Magica Reviews

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23 User Reviews of Magica Cruise Ship

Costa Magica
Publication Date: March 5, 2011

Costa Cruises Costa Magica Joseph Good, Costa Magica March 5, 2011 Western Mediterranean

My family and I took this cruise out of Civitavecchia (Rome). This was a very interesting and enjoyable week. I hope I can answer some questions about this cruise, since I was unable to find much of the necessary but trivial information on the Costa website or other cruise reviews.

Convenience Answers: 1. Yes there are 120 volt outlets in the bathrooms and on the vanities. 2. Contrary to any North American cruise I have ever been on people embark and disembark at almost every port. This has the beneficial effect of reducing the people in the terminals at the end of the cruise. Costa managed this very well. Typically the excursion passengers got off first, often by a different gangway. 3. It became easy to ignore any announcements not in English. There is no reason to expect English to be the first announcement, either- certainly don't be offended, enjoy the differences. 4. I have not been on a Carnival owned ship lately (Holland American was my last one) but the do-it-yourself credit card sign and sail registration is exceedingly

smart.

Most importantly if you are reading this review for an opinion of the experience, this is not the typical North American Cruise. What other reviewers have characterized as loud, bright, and pushy, we found typically Italian, and very tolerable. Yes, sometimes we Americans can be a bit judgmental; we ought to enjoy the difference in cultures. If you learn to either let the pushy people break into the line in front of you or push back, you can hold your own. Certainly not everyone is pushy and some Americans can be pushy too. Most of all don't get upset with different behavior. Yes there were more people smoking, but we didn't find it impossible or inconvenient to escape the smoke. Enjoy your fellow passengers- is much better to watch the other passengers enjoying themselves in the lounges and dance floor, and they do.

Otherwise the on-board activities were fairly typical, somewhat language specific. Watch for the "all area backstage tour", no longer done on US based cruise.. It may conflict with the day in Palermo excursions so plan for it.

The food was typical to worse cruise fare. My wife put it this way "usually I cannot decide between entrees, but it was not the case this time". The food was not as good as we have had on other cruises. This might be more pointed on this cruise since the food is likely to be compared to the food of Italy, which is not Italian cruise food. We ate lunch in many ports.

There are not any "sea days". Rather each day finds the ship visiting another port. This makes the cruise an educational experience. Most of these cities offer historic areas showing forts, cathedrals, streets and villages from hundreds of years of civilization and occupants. The excursions offered a variety of opportunities to employ professional guides or do it yourself site seeing. We recommend the bus trip to Monaco. This was very enjoyable, but not the only one we took, you should build your own experience. The cruise stops in Italy, Spain and France were a very good mix, showing many examples of western Mediterranean culture and history.

Costa markets the Civitavecchia port to North Americans. This is convenient for getting there over the "pond". I found a car service on the internet, that turned out to be reliable and used them from FCO to Rome and from Rome to the port. We arrived about 2:00 pm and had absolutely no waiting, how nice- It makes the "special boarding" lines and "clubs" unnecessary. Since the itinerary skips Tunis for now, the cruise never leaves the EU, which expedites all border formalities.

In short this was different kind of cruise, but wholly enjoyable. If Costa fails to measure up for your expectations it is too bad but be sure this experience is what you want. It is wrong to expect a North American style cruise from Costa, particularly the in the Mediterranean. It is a very interesting way to vacation and a very good alternative to the Caribbean.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 25, 2007

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Kristina Western Caribbean February 25, 2007

Background Info: I am 16 years old, and I cruised with my mother from February 25- March 4, 2007. This was our first time on Costa, but not our first cruise. It was my 7th, and her 8th. We have sailed on HAL Maasdam, Zuiderdam, & Noordam; CCL Victory & Triumph; and X Zenith. We live in upstate New York, and only booked this cruise 18 days in advance.

Embarkation: We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on the day of the cruise. We were supposed to arrive by 11am, but due to flight complications, we didnt get to the cruise pier until about 3pm. (Good thing it didnt set sail intil 7pm!) The luggage porters took our bags as soon as we stepped out of the taxi, and then we were off to go through security and check in. The line was surprisingly long, but moved quickly. We passed through security smoothly, and then waited some more to check in. From there, we got on the ship. We were onboard the ship within an hour, and were surprised at not receiving

our cards or having our photos for them taken! Since we arrived so late, we were able to go straight to our cabins and get settled in. Not having to carry around our suitcases was great!!

The Ship: The Magica was impecable. Everything was clean, she looked brand new. The layout is a little wonky, but you will get used to it. It was annoying not being able to walk from bow to stern on every deck, and we would always forget that. We loved the art work that is all over the ship, especially the panels in the stateroom hallways, and the large pictures in the stairwells. The lightbulb holders in the buffet area were very unique (arms and hands holding the lights).

