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: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Group. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Read your review of the Mediterranea and agree with most of it. This our 11th cruise , mostly with Princess, went on this particular cruise as part of an annual fan club cruise. This is a spectacular looking ship and is immaculately maintained.We had a balcony cabin on the 8th deck and did have some noise from the Buffet above.
Embarcation was slow with long line-ups taking one hour and then to the 9th floor buffet at 2.00pm. The 1st sitting was at 5.45 in the main dinning room where we had a table for 2 as requested. We enjoyed every meal especially the pasta dishes and our waiter Jeffery was most attentive. Shortcommings; Where this ship left me cold was the PA announcements in 5 languages, especially the life boat drill which took several times longer than any of our previous ships. The entertainment aboard was tailored for a european audience with mostly european performers, not the type of music one associates with a Carribean cruise.
We had booked a private function in one of the bars and when our guest speaker attempted to do his presentation the ship announcements drowned himout. We had a private concert with a star performer that could have been in the main theatre where most of the passengers could have seen a world class act however the entertainment co-ordinator was not interested. The ports were typical except Roatan which has a new dock but needs to suppress the overly aggressive taxi drivers . All in all we enjoyed the cruise but La Dolce Vita was enough for us.
There is an old saying "It is the company on a voyage that makes it so enjoyable." This, our fourth cruise on the Costa Mediterranea, proved the old adage right! There is a list (or rather a roster) of old friends and acquaintances, that we met again on board, which made this a terrific cruise. The wonderfully friendly Captain Giuseppe Russo tops the roster. The others are the following: the accomplished Hotel Director Attilio Sissa; Chef Massimo Molinaro with whom we crossed the Atlantic two years ago; Maitre D' Bartolomeo Vitiello with his impeccable continental manners (Yes, ladies you will be greeted with a kiss on the hand); The 2nd Maitre D' Antonello Tievoli (with the quirky reversible last name "I love it."); Then, there is the 2nd Maitre D' Raffaele Bailo (the Music Man), whose contributions to the ambiance of the Restaurant Degli Argentieri are immeasurable. Finally, Passenger Guest Relations Martina Fantoni, a lady who provides cruisers with a great sense of the "Costa Family." This concludes the list of old friends, later on we will enumerate the new ones.
This was our 13th Costa Cruise and all excellent ones. Perhaps, itis the manner in which Vincent approaches them --- with enthusiasm and a sense of homecoming. The very Italian flavor on the Costa Ships is contagious, enhanced by a decidedly international mix of passengers, since the Costa Line is after all the most popular in Europe.
EMBARKATION Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is a mere twenty-five minutes from our home in Boca Raton, Fl. The Costa Mediterranea is berthed at a new pier recently built due to the increased number of ships calling Port Everglades home port. Go right at the first traffic light after the security check point (where there were long slow lines) and the ship looms gigantic on the pier. There were well defined separate lanes for busses, taxis and private autos. We were dropped off with our luggage, but since this was an impromptu trip (an offer we couldn't refuse) the porters tagged our luggage for us and it only took a minute. We had wheelchair assistance through check in and all the way to our suite. Boarding time is listed as 1:00pm, but we were on by 12:30pm. Excellent.
THE SHIP We have written several reviews in great detail on the decorations of the Costa Mediterranea, which can be accessed on line. It is the magnificent work of Joe Farcus, Carnival's famous ship architect. He employed a massive amount of classical motifs to make the Mediterranea reflect the countries it represents. There is the Osiris theater (Egypt), the Medusa Club (Greece), and even the decks are named for both mythological and real persons from this area.
Like her sister ship the Costa Atlantica, she sports the traditional Costa blue "C" on her yellow smoke stack. Built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards, Finland in 2004; she is Panamax: 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide, 196 ft. tall with a gross tonnage of 85,700. She has 12 decks and 1057 cabins of which 742 have balconies. She is powered by 6 Diesel Generators and has a maximum speed of 24 knots. Her total passenger capacity is 2,680 and has a crew of 920.
Enough of the specifics, the Mediterranea is graced with the works of 34 contemporary artists and a large heavy tome (over 250 pages) has been devoted to the great art collection on board: "L'Arte della Commedia." La Commedia dell'Arte (the Comedy of Masks) includes the famous classical characters of Pulcinella (Punch), Colombina (Columbine), Arlecchino (Harlequin), Rosaura, Capitan Spaventa (Captain Frightful), etc. The atrium's main wall has the six masked Venetian characters in full regalia -- a sartorial triumph! The Vignale designs and the Cioce photographs of dancers are stunning and of museum quality. There are 48 Cioce panels in the Atrium Maschera d'Argento (Silver Mask Hall), depicting dance in movement so beautifully, that they are unforgettable. There are also many sculpted figures in dance poses which occupy the rest of the 8 deck high wall.
Decks 2 (Tersicore) and 3(Bacco) are public decks with the Osiris Theater forward, Via Condotti Shops, the Piazza Casanova, the Casino, Passenger Services Desk and the Tour Desk and the two level restaurant of the silversmiths "Ristorante degli Argentieri."
Decks 4 (Teseo), 5(Orfeo), 6 (Narciso), 7 (Promoteo), and 8 (Pegaso) are all staterooms.
Decks 9 (Armonia) and 10 (Cleopatra) are all public areas including the Buffet and grills, pools and whirlpools, spas, gym, tennis courts, jogging tracks, etc.
The Costa Mediterranea is an art and amenity filled ship of the first magnitude.
FOOD & SERVICE Costa Line describes itself as "Cruising Italian Style" and this is very evident in the good manners of its crew. Even though, they are a multicultural group, they all greet passengers in Italian. Hotel Director Sissa has instilled in them a very gracious and friendly attitude towards passengers. Everyone goes the extra mile to please and they deserve excellent marks for politeness. On formal night the Maitre D' Bartolomeo all dressed in tails is quite elegant. On Gala night the tables have not only the usual flowers, but also candles, in addition to the complimentary champaign. Each night the waiters are in different outfits: white formal jackets, black formal jackets, and even Red-White-Green for the Italian dinner. There is always dinner music including the following: Classical Italian and American songs, Neapolitan favorites, and even Argentine tangos. All because 2nd Maitre D' Raffaele is an aficionado with both deep interest and knowledge of good music.
Of course, not only is the ambiance Italian, but so is the food. Our waiters Julio Katinding and his assistant Chester Coronica were tip top. We enjoyed appetizers of Grana Padana and Prosciutto di Parma, pate` with pistachios, and Escargot. The various soups were interesting and the hot ones included pasta e fagioli and double chicken broth with tortellini; the cold ones included Pear cocktail with Kirsch, and chilled cucumber yogurt with dill soup. Pasta courses were abundant such as Farfalle al Salmone (Bow ties with Salmon), Fettuccine Alfredo and Penne con Pomodoro Fresco (pasta with fresh tomato). The entrees included Beef, Veal, Lamb, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna (steaks or Carpaccio), swordfish broiled to perfection and quite succulent. The King crabs were wonderful too. Chef Massimo Molinaro made terrific swordfish involtini (roll ups). Excutive Chef Giovanni Scalet is to be congratulated for his many unique offerings. Bravo!
