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:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Group. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. 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:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. First-time Cruisers.
Cruising "Italian Style" has to be experienced to be believed. Every announcement was in six languages.
Nothing was ever on time or as advertised. Actually it became quite funny to us. Thats Italian!
Classica have the biggest cabins I have ever seen. This was our first inside cabin. We even had a queen size bed. The ship design was very Italian. Marble everywhere. The decor went from 'Over the top" to very tacky.
Service was excellent. An English speaking staff member was available to us for any problems or help. The entertainment staff went out of their way to make sure we were having a good time. There were only 16 of us (Canadians) on the ship who spoke English.
Entertainment was excellent considering they could not say everything in six languages. So they did not say anything and had some novel and clever ways to communicate to everyone.
The food was everything from blah to excellent. Stangely enough their Italian dishes were not the best. They had the worse pizza I have ever eaten. Any little Mama Papa Italian restaurant in North America could put them to shame.
The shore excursions were much thesame as every other cruise line.
The thing that struck us most was the inconsistences in everthing they did. We enjoyed the experience but would hesitate on cruising with Costa again.
If you want something a little different in a cruise it is worth a try.
On Sunday my wife and I drove to the Atlantica and immediately after parking the car, we picked up our necessayy papers etc. ( we booked our cruise on on the Monday before the sailing date.) Seeing my wife using a cane, we were provided with a wheel chair along with an attendant and were brought to our cabin immediately. The transition from dock to the cabin was less than 15 minutes.Very impressed.
We were amazed by the size of our cabin # 7178 with balcony. There was plenty of room and it had all we desired.
After a brief tour of our deck we went to have a buffet lunch on deck 9. The food was displayed beautifully and the vast variety was delightful.This was the beginning of a truly enjoyable cruise.
The mandatory lifeboat drill was rather humerous but the directions given in 6 languages were quite boreing. We think that 99% of the cruises knew English and the use of these other languages during the course of the cruise was not necessary.
Most days we took all our meals in the main restaurant as we prefer to be served.The food was good and the service wasn't rushed. The waiters were friendly as were all the others who attended us. The variety might be limited, nevertheless it was delicious.
We didn't take part in many of the shore excursions offered at the ports we visited, but did go on just 2. These were enjoyable and the persons involved were knowledgable and friendly.
The ship is truly a gem and it is so large that each day we discovered rooms that we had never seen. All were beautifully decorated and illuminated.
The many opportunites afforded to the passengers were as varied as the number of people cruising. We selected a few and the staff that offered these were great and made us appreciate what was offered.
The 7 days were refreshing and enjoyable. This was our second cruise on the Costa line and we were happy we went.
Before going, we read notes of what others said about this ship and were were wary. Whatever these people said differed from what we experienced.
It was one of the more enjoyable cruises we have taken and we have take quite a few,18 to be exact.
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)
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.
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.
I have just returned from a weeks Cruise on board Costa Atlantica, which commenced on Sunday 18th January, cabin was inside on floor 6. I purchased this cruise as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law. Destinations were Key West, Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.
I am a very keen traveller. I spend at least 7 weeks every year travelling. I have visited over 50 different countries in the last 12 years, and in the last 5 years I have been on 12 different cruises. This was my first experience with Costa .
Unfortunately this has to be my worst travel experience ever.
I would like to share with you my week on board Costa Atlantica. I hope this helps you to make the right decision if you are contemplating a Costa Cruise. I have sailed many times before with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, and Princess, all of which have been fine.
When we arrived at Port Everglades it was 13:30 and there was already a queue of at least 200 people outside the terminal building. There were no porters ready to take our luggage when we got out of the taxi. We found a Costarepresentative and asked her what to do. She told us to leave our luggage with the big pile of luggage and get in line.
We were approached by a luggage handler who told us that our luggage labels were not correct. I told him that these were supplied directly from Costa . They had the Costa logo and had our cabin number on. He said we would have to join the long queue of people to get new labels. I asked him to check this information with another luggage handler. The other luggage handler said that the labels were ok. Then to our surprise the first luggage handler said "Where is my tip. I usually get a tip?"