Public Areas: There were 11 lounges and bars, and every night something exciting was happening. The Salento Grand Bar is the best, it is located right in the middle of deck 5, and is very open and has a nice dance floor. The Capri Lounge was great too, and the band that played in there was amazing. This is where kareoke took place. The Urbino theater is gorgeous...but make sure not to sit somplace where the poles would be blocking your view! The atrium is gorgeous...and the glass elevators are just too much fun (no matter how old you are!). The nightclub, Grado Disco, was tons of fun!! Popular music was played, and everyone was dancing and having a good time!

Activities: It would have been impossible to attend every single activity that was planned. Every day, there were dance and exercise classes by the midship pool. Also, many games like hula hoop competition, sexy legs, kens vs barbies, old macdonalds farm game, ect happened near this pool. Multiple trivia and quiz gatherings, as well as volleyball, ping pong, and basketball games occured daily. Even Italian lessons!! The activities staff was amazing, each one speaking at least 5 languages!! It is unbelievable how much energy they have, and we talked to some of them personally and they dont know how they do it! No matter how fun their jobs look, it is very socially demanding and hard; most of the time their smiles are false.

Pools: There were 2 main pools...both on deck 9, located aft and midship. There was a smaller pool located up on deck 10, next to the end of the waterslide. Also, a kiddie pool was up near the childrens room. The pool area is the most active, and where everyone is on sea days, and the line for the waterslide often went down the stairs! Watch out for little kids (in the deck 10 pool)...they had discovered that the plastic cups were great for throwing water at people. There were several hot tubs, all of which were wonderfuly hot and relaxing.

Service: Wonderful. The crew was amazing and very friendly (would say hi to us whenever they saw us, and remembered our names). I dont know how other people could say bad things about them!! They all spoke English very well (as it is a requirement for them if they come into contact with passengers), and were extremely accomodating to all the needs of the passengers.

Cabin: We were in cabin 7380, an inside on deck 7. It was the second one back from the aft elevators, and only 2 decks up to the buffet and 2 down to the casino and shops; no complaints at all about the location. There was plently of storage space for all of our belongings. There were 4 drawers in a dresser, 2 nightstands, and 4 closets (one with shelves). The bathroom was spacious, and there were 4 shelves above the sink (perfect size & location for beauty products). The shower was good, had a retractable clothes line going across which was handy, and a shampoo dispenser (smelled quite nice, but we always bring our own). There was one problem with the shower. It would overflow everytime i used it. The drain was very slow, and the ledge around the base was not high enough to contain all the water! There is a drain behind the toilet too, and a path around the perimeter of the floor for water to follow, so maybe this was supposed to happen?? I doubt it though. So dont leave your clothes on the floor! Another oddity about the cabin: the handles on the drawers and closets were leather-like, and hard to get ahold of, resulting in the opening of them veryyy difficult. We often left everything slightly open to avoid this issue. The lighting was great (fixtures were unique and modern), and there were plenty of mirrors everywhere. There was a minifridge, and a safe too. The artwork was cute, and the beds werent that bad. Maybe because we were so tired when we retired to sleep? It doesnt matter. (We were happy to be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and NOT in the -10 weather in NY.) The sheets and towels were a little rough for our liking, but that didnt ruin our cruise or anything. (The pool towels that are left in your room for shore excursions are wonderful!!)

Food and Dining: Once again, I can not believe that people have complained about the food!!! It is delicious!!! We were disappointed at no sushi, but dont worry...they made up for it in their pasta dishes!! In the buffet, the food was great!! Always pizza, pasta, salad, a meat or 2 of some sort, fresh fruit, vegetables, all the regular cruise fare. The only area they lacked in was dessert. The selection was very limited, and always cold (pie is supposed to be warm!) The ice cream made up for it though, having self-serve machines located all around deck 9. There were specialty ice creams available at the bars, but we thought that it was rediculous to pay for ice cream on a cruise so we never got any. The food in the buffet is just about the same as in the dining rooms. We went to dinner the first couple of nights, but each night the service got slower and slower!! Originally, we were assigned the early seating, but we were able to easily change that to the late seating (allows much more time to get ready after being onshore all day). On the second formal night, instead of lobster, there was king crab legs. Personally, I prefered this!! It was delicious!!

Breakfast: offered in the dining room (Smeralda) from 7:30-9:30. We never went to this. A buffet was set up from 7:30-11am. The one by the back pool was always the least crowded, and had the same exact things as inside the Bellagio. There were pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels, hash, and fresh fruit available.

