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Jon Miller

Age: 34

Occupation:Television Production

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Atlantica

Sailing Date: December 14th, 2003

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

I just disembarked from a 7-day journey through the Eastern Caribbean on board the Costa Atlantica. Hopefully this review will help you decide which line is best for your next vacation. Let me preface this by saying I have been on many other ships and know exactly what to expect from the experience. I am not comparing this to a five star hotel stay or similar – I compare only to other ships I have sailed.

Overall I must say that the experience was fair at best. The embarkation was a complete mess – however typical with most cruise lines. (why is this so – folks it’s truly not that difficult to check in passengers en masse – look at the airlines!). Once we were on board we were instructed to wait in the Caruso Theater for instructions on how to start the cruise – I asked several staff and repeatedly why this was necessary – and was told “you’ll have to wait for your room key here”. After some crowd rumblings, we were then told “our mistake, just go to your rooms and your keys are located there”. Actually this process seemed to work quite well – although it doesn’t really work when groups arrive at different times. Do you leave your pass key in the door or open/unlocked with your belongings inside or do you sit inside the cabin and waste time waiting?

The ship left on time. I must admit Costa did a nice job stationing key staff (maiter’d, registration for credit card, day camp, etc.) to help deal with any rooming, seating or camp concerns.

The dining room – Titziano – and actually the food program overall was very disorganized. The menus were/are extremely difficult to read – nothing flowed. The vegetarian and sugar free options were listed as regular items as well. For example – the chocolate mousse was listed twice – how you could tell the difference, I’m not sure – in fact I’m sure there was no difference and the servers were just making it up as it went along. The food taste and quality was average. The breads were very basic and mostly consisted of white rolls – similar to what you would find at a diner. The desserts were a joke. Tasteless and small portioned. I was shocked considering our Exec Chef was an Italian. To say the service was slow would be an understatement – lunch would sometimes take over 2 hours – no joke. Courses would be forgotten or placed out of order – food auctioning (“who ordered the beef”) became the norm. Our server never learned who we were – so my thousand island needed to be requested at every meal. The buffet deck upstairs was often left dirty w/out cups or ice cream or coffee. The offerings were very basic and not that tastey.

The entertainment was average – the dancers and stage shows were well performed. The first night (some family juggling/circus act) was very amateurish. The comedian that performed some late night must have obviously been a close friend of the cruise director Cassandra as he was not funny – and for some reason performed mostly lame magic tricks. They had one of The Platters perform – seen him on another ship – entertaining show. The talent show the last night was hysterical – they were brilliant with Costa staff performing behind the typically boring passenger songs and dances. Really livened up the night with their own added adlibs.

The European vs. American issue was totally non-existent. Both were friendly and patient with the various languages. The European style of cigarette in mouth for entire trip got very annoying – way too much smoke on board this ship – was difficult to escape.

Excursions were pretty bad overall. For example – the entire city of La Romona and excursions around Catalina Island were basically one big time share tour (yes folks the ones you usually get paid for attending in the States) for some resort called Costa de Campos. I was offended at the fact I had to pony up $46 to get a driving lecture on the ins and outs of this private resort. We even stopped at the “authentic village” which was nothing more than a Disney Village-esque shopping area built actually around 1980. We were then given tours of all the stores! I was furious along with most of the other tour participants. I’ll have to research how I can get involved with the profit sharing in the Kandela show they charge an additional $27 – also located in the heart of that resort. Most tours were very disorganized – including one in Nassau that consisted of charging us a decent amount only to place us in taxis to be driven around town.

Pros – itinerary (minus Dominican Republic stops), size of ship, cleanliness, ability to learn a new language, gym equipment, main stage entertainment.

Cons – food, service, excursion choices and organization, cigarette smoke, side entertainment.

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