Year Started: 1854
Ships in Fleet: 11
Summary: A Europe-based mainstream cruise line owned by Carnival. Ships are structurally identical to Carnival. Recommended for European cruisers who do not speak English - good for bargains in the Caribbean.
Regions:Middle East, The Orient
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Middle East
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, World
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Middle East, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Group. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
The Costa Mediterranea has been dubbed "The Pearl of the Mediterranean" since Costa Lines is the premier line of Europe and this spectacular ship cost over 400 million Euros (c. $500 million). Although this Spirit class ship was six years in the designing stage, this ship was just eight months in construction. The conceptualization of a new class of ships requires more time because there will be more than one ship made to these specifications. From the Spirit plan Carnival has constructed four ships: The Spirit, The Pride, The Legend and The Miracle; and Costa has built two: The Atlantica and The Mediterranea.
These Spirit class ships have been built at Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Helsinki, Finland, where 25% of the world's latest cruise ships have come. Costa Mediterranea is a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide, 196 ft. tall and the gross tonnage of 85,700 tons. She has twelve decks; 1,057 cabins, 742 of which have balconies. She has six diesel generators and a maximum speed of 24 knots. Her total passenger capacity is 2,680 with a crew of 920.
Costa ships are easily distinguished by their yellow smokestacks with the largeblue "C" on them. She is sleek with a pointed prow like a huge yacht and her motto is "Mai visto niente di simile" (You've never seen anything like it).
EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is a nicely organized port, where security is present and reassuring, but not overwhelming. The tickets had an embarkation time of 1:30 pm and it was accurate. Cabin keys are left in the stateroom doors and credit cards are taken on board. Priority boarding is given to wheelchair passengers and suite occupants. It took just ten minutes to check in and then we waited to board at 1:30pm. We did not have the usual Costa assistance on board to our stateroom, but once there the steward and butler were prompt in welcoming us and giving us excellent service.
THE SHIP What primarily distinguishes the Mediterranea from her sister ships is the interior decor. Joe Farcus has long been Carnival's principal interior designer and Costa , as a member of the Carnival Corporation, now has the Farcus touch everywhere: detail, repetition and extravagant use of art work.
This ship spectacularly features the works of over 34 contemporary artists (mostly Italian) with works commissioned specifically for the Mediterranea (paintings, sculptures, photographs, silver works, ceramics, etc...). If you enjoy art as we do, then the Costa Mediterranea is the place for you. The whole ship is a floating museum.
The main dining room contains over 175 sculpted silver pieces in 96 niches, the work of Pampaloni Argentieri a Florence, Italy based studio. These pieces were created from designs of famous artists like Giovanni Maggi (c. 1600). The Costa Mediterranea is a combination of new and old with something to intrigue every passenger --- myths, legends, and modern art present much to be admired and enjoyed in the particulars and the details --- educational too!
The Mediterranea's decks are named after mythological and historical people and her theme encompasses many Mediterranean countries.
Deck 1. Ponte Circe (Greek sorceress, daughter of Helios and Oceanid) forward has the Salone Giardino Isolabella, a lounge with huge scallop shells circling the room interspersed with ocean pebble columns topped with marble balls. The stage is flanked with two larger than life sculptures of Poseidon. The scallops on the carpet and the excellent hammered copper tables give warmth to this room used for club style shows and the Captain's cocktail receptions. Midship on this deck are inside and outside staterooms. Aft is the bottom floor of the Discoteca Selva (Disco).
Deck 2. Ponte Tersicore (Terpsichore, Muse of Song & Dance) forward has the Teatro Osiris (Egyptian god). The theater's Egyptian theme is carried out with stylized slender pyramids and Egyptian Pharaohs on each side of the stage. Down front on the right is the T. Eskelinen (Finland) sculpture of a charioteer driving four horses. It is dated MMIII, a gift of the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard Personnel. The theater's sea blue Chandeliers shaped like medusa (jelly fish) are reminiscent of the Aegean ones we had seen near Piraesus, Greece. Once, while sailing into this port, we were mesmerized by the many delicate and beautiful ones.
Going toward midship is the Piazza Casanova, a study in heavy white alabaster ceiling and wall drapery supported by white putti (cherubs) in amusing positions. The design owes its origin to the Celbrizzi Palace in Venice. Midship is the Casino Canal Grande, which combines Baroque and Gothic architecture just like the Barbaro Palace in Venice after which it is styled.
Next is the Hall Maschera d'Argento, the eight deck tall atrium with Giorgio Tani's six costumes from the Commedia d'Arte by Nodolini, and the many white medusa on each deck. Here are Francesco Petrollo's excellent bronzes: "L'Angelo del Mare" (recalling the Greek "Boy on a Dolphin") and "Le Torri" (the towers). Toward aft is the Talia Lounge and the Discoteca Selva (Disco).
All the way aft is the lower level of the Ristorante Degli Argentieri, a beautiful room of muted colors with silver, copper and the sepia tone oval photographs of ancient Roman ruins. Here are the many silver objects, (goblets, vases and candle sticks) mentioned before, displayed in niches. Some are stunningly unique; Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy) arranged for the Keeper of the Keys, Ian Suplito, to give us a tour of these amazing objects. Some of these are like Aladdin's lamp, others were birds or fishes, from 17th century designs. Umberto, an old friend of ours, is very proud of these pieces and the restaurant ---- rightly so (more on Umberto later).
There are unique white blown glass globes which give a festive look to the dining room. There is a two deck high tower near the staircase, which displays ancient silver smith tools and fiber glass sculptures leaning from the tower windows and holding silver objects by Sergio Benvenuti (Lucca, Italy).
Deck 3. Ponte Bacco (Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and feasting, equivalent of the Greek Dionysus) forward are located the first balcony of the theater, and the entrances to the Winter Garden walk that encircles the theater. This is a serene quiet place to sit at tables overlooking the ocean, a well kept secret. Going toward aft is the Library/Internet Cafe where many philosophers', writers', and artists' portraits hang; one of them is that of Joe Farcus, the architect of the interior of this and several other ships (a challenge to the future cruisers is to locate him).
