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.
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.
1. The Casino; A. Children gambling on the slot machines. B. Children running and playing around the casino with no adult supervision. C. A craps table with no craps dealer. D. When one roulette table was broken, the pit boss refused to open one of the other three tables. I addressed these issues to the casino manager, only to be lied to. I have been to casinos around the world and on other cruise ships, and this is the worst casino I have ever been to. I say this even though the wife and I won at least 400 euros while onboard.
2. The Food; A. The dinner every night consisted of frozen meals and what seemed to be leftovers. B. There was no 24 hour buffet. C. The food served at the breakfast and afternoon buffet was worse than anything I have eaten at an Army chow hall. The only edible food was the fresh fruit. D. Drinks that are normally available all day (water, tea, and coffee) were not, unless you were willing to pay for them.
3. The Service; A. With the exception of my waiter snd cabin steward,everyone I spoke to or asked questions acted like I was ruining their day. Overall, the cruise personnel were just rude. B. On day 2 I asked the information desk for a complaint form, and I was told to wait until I recieved my review form at the end of the cruise.
4. The Excursions; A. The ports we traveled to were nice, but we were not there long enough to do anything, wit the exception of Rhodes. All other excursions had a 6 hour maximum time off the boat. B. If you did not purchase one of the excursions tours, you were forced to wait another 1 1/2 hours before you could leave the ship. Just another way for the cruise ship to get more money out of you, seeing how most of the tours consisted of not much more than walking around whatever town you were at, with a tour guide.
5. Onboard Entertainment; A. Nonexistent. B. Hot tubs were shut down at eight p.m. C. With the exception of the circus show, the rest of the shows were a waste of time. The only things left to do were go to the fabulous onboard casino, or get drunk.
This week long cruise was supposed to be a vacation, but I could not wait for it to end. I was happy to be off the ship and not dealing with anybody from Costa Cruises. I feel as though I am entitled to a refund. if anybody has any questions or comments please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will gladly explain myself in full detail.
Do not go on the Costa Victoria if you are an American and enjoy good ships and good food. Our travel agent at Liberty Travel recommened this cruise fo my wife and I and two adult sons. Boy was she wrong or getting a huge commission.
The ship was not clean, the food was awful, the staff was not friendly towards Americans. The ship was either not in port long enough or at ridiculous times. For instance, we were in Mykonos from 4pm to 10pm. To late for the beautiful beaches and to early for the night life. Bari from 12 to 4. This is there siesta time. Santorini for 4 hours - you need all day.
On the dinner menu each night there was a star next to what food was frozen. All the fish, chicken and meat was frozen. The kids could find nothing to eat and they are not picky - it was that bad. I feel so stronly that noone elses vacation should be ruined like ours that I invite you to call my office at 305-682-1110 and I will be glad to talk to you.This ship was the worst. We were lucky we booked 4 days in Venice at the end which we completely enjoyed.
Please do not take a Costa crusie and never ever ever use Liberty Travel.
My husband and I selected this 5-day cruise from Savona to Venice for its good value price and the ports of call. We chose the best deck - 8 - balcony cabin 8101 on the port side. Port side was the better side for views in all ports but the better choice of cabin would have been amidships - around 8166. In fact the two lower decks would have been equally good.
A reasonable pre-cruise hotel is Hotel Coccodrillo in Varazze, half an hour from the port, they supply taxi to cruise port for 10 euros each. We arrived at Savona cruise port at 11.30 a.m. for an advertised 1.00 p.m. check-in. On delivering baggage to handler, we were given a number - 13 - the number of our group to be called! The Costa cruise terminal building is spacious (even for 2,000 passengers), airy and modern with lots of light. There is a restaurant/bar area with efficient counter service, though expensive. Check-in did begin at 1.00 and group boarding according to number was smooth - about 20 minutes between each number, so we boarded at 2.45 p.m. Be warned, allnon-EU passengers must surrender their passports to the ship until the end of the trip - a photocopy is given to passenger for re-boarding at each port.
Cabin was spacious and closet space better than on other cruises - one hanging closet each and a shelf closet. Bathroom also quite adequate and cabin steward was extremely pleasant - we received bucket of ice on request each evening, as morning's supply had melted. Balcony adequate for two chairs and table. Television stations in English were very limited.
