We just got back from the Costa cruise, and I have a lot to tell you about. So, I'll take it in stages, so it will be easier. Just so you know, this is my 4th cruise.
BEFORE YOU GO Reasearch a little about the ports you will be stopping at. Costa is great about telling you where to shop and what beaches are available, but they aren't so great in letting you know about local cultures, sights to see, etc...
If you get to the ship right at 1 pm, you will wait about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to get on. Here's an alternative idea - Drop off your bags at between 11:00 & noon, go have lunch, walk around some stores, and return around 2:30-3 pm. This will get your bags on early [therefore to your cabin early], and you won't have sat in a crowded room for an hour or more.
You will find your Costa Cards [these serve as room key, ID, and credit card while on the ship] in your room. You do not need to register your credit card right awayto use your Costa card to buy a drink or anything else on ship. Wait a day or two and then register your credit card to avoid the long lines.
Oh, and do know that you will have to pay a port surcharge on drinks bought while in port. [coffee, coke, alcohol]
Costa was good about getting our luggage to our rooms within a few hours, and we unpacked and had plenty of space. Even large suitcases will slide under the bed! We booked a room with a balcony [Costa frequently offers free balcony upgrades!] and it was really worth it! We found having the extra space and the ability to sit outside on our own balcony extremely enjoyable.
The first night was all about learning where things are on the ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a disco, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 2 pools, several hot tubs, etc... Walk around with the little color coded map they give you and get comfortable - there is a lot to see.
They have a nice party at the pool for the sail away with music, and it's good fun.
DAY ONE AT SEA
My hubby and I got up, grabbed a quick bite at the buffet [all your fav American b-fast foods - egg, bacon, ham, cereal, orange juice, coffee, tea and water as well as cheese, meat slices, fruits, bread, pancakes, waffles, and more]. I'm sure you'll find something you like.
We then hit the gym [3 levels at the front of the ship]. It has an amazing view as well as many different types of equipment - treadmills, weight machines, steppers, bikes, and more. There is also a large jacuzzi, tanning lights, steam room and sauna available at no extra charge. They offer pilates and other classes for a small fee. Buy a package at the beginning of the trip if you want to get the best deal.
We took this trip after the Xmas and New Years cruises - on those cruises, there were over 500 children on board. For our cruise, there were around 150, so going to the pool in the afternoon or sitting out on the deck was quite relaxing. Costa has great programs for kids that keep them active and happy.
I bought a piece of art at the art auction - this is really one of the best deals I've seen on Costa. They only allow 3 bids to keep prices low, and if they have more than one piece, they will sell that piece to everyone who wants it at the third bid. Really, I bought a piece I have seen in a gallery for several hundred less and no tax! It was a bargain. And of course, they serve free champagne.
Dinner was fun with good food and service. This was the first formal night and almost every man was in a suit or tux and women wore lovely gowns. There was the captain's welcome party before and people got free cocktails and danced on stage in the Osirus Theater [beautifully decorated Egyptian themed theater]. They had a live band - I must tell you, music on this ship is excellent in the lounges and the theater. They do try to make these nights special. There were several photography sections and the photo prices were quite reasonable.
We were at the second dinner seating [8:30pm] - we sat at a large table and met some great people. I always recommend people to sit at large tables because you are traveling with people who are like you - they like to travel, see the world, meet people, etc... It's so much fun to discuss where you are, what you're doing, and where you've been with a group of people. Of course, if you don't like your group, you can get your table changed.
About the food and drink - the food was good throughout the trip; however, if anyone didn't like something, the waiter immediately took it away and replaced it with something else. More often, people really liked a dish and asked for seconds. They don't mind at all. So if you want that second lobster tail, steak or dessert, just ask for it!
Tap water on ice is free as well as iced or hot tea and coffee. However, sodas and alcohol are not. Costa offers a package of five bottles of wine and five bottles of water at a good price. My husband and I drink only a half a bottle a night, so they stored the extra and had it ready for us the next evening.
My friends brought their own bottles of wine on board. They brought them to the dinner table and the servers opened and served them without complaint. It was very nice.
The Time Machine show was worth the effort - a little hoaky, but great sets, and some talented singers and dancers. After was the midnight buffet - these are always worth a look see as they have some great dishes beautifully prepared.
DAY TWO SAN JUAN
We didn't arrive in San Juan until 4 pm which was a shame because the stores close early!
However, during the day, we did try something different - they have a high tea in the Bar Orientale with loose leaf high quality teas, finger sandwiches, and pastries. It was really nice.
What wasn't so nice was the BIOLUMINESCENT KAYAK TOUR - don't go - it's a waste of time and money. It was 1 1/2 hours on a bus in traffic, then 30 minures paddling, and then just tiny flecks of occasional light in the water - really! I had heard this was a great trip, but it is a farce, don't waste your money.
We were double disappointed because we couldn't see San Juan at all as the trip took all the time alotted for our stay.
We heard from others that the San Juan fort was interesting, shopping was good, and that the restaurants were great.
This evening at the midnight buffet, they had international night with four stations around the ship. Again, this was really worthwhile and great fun. Excellent pate at the France station and chocolate and churros at the Spanish station.
DAY THREE ST. THOMAS
We ordered breakfast in the room this morning and ate it out on the balcony. There isn't a huge selection for room service, but it was fun to have cereal, croissants [with butter and great jam], and coffee while looking at the lovely islands in St. Thomas.
This was a fun port where we had time for shopping in the morning [there are some great deals here - not steals - but good prices with no taxs and they double your allowance when you buy at St. Thomas so definitely know what you want to buy and go get it]. Costa has great shopping talks you can see live or watch on TV. Go talk to the port shopper as she can tell you where the best deals are as well as give you extra discount cards. There are some steals to be had in the back rooms of some of the large establishments.
The port itself was pretty if a little congested with traffic. I wanted to see more, but we had an excursion to get to.
We did the sail and snorkel to Christmas cove - this was good fun. The sail boat the St. Christopher was lovely with a fun crew and we took quite a few pictures while sailing. The snorkeling was pretty good with lots of parrot fish nibbling at the coral. They teach new people how to snorkel and let the ones who already know how off the boat first. On the way back, they serve rum punch to warm you up. Overall very fun!
