Launched in 2003 featuring multiple bars, four swimming pools and berths for 2716 passengers it is a 105,000-ton mega-ship
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Tranquility; great food and service; not to be in a place where English is not the first language
Costa Magica, which debuted in November of 2004, has as its interior theme Italian holiday spots, with depictions of destinations like Portofino and the Italian Alps adorning the walls -- and provides some fascinating lessons in cultural diversity. The decor, overall, is more Carnival Cruise-like than some other Costa ships such as the Costa Atlantica, which has more classical Italian decor. The restaurants were especially overdone with modern glitz and overwhelming combinations of flashy colors and patterns. And how amusing it is to see Americans, Canadians and Brits doing their best to stay queued up tidily for the buffet, for instance, while exuberant Europeans go every which way around them.
We'll say it plainly: on a Costa ship you are an American in Europe. The company is expanding rapidly (undergoing a cruising renaissance in Europe similar to what the U.S. experienced years ago), so the staff can be surprisingly slow, and sometimes seemingly impolite, including the cabin stewards. You can always count on the bar staff to cheer you up, though.
In Europe, six Euros a day are added to your shipboard account as gratuities for the staff; in the Caribbean the rate will be $10 per day. Most people give an extra tip on the last night to their waiters, the wonderful maitre d's, and especially the hardworking stateroom staff. Costa is one of the few lines where kids pay half price of adult tips.
Forward at the top of the ship, the 4,600-square-ft. Saturnia Spa offers a Turkish bath, sauna, treatment rooms and beauty salon. In the large workout room, with new Technogym equipment, you work out while overlooking the bow. There are aerobics classes for all with no charge. Yoga, spinning, and Pilates are 11 Euros per class.
Each of the three pools on the Lido Deck has its own unique atmosphere. Though the forward pool is next to the big slide, it is usually the quietest since most guests in that area use the middle pool. The aft pool is behind the Bellagio Cafe, under a glass dome, and is usually filled with families, as is the central pool. There's a jogging track on top of the ship, and a full, regulation-sized tennis court with stadium seating. There are dance lessons by the pool every day with an aerobic beat to them, and dance lessons inside for salsa, merengue, waltz, tango, cha-cha and the like.
Depending on the time of year, the ship can be full of families. The bright and cheerful Squok Club kids' facility on Deck 12 is where children aged three to 12 years can play with their peers day and night while parents get time to themselves. The counselors are very lively and entertaining and speak about five different languages in order to communicate with the kids. The international atmosphere is a good way to open your youngster's eyes to different cultures around the world.
Youth counselors take the children to dinner two times during the cruise. On the other nights, though, the youth program doesn't starts its evening hours until 9 p.m., which is too late for many little ones. Throughout the cruise, children earn Squok (the club's mascot) dollars by attending and participating which can be redeemed for Costa logo wear at the end of the cruise.
There is a separate teen program for those 13 to 17 years old.
Casual during the day, smart casual in the evenings, with one formal night and one semi-formal night on a seven-day cruise.
On the Europe itineraries about 75 percent of the guests are Italian, with the rest being Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, British, Canadian and American. No one of any age should feel uncomfortable onboard. That percentage is pretty much reversed on winter cruises in North America.
Best For People Who Want
An Italian carnival atmosphere; Plenty of deck parties, loud music and a wide range of facilities, including a large children's facility and a water slide; All the options and activities that come with a megaship, including a large fitness area, plenty of balconies; lots of entertainment options.
Constructed at the historic Sestri Ponente shipyard that built the legendary Rex and the Andrea Doria, the gigantic Costa Magica is the sister ship to the Costa Fortuna finished one year earlier (which had the honor of serving as Costa Crociere's flagship for three years until the brand new, slightly larger, Costa Concordia took the title).
The facilities include two split-level restaurants, self-service buffet, a specialty restaurant, pizzeria, a theater rising through three decks, a two-story disco, 11 bars, an Internet cafe, casino, a health and beauty center, four swimming pools (including a children's splash pool) and no fewer than six Jacuzzis.
There are 5,652 vases, sculptures, original canvases and prints aboard, most by the Milan-based Brera Academy of Fine Art's students and professors. But it may take you a while to notice, given that Joe Farcus, who isn't exactly shy about demanding your attention, designed the ship's interior. The ship's layout can be a bit of a challenge.
The Grand Bar Salento, amidships on Deck 5, has the largest bar and dance floor at sea. Given the Europeans' predilection for rug-cutting, it could be twice its size and still be crowded whenever there's music in the air! The Deck 5 promenade offers high-end clothing, logo items, perfume, jewelry, duty-free, baubles, and gimcracks in stores surrounding the Italia Magica Atrium, itself a pleasant spot to sip a cocktail while watching the glass-enclosed elevators ascend.
The three-story Urbino Theatre, at the bow, featuring a Murano glass chandelier, presents nightly shows. Aft on Deck 5 are three lounges: the Capri Lounge, which evokes the Blue Grotto; the gloriously smoke-free Spoleto Lounge; and the delightful Capo Piano Bar, tucked into a corner at the aft end of the Sicily Casino, with banks of slot machines on the starboard side and tables on the port side.
Deck 4 has the Internet Center, with trendy Italian-designed chairs that are too low for the computer stations. The good news is that the internet is only 25 cents per hour, which is a bargain on any cruise ship these days. The Grado Disco, which roars at night yet will be deserted by day except when being used for Pilates sessions, is adjacent. There's also a small chapel and a quiet, attractive library on Deck 4.
