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Age: 42


Number of Cruises: n/a

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Magica

Sailing Date: April 9th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We, a family of four, were on "Easter" cruise (4/9 - 4/16) aboard Magica. This cruise had a modified western Caribbean route. We had an inside cabin on deck 7, with assigned table in Smeralda Restaurant (first seating).

The ship -- It is large and modern, decorated Italian style. After all, it is an Italian ship. Many signs and announcements were in Italian (followed by English and possibly other languages). It took longer to figure things out (since we don't know Italian), but didn't bother us much. There were many paintings and art works as you would expect, and they were quite European. Deck 3, 4 and 5 of the ship are public function decks. Due to a restaurant in the mid ship, going through from one end of the ship to the other can be a bit tricky. Deck five has the casino, and it also serves as a passage unless one wants to walk up and down stairs to avoid it. There are three pools and large area of sun deck, and of course, plenty chairs. I heard the pools use salt water.

Service -- I'd call it "industrialized" service, and Costa may not be alone on that. One probably won't get the feeling of being treated like a royalty on the ship. It's more like the services on your local hotel or restaurant, although a bit more attentive. If the expectation is set like that, all should be fine. Most crew members spoke English, more or less. The waiters and cabin stewards were "international" like many other major lines, and many of them were hired from Asia. My cabin steward took care of 22 cabins. I figured if he spends just 30 mins in each, that would have taken 11 hours a day already. So here comes the aforementioned "industrialized" service. The job was still well done, but I won't expect too much details or extra attention. We still got one towel animal on one night, if any of you care, and mints or chocolates on the pillows on two nights (some cruise lines still give these every night). The steward fulfilled a few requests quite well, although one could tell that he was trying to do a million things at same time. Keep in mind, however, we stayed in a regular cabin. High-end suites may receive better in-cabin service. For us, the cabin service we received was good enough, on the par with other lines we've experienced.

Restaurant service was similar. It's good enough to impress first-time cruisers (meaning better than most restaurants on land), but nothing specially good. Bar service was particularly slow in the restaurants. We sat near a service station, and the shuffling of dishes and utensils made loud noise which affected the mood sometimes. The dances and parades led by restaurant staff were very well done.

Cabin -- We had an inside cabin, which is the smallest kind on the ship. It compares favorably with some other ships, however, and had enough storage for a week-long cruise. Bathroom was comfortable. The shower was enclosed by a thin curtain, but functional. No problem with water pressure or temperature. It's a quad cabin, so we had pulldown beds. The upper beds could fold up into the ceiling, which was a good feature. When they were down, the cavities on the ceiling gave extra height to the upper beds. A metal sheet, which was part of the ceiling when folded up, is on the side to hold the bed from the ceiling when the bed was down. There was probably one draw back of this design: when the one sleeping on the upper bed kicks the metal at night, the metal sheet was like a gong:-) Good thing my kids didn't kick that much...

The cabin had a safe and a small hairdryer. The safe can only be operated by the first ship card locked it (the safe had no number pad, but a card slider). The hairdryer was stowed in a drawer and connected from there. Shampoo was provided in a dispenser.

The cabin had a good size TV. Usually two movies every day, and most other channels were cruise channels. The lighting of the cabin was pretty good.

The ship has large amount of verandah cabins, and if I remember correctly, most if not all ocean-veiw cabins are located at the lowest two levels.

