Mediterranea Reviews

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from 39 reviews

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39 User Reviews of Mediterranea Cruise Ship

Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 26, 2006

This cruise was our 14th cruise in 15 years and one of our best. For the value the cabins with balconies are outstanding. Overall decor of the ship,layout and design was very good. The food was also very good. LOts of Itialian and pasta dishes but still very good quality. Service was also very good and overall great experience with the staff. For the value received for expense paid I would put this criuse in our top 3 and highely receommend. We went on the eastern caribbean trip to Tortola ,Virgin Gorda. Best destination in the caribbean. Forget the negative reviews, if you pay less than $1,000 per person for week long cruise this once is hard to beat for value received.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 26, 2006

Just got home from fabulous week!

I'll try and keep this brief, to please the editors of this fine cruise review on-line periodical. This was our 5th or 6th cruise and the first on Costa. After reading some of the reviews I was a bit hesitant, but any concerns were completely unfounded. First off, embarcation was fine. We flew down on Sunday, the day of departure, and had no problems.

Folks were extremely polite and efficient. We were aboard in about 20 minutes.

We expected an extremely "gaudy" ship, but were pleasantly surprised. She was very well layed out and beautiful. Our cabin, a balcony on deck 7 was as nice as on any ship we have been on ( which includes Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity).

The food, with one exception, was impeccable. The one exception was resolved by the entire staff ensuring that everything was perfect for the remainder of the cruise). We are New Yorkers and are pretty finicky about food, so when we say the food was very good, we mean it!

The entire staff, from our cabin staff, to dining room staff, bar staff, and casino personnel (including both Gabriella's)

were warm, wonderful, and professional).

Our ports, St. Martin, Tortola, and Nassau were good, but we should have gone to the Baths in Tortola, which we didn't. For those of you who read or write terrible reviews of this ship and line, we are sorry and if you write them, you probably got a vacation that was a self-fulfilling prophecy!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to e-mail me!

RZJB@aol.com

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 24, 2006

Food was VERY poor. Service was bad - you felt you were bothering the crew if you asked them a question. Most did not speak English. Our cabin steward, Jimmie, was wonderful. Entertainment was not good. Very much like a high school production. I do not recommend this cruise line. I talked to many people on-board, all had the same opinion - about 95% were negative. Beware, that's all.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 19, 2006

Just returned from a Western Carribean Cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea. The cruise staff were very pleasant and helpful. Our waiter, Ruel was excellent and the assistant waiter, Sahika was excellent. Our cabin steward, Jimmie was very friendly and helpful. The overall cruise was a delight and I would definitely go again. The Mediterranea is a beautiful ship!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 5, 2006

"Con te Partiro'...," once again we are cruising "Italian Style" on the Costa Mediterranea --- our third trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises --- and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning twelve times in all?

Let's start with the crew. Captain Massimo Garbarino, we have considered a friend since he commanded the Costa Romantica where our son was married on February 14th several years ago. He always takes a personal interest in passengers' views of cruising. Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is a nearly improbable feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run.

There are many countries represented among the crew and passengers

leading to a wonderful international feeling on board. The Mediterranea was built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Finland and Captain Garbarino oversaw the entire construction. She was outfitted in Italy and many crew members were on site studying and practicing their Italian, and then each summer the Mediterranea returns to her home port in Savona, Italy and cruises the Mediterranean Sea. From the moment passengers board, the air is full of the melodic Italian language. A very nostalgic sound to Vincent's ears since he was born in Italy. There are many languages spoken among the passengers from USA, Europe, S. America, and Asia. Our butler Ronald delivered the morning papers in both English and Italian, making us feel at home (where we normally listen to CNN and the BBC while Vincent reads the local US and Italian papers on line). It seems that old academic habits die hard! We are both retired teachers. The continental influence and the opportunities for speaking a foreign language always draw us back to Costa. Then, of course, the food on board is deliciously incessant. Thus, when you can't afford to go to Europe, but want a taste of the Continent --- Sail Costa.

EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is easily accessed off I-95, just beyond the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Security is well organized and Pier numbers and Ship names are clearly posted. Embarkation was set for 1:30pm, but boarding began shortly before noon. We arrived at 12:30pm and went straight on with wheelchair assistance. We were in our suite before 1:00pm, where champagne, fresh fruit and canapés greeted us. This suite was all the way aft on Deck 6 with a large balcony. We checked on our dinner reservations: early seating (5:45pm) a table for two near the entrance to the restaurant --- excellent! We were off to the buffet of rare roast beef, fresh salads, pastas, fruits, fine cheeses and desserts --- very nice.

SHIP We have reported in detail on this ship before (see 2004 and 2005 reviews), so here we want to draw more on how the ship's layout is conducive to creating an Italian atmosphere. The Costa Mediterranea was launched in 2003 and is registered in Italy; she is 86,000 gross tons and 960 ft. long with 12 decks and 1,057 cabins of which 678 have balconies. Double occupancy is 2,114 passengers with a crew of 920. Her cruising speed is 22 knots and a top speed of 24 knots. Her design is based on Carnival's Spirit Class and the Costa Atlantica is her sister ship. She has 2 Azipods and 6 diesel electric generators. According to Captain Garbarino, she can do one mile on eighty-five gallons of fuel.

The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here.

The same flow is also evident on Deck 9 Armonia with the two Pools forming open spaces. When passengers leave the Ischia Spa they pass the pools and on into the Perla del Lago Buffet, then toward aft to the Apollo Spa and pool with its fine Apollo statue by Rigamonti. From the moment passengers enter the ship they are surrounded by artifacts and motifs of that inimitable Mediterranean area: Venetian Characters, Egyptian Obelisks, Grecian statuary, all contributing to a fantastic cruise atmosphere.

FOOD & SERVICE Guest Relations Manager Daniele Puma is very visible and easily accessed through the Passenger Services Desk. He is very capable of answering and solving passenger needs, not to mention handsome and with delightful continental manners. Each morning our Butler Ronald, in white gloves, delivered our full American breakfast punctually at 7:15am: eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, rolls, and fruit marmalades, including Mary's favorite apricot. Ronald set the table with a white linen cloth and a floral bud vase, which we collected daily, so that by the end of the cruise, there were six on our shelf, but, with the mirror behind them, they gave the optical illusion of twelve vases..., lovely.

The Buffet on Deck 9 is abundant with many stations, so lines are short. Salad Bars, fresh fruit displays, hot entrees and made to order sandwiches are all available; the perfect touch is the Pizzeria and ice cream/dessert area. We had lunch there on the first day. However, we prefer lunch in the main dining room, Restaurant degli Argentieri, with its walls lined with vitrines displaying copies of famous silver pieces (vases, candle sticks, pitchers, etc.) and murals depicting Italian pastoral scenes. We enjoyed the special attention of Maitre D' Fernando Sanna (quite elegant in his tails) and the two 2nd Maitres D' Luigi Cuomo and Leonardo Moccia. They are all very observant and make sure every passenger feels special at every meal.

Dinner each evening at Table #90 was enjoyable with our Waiter Valerio Olano and his assistant Victor D'Sousa. They were perfect and anticipated our every needs. Prosciutto and Grana Padana, Mozzarella di Bufala or Bruschetta magically appear as antipasto in addition to the menu's long lists of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, entrees, desserts, cheese plates and fresh fruit. If one cannot find a preference in these lists, there are the "Always Available" items: Caesar Salad; Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce or with meat balls and basil; Fillet of Salmon poached, broiled or grilled; Skinless Chicken Breast, also prepared as one likes it; and many side dishes of vegetable and potatoes, fried or baked with butter or sour cream, bacon bits and chives or anything also available upon request.