Lunch: offered in the dining room (Portofino) from 12-1:30pm. We also never went to this. The buffet was available from 12-2:30 in the Bellagio, and the grill was open from 11am-6pm. Dinner: There is 2 different seatings in each restaurant. Costa Smeralda: 5:45 & 8:30 Restaurant Portofino: 5:30 & 8:15

Also, a buffet is set up from 7:30-9:30 in the Bellagio, and a specialty restaurant from 6:30-9:30pm (never went to it). ONE OF OUR FAVORITES: from 9:30pm-1:30am, a pizzaria was set up in the Bellagio. We did not discover this until near the end of the cruise, and the pizza here is THE BEST. Each night there were about 5 different types of pizza offered, so Im sure you would be able to find something you liked. They would make you your own pizza, about a foot in diameter. Also, every night there was a midnight buffet, and the theme differed from night to night. Furthermore, there was tea time. One was in the Spoleto Lounge, Deck 5, from 3:45-4:45pm,where there was a WIDE variety of tea to choose from. The other was in the Bellagio and had mini sandwiches and desserts (4-5pm).

Childrens Program: I participated in the teen program (13-18 years old), and it was wonderful!! The two teen directors, Marco and Sabryna, were fabulous!! There were a couple activities scheduled daily, and they were tons of fun! The prizes were great too. I saw the littler kids around the ship sometimes, participating in themed dinners and treasure hunts, and they all had a smile on their faces (and often face paint too!!)

.

Entertainment: The one show I actually went to, Myth Trio in Circus of the Seas, was FANTASTIC. I actually went to both seatings. It was unbelieveable!! All of the other shows were basically the same as on every cruise...a special singer one night, a Broadway-type show, a magician, ect...

Theme Nights: Almost every night had its own theme. It was so much fun, this is part of the reason why Costa is amazing. Italian Night: Supposed to wear red, white, or green. There were several stations all around deck 5, such as rose making, mask making, face painting, and dance classes.

Mediterannean Night: You were able to visit 4 different countries this night. France..and there was a Can Can show (hilarious!!!!), and Moulin Rouge-type singing. Greece...a fun dance..OMPA! Spain..dancing the Paso Doble. Egypt and Turkey....crazy belly dancing!! (also HILARIOUS). Also followed by a midnight buffet with food from each country in each section. DO NOT MISS THIS!!

Roman (Toga) Night: This is one thing Costa is known for. Everyone is supposed to get dressed up in a toga (and accessories!) and spend the night in it! This is the Guest Talent Show and Crew Show night too, and happened on the last night of the cruise. Maybe only about 50% of the pax actually wore a toga, but the ones who didnt missed out on all the fun!

Tropical Night: Tropical wear, with music by the calypso band and dancing by the pool! Dances such as the YMCA, hot hot hot, and limbo. Tons of fun!!

Other Passengers: About 80% of the passengers were European. Being onboard this ship was like being in a foreign country. Most of the other pax were Italian and French. None of them were rude at all, they were all lovely to converse with (give that you can speak their language/interpret their English). A couple were pushy and cut in line, but hey, Americans do that too!!! Im sure you would find someone on any other cruise line who would cut infront of you (we found it on HAL!).

Debarkation: There was the option of early self-debarkation. We opted not to do this, since you would have to carry all your own luggage offboard, and 2 woman pack a lot!! They hand out colored tags, depending on your cabin and status, and you get assigned a time to get off the ship. They dont even check if you leave in the right time (we got off earlier than assigned). There was one discression with a passenger and his/her card, apparantly they tried to get off without paying for their onboard purchases. That did hold up the line, but was resolved quickly. After we got off the ship, was had to go through customs. There were 2 different lines, one for US passengers and one for Foreign. They both moved at about the same rate.

Overall, we had a wonderful experience and would cruise Costa again in a hearbeat!! We are trying to plan to go on the Fortuna this winter. (The Magica wont be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Too bad. This ship is amazing!)

Feel free to PM me with questions, or if you want to see daily programs, menus, or photos!!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 3, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ed Western Caribbean December 3, 2006

We sailed on the Magica Dec. 3rd cruise. As a back ground we are in our 50s and been on about 28 cruises dating back to the late 70s. I will rate my opinions from A to F.

Embarkation was about normal 35 minutes from drop off till we reached our cabin. Rating B.

Our cabin was a Cat 10 balcony, located on deck 10, the room was clean and spacious, the balcony was standard size. Location on deck 10 was perfect, Rating A. Our bags arrived about 2 hours later, as fast as any ship we’ve sailed A+.

Food. As with most cruises we’ve sailed for the past 6 years, Dining food has been on the decline, seems that cruise lines want passengers to use the optional extra charge dining options for good dining experiences. I would rate Costa about the same as Carnival and a step below Princess and two steps below Celebrity. The pastas were very good and 3 of the entrees were very good all others were below average, Service was slow and not at all personal, Restaurant

Rating C-.

Buffet experience about the same, choices limited and food average, Rating C-.

Our cabin steward was as good as we’ve had, Rating A+

Ship appearance, the Magica was as clean as any we’ve sailed. Never saw trash accumulating always picked up and the crew constantly shining and cleaning. Rating A+

Entertainment. The shows had a European flair. We enjoyed all of them. There was one lead female singer that was outstanding. All the entertainers seemed to enjoy their work. Rating B+.