We went to stand in the line and after 40 minutes we saw Costa assistants waving immigration forms, saying we must get these and fill them in first. After 40 minutes of queuing, I did not feel like starting again. So we ignored the person who told us to fill them in and waited until we got to the reception desk. The lady at the reception desk said we didn't need to fill in the immigration form because she already had the required information in our registration details. I noticed that when we registered we were not able to leave details of our credit cards. The receptionist told us we had plenty of time to register our card details when we got on board. We later found this to be a huge disadvantage. I wanted to register our credit card on day 1, but the queue was so long we decided to go back the next day. We stayed in the queue for 15 minutes on day 2, but then got fed up with waiting. We eventually registered our credit card details on day 3, after queuing for 20 minutes.
I also noticed that when we registered, we did not have to give our passports in. This also turned out to be a huge disadvantage. We were forced to take our passports with us every time we wanted to get off and on the ship. All other cruise ships I have been on, take a photo-id picture when you first come on board so you don't need your passports. I really do not like walking around everywhere with my passport. It meant we were unable to go jet ski-ing or feel comfortable leaving our beach bags unattended when we were on trips or swimming at beaches.
After we had registered at reception we were told to wait in a large hall area until our number was called. This didn't happen for at least 40 minutes. All other cruise ships offer a complimentary cold soft drink whilst you are waiting to get on board. There were no drinks available, which I found a bit strange.
Some people approached us and asked us where our Jazz badges were. We said we had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Then we discovered that the cruise we had booked was a 'Smooth Cruise Jazz Tour'. No-one from Costa had advised us. Our booking agents hadn't advised us. We were devastated, because we both love jazz, and found we were not included in any of the events. We later discovered that Costa had filled half the ship with Jazz customers. The other 50% seemed to have no idea that they were on a cruise which had devoted 50% of the ship to jazz activities and concerts. We had all booked with different Cruise agents, but not one of them had identified that this was a jazz cruise. I was so angry that I phoned my husband at home and ask him to contact my cruise agent to see why they hadn't advised us. They told him that Costa had not advised them. As with all other cruise ships the photographer was available to take your photo when stepping on board. But there was no way of getting past if you didn't want the photo. This really slowed down the process of getting on board. And I noticed that the first ship photograph featured a picture of yourself plus a long queue of people waiting behind you! Not very personal. In general, the ships photographers created photos of a very poor quality, and they took the photographs in positions where you could see other people in the background, or there could be a shop sign above you, or the photos were not centred properly.
We eventually got on board at 16:00pm. This is two and a half hours after getting out of the taxi. Not a very good start.
We headed immediately for the buffet. There was only one station open. There were some variations on pasta but it looked very dried out and there wasn't much left. But we were hungry so we tried. The pasta was dry and luke-warm so we left it.
We went back to our cabins and discovered that our dining card indicated first sitting. I was absolutely horrified, because I had confirmed 3 times with my booking agency that I was on second sitting, in writing, via email, and verbally. I absolutely hate first sitting and it would be good enough reason for me to cancel a cruise. I immediately went to see the Maitre D. The Maitre D on board this ship has to be the rudest, most arrogant and unhelpful person you could ever come across. He said there was absolutely nothing he could do. I told him that I was absolutely 100% sure that my request for second sitting was confirmed before I left the UK, but he simply would not believe me. He took my name and number but said that he couldn't do anything else until tomorrow.
First seating dining was due to commence at 18:00pm. By 18:15pm our bags had still not arrived. I went out to the corridors to see what was happening. There were probably at least 20 people on every single floor waiting for their bags by the lifts. Most people were absolutely furious and really fed up. After checking every single floor to make sure our bags had not been mis-delivered we decided to go to dinner. We were dressed in shorts and beach shoes. It was very embarrassing.
I don't know what time our bags eventually turned up, but it must have been after 9pm. We heard later that some people didn't get all their bags until midnight.
