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Costa Cruises: Costa Atlantica

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Anne_CR

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Jun 8, 2013

Singapore Melacca Penang Singapore

We have Been on many cruises The Atlantica is a beautiful ship however spoilt by the poor organization of the ship And a distinct lack of discipline amongst staff and a casual approach to any queries made by passengers. Embarkation and disembarkation were a fiasco, we waited around for over 2 hours we know some passengers who waited over 5. Cruise stopovers too short and getting back on the ship chaotic Ship tenders were not used but

local vessels. No water available in the queues, on other cruise liners this is the norm. However the evening entertainment was outstanding really the one plus of the cruise. Poor quality and over cooked really institutionalised my mothers is better in an aged care home. As we expected normal balcony cabin. Average Will never travel on Costa again. Disappointing

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Jan 20, 2012

Western Caribbean

I am not interested in cruising with Costa again. They do not give their service personnel any days off and it shows in overall services provided. Everyone from the room steward to the waiters seemed to be robotic. They have no incentive because they never have down time except for a few hours each day. The officers and staff overall had a difficult time conversing in English. If Costa is to continue to cruise in the U.S., they need to remember

who their passengers are going to be, and be prepared. Food was at best average. I had read other reviews stating that foods were routinely overcooked. I found this to be a true statement. It was very similar to most other balcony cabins on other ships. Good storage space. The design of the shower isn't very good. Water tends to wash over the bottom lip, onto the bathroom floor. Similar to other cruise lines. Maybe not quite as varied. Excursions very limited. Most were centered around water activities. More actual sightseeing excursions needed. We don't all love to snorkel, or take boat rides, or lie on the beach and drink. I cruised on Costa Magica in 2005, and found it to be a wonderful experience. But I was so disappointed in the overall staff support of this ship. My jewelry was stolen from my suitcase in between being taken aboard and brought to my stateroom. It was 'lost' for several hours, and finally after 3 calls to the cabin steward and to Guest relations, it was 'found', but without the jewelry inside. Guest relations said that it 'couldn't have happened onboard'. The cabin steward repeatedly forgot essential housekeeping tasks (no face cloths, no soap in the dispenser, not enough toilet paper, leaving the mini bar unlocked even though we asked him not to unlock it, tv not working). I could go on and on. I am from the U.S.A. Americans represented approx 10% of nationalities. I am amazed how utterly rude passengers were daily, as they pushed and shoved their way to get where and they to go. The ship is one of the most beautifully decorated ships that I have seen. Even though it is over 10 years old it still looks almost new. However, my traveling companion and I had lovely table mates and our nightly get togethers at dinner were one of the highlights of our cruise.

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Apr 25, 2011

western

Weather was fantastic. Ports were very nice. Boarding very smooth and disembarkation easiest ever. Miami We thought the food was good but maybe some more choices. Not much seafood and no steak. Salads were nice, I tried some different types. All good. We seldom ate at the buffet because it is the same everyday. Breakfast stations made omelets to order . Very nice. Never offered coffee at dinner we had to ask but once you asked our waiters never

forgot so they would ask the next time. We had very quick service and probably the nicest (and funniest) waiter ever. My kids loved the rolls with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip. Always fresh and on the table. We went on the same cruise the year before but we upgraded(so we thought) to a balcony room for 4 but came to find out it was for 3. The extra space was taken up by a broken rollaway that was in the way. We had more room in the previous cabin inside. Cabin steward kept it clean and beds made, fresh towels and laundry folded. He did his best when the bed broke three times. The only bed he could find was really broken. Springs hanging and tied together with string. My daughter was sagging as that was the only bed they could find. We eventually got back the original broken bed and they fixed it. We complained and customer service said it was not broken without even looking. We have contacted Costa several times and have not recieved any compensation for all the wasted time trying to resolve this issue. Booked through Smart Cruiser. They should have made sure our room was for 4 not 3. Have had no response from them regarding this issue. This was booked 7 months in advance so no excuses. Most activities were a bit goofy with many geared to foreign language guests. We left many and did not participate. Our teens had more fun last year. This year the youth leaders were not as interested in their groups. Events were few and not much fun.. Kids made their own fun with many new friends. Most of the night shows were okay but not enough variety. We went a boat excursion to Dunns River Falls and then snorkelling. Had a great time. That was a must do. Snorkelling better elsewhere but crew was good. Stingray city and hell and turtle farm was a good trip also. Although we were tendered in here(Grand Cayman) the dock was ridiculously busy when it was time to return. Cozumel was very nice. Great shopping but you must negotiate. Overall we had fun with our family and other friends who joined us on this trip. We would have liked having our room issues dealt with but that was not going to happen. We wasted a lot of time trying to get someone to care. There were a lot of very rude people who felt the need to try to cut in lines and push people out of the way. You'd have thought this was their last meal. Smoking should never be allowed in very public areas . You walk by and smelled like cigarette smoke for a long time. Gross. And then there is the inapproprate bathing suits in food service areas. Cover up. It was a rule on the boat but no one enforced that. Probably not going on Costa again. They are still REVIEWING our issue.

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Mar 26, 2011

eastern Caribbean

My husband and daughter and I cruised Costa Atlantica in 2004 and since then the quality has gone downhill. My most recent cruise was with the same daughter and her family( my husband was killed in June) . The waiters in the dining room were impolite and more interested in amusing each other rather than attending to passengers. One night the waiters were flinging napkins around, over my daughter's head. When she tried to explain what kind of a potato

she wanted the waiter cut her off with a " yeah, yeah, yeah". When I was in grade 8 many many years ago, I was taught that you serve from one side and remove from the other, these waiters must never have learned this. They reached right in front of you with no regard to manners. The food was boring with little variation in desserts. Two nights in a row on the buffet we were offered greasy oily sliced potatoes. One night there was too much seafood including squid-- not everyone is a fan of seafood and there was only one non-seafood choice. The wait staff at the buffet were kind and polite, and the room stewards did a great job in keeping the cabin and bathroom well maintained. The television reception was poor with mostly Italian programming. This was my 17th cruise so I have come to expect certain things on a cruise. I won't cruise Costa again, They are not kid oriented for the most part and we were cruising with a 20 month old and a four year old. When you wanted something to drink, half the time you had to walk all over to locate cups for coffee or tea and there was little else available once breakfast was done. Little in the way of juice or lemonade or such. One thing I did appreciate was the deals available on purchasing photographs. The prices dropped the more you bought and I am a big fan of buying photos. On Carnival you get no breaks in pricing so I was very pleased to see the deals on Atlantica. In some cases I paid as little as ten bucks each when purchasing several 8x10 portraits.The lifeboat instruction was a waste of time with all of us sitting in a theatre wearing lifejackets and listening to many languages and seeing sign language but I never did hear any English instructions as to what to do in an emergency. The food was on the boring side, however I really enjoyed the fresh baked rolls and pastries. The stateroom was well maintained and kept immaculately clean. Television reception and programming was not great. I was minding two small grandbabies with early bedtimes so I would have enjoyed some decent tv. I got by just fine with magazines and my Nintendo DSI. I was not much interested in the onboard activities The ports of call were good and I have no complaints regarding that aspect of the cruise.

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Mar 17, 2011

Carribean

This was definitely not what I expected from a cruise. Thought the group we sailed with made this fun, I would not choose a Costa cruise again. The ship itself was quite beautiful, very clean and well kept. They allowed smoking in all areas with a few non-smoking tables, but the smoke smell permeated the ship so that was rather disgusting. The food was really the worst part of this trip. As an Italian ship, I expected too much I suppose. Everything

was overcooked - fish, chicken, vegetables - everything. Sauces were bland, rolls were hard (daily), and this was what was served in the dining room. No lobster night and one steak night which was OK at best. Though I'm not a fan of the gluttonous amounts of food served on cruises, I would order everything at dinner hoping to find something tolerable. The buffets were worse. . Mushy or overcooked food, always the same day in day out. Our table was in agreement that there just wasn't much good to say about the food. Also, the wait staff seemed like they were rushing around as if they were always short handed. We waited forever for drinks and food. The stateroom was really quite nice. It was clean, there was plenty of storage space, and the balcony was comfortable enough. Though I rated service as a 2, that was an overall rating. Our cabin steward was top notch! We saw him very little but whenever we were out we would return to fresh towels, folded clothes and a tidy room. When we had questions he would be right there to answer. Best help on the ship! BORING. Just not much going on at all. But, I don't agree with others' posts that Americans couldn't participate due to language barriers. I think they tried hard to speak in 5 languages and thought we left from Miami and were surprised English was not the first language, it really wasn't an issue. We really love zip lining in the Dominican (Catalina Island). Probably, if you've zip lined before, this isn't the best place to go because it's not really pretty, but if you've never done it (it was our first time) it's well worth it. Much time was spent getting there and back, but it was a blast! I would skip the snuba in Grand Turks. We could have seen just as much snorkeling (and did see as much and more snorkeling in Princes Cays.) Grand Turks cruise port has an amazing pool right behind Margaritaville, so just go get some real food and hang there and and at the beach for the day instead. As we took this trip with a large group of people, we ended up having a blast. The kids (teens) all got together and danced and hung out at the sports area. If it weren't for the group though, there was nothing for kids on board. The younger kids area is hidden away (didn't even see it till the last day) so if you're cruising with children, forget this trip. Many of the passengers on board were incredibly rude - pushing in buffet lines, shoving their way onto elevators, talking over someone speaking, cutting in line after you've waited 10 minutes for guest services, and placing their dirty dishes right on your table. I don't know if this is the norm, but after 7 days of it my patience was shot! I don't think this would be my first choice for cruising again. The cost was quite inexpensive - I suppose you get what you pay for.

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Feb 20, 2011

Western Caribbean

My husband surprised me recently with my first cruise. We were anticipating great food, wonderful excursions and an exciting vacation. The reality was terrible food (Similar to the food served to me at my college dormitory). Very limited time at the ports meant no time to explore and enjoy the different islands. Our cabin was beautiful but was one of the largest on the ship. The ship stewards and butler worked very hard and definately made the overall

experience nicer. Unfortunately for the cost and lack of quality, we will never cruise again! The food was horrible! Most of the food was overcooked and mushy. Poor quality meat was hidden in goopy sauces. The buffets were the same every day and the food was common and poorly prepared. The buffets never had any decent seafood (no shrimp, crab, etc.) The buffets were opened for limited times. Truly this food was institutional food similar to the food you find in a college or hospital cafeteria. The stateroom was lovely, spacious and clean. We had a nice size veranda and a big bathroom with a double bowl vanity and a jet tub. Boring and frequently not happening! Who can say. We were not in port long enough to do anything! The trip was horrible, boring and a huge disapointment. I doubt my husband will ever agree to go on a nother cruise again based upon this one trip. The hot tub was cold...seriously it was the same temperature as the pool. The food was so bad and frequently there was nothing to do. When the ship was at sea the casino was not open. We spent lots of time walking around and looking for something to do. We were so happy for the trip to end!

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Jan 8, 2011

eastern carribean

Our cruise was a marvelous experience. We had a truly wonderful vacation. Beautiful cabin with balcony. We loved the international flavor of the ship and crew. There was always something exciting going on every day. The staff was vibrant and friendly. They seemed to be enjoying their jobs. Some of the dishes were very tasty. Other entrees, like the beef dishes were disappointing. The appetizers were great and so were the soups. The sauces were flavorful

but the desserts were bland. I think the food could be improved with more spices and herbs. The tomatoes and most vegetables were flavorful. Our stateroom was MAGNIFICO! We were pleasantly surprised with the upgrade from inside stateroom to large cabin with balcony. Plenty of closet and drawer space. Good size bathroom. Very comfortable bed. The activities were continuous. Plenty of things to do. There was something to do for everyone. We took advantage of the card and game room and enjoyed dancing and dance lessons in the lounges. We really liked the singers, choreographed shows and a great juggler act in the theater. The casino was fun and even won a little. Don't miss Cozumel's Paradise Beach Club. You'll be able to walk on the beach, get a drink or bite under the palapas or take a snooze in the shaded hammocks. Also the ruins are very interesting. You can pass on Grand Cayman unless you like to shop. it's a shopper's paradise. We had a wonderful time with our relatives. Costa is the best cruise ship we've been on. And we've been on four different lines. The ship is 10 yrs old and the accommodations are updated. We were amazed at the value of our cruise and the hospitality of the staff. We will definitely do this cruise again!

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Oct 22, 2010

Western Carribean

We chose this cruiseline for the initial reason of the price. It also helped that they offer a kids sail free program and in this economy, who can't say that's a welcome treat. We had an excellent time and are in the process of finding our next Costa cruise, this time sailing to the Eastern Carribean. Although my children can be picky eaters, they always found more than enough food to eat. My husband and I enjoyed the selection and never went hungry.

To me it's a little funny that this ship gets such bad reviews for their food yet the dozens of people we talked to were complaining on the fourth day that their clothes were getting snug. Nobody on our cruise had complaints about the food or it's temperature and we all looked forward to going to the main restaurant every evening for our dinner. There was plenty of selection and the servings were more than enough. Our room was more than we could have expected. Very clean and the everything we requested was taken care of in a very timely manner. My husband and children would tend to leave their clothes laying around and our cabin steward would neatly put their clothes folded on the beds. A few days, when my husband and I dropped the children off at the Squok club, we went to our rooms for a short nap and when we would return after enjoying a drink on deck, he already had our bed made up again. Our cabin steward definitely made us feel like royalty on our vacation and my kids and I just thought he was terrific! While our main goal was relaxation, anyone with children knows that that is the last thing on kids minds! We brought our daughter, 8, and son, 7, to the childrens club on the second day after hearing great things from other guests. Our daughter is terribly shy and suffers from separation anxiety but we thought we'd give it a try anyways. After we signed them in I sat in one of the lounges waiting to be paged back to pick her up. When no one paged I took a walk back and peeked in. She was having so much fun and playing so well with the other children!! The staff at the club always remember the kids name and had more energy than I can explain! On our third day while we were eating breakfast 2 of the staff from the club approached us at our table to ask the kids if " they could come play" after our meal. I thought this was really cute! The kids didn't want to leave the club most days and really enjoyed the donut party and ice cream party. Any parent traveling with children knows how priceless it is to have your children entertained and enjoying themselves on holidays!! Costa is exceptional for family travelling!!! We did the sting ray adventure in Cayman Islands. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that both the children and us as adults enjoyed. We had thought about booking the excursions with our agent while booking the cruise but were so grateful we didn't. The prices were between $7-$40 cheaper through Costa. One thing I thought was great was that the staff had been on a lot of the excursions since Costa send two employees with each group, and they were more than willing to share their experiences with us. We avoided spending $40 per person on an excursion in Honduras because the lady at the desk told us it simply wasn't worth it and gave us advice what to do instead. We met another family that evening who had booked that excursion and come the day we went to Honduras, they were very disappointed with it. We however, with the help of the employees, had a wonderful time!!! Bottom line, if you are traveling with kids and are using the amenities geared towards the younger ones, you simply cannot go wrong. As a parent I have heard too many times "I'm bored!" or "this is no fun!'. That didn't happen once with Costa. My kids are looking forward to our next cruise and are adamant we travel with Costa again! My husband and I were very impressed and had a wonderful time on the Atlantica. One thing to keep in mind is that on formal nights, it is formal!! I did feel slightly under dressed a few times at dinner but had a great time anyways. The staff is amazing, the boat is clean and a good time was had by all! Happy sailing!

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Jun 22, 2010

Western Caribbean

We have been on the Atlantica in the past and had a wonderful time. After the last cruise I wouldn't go on a Costa cruise ever again. Horrible service, grumpy staff, ports were not that great. We were promised a $100 on board credit and it was never honoured! The food was disgusting.! Over cooked sometimes undercooked others! Quality was poor. I filled out the comment card and requested to be contacted after and never heard a word. I started ordering

two dinners because there wasn't enough edible on one plate to satisfy. The room was fine but the TV didn't work. Not that big a deal who goes on a cruise to watch TV. But I tried to call and report it to the front desk. The phone rang for 40 minutes before someone answered. poor

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Mar 27, 2010

western caribbean

the entertainment crew was great, very friendly with everyone, got people to join in the fun and dancing. I truly enjoyed every minute When we arrived for lunch they ran out of silverware and we had to wait. The buffet was a disappointment, food that should have been hot was cool, the pizza was soggy and tasted awful.(and this is an Italian ship?) Dinner was another disappointment too many problems there to list. Our waiter was not friendly or accommodating.

I have been on a lot of cruises and this was by far the worse dining experience. The food was average, I had been told that Costa had the best food of all cruise lines. Everyone on the ship that we encountered felt the same as we did, the food was so-so. The service so-so.. We had a wonderful steward, can't say enough nice things about him. He was always there and responded so quickly when needed. very nice We had a great time, thanks to the entertainment crew. I liked the lay out of the ship so easy to get around but sadly We will never do another Costa cruise because of our dining experience.

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Feb 13, 2010

Mexican Magic

Upon arrival to Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.), the check-in process seemed to be easy, despite the various stages of the process that are involved. However, I spoke to many couples who arrived later than we did and they complained that the process was cumbersome and time consuming. Your bags are quickly attended to and this entire process was painless. Upon entering into the check-in building you present your electronic ticket information

and associated cruise documents to a person behind the counter, whom you initially believe will do the entire check-in procedure. However, this is not the case. This person scans your passports and collects your boarding form only then directs you to enter the boat. Immediately upon stepping onto the boat you are greeted by security personnel who take your picture which is for the identification process with the on-board security system. This was a not too bad for us because we arrived early, however, those who arrived later in the day also found this process to be time consuming and a location where a line developed with slow remedy. We were told to proceed to the buffet lunch on deck 9 because our room would not be ready until approximately 130ish. This was fine, but still we received no key and we were told that the key is placed into the stateroom by our room steward, which is a first for us. We have never checked into a cruise without receiving a key, but, this may be a more acceptable procedure than we realize. The Costa Atlantica is a very beautiful ship that is immediately recognized upon the arrival onto the ship in the Dolce Vita lobby area. Brilliant colors and wonderful Italian textiles are utilized throughout the ship and at each venue it seems more striking than the next. The group dinner experience was completely unacceptable and out of all cruises that we have personally experienced, this service was the worst by far. I will not get into too many details because there is not enough space to type out my frustrations. Suffice it to say that we ate there the first two evenings and we decided to eliminate any additional nights in that restaurant and chose to utilize the buffet on deck 9 rather than put up with the poor professionalism exuded by the staff assigned to our table 50, up against the aft windows. I will say that when I made an appointment to speak with Mr. Abruzinni, the Atlantica Hotel Director, he was very respectful and truly concerned about my experiences and even fell on the sword, so to speak, as he was well aware of "issues" within the restaurant in which he is working on repairing. He also brought in Mr. Palumbo, the Maitre D' of the restaurant who also echoed his concern and acknowledgment of the problems. They graciously offered us to eat in their upscale restaurant for the remainder of the cruise as their guests, however, we declined as it is not typically our makeup to accept any sort of remuneration for such issues but rather prefer to bring the problem to the management attention, if warranted, so a future guest doesn't have the same issues. This particular cruise was made up primarily of senior travelers, and an overwhelming amount of International guests, whom the cruise line does cater to, especially since they are an Italian Cruise Line. I would not suggest this particular cruise for families, yet they did offer children programs. If you have a child under three years old, there are no programs for them to participate and the "kiddie pool" on deck 11 is insufficient in comparison to other cruise ships facilities for similarly aged children. Be aware that if you have a child in a stroller, there is no elevator to get you to the level of the kiddie pool, only steps access this area. The tender service in Key West was an awful experience, both in distance that you had to tender and the waiting period to get your tender from the boat, and to the boat. We also tendered in Grand Cayman, as does every other ship because of no formal dock space. However, in this instance the tender was handled by a Cayman organization with larger capacity boats compared to that used in Key West, which were the Atlantica's emergency boats with smaller capacity. I will say that the manner in which they organize the tender service with numbers and waiting in the showroom makes this less painful and more comfortable. We were invited to all of the Captain's events and chose to participate in one of them that was held in the Cafe Florentine, which is an absolutely beautiful venue. It is a cafe that hold perhaps 100 people within its three rooms, all of which are appointed in Italian flare. I cannot comment on the Casino as we did not even go into that location, nor can I comment on the shows, but my wife who did attend said the shows were spectacular. The cruise director, Andrea (male), was seemingly very professional and was seen often around the ship. He came across as being quite friendly and one who loves his job in hosting people aboard the Atlantica. It seems that most senior staff are Italian, as one would expect, and most staff personnel are of Philippine heritage. With the exception of the staff in the restaurant, all were true professionals and were great representatives for Costa. By the way, do yourself a favor and walk around the entire ship to see the various outlets and public spaces. All are really decorated well and some such as Cafe Florentine are exquisite. Overall, the Costa Atlantica would be a perfect cruise for the right crowd. This is NOT a cruise to be taken if you are younger looking for a partying crowd. It is the perfect cruise if you are a senior citizen who likes to dance, get dressed up for formal events (two gala evenings) and mingle with similarly aged people. The departure process was extremely organized and decided by cabin location, with the earliest disembarkation commencing at 745am, and the last being approximately two hours later. If you are in a suite, or a higher leveled cabin, you are the first off. Subsequently, it appeared that the lower your stateroom the later your disembarkation. However, if you have connecting flights, or prefer to depart earlier, the cruise line offered to work with you to get you off within your own preference of time. The food is typically Mediterranean, so remember this is NOT typical American food. If you are going on board expecting that, you will be disappointed. Overall, the food was average, nothing special and nothing that will be remembered. They take the normal short cuts to minimize expense with minimizing on portions and also water down items such as Orange Juice. They also utilize an antiquated system of buying a "book" of vouchers/tickets for a soda program that equates to about $2.50 per can of coke, or non-alcoholic kids drink. The Dolce Vita bar in the main lobby is a great locale for meeting and drinking some excellent libations, served by fantastic servers and staff. We truly enjoyed meeting people there and the staff were all attentive to our needs. We had a balcony stateroom on the 8th deck, specifically 8153. This room has a deeper balcony that was really nice to have. It was nicely appointed, inclusive of a full leather couch that turned into a bed for a third person in the cabin. The bathroom was very nice, although the colors were somewhat out dated, but they did not impact the functionality of the facilities. We had the two twin beds put together which were extremely comfortable with nice linen and a variety of pillows, soft and hard. The terrycloth towels were stained in most cases, yet they were more than usable and did not cause any problems. The television would now be classified as old because it is not a flat screen. However, it certainly was quite functional. Oddly enough, the American affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX were all shown by utilizing the Denver feed on each of them. These were the only English speaking channels, all others were primarily Italian and there was one German channel. If you are a news junkie like me, you will be disappointed that CNN, or Fox News is not available. The stateroom steward, Archie, was one of the best that we have experienced in all of our cruises. He attended to all of our needs and beyond. So much so that my wife decided to give him a private gratuity of $100.00, which speaks volumes of his worth to us. We did not participate in too many on board activities and cannot properly offer an evaluation. We did not utilize on board excursions but rather booked them via the internet on our own.

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Jan 2, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Lines Costa Atlantica Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Carole Terry I chose Costa cruise lines as I traveled with them in Europe in the 1990's. At that time, the service and food was excellent. In addition, I chose Costa as they provided the itinerary I wanted, namely Tortola, Antigua and St. Lucia. Prior to departing, I advised Costa, as did my travel agent, that I had cruised Costa before. On arrival on the ship,

I was advised they had no record of this. I was referred to the Costa Club rep who was on duty one hour a day at the dinner hour. I lined up, spoke to her and she said there would be a cocktail party. When we received no invitation, I reminded her. We subsequently received an invite to a cocktail party at 9pm on January 8. We had dinner at the early sitting so we showed up at 9.10pm and were told the party was over as it was to accommodate late diners. So much for Costa Club. I found the staff at the front desk and the excursion desk very curt and not helpful. Not sure if they were as frustrated as I was with the long lineups to speak to them or in the case of the excursion desk, their limited hours. Every ticket issued by the excursion desk was wrong so we had to lineup again to get it corrected. Lunch hours for dining were changed, without notice, to accommodate those on morning tours but impacted those on afternoon tours. Costa does not facilitate online booking of excursions before you depart. As Costa is a European line, smoking is very prevalent. Yes, there are non-smoking areas but you have to walk through clouds of smoke to reach them.I realize this is a cultural issue but one I was not prepared for. Our English speaking rep, Tatiana, was very helpful, patient and readily available. We tipped her extra. The service and the quality of food in the dining room left a lot to be desired. We had to ask for wine and went three days before our waiter asked if we wanted tea or coffee. A strange thing happened on the Gala night. The crew sat at a table next to us and received far superior service and special food. Why not the paying customers? Our last day on the ship, having breakfast in the dining room, Rupesh Singh waited on us. He was excellent and would be a good one to train the rest of the staff on good customer dining service. I hope you find this as funny as we did. I loved the breadsticks in the dining room. On a couple of days, they didn't have them and I asked why. The answer was "no breadsticks while in port". Never figured that one out. Our room service lady was slow and not attentive. Dirty glasses were removed but not replaced as was the water. A room steward by the name of 'Ted' who heard us talking about our poor room service, attended to our needs every day and he was not even assigned to our room. He went above and beyond. We tipped Ted extra. A bartender by the name of Archie, always brightened our day. His sense of humour and magic tricks were great. We also tipped him extra. Generally speaking the shows were okay. The announcer was definite overkill. A general comment is that it is much easier to board Costa than Princess or Holland America but very disorganized and lineup prone once you are on board. Something to note that I was not aware of until we departed the ship - the mandatory tip put on your credit card could have been waived if you visited the reception desk. In summary, we went to wonderful ports on our cruise, had fantastic weather and met some great people; however, we have already booked another cruise for Europe in the fall and it is on Oceania.