This evening before dinner, we went to the Bar Roero in the Lounge Orientale and ordered a bottle of Prosecco [light Italian Champage]. They had a male Italian singer who was excellent and served canapes with the wine. This is a great bar and very relaxing with lovely ambiance. As we didn't finish the bottle, they held it behind the bar for us for the following evening.
Dinner was again lovely.
DAY FOUR CATALINA ISLAND
This is a great place for lying in the sun and just relaxing. There is swimming, snorkeling, hair braiding, as well as people riding bananas and intertubes while being pulled along by boats. Really an excellent beach day.
They have music and shopping just to the left and games. However, if you head down further to the left following the boardwalk, it gets quieter if you just want to relax. Drink staff walk along the beach and take orders, so you don't have to leave your spot if you don't want to.
Lunch was out on the island and they had great fruit, burgers, BBQ ribs and more as well as water, iced tea and coffee. Again, you have to pay for those sodas [they do have a soda pass for kids for a reasonable price - ask the first day!]
In the late afternoon we went to La Romana port in the Dominican Republic. The people on the ship tried to dissuade anyone visiting this port as there is a lot of poverty. My husband and I decided not to go; however, a couple at our dinner table went and said it was quite interesting. You exit the ship and get a cab driver who takes you somewhere to shop and actually goes into each shop with you. Then he takes you to a bar/restaurant. They said the food was 4-5 star and really worth it. However - getting in and out of the cab there are many beggars. The cab driver acts as guide and guardian, so an interesting experience if you are up for it.
Because we didn't go to La Romana, we went to the casino on board instead. There were lots of 25 cent slots and table games like poker, roulette, and black jack. They had a $5 blackjack table and you could use cash or your Costa Card to play. It was a good time and we played for 2 hours and actually walked away with more than we started with [that rarely happens though I must admit].
Tonight they had the carribbean party - this was great fun as they had steel drum music, then dancers, and then they did European line dancing which includes songs from South America and Europe. Its fun and you don't have to know how to do it - just jump on in. They give you a colored lei and let the fun begin.
A great midnight buffet with ice sculptures and excellent food out by the pool.
DAY FIVE AT SEA
A great day to relax by the pool, hit the gym, and do whatever. They have some fun activities and games - I went and did the line dancing - it is good fun and great exercise.
Oh, and I should mention on the pool grill they do have good hot dogs [no relish], hamburgers, and fries everyday. They also have pizza available all the time [look for the fresh parmesian cheese and red pepper]. They also have vanilla/chocolate soft serve ice cream available for free.
They had another auction today with new art - very fun, free champage, and they gave away quite a bit of art, so it was worth it.
Tonight was the second formal night - everyone really dressed wonderfully and we had prime rib and lobster - yum!
The show Solid Gold was great fun with very popular songs, cute songs, and good dancing.
DAY SIX NASSAU
This was lovely as we pulled into port past a little lighthouse and pink buildings. We went to have lunch at Senor Frogs - this is an adventure - they have an MC, music, karaoke and things happening the whole time. You can participate or not. I just enjoyed watching their antics as I sat by the water and looked across the bay and toward our ship. It's a bit pricey, but good fun.
Shopping in Nassau isn't as good as St. Thomas, but there were some deals to be had. The Del Sol shops sell nail polish that changed color in the sun. It's a cute gift and not too expensive.
Many people took cabs to the Atlantis resort which was beautiful and also had shopping in it.
There was a straw market, but not any real quality products that we noticed. It might have been better to get out of port and go to the beach.
Tonight was toga night - we didn't really know what to expect. Some people brought their own togas while others used the sheets provided. One great idea I saw was a woman wearing a re dress with the togas sheet draped over her shouler and belted in the middle. We alas did not toga, but it was fun to watch those who did.
We went to the Roero bar and ordered a bottle of prosecco, had a glass, and then took the bottle to dinner with us. They don't have a problem with this.
Dinner was good as usual.
Tonight was the passenger talent show called the Baccanal - I was surprised, but many passengers were quite good.
Then back to the room to pack. Our bags needed to be packed and outside the room by 1:00 am. Be sure you don't pack anything very valuable [jewelry] or medications in those bags. They are quite good but something could get lost!
DAY SEVEN DISEMBARKATION
They ask you be out of your room by 8:00 am and there is no room service for breakfast.
Because everyone is eating at once, there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and have breakfast there [second seating 7:45 am] - it is tastey, hot, and they have a good selection. Here you can relax until it is time for your group to leave.
A cab will cost $8 per person to the airport and is just as fast as Costa transport [and cheaper]
SOME THINGS TO NOTE
Alcoholic drinks are not very strong on board and quite expensive. If you want good margaritas, you might want to bring some tequila and mixer on board yourself. Again, if you have a favorite wine, bring it on board and they will open it and serve it to you for freee at a bar or restaurant.
The ship has great prices on bottles of alcohol, but they won't let you have them until the end of the cruise!
If you don't like something, send it back. They want you to have a good time and not everyone's tastes are the same.
Feel free to ask for a second pillow, more towels, etc... They do provide pretty good service, but you do need to let them know what you want.
Costa offers great discounts and you get your cruise for a lower price - the trade off is that there are fewer servers per person on board, so you probably won't get 5 star service. But then, you didn't pay for 5 star service.
I think this was a great ship with good food and service. The balcony rooms are very comfortable and kept tidy.
I disliked that we had too little time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it.
The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have a great time.
They have an excellent gym and fitness program and healthy food choices including sugar free desserts everyday.
There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and really I saw few people smoking anyway.
They had good prices on duty free bottles of alcohol on ship as well as clothes, tshirts, and more. The shopping on board was good.
The art auctions are definitely worth the time.
The casino has reasonably priced tables for play and lots of slots.
Check out some of the on board games and dances with the cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining.
The theater shows I think have improved since my last Costa cruise years ago - so that's nice.
They have a good variety of food and never complain if you want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile.
I guess that's all - Bon Voyage!
The cruise was around Italy in November 04 We flew from the UK and boarded in Venice. We had booked a suite so received preferential treatment and was in the first group to board. Everything went smoothly, a man came to our suite and introduced himself as our butler. We only saw him twice after that in the following 6 days, he said the reason was because we had the "don't disturb notice" hung on our door. He could have rang, there was a phone in the suite. The reason we displayed the don't disturb notice was because on 3 occasions members of the crew (including the butler) knocked and before we could get to the door to open it they had opened it themselves and walked in. We had to push a chair up behind the door to maintain some privacy.
