Number of Cruises: 21
Cruise Line: Costa
Ship: Costa Magica
Sailing Date: January 29th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Summary: Flawed cruise experience. Take it if the price is right.
Pros: Modern large cruise ship with all the amenities
Cons: Severe cabin noise problem; mediocre food
The ship has a major problem with cabin noise. We were in a central inside cabin on the 6th floor. Every time a show was held in the theatre, it sounded like we were next to a car with one of those bass boom boxes. The room shook and we could hear every word of the show. This gets to be a real problem at 1:30 in the morning.
Additionally, you could hear everything going on in the corridor in the cabin when a show was not going on. There was even light leakage from the corridor into the cabin. This tended to preclude sleeping late.
The common areas of the ship seem to be more than adequate. There are 4 major lounges in addition to the theatre. There is a very large casino. The area for slot machines and the like seems to be about average, but there are a large number of gaming tables; much more than I've seen on other typical ships.
One funky thing about the ship is that you cannot get from one end of most central decks to the other without going up and around. So for instance, if you want to get from one of the Dining Rooms (there are 2) on deck 3 to the theatre, you first have to go up to deck 5, go to the other end of the ship, and then go down to deck 3. The same problem exists in most of the common decks.
Another anomaly is that there are no guest laundromats on the ship. Most modern ships have one. To do laundry on ship you have to submit it to the laundry service with commensurate costs.
There is limited Internet access on ship. Wireless access is not offered. Additionally, the Internet center appears to be unstaffed. It is simply a bunch of machines and you swipe your cabin card. Access was .50 USD per minute of usage.
There is a very nice gym on board. Unfortunately, you probably would not be able to find it. To get to the gym, you have to go to the spa desk and ask them how to get there. You then have to proceed thru a locker room/sauna area (separate for each sex) to get into the gym.
Dining on the ship is fixed seating. There are two dining rooms and you are assigned a table, time and dining room. Most newer ships are more flexible than this; but Costa is an old-world cruise line. Early seating was about 5:30; Late was about 8:30PM. If you were in late seating, you missed most of the shows in the various lounges. Early seating had it's own set of drawbacks. There is one of those pay-extra dining rooms on board the ship, but we didn't use it.
On a 7-day cruise there are two formal nights. By the time of the second formal night, most people just wore suits. There are also supposed to be 2 "smart casual" nights (i.e., wear a suit), but no one seemed to observe them. The last night of the cruise is a toga night. The ship gives togas out to each cabin with instructions as to how to tie them. About 1/3 to 1/4 of the people actually wore them.
There is a buffet open on deck 9. Pizza is available in the buffet area most hours, but there is no separate pizza bar. Hamburgers, fixings, hot dogs and the like are available near the central pool area at the entrance to the buffet. There is a midnight buffet offered each night. There is also a "tea time" replete with snacks.
While food is plentiful, it is not particularly varied or outstanding. For instance, the buffet has 4 stations, but each station serves basically the same food. Deserts were poor (except for some of the midnight buffets). There is a selection of Italian deli meats and cheeses, cut fruit, ice milk,
and breads. There is a choice of about 4 or 5 hot items; typically a fish, chicken, and some other dishes.
Dinners in the main dining room were Italian style in the sense that it consisted of an appetizer, soup, salad, first course (pasta), main course, and dessert. While plentiful, there wasn't much outstanding. The appetizers tended to be strange (some soupy variant of goose pate one
night). Soups were not bad. It was kind of difficult to follow what the salads were from the menu descriptions. A Caesar salad is available each night, but it's served warm and with anchovies as default (but very good.) The pastas all tended to be some kind of large noodle - rigatoni, gnocchi, etc. Angel hair pasta is not available. Mains were kind of mundane. Lobster tails were served one night. Prime rib was available 3 nights, but one of those was the same as the lobster night.
Tea time consisted of three kinds of mini sandwiches - Italian salami and cheese, ham and cheese and tuna. The sandwiches were exactly the same all 7 days, but they would rotate as to what kind of bread they were served on. So one day the ham and cheese would be on white bread, the tuna on rolls. The next day the ham and cheese on rolls and the tuna on white bread.
This ship had to have one of the lowest entertainment budgets I've seen on a ship this size. However, the results were actually impressive for such a low budget.
Shows in the main theatre used pre-recorded music - there was no stage band. (Most of the lounge acts used some variant of pre-recorded/karaoke music, although one of the lounges had a 5-piece band each night.) Two of the 7 nights were revue shows, using the ships resident troop. One night was an amateur talent show (guests). This left 4 nights. One of those was filled by an act from one of the lounges playing (mediocre) classical violin. One night had a prime Italian singer, who apparently is known on Italian TV. Another night had a 50's singer (from some iteration of the Platters). He was pretty good. Another night had a gymnast.
There is a lounge in the center of the ship. Shows here tended to be some kind of guest participation activity. These were well-run and very entertaining. There was the requisite spin-off of the Newly-wed Game (with the same questions asked on every other cruise ship), but there were also other contests including talent and dancing. A second lounge contained the aforementioned 5-piece band.
There were 2 additional lounges. One had a 2-piece Latin combo; the other random entertainment. With the exception of the lounge with the 5-piece band, the music in the other lounges were all augmented with pre-recorded/karaoke music. Additionally there was a teen-age lounge.
I've been to the Caribbean so often, I'm jaded - so don't go by me. There were numerous excursions offered. Cozumel got hit pretty bad by Hurricane Wilma, and the piers were destroyed. As a consequence, we had to be tendered ashore. This was a fairly time-consuming process. Tenders were also required in the Grand Caymans.
Another issue was that Key West was only 1/2 day. However, the ship did not dock in town, but at the Navy pier. This meant that you needed to take a tram from the port to the center of town. Even though the ship left at 1PM, the last tram was at noon. As a consequence, I would guess most people only had 2 or 3 hours total time in Key West.