Year Started: 1854
Ships in Fleet: 11
Summary: A Europe-based mainstream cruise line owned by Carnival. Ships are structurally identical to Carnival. Recommended for European cruisers who do not speak English - good for bargains in the Caribbean.
Regions:Middle East, The Orient
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Middle East
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, World
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Group. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Middle East, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. First-time Cruisers.
We started planning this cruise just six weeks prior to the sailing date. Having looked at two other alternatives, Costa Mediterranea and MSC Armonia, we opted for the Costa Classica, for which we got the best deal. The itinerary of the Armonia was just as interesting, but for the same price as two inside cabins on that ship, we got two outside cabins on the Classica. We already knew the Armonia since we had sailed her two years earlier when it was operating under another name. This was our ninth voyage (with the kids) since we started cruising in 1997. The itinerary was Venice, Ancona (Italy), sea day, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Dubrovnik and back to Venice. We were initially scheduled to sail as a group of six – me and my wife, our daughter of 13, sons 12 and 10, and grandma. Given that the Classica does not have quads as outside cabins, we had booked two triples. Three days before sailing, grandma had a nasty bicycle accident and had to have emergency surgery on her knee, so we left without her.
Just two days before sailing, the cruise agent informedme of a change of cabin numbers. When we booked, we had obtained two adjacent cabins. Now that grandma did not sail with us, the new assignments had the boys in one cabin on starboard side and the rest of us on port side. This was a worry to me as the Costa Classica had a fire a few weeks earlier on the same deck as ours, and I already visions of a similar situation with two boys, possibly in the middle of the night having to evacuate and getting into a state of panic.
We took the night train from Geneva, Switzerland (our home town) to Venice. It went smoothly, and upon arrival we had a nice Sunday morning walking tour of the beautiful Italian city. Costa arranges for a luggage service in the main train station for a small charge, and you do not see your luggage again until it is in your cabin. We got to the terminal around noon and thanks to our Costa club membership, we got to board immediately. When on board we went to reception and explained about the cabin issue. Note was taken of our request and we were told to come back once at sea.We headed to the buffet and got to know the ship quite well between 1 and 5 in the afternoon, the time when we got our luggage. We unpacked our bags but the boys kept their bags packed, hoping some miracle would solve our cabin issue. We went to speak to the hotel manager, Sarah, who told us the ship was full and that the cabin problem had occurred because of the reduced capacity following the fire. She showed us a suite that could accommodate all five of us, but she had to put the request to Costa’s main office in Genoa for approval. So, the first night our cabins were not switched. The next day the hotel manager called to tell us Costa’s main office had found two adjacent cabins on the same deck. We accepted and got cabins 6060 and 6062.
We had sailed previously with Costa (Allegra, Victoria, Riviera and Fortuna) and found this 14-year-old ship to be in excellent shape. It takes around 1,500 passengers (55,000 GRT). There was a refurbishment in 2003 and this showed. The ship has an overall sober decor and a lot of marble combined with soft colors. It is definitely a change from the Costa Fortuna.
The layout is, however, based on Carnival Fantasy class ships or Celebrity Horizon class, meaning the cabins are all in the lower part of the ship and the main decks are in the upper part. I do not like this lay out for several reasons. One is that you have to climb a lot of stories before getting to the main decks, whereas on ships like the Costa Victoria or Fortuna cabins are located between the lounges and restaurants on lower decks and the buffet and pool areas on the higher decks -- always close to everything. Another reason is that the tenders are placed in front of the windows of the lounges and buffet area, blocking the views.
The buffet area on Deck 10 has a wonderful outdoor terrace aft. But given the season, the outside temperatures were rather low (50s and 60s Fahrenheit), so when we were sailing, sitting there was a challenge. The buffet lines were extremely well organized and we never had a wait. Choice was good and food was tasteful. This is the first time I have seen on a ship a barbecue (every lunch, even if rainy) with real charcoal. This seems like a definite plus. Also the teak wood in the buffet area adds a nice touch to this extremely dark and enclosed room with views blocked by the life boats.
The restaurant on Deck 8 has two sittings. We were in the first and shared an eight-person table with two couples, meaning we were nine at the table and a bit squeezed. We did not want to eat late so we had no alternative. Our table mates were nice people. The restaurant is extremely noisy and service was sometimes speedy. We were well cared for by our waiter, but the assistant could do better. Costa sells cards good for 20 sodas for the children, at an advantageous price (about 40 euros). They also sell packages for wine (six bottles, red and white) and mineral water (10 bottles). The layout of the restaurant is not optimal (square) and I would not call it my favorite restaurant at sea. There is no specialty restaurant.
The lounges are nice, especially the ballroom lounge aft on Deck 9; unfortunately you have to walk through the casino (not recommended for children). On Deck 9 you can walk outside under the lifeboats (from the aft of the ship to almost the front), a very unappealing and boring “walkway”. Other ships would typically have this on a lower deck, with a nice teak wooden pathway.
There are many little lounges or rooms (card room, conference rooms) where you can sit and enjoy the inside of the ship; this is because the windows are narrow and do not offer good viewing opportunities.
The cabins are very spacious, offering many drawers and a nicely sized bathroom with real teak wooden floor. Only the sound proofing is not up to date and noises from neighbors and the corridor can be disturbing. It was definitely one of the nicest cabins we had been in (together with those of the Fortuna).
