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.
IN A NUTSHELL
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate:
Cabin and service: 5 Food and service: 1 Itinerary: 4 Ship activities: 2 Entertainment: 3
Overall experience: 3
* The itinerary was wonderful; Egypt was the highlight, and there were many more nice surprises such as Rhodes. * We met some wonderful people on the cruise, and we enjoyed the international crowd. * Because the ship is so new, it's very clean, and it is well kept. * There is a well-defined smoking side on the ship, and other than in the casino, you aren't really bothered by smoke. There are no ashtrays near elevators, which is a good deterrent. * Tea service in the Bellagio buffet restaurant has a good selection of high-quality, whole-leaf teas that they put in a sachet. You also get real porcelain cups, a nice contrast from the plastic mug you usually get at the buffet. As for the food, it was not great, and the desserts were the same every day.
* No more chocolate on your pillows. It's not essential, but a nice touch. * No more bathrobes. Had I known,I would have brought one. * No more toiletries.
* The food: It's the worst food we've ever had on a cruise. I'm sure this will change soon, since everyone was complaining. * There's no real dining option other than the restaurant. They say the buffet is open, but for all 12 nights, there was only a plate of iceberg lettuce, one with radicchio, olives, cold cooked cauliflower and carrots, one type of cold cuts, and one variety of cheese. They also have pizza available until 1 a.m. * Embarkation in ports was a nightmare. I took up to an hour to get back on the ship when we returned from excursions -- especially in Egypt, when seven buses all returned at once. People were upset, yelling and pushing.
In 2004, Costa opened its new cruise ship terminal in Savona. It's a beautiful building, well-designed to wait for embarkation. It has a great outdoor patio where you can sip a beer or cocktail and watch the harbor activity while waiting for your number to be called. Since most passengers come with Costa transfers from the Nice or Genoa airports, a Costa rep comes onboard the buses and gives everyone a number. The luggage is automatically transferred from the bus to the terminal. Then we proceeded to the terminal, where there are many comfortable seats. The wait to board was a bit long – more than an hour and a half -- but at least it was comfortable. We cleared security fairly rapidly and boarded. Everyone was asked to go to the theater first to hand in their passports. They keep them for Egyptian immigration processing.
Then we went to our stateroom where we found our Costa Cards on the desk (no need to wait in line to get your card). Also, the luggage was already in the cabin when we got there, which is always a great relief!
The buffet was only open until 4 p.m., which was a bit tight. We had not eaten lunch so we ran upstairs, and just managed to put a few things on our plates before they closed off all the lines.
Overall, the process was very smooth even if it was a bit lengthy.
We had reserved cabin 7401, a category 8 balcony cabin. It was very spacious. It had a three-door wardrobe with two separate hanging closets, and one with shelves with a full length mirror. The vanity has three drawers and a small cabinet unit. There is a small refrigerator and a safe that uses a magnetic card for locking (any card with a magnetic strip works).
The bed was comfortable. There is also a very wide couch that can probably transform into a bed - it's not a pull-out couch, but the width of the couch is the length of a bed. There is also a small, adjustable table that can be used as a dining table or coffee table. The bathroom is large enough, with the usual amenities, but no toiletries. There is one bar of soap, and for the 12 days we were there, we never got another one! There was no shampoo or lotion. You can get lotion and shower caps on request only. Also, there are no bathrobes available.
Our cabin steward was extremely discreet and polite but very efficient. He did not speak much Italian or French (which is what 80 percent of the people on the ship spoke) but we managed to communicate in English. The room was promptly done as soon as we left in the morning. The cabin service was great.
DINING ROOM SERVICE/FOOD
We had a table for six on the upper section of the Portofino restaurant, situated at midship. The ship has two dining rooms and the galley is in between. Because of that, you cannot go to the front of the ship on Deck 3 and 4. Since our room was aft, we always had to go down to Deck 5, then walk forward, and down again to Deck 3 or 4 from there. Not a big issue, but it is confusing at first.
For the first time, we dined at the first sitting which was at 6:30 p.m. This was a bit early since we were gone on excursions most days, and didn't return until 5 or 5:30. That didn't leave us enough time to unwind and get ready for dinner. We were always rushed to shower and get down to the dining room. The second sitting was at 8:45 or 9 p.m., depending on the night. Knowing what I know now, I would choose the second sitting just to have more time after returning from excursions.
The food was definitely sub-standard. The menu offered a variety of dishes, but the preparation was not good. Meats were never cooked properly; they were tough and flavorless. The fish was often fishy-tasting. We never once had a baked potato; we mostly had boiled potatoes, and once we had mashed potatoes that were so gluey they had to be cut with a knife. The vegetables were always frozen. We had shrimp once (at the first gala dinner as a shrimp cocktail), and on the last gala menu there was a langouste thermidor, which was not good at all, very tough. Filet mignon was never to be seen.
On the first night, we asked for dressing for our salad. We were offered four kinds, and asked for blue cheese. The dressing we receive tasted really odd. Every other night, the only dressing available was Thousand Island. This was odd. I must add that the pasta dishes were always tasty, and our server told me that many people ordered two pasta plates as dinner instead of the meat dishes. So I did that a couple times and was happy with my decision.
Our server Paolo was Colombian and his assistant George was from the Philippines. They were both very friendly. We communicated with them in English, which was a problem for many passengers as most spoke either Italian or French. The Maitre D', Dario, was friendly and helpful. On many nights the dining room was extremely hot, and as soon as I mentioned it to him he got on the phone with the engineers and we immediately felt the AC turned on. One night we requested a table at the second sitting and he obliged us gracefully. The service was slightly chaotic on the first two or three nights, and we had to wait more than 45 minutes between our appetizer and soup, but after the first gala dinner, the service became more organized.
We had lunch in the dining room once, and the nice thing is that you can sit wherever you want. They don't 'fill' tables. The menu was limited, but the service was efficient.
Breakfast in the dining room only had a cold offering – a continental breakfast with breads, cold cereals and juice. If you're longing for eggs Benedict, fill up before you leave.