Next is the Salone Orientale, based on the Roero Di Guarene Palace, Cuneo, Italy. The elegance of this room is lovely. Midship are the Via Condotti Shops with many designer boutiques (i.e. Versace) and the photography gallery. Toward aft is the Sala Dionisio (this cruise used for the "Kosher Cruise" services). The Dionisio Bar and lounge are surrounded by many murals of grape draped youths. Here Miranda, a wonderful singer, sang and played piano beautifully every evening. All the way aft is the second level of the dining room.
Deck 4. Ponte Teseo (Theseus, the Greek mythological slayer of the Minotaur) forward is Mondo Virtuale (Arcade) for the young cruisers, and the Chapel with fifteen beautiful panels "Way of the Cross" by Roberto Bixio (Genoa, Italy). Both the Arcade and the Chapel seem to be accessible only from the Winter Garden walk on deck 3 by stairways. Here is also the second balcony of the theater. The rest of this deck has cabins, some with obstructed view and some with veranda.
Deck 5. Orfeo (Orpheus, son of Apollo, famous lyrist), Deck 6. Narciso (Narcissus, the beauteous youth in love with his own image), Deck 7. Prometeo (Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from heaven and gave it to man) and Deck 8. Pegaso (Pegasus, the legendary winged horse) are mostly staterooms and suites.
Deck 9. Ponte Armonia (Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, wife of Cadmus) is all public areas. Forward has the first level of the Olimpia Gym, the Health Spa with sauna and whirlpool and the Beauty Salon; midship are the twin pools with whirlpools of Cadmo (Cadmus, son of Agenor, founder of Thebes) and Armonia with bronze statues of these two mythological figures by Sara Righi (Parma, Italy). Toward aft is the buffet "Ristorante Perla del Lago" ("Pearl of the Lake Restaurant") and the Pizzeria Posillipo. Finally, aft are the Bar and Lido Apollo with a small pool and whirlpool.
Deck 10. Ponte Cleopatra forward is the upper level of the Olimpia Gym, then the solarium and the alternative dining Club Medusa. This striking room looks best at night with all of its glorious lighting. All the way aft there is the children's play area with wading pool and the water slide arrival from deck 11. Decks 11. Ponte Medea (a sorceress who helped Jason steal the Golden Fleece, then she married him) has the Lido Squok for children with the water slide to Deck 10.
Deck 12. Ponte Pandora (the curse of mankind, she opened the box unleashing all evils, leaving in only hope). Here is balcony of the Medusa (a monster with hissing serpents for hair) Club.
This is a ship that words cannot adequately describe. All the passenger corridors to their staterooms are decorated with art by Augusto Vignali (Parma, Italy). The staircases have large fragmented paintings by Leo Borghi (Padua, Italy) and whimsical white ceramics by Riccardo Biavati (Ferrara, Italy). These must be seen to enjoy, like "Le Pupe," the ceramic dolls of Domenico Caretta (Grottaglie, Italy), they are all different, and they all make the viewer laugh. Then, in the hallway from the Lounge Talia to the Atrium there are the stunning photographs of ballet dancers by Angela Cioce (Bari, Italy) which celebrate the athleticism and beauty of the dance.
CABIN Panoramic Suite #6023 was the exact replica of our Costa Atlantica suite. The Costa line has standardized the interior decor and why not, if you get it right then repeat it. There are three types of wood: Teak pillars with ebony capitals and cabinetry and 12 inch mahogany ceiling trim boards. The desk, bar, night stands, dressing table and bathroom counters are all granite. Lamps are elegant copper and brass with Murano glass shades. The art work is Andreescu's (Timisoara, Romania) painting of a girl with a cat at sunset and a background of blue domed white buildings recalling Santorini, (which was like her painting on the Atlantica --- a girl with a green eyed cat). The other painting was a Borghi geometric background of a medieval Italian town, with a sail boat, church and compass.
Entering on the left is the anteroom to the bath with vanity and lighted armoires. The bath has twin sinks, six shelves, and a shower and jacuzzi tub. Next is the bar with TV, personal safe, a cabinet with four huge drawers, a double armoire and a queen bed. The far wall is all windows to the balcony with teak wood chaise and table. When entering on the right there is a mirrored wall, a lighted desk/vanity and refrigerator, then a double peach leather sofa/bed, granite coffee table and an upholstered chair.
The feel of the cabin, with all the wood, brass, and copper is one of an elegant Captain's cabin, very nautical. Our steward Dace (Latvia) and Butler Desi (Bulgaria) were superb. Many thanks!
FOOD & SERVICE These aspects of ship life always come under the supervision of the Hotel Director, in this case, Walter German (Italy) ---- a very genial task master, who has set the highest of standards for the Mediterranea. His warm demeanor filters down to those under him. Guest Relations Manager Francesco Taormina (Sicily) was cordial and helpful in every way. Bar Manager Sanzio Riccardi (Italy) was even helpful in pointing out many exquisite details; he knows his ship.
This ship is top notch in service. Under Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy), the food and service in all the dining venues is superb. On formal nights, Umberto is resplendent in his cut away and pin stripe trousers and he is constantly alert and mindful of the passengers needs. His two assistants Francesco Frasca (Italy) and Lino Minichini observe each table and insure excellent service.
We had a table for two #275, near the staircase and were ably served dinner by Waiter Nilo Ocray and his assistant Michael La Chica. At lunch we had waiters Aldwin Castillo and Ronald Pinto, who were excellent.
Breakfast, we had in our suite each morning. It was always prompt, hot and delicious. Butler Desi went the extra effort to please us and she succeeded. Breakfast can be ordered from the dining room menu which includes the following: Fresh fruit juices and fruit compotes, yogurt; cereals both hot and cold; eggs any way; pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast; bacon, ham, sausage, chopped steak, hash browns and hash; herring, salmon lox; croissants, rolls, Danish, bagels; and a wide variety of coffees, teas, hot chocolate and milk. The buffet has an equal selection, but we usually avoid the buffet, since it is not easy for Vincent to carry his tray.
