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Costa Cruises: Costa Magica

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • New

Jun 5, 2014

Med cruise

Our holiday was arranged as a rest bite holiday for my mother who is a carer and included my partner and I. The whole holiday was a disappointment from start to finish and it was not only our party that were unhappy about the cruise but many others we spoke to experienced similar problems.My mother, my partner and I have been on numerous cruises. My mother over 37 in total and we have always been pleased with our holidays. My last cruise was

on Island Escape and although the ship was old and tired and is not even listed as a proper cruise ship on many websites, the cruise was 100% better than this cruise! The poor experience began when we arrived at the port terminal in Venice to go aboard the ship. We were given a card number 15 and told to sit and wait for our number to be called. At no point did anyone tell us we could leave the terminal and return later so that we could visit Venice before disembarkation. 3 hours later with no refreshments that are normally offered, we were finally called to check in and I expressed my disappointment that we had had to sit and wait so long and had missed the opportunity to see Venice, one of the main reasons we chose this particular cruise. We were abruptly told that we should have gone to Venice and came back later and that if there was a problem we should have spoken to customer services in the terminal. We pointed out that we had no idea there was even such a complaints desk. I was deeply upset. We were sent on our way to embarkation but we avoided the tacky welcome on board photograph that was due next (and was holding up the queue) as we were fed up and grumpy at this point. We entered the ship and were not greeted or helped by any member of staff. We stood waiting until finally we stopped a crew member and asked how we get to our cabin. This was a new experience as normally crew members meet the passengers upon arrival and help them find their way along even offering them a soft drink somewhere along the way. We settled into our cabin. The cabin was clean and plenty big enough for 3 of us. Unfortunately, during our stay we noticed that the hairdryer had exposed wires on it that looked dangerous and there were light bulbs not working in the room. There was no hand soap in the bathroom and we had to ask for it as an extra. Shower gel was minimal and kept running out. We were often given 2 towels instead of 3. Often the cabin boy made lovely shapes and animals from the towels and placed them on the bed- unfortunately however, the towels used were dirty, wet towels and made the bedding damp. We could rarely get BBC news on our cabin TV which is usually available on other ships. I do not blame the cabin boy, I blame Costa as their staff seem to be overworked do not seem to be adequately trained. The cabin boy was always polite and helpful. We then made our way to the bar as we were very thirsty and needed a drink. The bar was very busy and did not have enough staff serving. Instantly, we noticed how unhappy and overworked the bar staff were. There were no smiles and we waited ages to be served. No please or thank you from the staff. We instantly felt unwelcome. The drinks were very expensive and had tax added on so we decided to buy an all inclusive package. From this point onwards, things got worse and worse. The queues at bars and in the buffet restaurant were always huge. There was not enough staff at the bars and not enough bar waiters. We could rarely get waiter service unless you wanted to buy Sangria or drinks that were at an additional cost, either in the bar areas or in the restaurants. Most of the staff were miserable and snappy, often rude! Hardly any of the staff smiled. We would repeatedly request coffee and juice at breakfast and never get served. Some staff would just tell us that they were working for other tables and walk off, others just slam their eyes at us. There was a complete lack of job satisfaction anywhere on the ship. The seating in the buffet restaurant was terrible, with no-where to sit. The buffet restaurant food was poor. We had to clear used plates and cutlery ourselves from dirty tables as there was not enough staff to cope. Food was cold and tasteless. We pointed out to the Maitre D at the buffet that the panacotta was like rubber and inedible- a speciality of Italy that I can personally make a better job of creating. The sausages, bacon and potatoes were cold and awash with oil. One day we chose hamburgers and we were astonished that the meat was raw and red in the middle! Only 2 choices of pizza at the buffet, on an Italian ship this is shocking! Food was always running out so there was limited choice. The buffet restaurant closing before 5pm each day until 7pm was outrageous as passengers who were returning from Costa excursions hungry and thirsty could not get food from anywhere. We were on the late dinner sitting at 9.15pm and to go from lunch until 7pm to get any food on a cruise is disgraceful! We could not even help ourselves to a cup of tea or coffee during the day as the dispensers were always closed up. In the waiter service restaurant, the food was equally awful. Salty, tasteless and over cooked or under cooked. The fish and meat was dry and chewy. The soup was like stew. Vegetables that were diced to an inch of their lives were cold and undercooked. Cheeses looked stale and the biscuits were non descript. The vegetarian lady on our table nearly cried with the lack of thought for her food and was horrified to taste her food had been cooked in fish tainted fat. We found it very, very difficult to get wine refills in this restaurant and I cannot believe that there was no coffee or tea offered at the end of the meal. This just would not happen on another cruise. Every night, all the guests on our table left nearly all the food from every course as it tasted so bad! The waiters looked embarrassed. Over the week it got worse and worse. We came back less heavy than before we left....a rare event on a cruise holiday unless you have had illness. During the week, I approached the Maitre D after a breakfast in the Smerelda restaurant. I politely explained that I would like to point out the problems we were experiencing in order that he can try and repair them. Instantly, he abruptly told me to see customer services if I had a problem. It felt like he was not interested. I reminded him that he was the Maitre D and that he was the person in charge of the restaurant to which he rolled his eyes, folded his arms and looked the other way. I told him he did not seem to be interested and at that point somebody must have dropped something as there was a crash in the kitchen. At the sound of the crash, he abruptly walked off without word or warning. I was amazed and shocked as there was plenty of other staff standing nearby who could have attended to the kitchen incident. It was obvious to me that he used the crash scenario to take himself away from our conversation. I immediately went to customer service and reported the Maitre D to them. I also said that we were not happy about paying the compulsory Hotel Service Charge at the end of the cruise as the service had been so poor. They sent the English representative to our table that evening to find out what had happened and to listen to our issues. I told her about the Maitre D incident and the problems we were experiencing and she said that Costa had reduced the staff to cut costs on the ship. She said that she was overwhelmed with other complaints from English speaking guests about similar issues. I told her we did not want to pay the service charge as the service was terrible. She agreed it was poor. The rep visited us a couple of times over the week and the Maitre D did give us a half hearted excuse with an apology about the kitchen incident. We continued to tell Louise how bad the service and food was. She listened to us but offered nothing. We complained to customer services at least twice but they seemed disinterested in the whole thing. On a more positive note, I would like to point out that that the show dancers and singers were excellent. They worked very hard and produced fantastic shows each time. Also, the excursions and were excellent and well organised. To add insult to injury, at the end of the holiday we were summoned to the theatre to sit through a disembarkation talk from the rep. There, she gave us information about luggage etc. During her speech, she told passengers that there was only one box to tick on the satisfaction questionnaire, namely ‘excellent’! She reinforced this many, many times suggesting there was no other choice. This was to the obvious disgust of the passengers seated in the theatre. We were now being told what to write on our comments form........priceless!!!! If you decide to go on this cruise ship do so at your own peril!!! I warn you it is absolutely terrible!

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Feb 24, 2011

Western Mediterranean

We were very disappointed with our Costa Magica cruise to the western Mediterranean in December 2010, and have had a terrible experience with their customer service since returning. As a Canadian family of four experienced cruisers, we found the whole experience to be sub-par. There were very few activities on board the ship for English-speakers, and literally no programming for children (12 and 14). In light of how bored the children were, I decided

on the second day to download a movie for them to watch. After visiting the front desk and being assured that the very expensive 3 hour internet package (27 EUROS total) was high-speed, with excellent access throughout the ship, I purchased the package. In 20 minutes, I had downloaded just 0.0001% of our movie - which would have need 400 hours to download! I immediately requested the cancellation of my package, and the return of the fee. Front desk staff told me to come back the next day: this was repeated 4 more times on our 7 day cruise. I wrote to Costa in early January to request the refund - I heard nothing from the company until February 24. Today, they have finally explained that "because I used the service" I cannot be refunded. This sour experience of customer relations cements my decision to avoid any future Costa cruise, and to caution friends and colleagues to stay away from this cruise line.