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May 28, 2005

The Baltic

I took this tour because of my longstanding interest in the Norwegian Fjords, and due to the fact that the timing fit nicely into a larger trip throughout Europe. I scoured cruise review sites, and noted a mixed bag of reviews about Costa. In talking to their agents over the phone, I was less than impressed: When I called about the Norwegian cruise, Costa agents twice told me to call another cruise line. I had to instruct the agents that

they actually sailed to this destination. Because of prior reviews, and this experience, I set my expectations very low for this first cruise of ours, which I booked with my wife. The embarkation procedure went very smoothly. Within a few minutes of our arrival at the dock, we were processed and walked the gang plank. Once on board, there were smiling faces of employees stationed everywhere, directing us to our stateroom. It was a fantastic start of the journey, and Costa correctly anticipated that 2000 very confused people would need directions. We toured the ship and noticed how clean it was. This organization appears to have cleanliness as a corporate ideal. Throughout the cruise, employees could be seen cleaning and polishing. My only concern about cleanliness was that the gym, a fabulous workout facility, had no disinfectant and wipes to clean the equipment. I went to the bathroom, stole some hand towels, and wiped the equipment with H2O. We wondered whether Italy’s new smoking ban law would be in effect on the cruise. It was not, and smokers were everywhere. Curiously, while there was no smoking in the dining room and at the lounges by the bars, you could step a few yards away and stand or sit at the bar and smoke at your pleasure. Did not any make sense. We did not smell smoke in our room, which was a big plus, given that smokers can smoke in their rooms. The stateroom was excellent in design. Every space was used efficiently. We elected to get a category 10 room (the top stateroom deck), and the balcony was under a large overhang. This prevented us from seeing some of the tops of the fiords. It was also under a pool deck, and occasionally, we could hear steps and chairs moving. Next time, I would go down one deck. The stateroom attendant was fantastic. She kept the room in fine shape, and got us extra pillows, and towels every day. The crew, mostly from Italy, the Philippines and India, spoke pretty good English. The English hostess was accommodating, but apparently feels that leaving a message on the voice mail system is beneath her. That was the only major complaint about her. The itinerary was great, although I would have preferred that they stop at more fjords, rather than cities. The Kristainsand stop was a waste. We took excursions at Geiranger and Flam. Both were great, but at one of the excursions, the Costa employee was so concerned about a wheelchair- bound passenger, she forgot that there were 30 or so other paying customers who were lacking in information like where to go and when. We toured the cities on our own, and the Kon Tiki and Viking Ship Museums were very worthwhile. The activities on board were plentiful. Something for everyone, although we just liked to walk about after dinner. The food and beverage exceeded our expectations (remember, they were low to begin with). There was some great food in the main dining room, and on two nights, we asked for special meals, that were prepared and presented with cheer by the employees. The disembarkation procedure was handled pretty well if you are assigned a early slot. However, you need to be out of your room by 8:00, and for those with a later disembarkation time, there is a lot of time to wait about. The gym or pools were not open, and even if they were, your luggage is long gone to a holding station. The transfer to the airport cost 20 Euro a piece. This turned out to be a bargain, for we met up with a new-found friend at the airport who took a taxi that cost him about 80 Euro. He suspected that he was given the scenic ride. In summary, Costa exceeded our expectations. The staff was great, the food was acceptable to excellent, the itinerary was what we were looking for, and the boat was in excellent condition. If we took another cruise, we would consider using Costa again.

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Feb 20, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Cruising Italian Style is a unique and interesting one. This is my third time on Costa so I feel real confident sailing with them. Embarkation was organized for the most part; the set up is similar to an airport except everyone is getting on the same ship. Once I arrived on the ship the interior decoration immediately stood out, there is Italian art work and furniture everywhere, beautiful to the eye. The crew are very nice people that

are always eager to help you. I stayed in a category 10 which is an ocean view with a balcony; it was very nice and spacious. The dining was exceptionally good; I enjoyed the different types of foods they had to offer. I know when you think Italian Cruise Line you think of Italian food, but they did have other choices that cater to your American taste. I don’t gamble too much but if I was a high roller the casino would be more than adequate for me, they had almost every game you could imagine. The ports of calls were your usual Eastern Caribbean ports. However, I did make the very best of it by taking shore excursions and having a good time with my wife (we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary). To sum it up, our trip with Costa was exciting as always and I cannot wait until our next cruise this summer when we go to the Greek Islands on the Costa Victoria. I would recommend this cruise line any day; they provide you with a European style of cruising which is a wonderful way to get away from your typical American lifestyle.

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Feb 6, 2005

Western Caribbean

Well this was the 1st cruise that my husband and I have taken, so obviously I am not familiar with the other cruise lines. I do have to say that the ship was very beautiful. A lot of nice little well decorated spots to hang out in. Like I said I have never cruised before but I do appreciate fine food, and the food was not so fine, maybe not used to authentic Italian cuisine, I was disappointed with the food, even a hair in my appetizer,

I guess it could happen, just kind of turned me off. The entertainment was horrendous. I was expecting some type of latin/african music like " bongo or cylipso" not quite more like "Volare and YMCA" oh well. The ports were the best of all, we had excellent shore excursions, cannot complain at all, except that when we went to Grand Cayman Island, we needed to get back on ship like 3 hours early but that was not the ships fault, bad weather. Would I recommend this ship? Not if you want a party fun time and if you are expecting great food, More older crowd, I guess next time I will just fly and enjoy the resort. I am more of a land type of person!!!

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Jan 12, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Great time. Beautiful ship. Make sure you get a balcony room. It is an absolute must and would never cruise without one. Very decent food. Great staff with great service. For the money i couldn't be any more happier. I took Carnival before and spent a lot more for a lot less. This was much better. European flair.

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Dec 26, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Italian Style …is not American Style. Embarkation: The most disorganized event of my adult life. .Cattle trains in the old west did a better job The Ship Beautiful to the eye. But do not look to close because you will see things that are in need of cleaning, repair or replacement. The Crew Very nice people that want to help as much as possible….if they could understand you. The Cabin 6702 Very nice and roomy, well

kept comfortable. Dinning: The 9th Floor buffet was on a par with most ships in this class. The Dinning room itself was sub par Casino: Cleary understaffed and the dealers all where from Romania, this is ok if you plan to play 21/blackjack all the time. If on the other hand you play craps or roulette then bring you calculator because American Math and Romanian Math does not match up. Ports of Call Same old places with some facelifts Disembarkation: This made the embarkation look organized. First they bring you back to a pier other then the one you left from and no pre sailing notice of this. Summary Cruising as we once knew it is over. There is no incentive to do a better job then the other guy because they all work for the same guy. The personal service (for better tips) is even gone. Although I enjoy the bigger casino, I guess I have no choice but to go on Luxury class only

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Dec 5, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

My wife and I sailed aboard the Atlantica to the Eastern Caribbean this December 2004. While we found the ship itself to be very elegant and the bulk of the staff very helpful, we were not as pleased as we should have been. To begin with the positives; the dinning room staff and fare was superb! The quality, quantity, and presentation were excellent! The ships décor and cleanliness was also excellent. We found the shows and events to

be fun and very enjoyable and scheduled well to accommodate all passengers. However, now the negatives. We found the ship to vibrate something awful while underway. It felt as if the ship was not equipped with stabilization as it rocked and “shuddered” in even calm waters. We have been on other ships and have not experienced this type of vibration or movement before. While having lunch in the rear of the dinning room directly above the propulsion system, it was difficult to get the food to your mouth before the vibration shook it off your fork! This was funny yet very irritating at the same time. The cabins were tasteful and well proportioned yet they lacked the small touches of other ships such as mints or chocolates on the pillows. The cabins were clean at all times but never made you feel special in any way. The buffet was dismal at best. The food was plain, unimaginative, and in short supply. There was little to no service and finding silverware was a adventure. The ice machines amounted to Coleman ice chests and a scoop, and the milk, juice, and ice tea machines rarely worked. And finally, smokers were everywhere even in elevators! If you do not smoke, there is nowhere to get away from it. Overall these little items really took a toll on our satisfaction with the cruise. I do not see us sailing this line again as we have had much better experiences on other lines and for less money as well. Too bad Costa, a little attention to detail would have made this an excellent cruise!

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Nov 28, 2004

Western Caribbean

I enjoyed my Costa Atlantica cruise EXCEPT for the following: 1. My friend and I booked our room on the first floor. BIG mistake! We did not get one night of sound sleep because our room must have a location near the kitchen galley or boiler room. There was loud clanging during the middle of every night like the sound of banging vats and pipes. We asked for another room, but were told there were none available. No urgent attention was

given to this matter. In addition, our friend on the other side of the ship on the 1st floor complained of hearing the noise associated with the casino in the middle of the night. Included with this huge sleeping inconvenience for someone wanting a restful vacation, the first floor corridors smelled like a musty basement. I heard several people comment on this as I walked to and from my noisy room location. 2) The food at the buffets on the 9th floor could be of higher quality. Sometimes the items offered did not even look appetizing. Also, one midnight buffet dish included chicken that looked like leftover wings and keels among other gross looking chicken parts. I was not impressed! I will say that the evening dining room offered good food and good service. I tried to go down there for my breakfast as well. I complained about these items on the questionnaire given at the end of the cruise and will contact Costa cruise lines to complain further. I deserve some sort of compensation for lack of ability to sleep soundly. I enjoyed Atlantica's good, quality entertainment and activities and the beauty of the ship. If it were not for the above items, I would rate the cruise as generally a good experience. BUT BEWARE of booking on the first floor if you want good nights of sleep!!

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Nov 28, 2004

Western Caribbean

Well, let me count the ways. First, the ship's lifeboat drill didn't happen until the afternoon of the first day at sea, 24 hours after sailing, interrupting the afternoon fun and games. The ship is smoker-friendly, making all lounges and even outdoor bars unsuitable for many people to linger. The deserts at lunch and dinner where by and large inedible. The best part of the cuisine was the daily pasta specials. The entrees were touch

and go. A veal scallopini was almost as tough as a saddle. The shows were over the top; no comedian (a first!), and a very boisterous but un-charming cruise director MC. The ship itself is a baroque treasure, decorated within an inch of its life, but elegant to be sure. The ship's gym is first-class, the pools are spacious and three of them mean there is room to swim and lounge on the decks. The jogging track does not record how many laps to a mile. Some may be put off by the multi-lingual nature of the ship's public announcements and even the passenger roll, but it is a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. The western Caribbean ports of call are dull, by and large, and Grand Cayman offers no bargains (Why should they? It is a money drop for super wealthy people who can pay full price. This stop should be purged from every cruise line's itinerary).

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Nov 28, 2004

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Lines Costa Atlantica 7-Day Western Caribbean Barry I have been on many cruises with most of the major cruise lines . I had heard good and bad about Costa , just like with anything there is good and bad . I went on Costa Cruises mainly to see how it stacked up verses the other cruise lines . Wow! The ship was amazing , very clean , very well laid out , great size for the cabins and a wonderful value for the money . The

staff was among the most helpful , friendly staff of any I have ever been on . They tried very hard to please everyone ( which is always a hard thing , especially with some people ) . The shows at night were simple variety type shows . I have seen better on some other ships but because i have been so many times I asked around to other passengers . The other passengers loved the shows and thought the presentation, costumes , music were wonderful . The food , this is an issue for Costa as they are trying to please the Americans on board as well as their European clients that come to America to enjoy Costa and the Caribbean . The meals have a little of everything . At breakfast there is the usual American fare and also things the Europeans eat like cold cuts , hard boiled eggs , cheese plates were available . The lunches were good , the afternoon tea was among the best of any cruise line to date . The dinner seemed rather plain without a lot of thought . This was disappointing to me as Italians are great cooks and they much have left them in Italy when the ship crossed the Atlantic . The food was plain old Sysco mass market food that was rather bland . I was expecting wonderful Italian desserts ,gelato,etc. The ice cream was like a generic store brand , the cakes and pies - Sara Lee does a much better job . However, again , I am comparing to other cruise lines . The other guests onboard loved the food and desserts and thought it was wonderful . I never heard any complaints . Smoking seems to be a common thing that is brought up in many reviews . Yes , people smoke. They do on all ships . I think that Costa did a decent job in having things divided into smoking and non smoking areas . However, there should not be smoking allowed in the lobby area or at the lobby bar as it is a very common space and seemed to bother both smokers and non smokers alike in that one area . I never saw anyone smoke in a non smoking area and never saw anyone on an elevator smoking . Overall - Costa was a great ship ! Great staff and a wonderful value for the money! I would definitely go again and again!

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Nov 28, 2004

Western Caribbean

There comes a time when the ship becomes a destination in itself, and that is what has happened with the Costa Atlantica for us. This is the fourth time we have sailed on this elegant ship; each time we marvel at her ornate beauty and the many distinctive areas in which passengers can enjoy the pure celebration of all things Italian: wonderful food, wines, art and of course music. We have done the Western Caribbean itinerary many times,

so this cruise was booked for pure relaxation and pleasure on board. This ship is dedicated to the Great Italian Federico Fellini, film director extraordinaire, and both decks and corridors are named and imbued with the character of the Maestro. There are a multitude of enlarged paparazzi style photographs of the '50s and 60's period of "La Dolce Vita" by Tazio Secchiaroli. The many actors of the times are forever preserved at the height of their beauty and youth, including the following: Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardiner, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, David Niven and of course Marcello Mastroianni, etc. All are shown strolling on the streets of Rome, which brings back our own youth, nostalgically renewed while we stroll around this magnificent ship: Ah, Marcello Mastroianni driving a Triumph sports car with Carlo Ponti holding on to his Fedora and seated next to him. Oh look, there is the movie star, sex goddess Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Fontana di Trevi. There is Fellini walking right up the middle of Via Veneto, as if he owns it, which he did in those days! Thanks to the Costa Atlantica, we are invigorated by our youthful memories of Rome and another more elegant and playful time. EMBARKATION In Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the Costa Atlantica was berthed at Pier 21. Baggage handlers quickly took our luggage and we went directly to a separate Check-in Counter for Wheelchair and Suite passengers. There was a crew member to assist us: We arrived at 12:30pm and were on board by 1:00pm. Very efficient. In our Panoramic Suite we were greeted "Italian Style" with a bottle of Prosecco Spumante chilling, a huge assortment of fresh fruit ( Mangoes, grapes, kiwi, strawberries, etc.) and a wonderful floral arrangement of exotic flowers (orchids, antherium, pittsoporum, etc.) all coordinated by our terrific Butler Alex Cortes. We were off to the "Welcome Aboard" buffet, where cruisers recognize immediately the Italian influence on food and service. We have already published three reviews of the Costa Atlantica, so this review will concentrate on what "Cruising Italian Style" means. We met Captain Giuseppe Russo, an elegant gentleman, who wanted to converse with Vincent in their Neapolitan dialect. This took Vincent back 50 years to his youth and memories of Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno and the Amalfitan Coast. We also met Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whose knowledge of the Costa Atlantica goes back to construction days at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard in Finland. She was kind enough to share her insight with us. SHIP The Costa Atlantica is first of six sister ships: Costa Mediterranea, and Carnival's Spirit, Pride, Legend and finally the Miracle. Having sailed on all but the latter, we feel that the Atlantica is the one whose interior is most true to Italian design. Here are many exquisite reproductions of fine Italian paintings by Titian, Botticelli, Raphael etc., original venetian glass work in passage ways, stairwells and elevators, and a multitude of artworks by a dozen or more contemporary artists, which make this ship a truly floating museum. However, the most characteristic place on board is the beautiful replica of the famed Caffe` Florian (original in Piazza San Marco, Venezia). This caffe` with its frescos, along with the Fellini memorabilia and the beautiful artwork throughout the ship, evoke Italian Style. Costa Atlantica also has a Pompeian mural recreated down to the original cracks in the fresco. The bird cage elevators in the atrium give passengers a wonderful view of this well executed reproduction of an ancient Pompeian painting as they ride. The ship's statistics are a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide with a gross tonnage of 85,000. Eighty percent of her cabins are ocean view and most of these have private balconies. We refer you to our previous reviews for ship details and deck by deck descriptions. CABIN Suite #6219 is quite familiar to us, since we have stayed in it before. Combinations of dark and light woods, brass, copper and granite all give the effect of a traditional Captain's quarters on a brigantine. It is large roomy, stylish and comfortable, all in warm shades of peach and coral. When entering on the left, there is a small ante room with a lighted vanity and two huge wardrobes; then there is the full bath with two sinks and a Jacuzzi tub with shower. The bathroom is done in marble, tile and granite. Next is a full granite bar, a private safe, TV, a huge dresser and two more wardrobes. There is also a king sized bed with night stands and reading lamps. When entering on the right, there is a mirrored wall and a desk with mahogany pillars and ebony capitals and a refrigerator. There is a leather sofa bed, a comfortable arm chair and a large granite coffee table. The far wall has a floor to ceiling window and a door to the balcony which holds two teak chairs and a table. In addition, our wonderful steward Anna Agustine brought a chaise lounge for Vincent. The draperies and sheers were coordinated to the bed linens and there was even a blackout drape. Excellent. FOOD & SERVICE Under the close eye of Ann Ryan, both food and service are great. We usually reserve a table for two near the dining room entrance and table #276 was just that. We still enjoyed conversing with the couple at the next table, who were curious about Vincent's wine selections and items on the menu. The lady was turned on to Prosciutto & Melone (Napoleon and Josephine's wedding breakfast) which she proceeded to order frequently. Unique to the Costa Line is the placement of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each table. We were pleased with the quality of both ingredients and we used only these condiments for the entire cruise on the excellent fresh, crunchy rolls, bread sticks and salads. Food favorites are very personal; however, "when in Rome...," we suggest trying the Italian specialties, you will not regret it. Executive Chef Paolo Maspera runs a great galley. At Ms Ryan's suggestion, we tried the Pizzeria at 10pm where four different types of pizzas were piping hot. We noted that the crew was waiting for the hot pies to arrive, so we knew that changes had been made and the quality improved. We now can say the pizza is good on the Costa Atlantica. Food & Service in the Tiziano Dining room and all around the ship are under the expert direction of Maitre D' Ciro Onorato, whom we had previously met on the Costa Mediterranea. He frequently visited us at our table to ascertain that everything was to our satisfaction and recommended us to his Assistant Maitre D' Riccardo for anything we may desire. We wish to thank them both for their courteous attention. Our waiter Randi and his assistant Dan were excellent. Both food preparation and presentation were wonderful. The menu and quality were superb. The only culinary lapse was in the soups. They were certainly not traditional and mostly bland. For example, French onion soup was not a clear broth but rather a potato thickened one, and certainly the clam chowder was not creamy. Several of our fellow passengers commented in a similar fashion. However, the rest of the menu was delicious, including appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. The wine list included a variety of good wines, moderately priced. Guest Relations Manager Gisella Iasi is friendly and cordial even in the face of rudeness from a passenger: A female travel agent wanted to view occupied cabins at 10am and would not understand why both the request and the timing were inappropriate. All this occurred while we were being assisted by Gisella; so, we turned to the agent and politely told her that obviously she was in a bigger hurry than we were; thus, she should be served before us and we would return later and wait on line again. None of this made an impression on the rude woman. Gisella you deserve a medal for that one. We know that service on board emanates from the Captain and the Hotel Director on down. Both Captain Russo and Hotel Director Ryan are detail people who exemplify the manners their crew emulate. ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is an old acquaintance of ours from the Costa Romantica, 8 years ago. He has come up through the ranks and knows how to engage passengers and entertain them. His rendition of "Just a Gigolo" at the Thursday night Variety Show was a great opener. Each evening the crew using games got passengers to participate in programs all over the ship. MINGLE was the buzz word. There is musical entertainment all over the ship. Salone Corallo on Deck 1 had one of our favorite singers accompanied by the Nite Out Band. Tiziana Sinagra (Sicilian), who sang in both English and Italian ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?" "Only You," "New York, New York" and "O Sole Mio") has a powerful voice and a range that rivals the famous Yma Sumac. The Caruso Theatre presented New Yorker John Ciotta an Italo American tenor, who brought the audience to its feet. There was also a "Classical Concert At Sea" featuring violin virtuoso Joan Badea of Romania accompanied by Mihail Zadic on piano. Their repertoire included "Roumanian Rhapsody" by Enesco and "Czardas" by Monti. They were brilliant playing very difficult pieces. They also performed at the Caffe` Florian. There were games like Bingo, Bridge and Casino Tournaments, Trivia and Passport Visa Night. Any passenger who collected four stamps at the ethnic (Greece, France, Spain and Turkey) shows received $100 off their next Mediterranean Costa Cruise. The nice mix of activities is eclectic enough to satisfy all passengers. Even Ann K. celebrating her 90th birthday, while on her 100th Costa Cruise was having a good time! PORTS OF CALL Since we have cruised the Western Caribbean and visited these ports many times, we did not leave the ship at all. During port days we enjoyed the ship by getting a hydromassage in the whirlpool early in the morning and then leisurely visiting the various interesting public areas. We did not have a rigid schedule, our priority was relaxation. And relaxed we were throughout this cruise! Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale Departure: 7:30pm Day 2. Key West Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 1:00pm Day 3. At Sea Day 4. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 7:00pm Day 5. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:30pm Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:00pm Day 7. At Sea CONCLUSION This was a great cruise, almost a perfect one. This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and the fourth on the Atlantica, so we knew well what to expect, and everything met our expectation. The delicious Italian cuisine, the friendly and festive atmosphere, meeting again old acquaintances, Maitre D' Ciro and Cruise Director Max, and making new friends is truly "Cruising Italian Style." What more to expect? Not much! The Pizza on board has improved since our critical review of an earlier cruise on the Atlantica, and hopefully, when we'll return on a Costa ship, in a not too distant future, the soups will be better. We feel that Costa Management listens to passengers and tries to achieve the highest possible customer satisfaction. We did notice a large number of cruisers at the repeaters' party, where we met a ninety year old lady celebrating the 100th cruise on Costa, a telltale indication of satisfied customers. Happy Cruising Italian Style!

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Nov 28, 2004

Western Caribbean

I have been a travel agent for about 15 years now and have sailed on atleast 20 cruises and have seen many others on ship inspections . Costa is the only cruise line I have not been on to either cruise or see one of their ships . I have always been somewhat nervous about sailing or offering Costa to my clients as I have always heard mixed reviews . So , I chose Costa for my own personal vacation this year . Wow is all I can say about

the wonderful ship , fantastic service and staff . The crew was extremely friendly and helpful at all times . It was nice to have the bar staff walk by in the pool area and not bother you with yelling out bar service or begging you to get a drink like on most other cruise lines . The cabins are all very good size and have tons of storage in comparison to other ships I have been on . There are 3 pools . One was supposed to be a "quiet" pool but somehow or another children still used the pool All the cruise lines now want to be " kid friendly " . That's great but the adults need their space as well . Also , the cruise line did not enforce no young children in the whirlpools and many bad parents used the whirlpools for their young children as the childrens pool . There is a great childrens pool onboard the ship ,right near the kids activity center . The food onboard was ok . I have had better .At the breakfast and lunch buffets you just had to be selective to get something you liked . There was a good selection so it was fine once you figured out what you did and did not like . The food at dinner was the same way . There was 1 night I sent back 2 entrees . However, the 3rd entree was a charm and was wonderful . Costa is a low priced cruise line but delivers a fantacstic value . Some people complain about the smokers . Yes , like on all ships , people do smoke. There were designated areas for smokers and non smokers . The shows were simple family friendly variety type shows . I felt like I was in the movie Dirty Dancing in the Catskills at times . The entertainment that was available was good clean fun . There were 2 couples at our table , they had been on the cruise for 14 nights and loved the food and the shows ! They could not have said enough good things about the staff and the ship . I would recommend this cruise line as a great value . There is better food on Celebrity Cruise Lines and better shows on some other lines but the cost is almost double what you find on Costa

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Nov 21, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

I recently returned from my 5th cruise, but my 1st one with Costa. The ship is absolutely beautiful. I've been on the major cruise lines and Costa Atlantica truly tops them all in the decor department. We had a nice balcony cabin (we actually purchased an outside cabin but were upgraded since the majority of the ship is balcony cabins). I give Costa an A+ in the entertainment department as well. Great nightly shows, great lounges, truly

something for all tastes. Besides the first night, the service was very good throughout. Now on the negatives, VERY POOR itinerary. We arrived in San Juan at 4:00 pm. There was no time to go to the beach, the shops all close at 6:00 and there was basically nothing to do after that. It made me feel like they bring you in there just to make you go into the casinos! We arrived in Nassau, Bahamas at 1:00 pm and departed at 5:00 pm. Bahamas has a fairly large downtown area and that barely gave us enough time to get off the ship run through the shops and make it to Atlantis for a quick tour. They bring you into La Romano in the evening. You need transportation to get anywhere. Your only option is to pay for a tour or pay for a taxi to take you into the city, but nothing on foot. Although Costa doesn't make a secret of the itinerary, being a travel agent, I've noticed that one usually compares the ports when choosing a cruise, but not the times. Be aware! Overall, this was a pleasant experience.