The entertainment was a disappointment except for two major productions. Also the music in the lounges was sometimes not up to what one would expect. But all in all we had a nice time. Bar service is efficient without being pushy.
We did not take any organized tours since we had already been in some of the ports. Ancona (whole day) was a port where passengers from mid and southern Italy could embark or disembark. It is not a very big town and has some nice viewpoints as it is slightly uphill. We just walked from the ship into town (2 minutes).
For Athens (12 to 7 p.m.), the ship docks in Piraeus; we took a taxi to visit Athens’ Acropolis and did some shopping. We paid 25 euro one way (with taxi-meter) for the 20-minute ride.
In Crete (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) we got into a taxi, and as we were driving towards the port exit we negotiated for the driver to take us to Knossos, an ancient palace some 10 km from the port. During hard discussions the driver decreased the offer from 100 euros to 80, but we still found it too much and just got out at the port exit traffic lights. He was furious but we found that he was excessively high-priced. Our assumption was confirmed when we walked to the bus station (3 minutes walk) and saw a notice board with taxi fares -- Knossos was 7 euros! We took the taxi and saved quite a bit of money.
In Corfu (noon to 6 p.m.), the ship was docked at a 25 minute walk from the city center, but we had already booked a bus transfer into town. We visited at own pace and found it a very interesting experience. Corfu has some nice narrow streets full of shops. We walked back to the ship.
Final port of call was Dubrovnik (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), where we had to tender into the port. There were about six ships in Dubrovnik and it was raining. The dock for the tenders is about 5 miles from the old city center, and we took the shuttle bus (5 euros). We toured on the outer parts of the city walls and got a good impression of the town that way. After that we also walked in the main street but there was no time left to explore the little streets. The time that Costa allows there is a bit too short, especially with the tender ride and wait, etc. We have already planned to revisit it next summer on board the new MSC Musica.
We got back to Venice the next morning and had plenty of time before our train departed (1 p.m.), so we stayed on the ship until the last passengers had debarked.
By the time we left the ship, the luggage in the terminal was cleared. A shuttle bus took us back to the center of Venice and we took one of those bus-boats to the train station. The trip back home was uneventful.
All in all it was another nice cruise. I would not sail the ship again, not only because there are plenty of other ships out there but because of the ship and restaurant layout. If it offered an extremely interesting itinerary, I might consider it. Service was in any case very good.
Our next cruises are already scheduled with MSC Musica to the Eastern Mediterranean early July 2006 and MSC Lirica to the Norwegian fjords late August 2006. We have never been on board MSC ships, but they seem very well appointed and have extremely good deals for families with kids.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Jorge Gomez Western Caribbean January 2, 2006 The Good: Ship is brand new, elegant and well kept. Plenty of space to get a tan on the pool area. The gym area is really beautiful with a sauna, steam room and small pool/jacuzzi area for adults only. There is also a jacuzzi and a pool for adults only on the back on the ship. Plenty of hot tubs. The Bad: It seems like Costa deliberately wants people to be on lines at all times. Unlike most cruises, Costa forces you to register your credit card after you get in the cabin (not during pre-embarkation process) That means that after getting into your cabin (after a long embarkation line) you have to go back and make another LONG LINE to register you credit card. Also, they won’t take your picture to ID you as a passenger of the ship when you first get in. This forces every person who enters the ship after visiting a port of call, to show not only their Costa Card, but also their picture ID. At this point, the security personal checksyour name against the picture ID, and the process is repeated up to three times before you can board again. Lines to get back to the ship just gets longer and longer every time. You won’t get your final bill until 4:00 AM on the day of debarkation. So basically you won’t find out if there is any discrepancy on the bill until you wake up. If by any chance you find out there is a mistake, prepare to wait in line for 1-2 hours, because everybody else with problems is in that line, in addition people who are paying cash for their bill, will be also waiting in the same line. The first night during dinner, Costa sales people comes at your dinner table trying to sell you the “soft drink card”, which unless most other cruises is NOT unlimited. Basically they want you to pay $52.00 for 23 drinks (sodas, coffee, etc). The worse part is the fact that you are tying to eat and here come someone trying to sell you something. The Ugly The Food, the food and the food. was the number one complain I heard over and over again. If you don’t like Italian food, don’t even think that you will enjoy this cruise (then again if you love Italian food, you’ll be in heaven) Also remember that gourmet Italian food like they serve in Costa Magica is not the same Italian food you might eat at Olive Garden, or another Italian restaurant in the U.S. There is not escape from Italian food on Costa Magica (except cheeseburger and hot dogs at the pool’s buffet during lunch) The other major problem is that the food that they are serving in the main restaurant is exactly the same food they have at the buffet, so if you didn’t like the menu on the restaurant, you have no other choice other than go hungry.