Desserts were varied and not overly sweet. Excellent Napoleons, Baba au Rum, Tiramisu and fresh exotic fruits from raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to papayas, mangos and Kiwis. We had room service each morning for breakfast and our Butler Carla was always punctual and hot items were hot and chilled ones cold. The full restaurant menu was available: eggs any way, pancakes, waffles, French toast, fruits and sides orders of bacon, and potatoes, Danish, Bagels and rolls of all kinds. The breads on board Costa are very crunchy, just the way we like bread. Grissini (bread sticks) are fresh and delicious and set every night on every table.
We dined on Deck 10 at the Club Medusa Restaurant twice. This upscale Italian restaurant has a beautiful setting and wonderful ambiance, with the excellent music of pianist and singer Domenico Mancuso (a wonderful repertoire and excellent voice). The dance floor is large and well used. The tables are set with gold brocade tablecloths and Versace red and gold plates. We chose the fixed taster's menu, which is an eight course meal that has a duration of about two and one half hours. But there was also an a la carte menu with great variety. The Club Supervisor is Rahul Upadhyay, whom we met before; he is very efficient and aims for excellence.
Congratulations to both Captain Russo and Hotel Director Attilio Sissa, they have a well oiled machine.
CABIN Suite #6184 on Deck 6 is a large cabin with excellent appointments. On entering on the right is a lady's dressing room with two wardrobes, and a lighted vanity with an upholstered stool. Through this ante room there is the large bathroom, with a full jacuzzi tub/shower, a double sink and many shelves for toiletries. Costa Mediterranea provides sets of their own brand shampoos, and lotions which are superb. Next, there is the queen size bed with a gorgeous peach brocaded coverlet and choice of several types of pillows (contour, firm, extra firm, and soft). There is a handy bar with granite topped counters, night stands and tables. There is a personal safe and refrigerator. The large extra long peach leather couch has two matching chairs. There are also two more armoires. The far wall has floor to ceiling windows and a glass door to the very large balcony which holds two recliners and a table of teak wood. Our Cabin Stewardess was Danina and between her and Butler Carla we were pampered all week long. We were also visited by our former Butler Ronald Andaya, whom we met last year on a Costa Mediterranea cruise. What a surprise!
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Gabriele Di Gangi is witty, handsome, and enthusiastic. He is surrounded by a high spirited group which spends many hours organizing and running a multitude of activities such as the following: Bingo, Trivia, Casino Tournaments, Athletic games, etc. The Costa Orchestra, Singers and Dancers are very good. The Platchkov Duo from the Moscow Circus did excellent juggling. The new production show "The Elements" of fire, wind, earth and water is magnificent, especially when time is taken to read the program and understand the theme. A tenor Edmondo Rahme sang international songs from Tom Jones to Pavarotti. He was quite good in the pop songs and involved the audience, but his classical opera arias were not as good. There is an International night, where passengers wander from one lounge to another where different ethnic themes are presented. Costa gives passengers a "passport" to be stamped in the areas representing France, Greece, Spain and Egypt, then the passenger can get a discount of $100 on future cruise with the approved passport. There is an Italian Night with masks and a Toga Night with a Variety Show where Caesar 's thumb up or thumb down can send the poor Christian to the feast or to the lions. There is great fun to be had on board.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 7:00pm (usually). On this day the sailing was delayed.
Day 2. Key West, FL USA Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm There are free shuttle busses to downtown. We have been in Key West many times, thus we have visited all of the interesting places including President Truman's Little White House, The Key West Shipwreck Historeum, the Hemingway Home and the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar. This time, we just did some shopping downtown.
Day 3. At Sea.
Day 4. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm Tendering ashore. We did not go ashore. However, among the tours we prefer are the Stingray Sandbar Snorkeling (2.5 hours, $ 47) and the Stingray Observatory and Island Highlights (3 hours, $ 60).
Day 5. Roatan, Honduras Arrive: 10:00am Depart: 5:00pm We took the West Side Highland Tour (4 hours, $ 46) and were disappointed in both the Carambola Botanical Garden and the visit to the Butterfly and Parrot Park.
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm We consider this port as the best shopping place in the Western Caribbean. For those interested in archeological tours, the visit to the Ancient Mayan city of Tulum is a must (8 hours, $ 82). Several great snorkeling and SCUBA diving tours are available.
Day 7. At Sea.
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive: 7:00am
DEBARKATION Immigration authorities were speedy and debarkation began at 8:15am. We had wheelchair assistance from our suite all the way through passport check, luggage pick up, customs and out to the curb. Very smooth, and we were off by 8:45am. Excellent.
CONCLUSION We enjoy cruising on new ships; however, we frequently return to those ships where we had some of our best cruises and that is understandable, since we like to repeat pleasurable experiences. Some of our favorite ships of Costa are the Atlantica and the Mediterranea, thus we have cruised four times on both of these ships. One of the major reasons for these preferences is the people we have met aboard, and when we return it is like coming home, and enjoying seeing familiar faces in familiar places. Cruising Italian Style is just great, "That's Amore." Happy Cruising!
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Kristina Western Caribbean February 25, 2007
Background Info: I am 16 years old, and I cruised with my mother from February 25- March 4, 2007. This was our first time on Costa, but not our first cruise. It was my 7th, and her 8th. We have sailed on HAL Maasdam, Zuiderdam, & Noordam; CCL Victory & Triumph; and X Zenith. We live in upstate New York, and only booked this cruise 18 days in advance.
Embarkation: We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on the day of the cruise. We were supposed to arrive by 11am, but due to flight complications, we didnt get to the cruise pier until about 3pm. (Good thing it didnt set sail intil 7pm!) The luggage porters took our bags as soon as we stepped out of the taxi, and then we were off to go through security and check in. The line was surprisingly long, but moved quickly. We passed through security smoothly, and then waited some more to check in. From there, we got on the ship. We were onboard the ship within an hour, and were surprised at not receivingour cards or having our photos for them taken! Since we arrived so late, we were able to go straight to our cabins and get settled in. Not having to carry around our suitcases was great!!
The Ship: The Magica was impecable. Everything was clean, she looked brand new. The layout is a little wonky, but you will get used to it. It was annoying not being able to walk from bow to stern on every deck, and we would always forget that. We loved the art work that is all over the ship, especially the panels in the stateroom hallways, and the large pictures in the stairwells. The lightbulb holders in the buffet area were very unique (arms and hands holding the lights).
Public Areas: There were 11 lounges and bars, and every night something exciting was happening. The Salento Grand Bar is the best, it is located right in the middle of deck 5, and is very open and has a nice dance floor. The Capri Lounge was great too, and the band that played in there was amazing. This is where kareoke took place. The Urbino theater is gorgeous...but make sure not to sit somplace where the poles would be blocking your view! The atrium is gorgeous...and the glass elevators are just too much fun (no matter how old you are!). The nightclub, Grado Disco, was tons of fun!! Popular music was played, and everyone was dancing and having a good time!
Activities: It would have been impossible to attend every single activity that was planned. Every day, there were dance and exercise classes by the midship pool. Also, many games like hula hoop competition, sexy legs, kens vs barbies, old macdonalds farm game, ect happened near this pool. Multiple trivia and quiz gatherings, as well as volleyball, ping pong, and basketball games occured daily. Even Italian lessons!! The activities staff was amazing, each one speaking at least 5 languages!! It is unbelievable how much energy they have, and we talked to some of them personally and they dont know how they do it! No matter how fun their jobs look, it is very socially demanding and hard; most of the time their smiles are false.
