John R. Levey
Age: 31 - 40
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Costa
Ship: Costa Atlantica
Sailing Date: November 26th, 2000
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
John R. Levey
I have just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Costa Atlantica, and wanted to share my opinions, especially since I checked the reviews before leaving and did not find any for this ship. This was the second cruise for my wife and me, and my entire family also joined us. The last cruise I was on was the Carnival Destiny’s maiden voyage to the western Caribbean, a ship similar in size but very different in many ways. My parents have been on approximately a dozen cruises, including another Costa ship. They were the ones who swayed the rest of us to try the Costa line. Also joining us were my brother and his wife, my sister, and my aunt. The age range was 25 to 54 amongst our group.
The ship itself is very nice. It is a large vessel, approximately 2200 passengers plus crew. Even with the large number of passengers, the ship did not seem crowded. The architecture of the ship is elegant with many various objects d’art, and a good mixture of classical art renderings and modern designs. We had an outside cabin with a veranda, and will never again book an inside cabin. The cabins were fairly roomy and nicely decorated. The bath, although not exactly spacious was designed well, and not at all crowded. The veranda was a very pleasant surprise, very private with milk white translucent dividers to separate the rooms. Each room had a safe and a minibar, which once cleared out, also doubled as a refrigerator. There are also several different lighting options, which I found to be useful.
The Costa line is an Italian line, and the cruise staff was predominantly Italian as well. Although announcements were made in five languages, it sometimes seemed that the main language was Italian as opposed to English. The passengers were very diverse in terms or nationality, many Europeans, Americans, and several Asians. As a whole, the diversity ended when it came to age. I would estimate that 80 to 85 percent of the passengers were older (60+). This was not really an issue for our group as we had each other to enjoy activities with, but for younger couples traveling alone, it did not offer a wide choice for social activities. This was very evident when visiting the lounges/ bars/ disco in the evenings. There were rarely more than two or three other groups in any of these areas, even though the entertainment was very good.
The rest of the staff was very competent, and in the very good to excellent category. The bar wait staff was very friendly and greeted us by name after the first meeting. The dining room staff was also exceptional, very knowledgeable, friendly, and courteous. The only problems that occurred were because of slight language differences. The cabin stewards did an excellent job keeping up on the room, keeping ice in the buckets, changing towels several times a day if needed…overall great service. No fancy nightgown sculptures, but they did their jobs very well.
Being an Italian line, the food was a main emphasis. Dinners, whether formal or casual, were always fine dining. Every dinner offered two or three choices for appetizers, two soups, two salads, pasta, an intermezzo to cleanse the palette, and then the main course and dessert. The main course was normally a choice between four to six items and almost always included seafood, beef, fowl, veal or pork, and a meatless option. In general, the food was interesting, sometimes very good other times not so good. The quality of the beef was very poor with the exception being the prime rib served the last night. The seafood seemed fresh, and plentiful, and the desserts were excellent. Other than dinners, the food was disappointing. After one breakfast and two lunches in the dining room, we opted to the buffet for the remainder of those meals. The midnight buffet was very strange. It was in different parts of the ship on different days and sometimes just an extra dessert, sometimes light snacks, and sometimes, another full meal. The midnight buffet did not really interest us however, since the second seating, which we chose, did not finish being served until after eleven p.m. at the earliest. We were told before the cruise that the second dinner seating would be at approximately 8:15 to 8:30pm each evening. The earliest we were ever allowed to enter the dining room was 8:45pm. By the time orders were taken and wine poured it was usually 9:30pm by the time the first courses arrived and if you count the courses you can see how it would take a while to finish, even with very attentive wait staff.
Since dinner went so late, we missed a lot of the shows. Costa eventually realized and moved one show for the second seating up to before dinner so everyone could attend. The one show we did see was interesting, a variety show with the ships own dancers and several other acts as well. Overall it was good but nothing spectacular. In the lounges the entertainment was very good. There was a very good three piece band in one lounge for most of the week that played contemporary soft rock and pop music. In the Club Atlantica, a very nicely decorated lounge at the top of the ship, there was an amazing musician who performed a tribute to Elton John. Although I couldn’t understand a word of what he said while speaking, he did an excellent job sounding just like Elton John, Michael Bolton, and even gave a surprising rendition to a Bon Jovi tune. There was an island musician going between lounges that did a good job with the Caribbean beat, and a comedian who was excellent (I wish I could remember his name). My favorite room on the ship was the Corallo Lounge, a smaller room under the theater. It was nicely decorated with an under water motif and very comfortable.
There were many activities offered on board, however, most of them were not very well attended (possibly the age of the crowd). We did try some of the activities and enjoyed all the ones we tried, even though it was hard to understand the people explaining things due to the accents. I managed to win prizes in the belly flop competition and the black jack tournament and my wife made several ornaments in a craft class that was offered. There really was a diverse assortment of activities offered, I would think something for everyone. The casino was very nice as well. For those who just wanted fun, there were quite a few 10-cent slot machines, and plenty of table games for the more serious gamblers.
The ports of call for the eastern Caribbean were San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas/ St. John, Catalina Island Dominican Republic, and Nassau Bahamas. Although I enjoyed something about every port we traveled to, I felt the itinerary was too rushed. We only had about half an hour of day light in San Juan, then directly on to the next port. I believe that either one destination needed to be eliminated, or the route needed to be changed. All in all, I preferred the ports on my previous western Caribbean cruise, but again there was something for everyone here.
There were several very interesting excursions that I did not attend. Some overlapped with other excursions, and some were a little expensive. One example was in Nassau, they offered America’s Cup yacht racing, it sounded like a once in a lifetime event. In general, it was a little aggravating dealing with Costa when it came to the excursions. In the initial paperwork we received with our tickets, there was a booklet describing the many options available. The problem was there were no times listed or prices available. Even if they had to say, prices subject to change, we could have had an idea. Once on board, they did furnish a pamphlet with pricing to match the descriptions, but still no times. Most of the excursions stated that they had limited space available. The times were finally published the evening before the excursions took place. I felt it deceiving to ask me to pay for something to reserve a space, before I had all the details. Since you could not get a refund if you changed your mind, I did not participate in as many excursions as I might have otherwise.
Overall, my parents, who have sailed with Costa previously, were very disappointed that the quality of this cruise was below what they had experienced last time. Our entire group enjoyed the experience, but felt that it did not meet our expectations. We will most likely not book another Costa cruise before trying several other lines.