Midnight buffets are a joke. Most nights they were limited to desserts only. In addition, there is only orange juice, grapefruit juice and tea in the self serving area. They all tasted horrible. Most days the ice machines were out of ice, so you have to search for an ice cooler they would place nearby if you wanted ice. In addition, they would closed the ice cream machine early in the morning. My wife asked for room service once and she asked for French fries. She was told it was not available for room service; although they had plenty of it at the pool’s buffet. Finally, the entertainment was really bad and very limited. Only one show per day, and they repeat it twice (once at 7:45 PM for late dinner and another at 10:15 for people who had the early dinner) No midnight adult comedy (as a matter of fact there was only one comedian the first night and that was it, he was good though) Pool entertainment was limited to bingo, hula hops competition and a calypso band playing every afternoon. Some exercises also took place at the pool, but only few people attended. Very little organized competition, contests, etc. The music in the bars and clubs were mostly live artists singing in Italian, or playing slow music. Except the teen’s disco where they played loud contemporary music. Many of the people I spoke with during the long lines we were subjected to, told me that this would be their last cruise on Costa. The same goes for me.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ken Langille Western Caribbean January 2, 2006
RATING: - I give it 9.5 out of 10. Why.
EMBARKTION: - January 2 - 8/06 sailing. The 4 of us including the 2 girls, 14 and 15 arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day earlier. We left the Marriott Renaissance at 12:30 p.m. and we were in our cabin at 1:00 p.m. There was virtually no one in the terminal when we arrived. It took 10 minutes from dropping off luggage until we got into the cabin.
CABIN/SHIP: - No less than beautiful and spotlessly clean. We headed to our cabin 6315 on deck 6 near midship on the starboard side. There was a card on the desk for access to room as well as 4 personalized cards for each of us.
Cabin - Rommel, our cabin steward explained the cooling system, how to contact him, the workings of recording purchases from the dorm fridge and that he services the cabin twice a day. The room was spotless. We had a balcony, 2 chairs and a table which provided a retreat from the cabin. The 2 beds had already beenplaced together to make a queen. For the children, there was one bed in the spot where the sofa would be and the upper berth was directly above that. As a Pullman, it could be folded away if there were 3 passengers in the cabin. All of the beds were comfortable and I actually climbed in the upper to test the comfort for an adult. Lots of closet/storage space. Extra blankets in cabin. Mints/chocolate on bed several nights.
Hairdryer in top drawer and only 1 usable 110 circuit at desk/vanity. Bring a European converter if you have it.
Bathroom - Soap and body wash/shampoo only in shower.
Roll of ship - We noticed some motion of the ship, 2 of us used bromine 2 nights, no one was ill. It is wise to bring motion medication.
The ship's layout allows one to find their way around easily on all decks. We did not use the pools, but the girls did, as well as the water slide. The water slide was busy whenever open. Did not visit the gym, no comments. Visited the spa, did not use. Lifeboat drill - Our lifeboat drill took place on day 1 before sailing. Well announced and totally organized with clear instructions. Readily identifiable crewmembers stationed at each junction to direct all to the waiting area. Took 20 minutes.
Washrooms on decks immaculately clean.
Laundry - No self-serve laundry. There is a laundry service at a price. There is a line in the shower for hanging up wet items. On the second last day of the cruise, you could fill a brown paper bag with as much dirty clothes for washing and folding for $19.99 plus 15% gratuity.
CREW: - Extremely pleasant, helpful and courteous. There is an entertainment director, Max with a staff that provides or is the catalyst for the entertainment. No problem communicating with the crew, most of the officers and key personnel on the ship speak 5 - 7 languages. This Italian theme cruise on an Italian ship makes some announcements in 5 languages including English. The shows are virtually all in English.
Information Office/Customer Service - Excellent service. No need to register a credit card. If you need to, this can be done at any time during the cruise. I had an on-board credit, able to check my balance at any time, no line ups. Towards end of cruise I received a written message regarding my credit. The staff was just letting me know that I had available credit that I should use up - That's service.
PAST CRUISER - As a past cruiser, we attended an additional reception with the captain with a picture of him and us - gratis.
KIDS/TEEN CLUB - There were counselors on this cruise for the children. There were 3 age groups: 3 - 7, 8 - 14, and 15 - 18. I guess there were 500 children on the ship. A program was presented for each of the 3 groups. Activities started at 9:00 a.m. and continued till midnight for the older ones. There is evening group childcare while the parent's dine/socialize on the formal nights. Girls attended some of the teen activities and chummed around with some guys and girls they met at the teen club. The girls prime activity was the teen disco until 1:00 a.m. Some 14 year olds suddenly became 15 for the teen club.Kids Drink Card - The Boys and Girls Card and can be used by the big boys and girls also. With 15% tip, this comes in at $56 for 20 drinks - virgin strawberry daiquiris, Shirley Temples, fruit milkshakes and pop. Don't waste the card on pop/soda. Sodas can be had for $2.30 each.
FOOD/DINING ROOM: - The first night, there were shorts/T shirts at dinner, a change from a previous experience with Costa Cruise Lines. Noticed folks showing up at 7:00 p.m. for the 5:30 sitting., doors not locked. Latecomers can always be accommodated on the Lido deck. However at lunch/breakfast, shorts seemed to be ok. Most dressed smart casual for dinner with the exception of 2 formal and one-toga nights. Children looked forward to these dress up events. Ate all meals in the dining room. Not into buffets on a ship when I have a choice.
Food - Food was excellent, service superb. Diego, our waiter and Percy, the assistant provided excellent service in the Portofino DR on the lower level. We had the first dinner sitting at 5:30 p.m., it approximates our regular eating time and allows for an evening of activity. This was our preference. The second sitting was at 8:30 p.m. and in the other DR, it ran 15 minutes later for each sitting.