Lunch, we usually do in the dining room. The Mediterranea luncheon menu has five or more appetizers, from fruit plates to eggplant Parmigiana, to both hot and cold soups. The salads are varied and abundant (radicchio, romaine, arugula, Boston Bib and escarole are some of the offerings). A pasta course is served and it is always excellent and different: ravioli, vegetarian lasagna, rigatoni, fusilli, and farfalle. Lunch entrees include Spanakotiropita, Boneless chicken breast (excellent, tender and juicy --- Mary had this twice), Flounder with parsley butter, Lamb kebabs, and Beef Stroganoff, for example. Desserts are a wonderful mix of American and European favorites, such as the following: Pecan pie, eclairs, sorbets and ice creams, Tiramisu (sugar free too), Italian cheese cake, etc....
Dinner menus are quite interesting, especially for those passengers taking Italian lessons on board. The menus are in Italian with English, French, Spanish and German translations. Each menu emphasizes a different Italian region and its culinary style: Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romana, Campania, Sicilia and Sardegna. Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion offers the best of these regions, yet he does not forget to give the best of other famous cuisine like French and Caribbean.
Chef Antonio de Luca was in charge of the Kosher Cruise, but he always made time to discuss the menu with us and offered us excellent light, flavorful pastas and sauces. We highly recommend the pasta on board as the best at sea. We suggest trying the Italian dishes since they are original. Antonio and Maitre D' Umberto gave us a wonderful gourmet cruise, and we surely appreciated it. Mille grazie!
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Paul Rutter oversees many activities, but perhaps the funniest comes on the last evening, when Paul as Julius Caesar holds a Roman Bacchanal with passengers providing the entertainment. The rest of the passengers may vote "Thumbs Up" and send the performers to the Buffet , or "Thumbs Down" and send them off to the Lion's den. By the end of the cruise the passengers are warmed up and very vocal! The shows during the week had some high spots: John Ciotta, lead singer of the Costa Reviews, has a fine voice, and the singers and dancers are quite good.
Two concerts not to be missed are Maestro Mauro Bertolino performing Chopin, Mozart, Scarlatti, Beethoven and Gershwin on piano. Magnifico! And secondly, Mario La Manna, singing Neapolitan songs --- "Non ti scordar di me," "Mamma," "O sole Mio," etc. This is the super fine voice of the tenor of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican --- Pure beauty. Both of these performers received well deserved standing ovations.
There are many other activities on board such as the following: Bingo, the Casino, Dance classes, Exercise classes, Children's programs and there is even a Golf Pro on board and golf reservations at each port.
PORTS OF CALL Recently we have significantly reduced the number of shore excursions we take at the ports of call, mainly due to Vincent's limited mobility and to the fact that we have visited these ports many times. We generally spend our port days enjoying the semi deserted ship by having soothing hydromassages in the whirlpool, visiting our favorite spots, admiring the artwork and, most of all, relaxing. Some of the suggested excursions listed here are either the ones we did before or have been recommended to us by fellow passengers.
1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Departure: 7:00pm
2. Key West, FL USA Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm For first time visitors the Conch Train or Trolley Tour (1 hr., $19) will give a quick overview of this city. The rest of the day can be spent visiting Hemingway's home, Truman's Little White House or Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum.
3. Day at sea.
4. Progreso Merida, Mexico Arrival: 7:30am Departure: 5:30pm For those interested in Mayan archaeology, Chichen-Itza Tour is a must (8.5 hrs., $93, including lunch).
5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm The clear waters and the beautiful coral reef near this island make Snorkel and Scuba the best available excursion at this port: Fury Sail & Snorkel Beach Tour (4 hrs., $43.50); Unlimited Snorkel Adventure (2.5 hrs., $31); Scuba Adventure (3 hrs., $75), designed for non certified divers; Certified Scuba (3.5 hrs., $76).
6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 9:00am Departure: 6:00pm Last year we had a wonderful experience in the "Bubble Sub." It is a small submarine for 2 people which dives 50 - 60 ft. to the coral reef and is guided by an outside pilot. It was a great 360 degree view in a pressurized cabin of colorful fish, coral and sea turtles. The information for this excursion can be found on the web <http://www.caymansubmariners.com/excursion.htm>. Other notable excursions are Stingray City and Island Tour (4.5 hrs., $43.50) where it is possible to snorkel with the friendly stingrays.
7. Day at sea.
8. Ft. Lauderdale, USA Arrival: 7:00am Debarkation: 9:00
CONCLUSION This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and a great one. It is nice to come aboard and find out that we already know several crew members: Captain Garbarino, with whom we have cruised twice before; Maitre d' Umberto Iacomino, whom we had met two years ago on the Atlantica; the Chef Antonio De Luca, who in 1999 prepared the food for our son Marcello's wedding banquet aboard the Romantica; etc.... It is like coming back home, when we encounter the many familiar faces and feel the special attention that these people have reserved for us. That for sure makes our day, or better said, our cruise!
It is nice that Costa is initiating a new program for repeaters, the Costa Club, with three levels of membership (cards): Aquamarine (2,000 points), Coral (2,001 - 5,000 points) and the Pearl (5,001 or more points). The points are assigned for the number of cruising days (100 points per day) and the amount of money spent aboard (40 points for 52 euros). The privileges associated with these memberships vary from discounts on selected cruises, fruit baskets and bottles of spumante in the cabins, discounts aboard on Costa merchandise and beauty treatments, to free dinner in specialty restaurants, etc....
This was a great cruise, a cruise Italian Style! We look forward to cruise again on Costa ships, perhaps on the new Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica. Our next cruise will be on RCI's new ship, Mariner of the Seas, Feb. 22nd, 2004. Happy Cruising!