My first problem arose when I went to the bar and asked for a draught beer, they don't have any. The only drink on draught was Heineken lager. All the bars throughout the ship were the same. I am not a lager drinker and only enjoy beer sothis really spoiled my holiday. The lager was expensive at 4.60 Euro, 60 was a service charge, you had no choice but to pay it. We received a notice saying that you were not allowed to bring alcoholic drinks on to the boat, if you did they would be taken from you and handed back at the end of the cruise. Was this a holiday or a disciplinary sentence ? Six Euro per person per day service charge was added to the final bill, you could object to this but surely the method should be open to you to "opt in to payment" rather than having to "opt out"
There were over 2000 passengers with less than 200 being English speaking. We found language to be a problem. Our cabin steward spoke broken English. We could not fully understand her and she could not fully understand us. This communication problem resulted in us missing the very important lifeboat emergency drill. There was only one television channel in English which repeated its-self every 15 minutes.
Food was readily available and the crew took pride in the various dishes on offer. Now I accept that Costa is an Italian cruise company but I didn't expect the food to be all of a Mediterranean/Italian theme. I am not a lover of this sort of food so I had a problem throughout the cruise. I would have loved some Indian, Chinese or even Brit food.
Now to the good points. The crew were very helpful, very polite and courteous. We were always met with a smile, this applied equally in the restaurant, bars and general public areas. The boat was spotlessly clean 10 out of 10 for the hard working cleaners. The cruiser was designed and fitted out with the most luxurious surroundings I have ever seen. It was like walking round a 5 star hotel. Also a mention must go to the entertainers who worked very hard to put on first class shows. The entertainment in the various bars was also of a very high standard. The general organisation and planning went well, which cant be easy when you have so many people on board.
Will I go on another Costa Cruise ? Come on Costa get some draught beer in your bars then maybe so.
Information before cruise: Costa web-page need improvements. It is very difficult to surf in this page. The information is too general. You cannot get a good view or sense of the ship or amost anything.
Cruise: Boarding was smooth despite a large group of people. Security was high, which is good. The ship is beautiful. The decoration goes to the last detail.
Staff: The staff was helpfull. I was impressed with the fact the most of the staff speak at least 4 different languages. Some of the staff had very strong body odor.
Food: The food was very good. They have different choices and food was available 24 hrs a day. The main restaurant was excelent.
Overall: The cruise was very good. As in all there is some room for improvement. I wish I was back on-board.
We arrived the night before and stayed at a Costa recommeded hotel. Since it was spring break we kind of knew what to expect. Drunk kids everywhere - another worldly experience.
We took a shuttle to the pier. Since we had a panorama suite, we were given priority embarkation and all went extremely well. Customs held us up a bit - but this is not Costas' problem. Anyway, we wrrived at the pier at 1:30 and were in our room by 2:00.
The ship is beautiful. There is so much decorating done to this ship that it is difficult to notice all that has been done. After a week aboard we discovered most of the decorative theme of the ship.
We had all paperwork completed on the Costa website prior to sailing so all went well.
When we set out to explore the ship, we found the guidance by crew members to be very goo. Since this was our 20th cruise, we quickly found out that the ship is layed out like many others - seems the deign trends are melding together on the newer ships.
Panorama suite: We found it tobe smaller than a similar category on Royal Carribean by about 200 square feet. But the price was certainly right! Room steward and butler spoiled us rotten and our every needs were met, including restocking of the mini bar. In fact, our butler started bringing us bottled spirits from the bar ($20 versus $5.50 for airline sized bottles). This was appreciated and saved us a good amount of money during the cruise since we also entertained in our stateroom.
There have been complaints about the thin mattresses on the beds. We checked this out first thing and requested a second mattress. It was brought and the bed remade in plenty of time for our first night aboard.
Our luggage was distributed to us three hours prior to sailing with no damage. We got things unpacked and into the closets and drawers prior to sailing. The amount of storage was so enormous, even with the souvenirs we purchased we could still not fill it all!
The buffet food was good. Not great, but not bad either. Coffee machines were always full as were juices.
Our room was extremely quiet, especially since the ship rocked and rolled due to large swells for the first three days. The maintenance crew would wash life boats in the AM and took care not to "contaminate" our balcony.
The dining room service was very god and the food - especially if you like seafood- was very good - and hot when delivered to our table. We asked our waiter each night what was best and he was right on each night. The beef was cooked to our liking, and the pasta dishes were excellent - especially the polenta with mushrooms.
Club Medusa, the alternate restaurant, was excellent especially the filet mignons and dessaert. The service was impeccable. Incidentally, you do not have to dress up to eat in this venue.
On two nights were ordered room service - since we had a suite we could order from the dining room menu. The food was always brought on time and piping hot - sometimes with double what we ordered. We had one lunch from room service (we were hungry for hamburgers), and they were some of the best I've every had at sea - much better than in the pool area.
We took two shore excursions. The snorkleling cruise in Casa De Campo was cut short - we still do not know the reason. We found we had adequate time in San Juan. We had a taxi take us to the top of the hill in the shopping district and meandered downhill toward the wharf with plenty of time to spare.
Our shore excursion in the Dominican Republic was cancelled due to a storm and our ticket prices refunded on our final statement. We found everyone courteous and polite in the lines waiting to get onshore in the ports. You draw more flies with honey.....so the saying goes.
The onboard entertainment in the theatre, except for the steel band, was mediocre. We opted for the casino on a couple of nights and broke even during the duration of the cruise.
Disembarkation was a snap. As we had the suite, we had a VIP room in the Medusa Restaurant where they served a continental breakfast. We were the second group to leave the ship.
We'd take another Costa cruise. We found the Europenas on borad to be respectful, polite, and courteous.
My ratings: Ship 8 of 10 Food 8 of 10.
My husband, two sons (age 15 and 12) and I just returned from our March Break cruise. Our first time cruising with Costa was somewhat disappointing. Having cruised eight times previously, mainly with Royal Caribbean, our expectations may have been higher than those who have not cruised before.
Before setting foot on the ship we encountered some difficulties with the Costa web site: all pages were not accessible; the site's claim that Canadians require a visa was incorrect; and we had problems filling in on-line forms, so we had to call Costa and complete the information over the telephone.