Casino, typical at sea casino, I love Let it Ride and they didn’t have it. Rating C.

Pools. The pools were Ok nothing special, Rating C+. The Hot Tubs should be called luke warm tubs, Rating D. Deck Loungers were plentiful and the decks were well setup. Rating B+.

Captain was very nice and made himself visible, Rating A-

Cruise Director, good singer, seemed friendly and happy with his job. Rating B+

Music, there was always dance music available, the bands seemed to enjoy their work. Rating B.

Ports of Call. Typical Caribbean, except Grand Turk which was a great port, loved the beach and the pool. Rating A-.

Bar service seemed very good, they seemed to like talking with passengers. Rating B+.

Overall cruise experience B-, with a little tweaking Costa could be very good, but restaurant, buffets and hot tubs need work.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 3, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Georges T. Western Caribbean December 3, 2006

Fabulous 7-days cruise. Everything was top notch, from service, courtesy, food, entertainment, cleanliness, etc. The cruise by far exceeded our expectations, for the money we paid for. Meals served on board were excellent in terms of quality and variety. Being an italian cruise line, there was always a good choice of italian specialities.

Entertainment was very good: plenty of activities you have to choose from, and in some cases there was a dilema as you cannot participate due to overlap.

The excursions offered on the 4 docked ports (Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turk Islands) were somehow expensive, so we did not buy any of them. This aspect could be improved to encourage people to participate more. Personal rating : 9 (out of 10). We strongly recommend this ship to all new starters (this was our first experience in crusing).

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: November 26, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Dr. J.A. Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006

Well, this was my fifth cruise in as many years, first on Costa line. What a disappointment!

Embarkation: the embarkation process took over two hours, but that was most likely the responsibility of the port of Ft. Lauderdale. I actually saw people feel ill while standing in the long lines.

The ship: To put it mildly, the artwork was not aesthetically pleasing. We shared a lot of laughs poking fun at the green arms sticking out everywhere on the Lido deck, of the 1930's and 1940's "porn" as a wallpaper in the hallways, of the utterly ugly chandeliers, of shabby and somewhat worn out armchairs with only one sidearm (on purpose), etc… I can not understand how the people who are exposed to the beauty of Italy can go on this ship without gagging.

Cabin: We shared a Grand Suite - the biggest cabin there is on this ship. It came with fresh fruit and a bottle of champagne. It was adequate in size, however the beds were not very comfortable, the sheets were rough and the pillows flat. I heard about

the "Costa cutting" breath mint on the pillow, but was hoping that in the Grand Suite we may get a chocolate, alas, it was still a free sample package of breath mints. Wow! There was a picture on the wall that was so horrendous that we covered it with a napkin to avoid looking at it. The bathroom was large and well appointed (and with a bidet!), but there was a rusted crack in the wall above the bathtub and you had to ask for a shower cap. I did point the crack out to the butler (I think he has seen it many times before) and I never asked for a shower cap because when I thought of it, it was always too late (when I was about to get into the shower).

Service: I can not say anything negative about the individual people that work on the ship. The butler, the maid, the maitre'D were all accommodating, sweet and very helpful. Especially given that they had limited resources of the "Costa cutting". The waiters, busboys and bar personnel seemed to have been very short staffed and stretched thin. I had to practically beg for water in the dining room. We had to wait for 45 minutes at least once to be served dinner. General staff attitude was not particularly friendly. There were a lot of unsmiling faces, dare I say annoyed?

Food: Uninspired, to say the least and of poor variety. But I guess when you have to wait for 45 minutes you don't complain when you get it.

Ports: Now, I am not one to write reviews and complain, but I have got to mention this: We felt unsafe in La Romana, Dominican Republic. We truly felt threatened when we walked the less then a mile trip into town. There were no shops to talk of, the people seemed unfriendly. I think we would have been robbed if not worse, if not for the cop who just happen to appear in front of us. We could not wait to turn around, grab a taxi and get back to the ship. What I think is wrong on the part of Costa, is that no one warned us about it. Once you left the ship, you are on your own. Ciao!!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: November 26, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Bud Lockwood Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006

My wife, Ginny, and I sailed on the Costa Magica to what Costa called the "new Eastern Caribbean". The itinerary included the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk as well as San Juan and St. Thomas. The ship, staff, itinerary, accommodations, food, and entertainment were all very good.

Sailing on Costa is a unique experience principally because of its Italian focus which includes the staff, food, decorations, and entertainment. It is apparently a favored cruise line for Europeans which provides many opportunities to meet more than a normal number of passengers from Europe. The line caters to these people by making announcements in five languages.