On day 2, I went to find the Maitre D. I was told he was unavailable so I spoke to his assistant. Another unbelievably rude man. He was dealing with an American couple who wanted to swap from 2nd to 1st sitting. I said I would be more than happy to exchange my card with theirs, but the Maitre D had already torn up their card, and wouldn't let me change with them. I asked him to check the seating change plan to make sure that I was included. He said that my new 2nd sitting card was being prepared at the moment and that he didn't have the lists. He told me to go back to my room and wait for the card to be delivered. I told him that I wanted to see the lists straightaway. After five minutes of begging with him, he simply pointed me in the direction of a staircase and said, "Go upstairs and speak to the Maitre D".
The Maitre D was sitting with all his assistants sorting out the change of seating plan. He lied to me and told me no-one had been swapped. I told him that I knew he was lying because I had just stood downstairs next to an American couple who had swapped about 3 minutes ago. He told me that was not possible. After another long argument he asked me to identify the assistant Maitre D who had made the swap. Eventually they tracked him down and then they both lied saying no swaps had been made. I told the Maitre D that from day 3 onwards I would simply turn up at second sitting and I would expect to be seated. He simply waved his arms in the air and said that if that's what I wanted to do then so be it.
About an hour after this incident I was walking along some corridors to get back to my cabin, and I noticed that some cabins had cards posted in their letterboxes. These cards were for change of dinner seating to second sitting. I was furious. The Maitre D on the Costa Atlantica, together with his assistants are rude, arrogant, liars. They need to go back to school to learn how to handle difficult situations with courtesy and respect, not arrogant superiority and a total disregard for customers needs.
On night 3 we turned up for dinner about ½ hour after the scheduled commencement. There were large notices outside saying that second seating was full. In fact there were many completely empty or half empty tables. We asked the assistant Maitre D to seat us. He said he had a perfect table that we could sit at all week. We were horrified to be seated next to the bus-boy counter. Throughout our first course all we could hear was plates, knives and forks being thrown into the bowls, plates being scraped, waiters continuously bumping into us from behind. The assistant Maitre D asked us how we liked our table. I said I was disgusted. I said how would you like it if you brought your wife on board and you were seated next to the bus boy counter. Then he replied very strangely "Madam, I would not bring my wife on board because the ship is full". We had no idea what he was talking about. I told him that second seating was half empty and there was no reason he needed to seat us where he did. He said "Madam I have tried my very best and there is nothing more I can do". He walked off and so did we. We were too angry to finish our dinner.
On night 4 we turned up late again and he attempted to sit us on our own again. We spotted some newly made friends with some empty spaces so we moved there.
Second sitting was almost always only 2/3rds full for the entire cruise.
After speaking to many people on the cruise it became obvious what had happened and why there was such a mix up with the dining arrangements. There were many people who had confirmed 2nd seating dining before arriving on the Cruise. But in fact what Costa had done was to move all the Jazz participants and the Jewish Kosher party to second seating and put everyone else on first sitting. This was to accommodate the entertainment time slots. There was only one main show per night so if you did not go on first sitting you would miss it. My belief is that if Costa would have told people in advance that this was a jazz cruise with very limited entertainment and first sitting dining only, then people would have chosen another week or another option.
Now on to the quality of the food. It was very poor. The choice was very limited. It was almost always luke - warm and sometimes even cold. The pasta dishes nearly always looked dried up. The vegetables reminded me of school dinners in the 1960's when they served up mixed diced vegetables (carrots, swede and beans). The salad bar was the worst I have ever seen any where in the world. Here are some of the choices : a tray of plain lettuce leaves, a tray of whole raw carrots, a tray of plain raw cauliflower, some plain sliced cucumber.
The buffet area was totally disorganised. No-one ever really knew if the buffet stations contained the same food or if they were different. There were always long queues. The cutlery buckets were regularly empty. Breakfast choice was disgraceful. At lunchtime there was only ever a choice of two deserts. Usually these were sugar free jelly and a horrible square of sponge cake with synthetic cream. The ice cream was watery. The drinks machines were very often out of action. On one occasion I had to try five drinks stations before I could find an orange juice dispenser that worked. One day I had squid from the buffet, but the chef had left razor sharp bones in it. They were like glass.