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By John_CR

  • New

Jan 23, 2011

Western Mediterreanean

Overall: Let start off by saying this is my first cruise ever and I now believe it is the only way to go! Secondly, I would like to say that some of these people that have written comments about this ship are ridiculous! #1 Its an ITALIAN Cruise line so don't be surprised when the crew and activities are in ITALIAN!!!!! (What? OMG no way!?) But every crew member speaks at least some English and most likely a few other languages as well. Every activity

is in 5 languages (Italian, Spanish, French, German and English) and if the announcement isn't in your language you don't need to know. I Speak a little Spanish and Italian but I had no need to even use it. If you never wanted to leave the ship on the excursions you could still have a full day planned with all the awesome activities- some may not be to your taste...that's why there is a Casino, Disco, Pools and Hot tubs along with countless bars and restaurants. I was blown away by everything. If you couldn't tell I loved the Costa Magica. Food: The food was fantastic. Again, don't let the Americans with no taste or taste for variety fool you. Each night there was a 7 course meal you could go to (with one night being the Captain's Gala-very formal) and I was blown away. The staff was working there tails off and you could tell. The result was amazing. I've tried so many new things on the ship. Some things were to my tastes...some were not but it was my choice weather to order something or not. They also have the choice of hamburgers and fries for those who are not as experimental as I am. As for the Buffet, delicious. They had foods from all around the world and the German food day was probably my favorite. Many people were complaining that the buffet didn't run 24/7, well I'm sorry it only ran 20/7 with a special surprise every night at midnight for all those who like to stay out late and get a little hungry. Every night I tried NOT to stuff myself and I'm happy to say I failed miserably. :) Rooms: They were wonderful. Much bigger than I expected. I was on floor 2 so I just had a window, but it was a big window. I never felt like enclosed. I also made friends with someone on the 9th floor and they had a personal balcony off their room for those who need to be able to step outside for some fresh air. As for the service in the room: they were so clean. Our steward cleaned/tidied our room twice a day, making sure to have our beds made and itinerary and news letters neatly placed so that we could plan our next adventure. He was always around but never overbearing. He knew us by name and would always ask us how or excursions were. We felt as though he cared :) Yes, the room decor was hotel-ish and not what i would have picked for my bedroom, but we werent in MY bedroom. It was much like any hotel decor. One final note, there was one "American" plug which was really nice. Not having to use a converter or worry about frying any of our electronics was an unexpected plus. Activities: GO TO THE SHOWS! Ok, so the only word that sums up the shows are WOW! Ive been to many musicals and plays and even went to London to study a theater course and I was blown away by the performances on the Magica. They may not have been Broadway but the costuming, stage designs, and sets were amazing. How they stored all that on the ship I will never know. For what I expected to find on the ship for the shows I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. There were some shows that far out shined others but overall great! Do some of the activities! You're there to have fun so go out and do it! I learned 7 different styles of ballroom dancing, played tons of trivia games and participated in a few of the contests! Like I previously stated, this is an Italian cruise line and that comes first so when you are doing the activities be patient and wait for English and by the end of the trip, who knows you may just have picked up a little Italian to impress your friends :) Excursions: For most of the ports we stopped at my family and I decided that we would to the local Sightseeing Bus Tours; however, for the Marseille and Savona Stops we decided to take the Costa excursions. While the Sightseeing buses were great for a few of the cities my two favorite stops where the ones where we took Costa Tours. The upsides for taking the Costa tours are that you can really focus on a couple of aspects of the city, certain stops or themes, and the quality of the information is a thousand times better than on the bus tours. The down side is that they are expensive. This is where Costa makes part of their money, but don't let that deter you. If you only do one Costa excursion take the one to Monaco. While I'm sure Savona is a beautiful city we took the bus to Monaco and got to see all the amazing places in Monaco and we got to go to Monte Carlo. The excursions are great but walking around and interacting with the city is also fantastic,so its up to what you want to do.

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By Val_CR

  • New

Jan 15, 2011

Western Mediterranean

This cruise was outrageous. After reading some of the very negative reviews online, we were nervous about our Costa cruise, but were pleasantly surprised by the entire experience. I think i was a great value for the money. If you are on this cruise just to eat American-style cuisine, then you might be better off staying on an Amercan cruise line. However, if you are open to new and different tastes, the food was interesting, varied and quite tasty.

Some people were complaining that they could not eat 24/7, but meal sizes were so large it was difficult to eat more than one meal per day. Also, the various restaurants and buffets were open about 20 hours per day. The buffet food was always hot, fresh and had a wide variety for everyone to choose from. I did not have any bad food. The service was efficient and friendly. Our waiter served our food at our pace, not at the pace of other tables. Rooms are large with plenty of closet space and, although I might have chosen different decor, it was still a comfortable, clean and relaxing environment. Our steward was extremely pleasant and helpful and spoke very good English. Our airline lost our luggage, and within 30 minutes of filing a missing luggage complaint with Costa, our steward was at our door offering to do our laundry for the entire week free of charge. Some people were bothered by the language barrier, but we were amazed that they could conduct games/activities/performances in five languages at one time. We never felt excluded as Americans and felt the staff went out of their way to include all nationalities in the activities. We were entertained constantly and enjoyed the international flavor of the cruise. We only took two Costa excursions, both of which were very good. The trip to Monaco (from Savona) is one that everyone should take. We also did a walking tour in Marseille which was very good. The other days we had no trouble taking local "Hop-On Hop-Off" bus tours, which were easy to access from the port. Remember, this is an Italian cruise line. They make every effort to include all nationalities in all of their activities/excursions/performances, etc., but if you expect everyone to cater to Americans first, you will be disappointed If you want an interesting, international, budget-friendly cruise, Costa is for you. We met many people of many nationalities and none of them were rude, pushy, or disrespectful. We would recommend this cruise.

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Dec 17, 2010

Western Mediterranean

We have been on 5 cruises prior to this cruise. We would not ever consider cruising on Costa again nor would we recommend it to friends or family. Of all our prior cruises we never had a complaint. If you are American or Canadian think twice about Costa. If you are English speaking, such as Great Britain or Australia/New Zealand, think twice about this cruise line. This was a major disappointment to us. You know how they say that you cant

help but gain weight on a cruise? We both actually lost weight. The buffet was only open for a few hours a day, and from 6 PM until midnight, all you can get to eat is pizza, the worlds worst pizza, two types only, plain red cheese pizza and plain white cheese pizza. There is nothing else offered with the pizza, just pizza, paper thin, cut into 2" wide slices, and they only put one of each pizza out at a time, they are afraid you'll take a whole pizza, which was allowed on every other cruise we have been on. The coffee is terrible, even their cappucino and espresso, And they provide no free beverages other than water and coffee. Even on Carnival they have chocolate milk and iced tea and lemon aid. But on Costa they charge for everything, like $4.00 for a can of soda, $5.00 for a bottle of beer, and don't forget about the 15% service charge. In Europe there is no tipping for anything, well on Costa there is tipping for EVERYTHING, and it is automatically added. Funny how that works. The dinners are extremely late by American standards, first seating is 7:00 PM and second seating is 9:00 PM. The servings are extremely small, meat sliced so thin it's almost like cold cuts, and fish,fish, fish! If you don't love fish, don't take this cruise, I'm not talking lobster and shrimp (there wasn't any) im talking Octopus, squid, calimari, monk fish, and a bunch of fish we've never heard of. Fish in everycourse, and pork too, lots of pork. For desert you would get a piece of cake and it would measure approx. 1.5" x 1.5" inches or a mousse that was about 1/3 of a childs dixie cup. The pasta dishes were okay but a lot of them had fish in them as well. The stateroom was fine, Standard Carnival Cruise lines stateroom. If you insist on going after reading the reviews, we would recommend Stateroom 9238, which is a standard verranda on deck nine and far enough from the elevators to that you do not have to deal with that. The bed was comfortable if you like a really firm bed. The television had absolutely nothing in English except BBC news which is International news and they hardly even mention North America. It didn't really matter what was on T.V. because we kept loosing the picture and had to get up and pound on the side of the set, sometimes the picture would come back and sometimes it wouldn't. We also complained about the bathroom light being half broken and the other half was flickering, we complained on our 5th night out and it still wasn't fixed when we left. The steward did a good job but you could tell that he heard a lot from folks. He was always apologizing. Every cruise we were ever on the steward would keep the ice bucket full, but our steward said that they weren't allowed to fill them unless we requested. The onboard activities were oriented to the Italian passengers. A surprisingly large percentage of the crew spoke absolutely no English. We don't believe that this cruise line is truly trying to encourage American passengers. The passengers were approx. 55% to 60% Italian, 20 % French, 10% German, 5% American and Canadian and 5% to 10%other countries. Everything we have ever heard about the Italian and French being rude and mean is true and was even worse than I had expected. Be prepared to be pushed, shoved, kicked, cursed and totally disrespected. The Americans and Canadians were totally in disbelief at how these people treat others. Also on this cruise there were as many Italian Children as adults. It was like a big playground, so if you are looking to be with adults, this is not the line for you. The Italian children learn to be rude, loud and inconsiderate from their loud, rude and inconsiderate parents. The ports visited were very good, Palma and Barcelona were the best ports (If we ever return to Europe it will be to see more of Spain). Tunisia was a total waste and was the only port in which we felt uncomfortable and unsafe. The excursions were fine but very expensive, in most ports we just got off and walked around and observed how the people lived and worked and played. The Magica usually docked further from the city than other cruise ships and we really believe this is intentional to get you to take their excursion or at least purchase a very expensive bus ticket to get you from where they docked to where the city was. These 5 to 10 minute bus rides cost folks $10 to $12 per person. The service folks on the Costa Magice, such as Stewards, waiters, etc. were very nice and service oriented. Everyone else on this ship was rude and unhelpful. We went to the desk about a scheduling mistake for our post cruise transportation and we were told basically "tough" live with it, there is nothing we can do about it. On other cruises there were always 5 or 6 people working the service desk, this ship had two or at most 3, it was always the same people, they must work 16 hours a day 7 days a week and they are not happy or helpful. The same for the excursion desk, two mornings we went to this desk as folks were about to go ashore, a time you would think that they would have 4 or 5 folks, they had one woman working and the line was 20 to 25 people deep. The people who check you on and off the ship were rude and surly, not a smile or good morning in the bunch. We changed $25 American for Euro's and asked what the rate was, they told us and it seemed reasonable, what they didn't tell us about was the 5 euro charge for changing the money. This ship has more ways of getting your money. We resolved early on to give Costa as little of our money as possible just as a matter of principal. In short, it is our recommendation that if you are American or Canadian you look elsewhere to spend your traveling dollar. And if going to Europe avoid Italy and France, and consider Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland or Scandinavia.

