Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Costa
Ship: Costa Magica
Sailing Date: October 30th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Mediterranean
Having enjoyed a perfect Mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean last year, this year my wife and I decided we would like to bring our children on a cruise. This time we selected the Costa Magica. Costa, reputed to be one of the best lines for Mediterranean itineraries, offered a very interesting mix of ports on this sailing. In fact I would say that the diversity of ports was the best part of our trip. In particular the opportunity to visit Malta, Tunis and Palma was outstanding.
The ship is large, very clean and fairly well designed. Cabin sizes are very good. It is a little difficult sometimes to move through the ship due to the layout of the galley and the 2 main dining rooms. In some cases you need to go up 2 decks and back down again to reach some parts of the ship.
The service in the restaurants was very good, however I believe that on any cruise ship, customers expect outstanding restaurant service, so this is not a competitive advantage by any means. At times we found the quality of the food to be below expectations. More often than not, breakfast in the buffet consisted of food that seemed dried out and not hot enough. Evening meals were good for the most part, but occasionally quality was lacking.
Another of the ships great advantages can at times be a disadvantage. Cruising “Italian style” provides a great opportunity to expose our family to new cultures as the majority of passengers are Italian. Unfortunately this also means that some rules of etiquette are strikingly absent. We discovered that line-ups mean nothing to Italians (and perhaps most Europeans) as we went from being front of the line for a shuttle bus to finally pushing our way onto the 4th bus as even little old ladies stepped over us to secure a seat. Also it took the better part of a week after we returned home to erase the overpowering stench of cheap cologne and perfumes from our olfactory nerves. Incidentally this shuttle was a port shuttle from the ship to the port gate in Barcelona – a 2 minute drive that cost 5 euros per person. However the driver never asked for tickets which led us to wonder if Costa had sold us tickets to a free port shuttle bus.
Costa claims to cater to families and that was another reason for our selection. They offer a Squok club that will even watch children while passengers go ashore. We brought our 5 year old to the club on the first day to get him accustomed to the room so that we might be able to have some free time later in the cruise. Unfortunately he sat at one of the computers and was immediately chased away by an angry Costa Child care worked who clearly had not received sound career planning advice. Needless to say he did not want to return to that room.
In summary we thoroughly enjoyed the ports of call and the attentive service of our waiters and porter. However a cruise for a family of five is expensive so due to the atmosphere created by the passengers (and the questionable food quality) I would be inclined to select another cruise line next time around.