The description of food in the buffet was terrible. The signs only ever said (for example) Fish, Lamb, Chicken etc, which meant you had no idea how the dish had been prepared or you had no idea what kind of fish you were eating. Even if you asked the assistants didn't always know. The buffet staff all looked very bored and weren't very helpful. Dishes weren't cleared away from tables very quickly.
In the evening main dining the food was slightly better, but still not hot. We had to send two plates of food back on one occasion because the food was actually cold to touch. I am not exaggerating. The waiter simply took the dinner plates away, put them in the microwave and handed them back again. So now everything was piping hot but the herbs and salad had wilted! I noticed that everyone struggled on lobster night. Usually, on other cruise ships, the lobster tail is loosened by the restaurant staff, so that people don't have to struggle. The lobster was served still attached to the shell with no dressing or butter. It is the blandest lobster I have ever tasted in my life. Most other dishes were lacking in flavour.
There was no wine waiter ever available. Once the wine had been served by the assistant waiter, you then had to continue to serve yourself all night.
So to the entertainment. The first day was encouraging. The show (of which there was only one performance) was at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We had an ex member of the Platters (not one of the originals I hasten to add who must all now be long gone) - second generation. He was very good.
Second day was a really bad 3 man circus act. I couldn't watch them again after this performance. My sister-in-law struggled through their second show for a short while but gave up after the juggler kept dropping things and after she heard them try to sing. She said it was awful and walked out long before the end. The dance shows were just average. Not bad, but not good. But the show that really took us by surprise as the worst cruise entertainment we have ever witnessed was the night the poolside steel band were given the prime spot as the main evening entertainment. They didn't say a word. They just performed tune after tune. A plaque was displayed with the song they were currently playing. It was awful. Most people had walked out before the end. I lasted until song number three.
To try and cheer ourselves up we went in for the slots tournament. On my last two cruises with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean I have won both a first and second prize. The whole thing with Costa was a shambles. We had enough people for a single round, which went quite well. Then the original organiser walked off and left us in the hands of a young casino lad who didn't speak hardly any English, and who had NO idea what he was doing. He was letting people play just as and when they pleased. One woman had the top three scores, and couldn't understand why she wouldn't be allowed to play three machines in the final! It wasn't really her fault. This boy hadn't explained any rules. Then we discovered that one of the tournament machines hadn't been set up correctly. It was locking out for about 30 seconds after every major win. So people started screaming that they wanted to take their turn again. We were screaming for this boy to get a technician but he just stood there looking gormless. So we screamed for a manager. In the end I had to call someone over myself. Altogether three different casino personnel got involved. In the end, by general consensus, we allowed the lady with the three top scores to play two machines in the final, and we had to play the final as two separate rounds because two of the machines became faulty. I would have loved the Gaming Board regulators to have witnessed this experience. It was simply dreadful. And the prize money? $200 for one and a half hours of screaming and shouting.
We had a couple of problems with the excursion desk. We had booked a Sea Helmet Diving trip, but had received no confirmation by way of tickets delivered to our room. However we had heard from other people that they too had booked trips where the tickets hadn't arrived. But not to worry, they would have a note of our names. So we turned up at the pierside to be told that the trip was off due to lack of participants. This was the first we had heard of it! I can't believe we weren't notified on the previous evening.
Another trip which appeared to be totally disorganised was the Dolphin encounter & Dunn's River falls. We were walked by a Costa guide to a taxi waiting in the car-park which promptly dropped us off 10 minutes later at Dolphin Cove. When the Dolphin experience was complete we went to find our taxi which had gone. We were told to jump in any taxi, which we found a bit confusing. Then we were taken to Dunns River falls which was also a bit chaotic if you didn't want to climb the falls. We weren't really sure where to go or how we were supposed to get back to the ship. Some pre-information would have been useful.