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  • New

Nov 28, 2010

mediterranian western

Worst cruise out of the 13 I've been on. The most rude pepole I have ever encountered on land or sea. Cost has cut back to the bare bones and it shows everywhere. The crew seems unhappy as well as over worked. The itinerary was pretty good. Tunis was horrible and Majorca was wonderful but arrived on a Sunday when EVERYTHING was closed. The food was barely edible. I'm 100% Italian/american and know good Italian food. THIS WAS NOT IT!!!

The only meals that were near good were the pasta dishes. And that was only a few not all of them. It was worse than wedding food. We all said they should have less of it but better quality. We saw so much waste because it was so bad. People would take a large plat full and leave it. The coffee was horrible. I thought it would be good strong Italian coffee but it was not. It was alway grey in the cup. The ice cream which was only available during lunch, was like frozen water. The pizza was wors than any frozen you buy in the market. Trying to get a good hot piece of toast was worse than finding hen's teeth!!!! Impossible. If you asked for fresh toast, they gave you rubber toast, but from the back room. Eggs were watery like any bad buffet. I did not gain an ounce on this cruise! cabin 6284 outside veranda. Cabin was good. The bed was on the hard side as were the pillows. They were like rocks actually. The cabins were unbearably hot. No A/C working in any cabins. The entire ship was like a hot house. It felt so unhealthy. There was lots of storage and three closets in the room. A pull out couch and table was very roomy. Nice sit down vanity with mirror. Terrible hair dryer, bring your own. Shower and bath were average cruise room size. Balcony was decent size. All furnishing were starting to look shabby. Decor was typical carnival and looked like a circus. Very poor taste, but who cares. NOT MUCH! It was impossible as an American to participate in any activities. They were over run by the rude Italians. The staff would repeat things in 5 languages making it almost impossible to follow anything such as Bingo. I'm glad we were with other people or we would have been terribly bored. Do not take this cruise for activities, they don't exist. Take excursions as most of the ports are not accessable on foot. It is worth the exerience. However, be aware, the Italians have no respect for anyone else and talk through everything. They do not listen and do not care if you ask they to be quiet. Go to the Gaudi Museum in Barcelona. Do not take the panoramic city/shopping tour. It's not worth it. This cruise is definitely not for Americans. The cruise was a budget cruise and felt like it. I will never again take a carnival product or a bargain cruise. Although $950.00 for air and 800.00 for cruise does not seem like a great bargain. Because the ship was so hot and the food was so bad, it was a terible experience. The other passengers that were American all seemed to feel the same way as us. They were all soory as well. The lack of communication is a huge problem. The crew and entertainment staff, tour desk and service counter staff were all just as polite as they had to be. Not a single person was overly friendly. The dinning and cabin staff were wonderful and the only saving grace because they all spoke good english. They were friendly and very helpful. The ports were wonderful, but most days many of the shops were closed while we were in port. At a few ports the procedure upon arrival back to the ship created huge lines. The italians were always pushing ahead and knocking into you. The crew that was off shore would also push through the crowds to the fron of the line. This caused many people to become annoyed. We all said they should have their own entry. It was just another thing that annoyed everyone. Very unprofessional. This cruie should only be sold to Italians!

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By N/A_CR

  • New

Feb 28, 2007

Western Caribbean

As a first time cruiser I was totally open as to what to expect I had no pre-conceived notions as to what a cruise vacation would be like. The flight portion was fine no delays kudos to Sky Service I know they take a lot of heat sometimes but you get what you pay for and in this case the service was very good. On arrival in Florida we were met by a Sun quest agent and this went very smooth, she directed us to the shuttle area and we got

loaded on the bus and headed to the port we were one of the first groups to arrive at the port and there was virtually no wait at all it was all of 10-15 minutes and we were on the ship having a cold one. The ship was very nice but as some have said the decor may not be to everyone tastes having said that the ship was very clean. Our stateroom was a very nice I was pleasantly surprised it was spacious and well laid out with plenty of space for clothing. I found getting around the ship a little confusing and as others have stated deck 5 is the only deck that allows you to go from bow to stern. The entertainment on the ship was very good Max and his staff did a great job. The dining room was very nice but I would have to say the food was not great this is not to say it was bad lets just say it could have been better. The food in my opinion was much better in the buffet. The only real complaint I have was some of the people on the ship were very rude all the same nationality I lost count of the number of times people jumped the line at the buffet on one occasion my wife and I were having a coffee and a smoke on one the upper decks and this guy same nationality again just comes over to our table and grabs the ashtray and walks away I say excuse me we were using that he ignored me I had to grab it back off him when he sat down and then he just smerks this happened a few times and it was annoying. Another time I was walking down a staircase and 3 people decided to stop and have conversation same nationality again that is fine I say excuse me twice and again a third time in their native tongue and they just ignored me refusing to move I finally had to push my way through and they didn't seem to mind this perhaps where they come from this is common. We booked 3 shore excursions the beach excursion in Cancun was a waste of money unless you find a crowed muddy water beach appealing. The kayak snorkel excursion in Grand Cayman was not organized very well at all and was a waste of time and money. The snorkel and stingray adventure on Turks and Caicos was a lot of fun being able to touch a stingray and have them come right up to you was a blast. We also had a good time in Ocho Rios I had my doubts about Ocho Rios as I had read so many negative reviews but the wife and I had a great time shopping and we spent sometime at Jimmy Buffets they have good food and a nice little beach all in all we loved Ocho Rios we found the people to be very nice. All in all it was not a bad vacation but I don't know if I would go on another cruise unless of course the boss insisted. In closing I would just like to say the people who work on the ship who were mainly from the Philippines were fantastic they work for peanuts and in our case they went out of there way to be courteous and helpful.    

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By Wes_CR

  • New

Jun 10, 2006

Western Caribbean

Where does one start? It was my first cruise, but our friends that accompanied us (6 of us), have been on many cruises, and assured me that we would have a wonderful time. It was a comment they regretted in time. I was amazed at the decor of this ship. Definitely tacky, in my opinion. It was a very crowded cruise, which I expected, however the aisles are narrow and the ability to go from deck to deck was illogical and confusing. The 5th

floor was THE only way to get to the front to back of the ship and one had to transverse the casino and gift shops to do so. The food...others have said it and I repeat..it was sub-par. Enough said on that subject. What was particularly upsetting was the lack of supervision and authority on the ship. Clearly stated signs made it clear there were adult pools and areas, and children were not allowed...no one with children seemed to care. Our favorite "adult" pool and spa was overrun with screaming and kicking children from 2 yrs old to 15. Requests to the staff for their assistance met with blank stares and shrugs of the shoulder. It was inevitable that they finally closed the pool when a toddler thought he was on the pot and left quite a mess in the water, requiring a complete shut-down and sanitizing. The whole aft area on that deck was cordoned off and unusable for most of the day. When re-opened , it was the same problem with the children. Elevators...slow and inadequate As far as the excursions...the cruise line would arbitrarily delay de-boarding the ship . We were to have boarded the bus at 9am but did not leave until 10:30 am and then we were delayed within minutes of the dock by a train and we set waiting for 40 minutes before it even moved....and then have us back on the bus an hour earlier earlier than advertised.. My time in Russia was severely cut by this and quite frankly it was inexcusable. Those 2+ lost hours could have been spent at the Hermitage, instead of the "rush to catch up pace" we were subjected to. All in all, my recommendation is save your money and find another carrier to go on a cruise .Everyone was very glad to depart that ship  