We had a wonderful week aboard Mediterranea! Here's a short rundown of the pro's and con's as we saw them:
Pro's: Beautiful, new, clean ship (although the comment of Italian interpreted by Las Vegas does somewhat apply). Wonderful deck accommodations - ample deck chairs, pools, Jacuzzi's. Large, well designed cabins with plenty of closet space. Food ranged from good to excellent at most meals. (I'll eat almost anything, but my wife is pretty picky & she always found something she liked.) (Be aware that the European definitions of meat "done-ness" is different from ours - they tend to like their meats rarer, so plan accordingly. This IS NOT Costa 's fault - anyone who's spent a lot of time abroad know this!) Wonderful 24-hour room service with great food selections. Osiris Theatre is wonderful - great sound & light, comfortable seats - I recommend the 4th floor balcony where there's never a crowd. Shows/performers in the Osiris were very good with a European flair - especially noteworthy was the Steel Band, classical pianist & tenor soloist. Cabin stewards were attentive and efficient. We encountered no European arrogance amoung any of the staff andcrew - probably because we did not approach them with American arrogance. Enjoyed the mix of American & European passengers. Excellent selection of shore excursions. In-room folio access so that we didn't go into shock when we saw the bar-bill!
Cons: Pre-cruise - Costa website is very, very poor. Often could not access many pages. It should also include online pre-booking and excursion reservations. Embarkation time was too long - ticket noted boarding beginning at 13:30. We arrived at that time & did not board until approx. 15:00. Also, did not like the need to go to information desk to "link" credit card. This should all be done in one step - either at embarkation - or preferably on-line before the cruise. Wait staff, while well intentioned, was not very polished. Food was sometimes only warm & service was generally slow. Allow minimum 2-hours for dinner. Some of the staff, while polite to passengers, seemed a bit disgrutled with their employer. Rules were posted regarding one pool for adults only & no children < 12 in Jacuzzi's. These rules were totally ignored by guests and not enforced by staff. (Forgive me, but this is a pet peeve - with only 50 of 2000 passengers being children, adults deserve one pool where they can relax without being splashed and pummelled. Also, re. Jacuzzi's - especially lothsome are parents who take their pre-toilet-trained infants into them. If we wanted to swim in waste water we could stay home. Ah, for the days of Renaissance adult-only ships!!!) There was no "refillable" cola option available. Photographers were a bit surley and most photos included costumed persons who did not always enhance the photo. Photo's were under lock & key - implying a distrust of the passengers honesty. The cruise ended too soon - Costa should have made time move slower!
In summary we had a wonderful week. I would rate the experience a 7 on a scale of 10. We would certainly consider another Costa cruise.
RATING: - On a scale of 10, I give it a 10.
EMBARKATION: - The 4 of us including the 2 girls, 12 and 13 arrived in Fort Lauderdale 2 days earlier and from the Marriott Marina we could see our ship. We had a car rental for the week and took the shuttle from the car rental agency to the pier - speedy, convenient. The bags were in the hands of the porters; however, it seemed clear to us that the bags were not going anywhere until the $1/bag appeared. This in spite of large signs -"Porters Salaried, No Tipping". One of the porters chatted with one of the girls, it gave her an opportunity to practice her French.
We boarded in 15 minutes having arrived at 4:00 p.m. intentionally for the 7:30 sailing. The big room/hall for formalities was virtually empty.
CABIN/SHIP: - No less than beautiful. There are many statutes, ornate designs and interesting contrasts on the ship. We headed to our cabin 7143, which we knew to be on deck 7 forward and on the right or starboard side. There was a card in the door foraccess as well as 4 personalized cards for each of us.
Cabin - We met Angel, our cabin steward who took the time to explain the cooling system, how to contact him, the workings of recording purchases from the dorm fridge and that he services the cabin twice a day. We had a balcony, 2 chairs and a table. As much as it was to have to retreat to and watch the outside world, many days it was quite humid and the A/C was preferable. The 2 beds had already been placed together to make a queen. For the children, there was one bed in the spot where the sofa would be and the upper berth was directly above that. It could be folded away if there were 3 passengers in the cabin.
Shower controls - Quirky, with 2 valves unlike the on/off taps one is used to; however, we were able to get hot water. Unlike us, the kids had no problem with this.
Roll of ship - We noticed the side to side motion of the ship (4-5 foot seas, small whitecaps), it is wise to bring motion medication. Although, no one was ill, it provided comfort.
The ship's layout allows one to find their way around easily on all decks. We did not use the pools, but the girls did, they know what salt water tastes like. The water slide was busy whenever open, the girls never made it there. There is a 2-level gym with top-notch equipment and lots of it. It is a gym that would impress most users.
Lifeboat drill - Our lifeboat drill took place on day 2 after Key West. Totally organized with clear instructions. Readily identifiable crewmembers stationed at each junction to direct all to the waiting area. All vests were checked and adjusted as necessary by crew. Took 20 minutes. Officer counted passengers in the meeting area and then it was over. (Compared to the Carnival Fascination last year with absolute chaos for 90 minutes and not a waiting area for us initially, this was a welcome relief.)
Washrooms on the decks were kept immaculately clean. The doors were identified with a small lip or a small moustache as well as a series of lights outside and over the door area to signify men/women with some symbol. Many times these lit symbols were reversed. There were times the ladies attempted to enter a facility and retreated.
Laundry - There is no self-serve laundry on board; however, there is a laundry service at a price, did not use. There is a line in the shower for hanging up wet items.
CREW: - Extremely pleasant, helpful and courteous. We had absolutely no concerns. There is an entertainment director, Cassandra with a staff of 80 that provides or is the catalyst for the entertainment. No problem communicating with the crew, most of the officers and key personnel on the ship speak 5 - 7 languages. This Italian theme cruise on an Italian ship makes many announcements in 5 languages including English. The shows are virtually all in English.
