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Costa Cruises: Costa Fascinosa

Costa Fascinosa Review

Insider Take

Overview

One of Costa Cruises' newest ships it debuted in 2011, measures in at 114,500 tons and carries 3,000 passengers.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Tranquility; great food and service; not to be in a place where English is not the first language.

Onboard Experience

Though Costa assures prospective passengers that they will be "cruising Italian style," beyond the decor, less than ten percent of the actual crew are truly Italian, with most of the Italians in the navigation, deck and engine departments. The majority of the crew come from the Dominican Republic where Costa has established a school to train crew-members.

Though the interior design is impressively logical and easy to navigate, Atlantica's signage does not measure up, as the public thoroughfares lack the "You Are Here" deck maps. Get used to carrying the deck plan you find in your stateroom with you for the first few days.

Though this ship does come to the Caribbean some seasons, during the 2006-2007 it is staying mostly in Europe, catering to a European audience, so expect announcements in several languages, smoky ships, and port stays far shorter than what first-time to Europe visiting Americans would prefer. When operating in Europe, the ship is overrun by German, French and Spanish passengers. Despite an English-speaking host and English-speaking shore excursions, many North Americans and even Brits are likely to feel like poor relations on these voyages. Note that when Costa does send any ship to the Caribbean, native English speakers are the large majority and English becomes the ship's first language.

Restaurants

Two main dining rooms each of two decks. About 80% of cruisers opt for open-seating anytime dining. Service can be slow and inconsistent depending an how you time your dinner. Try to go early if possible.

Service

We'll say it plainly: on a Costa ship you are an American in Europe. The company is expanding rapidly (undergoing a cruising renaissance in Europe similar to what the U.S. experienced years ago), so the staff can be surprisingly slow, and sometimes seemingly impolite, including the cabin stewards. You can always count on the bar staff to cheer you up, though.

Best For People Who Want

An Italian carnival atmosphere; Plenty of deck parties, loud music and a wide range of facilities, including a large children's facility and a water slide; All the options and activities that come with a megaship, including a large fitness area, plenty of balconies; lots of entertainment options.

Cuisine

That Italy has some of the world's greatest cuisine should not be taken to mean that Costa serves the world's best food. Indeed, menus appear to be designed to appeal mostly to an Italian audience, and should you order a selection from another continental derivation, you will probably end up thinking, "I should have gone Italian." You would suppose that they'd get pasta dishes right every time, but pasta depends upon fast service before it gets cold and rubbery. At the buffets, you will be presented with what Europeans are used to as "fast food" including beans for breakfast, and cheese, hard sausage and rolls for lunch.

But behold the exception, the alternative restaurant Club Fascinosa, where for around $30 you can not only savor a delicious meal, but also escape the clamor of the main dining room.

Entertainment

These ships try very hard to present variety shows that a person of any native language can enjoy. This means puppeteers, acrobatic displays and other visual forms of entertainment.

Any songs are generally sung in English - since most popular music is recorded in English, but if a hit song has ever been made in a foreign Language it will probably be in the show: an example 99 Luft Balloons by German artist Nena. Also expect to hear "I love Paris" by Gershwin, because all Europeans know the words.

Cabins

The cabins' are identical to Carnival cruise ships down to the lighting wall sconces. About 70 percent have balconies. With the standard inside and outside cabins, you pay for location. Since there is virtually no difference in cabin size - 160 sq.ft. - it is wise to simply book the lowest outside or inside cabin categories and not pay extra just to be one deck higher. (The exception to the rule: Deck 4's outside cabins' views are obstructed.) All cabins have safes and two lower beds that can be converted into a queen bed. Outside cabins with verandah are 210 sq.ft. and suites range from 360 sq.ft. to 580 sq.ft.

Special suite amenities include whirlpool tubs, terry cloth robes and slippers, additional toiletries, sparkling wine and cold canapes on embarkation day, daily fruit baskets, an additional Captain's cocktail party, complimentary dinner at Club Atlantica, and personalized butler service. Do note that your butler may be very much on a par with your server in the restaurant, which is to say distracted borderline organized. Be sure to double-check requests and take nothing for granted.

There are no self-service launderettes or ironing rooms.

Fitness/Spa

There is a large Spa and Fitness Center run by Steiner Leisure.

Children's Facilities

"Cruising Italian Style" carries over to the Costa Kids Club, which offers extensive programs for youngsters -- and guarantees relaxation for their harried parents. Though the Pinocchio Children's Room doesn't compare to those of such family-friendly cruise lines as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the large children's "animation staff," comprising from four to seven kids' cruise directors, more than compensates. The special children's dinner menu offers with pasta, soup, fish, chicken, hot dogs and burgers, pizza, sandwiches and desserts.

Attire

On the two 'gala' nights, a casual jacket and tie are standard, while many men wear an actual suit. In the European style, ties are optional, especially on younger men. In the Caribbean, there is also a theme night on which many passengers wrap themselves in sheets and call them togas. Europeans tend to dress fancier for daytime activities than Americans, so don't expect not to feel underdressed in cutoffs and a T-shirt on European sailings.




Ship Overview

Launched in 2012, Costa Fascinosa, like her sister Concordia-class ships, features specially commissioned original works of art and copies by contemporary artists. The atrium highlight is a series of diamond-shaped chandeliers. Fascinosa sails itineraries in the Western or Eastern Mediterranean.

The largest ships built for an Italian cruise line are larger versions of identical sister ships Costa Magica and Costa Fortuna, which were derived from parent Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph and Carnival Conquest. But Costa has pulled out all the stops with these vessels.

The Samsara Spas are far from ho-hum, both in facilities and amenities. Some of the largest at sea, they span 20,500 square feet. Luxurious, Samsara staterooms and suites are located adjacent to and one deck below the spa itself. A health-conscious Samsara Restaurant is reserved for their dining pleasure on deck 3. Other cool features are not one, but two swimming pools with retractable roofs, a huge outdoor movie screen, and a Grand Prix racing simulator—just like the ones Formula One race car drivers use for training.

Europe's number-one cruise line combines a Continental experience, enticing itineraries, and Italy's classical design and style with relaxing days and romantic nights at sea. Genoa-based Costa Crociere, parent company of Costa Cruise Lines, had been in the shipping business for more than 100 years and in the passenger business for almost 50 years when it was bought by Airtours and Carnival Corporation in 1997. In 2000 Carnival completed a buyout of the Costa line and began expanding the fleet with larger and more dynamic ships.

An ongoing shipbuilding program has brought Costa ships into the 21st century with innovative large-ship designs that reflect their Italian heritage and style without overlooking the amenities expected by modern cruisers. Acknowledging changing habits (even among Europeans), Costa Cruises has eliminated smoking entirely in dining rooms and show lounges. However, smokers are permitted to light up in designated areas in other public rooms, as well as on the pool deck.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Channel your inner speed demon and drive like a pro in a Formula One race-car simulator
  • PlayStation World for kids is equipped exclusively with PlayStation 3 machines
  • Samsara Spa accommodations have convenient direct access to the spa

Cons

  • At maximum capacity these ships feel crowded
  • Midnight buffets are sumptuous but are scheduled shortly after late seating end
  • Announcements are frequent and made in several languages
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,100
  • Entered Service 2012
  • Gross Tons 114,500
  • Length 951 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,500
  • Passenger Capacity 3,000
  • Width 116 feet

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