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By N/A_CR

  • New

Apr 28, 2006

Western Caribbean

Wow...where to begin?? I had actually sworn off Costa after my cruise on the Mediterranean which I felt was sub-par. But, Costa sucked me in with a super low price for a week and I was hooked. I booked the cruise with a friend of mine and overall I feel we both did have a good time. From the very beginning it was obvious that the ship would be full of old people. I heard senior citizens complaining about all the old people! I had people

referring to me as "another young person" and I'm 41! The food in the main dining room was better than I experienced before with Costa and the Italian dishes were very popular. The buffet style food served at breakfast was very repetitive and generally not kept hot. Lunch service was better but not great. The food in the main dining room during breakfast and lunch was the same as was served upstairs but just in a more formal setting. The nightlife after the evening show was non-existent, unless you want to watch the crew prowling the disco. The shows were a mixed bag and generally just OK. The crew doubles as the entertainment and perform the lively shows well but not to the level I think most cruisers expect. They did have a couple of acrobats from Eastern Europe that were amazing. Talent night on the final night was also fun. Our stop in Bermuda felt way too short at one day and stopping in the Bahamas in just OK. I think the cruise should have concentrated more time in Bermuda. Almost forgot to mention that on the first couple of days the Atlantic was so rough that about 80% of the guests were sick in their cabins. The ship was like a morgue those first few nights and most people missed dinner. Overall not a bad experience and actually an improvement from my last Costa experience. As far as I know it's the most affordable option in cruising and I'd recommend it if it's what your budget allows. I personally will probably switch back to Carnival to get to meet some people my own age in the future. Ciao!  

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By N/A_CR

  • New

Apr 28, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa does Europe in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese) least expensively with the most interesting itineraries and convenient schedules. We enjoyed four previous cruises on Costa around the Med, including one last year on the Magica. The food was so bad we could not believe it. Bland, never hot, and sometimes unidentifiable. So this year we were not happy that the Magica was the only Baltic

ship fitting our schedule. This is the last Baltic run of the season before the ship relocates to Savona for the fall. After enduring painfully uncomfortable economy seating on SAS Airlines to Copenhagen, when ship embarkation opened at 12 we were in our room asleep by 1220. Costa, like many other cruise lines in the Carnival-owned system, has changed the way tips work. In the “old days,” which were only a few years ago, each passenger received envelopes at journey’s end to tip their waiter, asst waiter, cabin steward, and head waiter. Staff members went out of their way during the trip to chat, entertain, and delight passengers so as to increase tips. Each dinner had entertainment by the dining staff. Cabin stewards were extra attentive, always around your cabin, fixing or cleaning it up in nice or unusual ways. Now the accountants are running the ship. Taking tips out of your control, Costa simply tacks on 6 Euro per person per day to your onboard bill. No longer dependent on impressing customers, the staff doesn’t need as much time to serve, and therefore Costa has cut back slightly on personnel. While you have a nominal waiter and asst, they are simply order takers and servers, moving at lightning speed to move’em on, head’em out. The cabin steward is simply a housekeeper as in a hotel. You’ll get a chocolate on your pillow and a clean cabin but no towel animals or any other of the old kitschy gestures. Technically you can withhold tips upon checkout, but rarely does anyone do so. Not that the service is poor. The staff does a fine job efficiently. It is just that the charm is gone. Years ago the crew was almost all Italian. The accountant’s costcutting has brought on massive numbers of Filipinos, Chinese, and Indonesians who work very hard and cost less than Europeans. Consequently, there’s more Italian influence in your local Olive Garden than on a Costa ship. Cruising “Italian Style”? Baloney. The Magica’s food this year was still poorly prepared. We’re not food snobs, but there’s nothing elitist about wanting meals hot, tasty, and fresh. Every English-speaking passenger we spoke to, from Canada to NZ to UK to Australia, found the food primarily bland, tasteless, and lukewarm. One would think on a supposedly Italian ship the Italian food would be awesome. We’ve had better in an Olive Garden. Almost every entrée is frozen before cooking and you can taste it. Costa goes out of its way to inform you the frozen items have been prepared using techniques of highest quality. Well, Costa, it may be sanitary but if it doesn’t taste fresh, so what? We can’t figure out why a giant ship stopping in a major port nearly every day can’t serve more fresh food. Grilled fish dishes and fresh fruit are your best bets. Skip the awful pizza, tough steaks, overly sweet fruit soups, and overfrozen shellfish. Even getting to dinner can be a mystery. Smeralda Dining Room can’t be accessed from its own floors 3 and 4. One has to go to 2 or 5 and go up or down. Club Vincenza, the alternative restaurant on the 11th floor, serves up a better, hotter meal for 20 extra Euro per person. That’s a lot to pay for basic quality you should be getting in the main dining rooms. There are few good deals on board as those accountants have their hands constantly in your pocket. Spa services such as massage run $2 per minute or more. They will tell you ANYTHING to sell spa products, including pseudoscience about your “toxins” and skin care that would send any stateside dermatologist directly to jail for fraud. Hour long gym classes, formerly free in the “old days”, are now $15. The internet café is the worst ripoff at $35 per hour for 14-28k in this age of fatpipe wireless, which, by the way, isn’t available at all, even for a fee. Getting any drink other than water or coffee or tea is 2-3 Euro. The buffet staff treat the free orange juice machines like prized champagne fountains, opening them only for a few hours a day and allowing only half a glass at a time so as to discourage use. Formerly free shuttles from the ship to town now cost $7 roundtrip with long lines for tickets. The casino offers house-heavy games such as blackjack, slots, and roulette – no poker. Tips: Buy 13 liters of plain or sparkling mineral water for $30. Into wine? Buy a multi-bottle package your first day on board. And since this was the last cruise of the Baltic season, everything Baltic goes on sale midweek for 75% off. Looking for a great make-out spot? Walk all the way forward on Deck 9 to a private panorama overlooking the bow. Hey, enough about the boat. We were here for the scenery. This time of year, the weather could not have been nicer for touring. Tallinn, Estonia, is a classic medieval town recovering from Soviet occupation and a struggling economy. Russian St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, has the vast Hermitage museum and way too many tourists surging through. Helsinki is a typically clean, well-run, cloudy Scandinavian capital whose tour guides constantly remind you how much they still distrust the Russians. Despite being one of the most peaceful countries on earth, Finland still refuses to remove landmines on their Russian border. Stockholm is the most beautiful of the Baltic capitals, with canals and islands and rivers and grand architecture connected by the world’s best mass transit system. Skip the Costa-sponsored 83 Euro Ice Bar tour and do it yourself for 15 Euro. A very fun experience, drinking Absolut vodka at 20 or so degrees in provided ice parkas! (There are also Ice Bars in London and Milan). Having attained enough points from previous cruises, we reached “Pearl” status which is the highest past passenger level. Pearl gets a bottle of cheap prosecco, a little fruit basket, 10 Euros for the casino, a small model of the boat, an advance copy of the menu every night, and a cocktail party with 800 others. Yawn. This just doesn’t reflect benefits wanted by super-frequent passengers. Note to Costa accountants -- put terry cloth robes in the room, provide free internet, private kitchen tours, and free soft drinks for equally inexpensive and much more appreciated perks! Finally, Italian and Spanish women will routinely cut in front of you on tours or to exit the boat. Tell them nicely to go to the back of the line. Despite the fact they will pretend not to understand, repeat it and they will comply. At buffets, it is an accepted practice once you hit the tray line to dart in and out, unlike waiting your turn like you learned in grade school. If you’re an obese North American woman, leave those shorts in the cabin. You’ll be helping international relations immensely. If you don’t like any of the food, just politely set it aside. Barking criticism at the dining staff is embarrassing for everyone. They really can’t help how lousy the food is. Blame the accountants. Bottom line: Take Princess or RCI to the Baltic. They will cost more and take a few more days, but you’ll be glad you did! Hello to John and Joann, Ray and Lynette, and Ice Bar mates Terry and Julia. If you found this review useful, please let us know. Happy cruising -- see all our cruise reviews at www.georgesmart.com/travel. George and Eleanor  