On the two days at sea we sat by the pool. We sat by the main pool and wanted to have a dip in the hot tub, but decided against when we saw one adult with 5 children all under the age of about 8. What really put me off was that the youngest child had been allowed into the hot tub with a nappy on. YUK!!! There was no control over children in the hot tub, despite the signs saying no children under the age of 12 allowed. Children were also running riot in the Adult Only pool and hot tub. They were also left to play with the life saving rings.
Something else I found very distasteful around the pool is that men were smoking cigars. This is not usually allowed on other cruise ships.
Continuing on the poolside theme, Costa must win the award for the most uncomfortable deckside beds ever. The padding was rock hard, and felt like you were lying on wood. It gave me a really numb backside and made my back ache. I saw some people were trying to make themselves more comfortable by putting two of these rock hard cushions on top of each other, or by laying on four towels at a time. I tried the 4 towel technique myself but it didn't work!
There were a couple of other disturbing incidents which really summed up my Costa experience for me. I was sitting by the pool early in the morning. There was only one other lady looking after three very young children. There were 4 poolside bar staff just standing by the bar with their trays waiting for custom, having a good chat. One of the female bar waitresses went over to the mother and said "Can I get you a drink". The lady said "I would love a drink of water". The waitress pointed to the other side of the deck and said "the water machine is over there". Then she walked back to her bar staff friends and continued to chat. Now how is that for friendly and helpful?
The second incident happened after the captains cocktail party. We were leaving the theatre and there was a mother attempting to get her wheelchair bound daughter down a couple of steps. The ships priest was standing next to this. One of the Entertainment staff rushed to help. She was wearing a very lavish long ball gown and obviously found it difficult to help but she did her best. Some guests close by came to her assistance whilst the priest just stood and watched. I was really shocked at this.
I spoke to many many people about their cruise experience on Costa Atlantica. I am not lying when I say that NOT ONE PERSON was complimentary. For most it was their worst cruise experience ever. We also spoke to a lot of staff who were on their first Costa contract. They were very clear to tell us it would be their last. Most of the jazz people seemed to have a great time. But this was nothing to do with the services provided by Costa . It was because their jazz entertainment was superb. They were in agreement about the poor quality of everything else.
One of the few things which I could not fault was the cabin and the cabin steward. Both were excellent. It would be nicer to get some fancy chocolate laid on your pillow at night (as with most other cruise companies) rather than a boiled sweet. But such is life!
The cabin TV had very limited channels. There was no free film channel as with other cruise companies. There was no CNN. The most hilarious channel was the one with the tour director. He was the most boring lifeless unenthusiastic tour director I have ever seen. He gave his commentary slumped over a desk for the full duration. He made you feel really depressed.
The daily newspaper was lacking in detail. There was no weather forecast, no destination overview, just a map with recommended shopping. It was not that well constructed.
There were always long queues at the Excursions desk and at Guest relations. All times I went to Guest relations I had to queue for just under forty minutes.
And the icing on the cake? Well I just happened to overhear that a family were travelling on the same organised trip as us on the last day after disembarkation, and so they had been sent specially coloured Pink luggage labels, so that their luggage could be outsorted. We had booked the same trip. On the last day I was expecting to see pink luggage labels, but they were purple. I stood for the regular 40 minutes at guest relations to discover (purely by chance) that we had got the wrong luggage labels. On the last night, I passed a couple of other families having discussions with their cabin boys, because they appeared to have the wrong luggage labels too.
We were first in queue to get on to the coach for our final Fort Lauderdale trip. But somehow this seemed to be totally chaotic as well. It took about 15 minutes before we finally got our luggage on board the coach.
My conclusion? Costa cruises are regularly discounted and always seem to be a good deal. I cannot comment on other Costa ships but as far as Costa Atlantica is concerned, avoid it. Pay an extra £100-£200 for another cruise line. You will be grateful in the end. This was certainly my first and last Costa cruise.
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!
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.