The number of English-speaking passengers was small - about 200 out of a total of 2,000 - although we were seated - second seating, with an American and an English couple at an 8 seater table. Second seating was nominally at 9.15 p.m. - a bit later than the normal 8.30 p.m. on other cruises that we have taken - and in fact there was a huge queue to get into the dining room each evening at this time, so it was really a 9.30 entry. We had two waiters to our table, but though very willing and pleasant, they seemed to have too many people to serve for optimum service time. Breakfast buffet was satisfactory, except for the plastic glasses and coffee mugs. Served breakfast in the dining room was very slow, too many people.
Naples - first port of call - due at noon, we were able to disembark at 11.45 a.m. and, as we had been there before, we took a ferry, right beside the cruise port at Molo Beverello, to Capri, arriving 50 minutes later. (We recommend taking a taxi to Anacapri and then the chairlift to the top of Monte Solare) Ferries and hydrofoils also leave from Molo Beverello to Sorrento. Our tablemates who took the ship's Pompeii tour were very impressed, but those who took the ship's special train to Sorrento were less so.
Malta - new cruise terminal being built - good taxi dispatch arrangement before you leave the terminal - there is a fixed list of tariffs for certain tours offered by taxi, and tickets are sold and issued there. You then give the ticket to the first taxi in line outside - we shared a two-hour taxi ride with another couple and went to the old capital of Mdina which was well worth a visit, and after visiting a few craft shops we were dropped back at the city of Valletta gates to explore on our own there.
Corfu - chaotic arrangements on the ship for disembarking, as they were issuing free (for 2,000 people!)passes for two shuttle buses into town - one to the terminal building which is a 15 minute walk from the ship, and another into town. The ticket system was quite unnecessary, one could just have walked off the ship and taken the first shuttle - first come first served. The ship's newsletter also informed that it was a 40 minute drive into town - quite incorrect - it was more like a forty minute walk. Result was we walked to the terminal and took a shuttle back to the ship, thus missing Corfu town.
Dubrovnik - tickets were issued for the tenders to go ashore - luckily this was better arranged. I picked up two tickets for tender number 5 after breakfast, went back to the cabin and returned to hear number 5 called about a half hour after picking up the tickets. This was most people's favourite port - lovely small walled city - we walked the walls, lots of nice shops, unspoilt by signs, very friendly English-speaking tourist-oriented people, could have spent longer here.
Venice - one highlight of the trip was sailing into Venice on a Sunday morning at 7.00 a.m. when all was quiet, fantastic view of St. Mark's Square before the crowds. Disembarkation fairly slow but organized - bus from ship to Piazzale Roma leaves you at point to take vaporetto into Venice proper. Later that evening we went to a point on the same outer canal to watch the Costa Mediterranea depart at 6.00 p.m, dwarfing everything around. Overall, we had good value for money and visited interesting ports. The food and service were satisfactory but not wonderful. More suited to a Mediterranean clientele than to English-speaking.
Myself, my wife and four children (aged 10 to 14) cruised in the Eastern Med, starting and ending in Savona, Italy. This was our fifth -- but worst -- cruise.
Embarkation Embarkation was a nightmare. We were kept waiting for ages in the terminal building. There was a numbering system, so you knew when your number was coming up -- but had no way of knowing how long it would take. After waiting about an hour, we went through the worst boarding process imaginable, with far too many steps and lots of duplication involved -- e.g., four separate passport checks.
Cabins & Attendant Once on board we found we had been incorrectly allocated cabins. The root cause of the problem was the travel agent (Cruisedeals.co.uk - more on them later), so the reception desk stood their ground and refused to change our accommodations -- not very flexible of them, but admittedly not their fault. The cabins themselves were very clean and about the same size as on other cruise liners we have sailed on. Our cabin attendant was marvelous, a real gem -- sympathetic about our problems, very meticulous in her work, andalways cheerful. We canceled the ridiculously high standard gratuity charge in favor of giving it all to her in cash at the end of the cruise.