Pools: There were 2 main pools...both on deck 9, located aft and midship. There was a smaller pool located up on deck 10, next to the end of the waterslide. Also, a kiddie pool was up near the childrens room. The pool area is the most active, and where everyone is on sea days, and the line for the waterslide often went down the stairs! Watch out for little kids (in the deck 10 pool)...they had discovered that the plastic cups were great for throwing water at people. There were several hot tubs, all of which were wonderfuly hot and relaxing.
Service: Wonderful. The crew was amazing and very friendly (would say hi to us whenever they saw us, and remembered our names). I dont know how other people could say bad things about them!! They all spoke English very well (as it is a requirement for them if they come into contact with passengers), and were extremely accomodating to all the needs of the passengers.
Cabin: We were in cabin 7380, an inside on deck 7. It was the second one back from the aft elevators, and only 2 decks up to the buffet and 2 down to the casino and shops; no complaints at all about the location. There was plently of storage space for all of our belongings. There were 4 drawers in a dresser, 2 nightstands, and 4 closets (one with shelves). The bathroom was spacious, and there were 4 shelves above the sink (perfect size & location for beauty products). The shower was good, had a retractable clothes line going across which was handy, and a shampoo dispenser (smelled quite nice, but we always bring our own). There was one problem with the shower. It would overflow everytime i used it. The drain was very slow, and the ledge around the base was not high enough to contain all the water! There is a drain behind the toilet too, and a path around the perimeter of the floor for water to follow, so maybe this was supposed to happen?? I doubt it though. So dont leave your clothes on the floor! Another oddity about the cabin: the handles on the drawers and closets were leather-like, and hard to get ahold of, resulting in the opening of them veryyy difficult. We often left everything slightly open to avoid this issue. The lighting was great (fixtures were unique and modern), and there were plenty of mirrors everywhere. There was a minifridge, and a safe too. The artwork was cute, and the beds werent that bad. Maybe because we were so tired when we retired to sleep? It doesnt matter. (We were happy to be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and NOT in the -10 weather in NY.) The sheets and towels were a little rough for our liking, but that didnt ruin our cruise or anything. (The pool towels that are left in your room for shore excursions are wonderful!!)
Food and Dining: Once again, I can not believe that people have complained about the food!!! It is delicious!!! We were disappointed at no sushi, but dont worry...they made up for it in their pasta dishes!! In the buffet, the food was great!! Always pizza, pasta, salad, a meat or 2 of some sort, fresh fruit, vegetables, all the regular cruise fare. The only area they lacked in was dessert. The selection was very limited, and always cold (pie is supposed to be warm!) The ice cream made up for it though, having self-serve machines located all around deck 9. There were specialty ice creams available at the bars, but we thought that it was rediculous to pay for ice cream on a cruise so we never got any. The food in the buffet is just about the same as in the dining rooms. We went to dinner the first couple of nights, but each night the service got slower and slower!! Originally, we were assigned the early seating, but we were able to easily change that to the late seating (allows much more time to get ready after being onshore all day). On the second formal night, instead of lobster, there was king crab legs. Personally, I prefered this!! It was delicious!!
Breakfast: offered in the dining room (Smeralda) from 7:30-9:30. We never went to this. A buffet was set up from 7:30-11am. The one by the back pool was always the least crowded, and had the same exact things as inside the Bellagio. There were pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels, hash, and fresh fruit available.
Lunch: offered in the dining room (Portofino) from 12-1:30pm. We also never went to this. The buffet was available from 12-2:30 in the Bellagio, and the grill was open from 11am-6pm. Dinner: There is 2 different seatings in each restaurant. Costa Smeralda: 5:45 & 8:30 Restaurant Portofino: 5:30 & 8:15
Also, a buffet is set up from 7:30-9:30 in the Bellagio, and a specialty restaurant from 6:30-9:30pm (never went to it). ONE OF OUR FAVORITES: from 9:30pm-1:30am, a pizzaria was set up in the Bellagio. We did not discover this until near the end of the cruise, and the pizza here is THE BEST. Each night there were about 5 different types of pizza offered, so Im sure you would be able to find something you liked. They would make you your own pizza, about a foot in diameter. Also, every night there was a midnight buffet, and the theme differed from night to night. Furthermore, there was tea time. One was in the Spoleto Lounge, Deck 5, from 3:45-4:45pm,where there was a WIDE variety of tea to choose from. The other was in the Bellagio and had mini sandwiches and desserts (4-5pm).
Childrens Program: I participated in the teen program (13-18 years old), and it was wonderful!! The two teen directors, Marco and Sabryna, were fabulous!! There were a couple activities scheduled daily, and they were tons of fun! The prizes were great too. I saw the littler kids around the ship sometimes, participating in themed dinners and treasure hunts, and they all had a smile on their faces (and often face paint too!!).
Entertainment: The one show I actually went to, Myth Trio in Circus of the Seas, was FANTASTIC. I actually went to both seatings. It was unbelieveable!! All of the other shows were basically the same as on every cruise...a special singer one night, a Broadway-type show, a magician, ect...
Theme Nights: Almost every night had its own theme. It was so much fun, this is part of the reason why Costa is amazing. Italian Night: Supposed to wear red, white, or green. There were several stations all around deck 5, such as rose making, mask making, face painting, and dance classes.
Mediterannean Night: You were able to visit 4 different countries this night. France..and there was a Can Can show (hilarious!!!!), and Moulin Rouge-type singing. Greece...a fun dance..OMPA! Spain..dancing the Paso Doble. Egypt and Turkey....crazy belly dancing!! (also HILARIOUS). Also followed by a midnight buffet with food from each country in each section. DO NOT MISS THIS!!
Roman (Toga) Night: This is one thing Costa is known for. Everyone is supposed to get dressed up in a toga (and accessories!) and spend the night in it! This is the Guest Talent Show and Crew Show night too, and happened on the last night of the cruise. Maybe only about 50% of the pax actually wore a toga, but the ones who didnt missed out on all the fun!
Tropical Night: Tropical wear, with music by the calypso band and dancing by the pool! Dances such as the YMCA, hot hot hot, and limbo. Tons of fun!!
Other Passengers: About 80% of the passengers were European. Being onboard this ship was like being in a foreign country. Most of the other pax were Italian and French. None of them were rude at all, they were all lovely to converse with (give that you can speak their language/interpret their English). A couple were pushy and cut in line, but hey, Americans do that too!!! Im sure you would find someone on any other cruise line who would cut infront of you (we found it on HAL!).
Debarkation: There was the option of early self-debarkation. We opted not to do this, since you would have to carry all your own luggage offboard, and 2 woman pack a lot!! They hand out colored tags, depending on your cabin and status, and you get assigned a time to get off the ship. They dont even check if you leave in the right time (we got off earlier than assigned). There was one discression with a passenger and his/her card, apparantly they tried to get off without paying for their onboard purchases. That did hold up the line, but was resolved quickly. After we got off the ship, was had to go through customs. There were 2 different lines, one for US passengers and one for Foreign. They both moved at about the same rate.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience and would cruise Costa again in a hearbeat!! We are trying to plan to go on the Fortuna this winter. (The Magica wont be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Too bad. This ship is amazing!)
Feel free to PM me with questions, or if you want to see daily programs, menus, or photos!!