KIDS CLUB - There were 5 counselors on this cruise for the children. There were 3 age groups: 3 - 6, 7 - 12, and 13- 18. I would guess there were about 50 children on the ship. A program was presented for each of the 3 groups. The activities started at 9:00 a.m. and continued till midnight for the older ones. As well, there is evening group childcare while the parent's dine/socialize on the formal nights. The 2 girls attended some of the activities and chummed around with a brother and sister they met on the ship.
FOOD/DINING ROOM - It was quite clear the first night, no shorts at dinnertime, either change or go to the Lido deck. However at lunch/breakfast, shorts were ok. Most people dressed smart casual for dinner with the exception of 2 formal and one-toga nights. The 2 girls looked forward to this including the 12 year one who hasn't worn a dress in ages. From what we saw, children liked getting dressed up, as did the grown-ups.
Food - The food was excellent and the service superb. Romeo, our waiter and Erwin, the assistant provided excellent service. We had table 231 on the upper level at rear, next to a window along with our tablemates. This was a table for 8 as requested. We had the first dinner sitting at 6:15 p.m. which for us is preferable as it approximates our regular eating time and allow for an evening of activity. This was our preference.
If we were not sure what to order, the waiters' recommendation came through. We requested and received shrimp cocktails, although not on menu. All food was properly cooked, hot and well prepared, beautifully presented with adequate portions. There was an excellent variety with six courses at dinner - appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entrée and dessert followed by coffee. There were 2-3 choices except for 5 -6 entrees and 6- 7 dessert choices. Caesar salad, spaghetti and sauce as well as salmon (broiled/baked/fried) were always available. For the 8 of us at the table, 4 adults and 4 children, there was only one dish not to our liking this being a side dish of green pasta with basil, it was heavy to eat. We tried new dishes, after all, this was part of the Italian experience. Coffee comes at the very end of meal and not during as I would have liked. The children found comfort in spaghetti, caesar salad and chocolate mousse or ice cream with chocolate syrup.
Lunches and breakfast were equally impressive with just about as many courses and variety. We ate the first two breakfasts on the Lido deck until we were told how good the breakfast in the dining room was. (On the Fascination last year, dining room breakfasts we found to be inadequate and unfortunately we carried this experience to this ship.) There are plenty of food stations on the Lido deck where we had made-to-order omelets and an excellent variety of breakfast choices. Unless you are selective and restrictive in what you eat, you gain poundage. On formal, toga and tropical nights, these become processional and colourful events with the waiters and other staff demonstrating among other things their dance techniques. These evenings provided a welcome change not knowing what to expect.
The maitre'd dropped around every meal, he touched bases with all tables. These guys kept the dining room running smooth. Then there were the midnight buffets and one night just desserts. Just a note, the food is brought to the dining room by the waiters using escalators to/from the kitchen below.
Club Atlantica Restaurant - We did not use and from walking by many times, it was perhaps 40 - 50% occupied and it did not appear to be as posh as the main dining room, IMO.
Pizza was ok, the girls wanted a slice and got a whole one made to order. Coffee needs improvement and generally there was milk, no cream. On the deck, if a coffee machine was not being used, the sign read, "Technical Service" meaning it was brewing or whatever.
Toga night - Bring your toga or try your hand and wrap your own. There were many varieties. Togas do come apart, even with safety pins. Togas are not immune to gravity. Probably half the diners dressed in togas on Saturday night, down to the little folk.
No engine vibrations felt at table 231, 2nd level at rear of dining room.
DECK/POOL AREA: - There is an adequate number of deck chairs on two levels and there were those chairs unoccupied save for a towel. I would take it that people leave their towel behind expecting someone else to place it in the used towel bin. The girls used the pools a few times, they were introduced to salt water, and they didn't like the taste. They never seem to make it to the water slide, probably too occupied with other activities or off ship, but I understand there were serious line-ups at the slide when open.
In addition to English, there are some activities conducted in other languages to which anyone can partake. Watched activities on deck conducted in Italian. Most activities don't require understanding a language, just participation.
FELLOW PASSENGERS: - For the most part, similar to your neighbours and work mates and in the 30 -60 age range with exceptions. The queue jumpers were on this ship also. In one instance in the lineup to disembark at Grand Cayman, the Costa employee allowed a large group of passengers (40 - 50) to push in at the front of the line for whatever reason. Most in the lineup, which went around a corner, were not aware of this.
PORTS OF CALL: - Key West and Cozumel - Both interesting places and we took our own self-guided walking tour. In Cozumel, the girls had their hair braided, but not a tight braid for $15.
Ocho Rios - The ship sells a $16.50, 2 1/2 hour shop till you drop shopping tour to 2 shopping centres. This is a tour for suckers. The first shopping centre is about 100 yards from the end of the pier and the other is 1/4 mile max. down the street. Just walk to them and spend the $16.50 on the vendors who will hassle you. This is a downside to this port - expect to be hassled by the vendors, your kids will probably feel intimidated and threatened. Recommendation: Take a tour or stay on the ship.
Grand Cayman - A pleasant contrast to Ocho Rios. No hassles here. The residents have an interesting dialect. We booked a tour to Sting Ray City through Sotos Cruises, superb service, near pier pickup and drop off. The price was $19 (but may be going up to $24 and still a bargain.) This is similar to the other tours at $34 - $39 and up. We had 2 stops for snorkeling (equipment provided) and 20 -30 minutes on the sandbar with the stingrays. This was our highlight, highly recommend to all
NIGHTLIFE: - Dante's Disco - The teen club had it until midnight and this is where the children are. We didn't stick around to see how or if the transition is made to allow the adults to take over after 12.
Caruso Theatre/Madame Butterfly Lounge - We always watched the 9:30 show which proved variety and something for all. No smoking in theatre. All shows lasted 40 minutes. Upon exiting the theatre, the entertainment crew is there to direct you to the next events, e.g. in the Madame Butterfly Lounge dance floor - sometimes an audience participation event requiring no dance or language ability and generally entertaining. Downside - This lounge with smoke is hard on eyes, poor air circulation here.