If we were not sure what to order, the waiters' recommendation came through. Requested through the waiter and Maitre d' and received shrimp cocktails, although not on menu. One girl wanted a four cheese pasta dish she had on a previous Costa cruise and this was made for her each evening - That's looking after your guests. All food was hot, well prepared and beautifully presented with adequate portions. There was an excellent variety with six courses at dinner - appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entrÃ©e and dessert followed by coffee. There were 2-3 choices except for 5 -6 entrees and 6- 7 dessert choices. Caesar salad, spaghetti, salmon and a steak as I recall were always available. We did not have a bad meal. I tried something new to me each lunch and dinner, that's part of cruising, an opportunity to experiment. Coffee comes at the very end of meal unless requested during the meal. The children found comfort in chocolate mousse or ice cream, both with chocolate sauce. While we were looked after, I also feel the girls received special service especially with their dessert requests when not on the menu.
Lunches and breakfast were equally impressive with just about as many courses and variety. Plenty of food stations on Lido deck where there are made-to-order omelets and an excellent variety of breakfast choices. On Gala - formal and toga nights, these become processional and colourful events with the waiters and other staff demonstrating among other things their dance techniques. These evenings provided a welcome change not knowing what to expect.
The maitre'd dropped around every meal; he touched bases with all tables. Our maitre d' was quite personable and was attentive to special requests. The midnight buffets were primarily desserts, meats cheeses and fruits with the artistic creations. One evening there was a fairly elaborate display in one dining room for picture taking, with a tour through the common kitchen to pick up food with seating in the other dining room.
There is a pay restaurant tucked away inside the jogging track on deck 11 or so. Did not use.
Pizza was ok, by the slice or whole one. Coffee was ok, better than some other ships. Lido deck dining, did not use except for lunch day 1 and one of the girls had pancakes there. Hotdogs/hamburgers available for those who want this fare.
DECK/POOL AREA: - There are an adequate number of deck chairs on multi-levels and there were those chairs unoccupied save for a towel.
In addition to English, there are some activities conducted in other languages to which anyone can partake. Watched activities on deck conducted in Italian. One night I got to participate with the belly dancers in their routine.
FELLOW PASSENGERS: - For the most part, similar to your neighbours and work mates and in the 30 -60 age range with exceptions. Lots of large groups, 15, 27, 81 and so on. The majority I think were Canadians and lots from Florida.
PORTS OF CALL: - Nassau and Cozumel - Both interesting places. Grand Cayman was cancelled appropriately due to an earlier rescue/search operation at sea.
NIGHTLIFE: - The Disco - The teen had it until 1 or 2 a.m. and this is where the teens are. If the kids are not in the cabin at night, this is a likely spot to find them.
Urbino Theatre - Generally watched the second show for the early seating. All shows lasted 40 - 50 minutes. Comedian the first night was good, he selected his "Mama" and "Papa". There were variety type acts, singers, the Costa dancers and their own productions which were all good.
Entertainers - There is a variety of singers, piano players, and 3 piece bands throughout the ship. There is sufficient variety and some have a large following with classical, dance, 50's and contemporary music.
Toga night - Bring your toga or try your hand and wrap your own. There were many varieties. Togas do come apart, even with safety pins. Togas are not immune to gravity. Probably half the diners dressed in togas on Saturday night, down to the little folk. Toga show at 10:45 p.m. was good with passenger entertainment and lots 75-80% togas.
Toga night downside - The 4th act. One passenger pulled a quick one on the Costa staff. This chap was from Amsterdam traveling with his wife. I'll refer to him as the pervert from Amsterdam. He removed his toga when entering the stage in favour of his loin cloth and nothing underneath parading around signing. It was like the Janet Jackson episode but for 2 minutes and for the children in the first five rows or so, they were embarrassed/insulted with his exhibitionism when he turned every 5 seconds or so (we were in the front row with many children). His act was suited at best to an adult entertainment parlour. Will be addressed in writing with Costa.
PORT DISEMBARKATION: - Excellent - Off the ship at 8:20 a.m. and waiting for a taxi at 8:45 a.m.
WHY COSTA - We sailed on the Costa Atlantica two years earlier and had an excellent cruise. The price was attractive for a balcony cabin and factoring in the children who sailed for only the $ 43 port taxes, the price was right.
The good - Nothing less than an excellent 6 day cruise with an Italian flavour. Six days was too short. Service and information office staff was excellent and all crew were pleasant/accomodating. The food was excellent, well prepared and attractively presented. Beautiful ship and extremely clean. Many kids on this cruise well behaved.
Getting better - Smoking is prohibited in the dining rooms/areas and the theatre as well as at tables in all the lounges; however, the offset is that there is smoking at the bar and surrounding area. The air is getting better for non-smokers.
The bad - The need to take the passport off the ship to get back on with inspection by Costa personnel. A Costa picture ID card is needed. Other cruise lines do this.
Enjoy your Costa cruise.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Diana Western Caribbean January 2, 2006
I am a 20-year-old college student who went with my parents and 8-year-old brother. We are first time cruisers from the Midwest. I enjoyed the experience and would recommend others to try the Magica. Food-Before boarding, I was prepared to starve for the week since I had read many reviews criticizing costa's food. On the contrary, I gained weight and laughed with joy the first time I went through the Bellagio buffet. I never had a problem with lines, always got my food instantly.I suppose those used to luxury travelling would complain about the dinning and service. My filet mignon wasn't anything special and dinner did seem slow at times.