The ticket package mailed to us also contained copies of a Costa guide, shore excursion booklet, gift order form and brochure, and the U.S. Border Security Act for each passenger, even though we are all of the same family. I thought this was a waste of printed materials and postage.
The embarkation process went well. Having all the documents in order for each family member will expedite the process.
On board we were met by a member of the "kids program" and given printed information. Our first impression was that the ship was somewhat overdone.We found it to be glitzy and very ornate, bordering on gaudy. Our outside cabin was of the expected size. We had an obstructed view due to the lifeboats.
We set out to explore the ship. We asked for directions to the on-board shops and casino from two different staff members, only to be given a nod and a finger pointing -- which turned out to be incorrect both times. This was our first indication that the service may not be all that it should be.
We felt the ship was not well laid out. The buffet areas on Deck 9 were sometimes confusing. There were several locations, but often some were closed or offered different items. Pizza was always good and available.
The buffet food was average. Our biggest complaint was the lack of beverages that were included in the package. Iced tea was sometimes unavailable, but there was regular coffee and decaf as well as orange juice and grapefruit juice and water. Sometimes these dispensers were empty or "out of service." There was no lemonade. Sodas cost $2.30 plus a tip.
The afternoon tea service was very nice, with a server offering a variety of loose teas to choose from.
A "Boys and Girls" coupon booklet for $40 plus tip for 20 beverages (which includes non-alcoholic frozen drinks) was available, and the boys took advantage of it since the frozen drinks were normally $4.75 plus tip. Milkshakes were also supposed to be included, but my boys couldn't find anyplace including the dining room where they could be obtained. My son eventually made his own from the soft ice cream and milk.
Distribution of the luggage to the various decks was something to behold. I repeatedly witnessed baggage crew members unloading the luggage by pushing the entire cart-load of luggage, piled several feet high, onto the floor. At one point the entire floor space between the elevators was covered with a pile three suitcases high! I could not believe my eyes and was concerned for the contents of my luggage.
I went to the information desk to report this and was asked if my luggage was damaged. I had not yet received my luggage but when I did, an hour and a half after departure, sure enough, a brand new can of salon hair mousse exploded inside my suitcase. I had even taped the lid to the can to keep it from coming off, and wrapped it inside a heavy plastic bag; still, some of the contents got onto some of the clothing. Luckily not much damage resulted.
I reported this to the guest services and they requested the empty can. When I returned to the cabin to get it, the very efficient cabin steward had emptied the trash and the can was gone -- hence I was not offered any compensation and my hair was FLAT for the whole trip. Bummer!
The shipboard account credit card registering is left to passengers to decide over a three-day period. This is done in a very small room where there was no number assignment and big crowds. Perhaps they could allow passengers to pre-register online as other companies do, or at least before embarkation.
The cabin, despite comfortable beds, especially the bunks, was noisy. There was a cracking and snapping sound as well as a clanging of metal in the walls and the floor near the balcony doors. It sounded almost as if there was a stress on the walls. This only happened when the ship was in motion; it was not continuous but happened often enough to be an annoyance. Sometimes it even woke us from sleep, even when I used earplugs. Just when we would get a break from it all, the maintenance crew would hose down the lifeboats from the deck below in the morning, with the water spray hitting against the balcony doors.
We reported all this; it was investigated, and crew members confirmed there was indeed a problem and had a plan to fix it. However, even after they unscrewed the panels in the walls and tightened things up, the noise continued. I eventually gave up reporting the problem since I was tired of explaining the situation over and over to guest services. Sometimes I had to repeat the complaint in various terms to the same person before they could comprehend what the problem was. This is another area that needs improvement: communication ability.
The cabin's mini-bar was often not restocked fully even when my husband requested it.
Despite the availability of "service" in five languages, often we encountered crew who did not speak English well enough to provide appropriate assistance to passengers. It was annoying at times to have every announcement and game and introduction coming across the loudspeakers in all five languages, especially since most passengers on this particular cruise were English-speaking.
The dinning room staff was the exception. Everyone we encountered there was excellent in all ways, and the food was always very good, hot when it should be, and delivered in a timely manner. We were assigned the second seating, which we found very late for our family as often dinner did not start until 9 p.m.
The itinerary for this Eastern Caribbean cruise included San Juan, which we felt was a wasted stop since we arrived at after 4 p.m. and were unable to go ashore until after 5 (not great for those on the first seating). There was little to do there and the ship left at 1:30 a.m.
Casa de Campo was also a waste of time, since we arrived at 6 p.m. and departed at midnight. Some of the shore excursions were cancelled.
St Thomas was great as always, and Catalina Island was a beautiful spot with lots to do and a great barbeque provided by Costa.
We opted for only two shore excursions and were glad we did not book more. The snorkeling adventure in St. Thomas was OK, but not as good as others we have experienced. Many people had problems with the masks and snorkels, myself included. I eventually gave up. The lady in the "dive shop" instructing everyone upon our arrival was in desperate need of a lesson in courtesy -- she barked at our group as we entered the shop, for no apparent reason except that they were very busy.
The Blue Lagoon in Nassau was a spectacular place -- a paradise. However, it took an hour from the time we met in the theater until we arrived by boat, then we only had an hour and a half there before we had to return to the transport boat. This was most unfortunate, as this was undoubtedly a place one would want to spend the day. For the price, it was not good value -- nice to visit but I would not do it again unless we had more time there.
The on-board entertainment was not as good as any we have experienced in the past. The magic show the first night was very good. Personally I enjoyed the Italian tenor, but many people left once the show started. The steel drum band was also enjoyable, but the Costa dancers and performers were well below the level of those on other ships. During the talent show, crew members were fooling around behind the backs of passengers who were brave enough to get up and perform, which I felt was inappropriate. This was the first cruise where we were not wowed by the entertainment.
The lines to get off the ship at ports of call were not supervised and sometimes people were pushing and shoving. There were some very rude Europeans who felt they were above taking their turn like the rest of us. When another passenger pointed out to these people where the end of the line was -- after four of them pushed in front of others -- one of them threw his hands up, made a face and remained where he was. I heard stories from fellow passengers about this being a regular occurrence.
One thing I did enjoy was the opportunity to take Italian language lessons. They were given by a Canadian (Martina) from Quebec, a lovely girl who spoke the five languages fluently.
My older son enjoyed the evening teen get-togethers. Maybe the fact that he was getting cozy with a girl on board contributed to this.