Some of our favorite appetizers are the following: Beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmigiano and black olive tapenade, Escargots Bourguignon, Bresaola with tomato, arugula and Parmigiano, Vitello tonnato (thin sliced veal with tuna sauce), etc. Favorite soups: Cream of forest mushrooms, Pasta e Fagioli, French Onion Soup, Consommé Stracciatella, etc. Favorite salads: Tossed Spinach Salad (with bacon bits, chopped hard boiled eggs and croutons), Seasonal Tender Leaves (Belgian endive and Radicchio) and other mixed salads (i.e. water cress, spinach and pine nuts, etc.). Favorite pasta dishes: Bucatini alla Amatriciana (long pasta with pancetta and onion in a piquant tomato sauce), Tagliolini alla Bolognese with Porcini mushrooms, Penne all'arrabbiata (with a piquant tomato sauce), etc. Some of our favorite Entrees: Roasted Rack of Lamb, Ossobuco alla Milanese (veal shank in a special sauce), Fillet Mignon grilled to perfection, Mahi Mahi filets, Veal Liver with onions, etc. Everything was "delizioso!" Compliments to the Chef.

The Gala Dinners are especially enjoyable with candles and flowers on the tables and complimentary champagne for all. Desserts included Cannoli, Italian cheese cake, Baba', Tiramisu and the typical pies: apple, cherry, pecan, lemon meringue, and all sorts of freshly made ice creams and sherbets, or International cheeses and fresh fruits, etc. The wait staff are on their toes and they greet passengers in many languages. Quite a number of the staff are budding polyglots!

The festive atmosphere in the dining room includes many types of Italian music from Opera (Aida's Triumphal March), to Neapolitan Classics to Modern music. Passengers will most likely find themselves dancing the Tarantella with a waiter. Food is great, the atmosphere is fine, a taste of Italy is wonderful. We especially enjoyed 2nd Maitre D' Leonardo from Bari, Italy whose kind attentions we very much appreciated. The Club Medusa is the upscale Italian restaurant, reservations required ($20 per person). It features menus by Gaultiero Marchesi which have been improved and diversified from the earlier ones we had on previous Costa cruises. Dining is on Versace plates and service is top notch. We can report that service and food on this ship are excellent.

CABIN Suite #6260 is on Deck 6 Narciso. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table.

Our suite had a picture of King Tut's golden mask and wall paintings from a pyramid, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme. There was another picture of a lady in summer attire. Our Stewardess Leonor, who is wonderful and has a sweet nature, kept the suite spotless. Thanks!

ENTERTAINMENT The suave Cruise Director Paul Rutter leads the Costa Animation Team in the multitude of activities on board, which include Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Italian and Dance Lessons, Trivia Quizzes, Crafts, etc.... The shows nightly in the Osiris Theatre were entertaining. We especially liked the "Time Machine" on formal night and John Ciotta on Italian night. Most of all we enjoyed the Italian joy of life which pervades the Costa Mediterranea. On "Notte Mediterranea" each passenger is given a "passport," which they take to four different lounges set up featuring the cultures (food, music, games and customs) of Greece, France, Spain and Egypt. The passengers collect four "visas" and then turn in the passport to Passenger Services, and they will get a $100 discount valid for a Transatlantic or European Costa Cruise. Costa works hard to make cruises entertaining.

DEBARKATION Sunday at 8:30am, a crew member came to our suite to help with the wheelchair. We had green tags, which were the third ones called. We were through the passport check, luggage pick up and customs in less than 30 minutes. We were on our way home by 9:00am. This was simple and rapid.

PORTS OF CALL

Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm

Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years.

Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88).

Day 4. At sea

Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies.

Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays.

Day 7. At sea

Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am

CONCLUSION It is always pleasant to return to a ship we have already sailed on before, where most probably we'll be welcomed by some of the crew and officers we had befriended on earlier cruises. This was true on this cruise, where we encountered Captain Garbarino, Hotel Director Ann Ryan and Maitre d' Luigi Cuomo, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships. Needless to say, they welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We have cruised on about three dozen ships of nine cruise lines, but we tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines. We'll be cruising on Costa again, but our next cruises will be on Carnival Triumph, May 13th, on the Caribbean Princess, Sept. 23rd and on the new Freedom of the Seas, Oct. 15th. However, we'll keep our eyes open for special sales during the summer for a last minute booking. Happy Cruising!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 26, 2006

Ok here goes my first attempt at a trip report.

I have chosen to break it up into sections, as I didn't take notes (hey I'm on vacation) it's all from memory.