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Aug 7, 2004

Baltic

I had my first experience on Costa and I'm very enthusiastic about its costumer care. I have had many previous experiences with almost all the major Cruise Lines such as Celebrity, RCC, Princess, Cunard, Carnival etc., and I have to admit that I was a bit skeptic about an Italian Cruise Line. We chose two cruises , the Norvegian Fjords and the Baltic Capitals from the 08/8/2004 to 08/22/2004 and we request the complete packages (airplanes,

transfers, hotels) to Costa. PRE CRUISE I received the cruises documents for my Travel Agent. The booklet was the most complete the most explanatory I ever had. All was clearly reported and nothing was left undefined or unclear. We had a very good assistance form the Costa representative, arriving and departing from Copenhagen and from and to the port. We really felt sheltered from them. There were a Costa help desk in each hotel ( The Square and Admiral) and the representative were very helpful and nice, giving us a letter with the welcome of the Cruise Line and all the information we need during our stay and the scheduling of the drop in and drop out services. The rooms at our hotel booked directly from Cruise line were very good. I liked a lot the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen. It’s a very particular building, and it deserves a stay. The embarkation was very smooth, notwithstanding the security procedure with a warm welcome by some members of the crew coming into the amazing “La Dolce Vita” Atrium. THE SHIP The ship is fine and it’s a very big vessel, very stable and very silent (sometimes I asked to myself if we were sailing or not), no seasickness (yahoo!). The cabin (we choose the first deck and one inside cabin) was very comfortable and full of space in the cabinets and in the drawers. Our Cabin steward Rodney from Philippines, was very kind and professional and he made a good job also with the Laundry service (very professional) The most of the passengers were Italians, then we had a great representatives of Spanish (very cheerful and nice), then Germans, Portuguese and French people. Although it is a smoker free ship, I never felt a smoke smell in all the vessel. The lounges are all beautiful and inspired to our Federico Fellini. The most requested lounge was the Piazza Madame Butterfly, where two duo singers and players performed (all very good). This is maybe the focal point of the ship, where many activities are held. The most of the Italian guest skipped some lounges like Caffe’ Florian, always desert. It’s a pity that a so vast space is often oven like. The Olympia Gym very big and full of any kind of gears. The outside decks are very well maintained, and there where sun chairs all with soft mattresses. The three swimming pools are very nice, and when the weather was not very good , the middle swimming pool was covered by the crystal mega dome. All seems not very overcrowded. The Coral Lunge, directly down to the Caruso Theatre, was a nice place for dancers and for parties. It should be more improved by different performances. I appreciate a lot the most beautiful glass vases collection in each level near stairways and lifts. FOOD The Botticelli Buffet has 4 buffet lines plus two smaller lines dedicated to cakes and ice cream and to the Health Corner. Each day two buffet lines were dedicated to a typical national dishes (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, and- one of the best- to the Italian seafood). Outside the Botticelli Buffet and in the Ginger and Fred Pools and the Aurora Pools after, there were two grill line served breakfast and typical grill food like Hamburger, French fries, and hot dogs ( quite far from Italian taste ) About food....(I increased 2 kilos!!!!!!! I hate Costa!) very, very Italian. The taste of the food is very good, we often ate fish, frequently fresh - they grant us that trucks from Genova reach the Atlantica every 3 days!- and it's true because we ate some kind of Italian specialties that you can find only over here!. The buffets are very different and various (one day I counted 5 different kinds of pasta (2 kind of spaghetti dressed with different sauce - Carbonara and the other with tomato sauce olives, anchovies and caper, one oven polenta topped with cheese, Gnocchi di semolino - better that the ones that my mom and I make at home, and chick peas soup), plus grilled prawns, fried calamari, mussels....at last a great and good quantity of food! I had to notice the continuous check in the restaurants and buffets of the Maitre D' , Mr. Fernando Sanna and the Director of Services, Mr. Percivale. .They were everywhere! The Tiziano Restaurant is a very wide two stores dining rooms, sober, and well decorated. We requested a table for two on the second seating (9,30 pm, maybe later for not Italian guests) but the service was very smooth and attentive. Our waiters (Gabriel from Romania and Wayne from India) was very carefully ( I requested a special bread and I found it each dinner on my table thanks to the cares of Wayne). Both waiter was always ready to fulfill any our requests. The service in the dining was very, very good, I felt sheltered and cared from our maitre Mr. Salvatore, who had a nice and pleasant words for all his guest. The executive chef, Mr. Paolo Màspero, is a young man from Genova or Liguria and he received the bigger applause and standing ovation from all the guests during the farewell dinner. He deserve all the ovations. (I congratulate with him personally). All his staff make a very good job. For the first time in a back to back cruise we had for dinner an additional menu, a second chose of the regular menu. Cakes was very good (specially soufflés, Pastiera - one Neapolitan specialty, and fruits sorbets, as also starters (we appreciate grilled oysters and the delicious and very special “Frittella di Gianchetti” a sort of pancakes made with baby fishes. Excellent seafood dishes, soups, and some little surprise like fried calamari or bruschetta that sometimes were served. To say the true pizza was not very good, and the afternoon tea is a little bit lack. They must improve the variety of the snacks (On the Infinity I had one of my best afternoon tea, my mom said the elegant tea on Cunard was a must!) ENTERTAINMENTS AND CREW The crew on board are very nice and patience, and the service is very attentive....specially the personnel at Reception, always ready to solve any kind of problems. The Captain Welcome cocktail and the repeaters cocktail are very sober and elegant, no hint about business affairs, and the our Master Giuliano Bossi welcome all the guest with some beautiful and poetical words....in 5 languages - at last Italian. The shows are very good and the Cruise Director, Mr. Michele Esposito, and his staff was very nice and not too much invasive.... OTHERS We had a very good service from the free shuttle, available by the ship in the most ports, and the program of the day named the "Today" is very full of information ( I bring with me a copy of it and plus a copy of the menu of Gala Dinners). I forgot! We had a surprise from the Master of the ship. We were sailing trough Flam Fjord, directions Bergen. The ship made a little deviation to another little pristine Fjord. We reached a very amazing place! A minor harbor. Two little villages, between mountains and a glacier, waterfall, little red houses, no kind of noise, and the ship made a couple of rotations allowing all the passengers to watch this fairy-tale landscape. It’s a night lovers ship. I was very happy about this because I remember a cruise made in the Caribbean some years ago on board another ship, when the most of the activities were over around 10,30 pm. What a bore! Except two Gala evenings each week, suggested dress is casual, but I must consider that from Spanish People to French, the most was wearing a semi formal robes during the informal evenings. Not much tuxedos. So at last one of my best experience I never had of all my cruises (Obviously I'm not talking about luxurious cruise lines!) It was my best cruise considering the quality/price factor. I wish to suggest Costa to all the people who expect to live a very Italian experience an loving to be always followed and pampered by a very efficient and very discrete organization and a living cruise.

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Apr 10, 2004

Western Caribbean

Our party of eight ( my husband & I, sister & brother in-law, 18 yr old daughter and her three friends) just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Costa Atlantica. I, like a former reviewer, am glad that I didn't read some of the previous reviews before we booked this cruise. This cruise was booked in celebration of our daughter and her friends' graduation and I was extremely nervous after reading some of the reviews

posted on this site. My nervousness was for naught because we all had an extremely wonderful experience. Upon arrival at the Fort Lauderdale Airport we took two taxis ($11.00 for 4 passengers per taxi) to the port terminal, dropped off our luggage and proceeded to the embarkment area. The entire embarkment procedure took less than 10 minutes for our entire party. This is our fifth cruise and this was by far the quickest and smoothest embarkment we have ever experienced. Our cabins were not ready yet so we proceeded to the theater and were given information about some of the excursions. After about 20 minutes one of the cruise staff announced that our cabins were ready. We had booked 2 balcony cabins and 1 inside cabin which were all on Deck 6. The balcony cabins were nicely decorated and it was nice to have a couch to sit on instead of just the beds. I loved having the balcony and took some absolutely fabulous sunrise pictures. Our cabin steward, Celso, was very courteous, prompt & attentive. He always greeted us with a smile (even after cleaning the room of our four teenage girls). The dining room staff was equally as courteous & attentive. We had a table on the first floor at the first sitting. Our waiter, Eric (Omar), and his assistant paid close attention to our preferences the first night and every night thereafter remembered to bring us what we preferred. Not an easy task with a party of eight. Eric always had a smile on his face and would remind us of the events going on later in the evening. Our goodbye hugs the last night were indeed genuine as we enjoyed our time spent with Eric. The maitre'd, also made a point of coming around to our table almost every night to make sure that everything was okay. The conga line, Baked Alaska parade, Roman parade and the waiters/dancers on the second floor balcony added an extra touch of fun to our dining experience. I wouldn't say the food was exceptional, but was very good and there always was a variety to choose from. >From the very first night, the cruise staff under the direction of Cassandra, was great! Their excitement and exuberance was contagious. They were all very friendly and engaging. One of the girls in our party asked if the staff on the other cruises we had gone on was this friendly and engaging and I told her that this was by far the most friendly staff we had encountered. From the dance lessons to the 50's party to the Roman Toga party a great time was had by all! We felt that the night time shows in the Caruso Theater got better and better as the week went on. One of the reasons we chose this itinerary was the fact that there were 4 ports of call and only 2 days at sea. Unfortunately, due to windy weather, we were not allowed to dock in Ocho Rios by the port authority. Our ships captain did however arrange for us to dock in Montego Bay - a port which we could have done without. As far as I'm concerned, it was a wasted stop. Once we returned to Ft. Lauderdale, debarkment also went smoothly. Not as quickly as embarkment, but smoothly nonetheless. We located our baggage, hired a porter, were out the door , into a van and at the door of the airport in about 40 minutes. In summary, we all had a wonderful time on the Atlantica. We enjoyed the variety of different nationalities and languages. Even if we had to listen to all the announcements in five languages! I do believe that because this was Easter vacation week there were a greater number of families and children than if it were a non-holiday week, which contributed to a more lively atmosphere all- around. I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anyone and would book this cruise again for our family. As in anything, when you have 2500 people in one place at the same time, you get 2500 different opinions and versions. I believe that if you look for and dwell on the negative then you will have negative experience. We all went into this expecting to have a great time and wanting to take in everything we possibly could in the week we had onboard. Therefore, we have great memories of our wonderful experience on the Costa Atlantica.

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Feb 15, 2004

Western Caribbean

AFTER I booked my cruise I read several negative reviews about Costa on this and other websites and I began to panic. Fortunately I found several of the criticisms to be untrue and I had a fairly fantastic time, despite having what has to have been record bad weather (no sun, no suntan, 62 degrees and raining cats and dogs in Cozumel). The Falsehoods: 1. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures are a lengthy disorganized mess.

Maybe for those who had the Costa airport transfers, but when I arrived at the dock in my taxi ($15 with tip from Ft. Lauderdale airport) there was no line whatsoever and I'd say I was onboard the ship in about 10 minutes. I WAS greeted with the bizarre salutation, "Hello. Please go to your room," but that was obviously just due to a language barrier and it made me laugh. Just as when I check into a hotel, I was perfectly capable of finding my room without escort. The luggage piling up by the elevators did occur, but I think it actually makes sense to use that as a staging area, rather than make the passengers wait hours for their suitcases to be delivered another way. I found my own suitcases sitting by the elevator and just took them to my room myself to save the time and to save the guys the hassle. There's a reason I bought rolling luggage -- it's easy to move myself and I was happy to have the exercise after the plane trip. As for disembarkation, okay it came about 4 hours before I was ready to leave the ship, but, without the encumbrance of a Costa transfer, it was easy peasy. For $5 we got a porter who helped us find our luggage, marched us through customs, hailed a cab and got our luggage loaded into the trunk. Another $10 or $15 and we were at the airport and the luggage was at the curbside check in. I’d say from the moment of leaving the ship to stepping up to curbside check-in maybe a half hour went by. At most. I would say that unless you are flying into Miami (and if so, why?) just skip the Costa bus. It costs $12pp each way, ties you to their schedule and just seems to make life more frustrating and complicated than it need be at the start and end of a vacation. 2. The staff on Costa are very unfriendly. Could not have been farther from the truth. The staff are mainly Philipino (room stewards and restaurant) and English (activities and excursions) and Italian (activities, excursions, guest relations i.e. Purser, and spa). Without a doubt the majority of the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. By contrast, I cruised on Princess in 1999 and was so upset by the rude treatment I received by the English staff I wrote to the president of the company to complain. (They never bothered to answer and I will never cruise on Princess again.) The only slightly unpleasant staff were lunchtime waiters, who basically knew they were waiting on you for no tip, b/c all of your gratuities go to your nighttime waiter. Also the dining room drinks waiters were extremely slow and a bit "bitter" whenever they saw a drinks coupon from the Boys and Girls Card (20 sodas for $40) b/c they knew there was no commission for them -- the commission goes to the person who initially sells the card. That is something Costa should work on. I just basically bypassed them, their speed, and their attitude, by picking up a soda at a bar on the way into the dining room. A slight aside about the drink’s card: Though at first I was a little bitter that rather than unlimited sodas (which are offered as extras on, I believe, Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean) I could only get 20 for $40. But you could also use the card to get virgin pina coladas, daiquiris, etc, as well as juice (within the limit of 20). I actually think having this card deterred me from drinking alcohol (and thus saving money), as I often found myself just getting a virgin pina colada, for example, because it was “free” and I needed to use up my coupons. Also, I had been sure to visit a grocery store during our ship's first stop at Key West, and so my room refrigerator was already stocked with sodas and water. Back to the staff: The only truly rude staff I encountered was in the stores, where they (Italians) were rude, grumpy and/or disinterested. Maybe they were on commission so they weren’t too excited by my purchases – a $3 silver chain and a $10 watch. (I was surprised and disappointed that on a “European” cruise ship all of the candy in the ship’s stores was America. I remember on Princess they had all this great European chocolate, and I’m not sure why Costa didn’t have any. The people in the store were not interested in explaining why.) The other memorably rude and downright mean person was the Maitre d' on the main floor of the dining room. The one on the second floor was very nice and accommodating, though. 3. The activities and the entertainment were boring I disagree. Every activity I went to (quizzes, exercise classes and Italian lessons) was fun, friendly and well run. I didn’t get out much at night for the entertainment but there seemed to be a lot of it and I didn’t miss the tacky faux Broadway/theme park style entertainment of other lines one bit. What entertainment I did encounter was great. Do you consider sitting in a beautifuly-decorated café (Caffe Florian) sipping a cappuccino and listening to an amazingly talented opera singer accompanied by an equally gifted piano player boring? I do not. The Italian Extravaganza show in the big theater, which I thought was going to be some silly pizza-tossing, mamma mia, type singing, was actually this amazing drama without words (remember the international crowd – many positions require crew to speak 5 languages). I’ll confess, I’m not sure exactly what I saw, but I think it was the history of Italy, shown in scenes. I remember the explosion of Pompeii, bizarre female Roman goddess/warriers in shields and THONGS dancing, and again the beautiful opera singing, as well as some very nice ballet dancing. Bizarre? Yes. But boring?? Definitely not. 4. There were too many Europeans and smoke was everywhere. Well, DUH, it is a European cruise line, so of course there will be Europeans. But given my choice between a ship full of cultured and classy Europeans, and a boatload of drunken folks straight from the all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas, I’ll take the Europeans any day. No lie – the average size of my fellow cruisers on my Princess cruise was about 3 times the size of the people on the Costa cruise. All of the Europeans I met were very friendly and appreciated my pigeon attempts to speak their various languages (French & Italian). Yes, there was definitely about a day and a half of culture shock, but after I adjusted to the stimulating environment I really appreciated being able to cruise not only TO other cultures, but WITHIN other cultures as well. Also there was the benefit of meeting many Italian Americans, and they were all great. As to the smoking, well one of the reasons we went on Costa is because my boyfriend is a smoker and, since he was paying for half of the trip, I didn’t want him to feel ostracized or alienated on his vacation. But there are plenty of non-smoking locations and smoking is prohibited in the dining rooms, which actually was rather annoying since dinner took so long – 2 hours or so. (I would have preferred my boyfriend to be able to smoke a quick cigarette at the table between courses rather than get grumpy or leave the table to smoke). If you really hate smoke then don’t go on Costa, b/c I suspect there is a bit more than on other lines, but it really wasn’t bad and I am extremely sensitive to smoke. The Truths: Not all of the reviews were completely wrong: 1. The food is bad Almost uniformly every review I read, including Frommers, panned the food on Costa. And I will say they were right. The food wasn’t bad, just below average, and inconsistent. And the other reason we chose Costa was because my boyfriend loves Italian food. “Luckily” he was seasick for about three days from the bad weather and didn’t need to eat much! As for me, I did expect better food, ESPECIALLY FROM AN ITALIAN SHIP, but I had found the food on Princess to be sub par as well, so I wasn’t too disappointed. Let’s just say I had a lot of great cappuccinos this time. Two exceptions: Princess, despite it’s other faults, had GREAT Danish and pizza. The Costa pizza was on a par with the pizza served in my junior high school (doughy and gloppy - just something to eat when you're hungry) and, as far as Danish and other breakfast pastries go, Costa really let the passengers down there. Especially disappointing for a European ship. You would think they could at least get a croissant right. Something tells me the pastry must be a LOT better in the summer, when they cruise in Europe and their passengers are 90-100% European. Otherwise I think the French passengers would rally and throw the pastry chef overboard. Another disappointment was room service. My boyfriend and I really didn’t enjoy the whole dining room experience. We would have preferred to eat in our room and just watch TV. They tell you in the Costa literature that 24 hour room service is available. What they don’t tell you is that only cold food is available, mainly of the salami or tuna sandwich variety. What we ended up doing a lot was going to the buffet restaurant getting trays of hot food and just taking them back to our room. (Let's call it self-service room service.) I know from my research that on most other lines you can get “normal” food from room service, at least a burger and fries, if not full HOT dinners. A big BOO to Costa for this policy. I think it’s a Carnival trickledown effect. I heard from a few people who had been on Costa before it was bought by Carnival that the food was much better. We also went to the premium restaurant twice. Now in the “real” world of dining (a.k.a. when you have about a million restaurants to choose from instead of three and a salami sandwich in your room, I would not recommend this restaurant as being anything special. But we really enjoyed going there on the cruise b/c of the slower pace, more attention, and who can beat taking your champagne out on deck in between courses? (the last night when the temperature finally rose over 70). SUMMARY Some great things about the Costa Atlantica: The ship is beautiful and sparkling clean. I even saw staff members cleaning the tops of outdoor speakers. The cabin was beautiful, spacious and a great bargain ($950 pp for a slightly obstructed view, which actually would have been a plus, in that the obstruction – a lifeboat – would have provided shade out there, had there been any sun to shade us from! One small gripe: The balcony came with two chairs and a table. The table was too big for the space and always got in the way when we opened the door, which opened out instead of in. A sliding glass door would have been best. Varied activities and friendly and enthusiastic cruise staff. A great chance to get exposure to, and meet people from, other cultures. The gym and spa are great. The spa is standard cruise ship expensive, but they have some great specials, especially on port days. I managed to turn my disasterous “Hurricane” day in Cozumel (raining, cold, windy, excursion cancelled) into a great one by spending the money from my cancelled excursion on a relaxing massage! The fridges for the minibars are not computerized. So you can take all of that expensive ship’s liquor and soda out of there and fill it up with your own! (Technically you are not supposed to bring liquor onto the ship, but it’s pretty easy to get it on. And no one can stop you from bringing your own sodas and bottled water.) Some not so great things about the Costa Atlantica: The food is everything and less it is rumored to be The drinks waiters are extremely slow Dinner in the main restaurant takes too long and the food isn’t worth it. The restaurant is too big and impersonal. The dining room is on two levels. The maitre d’ on the second level is very nice, but the one on the main floor is rude and mean. The service is much better on the top floor than the main one. (We switched tables after the first night b/c in an hour and a half we had only had one course and it had taken 20 minutes to get menus, water and bread.) The bedspreads are of “Holiday Inn” quality and the only things on the ship that are beginning to show their age. Other comments: This was my first, and I will say, last Western Caribbean itinerary on ANY cruise ship. With the exception of Jamaica, I never really felt like I was in the true Caribbean. Although I enjoyed the Costa cruise I definitely want to try another cruise line. Depending on money, itineraries and desires of traveling companions, I am looking at Celebrity, Oceania, Radisson or possibly one of the Voyager or Radiance class ships of Royal Caribbean. Or possibly Holland America if I want to feel really young! But I’m glad I booked the Costa cruise BEFORE I read up on the line or else I might have been scared off by all of the negative comments. I think that given the GREAT price on balcony cabins, the cleanliness of the ship and the variety and uniqueness of activities, I it was a great trip. I WOULD cruise on Costa again, especially if I didn’t want to gain weight on my trip. But I think I would like to try some other lines first.

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Feb 8, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Embarkation: The embarkation process was a little slow, but no fault of the cruise line. For whatever reason the immigration personnel decided it was a good day to delay the disembarkation process. Costa has plenty of personnel pier side to help with any questions or concerns from passengers. Ship: The ship is a floating work of art. She has much more glitz than early builds of Costa. You can appreciate the influx of the Carnival influence. The

art work throughout the ship is breathtaking and the Cafe' Florian is like nothing else I've ever seen on a ship. The Cabins: I was in a Grand Suite on Deck 7 and loved the amenties and large balcony. Some other lines have large Grand Suites than Costa, but for a 7 night Caribbean itineray this stateroom far exceeded our expectations. We especially enjoyed the large balcony with the beautiful chairs and chaise lounge. The entertainment: We were part of the over 600 50's and 60's fans enjoying the music of Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Buckingham's, Tommy Roe, Peggy Marsh and the Original Bill Haley's Comets. Nightly music was also provided poolside with a 50's and 60's house band. The Food: I believe that Costa gets a bad rap on their food. I've cruised on every major cruise line and with the exception of the luxury cruise liners, I believe the Costa dining experience is as enjoyable and the food as good as every cruise line in the mass market genre. My table mates were all very well traveled and had cruise many times, they were all of the same opinion. I'm not sure what some guests expectations are, it they are looking for 5star dining they may wish to try Silversea's or Crystal. For the price, I think Costa offers excellent varieity and great food. Itinerary: Sailing the Eastern Caribbean has it's limitations with the ports of call being an afternoon call at San Juan and half day in Nassau. The weather was good and the Private Island and St. Thomas were a wonderful highlight. Summary: I will certainly be cruising Costa again as the 12th Annual Oldies Caribbean Cruise will be on the Costa Atlantica doing the Western Caribbean on January 30, 2005.

