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
blue "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
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 ---
The Mediterranea's decks are named after mythological and
historical people and her theme encompasses many Mediterranean
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
notable excursions are Stingray City and Island Tour (4.5 hrs.,
$43.50) where it is possible to snorkel with the friendly
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
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!