Embarkation/Debarkation- When I got to the port I checked my one bag with the porter and went and found a wheelchair. The employee that pushed me in the chair took me to the front of the line and I was the second person on the ship. I really don't like to cut in line but this is how they do it and nobody seemed to get upset. Once onboard I went to the Show Lounge and waited for the buffet to open. I'll discuss the food in a later section.

Debarkation went very smoothly as I went to the top deck and waited near the pool, I was one of the last to get off of the ship. Try as I might I couldn't find a good hiding spot that would allow me to stowaway for the next cruise.

Cabin- I had a balconey cabin towards the aft of the ship on the starboard side. It was very

nice having a balconey which allowed me to go out and watch us we pulled into or out of port. As other reviews stated the beds were pretty hard but to me not unbearable. There was also plenty of storage and the shower was big enough.

Food- I have heard negative reviews about the food on Costa but I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the food served in the dining room and the buffet. One night however I didn't see an entre that I liked so I just had pasta as an entre.

Service- I found that the service in the dining room was outstanding, my waiter Jose Torres and his asst. waiter (can't remember his name) were great. My stewardess was good also and cleaned my cabin twice a day, the only thing I missed were towel animals. It's not a big deal but I kind of like them. The service on the rest of the ship left a lot to be desired, especially the photo shop. They weren't rude neccesarily just indiferent.

Entertainment- The shows were exellent. The props and costumes were great and stage changes were unbelievable during the Time travel show. I only went to two lounges, but the singers were great. The guy in the Talia lounge was a very talented singer and the Blue Note in the Casanova lounge were very good.

Ports- I did not get off in St Martin so I don't have a review of that port. Catalina Island was the most beautiful beach that I have ever been to. The only drawback is the merchants that almost drag you into their shops. (I know that is common in a lot of ports, I just don't like it). La Romana, Dominica, I went to the Kandela show and it was worth the $36 that I spent, very high energy and I like seeing other culture's dancing and music. Nassau, went snorkling and had a great time. This was my first time to swim in the Caribbean and I was surprised by the fact that the water was cold. I thought it was supposed to be warm down there. But then again I am a wimp when it comes to cold water.

So there it is, my review. I had a wonderful time and can't wait until my cruise in Sept. Will I go on another Costa ship? Sure!!! It was a beautiful ship.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 19, 2006

While sceptical of this liner as we knew only one person who had cruised with the Mediterranea/COSTA line and the reviews went from low average to OK, this was the best cruise I have ever been on. I picked it especially because of its cultural diversity although most of the Caribbbean cruisers were from North America with a good dose of passengers from over 50 other countries.

Cruise staff was excellent-the Italian atmosphere was fun and I loved having 5 languages spoken altho its primarily Italian and English used with a dose of Spanish and French now and then. Food was wonderful and delicious and plentiful. Loved the Dining Room where we ate almost all our meals. We ate vegetarian and there was no lack of choice or imagination. The ship is filled with Italian artifacts-all interesting and some garrish but we got used to that early on. Staff was personable, ship was immaculate, loved the balcony and room size, excellent value for the price, outstanding ice sculptures, pools were fine and available, lots of quiet space to read, be on your own, great Casino. Over 400 kids on board and very

well behaved.

We loved it.

Thanks COSTA. We'll sail with you again.