We sailed Feb 4th from Ft. Lauderdale on Costa Mediterranea and had a really great time. We had a balcony stateroom (5270) on deck 5 at the stern near the centerline. The 'ride' was very smooth with a minor amount of the usual ship noises, occasional small vibrations, etc. The balcony was a plus. We left the door propped open at night for the sound of the sea sliding past the ship and the great night air.
Boarding the ship was an easy affair. We lined up for mere minutes at the terminal and the shoreside folks had us registered and on the ship is short order. The stateroom was roomy, clean, and bright. The bathroom was actually quite well laid out and shower had no end of hot water (a real plus for me). There a great big dressing mirror in the room and gobs of lighting. The TV was sort of superfluous except for the great briefing tapes about the ship and the excursions.
The food was good to great. The formal dining room is a treat. However, the seven course meals were a bit too much for usfor every day, so we ate at the deck nine buffet quite a few times. The buffet had just about everything the main dining room had, but in a very relaxed setting. There's a hamburger and hot dog grill next to one of the pools and pizza and snacks at the buffet outside of lunch and dinner hours.
The ship's crew were marvelous. Our cabin and the ship were always clean. They really make a fetish out of it on Mediterranea. The food staff were always ready to fetch anything or help find anything. I had an appetizer I didn't like and the immediately took it away and brought me another to try, and all with a truly helpful attitude - no snobby waiters, thank you. The entertrainment staff did a great job. There are full productions in the Osiris theather as well as numerous lounge acts and musical solo, duo, and trio acts in the many lounges.
The shoreside tours were a mixed bag (as expected). We froze our butts in Key West due to nasty weather arriving from Canada, so we cut or shore time to go back and warm up. We did do the Conch Train Tour and I'd recommend that as a good way to just roam about the island and see things. Georgetown, Grand Cayman was nice, if a bit touristy (well, what did you expect?). We just roamed about until landing at Margarittaville where we had a pleasant couple of hours chomping on a monster chips and salsa 'Volcano' and washing it down with various rum and tequilla drinks. Tourist junk is a lot cheaper here than in Key West, by the way. Roatan was our favorite. The weather cooperated and we took the Canopy Adventure Tour and Tabiyana Beach. You have to be physically fit to do the Canopy Tour. If you can't do a chin up or two and 5 or 10 full situps without collapsing in pain - forget it. You also have to do a little walking on a jungle path full of tree roots. It is a very do-able tour and a once in a lifetime adventure. If you're up to it - GO!
My wife and I are 61 years old and we made it. She did a minor George of the Jungle and banged a knee on one of the trees, but nothing serious. Tabiyana Beach was a real treat. There are trees providing adequate shade except right on the shore line. So you can cool off or bake away. The beers were a bit steep at $4 a bottle, but once again - what did you expect? Cozumel started out nice and then the weather did it again. A real downpour for hours messed up the desire to roam the beach. For me it was costly as we were stranded inside the beachside shopping mall - full of jewelry shops! My wife wound up with a beautiful red coral necklace and accessory set, set in silver. The guy we bought from had unique designs which is why we bought. The rest of them tend to all look alike, and then there was this guy.
Finally back to Ft Lauderdale. Debarking was a minor disaster. Some couple scheduled to go up to West Palm Beach with the other 40 of us never bothered to read anything the ship sent us all, or go to the briefing in the theater, etc. So we all had to sit on the bus for nearly an hour while the crew tried to track these idiots down. Costa needs to group the exits by destination, and then give everyone something like 30 minutes from the time the first person shows up at the bus and then you're on your own! The customs and immigration folks were very laid back and that part of it went very nicely.
The airlines coming and going managed to screw up in about as many ways as possible. Not Costa's issue, so I won't dwell on it except to say - airlines blow!
Our only regret is that we did not have more shore time at each stop. We rate the cruise as SUPER! The only negative thing is that in the US Costa uses hired hands to handle the phones, so no one can actually tell you about the tours or the ship as they've never been on it. Not a show stopper, but annoying. At sea, Costa really shines.
My cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea was my eighth, and my wife's first. We were celebrating our honeymoon and thought a Western Caribbean cruise would be the perfect way to cap off our wedding festivities. Maybe, maybe not as it turns out. I am 26 years old, but have been lucky enough to have a cousin in the cruise business. Because of that, I have had the privilege of sailing on a variety of cruise lines including Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean. I am not a demanding person, and being from Arkansas would say I am very easy-going. I don't expect the world handed to me on a silver plate, or 5-star dining (some fried catfish and fries suits me fine! haha). Likewise however, I have lived in 4 countries, including 3 in Europe, and know what to expect from Euro cuisine. I know that a good crème bulle isn't made with instant pudding. I knew to expect an international atmosphere with lots of folks from across the pond (even looked forward to it.) I say all this so that my criticism isn't seen as someone who didn't know what toexpect, or lacked experience in a European environment, or a prima donna who wants everything yesterday. I'm just a guy from Arkansas who has been lucky enough to experience a good chunk of the world at a young age. With all that said, let me get started with my experience onboard the Costa Mediterranea.
Embarkation We arrived at Port Everglades at 11:30 on Sunday morning, well aware that we would most likely have to wait 2 hours to board. As it turns out the ship was late 2 hours and it would actually be nearly 5 hours later before we would finally get aboard at 3:45. We were directed to a large room to wait with some 2,000 other passengers. The only service in this room was a tiny snack bar selling hot dogs for $5.00 and water for $1.50. I found this outrageous considering we were supposed to be on the ship by 1:30 eating at the free Lido Buffet. The few Costa staffers on hand had absolutely no information about when the ship would arrive or when we would finally get onboard. There was no information given about why the ship was delayed either. I later found out that the ship had come from the Port of Miami were it was held up because of a port closure---not the cruise line's fault, but it would have been nice to have had that information passed along. As it was, tempers were flaring all around us. Not a great start. Once the ship arrived, a line began forming at the very small entry gate.
But once boarding began a new line formed perpendicular to the first, and caused a major traffic jam. The situation was made worse when they allowed only 50-100 people to pass at a time. Before long people were being trampled, shoved, and yelled at by fellow passengers. The Costa staff did nothing to alleve this problem. I can't imagine why Costa would not have some sort of organization in the boarding process. By the time we were onboard, our mood was terrible as was everyone else's. No one ever once apologized for the mess, or helped us in anyway. By far the worse embarkation experience I have ever had. I heavily suggest showing up 2-3 hours after initial boarding if you want to avoid this frustrating experience. Costa gets an F here for lack of information, organization, and courtesy.
The Ship There are plenty of exhaustive accounts of the Costa Mediterranea, so I won't bore you with every detail of the ship. It is impressively decorated, very clean, and not bad from a layout perspective. It isn't hard to get around, and after an hour or two I didn't feel like I would ever get lost. Public areas are pretty neat affairs, with lots of places to sit and chat or have a drink. Contrary to previous reviews I have read, I never once saw a smoke cloud as much of the ship is off limits to smokers, including most of the lounges. The restaurants are very beautiful and pleasant places to have a meal. The top deck pool areas are nothing impressive, but for a ship of this size, are perfectly acceptable. The staff was very good to keep kids out of the adult pool, although hardly anyone used it because of how cold it was. The hot tubs were a bit small, and usually too crowded, but I have seen this on many ships and so won't complain too much about it.