Breakfast in the buffet was the same every morning. We had a variety of freshly baked goods, croissants, chocolatine, brioche, Danishes etc. that were very good. Fresh fruits, berries and cream, muesli, cold cereals and yogurt completed the cold buffet. The hot buffet had hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, beans, waffles and French toast. There was also a selection of marinated fish, cold cuts and cheese. This was fine even if the selection became boring after a while.
Lunch was served at two central sections that had a more conventional offer, and on two side stations that had a theme menu everyday. The food was average at best. It was always very crowded; the best bet was to find a seat on the mezzanine level, which was usually a bit quieter. The grills by the pools offered hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and lamb chops.
After 2:30, the only food available was the salad bar, which consisted of iceberg lettuce, radicchio, quartered tomatoes, olives, a mix of cold cooked cauliflower and carrots, one cold cut, one cheese and buns. There is also pizza available until late in the evening. If you didn't feel like going to the dining room, you really had no options.
Tea was the highlight of our food (or beverage) experience. They had a nice selection of whole-leaf teas of good quality that they put into a sachet. The cherry tea and the blackcurrant were particularly good. You also get real porcelain cups. The sandwiches were always dried, and the few pastries served were the same everyday. Soft-serve ice cream was available almost all the time, depending on the days; sometimes the machine was on, sometimes it was off.
Naples: We didn't take a ship's excursion as we had been to Naples three times already. We wanted to go to the Museum of Archaeology, but since we were there on a Tuesday, it was closed. So we opted to go on our own. We walked from the ship to the Castel Nuovo, just across the street - a five minute walk from the cruise ship terminal. Since it was raining, we took a city tour bus. Then we went to visit the Castel Nuovo. There were a few exhibits of 16-19th century paintings.
Alexandria: This was to be the highlight of the trip and it was. We chose the Pyramid, Saqqara and Memphis tour and really enjoyed it. All the other tours included a meal in a restaurant, but we had a lunch bag that we picked up as we left the ship. It was not a gastronomical feast, but it allowed us to spend more time at the various sites.
The excursion started with a three-hour bus ride to Cairo. Our guide talked about the ancient Egyptian civilizations, the most important pharaohs, etc. Because of our limited time in the city, and very little shopping opportunities, she offered to take orders for cartouche jewelry and t-shirts. Upon our arrival in Cairo, she called in the orders, and we were able to pick them up at the end of the day.
Our first stop was the Pyramids. We first went to the high plateau where we had a view of all three pyramids. We had about 15 minutes to take a few pictures. At this stop, several merchants were selling statuettes, pyramids, brass plates, post cards etc. This is one of the better shopping opportunities - so if you want some souvenirs, get them there. We bought three small pyramids in engraved brass for 1 Euro. Be wary of camel drivers. They will let you hop on their camel for free, but will charge you whatever they want to let you off. This happened to one of our friends. They also charge you just to take a picture, so pretend you shoot something else! And watch out for camel pooh.
Then we drove to a parking lot between the Kheops and Kephren pyramids, where we had about 30 minutes to walk around. Those who wanted could go inside the Kephren pyramid. Those who went said it was not worth it, as you walked in a very small and dark tunnel that is about 5 feet tall, and ended in a room that was completely bare. All objects and wall paintings were removed. You also have the opportunity to go visit the royal barque, but again time is very limited, if you choose to do this, you have to run. We chose to walk up to the pyramid and just sink in its magnitude.
Our next stop was at the Sphinx. We had some time to wander on our own, and then we were able to eat our lunch at the restaurant terrace. We were given a coupon for a drink. The view was spectacular. We had 90 minutes to walk around and take in the sights. This was great.
Then, it was on to Saqqara. As we got there the wind started to blow and we witnessed a sand storm! We went into a mastaba, which was the tomb of Mererouka. There we saw several rooms with unbelievable wall drawings and hieroglyphs. Once we got out, the storm had receded and we went on to the pyramid of Djoser, the step pyramid. We had about 30 minutes to walk around.
Next stop was in the ancient site of Memphis. The ancient city is no longer there. Palm trees cover most of what was once the capital of Egypt. But there is a small outdoor museum with the famous alabaster sphinx, a few sarcophagi, and the colossal statue of Ramses II. Even if there isn't much to see there, it was a nice addition to the trip.
Last stop was the Papyrus Institute. This is the last stop of all tours. They show you how papyrus is made in a five-minute demonstration. Then you have time to shop for papyrus, and you can walk up to the jewelry store, where you can pick up your cartouche and shop for other jewelry. The papyrus items are relatively inexpensive. We didn't think we could or should barter in a shop like this, but I guess you could.
Limassol (Cyprus): We did not book a ship excursion here, and I wished we had. We were in Limassol on a Saturday, and most stores were closed. Also, we were in town only for a few hours. We took the ship's shuttle into town and walked around. We went to the Castle which dates to the 12th c. and served as a prison until 1950. It has a good exhibition of household potteries and ceramics from the 4th-18th century, as well as some weapons and many interesting engraved tombs covers. There is also a rooftop terrace with a great view of the city, and of the ship in port! Other than the castle, there isn't much to see in Limassol.
Rhodes: The Rhodes City Tour was a half-day tour that started with a short drive up to the ancient acropolis. There isn't much left of the temple that once stood there except for three columns. Then we went to the ancient stadium, still in very good shape. After that stop the bus took us to one of the gates to the medieval city, and we did the rest of the tour by foot. We walked to the Grand Master Palace, which we visited with the guide. Even if this former house of the Head of the Knights was completely redone in the last century, it contained well preserved mosaics from the island of Kos, and the restoration work was interesting to see. We walked down the streets of Knights, and the tour ended in the old city, near the port. Then we had an hour to walk around, shop etc. At 12:30, we could go back to the ship with the bus, or stay in town and walk to the ship - a 15 minute walk at the most. We truly enjoyed this day in Rhodes. Most shops were opened in the walled city, as well as bars and restaurant.
Those who chose the full-day excursion went to Lindos in the morning, ate in a hotel (buffet style) and then did the Rhodes tour in the afternoon. Some of our friends did that tour and enjoyed it. However, some people found the 300 steps to the top of the Lindos acropolis a bit strenuous. One guy hired a cab to get up there. From what I understand, if you have lots of energy, do the full day tour, and if you have to choose one of the half-day tours, stay in Rhodes; it would be a shame to not at least walk through the old city.