Pricing is a potential Costa advantage. Their Caribbean prices are very competitive. We were initially tempted by Costa pricing and returned because of our positive cruising experience.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: We arrived at the Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) terminal at 11:40 a.m. and were greeted by very long lines, apparently caused by federal ship inspections. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get on board. Getting off was easy. Our color was called 10 minutes early and we off and in

the car in 20 minutes.

Ship: The Magica is a large (105,000 tons) and new (2004) ship. It has the amenities one expects from that type ship. In Costa fashion it is decorated very colorfully as well as tastefully. The staff also maintains the ship in great condition.

Food: Costa adds one course, a pasta dish, to its lunch and dinner menus. The pasta selection is something we look forward to. The restaurant portion sizes seemed bigger than we were accustomed to on other ships so we found ourselves skipping a couple of dinner courses each meal. They had a nice selection of main courses including lobster prepared in a special way that was excellent.

Decorations: Costa has Italian themed décor that is special. The colors are not subtle! The art work and photographs make touring the ship fun. Other reviewers have described these in much better detail than I can.

Entertainment: Costa has traditional as well as unique entertainment and entertainment themes. Unique entertainment and themes include one night when they suggest dressing in Italian colors. Another they suggest wearing a toga which they provide complete with tying instructions. They have a Mediterranean night where guests are encouraged to visit several lounges, get special Costa provided cards signed at the lounges to get a discount on a future cruise. They also had some excellent musicians in the lounges and atrium.

Ports: The Grand Turk port was new to us. Grand Turk is a relatively small island that has been developed to be close to the equivalent of other cruise line's private islands although it has a brand new shopping/restaurant/bar complex at the end of the pier. Cruise lines other than Costa visit Grand Turk. The Dominican Republic stop was at La Romana which provides access to Altos de Chavon, a 17th century replica village built in the 1970's. La Romana is a very small port, maybe better described as an inlet because the ship docks barely out of the sea. We took a boat ride on the Chavon River and visited the replica village. The rides to these sites were interesting because the vegetation along the way was beautiful, obviously carefully groomed and cared for as part of the tourist sites. We were impressed.

St. Thomas was a third stop. We visited the park called Coral World which was a pleasant surprise. It included several ways to see fish in their natural habitat as well as aquariums. Good place for getting shark photos.

We also visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, but only for an evening and night life stop.

Conclusion: Costa pricing made it easy to give them a try and the cruising experience is enough different to make them a unique experience well worth return visits. Liking Italian food, art and customs is probably a prerequisite to having an enjoyable cruise.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: November 26, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ralph Eastern Caribbean November 26, 2006

This was the eighth cruise that my wife and I have taken. We have cruised previously with Carnival, RCI and NCL. We were looking forward to the “European touch” that this ship was touted to have. I don't think that we are picky cruisers and certainly don't expect perfection but quickly found out that we were in for an interesting week.

Embarkation: We arrived at the port in Ft. Lauderdale around 12:30 and found ourselves in a 1½ hour line waiting to submit our completed documents. Then onto another waiting area before lining up to go through the obligatory picture taking session. We got to our locked cabin around 2:30 (all the other cabins had a door key in the locks). So up to the "Guest Services" desk to wait in line to get a key to open the door. Unfortunately there were several elderly cruise passengers who insisted on carrying on lengthy conversations with the very busy staff. One half hour or so later I was on my way back down to open our door.

The Cabin: Upon entering the cabin, we immediately noticed that it was fairly warm which we attributed to the thermostat being turned halfway between warm and cold. We adjusted it to the coldest setting and surveyed the cabin. It was a typical "Carnival type" cabin but not quite as large. The beds were already pushed together and made up. The bathroom was fair in size but there was not the usual basket of conditioners, mints, personal products that we were used to on the other lines. One other thing that was missing from the cabin was the preordered "anniversary package" that was supposed to be delivered on the day of embarkation. I attributed it to the ship being full and the staff being busy so we decided to wait to give them a chance to deliver it. Our baggage arrived within two hours which I thought was excellent. We returned that evening to change into our dinner clothes only to find that the temperature in the cabin was no better than when we boarded. Long story short .. After seven complaints to "Guest Services" in person, over the phone and three visits from the engineering staff over the course of three days there was a slight improvement to the room temperature. However if we left the lights and TV on for an extended period the temperature increased to the point of being uncomfortable again. At this point we gave up on getting the issue resolved and worked around it. The Ship: Overall the ship was very impressive. It took a few days to get used to the "use one deck to traverse the ship" and then go up or down decks to get where you want to be. The Dining: We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet throughout the week. The food at breakfast was fair. We were glad to see that the bacon was fully cooked and the scrambled eggs were cooked solid and not soupy. All the other regular fare was there including many types of breads and cheeses. Lunch for the most part was poor. The foods were bland and tasteless. I tried the burgers at the grill on several days and was very disappointed in their lack of taste. We had dinner in the Smeralda restaurant during the second seating. We sat at a table for eight and ended up with five other pleasant cruisers. The food in general was fair. There were more items that we did not like than we liked. The clam chowder was inedible, the lobster was mushy and the steaks were tough to mention a few. The breads were good though cold and hard, the appetizers were generally good and there was usually a desert that was very tasty.