For kids- My brother had a good time. Just like on any cruise, there are pools, slides, and kid's clubs to preoccupy the time.
Daytime activities- During the day most people just lounged around by the pool because the activities weren't worthwhile. I attended free yoga classes, a cooking demo, and "mini-facial" (product endorsement). Though Costa prides itself in offering Italian, the language class was nothing more than a page out of the dictionary.While the ship is at sea they have dance regimes by the pool deck for sunbathers sick of sitting on their butts all day. The gym is equipped with the latest gizmos. Classes are expensive and not worth your $11 for 20 minutes of spinning. What's nice and free is the Sauna and Turkish bath. Nightlight- Unless you're below the age of 16 or cruising without young children, the night was very limited to college-aged people. Since my friend is 18 and there was nothing better to do, we hung out at the Teen Zone (Discoteca 11pm-?) a few times. The icebreakers were fun and short, which allowed time for the teens to dance and chill.
I consider myself a structured party girl (enjoying costume parties, prom) and the themed nights targeted at everyone weren't all that impressive. Alot of people were enthusiastic about wearing togas for Roman night though. They had several competitions such as electing a Mr.Pizza, Newlyweds Game, or James Dean contest. Entertainment-There wasn't any stand-up comedy or drama because there were too many universal languages on that ship.
I went to all the shows and I can honestly say that highschool productions outshine what Magica offered. However, I have to give them credit for trying, it isn't easy appealing to such a diverse group. There's several lounges/piano bars where musicians perform individually, since I'm not old enough to drink I didn't stick around too long. What I consider the highlight of the trip was to see the waiters dancing at dinner time. For $400 you can may not be entertained 24/7 but the dancing waiters was worth every penny. Fellow cruisers- A large portion of the passengers are French, Spanish, and predominantly Italian-speaking, which means you'll be coming face-to-face with G-strings and Speedos. Unlike the other reviewers who interpret cultural differences as rudeness, remember that this is the #1 EUROPEAN cruiseline. Have some common sense and respect while onboard.
Service- The cruise director and his staff is Italian, they mingle more with the Italians. As for the waiters and stewards, they are English-speaking and very friendly to everyone. Be nice to them because they look after you the whole week and work long hours. I've stayed at 4 star hotels around the world bfore and never has been room been constantly cleaned.
Overall If you want an "Italian" experience, this is the cruise to go on and hence many Italian-Americans do so. With all the Italians from Italy onboard, I felt somewhat immersed in their culture. My biggest complaint is that contemporary dance music was only played at the disco where the teens were. Alot of us young adults just sort of wandered around and went to bed early whereas the teens partied into the morning. A Magica cruise is good for family vacations going together in large groups, retired couples, or Americans thinking they are going to seek their Italian heritage. Though for the party animals out there, the Magica boat doesn't quite cut it.
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Marc Crumpton Eastern Caribbean December 26, 2005
My new wife and I, yes, this was our Honeymoon vacation of what was supposed to be a grand ship with lots of Mediter. flare and fancy. The Ship of dreams, or so we thought.... Oh yeah it was a dream, it was a NIGHTMARE! First to shed some perspective, I am 28, (attorney) my wife, Tara (nurse), is 27, and we both have cruised numerous times before on various lines and generally enjoy cruising. We selected Magica basically because of the newness of the ship and the size, expecting lots of space and functioning mechanics without breakdowns, etc.... We could not have been more wrong - cramped spaces and low end A/C syatem!!!!! Seriously, my wife, who is a stubborn, strong willed, "tough" girl was in tears by day three begging the staff to get us tickets to fly home and get off of this horror!
First of all, boarding on Monday the 26th was a complete disorganized mess, with RUDE Costa employees yelling at everyone to get in line, make circles, then reversing the lines, then reversing them again,while they let the Italians, Hispanics, French, and German passengers sneak in line, push people, shove people, kids kicking and hitting other passengers, etc and said nothing. My first complaint was the four hour line getting into embark. process. It was awful. No one knew what was going on.
We finally got on the ship after 4:00, starved, and found nothing but hot dogs and horrible cheeseburgers, and I will say now, the one variety of pizza on this ITALIAN based ship was cheese, and ONLY cheese, all the time cheese pizza and dry foccacia (pizza dough cooked with a couple spices). No pizza bar, no pasta bar, no toppings, no nothing. Tasteless sandwiches, fatty, salty proscuitto ham cold cuts everywhere, and nasty tea and juice "cocktail" sugar saturated drink substances. We decided after realizing there wasn't any real buffet of anykind offered after this long line of hell to skip it and wait for the nighttime dining experience. We headed to our Honeymoon cabin - room # 1007 as Costa had told us they had no balcony rooms when we booked but would try to get us in a room we would like. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! Room 1007 is one of the smallest on board, a handicap room --- why ----- I have no idea as neither us are handicapped or requested one..... Oh, by the way, room 1007 is not air conditioned. We knew by dinner the A/C was going to be a problem as neither of us could breathe in the room and it was dead stale air coming through the vent. We called and reported it, let's call it request #1. OH, did I mention, by dining time, (2nd seating), 9:00 the Magica had yet to pull out of Lauderdale, as they apparently were waiting on one passenger. So the cruise for the rest of the week was delayed- getting us to Puerto Rico extremely late (after dark) on Tuesday for a mere four hour port of call in San Juan.