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By Bizi_CR

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Apr 9, 2006

Western Caribbean

We, a family of four, were on "Easter" cruise (4/9 - 4/16) aboard Magica. This cruise had a modified western Caribbean route. We had an inside cabin on deck 7, with assigned table in Smeralda Restaurant (first seating). The ship -- It is large and modern, decorated Italian style. After all, it is an Italian ship. Many signs and announcements were in Italian (followed by English and possibly other languages). It took longer to figure

things out (since we don't know Italian), but didn't bother us much. There were many paintings and art works as you would expect, and they were quite European. Deck 3, 4 and 5 of the ship are public function decks. Due to a restaurant in the mid ship, going through from one end of the ship to the other can be a bit tricky. Deck five has the casino, and it also serves as a passage unless one wants to walk up and down stairs to avoid it. There are three pools and large area of sun deck, and of course, plenty chairs. I heard the pools use salt water. Service -- I'd call it "industrialized" service, and Costa may not be alone on that. One probably won't get the feeling of being treated like a royalty on the ship. It's more like the services on your local hotel or restaurant, although a bit more attentive. If the expectation is set like that, all should be fine. Most crew members spoke English, more or less. The waiters and cabin stewards were "international" like many other major lines, and many of them were hired from Asia. My cabin steward took care of 22 cabins. I figured if he spends just 30 mins in each, that would have taken 11 hours a day already. So here comes the aforementioned "industrialized" service. The job was still well done, but I won't expect too much details or extra attention. We still got one towel animal on one night, if any of you care, and mints or chocolates on the pillows on two nights (some cruise lines still give these every night). The steward fulfilled a few requests quite well, although one could tell that he was trying to do a million things at same time. Keep in mind, however, we stayed in a regular cabin. High-end suites may receive better in-cabin service. For us, the cabin service we received was good enough, on the par with other lines we've experienced. Restaurant service was similar. It's good enough to impress first-time cruisers (meaning better than most restaurants on land), but nothing specially good. Bar service was particularly slow in the restaurants. We sat near a service station, and the shuffling of dishes and utensils made loud noise which affected the mood sometimes. The dances and parades led by restaurant staff were very well done. Cabin -- We had an inside cabin, which is the smallest kind on the ship. It compares favorably with some other ships, however, and had enough storage for a week-long cruise. Bathroom was comfortable. The shower was enclosed by a thin curtain, but functional. No problem with water pressure or temperature. It's a quad cabin, so we had pulldown beds. The upper beds could fold up into the ceiling, which was a good feature. When they were down, the cavities on the ceiling gave extra height to the upper beds. A metal sheet, which was part of the ceiling when folded up, is on the side to hold the bed from the ceiling when the bed was down. There was probably one draw back of this design: when the one sleeping on the upper bed kicks the metal at night, the metal sheet was like a gong:-) Good thing my kids didn't kick that much... The cabin had a safe and a small hairdryer. The safe can only be operated by the first ship card locked it (the safe had no number pad, but a card slider). The hairdryer was stowed in a drawer and connected from there. Shampoo was provided in a dispenser. The cabin had a good size TV. Usually two movies every day, and most other channels were cruise channels. The lighting of the cabin was pretty good. The ship has large amount of verandah cabins, and if I remember correctly, most if not all ocean-veiw cabins are located at the lowest two levels. Food -- Although owned by Carnival, Magica is still an Italian ship. The food there definitely had an Italian twist. I personally think the food was excellent, and better than some other lines I've been on, giving that I like Italian food in general. If one doesn't like Italian, I can understand the complaints. There were plenty of prosciutto (raw ham) and various kinds of pasta, and as for entrees, choices of meat (beaf, pork and once lamb), fish and sometimes poultry. As usual, vegetarian and low-carb choices were available. Overall, it was not that different from other mainstream cruise lines. Costa offered probably more courses in a meal, however: appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entree and dessert. Even lunch menu was similar. To my taste, their fish cooking (not really cooking, I believe also due to the material they use) was not that good, even though almost every night a different kind of fish was used, but other dishes tasted mostly great. Pasta was generally simple, without complex or exotic ingredients, but the sauce always tasted good, and I was able to finish every plate of pasta I had. In short, one can see that chefs had a limited budget to work on(which is true on most cruise lines), but the cook was mostly great. Oh, there was one lobster night like some other lines, but I wasn't impressed with that half lobster even with a low expectation (other entrees were not that attractive to me either at that night). I ate enough other courses that night, so didn't care about the entree. BTW, desserts were uninspiring in general, but one probably would be too full to eat dessert anyway. We had one excellent birthday cake, however. We requested a birthday cake for my son's birthday, which well exceeded our expectation (both in taste and size). One thing interesting is about the pizza on this ship. They generally had two choices of pizza in the buffet line at each lunch, dinner or snack time, and one choice is always cheese (Margarita) pizza. There was no dedicated pizzeria. While the pizza was good (very thin crust, like one would find in northern Italy), I thought that was hardly a showcase of Italian pizza variety. There were a few mid-night buffets, and every midnight there was at least some snacks available in the deck 5 lounges. Midnight buffets might have prosciutto, salami, cheese plates, not just cakes and cookies (aka chocolate buffet). Note that two sitting times for dinner were pretty far apart: one restaurant was 5:30 and 8:15, and the other was 5:45 and 8:30. Kid's program -- There were 4 age groups: 3-6, 7-11, younger teen and older teen. I looked at the teen program list, and they were mostly evening activities. Pre-teen kids usually have programs from 9am to 12 noon, 3pm to 6pm and then 8:30pm to 11:30pm. Two formal nights, kids program provided kids group dinner. The program hours had a European twist too, as one can see, but seemed to work quite well. The kids club was open every day, whether in port or not. The cruise daily indicates that for those booked shore excursion and want to leave the kids on the ship, group sitting was available. I didn't try that and don't know the details. My daughter went to the 7-11 group a few times, and thought she liked other cruise lines' program better but it was not bad. Organizing -- Generally, activities were well run. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth. We arrived about 12:30pm for embarkation, and not too many people were waiting. The check-in desk didn't seem to have good connection with Costa though. You probably already know that the credit card registration is done on the ship, not during check-in. The room key is not given at check-in either, it is on the lock of the room (yes, anyone walks in your room first gets to take your ship card on your bed:-). Pre-regist online on Costa web site doesn't seem to do anything. Paper forms were still needed. Tender process in a couple of ports were not well run, however. People were still waiting to get off the ship 2-3 hours after tender started. I saw many tender boats, also two tender boats can dock at the ship at same time, but most of the time the next boat was waiting for people to be loaded onto the previous tender. Not that people were particularly slow to get on the boats, just the process was badly organized. Well, you can also call this as "easy going" style if you happen to be in a good mood. Entertainment -- Typical cruise fair. The production shows were fairly well presented, usually 45 minutes each, repeated for two dinner sittings. A couple of shows were impressive, and above average in my opinion. There was also a guest talent show at the last night. Medical office -- We visited the medical office due to my son's fever. The doctor and the staff were mostly Italian, and communication to the doctor was translated by a nurse. The medication was Italian too, and probably not familiar to the US visitors. The nice thing, however, was that the price was also Italian (so to speak), and we paid just $18 for three medications. The office visit charge was also low, $40 or $50 per visit during day time. From the office experience, one could tell that the office cared more about the patients than profit. In any case, it's not fun to be sick on a ship. Other notes -- The muster drill was on the second day, a bit unusual. Fitness center is inside the spa at the very front, and has quite nice eqipment. It is not very large for the size of the ship and therefore quite busy. The steam room and Sauna room have good size.

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Apr 2, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

I absolutely loved the Magica. This is one of the best vacations we have ever had. Service: Spectacular. Our cabin steward was incredibly attentive. Everyone on the ship was commenting about the incredible service. The crew, is mostly Phillipino. The shows: First class. They were all really fun and our cruise director, Max, was extraordinary. He had a great personality and made everyone on the ship feel like a family. Dinners:

Again, the wait staff was first class. The food was good. There were two formal nights, one Italian night, a Roman Toga party, Tropical night, etc. Cleanliness: the ship was constantly being cleaned...decks scrubbed, carpets steamed, etc. I was very impressed. Staff overall - the cruise has a lot of Europeans on it, which makes it really interesting and adds another dimension. The elevator floors are called out in Italian, followed by English. The staff is highly energetic and there are always surprises during dinners or other occasions. We went with our daughters, ages 11 an 14 and they really enjoyed it and met many other peers. I would highly recommend a Costa Cruise. We got a good deal on the cruise...all four of us went for $2,047...truly a value for a new, classy ship.