Getting off the ship was the usual experience. The only complaint here was that we were allocated to the theater, as were most passengers, where none of the public announcements could be heard. I called Guest Services to advise them of this, and they thanked me, but the announcements still couldn't be heard in the theater. We were advised by a crew member when it was our color's time to leave.
Overall, I would rate the experience a 6 on a scale of 10, and give the ship a 3.5 out of 5. We will not cruise with Costa again as we found it a little too European for our tastes.
This was my 26th cruise and my first aboard a Costa ship, having cruises with RCCI, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity and a few other smaller lines previously. I had read several reviews after booking this cruise and was quite concerned after reading very poor reviews about this ship. I appoligized profusely to my travel companions before boarding the ship as RCCI was my first choice but was unavailable at line of booking. I was not happy right off the bat!
Costa was fabulous! I can't believe how wrong my concerns could have been.
The Cost Mediterranea is beautiful. Upon boarding the ship, my first reaction was "it's so gaudy", but after a little thought, being of Italian heritage, I realized, it's Italian! One would have to understand that and then appreciate that.
Check in and boarding was the shortest and smoothest of any ship I've ever boarded even having boarded an RCCI ship as a frequent cruiser. We were checked in and boarded in less than 30 minutes after arriving at the pier at 130p, thirty minutes after boarding began. We were all shown to our rooms by a very friendly, warm staff member.
The balconyrooms were quite large and very comfortably decorated. After finding our rooms and heading out to explore this beautiful ship, my first encounter was with an officer we passed in the hall who greeted us with a smile and a warm "bon giorno". This was not what I expected based on the poor reviews I read.
Dinner in the dining room I found to be fabulous, virgin olive oil on the table as well as all the italian favorites i've grown up with. What a wonderful Italian touch. The food was great every night though I might stay away from the pork, it tended to be quite dry. All other dishes were equal to or above the quality of other cruise ships. The dining room staff was exceptional, at times not giving me a menu yet serving me what I would have chosen and the way I would have ordered it. When a waiter learns your likings that well, he deserves credit. He got it!
The bar staff was attentive no matter where you went. They all smiled, remembered your name as well as your likings. A special thanks to Octavian and Artauro who both went above and beyond.
I can't really comment on the ports of call as I been to the Western Caribbean many times before. Progresso could have been skipped though.
I did miss a few things like the sailing away party with the Caribbean band on deck as well as the Caribbean music on deck every day. I could deal with that though. I understood the differences in lifestyles and accepted them.
My cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea was wonderful! I am booking another cruise this November with a small group and will definately try to book Costa. I will choose Costa over RCCI, my usual cruiseline of choice. I loved Costa! Perhaps you ahve to be of Italian heritage to appreciate the beauty of a Costa cruise.
Thumbs up Costa, you did good by me.
The Costa Mediterranea has been dubbed "The Pearl of the Mediterranean" since Costa Lines is the premier line of Europe and this spectacular ship cost over 400 million Euros (c. $500 million). Although this Spirit class ship was six years in the designing stage, this ship was just eight months in construction. The conceptualization of a new class of ships requires more time because there will be more than one ship made to these specifications. From the Spirit plan Carnival has constructed four ships: The Spirit, The Pride, The Legend and The Miracle; and Costa has built two: The Atlantica and The Mediterranea.
These Spirit class ships have been built at Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Helsinki, Finland, where 25% of the world's latest cruise ships have come. Costa Mediterranea is a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide, 196 ft. tall and the gross tonnage of 85,700 tons. She has twelve decks; 1,057 cabins, 742 of which have balconies. She has six diesel generators and a maximum speed of 24 knots. Her total passenger capacity is 2,680 with a crew of 920.
Costa ships are easily distinguished by their yellow smokestacks with the largeblue "C" on them. She is sleek with a pointed prow like a huge yacht and her motto is "Mai visto niente di simile" (You've never seen anything like it).
EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is a nicely organized port, where security is present and reassuring, but not overwhelming. The tickets had an embarkation time of 1:30 pm and it was accurate. Cabin keys are left in the stateroom doors and credit cards are taken on board. Priority boarding is given to wheelchair passengers and suite occupants. It took just ten minutes to check in and then we waited to board at 1:30pm. We did not have the usual Costa assistance on board to our stateroom, but once there the steward and butler were prompt in welcoming us and giving us excellent service.
THE SHIP What primarily distinguishes the Mediterranea from her sister ships is the interior decor. Joe Farcus has long been Carnival's principal interior designer and Costa , as a member of the Carnival Corporation, now has the Farcus touch everywhere: detail, repetition and extravagant use of art work.
This ship spectacularly features the works of over 34 contemporary artists (mostly Italian) with works commissioned specifically for the Mediterranea (paintings, sculptures, photographs, silver works, ceramics, etc...). If you enjoy art as we do, then the Costa Mediterranea is the place for you. The whole ship is a floating museum.
The main dining room contains over 175 sculpted silver pieces in 96 niches, the work of Pampaloni Argentieri a Florence, Italy based studio. These pieces were created from designs of famous artists like Giovanni Maggi (c. 1600). The Costa Mediterranea is a combination of new and old with something to intrigue every passenger --- myths, legends, and modern art present much to be admired and enjoyed in the particulars and the details --- educational too!
The Mediterranea's decks are named after mythological and historical people and her theme encompasses many Mediterranean countries.
Deck 1. Ponte Circe (Greek sorceress, daughter of Helios and Oceanid) forward has the Salone Giardino Isolabella, a lounge with huge scallop shells circling the room interspersed with ocean pebble columns topped with marble balls. The stage is flanked with two larger than life sculptures of Poseidon. The scallops on the carpet and the excellent hammered copper tables give warmth to this room used for club style shows and the Captain's cocktail receptions. Midship on this deck are inside and outside staterooms. Aft is the bottom floor of the Discoteca Selva (Disco).
Deck 2. Ponte Tersicore (Terpsichore, Muse of Song & Dance) forward has the Teatro Osiris (Egyptian god). The theater's Egyptian theme is carried out with stylized slender pyramids and Egyptian Pharaohs on each side of the stage. Down front on the right is the T. Eskelinen (Finland) sculpture of a charioteer driving four horses. It is dated MMIII, a gift of the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard Personnel. The theater's sea blue Chandeliers shaped like medusa (jelly fish) are reminiscent of the Aegean ones we had seen near Piraesus, Greece. Once, while sailing into this port, we were mesmerized by the many delicate and beautiful ones.