Marmaris (Turkey): There were only two choices of excursion here and both see the same sights. The difference is that the full day tour includes lunch at a local fish restaurant. We opted for the 'express tour' in order to have some time in Marmaris for shopping. The excursion was very pleasant. We had an amazing guide, Bekir, from Istanbul. The drive to Dalyan was just over an hour. There, we embarked on tarp-covered boats to go along the river and view the temple-tombs of ancient kings carved into the rocky cliffs. Then we arrived at the archaeological site of Caunos with the Roman Theatre, the Roman Bath and the streets of this city, founded in the 5th Century B.C. After the visit, the boat takes you back to the village and to the bus. We were dropped off at the pier at around 2:15 p.m. We could either take the ship shuttle into town, or cabs were waiting there also. We went into town. I was expecting a typical 'Turkish' market, but found an outdoor mall. In fact it's a labyrinth of streets covered with a glass roof, with all kinds of shops selling jewelry, ceramics, leather goods, and clothing. Some are nice, some are shadier. I've never seen so many fake Louis Vuittons and Guccis in my life!! But contrary to what we often see, most of these were really good copies, made of good leather with good finish. You can get purses and shoes at very good prices. They will cut the prices by 75 percent from their original asking price.
Athens: By the time we got to Athens, we were tired, and everyone had a cold... We had to be back on the ship by 4:30, which is early. So we took a half-day tour to the Acropolis and the Archaeological Museum. After touring the main monuments and buildings of the city, we stopped at the Museum. Our guide brought us to the most significant pieces of the museum, giving us detailed information on Greek history, architecture and art. We saw the gold mask of Agamemnon, the bronze Poseidon and Young Jockey of Artemision, and the statue of Athena Nike, just to name a few. After the museum, we drove past the parliament house and saw the guards dressed in their traditional costumes. Then we stopped at the original Olympic stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Finally we arrived at the Acropolis. We slowly went up to the top with our guide.
We stopped by the theatre. The temple of Athena Nike was gone! I couldn't believe it. When we got to the entrance, there was a sign saying that the temple had become unstable, and it was dismantled piece by piece. 'The aim of the current restoration project, in process since 2000, is to correct the inadequacies of all the previous restoration projects and to reinstate the building's original geometry,' a sign said. The Propylaia is also under restoration. The wind was blowing so cold at the top, it was incredible! But the magnificence of the Parthenon made it very endurable. We had about 30 minutes to explore the Acropolis, Parthenon, Erechtheum and its caryatides. We all met back on the bus and went straight to Piraeus. It was a good tour, but they won't let you off the bus in town. You have to go back to Piraeus, then take your own transport back into town. We were too exhausted, and we got back to the pier at 2 p.m., which didn't give us enough time to go back into the city. The only full day tour is the Acropolis and Cap Sounion.
Katakolon: I didn't have too much expectation for the Olympia and Museum tour, but I was positively surprised. It was a cold but sunny day. We first drove to the site of Olympia - about a 30-40 minute drive. Our guide Katia was extremely interesting. We walked the site with her in about one hour. We saw the temple of Hera, the place where they light the Olympic flame, the stadium, the temple of Zeus, the palestra and gymnasium. We had about 30 minutes free time; then we walked to the museum nearby. We had a guided tour of the museum. We saw the Hermes of Praxiteles and the Nike of Paionios. Then, we returned to the ship, just in time for sail-away at 1:30. The small town of Katakolon is not too far, maybe a 15-20 minute walk from the pier. Some excursions stopped there to allow people to shop. One other excursion combined the site of Olympia and a stop in a restaurant in Katakolon where they were served tapas, ouzo and a local band entertained them. Apparently this was lots of fun.
Our last day was at sea, and allowed us to pack our bags without too much stress.
DEBARKATION was very smooth. Our meeting point was at 9:15 in the theatre. Then we quickly proceeded outside the new terminal, and were able to quickly recover our luggage. Buses were waiting, and were clearly identified for the various transfers available. By 10 a.m., our bus was en route to Nice, where we had a one-night post-cruise stay before returning to Montreal!
This was our second cruise on Costa. We enjoyed our first on the Victoria and still have fond memories of it. Although we've been on 5 other cruises, no ship stands out in our memory like the Costa ships although the destinations certainly do. We sailed to relax and did'nt care about the excursions, having been to the Caribbean before. The Atlantica in out opinion is a beautiful ship. It looks like no expense was spared, especially in the various lounges. The Florian Cafe(a replica of the original in Venice) is a case in point with the marble, painted ceilings and portraits, the red velvet, the classical entertainment, all made for a pleasant venue to sit and relax. The show productions were probably the best we've seen on a ship, ie the staging, sound and lighting. The Chapel, though hidden in a corner of the ship is another beautiful rendition and the flagstone floored garden passage is wonderful. I used the 3 level exercise facility with hot tub at the front of the ship every day as well as the steam room and sauna.
I left the stateroom shower to mywife and luxuriated in the spa shower with its 5 shower heads. Everyone was friendly, service was good, the food variety was outstanding, quality was good except for most of the desserts which don't look or taste like what you expect.Anybody that complains, please don't come back. I heard someone complain about too many elevators because they had too many choices and often got on the wrong one. Oh well. There was a large Jewish group(served Kosher food) and Irish group(from all over the USA and abroad) on board, as well as Europeans. If you don't like to mix with other cultures and people, please go elsewhere. Boarding and disembarkation were well organized. The bottleneck was at Customs. Would we go on Costa again? You bet.
After all our misery with US air -25, hour wait at airport after cancellation of our flight . Arguing to get out in time for our ship ( all flights booked thru Costa)which we did miss. Total lack of co-operaation or care from US air staff (including LILIANE a superviser who walked out on me because she was tired !! like we weren't ???)re hotel and food vouchers ,we did arrive in Cozumel via Chicago on United the following day and were greeted by a Costa REp who took us to a litle hotel called Casa del Mar . Costa covered hotel but no food so I sent my bills to them to get a refund . We will see how they handle this. I was travelling with my 2 boys 10 & 13 so providing meals for all of us should not have been a stretch.