The theatre was the first place I had a complaint about onboard. The sight lines are horrible. It's a three deck facility that probably should have been only two. The seats on deck 4 (the highest of the 3 decks) had terrible sharp angled sight lines that were blocked by lighting equipment and poles. On deck 3 you had poles blocking the view from the majority of the seats, or the sound booth in the way. Just not a great layout overall.
The restaurant on deck 9 was layed out ok, with the 24-hour pizzeria in the back and a nightly buffet in the middle. But it was disappointing to see that the pizzeria's ice machine was broken and passengers were forced to dig ice out of two Coleman ice chests. After seeing two guests get ice out with their bare hands, I gave up and went all the way to the middle buffet station to get ice. It's more of a haul than you might think; being that this is a long ship. Service was decent, although being constantly hounded by bartenders yelling "bar service?" every 2 minutes got old really quick. We ended up taken a lot of our meals down to the room so we could eat in peace. Why Costa would allow bartenders to ask me if I want a drink 5 times in 15 minutes is beyond me. The water slide on deck 10 is impressive and a lot of fun, if you can ever catch it open. We spent 3 full days at sea on the ship, and the slide was open a grand total of 4 hours (2 hour blocks on sea days). We were finally able to get a ride in on the last day. When I asked the guard at the bottom why it was never open, he said it was because of having to staff it with two people. That is a joke in my opinion.
The basketball court was likewise never open, and the wind at the front of the ship made using the jogging track problematic at best. The track wasn't coated well, and I felt like I might get blown over if I tried to actually get in a few laps. The gym/spa was actually pretty nice though, with fantastic equipment, and its own whirlpool. There was even a place to lay out and tan under UV lights if you wanted. We didn't use the spa services, so I can't comment on that part of the ship. If you a workout type, you will be happy with what you find onboard.
Finally, I have to comment about the movement of the ship. I'm not a ship engineer, mind you, but of all the ships I have been on, the Mediterranea was the worst about rocking and rolling. Often times we would find ourselves stumbling about because of the amount of rolling the ship constantly did. Dinner (served at the stern of the ship) was several times unpleasant because of it. Frequent checks outside would result in confusion as the seas looked relatively calm. I have never gotten seasick on a boat, but the unbelievable amount of motion landed me my first case of it. Comparing the Mediterranea to other ships, I think the problem is that she is too skinny for her length-making her more top heavy than most, and her azipod propeller system. Essentially the boat is pulled, not pushed through the water by two forward facing propellers. I am a licensed pilot and would equate some of the sway to the feeling one gets by shoving the rudder of a plane back and forth. I could be totally wrong, but nonetheless be prepared for feeling every swell along your trip. Bonine is a must.
Overall the ship earns a B-. It's beautifully decorated, and much nicer inside than any Carnival ship I have been on. But layout problems keep this ship from really shining. Since the main activities are all clustered in a relatively few number of areas, the ship always felt crowded and cramp. I have been on smaller ships that didn't have this problem. The constant movement of the ship is also a problem. If we had been sailing through storms, I would be more understanding. But we sailed through calm seas the entire week, and yet felt like we had been shaken, stirred, and dumped out by week's end. Although the boat is pretty, other cruise lines offer ships with more to do, and a much smoother ride.
Cabin We were upgraded to a category 9 stateroom with an unobstructed balcony on Deck 6. The room was spacious, clean and for the most part comfortable. Our deck probably saved the trip, as we frequently used it to unwind and ‘escape' the frequent crowding throughout the ship. The TV was old and didn't have much of a picture. You got ABC, NBC, and CBS. Everything else was in a foreign language. Now you are probably saying, "Why would that matter?!" Read on, I'll explain later. The bathroom was pretty small, but standard. The only problem is that the toilet constantly had a smell that would often permeate the entire room. I can't describe the smell that well. Sewage + seawater I guess about does it. We would leave the balcony door open while we were out and while we slept—that kept the smells down to a tolerable level. The beds are uncomfortable as is the case on most ships. Ask for an extra mattress and you should be fine. Other than that, there was plenty of space to put stuff, and the lighting was very good. Our cabin attendant, Michael, was the one service highlight on the entire trip. He was amazing. All in all, the room rated an A for being spacious, clean, and for Michael's work in keeping us comfortable.
Service This is where things get bumpy. I want to start with the positives, so that you know I'm not out to trash Costa for no reason than to be negative. Far from it! I had hoped that the service level at embarkation would be the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, such is not the case. First, we booked 3 excursions. One of these was a dolphin swim in Honduras. The order book does not say that swimming isn't part of the experience. When we asked at the excursion desk about it, we were told you did in fact swim with the animals. But during the welcome aboard speech in the theatre later on, it was explained that our particular excursion was not in fact a full swim experience. In short, you got a kiss on the nose for your $112 and nothing more. So of course we wanted to cancel, since we were not made clear of what was actually involved. I went to the same person, who told me a completely different story, and then proceeded to act as though she didn't remember our first conversation. I was made out to be a liar by this staff member, and spent about 45 minutes arguing before finally getting a refund. After the nightmare of getting on the ship, this experience basically sunk the first day for me. Be very, very careful before ordering excursions. Ask at least two people if you have any doubt about what is included in the trip.
Restaurant service was a hit or miss affair. Our first server, Marie, was unfriendly at best. She treated our requests as burdens, rather than with any sort of graciousness. And when I say requests, I'm only talking about trying another entrée or asking for more water. Very standard stuff! We ended at another table where our new waiter, Sherwin, took great care of us the remaining 3 nights of the trip. Nevertheless I heard from many folks that they too had problems with waiter service. Wine attendants were not knowledgeable (or affluent in English)—I ordered a Rossi and received a Rose-colored blush for example. The bartenders onboard were all pretty good, quick with a drink and a smile. The roaming bar service waiters, on the other hand, were annoying and rude. While you ate lunch or lay out on deck, it wasn't unusual to have the same person ask you 5+ times if you wanted a drink. You basically had to tell them to leave you alone to get them to stop.
The staff at the concierge desk were much friendlier and generally more helpful than most. They took care of anything that came up with a smile, so no complaints there.
The casino staff, however, needs a lot of work. I've never seen a group of dealers so unwilling to work as I did here. Dealers at empty tables would flat out refuse to deal, instead sending me to tables across the room that were basically full. You have to watch every thing these dealers do, as well. They would frequently make mistakes, such as pulling money off the table on a push, or not paying a blackjack at 3 to 2. When you called their mistakes, you got a scowl and some sort of rude under-breath verbal response. All of the dealers were Romanian, along with the pit bosses---so complaining did little good. In the majority of complaints I witnessed (there were many, including my own)—the pit bosses would wave off the complaint and even smile at the offending dealer, as though to say they found the whole affair funny. Service was terrible in everyway. Dealers would make rude remarks to players, such as "Make up you mind.", or "Are you stupid?" when a new player made a strategic mistake (splitting 10's for instance) for example. I've never seen such behavior so rampant throughout a casino. After two days, I quit walking in at all. If you are a card player---do not book this boat!!!
The entertainment crew, which I will cover in detail below, was friendly though a bit pushy. If you chose not to participate in an activity, they would often stand in your way, or literally pull you out of the crowd. I understand trying to get everyone to participate, but trying to force people to jump in is ridiculous.
Finally, I can end this part with the one service highlight we experienced while onboard. Our cabin steward, Michael, was fantastic in every way. He was very quick to fulfill requests, kept the room immaculate, was constantly smiling, and makes on heck of a swan with a towel! Many times, after returning angry from the shady casino, or another lackluster show, it was Michael's little touches to the room that instantly made us smile again. Thanks, Michael.
