Best For People Who Want
A bargain on an inside cabin; not too much socializing with other passengers;
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Lots of on-board activities; great personal-style service
This Costa ship sails almost exclusively in European waters and so is not highly recommended for U.S. cruisers who are looking at a cruise as a way to see Europe. This ship is marketed to the European population and has all the trappings of a typical pan-European vacation experience; public announcements made in four languages; guests segregated into differing groups for shore excursions and entertainment depending upon their native language, onboard literature is several different languages, of which the English versions may be rather hard to locate.
Expect lots of smoking on board, though the Europeans are starting to catch up with the U.S. in this department, there is still second-hand smoke almost everywhere as rules are usually only loosely enforced. Also expect much shorter times in port than you would get on a ship full of Americans in Europe. The locals like to hit & run tourist spots like Mallorca and Sardinia, and are not inclined to want to spend the night, or even a full day in any one spot.
European decor of the modern era in most places, plus an art collection said to value over $20 million. The requisite number of marble statues and replicas of classic paintings are on board to let you know this is a European ship.
The amount charged to the shipboard account, per person per day (including children), is $8.50. This covers dining room and stateroom personnel. Passengers can have the amount adjusted by visiting the Guest Relations Desk.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all bar tabs. Spa staff and room service staff may be tipped as service is received.
Productions shows in the main theater are geared for the European audience who are used to seeing shows that do not require an abundance of dialogue - sight-gagged magicians and jugglers for example interspersed with songs that every world denizen knows in English like "New York, New York," or Italian such as "Volare." Nights in the Mediterranean sea offer themed deck parties that focus on various nationalities -- usually an Arab night, East European circus and Costa's famous "toga party".
Costa Romantica's staterooms are larger than expected. Inside staterooms measure 175 sq. ft., while outside cabins with large window are 200 sq. ft. At 340 sq. feet., minisuites with private veranda are very large. Sound proofing between staterooms could be better. Standard cabin amenities include color TV, safe, radio, hair dryers in bathrooms. There are no in-cabin menus and a limited selection of three sandwiches -- Costa charges $2.50 and should drop this practice
The fitness center could be larger on this older ship, and the Spa (Steiners of London) could have a few more permanent attractions. For the most part you can have the basic services such as massage or facial. Crowded aerobics classes are scheduled regularly.
The remade and re-named Costa Romantica was originally launched in 1993 but it was refirbished in 2012
The fetching Piazza Italia Grand Bar is the heart of the ship. It sits like the plaza of a cozy Italian public square, with wicker chairs and generous sofas. There is a bar there serving wine by the glass and hot cappuccino.
The Excelsior Casino features mostly European-style table games such as roulette but also has the full range of slots and other gaming tables. The Via Condotti shopping area does not rival the Galleria in Milan, but it has a few baubles worth trying on (but shop in the duty-free shop at the airport on the way home for the best deals). Juliet's Patisserie is a cozy place to get hot pastry and coffee and people watch or just spend some time day-dreaming.
The Piazza Italia is the open area from which many of the public areas emanate. It leads to L'Opera Theatre showroom, is the ship's main show lounge, decorated in a blue and white classic style of the Mediterranean.
The Diva Disco, fully surrounded with windows to all points of the compass is better by day than by night. Go to see commanding views of everything around the ship. Unfortunately, at night it is a different beast with loud music and tons of hanging smoke in the air. But if disco you must, this is where you go 'til the wee hours.
That Italy has some of the world's greatest cuisine should not be taken to mean that Costa serves the world's best food. Indeed, menus appear to be designed to appeal mostly to an Italian audience, and should you order a selection from another continental derivation, you will probably end up thinking, "I should have gone Italian." You would suppose that they'd get pasta dishes right every time, but pasta depends upon fast service before it gets cold and rubbery. At the buffets, you will be presented with what Europeans are used to as "fast food" including beans for breakfast, and cheese, hard sausage and rolls for lunch.
With light wood accents, and wall to wall windows and marble flooring the Botticelli Dining Room is a treat for the eyes but not for the ears, especially when all these hard surfaces conspire to turn the room into an Italian echo chamber as the wine flows and the Europeans get more and more robust in their conversations. Dining times are also later than most Americans are used to, 7: and 9:30 usually.
The Terrazzo cafe is a simple alternative for casual lunch and dinner, a cheerful setting next to the pool great for people watching.
The Giordino lido restaurant on the Lido Deck, aft, is surprisingly expansive, and the food's surprisingly good. A coffee, a robust, hey-wake-up, pal! European blend is available 24 hours, plus tea bags, hot chocolate packs and milk (hot in the morning). The buffet's limited hours cause some problems. Both the pizza line and tea-time start at 4 p.m., just as those who've been on shore excursions are coming back with low blood sugar, ravenous for a snack. The occasional melee results. Giordino later becomes a "pizza trattoria" from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m.
We'll say it plainly: on a Costa ship you are an American in Europe. The company is expanding rapidly (undergoing a cruising renaissance in Europe similar to what the U.S. experienced years ago), so the staff can be surprisingly slow, and sometimes seemingly impolite, including the cabin stewards. You can always count on the bar staff to cheer you up, though.
During the day European casual is on call, sunglasses, Diesel jeans and a tight black fishnet t-shirt for the younger Italian men, and collared shirts and fitted long pants over brown leather shoes for everyone else.