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Mar 5, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

After hearing such great reviews and recommendations from Travel agents, we decided this time to try Costa...What a mistake that was.....we choose cruises because of my husbands handicap. My husband is in a wheelchair with very limited mobility, We disembarked at the terminal from a bus with no direction of where to go, we just followed the crowd, no representative came forward at this time to help or direct people with needs to a different

lineup. Once we got through the doors (hour later) that's when I was directed to the front of the line and was given help. This ship does not accommodate for access around the ship with a person in a wheel chair..the corridors around the main floors are not wide enough and the amount of people on this ship it was very hard to get around a post or column in the middle of the floor. We had a nice stateroom with balcony, and had great access to the elevators room 9261...which also gave us great access to the 9th floor deck where all the action is...pool, buffet etc, day entertainment which my husband thoroughly enjoys watching. However again we could not get around and to get help from the staff was impossible...the tables, lounge chairs were so close together we could not get around without jolting someone out of there chairs.. it was embarrassing, I have never been anywhere where I had to say "I'm sorry" so many times to people....I would hunt for a table for us to sit at which then causes another problem because we noticed by the time we were finished we were penned in. I also had the problem of balancing two plates, pushing my husband as no one came to my rescue. Lots of ship stewards etc would smile but no one helped. This is something that Costa's staff should definitely improve on. The food in the main dinning rooms was great, but the buffets where repetitive throughout the week on the decks. The midnight buffet if that's what they call sandwiches and fruit was horrible and what a disappointment, not worth standing in line for. This is not a Costa problem as most ship lines do this.. but the time spent at each port is never enough.. I would definitely recommend doing fewer islands and trying to find a cruise that arrives in ports early morning and does not sail until evening...Costa offers a great day at the beach in Catalina, but could avoid La Romana, the show was wonderful, but those who decided just to something on their own very scary to visit and again you arrive evening time. The Day at the beach is so well organized and too be honest my husband does not do beaches because he cannot walk on sand, but this was a day he will never forget... my hat goes off to the staff lugging all that food onto the island and feeding that many people...it was fabulous, and my husband was treated like royalty...thank you... The Disembarkment was handled very well at each port, but like all ship lines the lineup for the elevators once back on board was horrendous...and alot of the time no one cared if your in a wheelchair or not...maybe it would be good if a representative could hold a elevator for the purpose of those in need. Would we do Costa again...at this time no..I would definitely stick with Royal Carribean, Celebrity or Princess. I base my opinion on the hospitality of the staff and the quality of the food..and this just wasn't up to standards with other cruise lines. Margaret and Donny Seymour Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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Jan 29, 2006

Western Caribbean

Summary: Flawed cruise experience. Take it if the price is right. Pros: Modern large cruise ship with all the amenities Cons: Severe cabin noise problem; mediocre food The ship has a major problem with cabin noise. We were in a central inside cabin on the 6th floor. Every time a show was held in the theatre, it sounded like we were next to a car with one of those bass boom boxes. The room shook and we could hear every word of the show.

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

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Jan 8, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

It was magical to return to Costa Cruises on board the Costa Magica. Even before boarding at Pier 21, we encountered our old friend 2nd Maitre D' Francesco Frasca, who warmly greeted us like long lost relatives. We were happy to see that the Commandant was the personable Captain Giuseppe Russo, with whom we sailed last year on the Costa Atlantica. Then we saw Hotel Manager Walter German, with whom we had also sailed twice on the Costa