To sum it up, Costa is light years behind the other cruise lines when it comes to service. I experienced everything from incompetence, to downright hostility from members of the crew—something that should never happen. Another problem worth mentioning is the language barrier. The English social host barely spoke the language, and many crew members only had a rudimentary command at best. I would not be surprised by this sailing out of Italy but coming from Ft. Lauderdale—I expect my language to be given the same respect as those of mainland Europe. This was simply not the case. It is one thing to have an international flavor to your boat, and another to flat out butcher the native language of the country from which many of your guests are from. German guests had a German host, Spanish guests had a Spanish host, French guests had a French host---only English speaking guests were stuck with an Italian hostess whose disinterest in our language shown through every time. Costa rates a D- here, saved from an F by the efforts of one crewmember. Well done Michael.
Entertainment As I mentioned above, the entertainment crew onboard was friendly, but very pushy. I had a chance to talk with a few of them, and found out that most were on their first cruise contract. Perhaps with experience, they will learn more effective ways to get voluntary participation in events rather than forcing the issue. The activities themselves were ok at best---I had high hopes for the German Sausage and Beer Festival, only to find it was little more than a way for the ship to sell high priced German brews. "Sausages" were little more than cheap hot dogs on a bun. No Brats, no sauerkraut, no traditional German music, nada. Just an obnoxious host constantly yelling "Get a beeeeeer! And sausaaaaage!" It was pretty lame. Other activities followed suit---and got little participation from anyone. One event that was a hit, Karaoke was a hit—but was ended just as everyone was starting to have a good time. I understand keeping a schedule, but this was the last event planned for the day and it was the first smash during the entire trip! Let it go for a bit! I think in time this bunch will get better, but as of right now they are the worst group I've seen.
Shows were bland, if not flat out bad. The jugglers frequently dropped their items (maybe because of all that rocking I mentioned earlier), and the singers seemed tone-deaf. There was a comedian who was decent, and the dancers were very good. But the production values were just not there. Maybe I am spoiled by the incredible shows onboard the RCL and Carnival lines, maybe these guys are just terrible. I think everyone would have to decide for themselves on this one.
Lounge musicians ranged from terrific to horrible. At the aft lounge, a violinist impressed us each night before dinner—as did a singer who belted out great songs from Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jimmy Buffet. But the forward lounge acts were not so great. Singers used karaoke-like machines for background music and would often get un-synched with the music. It was sort of funny, but disappointing when you wanted to get a drink and listen to some good music.
Dancing onboard was basically limited to the aft lounge, where the best music was found. The ship has a neat two-level disco, but most nights it was a complete graveyard. Other nights it was a place for teens only---we pretty much ignored the place. Overall, I have to give another low grade here---D. The shows were mostly bad, the entertainment crew was inexperienced and pushy, and lounge music was hit or miss. If you are the type who enjoys Vegas-style shows, or great lounge music—skip this boat. If you like constant activities that are fun and interesting, you too should take a pass. That is why we ended up watching television so much—there was literally nothing else to do. And that is very, very sad. Make that a D-.
Food Ah, the food. I read the Finelli's account of the ‘fine cuisine' onboard and have come to the conclusion that they were either on another boat, or crazy. It was uniformly terrible. Breakfast items included beans, eggs with tomato, eggs with mushrooms, eggs with ‘herbs', cold waffles, rock hard French toast, watered down juice, and stale pastries etc. Lunch consisted of bland sandwiches, undercooked fish, tasteless hamburgers, pizza without anything on top, pasta that was either too bland or too cheesy, or obvious leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Speaking of which...
Dinner was a hit or miss (a reoccurring theme onboard) affair. At times I really enjoyed the food. Beef dishes were mostly good, as were the pasta offerings. But fish entrees were terrible each time I tried them, soups were disgusting affairs (colored water was the term we came up with), and the desserts were usually left on the table with only a bite taken out. I understand that the challenge of feeding 1300 people at a time, but is that any excuse for bland, uninspired food that isn't fresh? I have been aboard ships with 1000 more passengers and always found the food outstanding. Here, they use instant pudding for the crème bulle and cheap ice cream found in high school cafeterias for the baked Alaska. It was common to see tables go through 3-4 items before finding something they could stomach. And lobster was never served. First time in eight cruises that has happened—instead they served cheap crab that didn't even compare to the stuff you get at your local Red Lobster.
Not once in the entire week did we eat something that made us say "Wow!" Mostly we were just relieved when we found something we could half way enjoy. Often we just went hungry, or ate some fruit. Remember—I'm not a picky eater, and yet I lost 4 pounds in the week I spent aboard the Mediterranea. Incredible.
Don't let the fancy names of the food fool you, it was the absolute low point of our cruise aboard this ship. Enough folks have said the same thing (along with sources such as Frommers) to validate my opinion. If you want to lose weight on your vacation, then by all means book this ship immediately. Otherwise, take my grade F, to heart.
Disembarkation Another botched affair, which by this time was no surprise. We were told to meet at 7:00 a.m. in the Osiris Theatre for immediate disembarkation (we had opted for the self-assist method, granted only to U.S. citizens.). By 7:30 a.m. we were still waiting. No one ever told us what the hold up was, or offered any information about how much longer we would have to wait. We had skipped breakfast in the hopes of getting off early and heading home, but no such luck. At 7:45 a.m. we were finally told we could leave. Once off the boat, the procedure went smoothly, although that should be attributed to U.S. Customs officials and not the cruise line.
Closing Comments By now it is probably apparent that I was not impressed by the Costa Mediterranea. It wasn't any one thing that caused me to dislike this boat so much, but rather so many little things coming together. Bad food, bad service in all but one area, and lack of things to do pretty much sum up the experience we had while onboard. Perhaps some of this is attributed to our younger age—I would say that 80% of the passengers onboard where 50+. But I have been on ships before that were catered to an older clientele and still had a great time. Not here. Another problem is the language barrier. It is one thing to have trouble conversing with your fellow passengers, and totally another to be unable to communicate with crew members. But that is exactly what happened here. Do not believe the published guides that tell you to expect a predominantly American crowd while sailing in the Caribbean. It simply isn't the case. Since Costa does all of their advertising in Europe, it doesn't matter where you get on at, you can expect a mostly European crowd. In some ways, maybe that is a plus—but when they are old Europeans with no interest in talking to you, well it is frustrating to say the least.
Lack of things to do while onboard were made worse by a cancelled stop at Grand Cayman (I would avoid any cruise with this port on the list, as crewmembers explained this was the 3rd time in a month the stop was cancelled). In summary, I've never in eight cruises sat in my cabin wondering what to do next. I did many times on this voyage. I've never been hungry on a cruise ship. I was many times on this ship. I've never been insulted by the behavior of crewmembers before. I was daily while on this cruise. I've never had a problem communicating with hotel staff before. I gave up after a couple of days here. I've never been ready to go home while on a cruise. I couldn't wait to get off and go home by day 5. I've never been told that above average = excellent, as I was told by our somewhat English speaking hostess, Melanie, during the disembarkation meeting. She actually tried to convince us that we had a great time, the service was impeccable, and the food delicious. I'm not kidding, she actually told us all of that. Then she explained that if we felt we had an above average cruise, we should mark excellent in each of the boxes on the comment form. I could not believe what I heard. There are several boxes on this card – excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor. Logic would say that above average = good or very good. Apparently not to this staff, who strive for nothing more than "Okay". It really summed up our experience.