M & J--OTTAWA, CANADA

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 23, 2005
My wife and I joined another couple for a Christmas cruise on the Costa Mediterranea, embarking in Port Everglades, Florida, and visiting San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau. We had read numerous reviews, several less than complimentary, of both Costa and, especially, the Mediterranea and were anxious to see and experience the ship for ourselves. The ship decor: The Mediterranea is worth the cruise fare, just to witness the decorations and artworks! The best pre-cruise descriptions I found were included in the Cruisemates reader review by the Finellis, dated  January 11, 2004. Although I can’t verify the accuracy of their descriptions they do provide details for almost endless decorations and artworks. They were even better at Christmas with decorated trees in most venues. Impressive and worthy of special notes were the large colored glass globe lamps shaped to look like flames, located along deck 2 and on the staircases; a large fountain near the Piazza Casanova; the lamps,  colored glass, and encased metal art in the main dining room; the colored metal figures and costumed mannequins on the atrium wall opposite the glass atrium elevators, and the ceilings of the public rooms. The décor is definitely different than that of any ship we have sailed on, and worth seeing. It is something that has to be experienced to fully appreciate   Hint: Photographing the décor is a challenge so be prepared to use fill flash and no flash, as well as flash to light your ship photos. Visiting the dining room and main areas during off hours will give you time to experiment. Good photos of the mannequins can be taken from deck 4 with no flash during the daytime. The ship: The Mediterranea is an 86,000 gross ton ship, built in 2003, so it has most of the modern ship amenities. It is extremely well maintained and is kept very clean. The ship recently passed an unannounced health inspection with a perfect score and it was easy to understand that the score was well deserved. The food and restaurants: We had read several reviews of the Mediterranea that included negative comments about the food. The food was very good and was complemented by Italian specialties. The pasta dishes, available and recommended as a pre-entrée course with every main dining room dinner were especially noteworthy. Lobster, steak, and fish were just as available as on most other ships. The buffet was one of  the cleanest and best maintained we have experienced, with a nice variety of food for both breakfast and lunch. They also have no-added-cost ice cream in the buffet area and an afternoon tea time with a large selection of teas packaged as you order them. Hint: If you plan to eat in the specialty restaurant make reservations the day you board. It was sold out when we inquired. The entertainment: Although we don’t make it to many shows, reports on the entertainment were positive. The Mediterranea does have special nights, Mediterranean  and Festa Italiana, with themed activities throughout the ship’s lounges. It is the first time I have seen bocce ball played on a ship or heard of  a shipboard Venetian mask making opportunity. Toga night deserves special mention. Wearing togas on the last night is, apparently, a Costa tradition. We discussed and researched toga wearing, at length, as we planned the cruise. In the end the ship provides the sheets and the instructions. Perhaps a third of the passengers wear togas and the percentage is higher for those attending the Roman Bacchanal guest talent show. Hint: If you plan to wear a toga, wear it to dinner and for the evening. A white t-shirt and shorts underneath the toga is a courteous gesture for table mates. It doesn’t work well to change into a toga after dinner. Embarkation and disembarkation: We were able to board immediately upon arrival at the terminal at about 11:45 a.m. The process was relatively painless but not the most efficient we have experienced. Debarkation was a little slower than that of some other ships. We were among the last off at about 10:00 a.m. The staff: Excellent, in a word. We had read reviews that were less than complimentary about the Mediterranea staff. We witnessed no unfriendly behavior, even though it was Christmas time, a tough time for staff to be away from home and families. The staff we encountered were pleasant and very responsive to requests Hint: Cruisemates had suggested having little gifts available for giving on Christmas. Great advice! We took Christmas cards with $5 or $10 bills inserted and gave them to not only our waiters and room steward but also others on the ship. Smiles and surprised expressions when they received the envelopes were our reward. Christmas cruising: This was our second Christmas cruise and it is a nice way to celebrate. The ship was nicely decorated for Christmas and the holiday celebrations recognized Christians as well as other religions. Music, religious services and food along with the decorations were all specially programmed for the holiday. Hint: Expect children for any holiday cruise. There were a reported 500 on our cruise. The only significant unpleasant experiences were in the casino where the staff and security  seemed unable to keep several youth from playing the machines. There were minor youth behavior problems around the ship but most were well behaved and, considering the large number aboard, the results were very good. Ports and weather: Christmas is a great time to visit the Caribbean! The weather is very nice. The shops and tours were all operating. The Mediterranea’s itinerary, even though we stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas and Nassau which are frequently crowded with ships, hit the ports when only one or two other ships were there. We were in San Juan on Christmas Day. Amazingly, several shops were open and the locals have a big celebration along the water front on Christmas Day. Worth a walk along the water front. Summary: We were impressed with our first Costa experience. Very nice ship. Excellent service. Good food. Fun.
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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 11, 2005

I went on a pre-holiday cruise on Costa. It was a slightly different experience than on the major U.S. cruise lines, but overall a good value for the money.