Ports: Excursions are getting more and more expensive and Costa is no different.

San Juan – since we didn't arrive until 5PM we didn't book anything here. We decided to walk off the ship and visit a few shops in the immediate area close to the dock.

St. Thomas - took the "Skyline Drive and Meagans Bay Beach" tour here. The tour was fine but we were very surprised to find that the time at Meagans Bay was extended to two hours instead of the one that the paperwork indicated. We hadn't worn swim suits since the time was supposed to be so short. The other surprise was that we were expected to "rent" beach chairs at $11.00 each (includes $5.00 returnable deposit) as they weren't included in the $43.00 pp cost for the tour. Other cruise lines in port had chairs already set up and reserved for their tours.

La Romana – took the "Natural Wonders of the Dominican Republic" tour here. I highly recommend this one even though the cost was $79.00 pp. After a speedboat ride to a protected area you transferred to a double dugout canoe for a ride through the mangroves. Refreshments were served during a swimming stop at a shallow area offshore that was only waist-deep. The guide was excellent and provided a fascinating tour that we have ranked close to the top of our list for favorite tours.

Grand Turk – new port that only opened to cruise ships in early 2006. Took the "Island Bus Loop (Guana)" here which provided free admission to the lighthouse and prison and allowed a hop on hop off feature. The problem is that there are only three stops on the loop and the driver advised against the first one as there is nothing there to see yet. Cost of this one was $44.00 pp. Rather expensive for the two attractions which have a regular admission price of around $7.00 each. We thought ourselves lucky to be able to see this wonderful island prior to the significant development that is sure to come.

Debarkation: We received our colored debarkation tags on the last night and set our luggage out before the 1AM deadline. There were three different areas on ship set up to hold all the different color combinations which worked out fine. Once again the times posted for debarkation were very close to when they were actually called. There was a significant que waiting to process through customs once inside the terminal which we have never had before. We quickly found our bags and made our way outside to our transportation. Overall this was the most efficient, quickest and painless debarkation of any cruise yet.

Overall: Things always started on time! That was especially nice since most other cruises that we have taken weren't punctual at all. There were always deck chairs available and we didn't see many "chair hogs" leaving items to claim them. There were a few folks saving seats in the theater but not too many. There was ample room for everyone and the view was unobstructed for the majority of the seats. The shops had many different items from the other cruise lines but the prices were quite high. Photography was kept to a minimum onboard the ship which was nice but we were surprised to see that there weren't any photographs being made during debarkation at each port. The casino (the slots) took our money just as quickly as any other ship with few payouts.

It"s very doubtful that we will cruise on this ship again.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 5, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Sherri Betz Eastern Caribbean March 5, 2006

First of all, we are veteran cruisers. As a former marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company, I have booked group cruises for 200+ people as part of our sales incentive programs. I have also cruised for pleasure with my family on several lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess.

My husband and I decided to try a Costa cruise for our vacation March 5-12 aboard the Magica because of its Italian flair, its reputed reputation for being among the best lines, and its port of embarkation (Ft. Lauderdale). We were so looking forward to another wonderful cruise experience.

Our Costa cruise experience was extremely disappointing from the moment of arrival at the port to disembarkation. By day three, I was in tears with frustration from dealing with an unresponsive and, many times, outwardly rude crew and poor service.

Embarkation at the port was extremely disorganized with an unreasonable delay in boarding the ship. I have never experienced such a lengthy delay in all my times cruising. It took us well over two hours to board, only to find luggage thrown in

a huge, unorganized pile halfway up to the ceiling by the central elevators. Fortunately, there was not an emergency or fire, because passengers would not have been able to make their way around the luggage.

After dinner that night, we still did not have two of our suitcases, so we checked with Guest Services. I had been in my traveling clothes since 4 am that morning and it was now past 9 pm. Guest Services told us to wait for it to show up, and told us letters were sent to all cabins asking passengers to report luggage that was not theirs. Our cabins had been reassigned, so we repeatedly asked Guest Services to check our previously assigned cabin for misdelivered luggage. We were told they could not enter as it was occupied.

Only after our insistence did Guest Services have a steward open the cabin that we suspected our bags were in. Sure enough, there was our luggage sitting on a bed that the steward had already turned down. There was no evidence that the cabin was occupied, and obviously no one to read the letter concerning misdelivered luggage. No apologies, no free drinks, nothing. Oops. Too bad.

Overall, the crew seemed very unhappy; no smiles, few greetings. In fact, I can't recall having any conversation with any of the crew. The pool crew was very unhelpful in helping us find towel or lounges. The dining staff's only function seemed to be clearing tables because when we asked for a clean spoon to stir our tea, the crew would simply point to another area for us to go and fetch whatever it was we needed.