Dinner on night one allowed us to experience the only real highlight of our cruise, our dining buddies, Pete and Alison from Chicago. What a totally cool couple. The one thing Costa nailed was hooking us all up as we were the same age and personalities, etc..... So much fun! - So kudos on that one Costa - we have made new friends that will be lifelong I am sure- they got engaged onboard and we got to be part of it, truly touching and romantic! Great people - and from Chicago USA!!!!
Dining in the dining room was an overall decent experience, but probably more from the pre dinner booze and good conversation with our new friends. Pete and I often commented that no matter the variety of meat we were offered, it all tasted the same and joked that it came from the same hunk of whatever it was that we called "mystery meat" - one day pork, one day veal, the next day lobster (all the same flavor and texture, just different shape and color). ;o) The food on a scale of one to ten in the dining room would be a 5 at best on its best night, and probably more like a 3 or 4 on most nights. Dessert choices were awful, as I opted for the sorbet everynight and it was the most watered down, over sweetened sorbet I have ever had. Service was ok, we liked our waiter and his assistant, but overall the major complaint with Costa was the lack of customer SERVICE and special attention to its guests. After dinner we found a note that the A/C was as good as it would get, so I called again. They sent a guy up that told me to turn off all the lights in the cabin and it might be cooler, so forget any reading or planning for the next day, enjoy your dark - hot cabin, honeymooners! aka, the SWEAT BOX!
We didn't sleep very well on the hard as rock beds, the mattresses seriously, no lie, are less than 2 inches think and on metal frames. Horrible, I talked to several guests that slept on the decks as the pool chairs were much more comfortable than the beds. My wife's neck was so sore the first three days she felt as if she had been rear-ended by a bus. My TMJ in my jaw has been bothering me since night one on these Hard Huge over firm pillows and hard as stone beds. Accomodations in the cabin SUCKED to say the least. No shampoo, conditioner, funny things left by the porters each day to keep you amused as we've found on other lines.... We did get a plate of dates and figs for Italian good luck on New Years eve and that was it! Just yumyumeroo! NOT, I won't even tell you what my wife and Alison said those figs looked like!
We continued to complain and ask to switch cabins for 3 days when finally in St. Thomas someone did not get back on the ship and they offered us a DOWNGRADE to a smaller cabin, and, no lie, suggested that one of us should stay in one cabin, and they would let us keep 1007 for the other so we would have more space and maybe be more cooler. Nice idea, Costa, you actually thought you were doing two Honeymooners a FAVOR by offereing them to stay on separate ends of the ship. I blame a lot of that on the LANGUAGE barrier- no one speaks english on this Lauderdale based cruise!!!!! Wake up calls on the phone are in Italian and you can't understand it to program it! Then they want you off on a few ports by 8 AM! I continued to try and explain to these Italian speaking people that this was unacceptable, and was told to go back to my cabin and "you're welcome". NOT a single freebie or comp offered, no chocolate on pillow, no "congrats" or a free bottle (or even a glass) of cheap champagne, which every other cruise would have provided. Not a single ounce of attention that it was our honeymoon. and it was explained and on our reservations, I read it on their computer myself. Captains night offered low budget champagne and an ornage juice concocted "whiskey sour". whateva! ICK!
The shows are ok, the highlight is the last night on board you have toga night. Everyone is supplied a bed sheet and a crown to wear to the dining room and then attend Roman night to "judge" the talent show of passengers on board. That was the best part of the entertainment all week - and they were amateurs - just passengers on board- but they were really very good! NO comedians all week, just the same dancers - ok, I'll admit it, the dancers are pretty good looking, but that is about the only thing I can say good about the shows. The low end Carnival last year we did had MUCH better entertainment and a nice variety. My wife was so pissed the night of the Newlywed Game as we had hoped to participate then at the last minute MAX, the cruise director decided to pick couple that had been married like 50 years! Yeah MAX why call it the NEWLYWED GAME! ??? again no special attention to the newlyweds on board... and we talked to a couple others that felt slighted the same way.
The only place we really enjoyed was the piano bar - the bartender in their - Richard from the Phillipenes - and pianist, Lucky, from South Africa had real customer service skills. They were fun, got to know the four of us, and we all loved it up there. The only two nice staff on the ship were Richard and Lucky. The cruise director, MAxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!, has a head the size of all of Europe and is very stuck on himself. He basically loves himself so much he speaks all the time, oh and you get him on 5 of the 7 channels giving different talks on the TV all week along if its not enough seeing him all night every night. ( on day 6 they are still running his welcome speech on channel 8) While on that subject, the TV selection is ABC / NBC / and a dozen foreign channels. And for an 8.95 fee you too can see "Meet the Fockers" which has been on DVD for a year! Only reason we wanted to watch the boob tube was to relax because the pool decks FORGET ABOUT IT! There were so many rude Europeans on this ship that took up all the space, smoking, talking VERY loudly, letting their kids go crazy....... It was a panic attack everytime you went to a main deck as there was nowhere to walk, everyone was pushy and shovy, would cut you off getting on elevators, getting in line to get off the ship, buffet lines, etc..... This cruiseline clearly does not like nor cater to the Americans, the crew and staff was not friendly except the two mentioned above. All seem VERY unhappy to be onboard, no smiles, no going out of their way to take care of you. THAT is my main beef, I say again, LACK OF ANY KIND OF CUSTOMER SERVICE, send the Disney Corp. in for a 10 day makeover - this cruise sucked. We paid a premium since it was New Years, very little New Years eve activity, the 11 year olds ran the disco everynight, drinking, smoking, no one saying a thing! Hell, they were playing slots and the casino games at the tables with me all week as well. You feel like a third or fourth rate citizen on this ship as an American. Everyone talks in code even if they can speak English - they purposely don't to leave you out and feel like you are in a tower of babbling tongues.