Food & Dining The dining experience was not great; in fact, it left a lot to be desired relative to other liners. The worst part was having to dine at set times. The service was poor and slow, even by European standards. You could eat buffet style outside of the main restaurants, but were offered nothing more than bland pizza and salad. The wine waiters were slow and sometimes forgot your order altogether. I think there were far too few waiters for both food and drink, which caused the problem.
Entertainment This was fairly limited. It needed to be more visual than verbal due to the number of different languages spoken by the passengers on board. Generally the quality of the acts was poor. The kids' entertainment was marvelous, however; my kids really enjoyed the activities and they ran to the club for long hours each day.
Reception The reception desk was slow, with long queues. It had an unfriendly staff who could pretend simply to not understand when asked something difficult -- very, very poor.
On Deck There was plenty of space to sit, and usually we did not have much trouble finding deck chairs -- except for days at sea, but that is standard on most ships. Waiters out on deck were few and far between, and seemed to wait for you to approach them rather than walking about asking if anyone wanted a drink. I tended to give up and walk to the bar myself. Again, there were far too few of them compared to, say, a Thomson cruise.
Itinerary The itinerary was marvelous: Savona, Alexandria, Cyprus, Rhodes, Izmir, Athens, Katakolon -- great places to go, and a very well-thought-out route. We spent two days early on cruising to warmer climes, giving everyone time to find their way about; then we had a port stop every day, other than the last day when the ship was heading north again.
The Ship Overall, the ship was very good. It's the exact same ship as the Carnival Glory, but with some different uses for various rooms. The gym was very good, and not too busy other than mid-morning (especially on at sea days).
Overall Summary The cruise had too many downsides. Compared to other cruise ships, it was definitely the worst in our experience, so we would never sail with them again. It didn't help that the reception desk staffers were not interested in our initial cabin problems; but even after that it was not the best of cruises.
Regarding the cabin problems, a quick word on Cruisedeals.co.uk: I booked the cruise asking specifically for two cabins capable of sleeping three people each, i.e. expecting two cabins each with four berths. When the tickets arrived, I saw that they allocated my wife and I to one cabin and my four kids (the oldest 14) to the other. I assumed this was a nominal allocation and that we could reorganize ourselves into two rooms of three (girls in one, boys in the other) upon boarding. However, just to be safe I called Cruisedeals to get it sorted out.
They did not fix it, and it transpires by their own admission they didn't even log the call on their system. I called them several times from the ship, but they refused to fix it, stating that our booking matched what their system said. I formally complained in writing on my return but was fobbed off with the same line. Beware !! I would never trust them with a booking again.
The bottom line: a crowded, noisy, glitzy environment; adequate cabin service; mediocre food; and corporate policies that are both cowardly and deeply insulting to American citizens and to Jews.
Details: The Costa Fortuna is an immense ship. The first problem comes at Costa's Savona, Italy embarkation terminal, where they try to debark 3,200 passengers between 8am and noon; and then embark 3,200 passengers between noon and 5pm sailing time. We arrived on our hotel transfer bus from Genoa at 12:30. We waited three hours in the crowded, boring terminal hall until our number was called; then we stood for another half hour in a security line. We finally reached our cabin four hours after arriving at the terminal.
Debarkation was similar; the ship docked at 8am, and it was 12:30 pm when our bus reached our hotel in Genoa.
Every time you leave the ship for a shore excursion, or return (hot and tired) from a shore excursion, you will spend time in a long queue. The worst was a time on Crete when Costa scheduled seventeen (I counted them) full tour coaches into the same restaurant for lunch at the sametime. We stood in that queue for over one hour waiting to reach the one serving line. It was horrible.
The interior of the ship is glitzy and gimmicky, like a second-tier Vegas casino. There is noise all the time -- the only quiet place is your cabin, if your neighbors are out. Even in the ship's tiny library, the PA announcements are at a piercing level. Every PA announcement is repeated five times, in Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. Sometimes Japanese is added. There are constant PA announcements for the many special events the ship uses to separate you from your money: art auctions, fashion shows, etc. When the PA isn't blaring, there's loud Euro-pop muzak going.