Entertainers - There is a variety of singers, piano players, 3 piece bands throughout the ship. There is sufficient variety and some have a large following.
PORT DISEMBARKATION: - Excellent - Customs is done on the ship and only if you self-identify having made purchases over the exemption. We requested early disembarkation and were in the 3rd group of 6 -7 coloured tags. We were off the ship by 9:00 a.m., retrieved our 4 bags, grouped by the 6 - 7 coloured luggage tags. It is best to tag each piece with an identifiable tag or orange spray paint that no one has to find them quickly. There were 2 immigration officers, the lines moved quickly in spite of the masses of people. We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport at 9:40 a.m.
WHY Costa - Why did we sail on the Costa Atlantica? The price was attractive for a balcony cabin and factoring in the children, the price was right compared to other ships. There was also the kids club. We read the reviews and yes, there were grumbles but we read between the lines.
SUMMARY: The good - Nothing less than an excellent 7 day cruise with an Italian flavour. Seven days was too short. We plan to do it again on the eastern run with Costa , preferably the Atlantica. The highlight on the ship was the 11:15 p.m. show on toga night - It was a riot, extremely funny with lighthearted humour and with passenger talent. This is a do not miss show. Service staff was excellent and all crew were pleasant. The food was excellent, well prepared and attractively presented. Beautiful ship and extremely clean. Few kids on this cruise, although the kids may not agree this was good.
The bad - Smoke is heavy in the lounges and the attitude of some passengers with their cigs. We did notice the roll of the ship, forward, outside, deck 7. Lower, mid-ship, centre would reduce the roll effect. Lack of world news channel on TV.
Ship is beautifully overdone with marble chrome and mirrors enough to cause dizzeness. Ships company trys hard enough and food and service was nice. What was particulary bothersome to me was the very large contigent of loud and pushy Europeans everywhere you went onboard.
Most anouncements were done in at least three languages. Overall there was not much to write home about except the High pressure showers found in the Gym locker room (a must try)
To sum this cruise up, a trip from hell. The rudest staff and management I have ever encountered. It all started with Costa booking my airline ticket. They booked me into Miami airport on the 21st at 3:20 P.M./ This for a ship that is leaving from Ft Lauderdale at 4:30. I called and said this was no good. Oh dont worry sir, there will be no problems and we will hold the boat for you. I dont think so. Oh no dont worry sir. Well guess what, I should have worried, the boat left without me and 8 other passengers on the same flight. It started a three day nightmare going through airports during orange alert. Shlepping bags. Exhaustion set in. Met up with the boat in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. Costa Management could have cared less. They offered me a two day refund. Yeah right. I have never seen a managment that has acted in a poor way such as Costa . Anyway lets get to the Ship, or shall I say Boat.
The Ship: The decor is a little bit to much. Thought I was in Vegas, excepttimes it by ten. The room was great and comfortable. Shower a bit small. Ship in general very comfortable. Pools small. Lots of children in the pools all day, did not see many bathroom breaks, hint hint.
Food: Poor to bad. The main dining room, beautiful. The food came cold. At times food was sickning. Do not eat the meat on this boat. If you must stay with the pastas. About the only food you will find on the boat that is done right. Room service, ordered once, they never showed. The only gratis beverages coffee, when you can find a working urn, water and at times iced tea. Otherwise, be prepared to dish out $2.20 for a soft drink. Ice cream gratis, tasted like flavored ice.
Staff: Horrible and rude. The Italian crew does not talk at all. Never a hello or good day. American passengers could be in flames, they would not spit on you. The Asian staff was great. Very friendly, otherwise forget it, from the top to the bottom.
Passengers: European passengers were horrible. They were rude. Do not believe in lines. They will push you out of the way in the buffets. Just the pits.
Ports: Puerto Rico beautiful. St. Thomas OK. Private island, water nice, beach horrible and crowded. Dominican Republic, the pits. Nassau, nice, but to short.
Entertainment: The only good show was the passenger talent night on Saturday. Otherwise forget it. I would stay away from this ship. A total disaster from me. I did not enjoy it at all. disorganized, rude staff, horrible food.
This new ship was quite a disappointment. I was prepared for the number of smokers I'd be cruising with. I was prepared for the announcements in five languages. What I wasn't prepared for was how dreadful the food was. Fellow cruisers, from England, declared it "putrid". I would say that dinners were generally inedible. Burned food, uncooked food (it appeared that some entrees had been pre-cooked and re-heated or microwaved; interiors still had ice crystals.) They were unable to cook meat to order. Ice cream generally came to the table melter. When we finally got to a port that had "fast food" the number of passengers heading toward McDonalds was a sign of how bad it was.
Service was also sub-par. I was traveling with English-speaking German friends. Thus we were placed at a German table. I speak no German, and night after night had to ask for the English menu -- the wait staff never remembered to get one for me. They had no idea what a dessert wine was. We ordered a bottle and they had no appropriate glassware for it. The next night, they tried to serve it withdinner.
The stateroom was fine, my room steward was fine (although my friends' had a lot of complaints about their steward), the ship was of course spotless (being brand new), but it was without doubt the worst of my fifteen cruises and I will never sail Costa again.
Costa Mediterranea Dec 14-21 2003 ( FLL-Key WestProgresso-Cozumel-Grand Cayman-FLL) We flew down to FLL one day early and stayed at Amerisuites. We arrived about 8pm and the shuttle was very busy so we opted to take a van to the hotel. $5 each for a total of $20. We were maybe in the Van 8 minutes. Arrived at Amerisuites and were unable to have a non smoking room due to hotel being sold out. We purchased room on line at Value Trips.com for $69. We were not charged an extra fee for the 2 additional people in the room. The room was the TCB suite which apparently is larger than the other suites. The rug was stained and burned and the room was dreary. We noticed very small insects climbing the walls by the beds. Breakfast was good, however due to the bugs and the stained and burned carpeting I would not stay at this hotel again. The interesting point is that this "TCB" suite is apparently something special - Yikes!!