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Jan 18, 2004

Western Caribbean

Smooth Jazz The Costa Atlantica was a constant surprise, as she played hostess for the Smooth Jazz Cruise. From the moment we entered the ship and were greeted by the Captain and Crew in the soaring atrium, which was resplendent with glass elevators, stained glass and brilliantly colored artwork and furniture, we knew we were in for an amazing week. Add in a lineup of 9 smooth jazz stars, in Atlantica's beautiful Caruso Theater

twice each night, and we had a very happy crowd! The artwork throughout Atlantica took our breath away and I found myself photographing everything from hand-painted Michelangelo-esque murals on the buffet dining room walls, to the glass sculptures and wood inlay in the magnificent elevators (of all places to take photos!!) Even our room had colored glass sculptured light fixtures. Atlantica is a beautiful ship, to be sure. The whirlpool and swimming pool areas are also well-appointed, but the water temperature, in mid-January, left a little to be desired in the way of HEAT! However, the spa whirlpool and amenities more than made up for the cool reception poolside. We only dined in the formal dining room twice during the SMOOTH JAZZ CRUISE, but this was more due to the fact that we had so much music to see, and only so little time in which to do it. I found that I could order our whole meal and have it delivered to our cabin while we dressed for the night's concerts, saving time and the hassle of dressing for dinner. Our balcony room was larger than I expected it to be. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the glass balcony enclosure ensured a magnificent oceanic view for the whole cruise. At night, we used the heavy deck chair to prop open the door, and I slept with my head near the open door, lulled to sleep by the waves and the wind. Next cruise on the Atlantica: I am going to sleep ON the balcony! The food was so-so. Not what we expected for an Italian ship, although the pizza, served in the buffet around the clock, was crispy and delicious! I am taken to understand that our week on the Atlantica was NOT representative of the food quality. I'm willing to give her another try, foodwise! I will return to Atlantica in January 2005 for a fully-chartered SMOOTH JAZZ CRUISE. This time we won't have to share venues with typical cruise acts and shows, but will have full scale smooth jazz entertainment for all 7 days. This cruise will be a sell-out, since it's the only one of its kind in the world. At first I was disappointed to be going back to the same ship, with the same itinerary, but now that I reconsider it, Atlantica is ideal for a theme cruise, with its grand theater and the other lounges, which accomodate up to 400 people for jam sessions and the like. I am a group leader for the 2005 cruise and hope that this review helps potential cruisers decide on cruising Atlantica. SMOOOTH JAZZ CRUISE Join Team Jazzmaniac Today

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Jan 12, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

We recently returned from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean tour upon the Costa Atlantica. While we had an overall enjoyable experience, we would not choose to cruise with this company again. We have cruised on two other occasions on other ships, traveled internationally, and have many hotel and resort stays under our belts so feel justified in reviewing the hospitality of this tour. The embarkation was disorganized and lengthy. Once upon the

ship we were told to proceed directly to our cabins, which was odd, but we were pleased that we would not have to wait any longer! The bags got to the room in a short time, and we were on our way to enjoying the cruise. CABIN The cabin was standard, we had an upper deck with a “verandah”, equipped nicely with 2 patio chairs and a table. The cabin was small but fitted with hidden drawers under the sofa bench for extra storage and we were able to place our empty suitcases under the bed so we could make full use of the closets. The beds were comfortable, thought the blankets were frightfully worn. The toiletry amenities were absurd, some generic soap and a shampoo dispenser mounted to the wall of the shower. Be sure to bring your own soap, shampoo & lotions - I was glad I did. The shower was good though, with plenty of heat and water pressure. EMPLOYEES Our steward did a fine job in maintaining the room, and we found him to be one of the most pleasant employees on the ship. Because of the language barrier (Asian) he was unable to communicate more than general hospitalities. We found most of the employees on the ship to be unable to converse, and poorly trained outside of their specific duties. If you asked someone in the restaurant, for example, about Catalina Island (their own private retreat) they were unable to provide any information on it having never been allowed to visit that port. In my opinion, all employees should know what the ship is happening on the ship (activities, on-board offerings, venues, and entertainment) , where it is going. Not to say everyone should be able to do every job, just a slight knowledge of why their guests are there! In addition to the inability to communicate we found many employees to be somber. We probably saw 4 or 5 that actually smiled, other than the canned expressions of those teaching the mambo du jour poolside. We also noted that the employees do not have their own facilities for exercise & we found it odd that they used the gym . We skipped a game of tennis because two employees were playing. On other cruise lines we’ve found that the crew have their own areas for their onboard leisure. CHILDCARE “Costa loves Children” is printed in their literature. Someone forgot to tell Costa! The kid’s pool amounts to little more than a 12’ diameter wading pool, and it was CLOSED the entire cruise. The water slide which is posted to be open twice a day was closed all but two times the entire sailing and that was while we were in port. Understandable that they cannot have it open in high winds, but there were plenty of nice days that it could have been open. (The adults enjoyed it too while it was running.) The childcare givers were wonderful & seemed genuinely happy to see the kids (they are included in the 4-5 happy employees on the ship!) Because of the lack of amenities for the kids on the ship they should keep the childcare center open all day. The kids enjoyed being there and they had a variety of projects & activities for them. FOOD Breakfasts of Eggs Benedict and French Toast in Tinziano were the HIGHLIGHT of my culinary experience on the ship. My husband ordered a southwest omelet and asked the waiter for salsa. He and two other waiters didn’t know what salsa was, trying to bring ketchup and Tabasco. Came back from the kitchen empty-handed. It’s one thing not to have it, another entirely not to know what it is. PLEASE! We had one good dinner ( in seven nights) in Tinziano (swordfish and salmon). The other meals were bland or overly sauced. The vegetables were always good. The bread selection (Italians have GREAT bread!) consisted of hard white rolls and harder wheat rolls. The Botticelli Buffet was standard. We liked the fresh green salad and the pizza (our kids ate their body weight in pizza as the other kid fare (hotdogs & burgers were not as good). Thank goodness for the frozen yogurt - there were no other desserts available for the kids, not even a cookie. I am a sugar fiend and love dessert! Don’t waste your calories, stick with the fresh fruit; even the tiramisu and napoleons were disappointing. We did love their sherbets offered at dinner in Tinziano... again, not what you would think should be appreciated on a cruise. We also got tired of handing over our card EVERY time we ordered a glass of wine or a drink. Can they not come up with a less invasive room charge system such as running a tab? THE GOOD NEWS? You shouldn’t gain weight! : ^ ) PORTS OF CALL - Eastern Caribbean We had a great time at every stop. We did not choose any of the excursions, instead venturing out on our own. We found you can do most tours and monuments on your own for much less, and at each port Costa offers a free ferry service to the dock or shuttle into town. The other ships we’ve sailed on go right to the docks, but for some reason Costa has to stay in the harbor in St. Thomas and even their own private retreat Catalina. The ferry out is usually quite easy to board, but be prepared for a wait in St. Thomas, and even the shuttle back for San Juan. We heard some cruisers yelling at Costa over the wait time and inefficiency of the service. One note - Costa gives you towels to use on the beach in port. You have to bring them back or they will charge you $20 (for a threadbare green Costa-stamped towel). We used ours in St. Thomas & returned them, but they were not replaced. We assumed (our mistake) that because they were not replaced that the next day on their own island where they provide chairs & umbrellas that they would have towels too. Oops. After taking the ferry to the island & finding a spot 5 minutes down the beach, we asked about towels. NO, you have to bring your own. We explained they hadn’t been replaced, etc. and could they have some sent over on a ferry? NO. My husband had to take the ferry back, go to the room, track down the steward who was on break, and return on the ferry, which in all took over an hour. Can someone say customer service? NO, apparently not. ENTERTAINMENT Yawn. AMBIANCE The ship is BEAUTIFUL, a little over the top Italian glitz, but really pretty! CRUISERS Mostly seniors, many European, and mostly smokers. Toga night with them is a TRIP! NOTES: * No personal laundry or ironing facilities, you have to have them sent to be done. * Dinner photographs for sale are of very poor quality and composition. Be sure to bring your camera. DISEMBARKATION The procedure was nightmarish. We were asked to clear the cabin by 7:30 am (which is customary on ships) and our tag-color group was to be the last to depart at 9:30 which was fine. We entertained ourselves in the Botticelli Buffet until time to go to the Caruso Theatre to await the call for our group. We were not called to leave until close to 11:00 a.m. (even without kids that is a long wait) and in the meantime we were kept apprised of the fact that the departures were taking longer than expected by a girl who spoke poor English with a heavy accent and kept saying “I know it is not your fault, but it is not my fault also”. Maybe not hers specifically, but we felt Costa was really avoiding any responsibility for the delay. No one in the room was able to decipher whatever else she said. When we finally got through to the luggage area, it was a disaster zone. The luggage was scattered far and wide, and several people lost their baggage as there is no accountability or baggage check system. It took my husband & I around 15 minutes to round up our bags. Costa docked at a different dock than we departed from so again, another shuttle, and another hour lost. OVERALL EXPERIENCE: Are you depressed yet? In spite of Costa’s attempt to ruin our vacation we had a GREAT time! We didn’t worry about all of the stuff above, but it would have been nice if they had lived up to our expectations. It would have been a lot better if the meals were good, the waits shorter, and the employees courteous. So, if you want your voyage helped by the cruise line rather than hindered I would suggest sailing with someone else!

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Dec 14, 2003

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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Aug 23, 2003

Eastern Mediterranean

Costa Atlantica - A Review by a European Last August, I've made the Costa Atlantica cruise that takes us from Venice to Greece and Turkey. It was a one-week cruise that stopped in the most important ancient spots in that area. Therefore, we stopped in Bari (Italy), in Katakolon (Greece), in Kusadasi (Turkey), in Istanbul (Turkey) and in Athens (Greece). When we reached the Venice airport we had there a lady from Costa waiting for

us so we had only to wait a few minutes before taking the transfer to the port. The boarding process took almost 2 hours. It wasn't too long if you consider that the ship carries around 2700 passengers. When we first walked into the ship, we were a bit frustrated… It wasn't as beautiful as we were expecting… However, later we admitted that it was just because of the confusion that the entrance of the passengers created. The ship is simply beautiful. The Café Florian, the Caruso Theater, the Olympia Gym are just a few among the beauties that she has. Of course that it wasn't perfect! There are a few points that I didn't like: the Boticelli restaurant was over-crowded in lunch time (if you prefer quietness, you'd better have lunch at Tiziano), the photos taken by the "paparazzi" were too expensive, the disco's music wasn't good at all, the water of the swimming-pools was too salty, etc. Regarding the ports of call, the one I liked the most was Kusadasi in Turkey. We visited the ancient town of Ephesus and were taken aback by its splendour. I also liked stopping in Katakolon because I took an excursion that took me to Skafidia beach. I assure you that you won't regret if you take this excursion. It is really good having a bath in the warm waters of the Ionic sea between cultural visits. We always went in excursions organized by Costa. However I must ask you to consider taking a taxi instead of an organized excursion if your group is bigger than a couple! The excursions are much more expensive than taking a taxi, especially in Turkey, where the taxis are really cheap! Well, before ending this review (I'm conscious that it is already too long), I would like just to focus a few points that will help first time cruisers (at least I hope they will): The clothing code wasn't very strict, except in the 2 formal evenings. At lunchtime you could even go with shorts (if they weren't too short). The Toga night was a fiasco!  Soft drinks aren't very expensive. Don't worry! A coffee costs around EUR 1. Take trainers if you're planning to go to the gym. To sum up, I would like to say that if you choose this cruise, you won't regret it. It's a wonderful experience that you can only understand if you really experience it!!!

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Jul 26, 2003

Eastern Mediterranean

Garage We were booked on the Millennium cruise leaving Barcelona on the 22 of July. Unfortunately, a few days before departing, this cruise was cancelled. Costa ATLANTICA was the only left opportunity as all the other ships were full. For those looking for quietness, this is not the best period in the year. In fact the ship was over-crowded. Hundreds of children were running all over the boat. During navigation, it was impossible

to find a table for lunch. Altogether, we had the impression that Costa is going down market. We think that the attitude of the personnel was not customer oriented. For instance the personnel was not helpful at all. We were traveling with our two children in two cabins but we discovered that our cabins were really far apart from each other (on different decks; one at the front of the boat and one at the middle). When we asked to have cabins close to each other, we were told to ask once on board the ship. We did that on the day of departure but they told us that they couldn’t do it now and to come back in the evening. We had to come back three times to finally be told on the next day that we couldn’t change cabins…. We also had requested late seating and received the confirmation but in our rooms, we discovered that we had been shifted to early seating. By the way, the food is not bad but we are far from the “gourmet experience” promised by Costa. (And well below the Princess standard for example). Service in the dining room was far from outstanding. It was almost impossible to eat at the same time as we were often receiving our dishes at different times and the drinks sometime took a long time to arrive ( I waited for a Coke for 15 minutes). The servers were rushing us so that we would leave the table early for the second seating ( but I guess this happens on other cruises as well) On the positive side, the cabins were nice and the balcony very comfortable. The cabin steward was very nice and the rooms always clean. The ship was very clean (except from the swimming pools that were very greasy and always packed with people but that is probably due to the fact that the ship was full). The Italian atmosphere was also very enjoyable and we liked to attend the Italian lessons. Boarding were very smooth and we never had to queue even for the first boarding in Venice Our cruise started from Venice. After giving our luggage to the check-in, we received a number and were told we would be allow to board the ship from 3pm. It was very convenient because it left us some time to visit Venise and when we came back to the ship, we were able to board in less that 15 minutes. It is an unforgettable experience to navigate on the canal on such a big ship. Our first stop was Bari; very interesting city to visit but the stop was too short has we were there for only 2 and a half hour. Then we went to Katakolon in Greece and I still don’t know why we stopped there. Katakolon is a small village, dirty and in reconstruction with very little to offer. Kusadassi was the next stop and once again, this stop was too short. We had been to Ephese before and so we just walked around Kusadassi but it is a nice place. Istambul was our next destination and at least as we were staying there for the whole day, we had more time to visit the city. The next day, we stopped at the Piree for the afternoon. The easiest (and cheapest) way to reach Athens from the Piree is to walk 20 minutes along the harbor were you find the subway to the center of Athens. (Stop at Monastiraki for the Acropolis) It takes about 20 minutes which is much faster than with a bus or a taxi. We disembarked in Venice. To disembark, we received color cards that allows you to disembark at a certain time. Because of delays, we disembarked 1 our later than expected and went to get our luggage’s. One of our bag was not there. When we asked the Costa hostess, she replied (we really had the impression we were bothering her) that we just had to wait for all other color group luggage to arrive and if our suitcase was still not there, that we should just go to the police and that she couldn’t do anything about it!!! Not a very friendly answer… Fortunately, our missing suitcase arrived about 40 minutes later We don’t know if we will go on Costa again but we are sure that we will avoid to cruise with them in July or August. This ship is just too crowded and not customer oriented.

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Mar 30, 2003

Western Caribbean

Just returned from Costa Atlantica cruise to the Western Caribbean. This was our first cruise and for sure we will be going on many more. The Costa Atlantica was the best. There is absolutely nothing negative I have to say about the whole experience. The food was wonderful. Many choices and each one better than the other. The dining room was amazing. Our waiter Rolando, and the bus boy Jose were the best. Rolando made many selections

for us at diner, and everything he picked was wonderful. Rolando was so efficient and friendly and we were anxious to go to dinner each evening because he made us feel very special. We went to all the midnight buffets and we met a young assistant waiter called Teddy. He made sure we got the best of service and greeted us each evening with a big smile and welcome and again made us feel very special. Our housekeeping staff were also wonderful. Ronnie looked after our cabin with such efficiency. Our room was always perfect, the towels were replaced as soon we used him. He seemed to always be aware of our needs before even we were. The entertainment each night was better than the night before. The entertainers are soooooo talented and professional. We attended the games every night in the madam butterfly lounge. These young people are so enthusiastic and worked very hard to keep us entertained. One young gentleman - Michael - was just the best. He was the life of the party, and he made us all feel extra special. The photographers were very patient and captured us in the best way possible. They were very efficient, but did not rush us in any way. They took their time with each of us, trying to get the best pictures possible. Unfortunately we were unable to dock in Key West, but we did not feel that we had missed too much, but the ship's staff kept us entertained the whole day. We did not take a tour in Cozumel, but spent the time just looking around and shopping. We took the Dunn's River/Bristol Plantation tour and were impressed with the tour guides. You should not miss the Dunn's River tour. We took the city tour and stingray tour in Grand Cayman, and had the best tour guide "Peter". We really enjoyed the announcements in the various languages, it made us feel like we were in a different country and added another feature to our tour. Costa should be very proud of this cruise - the ship, the staff, the food and the entertainment could not have been better.

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Mar 16, 2003

Western Caribbean

My husband and I just returned from a most enjoyable cruise on the CostaAtlantica. We have been on a number of cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean., and Princess, and found this cruise to be quite compatible . First of all, the crew couldn't have been more polite and quick to want to please. Most of the crew were of Pilipino descent, and were very affluent in the English language, as well as a number of other languages. Embarking and

debarking was a breeze. Very professional. Even though the cruise is listed as "Italian style", there was a good selection of different main dishes, (besides pasta), on the lunch and dinner menus in the main dining room. The food itself was excellent. We were most impressed with the family-oriented meals, (meatloaf, pork chops, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, french fries, etc.) compared to other cruise ship fares that we have encountered. We had a very nice tour in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, that entailed riding down a lazy river (Martha Bray) on a bamboo raft with a poleman. It was great. We had already gone to Dunn's Falls on a previous cruise, so this was a great alternative. Now for a little bit of negative input-- the one big disappointment that we had, was, the Club Atlantica (Restaurant w/ reservations only). The menu was terrible! First of all, we expected at least one item on the menu to be something that we would be familiar with. We did not eat one thing, from the appetizer to the main course. In fact, we left there and sought out something to eat on the buffet deck. The only other thing I would have to comment on is, the entertainment. It was okay, but, did not come near any shows that we have seen on other ships. All in all, we had a very nice time on our 7 day cruise. I do have to admit, that I am still partial to the Carnival Line for overall cruising. See you on the next cruise. Bon Voyage. Barbara Patenaude Orlando, Florida

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Apr 7, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

This was our 26th cruise and our 6th on the Costa Line (3 on the Costa Romantica, 1 on the Costa Victoria and our 2nd on the Costa Atlantica, having sailed on her inaugural Caribbean voyage in December 2000). Our first review on the Atlantica was an overview of its huge art collection, plus a detailed description of its many beautiful public areas. This review will center on "Cruising Italian Style," since we feel that Hotel Director

Attilio Sissa and Cruise Director Ray Rouse and staff have given this exquisitely maintained ship an ambiance that celebrates Italian Hospitality, Music, and of course Cuisine. If you want to enjoy pleasant surroundings, excellent service, festive atmosphere and a variety of activities facilitating interaction among passengers, cruise on the Costa Atlantica! FIRST IMPRESSIONS Costa ships are predominately white, elegant in shape and sport their traditional yellow smoke stacks with the navy blue "C" and the Atlantica carries on this tradition. She can be easily located in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, since she is 960 ft. long, 200 ft tall, a beam of 106 ft., and has a gross tonnage of 84,000. Her cruising speed is 24 knots, which is quite fast for a cruising ship of this size. Her passenger capacity is 2,112 and crew is 900. She is majestic and her Captain Giorgio Moretti has every right to be proud of her. EMBARKATION Luggage was handled efficiently curb side, but there were not enough crew to assist all wheelchairs, so Mary pushed Vincent's chair through the terminal and on to the ship. Costa has a separate check-in line for those in suites and handicapped passengers. We arrived at 12:30pm and boarded at 1:00pm; however, our fellow cruisers had a longer wait and boarded at 2:00pm, when most passengers did, even though noon was listed as boarding time. We are not sure why there was an hour delay, but it made some passengers grumpy until they hit the buffet. Credit cards are registered on board later, at the passenger's leisure. SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS This ship is very easy to get around -- there are three sets of elevators, forward, aft and center. All decks are named after Federico Fellini films. On Deck 1 "Luci del Varietà" forward is the Corallo Lounge with its striking under water motif; then there is a series of cabins and aft is the main galley with its escalator up to the dining rooms. Deck 2 "La Dolce Vita" has forward the first floor of the Caruso Theater, a simple, elegant room with sofa style seating and just two poles supporting the balcony (essentially no seats with limited or obstructed view). Going toward midship are the card rooms, Piazza Madama Butterfly and next the Casino/Bar Fortuna with marble statuary and many tables and slot machines. Centrally located is "La Dolce Vita" Atrium/Bar, ten decks high with wonderful replicas of Pompeian murals and delicately lighted Bird Cage glass elevators. This is a busy, much used hub, often with delightful music at the grand piano by Kelly Monzello. Going aft is Dante's Disco Club and the main floor of the Titian Restaurant, a beautiful room with unforgettable Venetian glass discs, reminiscent of the sun on the ocean, and many gilt framed replicas of Titian's paintings. Deck 3 "La Strada" forward has the first balcony of the Caruso Theater with its high backed individual seats (very comfortable); midship is the stunning Caffè Florian, three distinct rooms which are replicas of the original Caffè Florian in Piazza S. Marco, Venice, Italy -- this is the closest thing to Venetian Elegance out side of Italy. Near by is the Library, gentleman's club style with computers. Midship is also "Via della Spiga" shops, which hold various shopping treasures, including Versace dishes, designer clothes and liquors bottled in Venetian glassware. Very nice and not too expensive: good buys! Centrally located is the Conference Center and toward aft the long "Paparazzi Lounge" with its many nostalgic photos of film stars of the 50's and 60's (Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner (as a blonde!) etc., etc., etc. In the aft is the balcony of the Titian Restaurant. Deck 4 "Roma" forward has the second balcony of the Caruso Theater and all the way aft are cabins. Deck 5 "Clowns", Deck 6 "Amarcord", Deck 7 "Intervista" and Deck 8 "8 1/2" are all cabins, mostly with balconies. Deck 9 "Ginger & Fred" forward has the gym, midship is the open theater, pools and bars. Towards aft are the Pizzeria Napoli, Botticelli Restaurant and at the stern is the Lido Aurora Bar for outside dining. Deck 10 "E La Nave Va" forward holds the fully equipped gym, the Solarium pool with retractable dome and the Club Atlantica, alternative dining and the suspended crystal staircase down to Deck 9. Anyone subject to vertigo, or with fear of heights, should forgo this glass stairway; however, many love the floating sensation climbing these stairs. Deck 11 "La Voce della Luna" forward holds the jogging track and aft is the Balcony of the Club Atlantica. Deck 12 "Le Notti di Cabiria" is the top open deck where strong, exhilarating winds can be enjoyed when the ship cruises at full speed. Now that specific areas of the ship are defined, they will be referred to throughout this writing. CABINS Our Grand Suite #7223 (360 sq. ft.) was much similar to the Panoramic Suite #6219, we occupied in 2000. Teakwood, brass, granite and leather all abound. When entering on the left is a mirrored wall and the first wardrobe, then a refrigerator, and a desk with many drawers. There is a contoured coral leather sofa bed, two upholstered chairs, a large coffee table and the door to the double long balcony. When entering on the right is a privacy wall, then a lady's vanity with sink and a second wardrobe with complimentary robes and slippers. There is a full bath/jacuzzi, double sinks, shelves and mirrors, a bidet and granite counters with marble, tile and mosaics. Next is the queen bed alcove, two night stands with Venetian glass lamps trimmed with copper and another lady's wardrobe. The far wall is glass with a TV console, private safe and more drawers. The color scheme is beige, coral and navy blue. The walls are decorated with two original art works: one a family of seven figures by Stefano Spagnoli is very geometric, in bold colors and whimsical; the other is a montage of a Venetian Balcony with coral and blue doors with wrought iron -- a propos. FOOD & SERVICE With the vigilance and help of the two Asst. Maitre d's, both named Gianni, and the genial Maitre d' Umberto Iacomino (who is all over the ship overseeing the many different venues) we had table #52 for six, early seating, near a window overlooking the wake of the ship. We had many lovely dinners at sunset, at an excellent table well served by our waiter Ismail Shareef (India via Egypt) whose impeccable service and finesse lead us to believe he may soon be moving up in his career probably to Asst. Maitre d` (perhaps on one of Costa's many projected new ships), since he is a polyglot whose manners and appearance are impressive. The variety of food presented was enough to please every palate, especially the pasta dishes which were unusually excellent and some magnificent: Pappardelle alla Cacciatora (home made wide flat noodles with wild porcini mushrooms in a cream sauce); Fagottini ai quattro formaggi (beggar's pouches of pasta stuffed with cheese, meat, ricotta and spinach); and Vincent's favorite Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, excellently prepared by the Maitre d`. The appetizers included favorites like Shrimp Cocktail, Prosciutto e Melone or Grana Padano cheese, Carpaccio di Carne (thinly sliced beef marinated and served with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese) and many fresh fruit combinations to tantalize the palate. The salads were fresh, crisp and varied: Spinach with bacon and pine nuts; Hearts of lettuce with goat cheese; Mixed greens with arugula, endive, romaine, radicchio etc. Main courses were excellent -- Veal ossobuco with polenta, Filet Mignon, Lobster Tail, Crispy Peking Duckling.  Every dinner was an occasion; Mary's sister Elizabeth and her husband Vito with their friends Cynthia and Robert made our table merry with stories of their daily excursions. Shareef made dessert time unique with twin desserts until we outwitted him and only half of us ordered dessert, but still on the last night, we all wore clothes with elasticized waistbands. The Sicilian cannoli, the many flavored ice creams, including rum raisin and pistachio, and the hot soufflés were all excellent, as were the sugar free items. But most of all we loved the Pastiera, a delicious Neapolitan cheese cake, especially ordered for us by the Maitre d'. Grazie, Umberto! The Botticelli Buffet was popular, especially Tea Time every afternoon with its many gourmet blended tea varieties plus cookies, sandwiches and cakes. The pizza was nothing to write home about: The Atlantica needs a Neapolitan Pizza Man, who can mix an excellent dough and prepare freshly made pizzas right on the spot, as is done on Princess ships, and not serve warmed up frozen supermarket style pizzas. Room Service was slow, perhaps due to overwhelming demand, since most of the time the phone line was busy. We used the breakfast order forms, placed them on the door handle of our cabin each evening and we had a full American breakfast delivered each morning at 7:45am. The food was good and hot with a bud vase of fresh flowers on our tray. The Gala dinners were just exquisite, and not only for the delicious entrees, but for the joyous atmosphere which permeated throughout the dining room. Our group has several wonderful portraits taken by Patrizio Marras, one of Costa's photographers. Thank you Patrizio for the memories. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Ray Rouse is a debonair and busy fellow. He and his crew generate an aura of Festa Italiana. The many activities include the following: Bingo, Trivia Quizzes (we won four), Crafts, Line Dancing, Dancing Lessons, Italian Lessons, Cooking Demonstrations, Exercise Classes, etc., etc. and of course the shows in the Caruso theater. The first two days were rough sea days, so the "Metamorphosis" show had to be canceled, but Van Pressley Jr. of the famous Platters did a one man show that brought the crowd to cheers ("Smoke gets in Your Eyes" and "The Great Pretender" and other 50's and 60's melodies were a trip down memory lane). Richard Ianni, the warm Italian tenor brought the audience to its feet with his international favorites: "La Vie en Rose" and "Te Voglio Bene." Ianni's voice is powerful and well schooled -- Bravo! At the Caffè Florian, we enjoyed Luis Cartin (Spain) accompanied by Marcel Roscovan on violin and Rogut Anatolie on Piano. To sit in this beautiful setting for a Caffe` Concerto Strauss is so delightful: Cartin's voice is splendid and these three are true artists. We also enjoyed performances by Monika and the Coco's Band. Her strong and clear voice is outstanding -- Brava! To sum up, "Cruising Italian Style" is more fun than any other way. The theme nights, the Italian, the Bacchanal and the two Gala dinners had the passengers participating in singing and playing carnival games with the elegantly costumed crew. Needless to say, it was enjoyable to be in a dining room filled with passengers waving their napkins and singing "O Sole Mio" and waiters leading conga lines -- the next day everyone acted like old friends. The horse race was a special event for us since "Phantom Fury" out of Ferrante Stables in Deerfield Beach, FL won the Owner's Sweepstakes for Elizabeth and Vito and a purse of $900 ($5.00 tickets paid $20.00). He just edged out "Rocky" and the crowd roared. Nice job of calling the race by Ray Rouse! There is music everywhere and smiles galore; this could be the closest some may come to life Italian style. PORTS OF CALL San Juan, Puerto Rico: Arrival 3:30pm Departure 1:30am Arrival is a bit too late for the San Juan City Tour ($25); Fort San Cristobal was closing when the group arrived, so they missed this highlight. This is also too late for the rain forest tours, but for San Juan night life the timing is fine, i.e., Latin Tradition Show ($41). St. Thomas, USVI: Arrival 7:30am Departure 5:00pm The 2 hr Skyline Drive ($30) is a very scenic tour, it ascends to the volcanic mountain tops then circles down and ends with shopping at Charlotte Amalie. Shopping in St. Thomas is among the best in the USVI. We always pay a visit to Mr. Tablecloth for the best linens and prices. Catilina Island, Dominican Rep.: Arrival 8:00am Departure 6:00pm Altos Chavon Village Tour, 5 hrs ($31) is a bus ride along the Chavon River and a stop at the replica of a cobblestone paved 17th century Mediterranean Village with an artists colony. There are two other tours with rides on the river at $49, each and for approximately 5 hrs. The ship offers a day on their private beach with BBQ and many prefer swimming and sunning. Tenders are used. Nassau, Bahamas: Arrival 9:15am Departure 6:00pm Best Tour is the Dolphin Encounter 3 1/2 hrs ($88) "Educational and Fun." Then there is the Nassau Island Tour 2 hrs ($24) which is great for first timers and includes a visit to the famous Atlantis Paradise Island . Normally we just go shopping at our favorite places like the "Perfume Bar" and other shops downtown. DISEMBARKATION In order to avoid crowding Costa assigns specific waiting areas to each colored luggage tag. Disembarkation was simple and orderly. Customs were quick and efficient. We were off by 8:30 am and home in less than an hour. SUGGESTIONS We enjoy cruising. We have never had a bad cruise, as matter of fact, we have loved all of our cruises, some more than others. This cruise was among the best ones, since it was our return to this beautiful ship and a visit to our friend Attilio Sissa, Hotel Director, who offered us great hospitality. We also enjoyed the company of our fellow cruisers Cynthia & Robert and Elizabeth & Vito. However, we offer a few suggestions to make a great cruise even greater: 1. The embarkation process was a bit slow. We suggest using a process similar to that adopted by Princess, which utilizes separate check-in windows for each group of cabins (category/deck), thus cutting the length of lines. Moreover, additional wheelchair assistance is needed outside the terminal, near the luggage drop off site. If the ship is not ready for embarkation at noon (the current check-in time), then Costa should slate it for one o'clock. Thus, passengers would not arrive so early and create long waiting lines. The terminal is spacious and the staff is sufficient to speedily process documents and board the passengers quickly. Also credit card registration should be done together with other documents at boarding time and not later on the ship. 2. Room Service is a tad slow and most of the time the telephone was busy in regular cabins as well in suites. This service needs improvement. 3. Pizza is definitely of inferior quality, especially when compared to the freshly made ones on the Grand and Golden Princess. It is important that an Italian Cruise Line like Costa, who has a great tradition of Italian cuisine and advertises "Cruising Italian Style" offers a good pizza Italian style. Frozen pizzas may be tolerable on ships of other nationalities, but not on the Atlantica, Costa's flagship, who sails the seas under the Italian flag. There is a need to hire a good Pizzaiolo. By the way we congratulate Costa for acting on one of our previous suggestions: The chlorine aftertaste of the water, ice tea and reconstituted juices which we reported in our first Costa Atlantica review is no longer present in any drinks. Water filtration and/or quality control on chlorination has evidently eliminated the problem. Happy Cruising!