After a long wait at the dock in Cozumel with all our luggage the following day a purser did finally come and get us and we did board . A very pleasant purser Rafael from Brazil on ship took care of us andcontinued to do so for the rest of the cruise!!! Finally got to our cabin and rushed out to enjoy Chankannab .
We booked a balcony cabin (Obstructed ) but loved the sound of waves and seabreeze every night -kept door wide open. Balconies are the best -I wish they were always cheap!!! Highly recommended!!!
Food and srevice was quite adequate and always plentiful with various juices during the day and at Night very well presented and quite good.Waiters were polite -quick to change courses if not to one's taste. Lamb and lobster were A-1 and my boys loved the steaks.Portions small -but since choices were limitless -less waste . Midnight buffets AMazing in size -display -and variety
Entertainment was charming -very saltimboca-. One night there were 4 Mediteranean shows in different lounges and you needed a passport to go from one to the other -felt like a scavenger hunt -very different very enjoyable . A buffet of the regions presented followed for those hungry- not us we chose late dining . Atmosphere in dining room was like an Italian wedding every night -even had a candlelit dinner once!! Waiters sang and danced for us every night -Great Fun !!!
Stops in Cozumel and Grand Cayman . Chankanaab has great snorkelling take a cab pay fee and snorkel -BRING WATER SHOES SHARP ROCKS TO ENTER Go see dolphin show
Grand Cayman -go to Stingray city - what lovely soft friendly creatures - a real thrill .Try Captain Marven 2 blocks from dock . Nice friendly people.34$ 2 stops
Ocho Rios - Falls are slippery Kids went- I did not and could have skipped the whole thing . Pushy vendors -Left early - Not impressed
Would have preferred another stop .
Shopping on board different because of Italian goods-bought most gifts on board.
Overall not bad cruise will have better and accurate opinion of Costa if I get a refund for expenses and compensation for our 25 hour ride from hell with US air and discount on next one . After all we missed 2,5 days out of seven. If they were responsible and compensatory I would highly recommend this company .
We will see!!!! Time will tell
Toga party is a hoot and super fun on last night . They give the sheets so less to pack at last minute.. Disembarkation was organized and relativelly quick except for customs who took their sweet time. Airport was a madhouse -flight on time this time with US air again -no food available not even to buy!!!
HOW CHEAP CAN YOU GET!!!I will not willingly fly with US AIR EVER AGAIN!!! Is it a wonder theses guy s are going under With such crappy service I'm surprised they are still around . What a rinky -Dinky company . They should teach their agents people skills if they hope to survive.
Ship is gorgeous and would do Costa again Will they do right by me? Hope so !!
Fun cruise fun ship .Enjoyed Italian style!!!
We just got back from the Costa cruise, and I have a lot to tell you about. So, I'll take it in stages, so it will be easier. Just so you know, this is my 4th cruise.
BEFORE YOU GO Reasearch a little about the ports you will be stopping at. Costa is great about telling you where to shop and what beaches are available, but they aren't so great in letting you know about local cultures, sights to see, etc...
If you get to the ship right at 1 pm, you will wait about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to get on. Here's an alternative idea - Drop off your bags at between 11:00 & noon, go have lunch, walk around some stores, and return around 2:30-3 pm. This will get your bags on early [therefore to your cabin early], and you won't have sat in a crowded room for an hour or more.
You will find your Costa Cards [these serve as room key, ID, and credit card while on the ship] in your room. You do not need to register your credit card right awayto use your Costa card to buy a drink or anything else on ship. Wait a day or two and then register your credit card to avoid the long lines.
Oh, and do know that you will have to pay a port surcharge on drinks bought while in port. [coffee, coke, alcohol]
Costa was good about getting our luggage to our rooms within a few hours, and we unpacked and had plenty of space. Even large suitcases will slide under the bed! We booked a room with a balcony [Costa frequently offers free balcony upgrades!] and it was really worth it! We found having the extra space and the ability to sit outside on our own balcony extremely enjoyable.
The first night was all about learning where things are on the ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a disco, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 2 pools, several hot tubs, etc... Walk around with the little color coded map they give you and get comfortable - there is a lot to see.
They have a nice party at the pool for the sail away with music, and it's good fun.
DAY ONE AT SEA
My hubby and I got up, grabbed a quick bite at the buffet [all your fav American b-fast foods - egg, bacon, ham, cereal, orange juice, coffee, tea and water as well as cheese, meat slices, fruits, bread, pancakes, waffles, and more]. I'm sure you'll find something you like.
We then hit the gym [3 levels at the front of the ship]. It has an amazing view as well as many different types of equipment - treadmills, weight machines, steppers, bikes, and more. There is also a large jacuzzi, tanning lights, steam room and sauna available at no extra charge. They offer pilates and other classes for a small fee. Buy a package at the beginning of the trip if you want to get the best deal.
We took this trip after the Xmas and New Years cruises - on those cruises, there were over 500 children on board. For our cruise, there were around 150, so going to the pool in the afternoon or sitting out on the deck was quite relaxing. Costa has great programs for kids that keep them active and happy.
I bought a piece of art at the art auction - this is really one of the best deals I've seen on Costa. They only allow 3 bids to keep prices low, and if they have more than one piece, they will sell that piece to everyone who wants it at the third bid. Really, I bought a piece I have seen in a gallery for several hundred less and no tax! It was a bargain. And of course, they serve free champagne.
Dinner was fun with good food and service. This was the first formal night and almost every man was in a suit or tux and women wore lovely gowns. There was the captain's welcome party before and people got free cocktails and danced on stage in the Osirus Theater [beautifully decorated Egyptian themed theater]. They had a live band - I must tell you, music on this ship is excellent in the lounges and the theater. They do try to make these nights special. There were several photography sections and the photo prices were quite reasonable.
We were at the second dinner seating [8:30pm] - we sat at a large table and met some great people. I always recommend people to sit at large tables because you are traveling with people who are like you - they like to travel, see the world, meet people, etc... It's so much fun to discuss where you are, what you're doing, and where you've been with a group of people. Of course, if you don't like your group, you can get your table changed.