I hate to be the negative person, and I know the adage that there is no such thing as a bad cruise. And I wouldn't say this was a totally bad cruise, but certainly not what I expected by a Carnival-affiliated line that is considered the leader in the industry in Europe. So many things disappointed us, that I could probably write another 7 pages. Costa simply does not compare to other cruise lines sailing out of the U.S. Perhaps in Europe, where competition is not nearly as fierce, they match up ok, but not in the warm waters of the Caribbean. No way. I was attracted to the line by the prices being nearly half of competitors like RCL, NCL and Carnival. But the lesson of "you get what you pay for" truly came through here. If you are on a budget and attracted by the low price---push your vacation back, save some more money and go on another line. Trust me on this. My wife is basically turned off to cruising now because of her experience on this ship. When I was studying reviews, just as you are now, I figured that the many negative reviews out there were just people who didn't know how to have a good time. I was wrong, very wrong. Going on a cruise is a rare treat for most of us, so please do not make the same mistake as me and waste the experience on a mediocre ship. You deserve better.
Overall Grade: D
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ed Western Caribbean December 3, 2006
We sailed on the Magica Dec. 3rd cruise. As a back ground we are in our 50s and been on about 28 cruises dating back to the late 70s. I will rate my opinions from A to F.
Embarkation was about normal 35 minutes from drop off till we reached our cabin. Rating B.
Our cabin was a Cat 10 balcony, located on deck 10, the room was clean and spacious, the balcony was standard size. Location on deck 10 was perfect, Rating A. Our bags arrived about 2 hours later, as fast as any ship we’ve sailed A+.
Food. As with most cruises we’ve sailed for the past 6 years, Dining food has been on the decline, seems that cruise lines want passengers to use the optional extra charge dining options for good dining experiences. I would rate Costa about the same as Carnival and a step below Princess and two steps below Celebrity. The pastas were very good and 3 of the entrees were very good all others were below average, Service was slow and not at all personal, RestaurantRating C-.
Buffet experience about the same, choices limited and food average, Rating C-.
Our cabin steward was as good as we’ve had, Rating A+
Ship appearance, the Magica was as clean as any we’ve sailed. Never saw trash accumulating always picked up and the crew constantly shining and cleaning. Rating A+
Entertainment. The shows had a European flair. We enjoyed all of them. There was one lead female singer that was outstanding. All the entertainers seemed to enjoy their work. Rating B+.
Casino, typical at sea casino, I love Let it Ride and they didn’t have it. Rating C.
Pools. The pools were Ok nothing special, Rating C+. The Hot Tubs should be called luke warm tubs, Rating D. Deck Loungers were plentiful and the decks were well setup. Rating B+.
Captain was very nice and made himself visible, Rating A-
Cruise Director, good singer, seemed friendly and happy with his job. Rating B+
Music, there was always dance music available, the bands seemed to enjoy their work. Rating B.
Ports of Call. Typical Caribbean, except Grand Turk which was a great port, loved the beach and the pool. Rating A-.
Bar service seemed very good, they seemed to like talking with passengers. Rating B+.
Overall cruise experience B-, with a little tweaking Costa could be very good, but restaurant, buffets and hot tubs need work.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Georges T. Western Caribbean December 3, 2006
Fabulous 7-days cruise. Everything was top notch, from service, courtesy, food, entertainment, cleanliness, etc. The cruise by far exceeded our expectations, for the money we paid for. Meals served on board were excellent in terms of quality and variety. Being an italian cruise line, there was always a good choice of italian specialities.
Entertainment was very good: plenty of activities you have to choose from, and in some cases there was a dilema as you cannot participate due to overlap.
The excursions offered on the 4 docked ports (Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turk Islands) were somehow expensive, so we did not buy any of them. This aspect could be improved to encourage people to participate more. Personal rating : 9 (out of 10). We strongly recommend this ship to all new starters (this was our first experience in crusing).
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Dr. J.A. Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006
Well, this was my fifth cruise in as many years, first on Costa line. What a disappointment!
Embarkation: the embarkation process took over two hours, but that was most likely the responsibility of the port of Ft. Lauderdale. I actually saw people feel ill while standing in the long lines.
The ship: To put it mildly, the artwork was not aesthetically pleasing. We shared a lot of laughs poking fun at the green arms sticking out everywhere on the Lido deck, of the 1930's and 1940's "porn" as a wallpaper in the hallways, of the utterly ugly chandeliers, of shabby and somewhat worn out armchairs with only one sidearm (on purpose), etc… I can not understand how the people who are exposed to the beauty of Italy can go on this ship without gagging.
Cabin: We shared a Grand Suite - the biggest cabin there is on this ship. It came with fresh fruit and a bottle of champagne. It was adequate in size, however the beds were not very comfortable, the sheets were rough and the pillows flat. I heard aboutthe "Costa cutting" breath mint on the pillow, but was hoping that in the Grand Suite we may get a chocolate, alas, it was still a free sample package of breath mints. Wow! There was a picture on the wall that was so horrendous that we covered it with a napkin to avoid looking at it. The bathroom was large and well appointed (and with a bidet!), but there was a rusted crack in the wall above the bathtub and you had to ask for a shower cap. I did point the crack out to the butler (I think he has seen it many times before) and I never asked for a shower cap because when I thought of it, it was always too late (when I was about to get into the shower).
Service: I can not say anything negative about the individual people that work on the ship. The butler, the maid, the maitre'D were all accommodating, sweet and very helpful. Especially given that they had limited resources of the "Costa cutting". The waiters, busboys and bar personnel seemed to have been very short staffed and stretched thin. I had to practically beg for water in the dining room. We had to wait for 45 minutes at least once to be served dinner. General staff attitude was not particularly friendly. There were a lot of unsmiling faces, dare I say annoyed?
Food: Uninspired, to say the least and of poor variety. But I guess when you have to wait for 45 minutes you don't complain when you get it.
Ports: Now, I am not one to write reviews and complain, but I have got to mention this: We felt unsafe in La Romana, Dominican Republic. We truly felt threatened when we walked the less then a mile trip into town. There were no shops to talk of, the people seemed unfriendly. I think we would have been robbed if not worse, if not for the cop who just happen to appear in front of us. We could not wait to turn around, grab a taxi and get back to the ship. What I think is wrong on the part of Costa, is that no one warned us about it. Once you left the ship, you are on your own. Ciao!!