Embarkation We arrived late at the ship, so we walked right on board. Staff was helpful and friendly.

The Ship The Mediterranea is very attractive, designed by the same man who did the Carnival Legend, and I noticed how similar the two ships are. I was able to easily find my way around as the layout was almost exactly the same. The only hard part for me was trying to remember the names of the lounges and restaurants, because they are Italian. The huge Christmas tree in the Atrium made it feel more festive.

Pools and Hot Tubs Pools were salt water, but very nice and never too crowded. The middle pool is the most crowded because they have activities there by day, and the band plays. Still, you can find a lounge chair on Deck 10 -- just walk down the stairs and you're at the pool. Towels are placed all over the lido deck, so you just grab what you need.

The hot tubs are never hot enough for me on cruise ships; they should call them bubble baths -- lukewarm water with a nice jet massage. There is a water slide; read your newsletter or ask for the times when it's open. It's a lot of fun for adults and kiddies.

Children I don't have any children, but my cabin mate told me she overheard parents raving about how good the children's programs are on Costa. I can tell you I hardly saw any kids on the ship, and the ones I did see were well behaved.This time of year was good for adults who don't want a lot of children running around, because most kids were in school. The Costa staff seems excellent with kids; they put the little ones on stage with the band and let them play the maracas or teach them to play steel drums -- too cute!

The Lifeboat Drill This was extremely long, since the staff had to recite everything in half a dozen languages.

My Cabin The cabins are clean and well kept. I slept like a baby on the firm mattress and I swear my back never felt better. Others complained the mattresses are too firm, but you can ask for an extra mattress pad (egg-crate style, I heard).

The Staff The staffers are more quiet and unassuming than on other cruise lines; they are friendly, but more in the background just doing their jobs. Perhaps they are not as interactive with the customers as other cruise lines, but they are polite and well mannered. I think this is Costa's European style. Say bongiorno ("good morning") and you will be greeted with a big smile..

The Food I really enjoyed the food in the dining room. The soups were good. Different pastas were offered for dinner each day. They had chicken, fish, pork, beef, shellfish and vegetarian entrees. My favorite was a pork dish (I wish I remembered the name). The mahi-mahi was also good. There was a lamb dish that was heavenly! I was pleasantly surprised with the desserts -- good variety. The pear tart is not to be missed; nor is the gelato they had in the buffet area on certain days only.

As for the buffet area, my only complaint is that they only serve breakfast and lunch with a choice of different food stations; during dinner hours, all they had was pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and Mexican. The pizza was tasty but I would like more food choices.

Activities Costa has many activities to choose from, but the line dance classes are a blast! Just jump in and try to follow the crowd. I was shy and waited until the last day to join in -- big mistake; I had a ball and a good workout to boot! They also had cooking lessons, bocce ball, arts and crafts. The horse races were fun to watch. The "sexy legs" competition for men was so funny! There is no reason to be bored on this active ship -- so much activity, too little time!

Entertainment Costa falls a bit behind some of the other lines, but I was still entertained. The bands were decent. The Mellow Calypso band by the pool did Bob Marley standards, etc. An Italian Elvis singer was quite enjoyable. I missed the Time Machine show that I heard later was the best of the cruise. They had a female Latin singer in one of the lounges -- she was excellent! The band that plays outside the disco is quite good also. I watched the staff talent show, which was impressive as the staff members who are not professional singers or dancer perform a variety of acts. They did dances from different countries.

Shore Excursions In San Juan I did the city tour -- skip it and take a cab to Fort Cristobal; we were there just 20 minutes, friends who took a cab spent three hours wandering around at their leisure. Then go downtown to Old San Juan and walk around the shops. You can walk back to the cruise ship from Old San Juan. The locals speak English. It's a beautiful and safe port. We got directions from locals and everyone was nice. We went to Senior Frog's at night to see a good rock and roll cover band -- a loud, rowdy spring break-type bar. If you want to cut loose this is the place, but older folks might prefer one of the classy bistros to sip wine and sit at a sidewalk table. There are lots of choices, all close to the ship.