Mediterranea. How wonderful, we already felt at home. January 8, 2006 was a cold day in Ft. Lauderdale and the tourists were eager to board, and so were we! EMBARKATION Boarding time is scheduled for 1:00pm. This day we arrived at 1:30pm and avoided long lines, since in that first half hour many of the passengers were already boarded. We went quickly through security and check-in. We then were assisted on board with the wheelchair --- all in twenty minutes. Costa reduces embarkation time by having passengers register their credit cards on board later. Next we headed to the Card Room, Deck 5 Leonardo, to check our dining arrangements. We had been placed in the Costa Smeralda Restaurant which is all the way aft. Hilton Marinos, Supervisor of Wait Staff, graciously transferred us to the Portofino Restaurant midship. Since our stateroom was all the way forward, he understood that with a wheelchair the distance created a problem. This was a big help in cutting the distance during the entire cruise! SHIP The Costa Magica is the new flagship of Costa Cruises. She was launched November 2004 and has been in service just a bit over one year. She, like all new Costa ships, is a clone of Carnival ships. Costa and Princess have joined the Carnival group and have brought with them a distinct Italian influence. The venerable Fincantieri Shipyards of Italy has built many of these new ships and the Costa Magica bears a brass plaque as the 6087th Fincantieri ship launched. The Magica, like other recent Costa ships (since 2000) bears the mark of Carnival designer Joseph Farcus. It has classical exterior lines. Yet, it is the interiors that abound in repetitive details based on a specific theme: in this case the figurative and literal magic of Italy. Although built with American influence, the Costa Magica still retains the power of magical Italian Art and scenery. The Costa Magica is 892 ft. in length; beam is 115 ft.; height at the funnel is 216 ft; her gross tonnage is 105,000 and her maximum speed is 22 knots. There are 1,358 staterooms (her full capacity is 3,470 passengers), crew and staff number 1,023, which is an acceptable ratio of crew to passenger. The Magica is rich in art with 5,652 pieces, of which 360 are originals. Her listed 12 decks are actually thirteen, if one counts Deck 0, all of which are named after famous Italian painters. Deck 0 Guercino is used for debarkation and also has the Emergency Medical Facility. We visited it since Vincent lost his cane. He was provided with one to use until we purchased another on St. Thomas, USVI. The staff was very helpful and efficient: there was a $20 deposit refunded upon return. Deck 1 Giorgione is all staterooms. Deck 2 Tintoretto is all staterooms. Deck 3 Raffaello is all public areas. Forward is the main level of the Urbino Theater with seats for 1,300: its excellent design (amphitheater style) allows for a sense of intimacy with the performers. It is named for the artistic and cultural city of Urbino in the Italy. It features a cupola with a stunning Murano crystal chandelier. The style is Renaissance, the seating is rich brocade in warm ivory and brandy tones. Midship is the Italia Magica Atrium; continuing toward aft is the Portofino Restaurant, next is the galley, and finally all the way aft is the Costa Smeralda Restaurant with a set of majestic terra-cotta sculpture group "Between Memories and Dreams" by Bruno Lucchi, at the entrance. Deck 4 Michelangelo forward holds the first balcony of the Urbino Theater. Toward midship is the Photo Area and the second floor of the Portofino Restaurant connected to Deck 3 by a staircase. Going toward aft on portside is the Chapel decorated with murals of "Via Crucis" (The Way of the Cross) by Artist Karl Demetz. Starboard here is the Internet Cafe ($0.50 per minute of use) and portside is the Disco Grado. All the way aft is the balcony of the Costa Smeralda Restaurant. Deck 5 Leonardo forward is the third tier of the Urbino Theater, and toward midship are the Galleria Shops, L'Aquila Bar and the Salento Grand Bar with its marvelous collection of silver pieces (Pampaloni Argentieri). Next is the Casino Sicilia with the 65 classic Sicilian marionettes (Teatro dei Pupi) displayed in glass cases. These individual pieces have been made by the artist Emanuele Salamanca of Catania, Sicily, with the cooperation of several other artists, who developed the initial idea of Joseph Farcus. These simply wonderful two to three feet tall marionettes have been appropriately located in the Casino Sicilia, since the tradition of the "Teatro dei Pupi" (the Marionette Theatre) evolved mainly in Sicily; even though, this phenomenon of popular culture and tradition has been encountered at different times throughout Europe. The figures depicted here are the characters from the epic works of "Orlando Innamorato" by Boiardo and "Orlando Furioso" by Ariosto, which are based on the French Carolingian "Chansons de Geste" (the Song of Roland). They are magnificent in facial expressions, clothing and armor, with exquisite design and detail. All the way aft is the beautiful Capri Lounge inspired by the grottos of Capri (especially the Grotta Azzurra). The extensive use of marble flooring throughout the public decks makes for easy gliding with a wheelchair. Deck 6 Caravaggio, Deck 7 Perugino and Deck 8 Veronese are all staterooms. Deck 9 Giotto forward has staterooms, midship the Maratea Pool, Bellagio Buffet, and aft the Positano Pool with removable cover. Here, by the Maratea Pool are the beautiful bronze sculptures of a bathing lady, and a boy and a girl each seated on dolphins, all by the artist Giovanni Smeraldi. By the Positano Pool is the bronze statue of Poseidon by Bruno Lucchi. Deck 10 Tiziano forward again is staterooms, then midship is the Palinuro Pool with a long water slide from the deck above. Aft is the balcony of the Bellagio cafe. This is a very nice area for dining. Deck 11 Tiepolo has a jogging track and the upscale restaurant Club Vicenza, which is a must see and dine opportunity. Its decor is inspired by the famous architect Palladio. On the stairways there is a large bas-relief representing the facade of the Venetian church S. Giorgio Maggiore and on the walls, surrounding the ceiling, there are many and many models of the most famous Palladian villa "La Rotonda" (interesting, but a bit overdone, a la Farcus!). We very much enjoyed dining one evening in this elegant restaurant, especially listening to the beautiful piano music of Vincenzo Silvestris, whose marvelous repertoire included both classic and modern melodies. This was a night of heavenly music and a feast fit for the gods. The very young Chef Luca Agnorelli dazzled us with the following: Carpaccio of veal with shavings of parmigiano cheese on a bed of wild greens and arugula, trofiette (hand made pasta shaped like cavatelli) in a pesto sauce with tomatoes, a tender and succulent Veal Chop, and for dessert a delicious Tiramisu. The Versace tableware, the impeccable woven cloth linens and the recipes from the famous Belloni & Belloni (B&B) Restaurant made this dinner a special event. The Belloni family from Modena has a long tradition in culinary arts with 5 Star restaurants world wide (even in Las Vegas). We were most aptly served by Rahul Upadhyay and MaryClaire Calimlim. Deck 12 Mantegna has the tennis and basketball courts and the children's room Squok Club. This ship is gorgeous in its details and pleasant to the eye. The forward staircases, at each deck, are graced with pairs of bronze sculptures by Giovanni Smeraldi which continue a magical theme and within the murals of floral art by Casagrande and Recalcati there are winged horses (pegasus), fairies and mermaids, so beautiful and ethereal. Much of this art unfortunately goes unnoticed by some of the passengers. There is an abundance of exquisite artwork on the Magica, another floating museum by Costa Crociere. One of the most apparent faults of this ship design is the location of wheelchair accessible cabins, which makes it more arduous for passengers with limited mobility. The wheelchair accessible staterooms, 10 of them with ocean view and 2 with balcony, are located the farthest possible from the elevators, all the way forward. The only ones near the elevators are 8 inside wheelchair accessible staterooms. This is also true for the Costa Fortuna and all the Carnival Conquest class ships, as we have recently cruised on the Carnival Glory and experienced the same difficulty. On this cruise, since the wind is the strongest at the prow, Vincent could only use the balcony when the ship was in port. We have observed that Royal Caribbean International and Princess lines cleverly cluster wheelchair accessible cabins near the elevators. Moreover, we see on board increasing numbers of passengers with wheelchairs, thus we feel that cruise lines should be more accommodating to the needs of these passengers. Just because people are physically challenged, it does not follow that they don't like to have a window or balcony from which to view the sea. In fact, it seems that, due to their limited mobility, they would spend more time in their cabins and on the balconies enjoying the view and breathing fresh air. FOOD & SERVICE We are happy to report that food and service were excellent under Hotel Director Walter German. We encountered many back-to-back cruisers, especially Canadians, who were on board for a whole month. We dined each evening in the Portofino Restaurant at table #338 with terrific waiters: Nelson Tiamzon and his assistant Roger. Maitre D' Bartolomeo Vitiello and his Assistant Maitre D' Marcantonio de Candia make sure that all passengers feel special. The two formal meals on board are made unique with blue ribbon tied menus, candles on the table and complimentary champagne served with dessert (to be accurate, not champagne, but Prosecco, an excellent sparkling Italian wine). Every morning at 7:00am breakfast was delivered to our stateroom: Cappuccino, Hot chocolate, fresh fruit and juice, sweet rolls or full American breakfast. Or, if you prefer, all of this and more is available at the Bellagio Buffet on Deck 9 from 7:00am on until 11:00am and full breakfast served in the Portofino and Costa Smeralda dining rooms continuously from 7:30 until 9:30. For lunch we usually went to the Costa Smeralda on Deck 3 and saw our friends Asst. Maitre D' Francesco Frasca and Chef Antonio DeLuca and these two made our lunches fun, and were pleasantly served by Waiter Viktor Bankov. We had wonderful meals. Asst. Maitre D' Raffaele Bailo provided music and enjoyment to the diners. These were a truly international group of passengers judging by their response to much of the music and entertainment in the dining rooms. Each night in the Portofino, we had exquisite meals served with particular attention, starting with the freshly made bread sticks and crunchy crusted rolls. Appetizers included the following: Vitello tonnato, Terrine of gorgonzola cheese, bruschetta, fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail etc. Soups were quite varied and included: Cream of asparagus, Oxtail, Chicken consommé with egg, etc. Salads were from fresh Belgian Endive, Arugula, Romaine, Iceberg, Watercress, Radicchio, etc. In the Italian tradition there is a pasta course which included the following: Fusilli with lamb ragout, Linguine Pasta with sea food, Penne a la Norma with smoked Provolone and eggplant, etc. Entrees included: Grilled swordfish, Baked cod, Veal Ossobucco a la Romana, Filet Mignon, Roast Rack of Lamb, Lobster tails, etc. Finally, desserts were excellent and not overly sweet. There were Cannoli, Baba au rum, Italian style cheese cake, fresh fruits, international cheeses, freshly made ice cream and sorbets, pies and cakes. These are all delicious because our old friend Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion has everything running smoothly. Chef De Luca did a cooking demonstration along with his daughter Emma (Rigatoni with capers, olives, and tomatoes... delicious). Asst. Pastry Chef Susanne Fritz supervised a demonstration of Vincent's favorite dessert "Pastiera Napolitana" (a Neapolitan Cheese cake traditionally made at Easter time). Susanne is great and her desserts are perfectly balanced, not too overly sweet, just right. At the same show Assistant Maitre D' Nello Scala assisted with the preparation of Scallopine a la Marsala and it was tender and delicious. Finally, Bar service is great under our old friend Sanzio Riccardi, imagine overseeing 11 bars! He does it excellently. The Costa Magica has the two main restaurants, Costa Smeralda and Portofino, the buffet restaurant Bellagio, the upscale Club Vicenza restaurant, eleven bars, a three deck theater, Casino, Library, four pools, a spa/gym, jacuzzi, a jogging track, a chapel, a cyber cafe` and a disco and sundry other venues. Yet, we feel the service and food all over the ship are excellent and the facilities are spotless. The most recent CDC Sanitary Inspection (Dec. 12, 2005) yielded a near perfect score of 99/100. CABIN Wheelchair Accessible Stateroom #6208 is all the way forward at the prow of the ship, too far from the elevators for those with mobility difficulties. Unfortunately, there are several sister ships of the Magica which have the same problem (Costa Fortuna and Carnival Conquest class ships, the Glory and Liberty). The decor is simple with maple wood, salmon colored ceiling moldings and draperies of woven turquoise and salmon matching fabrics. When entering, straight ahead is the large bath with safety rails and a huge 5'x5' shower and a sink with mirrors and shelving. In the corner there is a single armoire and to the right is a double armoire. There is a lighted vanity/desk with stool, a TV, refrigerator, a coffee table and an upholstered barrel chair. There is a a queen bed and finally a glass wall and door to the balcony. The tiny balcony holds only a set of two chairs and a small table all attached, there is no room for a chaise lounge or recliner chair. This is a warning to all who book these cabins: Do not open the balcony door when the ship is traveling fast or when it is windy. During this cruise we had three high seas days. Two days were at the beginning and one at the end of the cruise. This is something we have not encountered much on our 57 cruises. Our wonderful Cabin Steward was Roger Eulalio, who was a perfect attendant. Thanks! ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is smooth and his rendition of "Just A Gigolo" is great. The ship is well designed so that passenger traffic movement flows nicely from the Atrium to the Casino, to the bars, lounges, Grand ballroom and to the Disco. The cruise staff is friendly and conducts many activities including the following: Trivia games, Bingo, dance lessons, Italian lessons, singles parties, fitness classes, ping pong, tennis and volleyball tournaments, Horse Racing, etc. Since Costa is "Cruising Italian Style," most of the entertainment has a distinctly Italian flavor with tenors like Edmondo Rahme and "Roman Nights" and Toga parties. Actually, most nights we caught the early shows, but many other passengers told us the club entertainment was great. DEBARKATION With the help of the pleasant and courteous Flavia Esposito from the passenger service desk, who has also given us information on the art work aboard, we arranged the wheelchair assistance for debarkation. At 8:00am a crew member came to our cabin and accompanied us through passport control, baggage pick up and custom, all the way to curb side where we met our son with the car. By 9:00am we were on our way home. Excellent. PORTS OF CALL Day 1 Ft. Lauderdale boarding 1:00pm, sailing 4:30pm. Day 2 At Sea Day 3 San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 5:00pm Depart next day 1:30am Day 4 St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 7:30am Depart 5:00pm Day 5 Catalina Island, Dominican Rep. Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm La Romana Arrive 6:00pm Depart 11:00pm Day 6 At Sea Day 7 Nassau, Bahamas, canceled due to high seas and wind. It is better safe than sorry. Day 8 Ft. Lauderdale Debarkation 8:00am CONCLUSION This was our 11th cruise on Costa ships and as usual another great cruise, if we disregard the cabin location and the lack of opportunity to use the balcony. The most positive aspect of this cruise was meeting again so many people among the ship officers and staff whom we had befriended on previous cruises. It is like going back to your own home town, where people recognize you and greet you with a pleasant smile and who are genuinely happy to see you again. It surely made us feel good, as good as any homecoming! That is the main reason why Costa remains among one of our favorite cruise lines, not mentioning Italian cuisine that Costa chefs do so well and the festive atmosphere that is often found throughout the ship. These are the ingredients for a pleasurable cruise. On the other hand, Vincent usually enjoys relaxing on the balcony, which is why we rarely book only an ocean view cabin without balcony, and never an inside cabin. When economically possible, we book a suite, but cruising as frequently as we do, we cannot always afford a suite, thus we try to book early to select the appropriate cabin that fits our taste, needs and pocket. Due to Vincent's limited mobility, we usually book a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony near the central elevators of the ship. However, this has not been possible on this ship nor on any other Costa or Carnival ships, since the Costa Atlantica and Mediterranea and their Carnival sisters, the Spirit and Conquest class ships also do not have wheelchair accessible cabins that meet our needs. The Spirit class ships, including the Atlantica and the Mediterranea, do not have any wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony, thus people with limited mobility may have to book either inside or obstructed view cabins. And as for the Magica and the Fortuna, as well as for the Carnival Conquest class ships, the location of the only two wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony is all the way in front of the ship, as we have described earlier in this review. Two of our other favorite cruise lines that do more for the disabled passengers in regard to the location and quality of the wheelchair accessible cabins are Princess and RCI. Yes, we enjoyed this cruise and we'll cruise on Costa again and again, but on these ships we'll try to book a suite next time. We hope that Joseph Farcus will read our criticism and in designing the new Costa and Carnival ships will be seriously looking at the designs of recent Princess and RCI ships in order to make his ships more user friendly to those with disabilities. Guess what? We are sailing this Sunday, Jan. 29th, on Carnival Liberty on which we had booked the exact same balcony cabin prior to sailing on the Glory and Magica. Recently, we tried paying for an upgrade to a suite, but the price was too high for this cruise, so we'll be in the same situation as before. Naturally, once on board, the first thing we'll do is to ask the Maitre D' to moved us to the more centrally located Golden Olympian Restaurant rather than dining in the Silver Olympian which is located all the way aft. One reason to travel several times on the same cruise line is the repeater advantage. Now on Costa Lines we are Costa Club Pearl members which give passengers concrete advantages: Free Champagne in the stateroom, a lovely tropical bouquet of flowers, fresh fruit bowl daily, a free dinner in the upscale specialty restaurant (Club Vicenza) and finally a nice model of the ship. Not bad! Happy Sailing!