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ralph Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006
This was the eighth cruise that my wife and I have taken. We have cruised previously with Carnival, RCI and NCL. We were looking forward to the “European touch” that this ship was touted to have. I don't think that we are picky cruisers and certainly don't expect perfection but quickly found out that we were in for an interesting week.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port in Ft. Lauderdale around 12:30 and found ourselves in a 1½ hour line waiting to submit our completed documents. Then onto another waiting area before lining up to go through the obligatory picture taking session. We got to our locked cabin around 2:30 (all the other cabins had a door key in the locks). So up to the "Guest Services" desk to wait in line to get a key to open the door. Unfortunately there were several elderly cruise passengers who insisted on carrying on lengthy conversations with the very busy staff. One half hour or so later I was on my way back down to open our door.The Cabin: Upon entering the cabin, we immediately noticed that it was fairly warm which we attributed to the thermostat being turned halfway between warm and cold. We adjusted it to the coldest setting and surveyed the cabin. It was a typical "Carnival type" cabin but not quite as large. The beds were already pushed together and made up. The bathroom was fair in size but there was not the usual basket of conditioners, mints, personal products that we were used to on the other lines. One other thing that was missing from the cabin was the preordered "anniversary package" that was supposed to be delivered on the day of embarkation. I attributed it to the ship being full and the staff being busy so we decided to wait to give them a chance to deliver it. Our baggage arrived within two hours which I thought was excellent. We returned that evening to change into our dinner clothes only to find that the temperature in the cabin was no better than when we boarded. Long story short .. After seven complaints to "Guest Services" in person, over the phone and three visits from the engineering staff over the course of three days there was a slight improvement to the room temperature. However if we left the lights and TV on for an extended period the temperature increased to the point of being uncomfortable again. At this point we gave up on getting the issue resolved and worked around it. The Ship: Overall the ship was very impressive. It took a few days to get used to the "use one deck to traverse the ship" and then go up or down decks to get where you want to be. The Dining: We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet throughout the week. The food at breakfast was fair. We were glad to see that the bacon was fully cooked and the scrambled eggs were cooked solid and not soupy. All the other regular fare was there including many types of breads and cheeses. Lunch for the most part was poor. The foods were bland and tasteless. I tried the burgers at the grill on several days and was very disappointed in their lack of taste. We had dinner in the Smeralda restaurant during the second seating. We sat at a table for eight and ended up with five other pleasant cruisers. The food in general was fair. There were more items that we did not like than we liked. The clam chowder was inedible, the lobster was mushy and the steaks were tough to mention a few. The breads were good though cold and hard, the appetizers were generally good and there was usually a desert that was very tasty.
Ports: Excursions are getting more and more expensive and Costa is no different.
San Juan – since we didn't arrive until 5PM we didn't book anything here. We decided to walk off the ship and visit a few shops in the immediate area close to the dock.
St. Thomas - took the "Skyline Drive and Meagans Bay Beach" tour here. The tour was fine but we were very surprised to find that the time at Meagans Bay was extended to two hours instead of the one that the paperwork indicated. We hadn't worn swim suits since the time was supposed to be so short. The other surprise was that we were expected to "rent" beach chairs at $11.00 each (includes $5.00 returnable deposit) as they weren't included in the $43.00 pp cost for the tour. Other cruise lines in port had chairs already set up and reserved for their tours.
La Romana – took the "Natural Wonders of the Dominican Republic" tour here. I highly recommend this one even though the cost was $79.00 pp. After a speedboat ride to a protected area you transferred to a double dugout canoe for a ride through the mangroves. Refreshments were served during a swimming stop at a shallow area offshore that was only waist-deep. The guide was excellent and provided a fascinating tour that we have ranked close to the top of our list for favorite tours.
Grand Turk – new port that only opened to cruise ships in early 2006. Took the "Island Bus Loop (Guana)" here which provided free admission to the lighthouse and prison and allowed a hop on hop off feature. The problem is that there are only three stops on the loop and the driver advised against the first one as there is nothing there to see yet. Cost of this one was $44.00 pp. Rather expensive for the two attractions which have a regular admission price of around $7.00 each. We thought ourselves lucky to be able to see this wonderful island prior to the significant development that is sure to come.
Debarkation: We received our colored debarkation tags on the last night and set our luggage out before the 1AM deadline. There were three different areas on ship set up to hold all the different color combinations which worked out fine. Once again the times posted for debarkation were very close to when they were actually called. There was a significant que waiting to process through customs once inside the terminal which we have never had before. We quickly found our bags and made our way outside to our transportation. Overall this was the most efficient, quickest and painless debarkation of any cruise yet.
Overall: Things always started on time! That was especially nice since most other cruises that we have taken weren't punctual at all. There were always deck chairs available and we didn't see many "chair hogs" leaving items to claim them. There were a few folks saving seats in the theater but not too many. There was ample room for everyone and the view was unobstructed for the majority of the seats. The shops had many different items from the other cruise lines but the prices were quite high. Photography was kept to a minimum onboard the ship which was nice but we were surprised to see that there weren't any photographs being made during debarkation at each port. The casino (the slots) took our money just as quickly as any other ship with few payouts.
It"s very doubtful that we will cruise on this ship again.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Bud Lockwood Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006
My wife, Ginny, and I sailed on the Costa Magica to what Costa called the "new Eastern Caribbean". The itinerary included the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk as well as San Juan and St. Thomas. The ship, staff, itinerary, accommodations, food, and entertainment were all very good.
Sailing on Costa is a unique experience principally because of its Italian focus which includes the staff, food, decorations, and entertainment. It is apparently a favored cruise line for Europeans which provides many opportunities to meet more than a normal number of passengers from Europe. The line caters to these people by making announcements in five languages.
Pricing is a potential Costa advantage. Their Caribbean prices are very competitive. We were initially tempted by Costa pricing and returned because of our positive cruising experience.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: We arrived at the Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) terminal at 11:40 a.m. and were greeted by very long lines, apparently caused by federal ship inspections. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get on board. Getting off was easy. Our color was called 10 minutes early and we off and inthe car in 20 minutes.
Ship: The Magica is a large (105,000 tons) and new (2004) ship. It has the amenities one expects from that type ship. In Costa fashion it is decorated very colorfully as well as tastefully. The staff also maintains the ship in great condition.
Food: Costa adds one course, a pasta dish, to its lunch and dinner menus. The pasta selection is something we look forward to. The restaurant portion sizes seemed bigger than we were accustomed to on other ships so we found ourselves skipping a couple of dinner courses each meal. They had a nice selection of main courses including lobster prepared in a special way that was excellent.
Decorations: Costa has Italian themed décor that is special. The colors are not subtle! The art work and photographs make touring the ship fun. Other reviewers have described these in much better detail than I can.
Entertainment: Costa has traditional as well as unique entertainment and entertainment themes. Unique entertainment and themes include one night when they suggest dressing in Italian colors. Another they suggest wearing a toga which they provide complete with tying instructions. They have a Mediterranean night where guests are encouraged to visit several lounges, get special Costa provided cards signed at the lounges to get a discount on a future cruise. They also had some excellent musicians in the lounges and atrium.
Ports: The Grand Turk port was new to us. Grand Turk is a relatively small island that has been developed to be close to the equivalent of other cruise line's private islands although it has a brand new shopping/restaurant/bar complex at the end of the pier. Cruise lines other than Costa visit Grand Turk. The Dominican Republic stop was at La Romana which provides access to Altos de Chavon, a 17th century replica village built in the 1970's. La Romana is a very small port, maybe better described as an inlet because the ship docks barely out of the sea. We took a boat ride on the Chavon River and visited the replica village. The rides to these sites were interesting because the vegetation along the way was beautiful, obviously carefully groomed and cared for as part of the tourist sites. We were impressed.
St. Thomas was a third stop. We visited the park called Coral World which was a pleasant surprise. It included several ways to see fish in their natural habitat as well as aquariums. Good place for getting shark photos.
We also visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, but only for an evening and night life stop.
Conclusion: Costa pricing made it easy to give them a try and the cruising experience is enough different to make them a unique experience well worth return visits. Liking Italian food, art and customs is probably a prerequisite to having an enjoyable cruise.