About the food and drink - the food was good throughout the trip; however, if anyone didn't like something, the waiter immediately took it away and replaced it with something else. More often, people really liked a dish and asked for seconds. They don't mind at all. So if you want that second lobster tail, steak or dessert, just ask for it!
Tap water on ice is free as well as iced or hot tea and coffee. However, sodas and alcohol are not. Costa offers a package of five bottles of wine and five bottles of water at a good price. My husband and I drink only a half a bottle a night, so they stored the extra and had it ready for us the next evening.
My friends brought their own bottles of wine on board. They brought them to the dinner table and the servers opened and served them without complaint. It was very nice.
The Time Machine show was worth the effort - a little hoaky, but great sets, and some talented singers and dancers. After was the midnight buffet - these are always worth a look see as they have some great dishes beautifully prepared.
DAY TWO SAN JUAN
We didn't arrive in San Juan until 4 pm which was a shame because the stores close early!
However, during the day, we did try something different - they have a high tea in the Bar Orientale with loose leaf high quality teas, finger sandwiches, and pastries. It was really nice.
What wasn't so nice was the BIOLUMINESCENT KAYAK TOUR - don't go - it's a waste of time and money. It was 1 1/2 hours on a bus in traffic, then 30 minures paddling, and then just tiny flecks of occasional light in the water - really! I had heard this was a great trip, but it is a farce, don't waste your money.
We were double disappointed because we couldn't see San Juan at all as the trip took all the time alotted for our stay.
We heard from others that the San Juan fort was interesting, shopping was good, and that the restaurants were great.
This evening at the midnight buffet, they had international night with four stations around the ship. Again, this was really worthwhile and great fun. Excellent pate at the France station and chocolate and churros at the Spanish station.
DAY THREE ST. THOMAS
We ordered breakfast in the room this morning and ate it out on the balcony. There isn't a huge selection for room service, but it was fun to have cereal, croissants [with butter and great jam], and coffee while looking at the lovely islands in St. Thomas.
This was a fun port where we had time for shopping in the morning [there are some great deals here - not steals - but good prices with no taxs and they double your allowance when you buy at St. Thomas so definitely know what you want to buy and go get it]. Costa has great shopping talks you can see live or watch on TV. Go talk to the port shopper as she can tell you where the best deals are as well as give you extra discount cards. There are some steals to be had in the back rooms of some of the large establishments.
The port itself was pretty if a little congested with traffic. I wanted to see more, but we had an excursion to get to.
We did the sail and snorkel to Christmas cove - this was good fun. The sail boat the St. Christopher was lovely with a fun crew and we took quite a few pictures while sailing. The snorkeling was pretty good with lots of parrot fish nibbling at the coral. They teach new people how to snorkel and let the ones who already know how off the boat first. On the way back, they serve rum punch to warm you up. Overall very fun!
This evening before dinner, we went to the Bar Roero in the Lounge Orientale and ordered a bottle of Prosecco [light Italian Champage]. They had a male Italian singer who was excellent and served canapes with the wine. This is a great bar and very relaxing with lovely ambiance. As we didn't finish the bottle, they held it behind the bar for us for the following evening.
Dinner was again lovely.
DAY FOUR CATALINA ISLAND
This is a great place for lying in the sun and just relaxing. There is swimming, snorkeling, hair braiding, as well as people riding bananas and intertubes while being pulled along by boats. Really an excellent beach day.
They have music and shopping just to the left and games. However, if you head down further to the left following the boardwalk, it gets quieter if you just want to relax. Drink staff walk along the beach and take orders, so you don't have to leave your spot if you don't want to.
Lunch was out on the island and they had great fruit, burgers, BBQ ribs and more as well as water, iced tea and coffee. Again, you have to pay for those sodas [they do have a soda pass for kids for a reasonable price - ask the first day!]
In the late afternoon we went to La Romana port in the Dominican Republic. The people on the ship tried to dissuade anyone visiting this port as there is a lot of poverty. My husband and I decided not to go; however, a couple at our dinner table went and said it was quite interesting. You exit the ship and get a cab driver who takes you somewhere to shop and actually goes into each shop with you. Then he takes you to a bar/restaurant. They said the food was 4-5 star and really worth it. However - getting in and out of the cab there are many beggars. The cab driver acts as guide and guardian, so an interesting experience if you are up for it.
Because we didn't go to La Romana, we went to the casino on board instead. There were lots of 25 cent slots and table games like poker, roulette, and black jack. They had a $5 blackjack table and you could use cash or your Costa Card to play. It was a good time and we played for 2 hours and actually walked away with more than we started with [that rarely happens though I must admit].
Tonight they had the carribbean party - this was great fun as they had steel drum music, then dancers, and then they did European line dancing which includes songs from South America and Europe. Its fun and you don't have to know how to do it - just jump on in. They give you a colored lei and let the fun begin.
A great midnight buffet with ice sculptures and excellent food out by the pool.
DAY FIVE AT SEA
A great day to relax by the pool, hit the gym, and do whatever. They have some fun activities and games - I went and did the line dancing - it is good fun and great exercise.
Oh, and I should mention on the pool grill they do have good hot dogs [no relish], hamburgers, and fries everyday. They also have pizza available all the time [look for the fresh parmesian cheese and red pepper]. They also have vanilla/chocolate soft serve ice cream available for free.
They had another auction today with new art - very fun, free champage, and they gave away quite a bit of art, so it was worth it.
Tonight was the second formal night - everyone really dressed wonderfully and we had prime rib and lobster - yum!
The show Solid Gold was great fun with very popular songs, cute songs, and good dancing.
DAY SIX NASSAU
This was lovely as we pulled into port past a little lighthouse and pink buildings. We went to have lunch at Senor Frogs - this is an adventure - they have an MC, music, karaoke and things happening the whole time. You can participate or not. I just enjoyed watching their antics as I sat by the water and looked across the bay and toward our ship. It's a bit pricey, but good fun.
Shopping in Nassau isn't as good as St. Thomas, but there were some deals to be had. The Del Sol shops sell nail polish that changed color in the sun. It's a cute gift and not too expensive.
Many people took cabs to the Atlantis resort which was beautiful and also had shopping in it.
There was a straw market, but not any real quality products that we noticed. It might have been better to get out of port and go to the beach.
