design but also for some project ideas.
On Sunday when I embarked I spoke with a lot of italian people embarked on Monday before who was finishing their cruise which was the first for the ship and they told me that during the first cruise (as usual I say) there were problems as these: only 1 swimmingpool was opened and others 2 closed; 2 jacuzzi were opened and others two closed; shore excursions were on late and with little time to see museums or others places; buffet on deck 9 was half closed; the slide water was closed and the tennis court was also closed for all the cruise. Fortunatly during my cruise a lot of these problems were solved. There is only the problem of the water slide because when people go down in it when they arrive at its end water goes out of it and go down over the solarium against people who are taking the sun!!!!!!!------
Now I'll describe in a brief way all the places of the ship.
Deck num. A-B-C these are crew decks where I know that where are a lot of problems with air conditioned system and crew have to sleep with 15°-20°, on deck A there is the hospital and the pharmacy and the exit when passangers have to use tenders.
Deck num.1 On this deck there are cabins and Corallo Lounge, my favourite place, it is a theme lounge used as the second theatre to dance, for bingo or other entarteinments but it is very good because it has soft lights and soft colors and in front of every seats there is a little table; it's very beautiful the stairway to go directly to deck 2 with (as in all the ship) a murano vase. In this deck there is also the main galley, I visited it with a little tour with maitre because in this cruise the usual midnight buffet in the galley wasn't scheduled because they have a lot of problems to organize in the right way the galley. It is connected with the restaurant by escalators but during this cruise it didn't work!! So I understood why waiters were a lot of time on late to serve at restaurant...
Deck num.2 From the prow to the stern we find the first floor of Teatro Caruso, this floor is the best to see the stage because first of all you have in front of you a little table and because on the second and third floors there are lights and glasses which disturb the view and also there are a lot of pillars. Caruso is big enough but has different colors (black,dark blue and red) which are horrible! Out of it we enter in Piazza Madama Butterfly, a japanese theme place, there there is a stage where there are a lot of entarteinments; it is very beautiful because is all red and it has along the windows glass sculpture. After it there is the casinò which is normal, there are more than 100 slot machines and a lot of table for roulette, black jack, caribbean pocker and in it there is a bar with a little stage with a piano, it is all red and black with a lot of marbles. Walking along the street we arrive at the central hall which is horrible because it seems a slot machine!! There are the three panoramic elevators with 3 different colors...there are lights everywhere...there is pompei's painted in one side and in the other side there are others murano vases....in the middle there is a bar with a piano over a stage taller than other floor.... After this incredible place we arrive in Via Veneto where there are a lot of photos of italian artists of '60, even here there is a bar with a piano and at stern there is the entrance of the restaurant Tiziano. The best place of the restaurant is on Deck 3 near the windows at the stern because they are very very large, there are only 10 tables for 2 in all the restaurant!! At the entrance there is the stairwway with an horrible sculpture but Fargus design is this... Others places in the restaurant are very good and there are a lot of murano glasses and very beautiful ligths.
Deck num.3 On this deck there is Florian, this is the exact copy and there isn't a lot to say; for me was made in a good way but not in the right place because is connected by a water stairway with madama butterfly which is a place very different.. On this deck there is also the library with internet cafè which is not yet opened with 5 computers and the possibility to use adsl connection. Atlantica hasn't an e-mail address unfortunatly but its personal web site is www.atlantica.Costa .it, on this deck there are also the disco which is very good and sala paparazzi for meetings and the bar paparazzi with an other piano, there is also photo gallery with photo shop.
Decks num.4,5,6,7,8 Only cabins, at prow there are virtualworld, children room and the little church (also this is horrible with strong colors).
Deck num.9 There are swimmingpool areas with 2 in the middle of the ship and one at stern; incredible but true: they are too small for this ship!!! I spoke with ship's director and he said carnival wanted 3 swimmingpool and they are so small. You have to believe me when I say in them are able to enter only in 8-10 people, entertainment staff said me Costa Allegra or Marina's swimmingpool are large as these!!! (Costa Allegra and Marina are 30,000 tons....) Also the space for deckchairs is small, if you arrive at 10 am to take the sun you have to go to solarium because in this area there isn't enough space! On this deck there is also Buffet Botticelli and Pizzeria Napoli open all the day while botticelli is open for the lunch with 8 buffets divided for dishes (2 for pasta,2 for fish and meat,2 for grill and 2 for dessert). This place is good but we had to wait a lot before to eat.
Deck num.10-11-12 In these decks there is the solarium, very big, the tennis court wich is in a good place without wind thanks to the very big glasses against wind and the spa which is terrific because the gimnasium is on 3 decks and it has also a jacuzzi and a lot of rooms for sauna and steamrooms, naturally there is the beauty salon. On deck 10 there is club atlantica where you could have the alternative dinner payng 15$ per person by Gualtiero Marchesi cousine, I think suite's guests have here all dinners because I saw same persons all the nights. I did here one dinner and it was fantastic also because there are panoramic windows.-----------
About the dining I said possibilities where you could have it, pizzeria is opend 24h, botticelli buffet is opend for breakfast-lunch and in the afternoon, club atlantica only for dinner. Menù was always good and with a lot of choices also midnight buffet were good: 3 at restaurant, 1 at swimmingpool and 3 times all around lounges and bars with mobile kitchens and tables.----------
I had cabin num.8135, an inside cabin on deck 8; it was very good with all the accomodations as described in the brochure. I spoke with others passangers and I know someone had problems with vacuum system or with air conditioned system but in my cabin was all good as the steward as for the restaurant waiter and the busboy. ONLY A VERY IMPORTANT THING: OUTSIDE CABINS ON DECK 5 IN FRONT OF TENDERS WITH BALCONY HAS THE TENDER WHICH COVER THE PANORAMIC VIEW AND IN Costa BROCHURE THIS IS NOT WRITTEN!!!!!!!!------------
About entertainment and fitness was all very good and Costa staff was fantastic also if they have problems with space arouns swimmingpools. All days was organized a lot of plays, tournaments and at night shows were better than last year and also bar musicians were excellent.-----------
Dress code was informal even if to nights were gala night; unfortunately during these two nights we found people with only a t-shirt while I and my girlfriend as a lot of others passangers weared gala suit. About tipping Costa suggested to give 2$ per person per day to restaurant waiter and busboy, 1,5$ per person per day to cabin steward and 0,75$ per person per day to the maitre.
So as you can understand for me the cruise was very good for all, only one thing was not so good: the ship's design as for colors as for space choices as for furnishing.