Food -- Although owned by Carnival, Magica is still an Italian ship. The food there definitely had an Italian twist. I personally think the food was excellent, and better than some other lines I've been on, giving that I like Italian food in general. If one doesn't like Italian, I can understand the complaints. There were plenty of prosciutto (raw ham) and various kinds of pasta, and as for entrees, choices of meat (beaf, pork and once lamb), fish and sometimes poultry. As usual, vegetarian and low-carb choices were available. Overall, it was not that different from other mainstream cruise lines. Costa offered probably more courses in a meal, however: appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entree and dessert. Even lunch menu was similar. To my taste, their fish cooking (not really cooking, I believe also due to the material they use) was not that good, even though almost every night a different kind of fish was used, but other dishes tasted mostly great. Pasta was generally simple, without complex or exotic ingredients, but the sauce always tasted good, and I was able to finish every plate of pasta I had. In short, one can see that chefs had a limited budget to work on(which is true on most cruise lines), but the cook was mostly great. Oh, there was one lobster night like some other lines, but I wasn't impressed with that half lobster even with a low expectation (other entrees were not that attractive to me either at that night). I ate enough other courses that night, so didn't care about the entree. BTW, desserts were uninspiring in general, but one probably would be too full to eat dessert anyway. We had one excellent birthday cake, however. We requested a birthday cake for my son's birthday, which well exceeded our expectation (both in taste and size). One thing interesting is about the pizza on this ship. They generally had two choices of pizza in the buffet line at each lunch, dinner or snack time, and one choice is always cheese (Margarita) pizza. There was no dedicated pizzeria. While the pizza was good (very thin crust, like one would find in northern Italy), I thought that was hardly a showcase of Italian pizza variety. There were a few mid-night buffets, and every midnight there was at least some snacks available in the deck 5 lounges. Midnight buffets might have prosciutto, salami, cheese plates, not just cakes and cookies (aka chocolate buffet).

Note that two sitting times for dinner were pretty far apart: one restaurant was 5:30 and 8:15, and the other was 5:45 and 8:30.

Kid's program -- There were 4 age groups: 3-6, 7-11, younger teen and older teen. I looked at the teen program list, and they were mostly evening activities. Pre-teen kids usually have programs from 9am to 12 noon, 3pm to 6pm and then 8:30pm to 11:30pm. Two formal nights, kids program provided kids group dinner. The program hours had a European twist too, as one can see, but seemed to work quite well. The kids club was open every day, whether in port or not. The cruise daily indicates that for those booked shore excursion and want to leave the kids on the ship, group sitting was available. I didn't try that and don't know the details. My daughter went to the 7-11 group a few times, and thought she liked other cruise lines' program better but it was not bad.

Organizing -- Generally, activities were well run. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth. We arrived about 12:30pm for embarkation, and not too many people were waiting. The check-in desk didn't seem to have good connection with Costa though. You probably already know that the credit card registration is done on the ship, not during check-in. The room key is not given at check-in either, it is on the lock of the room (yes, anyone walks in your room first gets to take your ship card on your bed:-). Pre-regist online on Costa web site doesn't seem to do anything. Paper forms were still needed.

Tender process in a couple of ports were not well run, however. People were still waiting to get off the ship 2-3 hours after tender started. I saw many tender boats, also two tender boats can dock at the ship at same time, but most of the time the next boat was waiting for people to be loaded onto the previous tender. Not that people were particularly slow to get on the boats, just the process was badly organized. Well, you can also call this as "easy going" style if you happen to be in a good mood.

Entertainment -- Typical cruise fair. The production shows were fairly well presented, usually 45 minutes each, repeated for two dinner sittings. A couple of shows were impressive, and above average in my opinion. There was also a guest talent show at the last night.

Medical office -- We visited the medical office due to my son's fever. The doctor and the staff were mostly Italian, and communication to the doctor was translated by a nurse. The medication was Italian too, and probably not familiar to the US visitors. The nice thing, however, was that the price was also Italian (so to speak), and we paid just $18 for three medications. The office visit charge was also low, $40 or $50 per visit during day time. From the office experience, one could tell that the office cared more about the patients than profit. In any case, it's not fun to be sick on a ship.

Other notes -- The muster drill was on the second day, a bit unusual. Fitness center is inside the spa at the very front, and has quite nice eqipment. It is not very large for the size of the ship and therefore quite busy. The steam room and Sauna room have good size.

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