Tonight was toga night - we didn't really know what to expect. Some people brought their own togas while others used the sheets provided. One great idea I saw was a woman wearing a re dress with the togas sheet draped over her shouler and belted in the middle. We alas did not toga, but it was fun to watch those who did.
We went to the Roero bar and ordered a bottle of prosecco, had a glass, and then took the bottle to dinner with us. They don't have a problem with this.
Dinner was good as usual.
Tonight was the passenger talent show called the Baccanal - I was surprised, but many passengers were quite good.
Then back to the room to pack. Our bags needed to be packed and outside the room by 1:00 am. Be sure you don't pack anything very valuable [jewelry] or medications in those bags. They are quite good but something could get lost!
DAY SEVEN DISEMBARKATION
They ask you be out of your room by 8:00 am and there is no room service for breakfast.
Because everyone is eating at once, there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and have breakfast there [second seating 7:45 am] - it is tastey, hot, and they have a good selection. Here you can relax until it is time for your group to leave.
A cab will cost $8 per person to the airport and is just as fast as Costa transport [and cheaper]
SOME THINGS TO NOTE
Alcoholic drinks are not very strong on board and quite expensive. If you want good margaritas, you might want to bring some tequila and mixer on board yourself. Again, if you have a favorite wine, bring it on board and they will open it and serve it to you for freee at a bar or restaurant.
The ship has great prices on bottles of alcohol, but they won't let you have them until the end of the cruise!
If you don't like something, send it back. They want you to have a good time and not everyone's tastes are the same.
Feel free to ask for a second pillow, more towels, etc... They do provide pretty good service, but you do need to let them know what you want.
Costa offers great discounts and you get your cruise for a lower price - the trade off is that there are fewer servers per person on board, so you probably won't get 5 star service. But then, you didn't pay for 5 star service.
I think this was a great ship with good food and service. The balcony rooms are very comfortable and kept tidy.
I disliked that we had too little time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it.
The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have a great time.
They have an excellent gym and fitness program and healthy food choices including sugar free desserts everyday.
There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and really I saw few people smoking anyway.
They had good prices on duty free bottles of alcohol on ship as well as clothes, tshirts, and more. The shopping on board was good.
The art auctions are definitely worth the time.
The casino has reasonably priced tables for play and lots of slots.
Check out some of the on board games and dances with the cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining.
The theater shows I think have improved since my last Costa cruise years ago - so that's nice.
They have a good variety of food and never complain if you want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile.
I guess that's all - Bon Voyage!
We have sailed with Costa before and although previous cruises were more than adequate, this year was the best! The Costa ships are always immaculate, as the cabins are more spacious than most and beautifully decorated. What we were pleasantly surprised at was the variety and quality of food on this ship. We felt that touch of Italy, while various theme nights took place.
An added attraction was pasta stations everyday! And the fine dining in the Club Atlantic was magnificent, well worth the $20 fee. The staff could not have been more helpful. The cruise director was terrific and tried to ensure a good time was had by all. We also noticed alot more activity at night and poolside during the day. There was something for everyone, everyday, whether in port or at sea.
We spoke to many first time Costa cruisers onboard who were impressed with this cruise and like us have already booked our next trip with Costa for Dec 2006.
My wife and I sailed aboard the Atlantica for or 20th aniversary. We chose this cruise very carefully after much research. We wanted the cruise to be as special as our 20 years together. Costa asked on their website when we registered if we were celebrating any kind of special ocassion. So I informed them it was or 20th. I felt as if this was going to be one great cruise! The embarkation process was a little slow but reasonable. Once on board the ship was breathtakingly beautiful. Our cabin on deck 5 was at the very rear of the ship and had a great balcony. The cabin was tastefull and spacious. Our next impression was that of the dinning room. Very nicely decorated. Our waiter was the highlight of the cruise! Fantastic service, great food, great presentation, and deserts to die for. Very well done! The ship did vibrate and shudder quite a bit. Perhaps it was our cabin location, but we felt like we were sleeping on a cheap motel massage bed! The shows were very good and scheduled well.
The cruise industry standby buffett, well that's another stroy. Thefood was bland,(cold cuts, skiced cheese, cold pizza) unimaginative, and in short supply. Silverware was almost non existant and the ice machine was a Coleman icechest and a scoop? On such an elegant ship compared to the dinning room, what a discrace! The midnight buffet was more of the same. We just quit partaking. The shopping consultant was wonderful and the bulk of the staff very helpfull. If you do not smoke, this was not the cruise for you. They smoked everywhere, even in the elevators! Oh yea, ab out the aniversary part. I mentioned to the Maitre' d , the passenger desk staff, and the room attendant that it was our aniversary. Never once was any recognition made to us in any way. Why then did they ask? All in all it was an OK cruise, but if you want a special experience that is worthy of the price you pay in money and time. Look elsewhere. We have sailed on other lines and had much better experiences. Costa has all the ingredients to be great, they just fell asleep in the home stretch!
There comes a time when the ship becomes a destination in itself, and that is what has happened with the Costa Atlantica for us. This is the fourth time we have sailed on this elegant ship; each time we marvel at her ornate beauty and the many distinctive areas in which passengers can enjoy the pure celebration of all things Italian: wonderful food, wines, art and of course music. We have done the Western Caribbean itinerary many times, so this cruise was booked for pure relaxation and pleasure on board.
This ship is dedicated to the Great Italian Federico Fellini, film director extraordinaire, and both decks and corridors are named and imbued with the character of the Maestro. There are a multitude of enlarged paparazzi style photographs of the '50s and 60's period of "La Dolce Vita" by Tazio Secchiaroli. The many actors of the times are forever preserved at the height of their beauty and youth, including the following: Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardiner, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, David Niven and of course Marcello Mastroianni, etc. All are shown strolling on the streets of Rome, which brings back our ownyouth, nostalgically renewed while we stroll around this magnificent ship: Ah, Marcello Mastroianni driving a Triumph sports car with Carlo Ponti holding on to his Fedora and seated next to him. Oh look, there is the movie star, sex goddess Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Fontana di Trevi. There is Fellini walking right up the middle of Via Veneto, as if he owns it, which he did in those days! Thanks to the Costa Atlantica, we are invigorated by our youthful memories of Rome and another more elegant and playful time.