We had breakfast in the morning with friends we met on out Transatlantic cruise in 2002. It was nice tocatch up with them. Breakfast was quite extensive and for the most part very good. We then headed across the street to the liquor store to stock up on provisions for the week. While my daughter is legal to drink in Canada , she was not legal on Costa so her and her friend would be having a few drinks in the room.
Since we had heard that Costa will not start boarding until 1pm on the dot, we knew there was no rush. We left the hotel at 1pm on the shuttle and were at the pier and checked in by 1.20pm. No lines at all. We were given #15 as a boarding # and discovered that #3 was being called. One number was called every 6 minutes and we were on board by 3pm. We knew the ship layout, as it is identical to the Carnival Legend and so proceeded to the front set of elevators, while the rest of the passengers waited in a long line for the elevator right in front of the gangway. The ship is beautiful and as with the Legend we loved the layout and the ship itself.
Daughter and her friend were upgraded from an inside guarantee to a balcony on deck seven. The upgrade was given even though they only paid 288 plus port/tax and we did not book until Nov 2.. Cabin was a basic balcony cabin. We proceeded to our Cat 11 balcony # 7295. This was an awesome cabin. Square in shape and at least twice the size of a regular balcony cabin if not more. The balcony itself was twice as deep and more than twice as wide as a regular balcony. The outdoor furnishings were upgraded and constructed of wood with thick cushions. The cabin was beautifully decorated with wide dark wood trim, light wood cabinetry and a marble bathroom. The only drawback to the cabin was the mattress was only about 3 inches thick, about the same as a pull out sofa bed. There was more than enough storage space for our trip. My husband promptly declared that he could do a world cruise in this cabin.
Entertainment The 2 production shows were excellent and of the same high Calibre of those on Carnival. My husband went to see the Magician and did not care for the show, even though he normally loves magicians. Husband also went to the Steel Band Show one evening in the theatre and liked it. There was also a passenger talent show on the last night which I missed because I was very ill with a stomach virus.
Entertainment in the lounges appeared to be very good. We are not night owls so I cannot give an in depth opinion of this. Others commented on lots of talented singers and musicians.
Daytime activities were adequate, but lacked the enthusiasm of say a Carnival Cruise. The usual Bingo, Aerobics, Belly flop contest were evident.
The food would be the main reason we would not sail on this line/ship again. We usually look forward to our meals in the dining room, but not on this ship. Our waiter and assistant waiter - Jose and Chester- were wonderful, and I think that the food started out as good quality. However, at best it was tasteless, with little use of seasonings, sauces or garlic. The biggest surprise was the lack of garlic when cruising Italian Style. Usually the food was lukewarm. The desserts were not of the calibre we have become accustomed to on Carnival and HAL and sometimes I even skipped dessert, which is highly unusual for me. On other lines we have been so overwhelmed by the wonderful choices for dinner that we have often ordered 2 entrees and shared them because we could not decide. On Costa I was often unable to find anything that really appealed to me and as a result I sometimes had the chicken breast or the grilled salmon , which were available every night. Breakfast was hit and miss in the dining room. The eggs benedict were tasteless and I stopped ordering them after day 3. Seating was open at lunch and breakfast and while some waiters were very good others should not be there. I truly believe that there is a morale problem with the crew on this ship
Buffet food was acceptable, and again very bland. Even the Mexican food had no seasonings. No trays available on buffet lines!! I have no idea what the problem is , but the food on this ship needs a complete overhaul. Weather The weather on this cruise was not good. We had a huge storm on day 3 that forced us to miss Progresso and head to Cozumel early. Cocktails were given free for one hour as compensation. With the exception of our stop in Key West and Cozumel the weather was cloudy and very cool. Obviously this is not the cruise lines fault. When we arrived in Grand Cayman we docked at the south end of the Island and tendering was handled horribly. The Noordam and a RCCL was also tendering and their process was going smoothly. Tendering began at 9am and we were unable to get off until 12 noon. Many excursions were cancelled due to the wind and the Cold temperatures. I honestly consider that we missed this stop too. We had to pay $4 per person to go to Georgetown on the bus ($4 back also) I was not overly impressed with Georgetown and we stayed less than 1 hour and took the bus back. I would not get off here again unless I had a snorkeling or scuba excursion planned.
The pursers/reception desk, more fondly referred to as the complaint desk, had one employee who was wonderful and 4 or 5 who were horrible to deal with. The motto on this Ship seems to be the "Passenger is always wrong". The internet was worthless, and slower than dial up. It took 90 seconds to send a message after I pressed the send button on my email. One morning I tried unsuccessfully at several different sites to retrieve my email . Total cost $4. I went to the Reception to ask for a refund and was laughed at. I was told I should not have tried for so long!! The internet employee came in one hour per day from 5.30 to 6.30pm!!! I tried to make a call from may cabin to Captain Marvins on Grand Cayman, because Costa would not let us off the ship with the other excursion passengers. (Normally this would not be a problem with a cruise line that is more organized) I tried twice to place the call and both times I could hear the other party but they could not hear me. Total cost $15.90 USD for worthless calls. Again down to the Reception Desk , to be told that there is nothing wrong with Costa 's phone system that it must be Captain Marvins phone that is the problem. No refund available, we do not give refunds under any circumstances. I had had enough of the attitude by this time. So far that morning I had been told I could not get off to go on my own excursion, that I would have to pay for useless internet and phones that did not work. I was so frustrated I was almost in tears, and the worst part was Costa does not give a damn. Other passengers were also there demanding refunds for worthless internet time. Finally one female employee took pity on me and let me use the satellite phone in the back office for free. I finally got through to Captain Marvin's and was advised that the excursions were all cancelled anyway.( For what it is worth, RCCL let us tender in with other excursion passengers in Belize so that we would not miss our self booked excursion. )
Although the pre cruise docs ( printed specifically for the Caribbean) state clearly that tips will be added to your on board account, on the last day(sea day) we were advised that this would not be the case, that it was not possible. With not ATM on board, many people did not have enough cash to tip those that most deserved it. We were lucky to have some cash , but others were refused cash advances on credit cards and the Casino would not sell any tokens or chips on the last day. Prospective"Gamblers" were told to use their Costa Card directly at the gaming tables. Obviously this was to deter pax from getting cash to pay their tips. This cannot be good for the morale of the crew. Why on earth could they not have told us on the first day, when people could have used the ATM in Key West. Better still, an ATM should be installed on a ship this size.