Going toward midship is the Piazza Casanova, a study in heavy white alabaster ceiling and wall drapery supported by white putti (cherubs) in amusing positions. The design owes its origin to the Celbrizzi Palace in Venice. Midship is the Casino Canal Grande, which combines Baroque and Gothic architecture just like the Barbaro Palace in Venice after which it is styled.
Next is the Hall Maschera d'Argento, the eight deck tall atrium with Giorgio Tani's six costumes from the Commedia d'Arte by Nodolini, and the many white medusa on each deck. Here are Francesco Petrollo's excellent bronzes: "L'Angelo del Mare" (recalling the Greek "Boy on a Dolphin") and "Le Torri" (the towers). Toward aft is the Talia Lounge and the Discoteca Selva (Disco).
All the way aft is the lower level of the Ristorante Degli Argentieri, a beautiful room of muted colors with silver, copper and the sepia tone oval photographs of ancient Roman ruins. Here are the many silver objects, (goblets, vases and candle sticks) mentioned before, displayed in niches. Some are stunningly unique; Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy) arranged for the Keeper of the Keys, Ian Suplito, to give us a tour of these amazing objects. Some of these are like Aladdin's lamp, others were birds or fishes, from 17th century designs. Umberto, an old friend of ours, is very proud of these pieces and the restaurant ---- rightly so (more on Umberto later).
There are unique white blown glass globes which give a festive look to the dining room. There is a two deck high tower near the staircase, which displays ancient silver smith tools and fiber glass sculptures leaning from the tower windows and holding silver objects by Sergio Benvenuti (Lucca, Italy).
Deck 3. Ponte Bacco (Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and feasting, equivalent of the Greek Dionysus) forward are located the first balcony of the theater, and the entrances to the Winter Garden walk that encircles the theater. This is a serene quiet place to sit at tables overlooking the ocean, a well kept secret. Going toward aft is the Library/Internet Cafe where many philosophers', writers', and artists' portraits hang; one of them is that of Joe Farcus, the architect of the interior of this and several other ships (a challenge to the future cruisers is to locate him).
Next is the Salone Orientale, based on the Roero Di Guarene Palace, Cuneo, Italy. The elegance of this room is lovely. Midship are the Via Condotti Shops with many designer boutiques (i.e. Versace) and the photography gallery. Toward aft is the Sala Dionisio (this cruise used for the "Kosher Cruise" services). The Dionisio Bar and lounge are surrounded by many murals of grape draped youths. Here Miranda, a wonderful singer, sang and played piano beautifully every evening. All the way aft is the second level of the dining room.
Deck 4. Ponte Teseo (Theseus, the Greek mythological slayer of the Minotaur) forward is Mondo Virtuale (Arcade) for the young cruisers, and the Chapel with fifteen beautiful panels "Way of the Cross" by Roberto Bixio (Genoa, Italy). Both the Arcade and the Chapel seem to be accessible only from the Winter Garden walk on deck 3 by stairways. Here is also the second balcony of the theater. The rest of this deck has cabins, some with obstructed view and some with veranda.
Deck 5. Orfeo (Orpheus, son of Apollo, famous lyrist), Deck 6. Narciso (Narcissus, the beauteous youth in love with his own image), Deck 7. Prometeo (Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from heaven and gave it to man) and Deck 8. Pegaso (Pegasus, the legendary winged horse) are mostly staterooms and suites.
Deck 9. Ponte Armonia (Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, wife of Cadmus) is all public areas. Forward has the first level of the Olimpia Gym, the Health Spa with sauna and whirlpool and the Beauty Salon; midship are the twin pools with whirlpools of Cadmo (Cadmus, son of Agenor, founder of Thebes) and Armonia with bronze statues of these two mythological figures by Sara Righi (Parma, Italy). Toward aft is the buffet "Ristorante Perla del Lago" ("Pearl of the Lake Restaurant") and the Pizzeria Posillipo. Finally, aft are the Bar and Lido Apollo with a small pool and whirlpool.
Deck 10. Ponte Cleopatra forward is the upper level of the Olimpia Gym, then the solarium and the alternative dining Club Medusa. This striking room looks best at night with all of its glorious lighting. All the way aft there is the children's play area with wading pool and the water slide arrival from deck 11. Decks 11. Ponte Medea (a sorceress who helped Jason steal the Golden Fleece, then she married him) has the Lido Squok for children with the water slide to Deck 10.
Deck 12. Ponte Pandora (the curse of mankind, she opened the box unleashing all evils, leaving in only hope). Here is balcony of the Medusa (a monster with hissing serpents for hair) Club.
This is a ship that words cannot adequately describe. All the passenger corridors to their staterooms are decorated with art by Augusto Vignali (Parma, Italy). The staircases have large fragmented paintings by Leo Borghi (Padua, Italy) and whimsical white ceramics by Riccardo Biavati (Ferrara, Italy). These must be seen to enjoy, like "Le Pupe," the ceramic dolls of Domenico Caretta (Grottaglie, Italy), they are all different, and they all make the viewer laugh. Then, in the hallway from the Lounge Talia to the Atrium there are the stunning photographs of ballet dancers by Angela Cioce (Bari, Italy) which celebrate the athleticism and beauty of the dance.
CABIN Panoramic Suite #6023 was the exact replica of our Costa Atlantica suite. The Costa line has standardized the interior decor and why not, if you get it right then repeat it. There are three types of wood: Teak pillars with ebony capitals and cabinetry and 12 inch mahogany ceiling trim boards. The desk, bar, night stands, dressing table and bathroom counters are all granite. Lamps are elegant copper and brass with Murano glass shades. The art work is Andreescu's (Timisoara, Romania) painting of a girl with a cat at sunset and a background of blue domed white buildings recalling Santorini, (which was like her painting on the Atlantica --- a girl with a green eyed cat). The other painting was a Borghi geometric background of a medieval Italian town, with a sail boat, church and compass.
Entering on the left is the anteroom to the bath with vanity and lighted armoires. The bath has twin sinks, six shelves, and a shower and jacuzzi tub. Next is the bar with TV, personal safe, a cabinet with four huge drawers, a double armoire and a queen bed. The far wall is all windows to the balcony with teak wood chaise and table. When entering on the right there is a mirrored wall, a lighted desk/vanity and refrigerator, then a double peach leather sofa/bed, granite coffee table and an upholstered chair.