In theory, smoking is allowed only in certain places and not at all in the main theatre or in any of the dining venues, including the enclosed aft pool on the Lido Deck, but the policy isn't strictly enforced.
That Italy has some of the world's greatest cuisine should not be taken to mean that Costa serves the world's best food. Indeed, menus appear to be designed to appeal mostly to an Italian audience, and should you order a selection from another continental derivation, you will probably end up thinking, "I should have gone Italian." You would suppose that they'd get pasta dishes right every time, but pasta depends upon fast service before it gets cold and rubbery. At the buffets, you will be presented with what Europeans are used to as "fast food" including beans for breakfast, and cheese, hard sausage and rolls for lunch.
But behold the exception, the alternative restaurant Club Magica where for around $23 you can not only savor a delicious meal, but also escape the clamor of the main dining room.
In the Caribbean, Costa has implemented 24-hour food service with extended breakfast, lunch and tea time hours, plus a Late Night Buffet from 1:30 to 6:30 a.m. Complimentary gourmet appetizers are available daily in Club Atlantica from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., and new entrees have been added to the menus of the specialty dining room, purportedly supervised by two of Italy's most renowned chefs.
Costa Magica's two main dining rooms, Costa Smerelda and Portofino, operate on a later European schedule for dinner (7 p.m. for the early seating and 9:15 p.m. for the second) and open seating for both breakfast and lunch. Costa Smerelda, aft, is bigger, with huge windows on three sides, including that overlooking the stern wake. The maitre d's try to seat non-Italian-speakers with others similarly afflicted. Stick, if you can, with the pasta and rice dishes, and don't expect much from your salad or dessert. The menu needs more variety -- many nights the choices in appetizers or main courses lacks excitement. People have been known to return their main courses due to lack of taste. The breads and pastas, though, are outstanding.
The Bellagio Buffet on the Lido Deck, aft, is surprisingly expansive, and the food's surprisingly good. A coffee, a robust, hey-wake-up, pal! European blend is available 24 hours, plus tea bags, hot chocolate packs and milk (hot in the morning). The self-serve ice-cream station has three flavors, available most of the day.
The buffet's limited hours cause some problems. Both the pizza line and tea-time start at 4 p.m., just as those who've been on shore excursions are coming back with low blood sugar, ravenous for a snack. The occasional melee results. Bellagio later becomes a "pizza trattoria" from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. The American selections in the buffet were not as good as the Mediterranean cuisine, which was top rate. The buffets need more variety, especially the desserts. The same fruit sheet cake was served for lunch and dinner daily on a recent Caribbean cruise.
High up on Deck 11, the quiet, elegant, 88-seat Vincenza Tavernetta Club offers cooked-to-order steaks and chops, personalized service, and a 23 Euro surcharge.
Room service breakfast is what might be termed expanded continental -- a choice of rolls, croissants, Danish pastries, cereals, juice, yogurt, and coffee, tea or hot chocolate, served by white-gloved attendants. There's no charge, but tipping is recommended. After breakfast, room service offers a grand total of three - count 'em! -- sandwiches (tuna, egg, and ham and cheese), for which you'll be charged two Euros.
Almost every public room offers entertainment, be it the pool band, solo vocalists, the classical duo in the atrium. or the pianist in the Capo lounge. The nightly offerings in the main venue consist of a lot of dancing, acrobatics and magic, none of which depend on you and the performer speaking the same language. The sail-away parties ("Ciao Ciao Barcelona," for example) are hugely enjoyable; whole families dance together without shame. There are lively art auctions, bingo, and games around the pools and in the lounges.
Costa shines with its themed nights, which are fun and creative. Italian night, Mediterranean night and Togo night are good, clean fun for all ages. Don't miss them! They really will make your cruise unique.
Carnival-designed ships have long been known for their spacious cabins; from the Destiny-class builds forward (Costa Magica is on a Destiny-class platform) cabins have been as comfortable as spacious. Of the 1,358 passenger cabins on Costa Magica, 843 are outsides, and 62 percent have verandahs. Standard rooms, both insides and outsides, have ample closet space, deep vanity/desk combos, mini-fridges, and leather seating areas. Baths are spacious, with a vanity and shower (suites have tubs, some higher-level ones whirlpool tubs). Outside cabins have a large single-pane window with no ugly bar down the middle.
Bath amenities are simply non-existent on the European cruises, but you do get a tall, sleek ice bucket filled in the morning and again at night for turndown. All cabins and suites have large televisions with programming in many languages, but while Italian gets four or five stations and French, German and Spanish three each, there is only BBC World for us English-speakers. Lighting and storage options are terrific in all of the standard cabins, with little bedside lamps, vanity lighting and a low-light Murano glass art piece affixed to the large mirror opposite the bed.
The beds and pillows can seem extremely uncomfortable and hard, however. Ask your room steward if he can provide something to make the mattress softer.
Verandah cabins are identical to the standard outsides, with the addition of a nice-sized balcony framed by Plexiglas. Instead of the usual sliding doors, these ships' open out, the result being constant noisy slamming of balcony doors at all hours.
Try to secure a cabin that is under other cabin space, rather than under public rooms or the Lido Deck area, as soundproofing is not very good.