The ports of call: San Juan, St. Thomas, Catalina Island / Casa De Campo- Domincan Republic, and Nassau were very short stops, two of them being after dark (San Juan & Casa de Campo). We enjoyed the shore excursions we did - they were nighttime activities, and they were nice. Not quite sure how they offered it, but many opted to Kayak in the dark in San Juan. and then by midnight we were back on the ship for more SWEAT BOX.
There was nowhere to relax on this ship. NO WHERE, we wanted to get off and not get back on when we were in port. To sum it up - RUDE people, bad food, lackluster entertainment, big bookoo bucks at this time of year, MEGA bookoo bucks on bar bill and extras, hell they take the tips from you at 8.95 a day per person and take away your ability to tip who you really want! So you end up spending even more on tips -- all said and done, this was over a 6K trip for a week, and we didnt even have an outside cabin. Costa comped us nothing for our troubles with no A/C and the split room on opposite ends of the ship from each other they wanted us to spend our honeymoon in rooms across the ship from each other!!!!! I still can't get over not even one free drink for this s&*t! I must say I will NEVER cruise COSTA again and this week of hell makes me not want to cruise at all again for fear this nightmare could happen again. I'd rather take my money, go to Hawaii, get a NICE suite, with space, and relax and take my time - and eat at 5 * dining and know I am getting a filet or a piece of prime rib when they say it is! Now, we are home, thank God, and back with some space to move, no shovy LOUD smoky Euros (and smelly - deoderant would have gone a LONG way for a lot of these folks on board!) and the A/C in Florida working well. I am off to my nice comfortable bed for the first time is 8 nights and can't wait to flip on the DirecTV -- Trust me people, if you can get out now- DO - DON'T DO THIS ONE!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S SO NOT WORTH IT. Pretty ship, nothing more can I say positive other than Richard the bartender and Lucky the pianist and our new friends Pete and Alison! I would grade this a C- / D overall experience and that is being VERY generous----
Costa - oh yeah, it'll cost ya! Horrible experience.
Feel free to email me for more questions / thoughts / slams on this ship :o) email@example.com
I went on a pre-holiday cruise on Costa. It was a slightly different experience than on the major U.S. cruise lines, but overall a good value for the money.
Embarkation We arrived late at the ship, so we walked right on board. Staff was helpful and friendly.
The Ship The Mediterranea is very attractive, designed by the same man who did the Carnival Legend, and I noticed how similar the two ships are. I was able to easily find my way around as the layout was almost exactly the same. The only hard part for me was trying to remember the names of the lounges and restaurants, because they are Italian. The huge Christmas tree in the Atrium made it feel more festive.
Pools and Hot Tubs Pools were salt water, but very nice and never too crowded. The middle pool is the most crowded because they have activities there by day, and the band plays. Still, you can find a lounge chair on Deck 10 -- just walk down the stairs and you're at the pool. Towels are placed all over the lido deck, so you just grab what you need.The hot tubs are never hot enough for me on cruise ships; they should call them bubble baths -- lukewarm water with a nice jet massage. There is a water slide; read your newsletter or ask for the times when it's open. It's a lot of fun for adults and kiddies.
Children I don't have any children, but my cabin mate told me she overheard parents raving about how good the children's programs are on Costa. I can tell you I hardly saw any kids on the ship, and the ones I did see were well behaved.This time of year was good for adults who don't want a lot of children running around, because most kids were in school. The Costa staff seems excellent with kids; they put the little ones on stage with the band and let them play the maracas or teach them to play steel drums -- too cute!
The Lifeboat Drill This was extremely long, since the staff had to recite everything in half a dozen languages.
My Cabin The cabins are clean and well kept. I slept like a baby on the firm mattress and I swear my back never felt better. Others complained the mattresses are too firm, but you can ask for an extra mattress pad (egg-crate style, I heard).
The Staff The staffers are more quiet and unassuming than on other cruise lines; they are friendly, but more in the background just doing their jobs. Perhaps they are not as interactive with the customers as other cruise lines, but they are polite and well mannered. I think this is Costa's European style. Say bongiorno ("good morning") and you will be greeted with a big smile..
The Food I really enjoyed the food in the dining room. The soups were good. Different pastas were offered for dinner each day. They had chicken, fish, pork, beef, shellfish and vegetarian entrees. My favorite was a pork dish (I wish I remembered the name). The mahi-mahi was also good. There was a lamb dish that was heavenly! I was pleasantly surprised with the desserts -- good variety. The pear tart is not to be missed; nor is the gelato they had in the buffet area on certain days only.