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Apr 7, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

The ship has lots of nooks and crannies for reading and quite time. The casino looked large, but really wasn't. It got pretty crowded around 11pm. One of my fondest memories was Italian night. This was more fun than I could have imagined. The waiters danced with almost every lady in the restaurant, then the cruise staff had games set up in the atrium, everything from Bocce Ball, ring toss and a "Guess the spice" contest. It was great.

The Toga night was also special. It was fun to see everyone dressed up. There was even a baby dressed in a towel toga. Our room was a partially obstructed balcony cabin. The lifeboat was below us, so you couldn't see down to the ocean (why would you?). It was perfect for leaving ports, we didn't have to fight the crowd on deck. Next time, I'll get port side so we're next to the islands coming in. Feel free to email me with any questions. I love sharing.

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Mar 10, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

This was our 5th cruise but 1st time on Costa. We booked under a Costa Special for people celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary in 2002. This was to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Our previous cruises were: Dawn Princess (Alaska, 7/97), Sea Princess (Panama Canal, 4/99), QE 2 (Transatlantic 10/00), and NCL Sun (Canada/New England 10/01). At the end of a few topics below, I have made comparisons between the various lines that we have sailed

on. It goes without saying that these are simply our opinions. We are by no means experts or gourmands. EMBARKATION PROCESS - We arrived in West Palm Beach Airport around 11 a.m. and the Costa Representatives were waiting for us. There were about 6 other couples on our flight. They accompanied us down to Baggage Claim area and our luggage was off-loaded on a separate carousel. Our luggage was then wheeled out to a bus which was waiting to take us to Port Everglades pier (about a 50 minute ride). It was a full-size air-conditioned bus so there was more than enough room to spread out and put our carry-on luggage on the seats across from us. We arrived at the pier, got in line, and checked in immediately. It was an efficient, orderly process. We were #15 and entered the waiting area to see that no numbers had been called yet. There was adequate sitting and standing room. The boarding process began around 1 p.m. and they moved through the numbers fairly quickly. People with suite accommodations did not have to wait in the line but received priority boarding. Your carry on luggage goes through the airport x-ray machine and each passenger walks through a metal detector. Then the embarkation photos are taken and by 2:30 we were on the ship and being escorted to our cabin. OUR CABIN - We booked an outside cabin with a Veranda, choosing carefully to avoid one which was obstructed by the lifeboats. We had Cabin # 5249 on the I Clowns deck. It was a nice-sized cabin with a Queen size bed, sofa, lots of storage space and a small veranda with 2 chairs. All our suitcases fit under the bed which helped with storage. The bathroom was a reasonable size with lots of shelves and a good size shower with wonderful water pressure. The hairdryer is located in the top drawer in the vanity area of the cabin (NOT in the bathroom). It is the kind where you must continually apply pressure to the ON button to use it. My husband hated it and said he’d pack our own travel hairdryer next time. NOTE: There is one dispenser in the shower which we thought was Shower Gel originally, but is shampoo. We found this out AFTER we bought shampoo at the store downstairs. THE SHIP - We thought the ship was absolutely spectacular! I’ve heard some people say that the decorating is overdone, but we like that glamorous look in a cruise ship. The Costa Atlantica had many well-designed public rooms which each seemed perfect for its purpose. I noticed that the sound-proofing was very well done because as we walked from one room featuring classical music, and walked into the next room with popular music playing, you could not hear what was going on in the next room. The Atrium lobby is just beautiful and features a piano bar in the center. Caffe Florian which is an exact replica of a café in Venice dating back to the 1700’s was beautiful and quite unique as far as the usual cruise ship public rooms go. It featured classical music from Viennese Waltzes to Opera each night. The Madame Butterfly Lounge was also quite beautiful. Each stairwell features Murano glass vases in a display area and there is a separate brochure which details all the artwork on the ship. ENTERTAINMENT - The main shows were in the Caruso Theatre and the smaller shows or other entertainment was usually in the Corallo Lounge, however there was an incredibly wide variety of music of all kind in each of the lounges each evening. On most nights, those with late seating (8:45 p.m.) had to see the main show BEFORE dinner. Since we prefer to see the show after dinner, we chose early seating (6:15 p.m.). Entertainment was somewhat weak except for Richard Ianni and the Everything Italian production show. We didn’t care for Metamorphosis, the magician, or the first evening’s show featuring a juggler. However, don’t miss the Toga Night show on the final evening. It was WONDERFUL!! And it was so much fun to see the majority of the people dressed in togas at dinner and at the show. Comparisons: NCL wins hands down with the Jean Ann Ryan singers, dancers and shows. We felt they were Broadway quality. Princess comes in 2nd, and Costa 3rd. The QE2 was a Jazz Cruise, so we didn’t get to see their usual offerings. DINING - We had a table for 6 in the Tiziano Dining Room (the ONLY dining room onboard). This is a lovely 2-level room and we were lucky to have a table by a window as well as wonderful tablemates (2 couples from Florida). We found the food to be quite good at dinner and our waiters Elman and Mohammad were attentive and efficient. On most nights we ordered the extra pasta dish for the middle of the table to share, and this was always wonderful. HINT: If you ask for Bruschetta on the first evening (not actually available on the first evening), you will get it each night thereafter and it was superb! The menus for lunch didn’t do anything for us so we mostly went up to the Botticelli Buffet for breakfast and lunch. They featured a different ethnic specialty at one of the serving stations each day (which was usually very good), as well as the usual fare at the other stations. There were 4 serving stations and plenty of seating, including tables for 2 by the windows and booths. At 4 p.m. the buffet offered afternoon tea (with sandwiches and cakes) or pizza which was a nice touch. I thought their desserts were very good, especially the Tiramisu and all of their cakes which had a very light quality about them. One strange thing—in the dining room, the men were almost always served with their dinner before the women which was the exact opposite of our previous cruising experience. ALTERNATIVE DINING - Soon after we boarded, saw our cabin, and had lunch in the buffet, we went to the Service Desk and made reservations for Club Atlantica ($23 per person charge, including tip). This is Costa’s specialty gourmet restaurant and we definitely wanted to try it. It is closed on the first day of the cruise as well as Tuesday evening (Puerto Rico), so we made a reservation on Wednesday night so we wouldn’t miss any of the formal or theme nights in the dining room. Dinner is served on Versace china and the food and service were excellent. They also provide a complimentary glass of champagne. Was it worth it? Yes! Would we go back again if we sail on Costa? No. One tiny complaint – For such an elegant dining experience, I would suggest that they serve those little molded butters (shaped like butterflies or such) instead of the usual foil-wrapped pats of butter. And they DO NOT serve coffee after the meal which we felt was very strange. Comparisons: Our only comparison is to NCL’s Sun which features 9 different restaurants. Most cost between $10 and $15 per person but were SPECTACULAR and we would go back to them again in a heartbeat if we sailed on NCL again. The Teppanyaki bar (Ginza) and East Meets West restaurants and particularly Le Bistro and Adagio were absolutely memorable dining experiences which I would rate above Costa for both value and excellence. PORTS: We are not really ‘beach’ people or fans of the Caribbean but booked this cruise mostly because of the Anniversary Special that was offered. However, we did enjoy most of the ports. Hint: The shore excursion booklet is in your cabin when you arrive. If you want to book an excursion that has limited capacity, I suggest you book your tours promptly. The tour desk opens right after the lifeboat drill, around 4:30 p.m. San Juan, Puerto Rico - This port was extremely hot and humid and since we arrived around 3 p.m. and there were limited tours offered, we just walked around on our own. I had my photo taken with 2 parrots for $10. After taking some photos of the fortress and a few interesting buildings, we went into the Wyndam Hotel and Casino to cool off. Then it was quickly back to the ship. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - We took the ‘Sea Trekkin’ Excursion to Coral World ($80 per person). As a non-swimmer who wears glasses, I figured this would be my only opportunity to see the kinds of sights that scuba divers and snorkelers see. Only seven people can go under at a time. They give you an orientation lecture and you are required to fill out a form saying that you have no medical conditions which would prohibit you from doing the helmet dive. One by one you climb down a metal ladder (they give you gloves and booties as you’ll be walking on a somewhat rocky ocean floor approx. 11 feet under the water). When you are about shoulder height in the water, they place a large helmet (70 pounds) on your shoulders and you continue down the ladder until you reach the bottom. Air is pumped into the helmet so you can breathe normally, and as I said you can keep your glasses on, and your hair doesn’t even get wet! Amazing! The current knocks you around a bit so you hold onto a waist-high chain around the perimeter of the area that you’ll explore. You can bring an underwater camera, however, it is a bit hard to take photos with one hand as you are clutching on for dear life to the chain with the other hand. A rescue diver and a guide accompany you and if anyone wants to go back up, they can immediately let you do that. The guide will bring various sea creatures over to you to hold in the palm of your gloved hand. And they take your photograph underwater which sells for $10 after the tour (approx. 20-25 minutes). It was a wonderful experience for me, and not all that frightening. After the helmet dive, you were given about a half hour to explore the rest of Coral World which was smaller than I envisioned. If you have been to any large aquarium, then Coral World is nothing to write home about. Afterwards we bought some souvenirs at the Havensight Mall which had some reasonable shops as well as the Columbian Emeralds and the like. Catalina Island (Costa’s Private Island in the Dominican Republic) - As I mentioned, we are not ‘beach people’ so weren’t expecting much here. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Try to be on one of the first several tenders so that you can get an umbrella (they go fast!) and a good location on the island. We were able to get a spot under a palm tree (plus an umbrella as I burn very easily). There are plenty of lounge chairs for everybody, however, if you wait too long, you’ll have a long trek to the end of the island to find some available beach space. The guys who carry your umbrellas and chairs really work hard and deserve a tip. I saw guys carrying 8 chairs plus an umbrella at one time and then the group didn’t give them a dime! Costa trucks off food and beverages and sets up a lunch buffet under a tent which was a really nice touch. You can make your platter up and then eat back on your lounge chair. The only problem I had was the smoke from the barbeque really irritated my eyes so I was practically blind with tears streaming down my face trying to find my lounge chair. (The smoke isn’t bad in the beach area – only under the food tent.) We spent several lovely hours there and shortly after lunch went back to the ship and into the pool. (The rear pool is for adults only and was very enjoyable.) A note about children: At the other pools I was surprised to see at least 50 children. I was surprised because you really never saw the kids in any area of the ship other than the pool. The children’s program on Costa must have been really well organized and I credit the ship for spelling out the exact rules to parents. No children under 12 could use an elevator without an adult. No running, yelling, etc. And both the children’s program and the parents seemed to have excellent control over their children. Nassau, the Bahamas - Here we opted for the ship excursion ($47 per person) to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. We could have done this cheaper on our own (a taxi plus $25 at Atlantis for the tour), but we don’t really like the hassle of bargaining with taxi drivers etc. and one person on the cruise boards said that the ship’s tour allowed you access to more places. (I’m not sure if that is true or not.) The resort is spectacular and we had a wonderful guide who took us through the dig and the aquarium. We were then free to walk around the resort (except for the pool areas – the pools are just for guests). We decided to splurge and have lunch at the resort’s Lagoon Restaurant (undercover, but outdoors). We knew that food was fairly expensive there and our lunch cost $40 for the 2 of us (1 bowl of conch chowder, a personal pizza, a club sandwich, and a Bahama Mama and a Strawberry Daquiri). Some people on the cruise boards have said you can take a taxi and sneak into the Dig and Aquarium, however, there are guards who check everyone to see if they have a wristband. CAMERAS/FILM AND SECURITY - The photographs of our trips are priceless to me so I purchased one of those lead film bags from Travel Smith prior to the cruise. I got the large bag for $49 and felt it was well worth it. In addition to the airport x-ray (of course NEVER place film in your checked luggage as they x-rays are even more powerful), each time you re-boarded the ship in each port, you went through a similar x-ray scanner. Each time I took the film bag in my backpack when we left the ship and upon our return placed our camera and extra film canisters in the bag prior to putting it through the x-ray scanner. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES - We found a pleasant assortment of activities on the Costa Atlantica. There must have been a different Trivia Game each hour, as well as lectures about shopping and shore excursions. There was arts & crafts, food and beauty demonstrations, lifestyle lectures, movies, exercise, karaoke and more. FELLOW PASSENGERS – There have been negative comments on various cruise boards about the passengers on the Costa ships which in the Caribbean are about 75% American and 25% European. (In the Med, the percentages tend to be reversed.) Some people have complained that the European passengers are rude. We did not find that to be the case at all. In fact, we witnessed more rude behavior from our fellow Americans! Yes, some announcements are made in 5 different languages. The only time that was irritating was during the fire drills when we were already restless after having been lined up in our life vests for over a half hour and then had to endure the entire drill given in 5 languages – however, we can all appreciate the importance of the information. We skipped Bingo since that also were delivered in 5 languages. (The only time I’ve enjoyed Bingo has been on the Princess ships because the British cruise directors have funny sayings for each number and it really adds an element of fun to a fairly boring game.) I overheard some Americans complaining that they encountered other passengers ‘who could only speak a few sentences in broken English’. However, most Americans can’t even speak ONE WORD in another language, so what is the complaint?! The assistant cruise director went from English, to Italian, to French, to German, and to Spanish without blinking an eyelash and sounding infinitely fluent in each language. I was also very impressed with the command of English of several of the European passengers. We felt the mix of passengers added a certain exotic flair to our cruise. DISEMBARKATION - This was done by color code and each color met in a separate lounge area and then was given the go-ahead to disembark. You then claimed your luggage which was also color-coded. One of our luggage tags had detached so we had to look in a ‘lost luggage’ section, but finally found our missing bag. This was the 2nd time this happened to us on a cruise! So my suggestion is to go down to the front desk and ask for more tags. I would double tag each bag (in different places) that you place outside your cabin for pickup. The buses were then waiting for us according to which airport you were flying out of. We got to the airport around 10 a.m. and our flight didn’t take off until 3:45 so it was a long wait. You can’t check you luggage through until 3 hours prior to your flight, and they didn’t allow you to enter the waiting areas until about 2 hours prior to your flight. We had a decent lunch at the Chili’s Restaurant in the airport, and by then it was time to go to the waiting area. WHAT MAKES COSTA SPECIAL – We loved the beauty of the Costa Atlantica, her art and variety of music. Toga night was an absolute standout with Italian Night coming in a close second. On Italian Night in the Tiziano dining room, Italian music starts to play and the waiters and their assistants dance around the room with the lady passengers. Then a conga line forms and everyone dances around the room. Later there are booths offering games, face painting and bocce ball. On the last night, the usual parade of Baked Alaskas took place, but everyone agreed that it was the best Baked Alaska that they had ever tasted on a cruise ship. VERY MINOR COMPLAINTS - 1. Chocolates were only placed on our pillows on the 2 formal nights! I really missed this touch. 2. The cocktail napkins were only about 3” square and one-ply. If even one drop of your drink spilled, or you wanted to wipe your hands, you were out of luck. They also didn’t serve little bowls of snack-mix with their drinks as most of the other cruise lines do. SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SAILING THIS ITINERARY ON THE COSTA ATLANTICA - I for one always like to know every detail before I go on a cruise. Which nights are formal, what is the entertainment, etc. So I thought this might be helpful to some people. First sitting – 6:15 p.m. Second sitting – 8:45 p.m. Day 1 – Sunday – Dress: Casual - Club Atlantica is Closed – Welcome Aboard Show at 7:30 for 2nd sitting (pre-dinner show) or 9:15 for 1st sitting. Day 2 – Monday – Dress: Formal (Captain’s Cocktail Party) – Club Atlantica is Open – Metamorphosis Show at 9:30 for 1st sitting and 10:45 for 2nd sitting. Day 3 – Tuesday – Dress: Casual/Tropical – Club Atlantica is Closed – Evening Movie 1st Sitting 8:15 p.m., 2nd Sitting 10:30 p.m. Tropical party by the pool 10:00 p.m. Day 4 – Wednesday – Dress: Casual – Club Atlantica is Open (a good night for reservations since you won’t miss a formal night or theme night) – Magic of Boyd – 7:30 for 2nd sitting, 9:15 for 1st sitting. Day 5 – Thursday – Dress: Semi-Formal (Jacket & Tie for men) OR Italian Colors (Green-Red-White (Optional) – Show featuring singer Rich Ianni (high recommended) at 7:30 for 2nd sitting and 9:15 for 1st sitting – Club Atlantica Open but don’t miss Italian Night in the dining room! Day 6 – Friday – Dress: Formal – Club Atlantica is Open - “Made in Italy” Show (also recommended) at 7:30 for 2nd sitting and 9:15 for 1st sitting. The grand buffet is also tonight – other nights might feature smaller scale buffets such as a pastry buffet or fruit flambes. Day 7 – Saturday – Dress: TOGA! (No sheet, no eat!) – Club Atlantica is open, but don’t miss Toga Night and the Baked Alaska in the dining room! – Also don’t miss Roman Bacchanal Show at 10:30 p.m. in the Theater (one show for both sittings). Hope that covers everything!