EMBARKATION In Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the Costa Atlantica was berthed at Pier 21. Baggage handlers quickly took our luggage and we went directly to a separate Check-in Counter for Wheelchair and Suite passengers. There was a crew member to assist us: We arrived at 12:30pm and were on board by 1:00pm. Very efficient. In our Panoramic Suite we were greeted "Italian Style" with a bottle of Prosecco Spumante chilling, a huge assortment of fresh fruit ( Mangoes, grapes, kiwi, strawberries, etc.) and a wonderful floral arrangement of exotic flowers (orchids, antherium, pittsoporum, etc.) all coordinated by our terrific Butler Alex Cortes. We were off to the "Welcome Aboard" buffet, where cruisers recognize immediately the Italian influence on food and service. We have already published three reviews of the Costa Atlantica, so this review will concentrate on what "Cruising Italian Style" means. We met Captain Giuseppe Russo, an elegant gentleman, who wanted to converse with Vincent in their Neapolitan dialect. This took Vincent back 50 years to his youth and memories of Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno and the Amalfitan Coast. We also met Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whose knowledge of the Costa Atlantica goes back to construction days at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard in Finland. She was kind enough to share her insight with us.
SHIP The Costa Atlantica is first of six sister ships: Costa Mediterranea, and Carnival's Spirit, Pride, Legend and finally the Miracle. Having sailed on all but the latter, we feel that the Atlantica is the one whose interior is most true to Italian design. Here are many exquisite reproductions of fine Italian paintings by Titian, Botticelli, Raphael etc., original venetian glass work in passage ways, stairwells and elevators, and a multitude of artworks by a dozen or more contemporary artists, which make this ship a truly floating museum. However, the most characteristic place on board is the beautiful replica of the famed Caffe` Florian (original in Piazza San Marco, Venezia). This caffe` with its frescos, along with the Fellini memorabilia and the beautiful artwork throughout the ship, evoke Italian Style. Costa Atlantica also has a Pompeian mural recreated down to the original cracks in the fresco. The bird cage elevators in the atrium give passengers a wonderful view of this well executed reproduction of an ancient Pompeian painting as they ride.
The ship's statistics are a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide with a gross tonnage of 85,000. Eighty percent of her cabins are ocean view and most of these have private balconies. We refer you to our previous reviews for ship details and deck by deck descriptions.
CABIN Suite #6219 is quite familiar to us, since we have stayed in it before. Combinations of dark and light woods, brass, copper and granite all give the effect of a traditional Captain's quarters on a brigantine. It is large roomy, stylish and comfortable, all in warm shades of peach and coral. When entering on the left, there is a small ante room with a lighted vanity and two huge wardrobes; then there is the full bath with two sinks and a Jacuzzi tub with shower. The bathroom is done in marble, tile and granite. Next is a full granite bar, a private safe, TV, a huge dresser and two more wardrobes. There is also a king sized bed with night stands and reading lamps.
When entering on the right, there is a mirrored wall and a desk with mahogany pillars and ebony capitals and a refrigerator. There is a leather sofa bed, a comfortable arm chair and a large granite coffee table. The far wall has a floor to ceiling window and a door to the balcony which holds two teak chairs and a table. In addition, our wonderful steward Anna Agustine brought a chaise lounge for Vincent. The draperies and sheers were coordinated to the bed linens and there was even a blackout drape. Excellent.
FOOD & SERVICE Under the close eye of Ann Ryan, both food and service are great. We usually reserve a table for two near the dining room entrance and table #276 was just that. We still enjoyed conversing with the couple at the next table, who were curious about Vincent's wine selections and items on the menu. The lady was turned on to Prosciutto & Melone (Napoleon and Josephine's wedding breakfast) which she proceeded to order frequently.
Unique to the Costa Line is the placement of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each table. We were pleased with the quality of both ingredients and we used only these condiments for the entire cruise on the excellent fresh, crunchy rolls, bread sticks and salads. Food favorites are very personal; however, "when in Rome...," we suggest trying the Italian specialties, you will not regret it. Executive Chef Paolo Maspera runs a great galley. At Ms Ryan's suggestion, we tried the Pizzeria at 10pm where four different types of pizzas were piping hot. We noted that the crew was waiting for the hot pies to arrive, so we knew that changes had been made and the quality improved. We now can say the pizza is good on the Costa Atlantica.
Food & Service in the Tiziano Dining room and all around the ship are under the expert direction of Maitre D' Ciro Onorato, whom we had previously met on the Costa Mediterranea. He frequently visited us at our table to ascertain that everything was to our satisfaction and recommended us to his Assistant Maitre D' Riccardo for anything we may desire. We wish to thank them both for their courteous attention. Our waiter Randi and his assistant Dan were excellent. Both food preparation and presentation were wonderful. The menu and quality were superb. The only culinary lapse was in the soups. They were certainly not traditional and mostly bland. For example, French onion soup was not a clear broth but rather a potato thickened one, and certainly the clam chowder was not creamy. Several of our fellow passengers commented in a similar fashion. However, the rest of the menu was delicious, including appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. The wine list included a variety of good wines, moderately priced.
Guest Relations Manager Gisella Iasi is friendly and cordial even in the face of rudeness from a passenger: A female travel agent wanted to view occupied cabins at 10am and would not understand why both the request and the timing were inappropriate. All this occurred while we were being assisted by Gisella; so, we turned to the agent and politely told her that obviously she was in a bigger hurry than we were; thus, she should be served before us and we would return later and wait on line again. None of this made an impression on the rude woman. Gisella you deserve a medal for that one.
We know that service on board emanates from the Captain and the Hotel Director on down. Both Captain Russo and Hotel Director Ryan are detail people who exemplify the manners their crew emulate.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is an old acquaintance of ours from the Costa Romantica, 8 years ago. He has come up through the ranks and knows how to engage passengers and entertain them. His rendition of "Just a Gigolo" at the Thursday night Variety Show was a great opener. Each evening the crew using games got passengers to participate in programs all over the ship. MINGLE was the buzz word. There is musical entertainment all over the ship. Salone Corallo on Deck 1 had one of our favorite singers accompanied by the Nite Out Band. Tiziana Sinagra (Sicilian), who sang in both English and Italian ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?" "Only You," "New York, New York" and "O Sole Mio") has a powerful voice and a range that rivals the famous Yma Sumac.