The feel of the cabin, with all the wood, brass, and copper is one of an elegant Captain's cabin, very nautical. Our steward Dace (Latvia) and Butler Desi (Bulgaria) were superb. Many thanks!
FOOD & SERVICE These aspects of ship life always come under the supervision of the Hotel Director, in this case, Walter German (Italy) ---- a very genial task master, who has set the highest of standards for the Mediterranea. His warm demeanor filters down to those under him. Guest Relations Manager Francesco Taormina (Sicily) was cordial and helpful in every way. Bar Manager Sanzio Riccardi (Italy) was even helpful in pointing out many exquisite details; he knows his ship.
This ship is top notch in service. Under Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy), the food and service in all the dining venues is superb. On formal nights, Umberto is resplendent in his cut away and pin stripe trousers and he is constantly alert and mindful of the passengers needs. His two assistants Francesco Frasca (Italy) and Lino Minichini observe each table and insure excellent service.
We had a table for two #275, near the staircase and were ably served dinner by Waiter Nilo Ocray and his assistant Michael La Chica. At lunch we had waiters Aldwin Castillo and Ronald Pinto, who were excellent.
Breakfast, we had in our suite each morning. It was always prompt, hot and delicious. Butler Desi went the extra effort to please us and she succeeded. Breakfast can be ordered from the dining room menu which includes the following: Fresh fruit juices and fruit compotes, yogurt; cereals both hot and cold; eggs any way; pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast; bacon, ham, sausage, chopped steak, hash browns and hash; herring, salmon lox; croissants, rolls, Danish, bagels; and a wide variety of coffees, teas, hot chocolate and milk. The buffet has an equal selection, but we usually avoid the buffet, since it is not easy for Vincent to carry his tray.
Lunch, we usually do in the dining room. The Mediterranea luncheon menu has five or more appetizers, from fruit plates to eggplant Parmigiana, to both hot and cold soups. The salads are varied and abundant (radicchio, romaine, arugula, Boston Bib and escarole are some of the offerings). A pasta course is served and it is always excellent and different: ravioli, vegetarian lasagna, rigatoni, fusilli, and farfalle. Lunch entrees include Spanakotiropita, Boneless chicken breast (excellent, tender and juicy --- Mary had this twice), Flounder with parsley butter, Lamb kebabs, and Beef Stroganoff, for example. Desserts are a wonderful mix of American and European favorites, such as the following: Pecan pie, eclairs, sorbets and ice creams, Tiramisu (sugar free too), Italian cheese cake, etc....
Dinner menus are quite interesting, especially for those passengers taking Italian lessons on board. The menus are in Italian with English, French, Spanish and German translations. Each menu emphasizes a different Italian region and its culinary style: Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romana, Campania, Sicilia and Sardegna. Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion offers the best of these regions, yet he does not forget to give the best of other famous cuisine like French and Caribbean.
Chef Antonio de Luca was in charge of the Kosher Cruise, but he always made time to discuss the menu with us and offered us excellent light, flavorful pastas and sauces. We highly recommend the pasta on board as the best at sea. We suggest trying the Italian dishes since they are original. Antonio and Maitre D' Umberto gave us a wonderful gourmet cruise, and we surely appreciated it. Mille grazie!
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Paul Rutter oversees many activities, but perhaps the funniest comes on the last evening, when Paul as Julius Caesar holds a Roman Bacchanal with passengers providing the entertainment. The rest of the passengers may vote "Thumbs Up" and send the performers to the Buffet , or "Thumbs Down" and send them off to the Lion's den. By the end of the cruise the passengers are warmed up and very vocal! The shows during the week had some high spots: John Ciotta, lead singer of the Costa Reviews, has a fine voice, and the singers and dancers are quite good.
Two concerts not to be missed are Maestro Mauro Bertolino performing Chopin, Mozart, Scarlatti, Beethoven and Gershwin on piano. Magnifico! And secondly, Mario La Manna, singing Neapolitan songs --- "Non ti scordar di me," "Mamma," "O sole Mio," etc. This is the super fine voice of the tenor of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican --- Pure beauty. Both of these performers received well deserved standing ovations.
There are many other activities on board such as the following: Bingo, the Casino, Dance classes, Exercise classes, Children's programs and there is even a Golf Pro on board and golf reservations at each port.
PORTS OF CALL Recently we have significantly reduced the number of shore excursions we take at the ports of call, mainly due to Vincent's limited mobility and to the fact that we have visited these ports many times. We generally spend our port days enjoying the semi deserted ship by having soothing hydromassages in the whirlpool, visiting our favorite spots, admiring the artwork and, most of all, relaxing. Some of the suggested excursions listed here are either the ones we did before or have been recommended to us by fellow passengers.
1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Departure: 7:00pm
2. Key West, FL USA Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm For first time visitors the Conch Train or Trolley Tour (1 hr., $19) will give a quick overview of this city. The rest of the day can be spent visiting Hemingway's home, Truman's Little White House or Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum.
3. Day at sea.
4. Progreso Merida, Mexico Arrival: 7:30am Departure: 5:30pm For those interested in Mayan archaeology, Chichen-Itza Tour is a must (8.5 hrs., $93, including lunch).
5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm The clear waters and the beautiful coral reef near this island make Snorkel and Scuba the best available excursion at this port: Fury Sail & Snorkel Beach Tour (4 hrs., $43.50); Unlimited Snorkel Adventure (2.5 hrs., $31); Scuba Adventure (3 hrs., $75), designed for non certified divers; Certified Scuba (3.5 hrs., $76).
6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 9:00am Departure: 6:00pm Last year we had a wonderful experience in the "Bubble Sub." It is a small submarine for 2 people which dives 50 - 60 ft. to the coral reef and is guided by an outside pilot. It was a great 360 degree view in a pressurized cabin of colorful fish, coral and sea turtles. The information for this excursion can be found on the web <http://www.caymansubmariners.com/excursion.htm>. Other notable excursions are Stingray City and Island Tour (4.5 hrs., $43.50) where it is possible to snorkel with the friendly stingrays.