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Feb 17, 2002

Western Caribbean

The overall cruise was terrific! Both my husband and I had never been on a cruise. We have been married for 2 years, had never taken a honeymoon, so this was our honeymoon cruise. We also were with my 2 brothers and their wives and one daughter each. So all in all there were 8 of us. Everyone except Bill and I had been on cruises before. One brother had been on 13 cruises, 12 of them with Costa. THE SHIP: The Atlantica A beauty of a ship

and heavy so we didn't even know we were moving ..at first. At night, sleeping, you get a gentle movement, and it helps you sleep soundly. The ship had 10 floors and a glass elevator, and many many attractive features. For non smokers though, as all of us are, there is far too many smoking areas, and in non-smoking areas, the non smoking isn't enforced as strictly as we would have liked. As compared to other ships as far as beauty and size we all were satisfied. FOOD: Plentiful for the most part. In the dining room you can sample anything on the menu and as much of it as possible. However, the lobster, served only once, was a big disappointment. It wasn't tasty at all. However, the pasta was extra good. Cooked el dente and most of the sauces were truly a delight. The desserts were not as good. And my sister-in-law, wanted Italian cookies.. biscottis, and they didn't know what she was talking about. On an Italian ship that was surprising. Room service used to be very different by brother said. On previous cruises, he would order various nuts to be delivered to his room daily. This time they told him to use the snack bar, which you pay for. I was disappointed because I wanted cheese and crackers.. something that was on the menu each evening; when I tried to get from room service they said there would be a $6 charge. Again these were things you could get on past cruises...so I'm told. I wish the buffets for breakfast and lunch were around all day. Sometimes we'd get back from being in port around 4 or 5 and wanted a snack...but they were already torn down. The food near the pools is usually good if you get it while its fresh. In the afternoon the rolls are stale, and hot dogs and hamburgers are cold. On a scale of 1-10 1 being poor and 10 being excellent, I'd give the overall food a 6 or 7 and the desserts a 2 or 3. They looked much better than they tasted. One last thing about food, is the Midnight Buffet. I've always heard about how much food you get etc. I expected steamship round of roast beef etc. The first night it was all desserts. One other time there were desserts and a little food. Only the last night they had more food, but really not much. Most of the buffet was desserts and fruits. Again a big disappointment. Cabins: We had a balcony which a lot of people tried to talk me out of. They said you won't be in your cabin much. Well we loved the balcony! In the afternoons we'd sit and have a drink or a snack. We'd watch as we pulled into port or leave port. At night it was very romantic. The sunrises and sunsets were beautiful. The room was a 10plus. Overall cleanliness: Excellent throughout the ship. Each time we left our room it was a mess. When we returned it was clean. I don't know how they do it. All of the common areas were immaculate. Of course this is a fairly new ship. Arrival and Departure: both were fairly easy. We arrived and went straight to someone who checked our identification. Then we went to a holding area with seats and waited for our number to be called. When they called the number before us, we went to line up. Then we went onto the ship. Leaving we went into an auditorium and were entertained for a while. Then we sat a little while longer. Then they told us we could leave. We got right off and went to claim our luggage. It was a lot easier than I thought. My family who have been before, said this had gotten easier from previous times. They were happy about that. Pictures: They take your picture every time you do something. Boarding, dining, seeing a show, meeting the captain, boarding, going into port, etc. etc. Most of the pictures are great and you should get them. I say this because they are quite expensive and a lot of people pass them up. But the quality is so much better than ones you would take for yourself. Also, its great when you get off to show those who couldn't go. They are a nice keepsake. (no ones paying me to say this.) Conclusion: Since I had never cruised before, I didn't know how I would like it. I thought I may feel closed in or something. I thought I may get bored. Thankful to say none of this happened. It was a great experience. I am looking forward to cruising again in the near future. Like anything else in life though its what you make of it. You can choose to enjoy the things you like, and not dwell on those you don't, or you can look for all the negatives and have a miserable time. We chose to have a great time and we did. Next time though I think I'd pick a different ship to compare. Of course I would also go on the same line again at a future date. Thank you for reading, Melanie

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Apr 14, 2001

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I decided on the Costa line after researching several ships. Costa gave us the best deal for the money and we were upgraded to a cabin with a Veranda (Wonderful). The food was excellent and we tried both the 9th deck buffet for both breakfast and lunch, and our regular dining room. Both were excellent. The quality and variety of meals were wonderful. As far as the Entertainment - we are early risers, so did not do many late

night reviews, but what we did see was excellent. We saw an impersonator who was wonderful. He did everything from Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash to Frank Sinatra and Englebert Humperdink. He was great. The cruise director and his staff were very informative and very attentive . We went on Easter Week and we were told that there were over 200 children on board and guess what? The only time we saw the children was at dinner time and they were very quiet and didn't bother anyone. The Dining Room Staff was EXCELLENT - we got very attached to our waiter and hated to leave him. Our CABIN STEWARD was very attentive and was always there when we needed anything - TOP SHELF! As far as excursions on the itinerary. We only did 1 which was VERY GOOD. It was the St. John Island Excursion from St. Thomas. The landscape was very nice and we had a very good tour guide. We walked up to Old San Juan and did shopping - very European and very clean and on the last day we walked up to the center of Nassau and did some shopping - very colorful buildings and very nice Natives. The only stop that we didn't care for was Catalina Island. Costa staff was GREAT to inform passengers not to drink water or ice cubes from anyone other than the Costa Staff that set up a bar on the beach. The beach was GORGEOUS but we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the ship's facilities instead. Better Safe than sorry. Toga night was a lot of fun and we dressed up the part. We will MOST DEFINITELY take another Costa Cruise. They have a few ships that are being built and will be ready in 2003 - you can COUNT US IN! If anyone would like to E-Mail me for more information, please feel free to.

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Apr 7, 2001

Western Caribbean

While I have not sailed with every cruise line there is, I felt the need to provide an accurate account of my experiences while sailing with Costa, (compared to Celebrity). THE BOAT: An absolutely beautiful work of floating art. Clean, well maintained, and spacious on all accounts (including cabins). THE FOOD: Inconsistently good. Some dishes were excellent, while others left much to be desired. THE SERVICE: Excellent service in the restaurants/bars,

shops, and cabin. (I made only 1 mid-night buffet. It was very nice.) THE ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was "fair". The Costa Atlantica Dancers were excellent. The soloists were far from excellent. (This opinion is coming from a professional musician.) The final show, "Toga Night" was the best of all the shows. DRESS: Casual for all but two nights. That was a "plus". The last night guests dress in togas for dinner. A very entertaining evening was had by all. THE AMENITIES: Amenities were excellent overall. Great gym/spa, nice pools, children's game room, shops, Casino. PORTS OF CALL: If you like shopping for jewelry and beaches you'll like the ports of call, (Key West, Cozumel, Ocho Rios, and Freeport). Prices were not that great, they were actually rather high. Buyer beware! Beaches were absolutely beautiful. OVERALL RATING OF CRUISE OUT OF TEN: 8

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Jan 28, 2001

Western Caribbean

Maureen Moran When my husband and I were looking to go on a cruise sometime at the beginning of the year, his friend recommended a Super Bowl Cruise!  Now I am not a sports nuts and thought I am not going on a cruise with a bunch of hooting and hollering men!  They tried to reassure me but I wouldn't budge.  I researched this Super Bowl Cruise myself and found that in fact it is not at all what I was picturing.  Not only did

Cruises Etc. have a detailed brochure but a fabulous web site as well!  It was easy to make a decision that this is what we wanted! We couldn't have made a better decision!  The ship departed Fort Lauderdale on Super Bowl Sunday.  The game was shown on a big screen in the huge theater!  Now we know I am not the football screaming type but this was a great way to watch the big game!  Especially when money is involved!  Cruises Etc. gives away over $100,000 in cash and prizes!  Talk about getting into the game!  Well, we only walked away with a couple t-shirts and a sore throat but it was definatley worth it! The next day we stopped at Key West.  What excitement!  After a few hours of shopping we ate lunch at Sloppy Joe's and hit a few bars!  Their was an Irish Pipes and Drums Band marching down the street playing the Irish tunes!  I almost started to jig when I noticed it was time to go back to the ship and get ready for dinner!  Believe it or not but the band marched us right on the ship!  They were sailing with Cruises Etc. and the Super Bowl gang!  Throughout the week we visited beaches, more shops, golf courses, we did it all!  All the mean while we met wonderful friends and won money!  Cruises Etc. gave away a ton of money daily!  They had a cocktail party with a game they called "The Chip Dip"!  They gave away more than $10,000 that night!  And daily they had the "$5.00 Ding Dong"!  Whoever wants to play, they just put their name on a five dollar bill and throw it in the hopper.  Amazing!  They gave away $9,500 one day! We had a great week!  The ship is endless with such beauty!  The food delicious!  The staff friendly and polite!  Not to mention very helpful!  I was so happy to find out that Cruises Etc. puts on this great theme cruise every year!  Coincidently they have planned the 2002 Super Bowl Party on the Atlantica again and we are already signed up and ready to go!  I would recommend to anyone! 

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Dec 17, 2000

Western Caribbean

P.L. Barlowe We had a wonderful time on our Costa cruise! We are a married couple in our mid-forties and were traveling with our son, who just finished his first semester of college. We were seated at the first seating at dinner with another couple our age, who had a son who also had just completed his first semester in college. They proved to be very charming dinner companions and the young men had a good time "hanging out" together

at night in the disco. We found the food at all meals to be well varied and almost always fabulous. It certainly was in abundance and there was even afternoon tea every day with sandwiches and cakes. No, there wasn't a full, spectacular midnight buffet every night (only one night was it extensive), but we found that there was an over abundance of food and we certainly didn't want a lavish buffet after a full dinner. The service was impeccable at every level. The passengers were a vary diverse group -- alot of Europeans -- but also alot of families. It seemed very "kid friendly" to even those with very small children. (One of the advantages was that they served pizza every day from something like 11-2:30 -- what kid doesn't love pizza!)  We didn't have perfect weather and unfortunately the two excursions we had planned ended up being cancelled. The only port that we didn't care for was Ocho Rios (the natives were quite pushy and obnoxious). All in all, though, it was an excellent vacation; extremely relaxing and a good way for our little family to be together and do something that all of us would enjoy (anyone who has ever had a teenager knows what I mean). The formal nights were very elegant, and although we didn't take advantage of a lot of evening activities we came home very well rested and refreshed. I would sail on the Atlantica again in a second!

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Cruise Line: Costa Atlantica Sailing Date: January 12th, 2003 We returned last week from a very enjoyable cruise on the Costa Atlantica. It was our first with Costa, and before leaving for the cruise, we read all the reviews posted. However, we do not agree with most of the reviews. We found the food at both the buffet and in the dining room to be great and presented quite well. The waiters and assistant waiters were very competent

and friendly. The assistant head waiter stopped by our table each night. We booked a balcony cabin and it was very acceptable. However, the partitions separating each balcony did not afford much privacy when talking and there was a cigar smoker on the adjacent balcony. We enjoyed the shows (although, the dancers were not that good) and fell in love with the Cafe Floridian. We attended two concerts there, one with a violinist and pianist and the second, a tenor accompanied by a pianist. The reception desk personnel were very helpful and knowledgeable. We did not book any excursions as we have cruised to this area many times. The private island was most enjoyable and the barbecue served was better than NCL. We would recommend this cruise and we will book her again. We have cruised on Holland America, Wind spirit, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Princess and even Carnival so I believe our review is not biased. The itinerary, with two full days and some half days at sea was also quite enjoyable and relaxing.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Costa Atlantica Sailing Date: January: 5th, 2003 COSTA ATLANTICA Western Caribbean January 5 - 12, 2003 By Mary & Vincent Finally OVERVIEW This was our seventh cruise on the Costa Cruise Line and our third on the Atlantica, its flagship. It is said that the third time is a "charm" and it's true! The effusive Hotel Director Attilio Sissa has kept his staff on its toes and the Atlantica ship-shape. She is a jewel

to be appreciated in all her glory of cinematic memorabilia (Deck names and ship decor revolve around Fellini films and actors). We have written two highly detailed reviews on this ship's many wonders and they are still posted on the internet, so we will refer readers to those reviews for the ship's layout and decorations. Instead, now we will focus on what the Costa Atlantica does best: "CRUISING ITALIAN STYLE." The ambiance and the Italian cuisine are where Costa excels and what gives a Costa cruise its identity. We did not have the feeling of ". . .been there, done that . . ." when we returned to this ship. On the contrary, we felt welcomed by the staff we befriended previously on other Costa cruises, who remembered our names and greeted us affectionately. It was like the return of the "prodigal son," especially for Vincent who enjoyed speaking Italian and, at times, his native Neapolitan dialect. The atmosphere on board became more festive throughout the cruise. For us a Costa cruise is the next best thing to actually going to Italy. It is the music, the continental manners of the crew, the straordinary efforts of Cruise Director Ray Rouse, the factotum of the ship (Figaro qua`, Figaro la`), and finally it is the Italian cuisine of Executive Chef Purificacion Villardo and our old friend Chef Antonio De Luca, which all combine to give passengers that special taste of "la dolce vita." EMBARKATION Tickets may read 10:30 am --- don't believe it. Normally embarkation begins at 1:00 pm. This Sunday the ship was cleared by Immigration pier and ready for our ride home. What a difference a week makes. For embarkation we received assistance to a waiting area for wheelchair and handicapped passengers along with the three relatives in our group (Haydee from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Mary and Peggy from Tucson, Arizona). We were on board 1:30pm and of course went straight to the Welcome Aboard Buffet, a culinary feast for the eyes and the stomach. PUBLIC AREAS This floating tribute to Federico Fellini's avant garde films is both interesting and educative. The many reproductions of Botticelli, Raphael, Titian etc. works are evocative of Italian museums, for they are exquisite copies wonderfully framed. The classic lines of this ship are pure Costa --- she is more like a huge yacht and her appointments are luxurious: marble and fine wood are everywhere. The beautiful three room Caffe` Florian is so highly detailed and presents such a unique experience that passengers truly feel as if sitting in a Venetian cafe overlooking St. Mark's Square (We know, since we've been there and even the coffee smells the same!). Please refer to our Costa Atlantica 2000 and 2002 reviews for more ship descriptions. FOOD & SERVICE Food and service is where Costa excels: Chef Villardo can be proud of the many offerings on his menus. When it reads "Prosciutto," diners can be sure it will be the famous Italian Prosciutto di Parma --- the best cured ham in the world. Recently Costa has dedicated more money per passenger for food and it shows. There are selections of cheese available daily which include the delicious Gorgonzola (Blue of Italy) Ricotta (creamy imported) and Mozzarella di Bufala, Grana Padano and of course Parmiggiano Reggiano (inimitable). The menus are printed in Italian with English, German or Spanish translations directly underneath. Of course, many Americans enjoy seeing the Italian while being able to decipher it immediately. We suggest that these menus along with the daily Italian lessons on board could be an introduction to traveling in Italy. We dined with other Americans who said that at first they were ordering as if in an American restaurant, until they realized that they were missing a fantastic opportunity to try real Italian food. As the old adage states: "When in Rome do as the Romans do. . . ." and each night can be a great dining sensation: Night I, Bon Voyage Dinner: Try the Antipasto Atlantica, roasted eggplant, zucchini and peppers with Prosciutto di Parma. For the Main Course have the Costata di Manzo al Forno (a tender and succulent Prime Rib of Beef). Night II, Gala Dinner: Try the Escargot Bourguignonne and Aragosta alla griglia (Broiled Lobster). Night III, American Dinner: Shrimp cocktail, mixed baby green salad, Costine di Maiale (Baby back pork spareribs), and what could be more American than Spaghetti & Meatballs. Night IV, Italian Dinner: Cioppino (Italian Seafood stew), Trofie al Pesto (Genovese dumplings with pesto sauce) and Osso Buco (Braised Veal Shank with polenta). Night V, Caribbean Dinner: Tortino di granchio (Caribbean Crab Cakes), Oxtail Bouillon, Linguine con gamberetti (pasta with shrimp), Sirloin steak with green peppercorns. Night VI, Farewell Gala: Oysters Rockfeller, Fagottini ai quattro formaggi (pasta pouches stuffed with beef, ricotta & spinach in a four cheese sauce), and Filetto di manzo ai funghi porcini (Grilled beef tenderloin with porcini mushrooms). Night VII, Bacchanal Dinner: This night is topped off with a procession of Roman senators, soldiers and lovely ladies all cavorting to Verdi's "Triumphal March" from Aida. HAIL CAESAR! Don't fail to order Prosciutto and Melone, Calarmari Fritti, Minestrone, Penne Putanesca, and Costata di Manzo. Translate this alone --- after all there's been seven days of Italian lessons by now! This is only the tip of the iceberg and some of our favorites. Normally, we never order the same items on the menu, since we like to sample everything. The one thing we would prefer is the availability of half portions, because we dislike wasting food and the food portions are abundant. The Menu is always extensive and varied. Every night, in addition to the 4 or 5 main courses, there are 3 or 4 alternative options, including fish, meat and pasta dishes, such as baked or grilled fish fillet, grilled meat and sausage, Lasagna or stuffed Cannelloni. The luncheon menus are equally varied and delicious. We suggest trying the risotto (rice) whenever it is on the menu, especially with mushrooms or asparagus. Magnificent! The dessert menus have three items which are available everyday -- Tiramisu, Pastiera Napolitana and Zabaione: Don't translate, just order and savor! However, as a suggestion never miss a profiterole or a soufflé. We always marvel at those people who just order ice cream every evening, when so many exotics are available. The Italian pastries rely more on flavor than sweetness and this is refreshing. We found the food in the main dining room equally as good as that in the Ristorante Club Atlantica, the upscale restaurant on Deck 10 (there is a cover charge of $20 per person, except it is free for those occupying the suites). The menu for this restaurant was created by Gualtiero Marchesi, a renown Italian chef. The atmosphere in the Club Atlantica is more intimate than the main dining room, the service is impeccable and the Versace dinner ware is exquisite. However, we felt that it is definitely time for a change in menu, since it has been the same for the past three years. Moreover, we had a lovely table in the Tiziano dining room, where the food, the service and the company were the best ingredients for wonderful dining experiences. We enjoyed Chef De Luca's cooking demonstrations in the Piazza Madama Butterfly and his beautiful daughter and Assistant Carla (Brava!). After each demonstration we savored the dishes which were offered that evening in the dining room. Food Service on the Atlantica is under the direction of the handsome Maitre d' Hotel Umberto Cardone and his Asst. Tobia Vallo (whom we have met on many Costa cruises). The constant vigilance of these two, together with the other Asst. Maitre D's Dante and Nicola, are the reason that the wait staff is so accomplished. Our waiter Ronnie Ablog was swift and mindful of our likes and his assistant Sonny Ribao was helpful, but never hovering. Remember that with only 162 Kitchen Staff, Chef Villardo served 2,200 passengers and 900 crew over 9,000 meals per day, plus snacks, formal teas at 4:00 pm, Midnight Buffets, Captain's Cocktails etc., etc., etc. It is mind boggling. Especially since every soup is hot, every salad is crisp and every entree is garnished with fresh herbs.... Complimenti!!! Service is tip top under Hotel Director Attilio Sissa; he is swift to action, effective and cordial; his sole aim is to please the passengers. He definitely achieves that goal. Our Butler Juan Pablo Aguilera was very helpful; he has a way of providing service before being asked. On the first day Vincent ordered a pitcher of orange juice with which to take his medicine, and everyday after that, he placed a fresh picture of juice in our refrigerator without our prompting. We had to debark early on Friday at George Town, Grand Cayman to meet a private tour (more later on the fantastic SEAMOBILE) and Pablo escorted us to the gangway by the VIP route (we were told that he escorted Robert Redford and a few other famous people the same way). When it comes to treating everyone like a VIP Costa and its staff know how to do it. CABIN Suite #6154 is spacious and well appointed. When entering on the left, there is an ante room with armoire and lighted dressing table and past that is the pure Italian bathroom, double sink, all granite, tile and marble with a Jacuzzi tub. Excellent thought was given to comfort in this bathroom: towel racks and handy hooks are in the proper places. There is a granite bar and entertainment center: TV-VCR; a personal safe, a dresser and another mirrored armoire. The queen size bed is flanked by night stands with Murano glass reading lamps. When entering on the right, there is a mirrored wall bordered by wooden pillars with ebony capitals and copper trim. The granite topped desk has another beautiful Murano lamp and below is the refrigerator. Full American breakfast was served each morning on the large granite coffee table. There is a peach leather hide-a-bed sofa with matching draperies and bedspread. The far wall is all glass with a door to the spacious balcony w/ two chairs, table and chaise. On the walls are two dreamy paintings by Andreescu: One is a sleeping woman under a starry night with a castle in the background and a cat with yellow eyes in the foreground. The other is of a girl with golden hair and stars with a "Mezzaluna" moon and a bouquet of flowers and masks in the foreground. Unique! Our cabin attendant Roland was superb, everything was in order, but we hardly ever saw him. ENTERTAINMENT The daily program "TODAY" lists many activities, from organized exercise classes to lessons in tennis, from dancing and language lessons to bingo and card tournaments, and trivia quizzes (the formidable Finellis won two). There are also lifestyle lectures: astrology, self exploration, etc..., and afternoon movies in the Caruso Theater and several excellent lead performers onboard. A melodic group, "Les Aristocrates," with a spectacular lady singer Daniela and two other male singers, gave several performances in the Corallo Lounge and in Piazza Madama Butterfly. Their repertoire included famous Italian and International songs. Concert pianist Pierangelo Micciche` and tenor Luis Cartin, an old acquaintance of ours, performed beautiful classical songs and opera arias at the Caffe` Florian. The latest show "Made in Italy" featured Luis Cartin and the new excellent soprano Julie Ann McLaughlin with whom Vincent was very taken. We particularly enjoyed the solo performance of Van Pressley Jr. (formerly of "The Platters") who took us down "memory lane" with the most popular songs of the fifties and sixties. He got a standing ovation for songs like "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "The Great Pretender" and "My way." We had enjoyed his singing during our April 2002 cruise on the Atlantica, so we were thrilled that he was also performing during this cruise. Party Italian Style includes dancing lessons in the "Tarantella" and the "Quadriglia." By far the most interactive program for the audience was the "Roman Bacchanal" a guest talent show. The audience gets a chance to decide contestants' fate by either "thumbs down," death by lions, or "thumbs up" for freedom. Be prepared for Italian congeniality everywhere. It's infectious. PORTS OF CALL Key West, Florida Monday Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:00pm For first timers take the Conch Train a one hour tour ($19) which will give a quick overview, so that the rest of the day can be well spent. Cozumel, Mexico Tuesday Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 7:00pm We think the San Gervasio Ruins and the Folklorico Show would be the best excursion for the money ($55) three and one half hours and there is still half a day for some of the best snorkeling in the world. Shopping is good here and just a $5.00 cab ride from the pier. Wednesday is a sea day. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Thursday Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:30pm   The Ochos Rios Highlights, Coyaba Gardens and Dunn's Falls, four hours ($44) gives the flavor of Jamaica, plus the exercise of climbing the falls and still getting in some shopping time. George Town, Grand Cayman Friday Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:00pm Here it is possible to go off the regular tours to the SEAMOBILE, the submarine experience of a life time (described in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC). There are only three of these subs in the world: one is in Grand Cayman, one on the US west coast and the last is used in research in Turkey. We contacted the Manager Simon Boxall by E-Mail: deepblue@candw.ky and by phone (345-916-DIVE) and he made arrangements for us to be picked up between the North and South terminals by Chris in aspeed boat, taken to the platform near Seven Mile Beach. Sunny helped us on the platform and Dave, the pilot, explained the process of submersion and safety procedures. It was all very simple; we were ready to explore the coral reef. The two man sub has a clear glass dome with surround view. No breathing apparatus is necessary, since it holds enough oxygen for approximately 2 hours and the dive lasts only about 30 to 45 minutes. Dave, in scuba outfit, pilots the sub from outside and behind, so the the sea view is unobstructed. Completely calm and free of masks or any other encumbrances, we floated through schools of tropical fish and saw sea turtles, conchs, sea fans and coral formations within feet. For that Jacques Cousteau feeling this is truly phenomenal. The visibility is wonderful. Mary is claustrophobic, but had no problem since the bubble is large enough and breathing is regular not through tubes or tanks. TWO THUMBS UP!! SUGGESTIONS 1. Our Seamobile experience was unique. We have previously done the Submarine Expedition and the Submarine Adventure in Cozumel and the Caymans, respectively. However, this personalized dive to the coral reef is something very different and it merits inclusion in shore excursion offerings of the Costa Cruise Line. 2. So much food is wasted on cruises; thus, we feel that half-portions should be listed on the menu for those who want to savor the flavor, rather than gorge themselves. 3. There has been improvement in the pizza --- the toppings were excellent, but the crust did not meet our expectation. We feel that the crust could be more flavorful if they use the freshly made breaddough, instead, since their bread is excellent. Very simple! It is always a great pleasure to visit our friends on Costa ships. Arrivederci! Until we meet again, maybe on the new Costa Mediterranea or Costa Fortuna, later this year.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Mary & Vincent Finelli COSTA ATLANTICA  EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE  Dec. 10-17, 2000 This was our "LUCKY" 13th cruise in the past four years and our fifth on Costa ships.  We have sailed once on the Costa Victoria and three times on the Costa Romantica , thus we know what "Cruising Italian Style" means.  The all white Costa ships with their sleek silhouettes and yellow stacks emblazoned with the