There is one casual buffet where all 3,200 people trample each other for breakfast, lunch, and to pig-out on cake and cookies at tea time. However it is not an alternative for supper, if you want to escape the dining room experience: the buffet only provides pizza and salads after 5pm. For anything else you have to go and be sociable at table for 8, and sit through a typical Italian antipasto, primi, secondi, dessert menu. The food ranged from just-ok to inedible.
The cowardly and insulting part is how Costa knuckles under to the Libyan authorities. Costa insists on visiting Tripoli. But Libya requires that (a) NOBODY on the ship carries an Israeli passport (2) NOBODY on the ship has an Israeli visa stamp in their passport (3) no U.S. passport holders are to leave the ship in a Libyan port. Costa took great pains to implement the anti-semitic policies (1) and (2), warning us repeatedly that if we snuck on the ship with an Israeli visa stamp, we'd be put ashore. And they provided no special events or entertainment to compensate their American guests who had to spend a day on ship in port (with the bars closed because Libya doesn't allow alcohol sales either).
Costa also took away everyone's passport and held them for the duration of the cruise. Europeans got their passports back the day before debarkation. Not so U.S. citizens -- our passports were held by the ship until the Italian authorities could "inspect" them -- as if they hadn't already checked them on arrival in Italy and when boarding the vessel -- and we didn't get them back until an hour after the ship docked at the end of the cruise.
There are so many ports that could be substituted for Tripoli -- Malta, Rhodes, Sardinia, any Greek island -- it is just a blatant insult to Jews and to Americans generally that Costa bows to the Libyan's outrageous demands. And infuriating that the Italian police -- or somebody -- wanted to specially "inspect" American passports.
Based on this I absolutely would NOT recommend this ship or this line to any U.S. citizen -- or to anyone of Jewish descent -- or indeed to anyone who likes peaceful or tasteful surroundings.
This cruise was our 14th cruise in 15 years and one of our best. For the value the cabins with balconies are outstanding. Overall decor of the ship,layout and design was very good. The food was also very good. LOts of Itialian and pasta dishes but still very good quality. Service was also very good and overall great experience with the staff. For the value received for expense paid I would put this criuse in our top 3 and highely receommend. We went on the eastern caribbean trip to Tortola ,Virgin Gorda. Best destination in the caribbean. Forget the negative reviews, if you pay less than $1,000 per person for week long cruise this once is hard to beat for value received.
Just got home from fabulous week!
I'll try and keep this brief, to please the editors of this fine cruise review on-line periodical. This was our 5th or 6th cruise and the first on Costa. After reading some of the reviews I was a bit hesitant, but any concerns were completely unfounded. First off, embarcation was fine. We flew down on Sunday, the day of departure, and had no problems.
Folks were extremely polite and efficient. We were aboard in about 20 minutes.
We expected an extremely "gaudy" ship, but were pleasantly surprised. She was very well layed out and beautiful. Our cabin, a balcony on deck 7 was as nice as on any ship we have been on ( which includes Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity).
The food, with one exception, was impeccable. The one exception was resolved by the entire staff ensuring that everything was perfect for the remainder of the cruise). We are New Yorkers and are pretty finicky about food, so when we say the food was very good, we mean it!
The entire staff, from our cabin staff, to dining room staff, bar staff, and casino personnel (including both Gabriella's)were warm, wonderful, and professional).
Our ports, St. Martin, Tortola, and Nassau were good, but we should have gone to the Baths in Tortola, which we didn't. For those of you who read or write terrible reviews of this ship and line, we are sorry and if you write them, you probably got a vacation that was a self-fulfilling prophecy!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to e-mail me!
Food was VERY poor. Service was bad - you felt you were bothering the crew if you asked them a question. Most did not speak English. Our cabin steward, Jimmie, was wonderful. Entertainment was not good. Very much like a high school production. I do not recommend this cruise line. I talked to many people on-board, all had the same opinion - about 95% were negative. Beware, that's all.
Just returned from a Western Carribean Cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea. The cruise staff were very pleasant and helpful. Our waiter, Ruel was excellent and the assistant waiter, Sahika was excellent. Our cabin steward, Jimmie was very friendly and helpful. The overall cruise was a delight and I would definitely go again. The Mediterranea is a beautiful ship!