7. Day at sea.
8. Ft. Lauderdale, USA Arrival: 7:00am Debarkation: 9:00
CONCLUSION This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and a great one. It is nice to come aboard and find out that we already know several crew members: Captain Garbarino, with whom we have cruised twice before; Maitre d' Umberto Iacomino, whom we had met two years ago on the Atlantica; the Chef Antonio De Luca, who in 1999 prepared the food for our son Marcello's wedding banquet aboard the Romantica; etc.... It is like coming back home, when we encounter the many familiar faces and feel the special attention that these people have reserved for us. That for sure makes our day, or better said, our cruise!
It is nice that Costa is initiating a new program for repeaters, the Costa Club, with three levels of membership (cards): Aquamarine (2,000 points), Coral (2,001 - 5,000 points) and the Pearl (5,001 or more points). The points are assigned for the number of cruising days (100 points per day) and the amount of money spent aboard (40 points for 52 euros). The privileges associated with these memberships vary from discounts on selected cruises, fruit baskets and bottles of spumante in the cabins, discounts aboard on Costa merchandise and beauty treatments, to free dinner in specialty restaurants, etc....
This was a great cruise, a cruise Italian Style! We look forward to cruise again on Costa ships, perhaps on the new Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica. Our next cruise will be on RCI's new ship, Mariner of the Seas, Feb. 22nd, 2004. Happy Cruising!
We had a wonderful week aboard Mediterranea! Here's a short rundown of the pro's and con's as we saw them:
Pro's: Beautiful, new, clean ship (although the comment of Italian interpreted by Las Vegas does somewhat apply). Wonderful deck accommodations - ample deck chairs, pools, Jacuzzi's. Large, well designed cabins with plenty of closet space. Food ranged from good to excellent at most meals. (I'll eat almost anything, but my wife is pretty picky & she always found something she liked.) (Be aware that the European definitions of meat "done-ness" is different from ours - they tend to like their meats rarer, so plan accordingly. This IS NOT Costa 's fault - anyone who's spent a lot of time abroad know this!) Wonderful 24-hour room service with great food selections. Osiris Theatre is wonderful - great sound & light, comfortable seats - I recommend the 4th floor balcony where there's never a crowd. Shows/performers in the Osiris were very good with a European flair - especially noteworthy was the Steel Band, classical pianist & tenor soloist. Cabin stewards were attentive and efficient. We encountered no European arrogance amoung any of the staff andcrew - probably because we did not approach them with American arrogance. Enjoyed the mix of American & European passengers. Excellent selection of shore excursions. In-room folio access so that we didn't go into shock when we saw the bar-bill!
Cons: Pre-cruise - Costa website is very, very poor. Often could not access many pages. It should also include online pre-booking and excursion reservations. Embarkation time was too long - ticket noted boarding beginning at 13:30. We arrived at that time & did not board until approx. 15:00. Also, did not like the need to go to information desk to "link" credit card. This should all be done in one step - either at embarkation - or preferably on-line before the cruise. Wait staff, while well intentioned, was not very polished. Food was sometimes only warm & service was generally slow. Allow minimum 2-hours for dinner. Some of the staff, while polite to passengers, seemed a bit disgrutled with their employer. Rules were posted regarding one pool for adults only & no children < 12 in Jacuzzi's. These rules were totally ignored by guests and not enforced by staff. (Forgive me, but this is a pet peeve - with only 50 of 2000 passengers being children, adults deserve one pool where they can relax without being splashed and pummelled. Also, re. Jacuzzi's - especially lothsome are parents who take their pre-toilet-trained infants into them. If we wanted to swim in waste water we could stay home. Ah, for the days of Renaissance adult-only ships!!!) There was no "refillable" cola option available. Photographers were a bit surley and most photos included costumed persons who did not always enhance the photo. Photo's were under lock & key - implying a distrust of the passengers honesty. The cruise ended too soon - Costa should have made time move slower!
In summary we had a wonderful week. I would rate the experience a 7 on a scale of 10. We would certainly consider another Costa cruise.
Ship is beautifully overdone with marble chrome and mirrors enough to cause dizzeness. Ships company trys hard enough and food and service was nice. What was particulary bothersome to me was the very large contigent of loud and pushy Europeans everywhere you went onboard.
Most anouncements were done in at least three languages. Overall there was not much to write home about except the High pressure showers found in the Gym locker room (a must try)
To sum this cruise up, a trip from hell. The rudest staff and management I have ever encountered. It all started with Costa booking my airline ticket. They booked me into Miami airport on the 21st at 3:20 P.M./ This for a ship that is leaving from Ft Lauderdale at 4:30. I called and said this was no good. Oh dont worry sir, there will be no problems and we will hold the boat for you. I dont think so. Oh no dont worry sir. Well guess what, I should have worried, the boat left without me and 8 other passengers on the same flight. It started a three day nightmare going through airports during orange alert. Shlepping bags. Exhaustion set in. Met up with the boat in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. Costa Management could have cared less. They offered me a two day refund. Yeah right. I have never seen a managment that has acted in a poor way such as Costa . Anyway lets get to the Ship, or shall I say Boat.
The Ship: The decor is a little bit to much. Thought I was in Vegas, excepttimes it by ten. The room was great and comfortable. Shower a bit small. Ship in general very comfortable. Pools small. Lots of children in the pools all day, did not see many bathroom breaks, hint hint.
Food: Poor to bad. The main dining room, beautiful. The food came cold. At times food was sickning. Do not eat the meat on this boat. If you must stay with the pastas. About the only food you will find on the boat that is done right. Room service, ordered once, they never showed. The only gratis beverages coffee, when you can find a working urn, water and at times iced tea. Otherwise, be prepared to dish out $2.20 for a soft drink. Ice cream gratis, tasted like flavored ice.
Staff: Horrible and rude. The Italian crew does not talk at all. Never a hello or good day. American passengers could be in flames, they would not spit on you. The Asian staff was great. Very friendly, otherwise forget it, from the top to the bottom.
Passengers: European passengers were horrible. They were rude. Do not believe in lines. They will push you out of the way in the buffets. Just the pits.
Ports: Puerto Rico beautiful. St. Thomas OK. Private island, water nice, beach horrible and crowded. Dominican Republic, the pits. Nassau, nice, but to short.
Entertainment: The only good show was the passenger talent night on Saturday. Otherwise forget it. I would stay away from this ship. A total disaster from me. I did not enjoy it at all. disorganized, rude staff, horrible food.