I cannot tell you the ratio of N American to European, but there were many Italians and Germans on Board. We also met a couple from Switzerland. Announcements were not annoying in the five languages, except for the life boat drill which was quite drawn out due to the languages( Life boat drill was not held until the second evening at sea)
All in all, I would have to say that we will not book another Costa Cruise. For us, the service and the food on a cruise are very important. On this Ship, both were terrible. I felt at times that some of the Reception area staff were even getting enjoyment out of the passengers being upset. The positives on this cruise were our wait staff, our beautiful cabin and the beautiful ship itself. If food and service are not important to you then you may like this cruise.
Contrary to some of the reviews that were posted at Cruisemates.com our family of four had a great cruise in December aboard the Costa Mediterranea, and would gladly go again. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the food, service, and entertainment were excellent.(great price too)
Our kids, ages 6 and 9 absolutely loved the kids program(Squok Club)so much so that they are ready to go again. I personally loved the exercise area which is state of the art and has everything you can imagine. We as a family would recommend the Costa Mediterranea to anyone looking for a fun cruise.
Next to the worst cruise. I had to page a Costa rep at Miami airport and show the upgrade slip becuse we were not issued transfer vouchers. Seems that they only rely on vouchers and haven't upgraded their computer system to have print-outs.
We were upgraded to a suite #7200 but our tickets still had the old cabin # 8188 which caused mass confusion. At check-in I had to show the upgrade slip dated 7/2/03 but the agent still did not believe us. We were given a #(11) and told to wait with the other passengers even though suites were supposed to have a seperate waiting area. Suites and group #1 were called at the same time, again mass confusion. Other groups numbers rushed to gate. So much for priority embarcation.
Cabin was lovely-beautiful balcony, lovely bath with a whirlpool that you needed a stepladder to get in an out of.
Weather was windy and chilly. Key West was great even though it was cool it was great site-seeing weather. Port of Progresso was closed due to high winds and rough seas. Lots of sea-sickness due to the ship sailing past 24knots. Cozumel was cold-about 60 with a 30+ mile per hour wind, and Grand Cayman was a tendering port-again very rough seas and high winds.
Food-not worth mentioning. The Club Medussa is well worth the $20 per person charge-ours was included in the suite. The Versace china is well worth the price of the dinner alone.
THe "cold canapes" were dime-sized pieces of stale bread with an unknown substance on them. Only saw the "butler" the 2 times we dined in the cabin for breakfast. Cabin stewardess was exceptional. The ship decor is over the top reminiscent of "The Birdcage," and the dance theme is well played throughout the ship. Beautiful sculptures and paintings are ship-wide as is exquisite Murano glass pieces. The chandiliers are breathtaking.
Entertainment-well, it's there. The BEST show was the passenger talent show/toga party on Saturday night-hilarious!
Disembarcation was awful-even though we had the suite, we were treated as the other passengers were-like cattle. We sat in a room with about 400 passengers and finally got off the ship at 9:30am.
Don't pay for a suite-it's not worth anything since the service is the same poor quality as a regular cabin.
Customer service is non-existant. Tendering-if you don't have a trip booked, don't bother getting off the ship. With 2000+ passengers, it takes forever to get everyone off.
Life boat drill-total waste of time. Passengers were talking the entire time and the couple next to us thought it was funny-he wanted to get into the lifeboat because "I paid for it." I said that if he got into the lifeboat, you better wish you were still on board. Went over his head.
Disabled and elderly passengers are treated like cattle-no exceptions are made for them nor for families with young(under age 5) children for either getting on or off the ship.
We had wonderful tablemates and a fantastic waitress-Milos from the Phillipines-which more than made up for the rest of the trip.
Some of the passengers said the decor was "gaudy" and some of it is; however, just the artwork and lighting in various spots around the ship are magificent. Spotlessly clean!
Overall opinion-on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I rate this as a 2. One gets what one pays for-this was not worth it.
The Mediterranea was new in 2003. Our cruise in November found it to be a delightful ship. It's very (my wife's term) glitzy. Lots of marble, impressive atrium, very nice public areas and small secluded lounges that make the experience seem intimate. Surprising in a ship so large.
The cabin staff was excellent and the room (ours with a small balcony) very nice. This was our first trip with a balcony and for our style found same to be overrated.
While our waiter and busboy were excellent, the food itself was spotty. One evening my vegetarian entree, vegetables tempura, was almost inedible. The batter had parted company with the vegetables and what remained was badly singed. One night the service was inordinately slow. Our waiter had an adjoining table that was extremely high maintenance throughout the cruise, but that didn't seem to account for the delays that seemed to eminiate from the kitchen itself. Lunch and breakfast were fine. One shortcoming was a lack of informal eaterie, other than pizzia, outside normal meal hours.
The shore excursions were predictable and typical for the Western Carribean. We took the ships excursion to the pyramid at ChiChichinitizi (sp) and since we arrived early and had an excellent guide found it to be well with the experience. The sole problem was with the buffet lunch that came with the excursion. It was poorly planned and executed. The venue didn't seem prepared for a crowd the size of ours and the pushy nature of our fellow passenger didn't help.
The Costa line attracts a lot of Europeans and we enjoyed the cosmopolitan nature of the cruise. One word of caution. There's more smoking in the public areas than is common in the United States. It takes some getting used to.
Overall, we thought the cruise represented a good value and would certainly consider taking Costa again.