As for the buffet area, my only complaint is that they only serve breakfast and lunch with a choice of different food stations; during dinner hours, all they had was pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and Mexican. The pizza was tasty but I would like more food choices.
Activities Costa has many activities to choose from, but the line dance classes are a blast! Just jump in and try to follow the crowd. I was shy and waited until the last day to join in -- big mistake; I had a ball and a good workout to boot! They also had cooking lessons, bocce ball, arts and crafts. The horse races were fun to watch. The "sexy legs" competition for men was so funny! There is no reason to be bored on this active ship -- so much activity, too little time!
Entertainment Costa falls a bit behind some of the other lines, but I was still entertained. The bands were decent. The Mellow Calypso band by the pool did Bob Marley standards, etc. An Italian Elvis singer was quite enjoyable. I missed the Time Machine show that I heard later was the best of the cruise. They had a female Latin singer in one of the lounges -- she was excellent! The band that plays outside the disco is quite good also. I watched the staff talent show, which was impressive as the staff members who are not professional singers or dancer perform a variety of acts. They did dances from different countries.
Shore Excursions In San Juan I did the city tour -- skip it and take a cab to Fort Cristobal; we were there just 20 minutes, friends who took a cab spent three hours wandering around at their leisure. Then go downtown to Old San Juan and walk around the shops. You can walk back to the cruise ship from Old San Juan. The locals speak English. It's a beautiful and safe port. We got directions from locals and everyone was nice. We went to Senior Frog's at night to see a good rock and roll cover band -- a loud, rowdy spring break-type bar. If you want to cut loose this is the place, but older folks might prefer one of the classy bistros to sip wine and sit at a sidewalk table. There are lots of choices, all close to the ship.
In St. Thomas, I did a private tour here so I can't comment on the ship's excursions. It is a beautiful place!
At Catalina Island/Casa de Campo, I was going to tour Santa Domingo after viewing impressive photos on the Internet of this, the oldest city in the Americas. Columbus is buried here. But being exhausted from three ports in a row, I decided not to take this nine-hour tour, so I changed my excursion to the Amphibious Vehicle on the Chavon River. This sounds like an historic tour, but it's a party boat -- rum punch and beer served at 8 a.m. The bathroom on the boat was the most rustic thing I've ever used; I had to take a photo of it to show my family. Many did not use it, and beware it's a very long ride to Altos De Chavon -- especially if you drank some beer or rum! Altos De Chavon, the Artists' Village, is lovely and very picturesque. I would not recommend going on your own in the Dominican Republic -- take a ship tour or do the free beach day on Catalina Island. I heard the Kandella show at night was very good.
Nassau is a great port; I've been here before so I did my own thing here, no ship tour. I haven't been here since 1987, so I was pleased to see how much the island has changed -- no more drug dealers or panhandlers; it was clean, safe, and commercialized. There are lots of high-end jewelry stores. The Straw Market is now indoors. The locals were very helpful with directions. I even took a city bus and felt very safe, they take great care of the tourists here.
So what was the best part of Costa for me?
The Toga Party and Guest Talent show! It's what I will always remember... Do bring some gold ribbons or braids to wrap around your toga; wear tons of jewelry and make yourself a leaf headband. Caesar and his entourage come to dinner, but the fun starts at the talent show. Don't change out of your toga after dinner -- just go right to the theater still dressed. The cruise guests perform and the audience votes "thumbs up" to send the good performers to the buffet, or "thumbs down" to send the bad ones to the lions! I don't want to spoil all the fun for you by telling you everything, but it's a blast!
Overall, it's a slightly different cruise experience, but I'd say have an open mind and give it a try.
The cruise ship is very large (about 2,600 passengers, with all the amenities of a large ship. This being an inland sea (Mediterrean)the waters are very calm. Embarkment and Disembarkment were very well. The itinerary is excellent for a mid-priced cruise (we visited Bari, Italy, four greek islands (Santorini,Mykonos, Olympia and Rhodes) and Dubrovnik (Croatia). Unfortunately thats all I can say positive about the experience.....ideally this cruise would be for an italian (hetero)couple in their late 40's. Thats about all I would market this cruise for.
1. Everything on board the ship is geared to italians and things italian. Announcements on board the ship were mostly unintelligble in five languages (which is fine). However, the food was terrible. All italian, all the time, for every meal!!! You also have to pay for water, coffee, tea, etc (except for breakfast). I like pasta, just not for every meal.The midnight buffet was served with lunch buffet items - read stale for example - with NO water or drinks. They had you buy a juice cocktail for 4.75E. Too much nickle and diming!!
The entertainment lacked spontaniety being that announcements were in five languages. However the BESTshow was the crew who performed for us with selected songs and dances from their countries..that was touching and the audience responded very favorably.
Shore excursions and time on land were very short. About 5 hours in each port. Bear that in mind since it is difficult to get too much done. Italian organization is an oxymoron...it doesnt exist. On Bari, the shops close for 'siesta' from 12pm to 4pm. The ship docked at 12pm and left at 5pm-figure that one out!!
My recommendation is that Costa Cruises should not market to the American Market.