The Caruso Theatre presented New Yorker John Ciotta an Italo American tenor, who brought the audience to its feet. There was also a "Classical Concert At Sea" featuring violin virtuoso Joan Badea of Romania accompanied by Mihail Zadic on piano. Their repertoire included "Roumanian Rhapsody" by Enesco and "Czardas" by Monti. They were brilliant playing very difficult pieces. They also performed at the Caffe` Florian.
There were games like Bingo, Bridge and Casino Tournaments, Trivia and Passport Visa Night. Any passenger who collected four stamps at the ethnic (Greece, France, Spain and Turkey) shows received $100 off their next Mediterranean Costa Cruise. The nice mix of activities is eclectic enough to satisfy all passengers. Even Ann K. celebrating her 90th birthday, while on her 100th Costa Cruise was having a good time!
PORTS OF CALL Since we have cruised the Western Caribbean and visited these ports many times, we did not leave the ship at all. During port days we enjoyed the ship by getting a hydromassage in the whirlpool early in the morning and then leisurely visiting the various interesting public areas. We did not have a rigid schedule, our priority was relaxation. And relaxed we were throughout this cruise! Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale Departure: 7:30pm
Day 2. Key West Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 1:00pm
Day 3. At Sea
Day 4. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 7:00pm
Day 5. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:30pm
Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:00pm
Day 7. At Sea
CONCLUSION This was a great cruise, almost a perfect one. This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and the fourth on the Atlantica, so we knew well what to expect, and everything met our expectation. The delicious Italian cuisine, the friendly and festive atmosphere, meeting again old acquaintances, Maitre D' Ciro and Cruise Director Max, and making new friends is truly "Cruising Italian Style." What more to expect? Not much! The Pizza on board has improved since our critical review of an earlier cruise on the Atlantica, and hopefully, when we'll return on a Costa ship, in a not too distant future, the soups will be better. We feel that Costa Management listens to passengers and tries to achieve the highest possible customer satisfaction. We did notice a large number of cruisers at the repeaters' party, where we met a ninety year old lady celebrating the 100th cruise on Costa, a telltale indication of satisfied customers. Happy Cruising Italian Style!
The cruise was around Italy in November 04 We flew from the UK and boarded in Venice. We had booked a suite so received preferential treatment and was in the first group to board. Everything went smoothly, a man came to our suite and introduced himself as our butler. We only saw him twice after that in the following 6 days, he said the reason was because we had the "don't disturb notice" hung on our door. He could have rang, there was a phone in the suite. The reason we displayed the don't disturb notice was because on 3 occasions members of the crew (including the butler) knocked and before we could get to the door to open it they had opened it themselves and walked in. We had to push a chair up behind the door to maintain some privacy.
My first problem arose when I went to the bar and asked for a draught beer, they don't have any. The only drink on draught was Heineken lager. All the bars throughout the ship were the same. I am not a lager drinker and only enjoy beer sothis really spoiled my holiday. The lager was expensive at 4.60 Euro, 60 was a service charge, you had no choice but to pay it. We received a notice saying that you were not allowed to bring alcoholic drinks on to the boat, if you did they would be taken from you and handed back at the end of the cruise. Was this a holiday or a disciplinary sentence ? Six Euro per person per day service charge was added to the final bill, you could object to this but surely the method should be open to you to "opt in to payment" rather than having to "opt out"
There were over 2000 passengers with less than 200 being English speaking. We found language to be a problem. Our cabin steward spoke broken English. We could not fully understand her and she could not fully understand us. This communication problem resulted in us missing the very important lifeboat emergency drill. There was only one television channel in English which repeated its-self every 15 minutes.
Food was readily available and the crew took pride in the various dishes on offer. Now I accept that Costa is an Italian cruise company but I didn't expect the food to be all of a Mediterranean/Italian theme. I am not a lover of this sort of food so I had a problem throughout the cruise. I would have loved some Indian, Chinese or even Brit food.
Now to the good points. The crew were very helpful, very polite and courteous. We were always met with a smile, this applied equally in the restaurant, bars and general public areas. The boat was spotlessly clean 10 out of 10 for the hard working cleaners. The cruiser was designed and fitted out with the most luxurious surroundings I have ever seen. It was like walking round a 5 star hotel. Also a mention must go to the entertainers who worked very hard to put on first class shows. The entertainment in the various bars was also of a very high standard. The general organisation and planning went well, which cant be easy when you have so many people on board.
Will I go on another Costa Cruise ? Come on Costa get some draught beer in your bars then maybe so.
The Fortuna had entered service less than a year earlier. Expensive furnishing with acres of marble, granite and photo murals. Glitzy. Staterooms, however, were large, had extensive storage, and lovely. Large verandahs wonderful.
Food and service were excellent. Staff did excellent job both in cabin and food service. Greatest weakness would be the stage shows. Not bad but so-so. Dance floor large and band good but few were dancing. Much less formal than most US based ships even on the one dress night. No need to pack a tie nor even a sports jacket. Am a non-smoker but did not find the smoking on board a problem. 5% passengers Americans. Mostly Europeans. English was the favored language, however. I have been on six cruises and would gladly go on this one again.
I'd rank it between NCL and Holland America in quality.
We have just returned from a week's cruise taking in the Baltic capitals. At first we were amazed at the glitzy splendour of the ship and the facilities that it appeared to offer. The friendliness and efficiency of the dining room and cabin stewards were also impressive. However, after suffering from sleep deprivation in a cabin below the late night disco we really didn't care about the quality of the food, service etc.
We were also disappointed that all drinks (including water)were charged in the restaurant and that 'service' was charged constantly even if we bought drinks at the bar. We also missed the option to relax in a peaceful 'observation lounge' such as provided on other ships. We would advise other prospective cruisers to try to establish before booking the nationality/language likely to predominate. Luckily, we have cruised happily with three other lines before. If this had been our first cruise, I'm sure it would have been our last.