navy blue "C" are easily recognized both in port and at sea.  In the face of the new boxy style Gigaships, the Costa Line has remained true to the classic liner shape and the new Costa Atlantica is more of the same on the outside, but radically different on the inside.  She has the elegance of the Costa   Romantica, including the extensive use of marble, granite, fine fixtures and art work. However, the Atlantica is not sober elegance as expected from traditional Italian design, but she is more glitzy and busy in details as in the style characteristic of the Carnival ships decorated by Joe Farcus.  But we think that Pier Luigi Foschi, the Costa Crociere President, has put together a large group of artists who definitely created the Italian atmosphere throughout the ship. The overwhelming quantity of artworks in every public area, corridor, elevator, etc. is so extensive that it requires a book, COSTA ATLANTICA ARTWORKS, (221 pgs.) enumerating and describing the huge art collection on board: representing various cultures, styles and ages from original venetian style glass works and museum quality copies of Botticelli and Titian to replicas of Pompeian frescos; from modern pieces of art to the repetition of design achieved with the use of glass, marble, mosaics, ceramic and teakwood.  Now we know why ships are called SHE, because they are like women each to be appreciated for her uniqueness and the Costa Atlantica lives up to her reputation as no other ship you have ever seen, due to the undeniable richness of its decor -- MAGNIFICENT!  Although the grandiose scale of the Eagle Class gigaships of RCCL, Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas , is not found in the smaller Costa Atlantica (84,000 tons), the attention to detail and the overwhelming abundance of art and artisanship combine to make her the crown jewel of the Costa Lines. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Docked at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale she seemed much like the other Costa ships but larger, except for the five decks of balconied cabins (80% of the cabins have ocean view and most of theses have private verandas).  Once on board you immediately know she is different.  It is detail, detail, detail that dazzles the eye!  And it continues to amaze you all week with newly noticed detail. EMBARKATION Since we had booked a suite, we had prority boarding and were processed in less than five minutes and then were sent to a waiting area, because we had requested a wheel chair. In five more minutes we were on board and escorted to our suite in a total of ten minutes in all (Costa welcomes passengers aboard better than all other lines) .  On the way up in the glass cage elevator (there are three of them), we were struck by the beautiful Pompeian style mural which covers the eight deck high Atrium wall.   Looking up we saw the crystal stairway leading from Deck 9 to Deck 10 and the alternative dining Club Atlantica. CABINS Our Panoramic Suite with veranda #6219  (360 sq. ft.) on deck 6 gave the impression of a Captain's quarters on an 18th century galleon: The 12" teakwood ceiling molding capped the entire room.  When entering, on the right there is a mirrored wall with three teakwood pillars, with ebony cone-shaped capitals.  Then follows a desk and a refrigerated minibar with granite countertops and beyond that a beige leather sofa which converts to a queen size bed and finally a coffee table.  When entering on the left, there is an ante room with a lady's dressing table and a lighted wall of mirrors opposite a huge armoire; beyond that is the bathroom with double sinks and again mirrored wall, full bathtub/shower with Jacuzzi (again all granite counters and marble walls with mosaic trim).  VERY NICE!  We found complimentary white Costa robes and bathroom slippers.  Exiting the bathroom and going left there is a wall console with the safe, bar, TV and another huge armoire (a double closet with bureau).  There is a queen size bed with a granite shelf on the headboard and another mirrored wall.  The three end tables and the desk had beautiful venetian blown glass and copper table lamps and there were two beautifully framed original pictures "Le Amiche" ("The Friends") by Ciferri and the "Paesaggio con Neve" ("Landscape with Snow") by Corradin.  The entrance floor is parquet and the carpeting is beige and coral, with a houndstooth design of charcoal.  The far wall is mostly glass, with a door leading onto the 8'X15' veranda which holds two teak reclining chairs and a small table to which Marianela, the butler, added a lounge chair.  All the other ships we have cruised on had plastic or metal veranda furniture: The wood was much more elegant looking.  The ambiance is nautical in a subdued and Italianate way.  We feel the difference between cabins and suites is more than the cost difference. . . . Whenever possible we book a suite; although, we did visit our son's oceanview cabin with veranda #8226 (210 sq. ft.) and it was nice, but the appointments of our suite were much more impressive for the cost difference. When we arrived in our cabin we found a bottle of Prosecco Spumante chilling with two glasses and a bowl of fruit.  Throughout our cruise Teresa, our stewardess, and Marianela were efficient and non-intrusive.  Every morning Marianela set the breakfast table with a white cloth and with our order she always included freshly squeezed orange juice which tasted better than the reconstituted one.  THANK YOU MARIANELA! THE SHIP This new ship was inaugurated July 15, 2000 and is fresh and crisp in appointments with     an attention to detail that is incredible.  Each public area has a theme that is carried out exquisitely and the overall theme of homage to Fellini and his movies is one that allows for nostalgia and a unifying backdrop for the entire ship.  On Deck 3 the Paparazzi Bar has a display of larger than life candid pictures taken in Rome during the filming of some  Fellini's films of the 1950's & '60's, depicting famous stars like Marcello Mastroianni, Ava Gardner, David Niven, Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield and many more. The decks are named after Fellini films ( ie. La Strada, La Dolce Vita, Amarcord, 8 1/2, etc.) giving continuity to the theme.  The decor is a nice introduction to Italy and things Italian for those who have never been there and a trip down memory lane for those of us familiar with Italy.  The Caffe` Florian is a replica of the famed Venetian tea room of the same name and there is much to admire in its three separate rooms of differing decor: the first room is a portrait gallery of famous Venetians ( Marco Polo, Goldoni, Sarpi, Orseolo, Pisani etc.).  Check out the optical illusion created from looking through its open window into the next salon and through the next window into the third salon which has an equal sized mirror on the far wall -- all are alligned to give the effect of six rather than three rooms . . . VERY INTERESTING!  The middle room ceiling has portraits of figures seated on clouds (the Godess Roma and a figure of Italia holding a S.P.Q.R. sign).  Those passengers who enjoy a good puzzle may try to identify these mythological  figures (the Muses etc.).  We did.  Another area, which we found beautiful, is the arcade corridor on Deck 3 leading to Virtual World (video game room, Deck 4), Pinocchio's Room (the children's hangout, Deck 5) and the Chapel.  This terracotta paved flagstone walk holds twenty or so arches covered in Morning Glory and Stephanotis vines and huge round windows flanked by small mosaic topped tables and rattan chairs with velour pads and lighted wall sconces.  By day, one can sit and watch the ocean and by night it presents a beautiful site for sitting or strolling.  We were there several times and had it all to ourselves.  The long walk also provides a lesson in art perspective, since the arches are repeated so many times.  Most cruisers enjoy the shows and the busy swimming pools or the night clubs, however, we also enjoy quiet at times and the library on the Atlantica is quiet and elegant in the manner of a Gentleman's Club: Four internet stations, of  Hewlett Packard L1800 model computers ($6.00/15 min.), a paucity of books (it needs to be improved with more books on a greater variety of subjects), but great decor: Teak bookcases with pillars, green glass urns and torches topped with crystal fern fronds, a matching crystal chandelier and walls of green water silk taffeta with the frond motif repeated.  The Madam Butterfly Lounge had thirty or so crystal geishas in niches encircling the room.  This is where most cooking shows and trivia quizzes were given.  We played a few quizzes and won some, but we soon realized that the Cruise staff needs some updated games, since their questions were repetitious and especially recognizable by repeaters.  We suggested that the staff should get some reference books, such as a new World Almanac and other sources of information, to help them in formulating new questions for their games.  When riding in the elevators, the glass sculptures of dancing figures and the glass vases in niches are the works of  Bubacco and Moretti, respectively.  Don't forget there are three swimming pools, three  Jacuzzi whirlpools, a tennis court, a workout center with aerobics equipments and a health spa with a Thalasso-therapy pool, not as big and functional as the one on the Celebrity Century, but very nice.  For those interested in gambling there is a great Casino with tables for Blackjack, Caribbean Stud and Draw Poker, Roulette, Craps and a large variety of slot machines.  Usually we spend a few hours in the Casino losing a few hundred dollars, but this was our lucky cruise and we ended up winning about one hundred dollars. The on board shopping is nicely set in the winding Via della Spiga and it includes a unique Versace store.  We think, however, that the best buys on this ship are in perfumes.  The  traffic patterns flow nicely on this thoughtfully designed ship, allowing passengers to enjoy many of the different lounges.  For example, on the way to the Tiziano Dining Room, one can sit on the huge avant-garde red leather chairs, and enjoy the view.  This is probably the most detailed ship review we have written, but it is the amazing abundance of detail on the Costa Atlantica which makes her so captivating. THE FOOD We reserved early seating and a table for eight in the upper level (deck 3) of the Tiziano Dining Room, since we travelled with family and friends: Our son Marcello and his lovely wife Paige, who were married on the Costa Romantica; two cousins, Haydee from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Mary from Tucson, Arizona; and our friends Maria and Salvatore from Cincinnati, Ohio.  We found that we enjoyed some activities together and basically we met only at mutually enjoyed venues and at dinner each night where we traded interesting stories.  The rest of time, we pursued different activities.  We had a small problem on the first night when we found a couple at our table, who had informed the assistant Maitre D' that they were friends of ours; however, Cosimo Costanza, the Maitre D' adjusted everything and we were seated at table #620 with great service from Julio, the waiter, and Roque, the assistant waiter.  The choices on the menu were vast and varied.  We enjoyed our meals in this elegant and formal atmosphere.  We would rate it among the best of dining at sea.  Definitely get the prime rib, the roast duck, the rack of lamb, the prosciutto (the real Parma brand) and melon, and most of all, try the pasta dishes, which, upon request, will be cooked al dente just for you.  We always chose different dishes and definitely different desserts so we tasted most of the fare offered. We also dined in the Club Atlantica, the alternative dining, and we were very pleased with an exquisitely prepared and served meal (there is a cover charge of $15 per person).  The menu for this restaurant was created by the famous Gualtiero Marchesi, an Italian chef who received three stars in the Michelin Guide and many other awards, both in Italy and worldwide.  In contrast with the Portofino, the alternative restaurant of the Explorer of the Seas, which last month left us with a disappointed palate, the Club Atlantica is truly a gourmet restaurant where the adjectives of squisito and delizioso are in order. We highly recommend it: the service was top notch; the dinnerware was by Versace and beautiful; it was a leisurely eaten and delightfully enjoyed meal, accompanied by two wonderful wines.  We had been told by our new friend, the Hotel Director, Attilio Sissa, not to miss it.  And he was right!  It would have been a great loss not to have dined there.  It was like dining on top of the world.  Make reservations for Club Atlantica during the first day on board, so you may choose the preferred evening, possibly not during a Gala night, when the menu in the Tiziano is at its best. ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Generally we have found the entertainment on board to be the "usual fare" since there is much homogeneity among cruise ships:  Musical Reviews with super singers and dancers,  comedians which are so-so, and top rated singers.  And so it was with this cruise, except for having one of our favorite Italo-American singers, Richard Ianni.  He once again had a standing ovation after his performance in the beautiful Caruso Theater and then another standing ovation in the Corallo Lounge, a stunning, more intimate nightclub room on Deck 1 with glass walls and an undersea theme. In this lounge, Sonny Petrillo, a Sinatra style singer, also gave an outstanding performance of a "Tribute to Frank Sinatra."  Also in this room Captain Massimo Garbarino held his Repeaters' Cocktail Party. He graciously visited each group and remembered our son and his wife from their honeymoon on the Romantica !   His continental personality entranced the ladies in our group.  The days on this ship, as on other ships, are filled with activities and entertainment, from jogging to aerobics, from dancing lessons to cooking demonstrations, from Italian lessons to musical games, from bridge lessons to tennis tournaments, etc.  The very personable Cruise Director, Ray Rouse, and his staff  (including Antonello and Andy) kept the passengers occupied and entertained, but most of all they maintained a festive atmosphere throughout the week, characteristic of  an Italian festa, especially on the Italian night, in La Dolce Vita Atrium (Deck 2), where they were dressed in gorgeous Renaissance costumes and danced and played street games with the passengers.  And then there was the Toga night. We did not dress in costume, but like many passengers enjoyed the Roman Spectacle. PORTS OF CALL Tuesday: San Juan, Puerto Rico, 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.  Many passengers felt the crowds in the streets of the city limited their sight seeing and shopping. Wednesday: St.Thomas, U.S.V.I., 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  There are many beautiful island tours and great shopping, especially at Mr. Tablecloth. Thursday: Catalina Island, Dominican Republic, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  This is a nice beach and swim day with a buffet on Costa's private island. Saturday: Nassau, Bahamas, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  There are many shore excursions to choose from: island tours, snorkeling, Blue Lagoon etc., or stay on board for a restful massage. DEBARKATION This was simple; we had priority red tickets, but debarkation did not begin until 8:45 a.m. because several non-US citizens failed to show up on time for Immigration clearance.  We had left our mini-van in the port parking garage and the weekly fee was $70.00.  Not bad, we live not far from there and were home by 9:30 a.m.  Our group of eight all agreed a great time was had by all and we were sorry to leave the spectacular Costa Atlantica . SUGGESTIONS We asked several passengers how they were enjoying the cruise and the ship.  The vast majority answered that they were having a great cruise and that they thought the ship was beautiful; however, there were some suggestions for improvements:  1. Someone complained that it was the Christmas Holidays and there where no signs of seasonal decorations.  However, we felt that the ship was already so adorned that it was not necessary to "gild the lily." 2. An English couple wanted "biscuits" with their cheeses instead of American Saltine Crackers. 3. An elderly couple would have liked deck chairs placed on the Promenade Deck so they could have enjoyed the ocean breeze without going up to the pool deck. 4. At places on the ship some drinks, such as orange juice, had an unpleasant aftertaste, due to being reconstituted with chlorinated water.  We suggest utilizing purified water  throughout the ship when making reconstituted beverages or ice. These are simple requests which can be easily accommodated thus making a cruise on the Atlantica a perfect vacation. 

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

John R. Levey 2000 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. 

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Mediterranean

Cruise Line: Costa Sailing Date: October 13th, 2002 Itinerary Day 1 – Venice, Italy Day 2 – Bari, Italy Day 3 – Katakolon, Greece Day 4 – Volos, Greece Day 5 – Athens, Greece Day 6 – Corfu, Greece Day 7 – Dubrovnik, Croatia Day 8 – Venice, Italy This was our 7th cruise and second time on the Costa Atlantica (which we sailed on in March 2002 through the Eastern Caribbean). Our other previous cruises were: Dawn Princess

(Alaska, 7/97), Sea Princess (Panama Canal, 4/99), QE 2 (Transatlantic 10/00), NCL Sun (Canada/New England 10/01), and Carnival Imagination (4-day Caribbean 6/02). At the end of a few topics below, I have made comparisons between the various lines that we have sailed on. It goes without saying that these are simply our opinions. We are by no means experts or gourmands. EMBARKATION PROCESS - We arrived in Venice after an overnight flight, collected our luggage and checked in at the Costa booth. We were then transported by bus (over land) to the pier. We were in a Suite and so we given priority boarding, bypassing the line and were able to board immediately. Carryon luggage goes through an x-ray machine and each passenger walks through a metal detector. Then the embarkation photos are taken and soon we were on the ship and being escorted to our cabin. OUR CABIN - We booked a Panorama Suite (#6207) on Amarcord deck. It was a lovely suite with Queen-size bed, sofa, chair and plenty of storage space. We also had a veranda with a table and two wooden chairs. The bathroom was a reasonable size with lots of shelves, twin sinks and a good size shower with wonderful water pressure. In suites, there is an additional ante-room with a lighted make-up mirror, drawer space, a stool and a long marble vanity counter top to place extra toiletry items. (I recently toured the Carnival Legend which is the twin sister to the Costa Atlantica and they have added a small sink in the middle of the counter top which is a wonderful idea.) The hairdryer is located in the top drawer in the vanity area of the ante-room (NOT in the bathroom itself). It is the kind where you must continually apply pressure to the ON button to use it. My husband hated it and said he’d pack our own travel hairdryer next time. THE SHIP - We thought the ship was absolutely spectacular! I’ve heard some people say that the decorating is overdone, but we like that glamorous look in a cruise ship. The Costa Atlantica has many well-designed public rooms and each seemed perfect for their purpose. I noticed that the sound-proofing was very well done because as we walked from one room featuring classical music, and walked into the next room with popular music playing, you could not hear what was going on in the next room. The Atrium lobby is just beautiful and features a piano bar in the center. Caffe Florian, which is an exact replica of the café in Venice which dates back to the 1700’s, was beautiful and quite unique as far as the usual cruise ship public rooms go. It features classical music from Viennese Waltzes to Opera each night. The Corallo Lounge on the first deck was magnificent and the Madame Butterfly Lounge was also quite beautiful. Each stairwell features Murano glass vases in a display area and there is a separate brochure you can request which details all the artwork on the ship. ENTERTAINMENT- The main shows were in the Caruso Theatre and the smaller shows or other entertainment was usually in the Corallo Lounge, however there was a wide variety of music of all kind in each of the lounges each evening. Entertainment was somewhat weak when compared to other cruise ships with the exception of an incredible steel drum band from Trinidad called Island Magic. They performed show tunes and classical music on steel drums and had the whole audience applauding wildly in several standing ovations. Incredibly enough they are self-taught and do not read music. I enjoyed the “Everything Italian” production show. We didn’t care for “Metamorphosis”, but several people at our table loved the show, so it’s just a matter of personal taste. With so many languages spoken onboard, the shows tend to be very visual in nature so that they can be enjoyed by all. Comparisons: NCL wins hands down with the Jean Ann Ryan singers, dancers and shows. We felt they were Broadway quality. Princess comes in 2nd, and Carnival and Costa in a tie for 3rd place . The QE2 was a Jazz Cruise, so we didn’t get to see their usual offerings. DINING- We had a table for 6 in the Tiziano Dining Room (the ONLY dining room onboard). This is a lovely 2-level room and we were lucky once again to have a table by a window as well as wonderful tablemates, especially Frank and Margaret Sullivan from London who felt like long-long friends after a few hours. We found the food to be not as good as in the Caribbean, mainly because the choices were slanted more to European tastes. Our waiter and his assistant, Lope Lira and Teodorico, were attentive and efficient. HINT: If you ask for Bruschetta on the first evening (not actually available on the first evening), you will get it each night thereafter and it was superb! The menus for lunch weren’t very exciting so we mostly went up to the Botticelli Buffet for breakfast and lunch. They featured a different ethnic specialty at one of the serving stations each day (which was usually very good), as well as the usual fare at the other stations. There were 4 serving stations and plenty of seating, including tables for 2 by the windows and cozy booths. At 4 p.m. the buffet offered afternoon tea (with sandwiches and cakes) or pizza which was a nice touch. I thought their desserts were very good, especially the Tira Misu and all of their cakes which had a very light quality about them. One strange thing—in the dining room, the men were almost always served with their dinner before the women which was the exact opposite of our previous cruising experience. (Someone said this was the European way.) Also, for Mediterranean itineraries there is no iced tea in the buffet, no bagels, and no smoked salmon for breakfast – all of which we did have on the same ship in the Caribbean. ALTERNATIVE DINING- Suite passengers get a complimentary dinner in Club Atlantica (normally $23 per person charge, including tip). This is Costa’s specialty gourmet restaurant and we weren’t very impressed the first time we ate there in March, but figured it was a freebie so why not? We find the menu to be lacking – very poor choices in our opinion. Dinner is served on Versace china. Would we go back again if we sail on Costa? No. My view is that the restaurant is overpriced, the menu is poor and service is much too slow. I realize it’s supposed to be fine dining, but it was just entirely too slow for our liking and we missed the company of our table companions. Comparisons: Our only comparison is to NCL’s Sun which features 9 different restaurants. Most cost between $10 and $15 per person but were SPECTACULAR and we would go back to them again in a heartbeat if we sailed on NCL again. The Teppanyaki bar (Ginza) and East Meets West restaurants and particularly Le Bistro and Adagio were absolutely memorable dining experiences which I would rate way above Costa for both value and excellence. We also recently toured the new Carnival Legend which is a twin sister to the Costa Atlantica. Their supper club offers a WONDERFUL menu including Joe’s Stone Crabs and Filet Mignon. SAILAWAY FROM VENICE: We were a bit rushed because we had dinner at 7:00, but couldn’t miss the sailaway from Venice. (Since our flight arrived late in the afternoon, we didn’t get a chance to see Venice prior to boarding the ship.) It was an amazing experience to sail down the Grand Canal, passing Doge’s Palace and other familiar sights. As all of us onboard the ship took photograph after photograph, people in Venice along the canal were snapping away too, taking photographs of the ship sailing by. PORTS: The tour desk opens right after sailaway. The lifeboat drill took place at 4 p.m. on our second day in Bari, Italy. This was a very port intensive cruise. We are used to a few days at sea to recuperate from long days of sightseeing tours. Because of this, we decided to do a few of the ports on our own in a leisurely way. Bari Italy- We took the 3-hour Bari Panorama Tour (22 Euros per person). (In the Caribbean the onboard currency is American dollars, but in the Mediterranean, it is the Euro. Luckily it is an almost even exchange, so it’s very easy to figure out how much you are spending.) A bus took us into the town of Bari and we had an excellent tour guide. The tours are grouped according to language spoken, so we always had English speaking tour guides, while other buses had French, German, Italian, or Spanish speaking tour guides. Ships that are docked in Bari for a longer time offer a tour to nearby Alberobello where the famous ‘trulli’ houses feature unique cone-shaped roofs. Our tour concentrated on the famous St. Nicholas church (where we saw 2 weddings in progress) and a short walking tour of the harbor and town. We decided to do the ship’s tour in Bari because several websites warned that pickpockets were a problem there. We were amused to see that we had several policemen on motorcycles who followed our group from place to places, as if to warn any potential pickpockets that they better stay away from the tourists. One of our English friends remarked “I feel rather like the Queen! I could get used to this.” Katakolon, Greece- A tour of nearby Olympia was offered here, but we had read conflicting information about how worthwhile the trip was, so we opted to just explore the town on our own. Katakolon is a charming little fishing village of about 3 blocks, featuring lots of souvenir shops and harbor-side restaurants. The souvenir shops had pretty good prices. Colorfully wrapped bars of olive-oil soap decorated with plaster-of-paris Greek statues cost about 1.80 Euros. Volos, Greece (for Meteora)- This is a tour that we debated about for nearly 6 months -- The Meteora Monasteries Between Heaven and Earth Tour (a 9-hour tour of the mountain-top monasteries of Meteora -- a UNESCO World Heritage site, which was featured in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”). It takes 2 hours to Meteora by bus and we dreaded spending 4 hours of our precious time traveling by bus over dusty roads, however, we are VERY glad that we decided to do this. The sight of these monasteries perched atop mountain pillars was breathtaking. I also worried that I might not be up to the climb, but the bus was able to drive us most of the way up the mountain and then the difficulty of the climb depended on which monastery your bus visited. We visited the Holy Monastery of St. Stephens’s which is now a nunnery. That just had a few steps and a slight incline to walk up – manageable for almost anyone. Shoulders must be covered and women must wear long skirts (they will provide you one to borrow if you are not properly dressed). We then visited Varlaam Monastery which had about 148 steps, but well-spaced and not very steep – again manageable for most people in good health. (Our friends were on another bus which visited St. Nicholas monastery and they said that climb was VERY challenging with LOTS of steep steps.) We were shown inside the churches and given some history. When a honeymoon couple stood with their arms around each other, a nun approached and motioned for them to move apart! After the visit we had a wonderful Greek buffet (included in the excursion – at 95 Euros per person) in a restaurant with great views of Meteora, and then settled in for our 2-hour ride back to the ship. It was a very long and tiring day, but well worth it and not to be missed! Pireus, Greece (Athens)- Our Visit to the Acropolis Tour (52 Euros per person) was another highlight. Our tour guide, Poupi, (who said not to laugh at her name because OUR names in Greece were very funny also) was very informative and amazed us because she was wearing high-heeled shoes and a long beautiful dress! She climbed to the top of the Acropolis with no problem at all while the rest of us in sneakers and walking shoes were treading carefully so as not to trip on the slippery marble steps. She gave us a short lesson in Greek history and then we had time to explore the site on our own. We had planned to go back later and shop in the Plaka, but it was hot (even in October) and we were tired and ready to get back to the ship. Corfu, Greece- Internet advice said that Corfu Town was very doable on your own, so we just explored and then did a little shopping. Each town we visited offered inexpensive souvenirs and friendly shop owners. We never felt that people were trying to short-change us. Dubrovnik, Croatia- Yet another wonderful city to explore on your own. This walled city is often called the Jewel of the Adriatic. We walked all around the center of town with its shops, outdoor cafes, and beautiful architecture. Their gelato is every bit as good as in Italy. Indulge yourself! We also took a walk in a residential area which was quite lovely. Venice, Italy You can buy tickets for the Vaporetto (water bus) which takes you into Venice inside the ship terminal near where you collect your luggage. They also had a wonderful service where for about 5 Euros a bag, they would deliver your larger luggage to your hotel. We only took our carryon luggage on the Vaporetto and our other bags arrived within a few hours at our hotel. We booked 2 extra nights in Venice so that we would have some time to explore this wonderful city after our cruise. What can I say about Venice, except it was a dream! While walking around, you almost feel you have to pinch yourself! Since our time was limited we made a short “must-do” list so that we would use our time wisely but not feel overwhelmed. We spent lots of time in St. Mark’s Square and felt the need to visit the REAL Caffe Florian (est. 1720) where we had cappuccino and scones. (About 20 Euros in their outdoor café.) We also had Cicheti (bite size snacks) in Cantina Do Mori (said to be the oldest cantina in Venice, est. 1492!). Try their Prosecco wine which is said to be the best in Venice and then just point to whatever looks interesting. Each portion costs about 1.25 Euros. We took the Secret Itineraries Tour of Doge’s Palace which was 12.50 Euros, just 3 Euros more than regular admission, and well worth it. It takes you to special places in the palace which are off limits to other visitors, including Cassanova’s jail cell. The guide was so interesting, especially in telling the story of Cassanova and his escape from the prison. After the tour is finished, you are free to tour the rest of Doge’s palace on your own. We had booked an inexpensive hotel, Pensione Wildner, which we knew had no elevator. It is situated just a few doors from the famous Danieli Hotel which charges $800 per night. We had the same wonderful views of the canal in ourLagoon View room was for $190 per night which included a buffet breakfast daily of cold cereals, breakfast pastries, and cheese. The hotel was clean, with a fairly modern bathroom, but with a musty odor, and of course no screens. (Screens are virtually unknown in most European hotels!) We didn’t anticipate mosquitoes in October, but I guess the stagnant water serves as a breeding ground. My husband got bit up quite badly the first night (they don’t tend to bother me except for buzzing in my ear now and then). The second night we sprayed the curtains, and window jambs with insect repellent (as well as my husband) and that seemed to keep them away. We splurged on a Water Taxi to the airport on our departure from Venice on a rainy morning (about $80). We made a reservation at our hotel and there is a water taxi station directly outside which made it convenient to roll our luggage a few feet and climb aboard. Small World Story: While in Volos, we detected a Scottish accent and starting to talk to people across the aisle from us in the bus, Sandy and Eileen Lindsay. On our first cruise to Alaska in 1997, we had met a wonderful couple from Scotland, Peter and Morag, who are largely responsible for inspiring the feelings of wanderlust in us. They continue to be dear friends. We made the usual introductions with the Lindsays and since they lived fairly close to Peter and Morag, I mentioned that we had friends living in Scotland. Sandy asked our friends’ names and I thought his jaw would drop to the floor when we said Peter Nall. He and Peter belong to the same club! We had several chats on the ship and since they were also spending 2 nights in Venice, we decided to meet up and ended spending quite a lot of time together in Venice which made it very pleasant for us. Two highlights were (1) sharing a Gondola ride (80 Euros – the gondolier said 100 at first but Eileen told him another gondolier had quoted 80 and he immediately came down in price with no haggling), and (2) a tour of the Grand Canal by Water Taxi at night. This tour operates every day but Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Our tour guide, Denise, a native New Yorker, who came to Venice after falling in love with a Venetian told us all about the various buildings along the Grand Canal and offered us a champagne toast at the end. The water taxi holds about 8 people for this tour. Each hotel has a brochure which offers this tour and various walking tours around Venice. You can book your reservation at your hotel’s front desk. CAMERAS/FILM AND SECURITY - The photographs of our trips are priceless to me so I purchased one of those lead film bags from Travel Smith prior to the cruise. I got the large bag for $49 and felt it was well worth it. In addition to the airport x-ray (of course NEVER place film in your checked luggage as they x-rays are even more powerful), each time you re-boarded the ship in each port, you went through a similar x-ray scanner. Each time I took the film bag in my backpack when we left the ship and upon our return placed our camera and extra film canisters in the bag prior to putting it through the x-ray scanner. FELLOW PASSENGERS – There have been negative comments on various cruise boards about the passengers on the Costa ships which in the Caribbean are about 75% American and 25% European. In the Mediterranean on our cruise there were only 27 Americans and Canadians with an additional 160+ English speaking guests (the majority from Great Britain, with a few from South Africa and Australia). The largest percentages of passengers were from Italy and Germany (this was a school holiday period in Germany). There were also French and Spanish speaking passengers rounding out the list. (However, each cruise is different and we were told the previous week had 200 Americans on board as well as hundreds of Italian honeymoon couples as this was a very popular time for weddings in Italy!) Some people have complained that the European passengers are rude. We did not find that to be the case at all. Yes, announcements are made in 5 different languages and in the Mediterranean English is the last language spoken in most cases. We skipped Bingo since that also was delivered in 5 languages. The cruise director speaks all 5 languages fluently as does the Captain! I was also very impressed with the command of English of several of the European passengers. At times you would encounter other guests in the elevator or in the buffet area and everyone would attempt to communicate in some way either by sign language or a few words that they had picked up in the other’s language. We felt the mix of passengers added a certain exotic flair to our cruise. American passengers will always be seated with other English speaking passengers in the dining room. An English speaking hostess is provided to assist with any problems, or booking excursions. Ours was Renata who was very sweet and did a fine job. There were lots of children on board because of the school holidays, but we were VERY impressed at how well behaved they were. Even small babies were brought into the theatre for the shows and never made a peep. Amazing! Another item that is brought up on the Costa message boards is smoking. Smoking is NOT permitted in the dining room or the theatre. You do see more smoking in the bars and other areas of the ship when compared to an American cruise, but it never seemed to be a problem. There are so many other areas on the ship, that you are sure to find one that is not smoky. DISEMBARKATION - This was done by color code with each color meeting in a separate lounge area and given the go-ahead when to disembark. You then claimed your luggage which was also color-coded. In the past one of our luggage tags has detached (so we had to look in a ‘lost luggage’ section which adds to your stress level when disembarking). Since then I go to the front desk and ask for more tags. I then double tag each bag (in different places) that you place outside your cabin for pickup. I covered the Vaporetto tickets and the luggage delivery service above under Venice. WHAT MAKES COSTA SPECIAL – We loved the beauty of the Costa Atlantica, her art and variety of music. On Italian Night in the Tiziano dining room, Italian music starts to play and the waiters and their assistants dance around the room with the lady passengers. Then a conga line forms and everyone dances around the room. On the last night, the usual parade of Baked Alaska took place, with what might be the very best tasting Baked Alaska afloat. VERY MINOR COMPLAINTS - 1. The cocktail napkins were only about 3” square and one-ply. If even one drop of your drink spilled, or you wanted to wipe your hands, you were out of luck. They also didn’t serve little bowls of snack-mix with their drinks as most of the other cruise lines do. 2. Food on the Mediterranean cruise isn’t as good (to our tastes) as it was on the Caribbean itinerary. This is because the majority of passengers are European and so you find differences in how things are seasoned and there are different choices on the menu. 3. Air conditioning was practically non-existent in the Mediterranean! This was NOT a problem in the Caribbean, but again this is a European difference. Our new friends from Scotland complained that they had caught colds on board because of the freezing cold air conditioning. I remarked “What air conditioning?”. Normally I bring a sweater and evening wraps because it can be very chilly, but I was uncomfortably warm on several evenings this time. It is also interesting to note that a few of the complaints that I had written down on the comment card after our last cruise had been rectified. There is now butter in the shape of flowers in Club Atlantica rather than the foil packets, and chocolates were placed on our pillows EVERY evening (instead of only on formal nights). SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SAILING THIS ITINERARY ON THE COSTA ATLANTICA - I always like to know every detail before I go on a cruise  (Which nights are formal, what is the entertainment, etc.) So I thought this might be helpful to some people. First sitting – 7:00 p.m. Second sitting – 9:15 p.m. Day 1 – Sunday – Venice - Dress: Casual - Shadows Show (Carlo Truzzi and Simona – from Italian and European television) – we didn’t attend this show but some people said it was good. Two shows – 9:30 and 11:30. Club Atlantica closed tonight. Day 2 – Monday – Bari - Dress: Formal (Gala Cocktail Party 6:15 or 8:30)–Metamorphosis Show at 9:30 for 1st sitting and 11:30 for 2nd sitting. In addition to the Gala Cocktail Party, there were additional separate cocktail parties for (1) people in suites, (2) honeymoon couples or those renewing vows or celebrating a special anniversary (with a free photo posing in front of a wedding cake), (3) American and Canadian guests, (4) repeat passengers (with a free photo with the Captain). On Monday, October 11th all American guests received a complimentary bottle of wine at dinner in honor of Columbus Day!  Day 3 – Tuesday – Katakolon - Dress: Casual –Magic of Erix Logan 1st Sitting 9:15 p.m., 2nd Sitting 11:30 p.m. Day 4 – Wednesday – Volos - Dress: Casual – Island Magic (Steel Drum Band) FANTASTIC!! It was wonderful to see even the little children enjoying the music (“galloping” in their seats to the Willliam Tell Overture)! 8 p.m. for 2nd sitting and 9:30 for 1st sitting. Also African Night out by the pool at 10:15 (similar to Caribbean nights). Day 5 – Thursday – Athens - Dress: Casual – Show featuring singer Van Pressley, Jr. of the Platters at 9:15 and 11:30 – Day 6 – Friday - Corfu – Dress: Formal – “Made in Italy” Show at 9:40 and 11:30. The Magnifico Buffet is also tonight at 12:15 – other nights might feature smaller scale buffets such as a pastry buffet or fruit flambes. Day 7 – Saturday – Dubrovnik - Dress: Casual – Atlantica Variety Show at 9:30 and 11:30. A word about dress: Anything goes seemed to be the rule here. Some people DIDN’T dress for the formal nights, and other people dressed formally on Casual nights. The Costa brochures and elsewhere on the net said there was only one formal night so I only brought one gown. But the second formal night, I just wore black slacks with a satin dressy blouse and didn’t feel out of place at all. Hope that covers everything!