Here's another example of poor service. In the casino one night, my wallet fell out of my purse and I immediately went to the casino cashier to report this. The cashier, who had a long line of customers, simply looked up and said, "You want me to help you? Now?" I could not believe my ears. Of course I needed help, now! I had more than $400 cash in that wallet for the casino. No one from security was called to help, and my husband and I simply had to search the floors to find where it would have dropped. Thank God, we found my wallet on the floor with the money still there. But it was no thanks to Costa's unhelpful staff.

While our cabin accommodations were fine, we found there was no complimentary shampoo, conditioner, razor or other personal items. Even 3 star hotels provide these modest effects. No chocolates on our pillow, except for one night, and then after that we received Lifesavers. Not exactly top shelf. We also found the towels to be excessively rough and scratchy - very hard on the sunburn. So we asked our steward to bring us soft towels and never got them. Here in America have something called fabric softener. I suggest Costa use it on their linens for the comfort of their guests.

The food was mediocre at best and clearly catered to European tastes. The buffet's "salad bar" often consisted of tomato wedges, a big bowl of olives, onions and lettuce wedges. There was no grilled seafood to my knowledge, and fresh tuna was never served. Many of the entrees were batter dipped and fried. Even the desserts at the Midnight Dessert Buffet were disappointing. They looked scrumptious, but didn't have much taste.

Another problem was getting good port information. While we've been to many Caribbean ports, some were new to us - such as the Dominican Republic -- but useful information was hard to find. When we arrived in the Dominican Republic at 7 pm, we decided to venture into port to see the city and have dinner. No one advised us that it was not safe for tourists to go into town in the evening at this port. We only learned this from the waiter at the local Shish Kabob restaurant after we had paid a taxi $20 to drive us one way into town to see the port. Thankfully, the waiter spoke English and arranged for a "safe" driver to take us back to the ship.

The itinerary also didn't allow for adequate time to experience the ports. In both San Juan and Nassau, we had only a few hours in port before we sailed. Costa needs to alter its Eastern Caribbean itinerary to give passengers more time in these wonderful ports. In Nassau, for example, we were extremely rushed to visit Atlantis and walk the Straw Market.

During the entire week, there was a putrid smell of sewage or garbage on several floors near the mid-elevators. We overheard many passengers making the same comment.

All night long, we heard banging the floor above us. Apparently our cabin (#2391) was directly below the kitchen or laundry room. Needless to say, all this noise did not allow us a restful night's sleep.

Another very irritable thing about the ship was its passengers. The majority were very loud, pushy Europeans who don't know common courtesy, "sorry" or "excuse me" (apparently even in Italian they don't know these words!) We would be trying to relax on the deck and a whole swarm of them would gather around our lounges and burst into loud conversation. Talk about fraying the nerves day after day. Don't care if I ever hear another lick of Italian in my life. Kids were playing in the casino, people smoked wherever they wanted, and I actually had crew and passengers push me out of their way when we were in a crowded area! And they say Americans are rude, go figure.

Finally - and this is a very small thing - but on other cruises we've had the opportunity to purchase beautiful glassware with the purchase of cocktails of the day. I acquired a set of unique martini and shot glasses while aboard a Princess cruise last year, and had hoped to do so again this year aboard Costa. All that was offered were plastic souvenir cups with daily drink specials.

Look, I know that Costa is new to sailing the Caribbean and is very eager to capture a share of the American cruise market there. But this will never happen if Costa doesn't address the basics of customer service.

American passengers will not tolerate poor service, and negative experiences about Costa shared with others will jeopardize Costa's opportunity to earn new and repeat cruisers. Americans expect a high level of service from a cheerful and helpful crew when aboard a luxury cruise ship. Although the ship itself was stunningly beautiful and clean, there were so many other issues that we did not have a pleasurable experience and are highly unlikely to ever cruise Costa again. We did fill out our questionnaires, but in all sincerity, we are doubtful our specific concerns will ever be addressed.

In sum, it was by far the worst cruise experience we ever have had. I've been on much smaller ships (Sovereign of the Seas-RCCL) puttering around the Western Caribbean that were far more enjoyable simply because of the cheerful staff and excellent service. Chio, Costa! Never again.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 19, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Lance Cohen Eastern Caribbean February 19, 2006

On the plus side, the Costa Magica is a beautifully appointed ship. The Veranda cabins are adequate with sufficient closet and draw space. That being said, the amenities in the cabins are less than you would expect at a Days Inn. We were given a sliver of soap for a 7 day cruise, there was no shampoo although the shower had a bath gel dispenser, and the turndown service did not include a chocolate or a truffle - it was a lifesaver mint.