In St. Thomas, I did a private tour here so I can't comment on the ship's excursions. It is a beautiful place!

At Catalina Island/Casa de Campo, I was going to tour Santa Domingo after viewing impressive photos on the Internet of this, the oldest city in the Americas. Columbus is buried here. But being exhausted from three ports in a row, I decided not to take this nine-hour tour, so I changed my excursion to the Amphibious Vehicle on the Chavon River. This sounds like an historic tour, but it's a party boat -- rum punch and beer served at 8 a.m. The bathroom on the boat was the most rustic thing I've ever used; I had to take a photo of it to show my family. Many did not use it, and beware it's a very long ride to Altos De Chavon -- especially if you drank some beer or rum! Altos De Chavon, the Artists' Village, is lovely and very picturesque. I would not recommend going on your own in the Dominican Republic -- take a ship tour or do the free beach day on Catalina Island. I heard the Kandella show at night was very good.

Nassau is a great port; I've been here before so I did my own thing here, no ship tour. I haven't been here since 1987, so I was pleased to see how much the island has changed -- no more drug dealers or panhandlers; it was clean, safe, and commercialized. There are lots of high-end jewelry stores. The Straw Market is now indoors. The locals were very helpful with directions. I even took a city bus and felt very safe, they take great care of the tourists here.

So what was the best part of Costa for me?

The Toga Party and Guest Talent show! It's what I will always remember... Do bring some gold ribbons or braids to wrap around your toga; wear tons of jewelry and make yourself a leaf headband. Caesar and his entourage come to dinner, but the fun starts at the talent show. Don't change out of your toga after dinner -- just go right to the theater still dressed. The cruise guests perform and the audience votes "thumbs up" to send the good performers to the buffet, or "thumbs down" to send the bad ones to the lions! I don't want to spoil all the fun for you by telling you everything, but it's a blast!

Overall, it's a slightly different cruise experience, but I'd say have an open mind and give it a try.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: July 24, 2005

My family and I recently went on a cruise for my parents' 40th anniversary. We chose Costa cruise lines as we were assured by our travel agent that they were very high end and also we chose them for the itinerary. Overall we rated the experience as being poor to awful for several reasons. The first reason being the food quality and preperation were terrible. For an Italian cruise line we assumed the pasta at least would be good but our Gnocchi appeared to be a frozen and not properly reheated version, all sauces were bland and watery, and the menu showed little imagination. Also, the service of the food was atrocious. The servers appeared to know little to nothing about proper table service or wine service. The butler was hard to locate most of the time and failed to bring several of the items we had ordered when dining in the room. We had purchased three of the grande suites aboard the ship which did not apparently entitle us to any special considerations or attentions. We weren't even afforded priority embarkations.

The accomodations were hardly impressive for suites. The size appeared

to be the only thing grande about them. The beds were little more than metal cots with thin matresses on them. I ended up taking many towels from the deck and padding my bed with them to attempt a good nights rest. I am a relatively young person who shouldn't have back problems from sleeping on a different bed than I am used to. The excursion descriptions were misleading and promised sights that were no longer in existance or not accesible. The service throughout the ship was as bad as the dining room service. There were times when I would stand at a bar watching three bartenders chit chat amongst themselves for many minutes before I finally had to reqest attention for a drink. At those times I was the only person at the bar. Not a particularly busy time where one could be overlooked. Also, the adult only pool had children in it at all times with no enforcement. When several people finally complained, the deck steward merely shrugged his shouleders and wondered off. Finally, one of the passengers rounded up a particularly loud group of teenagers and physically ushered them out of the area. Overall the lack of attention to detail is what ruined the excitement of the cruise for us. The tips are automatically included for all personell that work on board which led me to beleive that it was not necessary for any to go above and beyond mediocre service. There were only two servers on the ship that impressed us in any way and that was due to them taking the time to give us personal attention and remembering the little things like what our favorite drink was or making sure to read the room card and thank us by our names. Overall I would not recommend this cruise line to anyone who expects more than Denny's quality of food and service.
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