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Nov 30, -0001

Transatlantic

Cruise Line: Costa Sailing Date: November 8th, 2002 My wife and I took this cruise mainly because of the great price we got on a balcony cabin. We had frequent flyer miles that were expiring so we made our own airline arrangements and booked a hotel room in Genoa for the night of 7 Nov.. We got a good rate at the Columbus Sea Hotel through the internet. We are in our early 50s and have taken one other cruise, the R1 From Istanbul to

Athens (Oct 99). We have traveled throughout Europe on various trips. Neither of us are connected with any aspect of the travel industry. We took a taxi from our hotel to the terminal at noon on the 8th. The porters picked up our luggage from the taxi and were not bashful at all in asking for a tip. We checked in, got our boarding group number (9) and looked around the terminal. Costa had a table set up where they were selling a wine package which we took and really enjoyed all the Italian wines. It was about 2.5 hours before we got on the ship. They were still boarding passengers at 5:30 PM which was the ships scheduled departure. The Good The ship is absolutely beautiful. The crew kept it spotless the entire time we were aboard. The service was exceptional! All the crew were extremely pleasant and could not do enough for you (I must exclude the shore excursion office from this , see below). We had a balcony cabin (5244) on the I Clowns deck. The room was reasonably large and had lots of storage both in closets and under the bed. Our stewardess was Ingrilda. She was a true delight and kept our cabin spotless. We really enjoyed the balcony. It was a great place to see the sunset. We had the first seating in the main dinning room. I was apprehensive about the food because of all the comments on the travel boards. We thought that the food was very good. It was prepared in the European manner and not typical American food. We could see that if you had never traveled in Europe it might not appeal to you. Our waiter (Mr. Lope Lira) was outstanding! The theme nights were super especially the Italian night when there was a conga line and the waiters danced with all the female passengers. We never had a bad meal on this ship. We did try the buffet on several occasions and ate lunch at the grill a few times. The only down side to the food was the bread. It just wasn’t up to par. We went to two of the midnight buffets. One included a tour through the kitchens. The chefs out did themselves on both of these nights with ice statues and huge buffets. The entertainment was much better than I expected. The hostess Clem did an excellent job ensuring that all of the shows were professionally done and well received by the audience. The internet was very easy to operate but was € 0.50 per minute. The weather was perfect the entire voyage. The seas weren’t rough at any time. The So So The library had a good selection of English language books, but was only open for 2 hours a day. The water slide looked neat, but it also was only open for two hours a day and always had a long line in front of it. It would have been nice if they had put the next day’s weather forecast in the daily bulletin. It’s not like the bridge crew didn’t have it. The English speakers hostess (Ilia, more about her later) told us that there were only about 200 English speaking passengers out of some 2300 passengers aboard the ship. My guess is that there were only around 50 Americans aboard. Some of the Italian and the Spanish and a few German passengers made it pretty clear (in my opinion) that they would have been happier if no Americans had been aboard. Nasty comments, breaking in line in front of us, blowing smoke in our faces and on a few occasions shouting in our faces made me suspect we really weren’t loved. We generally got along very well with the French passengers. The Bad Cigarette Smoke was everywhere! I know that a lot of smoking was to be expected with this many Europeans aboard, but there was a pervasive cloud of cigarette smoke throughout the ship. The only places where no-smoking was enforced were the main dining room and the theaters. Everywhere else the no-smoking areas were ignored. Maybe on a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale with predominately Americans aboard it wouldn’t be so bad but our experience was terrible. The shore excursions office without a doubt was the most unorganized group on the ship. We had nothing but problems from this office. The first night on the ship there was a meeting of the English speaking passengers at 6:00 PM. It was mainly to inform us of the shore excursions in Barcelona, and Tenerife. We also met Ilia for the first time. She was the English speakers hostess, She had only been on the job for a month. We don’t mind cutting someone new some slack, but she never did her home work. Everything she told us was generally wrong, any complaints to her seemed to go nowhere. We had been to Barcelona before so had decided to just wander around Las Ramblas for the few hours we would be there. Ilia assured us that there would be shuttle buses between the port and the foot of Las Ramblas. We showed up at the appointed time (after the ship arranged shore expeditions had departed) and there was 1 shuttle bus, 2 cabs and between 500 and 600 passengers (my guess) trying to board the bus. The bus departed, all the Costa people disappeared and everyone stood for 30 minuets until 3 more buses appeared. It was not a pretty sight as the entire mob tried to shove their way on these buses . My wife and I happened to be standing next to where one bus stopped so we got on, but there was a near riot in the parking lot. We left Las Ramblas early as I was apprehensive about the return trip to the ship. We later heard that the same thing happened again at that end. We complained to Ilia about this mess. She told us that she got scared and went inside the terminal to get out of the area. Cecilia from the passenger information office called us later to tell us that this never happened and that there were plenty of buses and cabs. I guess she must of worked in the Clinton White House. The promised shuttle buses never showed in Tenerife. We asked the chief of security for the Atlantica at the foot of the boarding gangway where to go to catch the shuttle bus. He made two phone calls and told us there were no shuttle buses and to walk to town. We walked in and took a cab back. We heard from other passengers that there were shuttle buses later in the morning. The shuttle buses were run by the port not Costa but it would have been nice if the security chief had the right information. A couple of days later there was another meeting of the English speaking passengers to go over the shore excursions in the Caribbean. Ilia gave us a shore excursion price list for the rest of the voyage. My wife and I decided to try some of the Costa excursions. We picked out the ones we thought we would like and went straight from the meeting to the shore excursions desk. The English speaking passengers had obviously been briefed last as there was a long line at the desk (most of the passengers in the line chain smoked). We waited in line for an hour (thanks to the Italians and Spanish passengers the line tended to grow in front of us) then the office shut down at noon and we were told to come back at 4:30 PM . I showed up a little before 4:00 PM and only had to wait for an hour until I finally got to the desk. The girl told that they were only booking tours for the first two islands and that I would have to come back tomorrow to book the others. I told her politely that was really stupid and I really didn’t want to stand in line for another few hours. The girl jokingly offered to let me put a cot there for a place to wait. Yeah, right, I controlled myself and let her live. I should mention that friends of ours who were on their 3rd Costa cruise were able to book all their shore excursions at the same time they booked the cruise, i.e. 5 months before sailing. I was able to book the rest of our choices two days later. In Barbados we took the Best of Barbados tour from Costa and it was very nice. In St. Lucia (beautiful island !) We took a pick up tour from Heritage Tours located in the port terminal. It was the same tour that Costa offered but for half the price! We really enjoyed our tour of St. Lucia. Then we had the tour from Hell. We had booked the English speaking island tour of St. Maarten. When we showed up for the tour, there is our “Tour Bus” .. It is the Avis rental car shuttle from the airport, luggage racks and all! Ok, I’ve ridden in worse. Then the tour guide tells us that he speaks very little English. Ok. So here we are 6 English speakers and 12 Spanish speakers on the Avis rental car bus. The tour guide tried to tell us about the Island, then two of the Spanish guys jump all over him for speaking English on a Spanish language tour ! One of the Americans was bilingual and she went up to the tour guide and offered to help translate for us. Then one of the Spanish guys just about assaulted her for the attempt. They had a really ugly discussion. From there on it was all Spanish. Gee it was swell ! We complained to Ilia, that worked well. We filed a written report to the Captain of the Atlantica, and are still holding our breath for a response. Finally we insisted on talking to the manager of the shore excursions office. He listened to our complaint, agreed that it was valid and arranged to refund our money. In Tortola we again took a pick up taxi tour. We spent 4 hours exploring Tortola, had a great time, for only $15.00 each! We really didn’t want to spend the day on the beach at Catalina Island so we opted for the Boat Tour on The Chavon River. There was nothing to this tour, you might as well save your money and go to the beach. At Nassau we took the Nassau Island Tour. This was another Costa disaster. It ended up to be two English speakers and nine French speakers in a taxi. The lady driver only spoke English and the French passenger got quite upset (rightfully so !). Disembarkation We had to be out of the room by 7:30 AM. We were given color coded tags for our luggage the night before, and told to wait in the Caruso Theater starting at 8:30 AM until our color was called. 4 hours later we get off the ship. Customs and immigration were nothing. Why the long wait? All the Costa people would say was that it was the fault of the American police. Recommendations We think that Costa gives a lot of value for the money. We however, will not take another Costa cruise until they do something to control the smoking, It was really terrible. Their shore excursion office on the Atlantica is a disaster. If you should go on one of their cruises , book your own tours either through the internet, with a pickup tour group at the terminal, or with a taxi driver. In short, If you smoke and are bilingual you’ll have a great time, otherwise forget it!

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

J. Miskini Cruise Line: Costa Sailing Date: December 15th, 2002 We just returned from the Atlantic’s December 15, 2002 sailing and it was not good news. My wife and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary and my 40th birthday. Our decision to book on Costa was based on the great deals offered and our prior experiences. Even though we had read some bad reviews regarding the food, I thought that some people just did not understand

the Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, they were right. This was our 14th cruise, third on Costa. The first two were in the mid 1990's. The food back then was European gourmet. This time around, the food was un-enjoyable at best. Beef was cheap and tough (similar to a $4.99 buffet). Cream soups (which were most of them) had no cream or milk, rather “cream of corn starch”, with the flavor of the day added. Pasta was prepared well in advance and was usually floating in oil. The gala lobster was so dry that even drowning it in butter did not help. We had our best meal in the pay restaurant, Atlantica Club. Food was outstanding. It was tough to go back to the regular dinners. The hamburgers and hotdogs were also good. (Hard to screw them up I guess). We are by no means “foodies” or gourmets we have never been on a cruise where we did not look forward to eating. Embarkation We arrived at the terminal at 12:45 pm but did not get to our stateroom until 3:46 pm. A tired security guard was the only one greeting us. I am sure the other three hundred or so behind us had the same experience. The holdup was the ONE photographer for all 2000 passengers. Thirty or so people were called every few minutes. We missed the buffet and had to stand for another half and hour for muster drills in five languages. The Ship The Costa Atlantica is a beautiful ship, well laid out with artwork around every corner. Warning: The back third of the ship vibrates when sailing. It seems to diminish as you reach the rear bank of elevators. Glasses rattle on the tray and there is a low dizzying harmonic rumble. The passengers About forty percent of the passengers were Italian families. Thirty percent were young seniors, mostly from Florida. Some Italian men had the line cutting to an art. They would pretend to strike up a conversation with someone in line then blend in and then call for their family to join them. One elderly couple went to the front of the line at a buffet and politely asked for a tray and plate and proceeded to get their food. When a fellow passenger asked them what they were doing, they said the line was far too long to wait. Smoking I have heard that smoking was an issue but we did not find any problem in the bars or common areas. The ship is large and seems to have a good air exchange system. Our stateroom smelled like an ashtray but luckily, we opted for an upgrade. The Staff We had a great cabin steward and waiter. We had upgraded to a suite and had a great butler that brought us a full breakfast on request. The excursion desk staff where not well trained. We heard of several people complaining that the staff could not describe the details of there trip. Communications and daily news Besides the chronological order of events, the newspaper had little else. At each port of call, the only information was the preferred shopping destinations that had an affiliation with the ship. No description or history just a map with shopping highlights. Entertainment and cruise director The Atlantica has 15 bar areas. Many had some form of musical entertainment. All were good some outstanding. The party bands for special occasions were also great. We saw bits and pieces of the shows and they were okay. We missed having a comedian aboard. The cruise director Ray Rouse was seasoned. He MC’d the talks and affairs well. During the first part of the cruise, there did not seem to be many announcements but maybe we just did not here them. Bingo and other games and events were only in Italian so that some of the passengers were unable to participate. Disco The disco was state of the art, with lighted floor, smoke machine, and televised wall. On our first visit was a little past midnight. We sat in the dark areas around the dance floor and ordered drinks. A song started that we enjoy and went to dance. The floor filled with dancers less than 5 ft tall. All of the others were young teens (one was leaping across the floor to the beat of the music). Apparently, the teen disco time, which ended at 11:00 pm, was continuing. We left at 12:30 am. On another night, things were normal although the DJ only played 30 seconds of every song throughout the night. (Must be a new fad?) Pools We spent most of our time at the rear pool for adults and only saw the occasional kid. Someone posted that you might be able to topless sunbath in the adult only pool the only problem it is directly below the waterslide that overlooks the area. Water slide: It was apparently designed for children. The slide itself is about 75 ft long twisting and turning but at a 10 degree decent. The water flow is not great so consequently I had to push myself along. Casino The casino was the largest I have seen at sea. There were plenty of dealers and the table limits were reasonable. There were no gambling tournaments such as poker. Food This was the lowest quality and variety of food that we have ever seen. It was like American food on the Chinese buffet. For example: Salad bar: The salad bar (if you can call it that) consisted of lettuce, tomato, chickpeas, kidney beans, Italian and French dressing. Fruit: The fruit served on the ship mainly consisted of watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple and apples and oranges on the side. Occasionally there was a garnish of berries or a strawberry during formal nights. On the fourth day, the fruit salad was soupy and luminescent and needed to be thrown away. Bread: The same round rollers. On special occasions, plan breadsticks. Cold cuts: The same salami and baloney and two varieties of cheese on all buffets. Meals The breakfast buffet was good, had very limited items, and the same every day. The omelet station was good. We did not go to the sit-down breakfast. The grill had hamburger and hotdog, grilled chicken, and fish. The hamburgers were excellent. The Items on the buffet reminded me of a cafeteria. Sit-down lunch was nothing special with the minute steak resembling the thickness and size of the sole on my shoes. My wife had a swordfish steak that was a quarter of an inch thick. Dinner had only one choice of pasta and four options. There were no “healthy” choice entries. Fish without some type of red sauce was hard to come by. Meat was cheap. Salad was mostly lettuce and always served with Italian dressing. On the last night, my lettuce was turning brown around the edges. The chef did not use a lot of garlic or oregano, rather preferred to put basil in everything including Chinese food. Vegetables were fresh and not overcooked and the garnishes were very pleasant. Midnight buffets There were no buffets the first and last night. Two of the nights were mostly pastries. Italian night had the best pasta of the cruise and roasted pig. Gala night was special with a variety of bread, cold cuts, and shrimp (but they were not de-veined) and for the first time, chocolate, which was sparse on any other buffet. Shopping On board shopping, was par for the course. If you smoke, cigarette prices on board were the cheapest. Booze prices at the St. Thomas Kmart were half the price of the ship. Ports of Call The ports of call were San Juan, St. Thomas, Catalina Island (private beach), Casa De Campo, and Nassau. Wish we had more time in each port. San Juan and Nassau were half days and Casa Dec Campo would have been fun to explore if we were there during the day. Debarkation Colored tags were called. We were scheduled to debark at 9:00 am and were not called until 10:30 am. Conclusion If food is not important to you, then you can have a good time on the Atlantica. I will never go on Costa again unless they are giving away cruises. I feel that even at the discounted fare we paid, that we did not get a good deal.

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