The kitchen can best be described as hit or miss. The service in the main dining room was lackluster and so poor that after the initial on-board dinner, my wife and I did not return. We ate all other meals either in the specialty restaurant, Vincenza, or in Port.

This cruise was our first experience with Costa. We have been on over 20 cruises from luxury lines such as Silver Seas and Radisson to mass marketed cruise lines such as Princess and Norweigan. We do not believe that you receive value for your dollar with Costa. On the

other hand, if you are looking for a stock to invest in, we recommend Carnival, because Costa leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to make money while at the same offering just the bare minimum to its passengers unless they are willing to pay extra.
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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 5, 2006

Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Ron Bos Eastern Caribbean February 5, 2006

This cruise overall was very good. Everything about the ship was good to excellent. The meals were excellent, the staff friendly and there was always something to see or do.

You have to go with the mind-set that the ship is a floating resort, not just a vehicle to get you to island destinations. Security is very tight on these ships. You need to have your passport and ship ID card every time you get on or off. They'll take a credit card number when you first board, then give you a ship ID card so everything you buy on the ship goes on the card. As with a credit card, they give you a receipt for everything you buy and have you sign their copy. There are no cash or credit card transactions on the ship. You can tip in cash if you think someone's service was exceptional but you don't have to. Ours was supposedly included in the fare.

We flew in to Miami and were bused to Ft. Lauderdale. When we arrived at the ship terminal, everybody

lined up in a warehouse-type building. The line was very long but we went through very quickly. They are only checking passports and ID at this stop. Our ship ID card was in the next room, along with all the information you needed to know about the ship, like meal seating times and table numbers, etc .

There is a mandatory lifeboat drill on all cruises, and ours was on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. You have to meet at a specified spot on a lower deck with your life jacket on. The life jackets are in all the cabins. We were on Deck 10, so we had to go to zero deck without using the elevators. It goes smoothly and is over in about 15 minutes.

Getting on or off the ship is time consuming because everyone has to have their ID card swiped by security at the exit and you have to show your passport. It's the same thing when you get back on. My only complaint is that at every port we visited, there were at least six other ships at the dock, each with two to three thousand passengers. That makes for a very crowded town, with 10-15 thousand tourists converging on the same place. All the ships arrive early in the morning and leave by 6 p.m. the same day.

The excursions were OK but not exceptional other than the dolphin swim, but that was very expensive. They are well organized, though; everyone who signs up gets a colored sticker with a number corresponding to the excursion, and is told to meet in a specific spot on the ship before the excursion. When everyone was there, the excursion guide led everyone to the waiting buses.

Entertainment

The ship had something going in the theater all the time. There were Las Vegas-type shows with lots of glitz. They had a newlywed game on stage one night with some of the passengers as contestants. It was hysterical because they take one couple married less than a year, one with five years, one with 10 years, and one with more than 20. They videotape the whole thing and broadcast it over and over again on the in-cabin TVs.

There was also something going on at the central pool area all day as well (bingo games, etc.). It was always packed there, and it is designed like a theater with the lounge chairs on different levels for people to watch the show as they sunbathed.

Because the ship is always moving unless it's in port, it is very windy on the top outside decks. You can feel the ship moving from side to side sometimes but you get used to it. At night when you are lying in bed you can feel the ship moving with the waves but it rocks you to sleep. We never had any problem with motion sickness, but your legs feel spongy when you go ashore sometimes, since you have been adjusting to the ship's movements when you are on board.

Dining

Meals are at assigned tables of two, four, six or eight. You have a choice of what time and size of table you prefer, but even then, if you get seated with someone you can't stand, you can ask to be changed. There were two mealtimes, 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. We took the later one. Food is available all day in the cafeterias, and at lunch they have a huge variety of things. The food was excellent.

We had two formal dinners, a toga night, and a Caribbean night at the sit-down dinners. The staff members were great, and they did lots of dressing up themselves for the themes; they also danced, sang and organized conga lines through the restaurant.

There is always someone around taking pictures of the passengers, which they of course sell to you. Just smile and let them take pictures. It's a waste of time to argue with them and you don't have to buy anything.

On the last day you have to have your luggage outside your cabin door by 1 a.m. They pick it up and leave forms and information in your room as to where you will meet in the morning to disembark. They gave us colored labels to put on the luggage and that determined where you went in the morning to meet. Ours was green and we assembled in one of the lounges. The disembarkation is staggered, with people who have early flights getting off first. Disembarkation was very smooth. During the last night they drop off an itemized list of all the things you bought on board and charged to your ship ID card. If you don't dispute the charges, you don't have to do anything and can just leave it on your credit card. If you want to dispute a charge, or want to pay cash, you have to go to the front desk by 6 a.m. (good luck!).

Once you get off the ship, you go into another big warehouse-type building where all the luggage is waiting, separated into different bunches by the colored tags. Ours was easy to find.

We were bused back to Miami Airport and after some delays at the check in, the plane home left on time.

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