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Dec 26, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

We have to agree with Peter Symeon's review as it was the worst cruise that we've taken. Food was so bad that we sought out restaurants at every port. Entertainment was dull and boring. Further, since this is an Italian cruise line most of the guests were also from Italy. As a result, staff on the boat catered to the needs of the Italians more so than groups from other countries. If you enjoy good food, entertainment, and company - do

NOT take this cruise.

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Dec 26, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

My wife and myself from Ottawa Canada and another couple from Toronto Canada just returned this week from a 7 day cruise on the Costa Magica. I had previously read a lot of negative reviews about this ship. Everything on our cruise was absolutely positive. Embarkation at Ft. Lauderdale only took less than one half hour. I admit there was mass confusion at this point, but that can be expected with so many people. When you board the ship

you can head straight for your room…. Your credit card key is in your room and the door is unlocked. Take care of your credit card registration for on board use…later. It is a very large ship and getting around can be quite confusing, especially getting to your assigned dining room. You will be assigned a table with or without someone else. This is your table for the week, and we found our serving staff to be wonderful. We were in the Smeralda Dining room…The waiter was Sanjay Kumar and the asst. waiter was Kazi Munniuddin both from India. These two were the most professional and attentive staff the four of us have ever had the pleasure to be served by. Our extreme thanks to both of them. The meals were the finest and served with style. We were a little surprised with the cost of the drinks. Bud beer about $4 U.S. and wine about $6 U.S. We had no problems at the ports bringing on a 40oz of alcohol as long as it is in a canvas carry on. I saw one person stopped and his alcohol taken until departure. But that was because it was in a box of 3 bottles labeled very colorful. Smoking did not seem to bother us non-smokers. Smoking areas were generally confined on opposite sides. There were several buffets on board, all of them very good. In my opinion the best area for adults without children is at the aft of the ship. There is a buffet there and an adult pool and hot tub. The view is of the ships prop wash, which is great. It is also by far the quietest place on the ship. The loudest and busiest part of the ship is the centre where most of the daytime entertainment was held. Speaking of entertainment, the 3 story Urbino Theatre was fun and fantastic…2 sittings. The casino has many slots from 10 cents up to $1 or more and there are several card tables. Sun tanning on deck did not give us a problem at all…there are towels folded neatly, everywhere. Everyone puts a towel on the lounger they want earlier in the day, and that seemed to be respected. Before I forget I want to mention the Omelette Guy at the aft pool. His name is Paulo; he makes the best eggs, any way you want. And he is very friendly; he has a great morning attitude that makes you feel you made the right decision eating at the aft buffet. To summarize my cruise critique, I must say…do not believe negativity….take it with a grain of salt. You will make the best of the cruise if you too try to maintain a positive attitude. Enjoy yourselves…. If anyone has any further questions I would be happy to return your E-mail.  

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Dec 19, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

We arrived at the terminal building in Ft. Lauderdale at 12:45 PM on December 19, 2005 to sail on a 7 day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Costa Magica. There was a long line outside the terminal building. This line was to get a number which would then allow one to wait inside the terminal building until their number was called. When your number was called, one could proceed to the next line, which was to go through the metal detectors

for boarding the ship. A fourth line (which thankfully wasn't very long) was used to have you wait until the next ticket agent was free. A fifth line formed so that one could go up the escalator to board the ship. (If they hadn't held people at the foot of the escalator, the sixth and final line would have extended onto the escalator.) The final line was for the photographer, and those who checked the credentials at the gangplank. So after three hours of waiting, in lines, we finally arrived at our cabin to discover that our luggage was already there. Three or four hours of waiting was common for passengers boarding the ship. It made it especially tough on those with smaller children, or elderly who had trouble with standing. We talked to one person who had surgery on her knees, and when the husband complained about the line, they handed him a plain metal chair, which she dragged and sat on, while the line moved. I was behind a lady who at one point warned that she might faint because she had not had lunch. I suppose some people did get special considerations, but for most, it was a crude welcoming by the cruise line. The inside cabin we had, was 160 sq. feet and seemed quite adequate. The closet space, and bathroom and bathroom shower all were adequate. There was a problem with the drawers, and being able to pull hard enough on the knob to open the few available drawers. Although the ship was only one year old, the drawers had scratches where people had used other objects to open the drawer. The waiters did not seem adequately trained for the high quality service expected on cruise lines in general. Service seemed slow, and water or tea glasses were refilled only if one asked for service several times. One had to ask for ice in the drinks. There was a communication problem in many cases. At one lunch, I asked for a glass of cold milk, and the waiter started to pour a glass from a coffee creamer pitcher. I told him I didn't want cream, I wanted milk, and he proceeded to obtain a glass of hot milk with the steam pouring out of the glass. At another meal, I ordered corned beef hash pointing to the entry in the menu, but I was served hash browns. A person next to me at breakfast ordered fried eggs, turned over and the yolk cooked hard, and he was served two hard boiled eggs. I was actually surprised at the number of passengers (guessing 30%) who seemed foreign and spoke a different language other than English. Announcements were made in five languages. A lot of the crew who led activities had thick accents. When they wanted the audience to clap, they would call, "Applause-oh!". One could say that this added to the international flavor of the ship. There was other mix-ups such as Christmas background music being played when we were trying to take a ball room dancing class. Then the activities listed in the newspaper, might not match the list that the instructors had. The ship had no structured "keep in ship-shape program", but they did have a good gym, but only a small walking or running track. More effort is needed in structuring a fitness program. Perhaps the most egregious infraction was caused by misunderstanding. Max the cruise director made announcements several times about a Christmas Eve Mass "in Latin." There was also a Jewish Hanukkah service, but there was no mention of a Protestant service on Sunday, which was Christmas. My wife and I checked and they told us that there would be a service, and gave us the room and time. The guest services area seemed oblivious to the fact that about 50% of Americans identify themselves as being protestant, so protestants would form about a third of the ship passengers. They did not mention this protestant service in the daily activities paper, nor in any announcements. So the service was sparsely attended, which was just as well, since we were put into a very small room (but every seat was taken). As we found out, the second day of the voyage, (the 20th), a protestant minister had asked to have a service on Christmas, and mentioned that he had been a minister for several other cruise lines, and would do it free of charge. He wasn't told that he would be allowed to have a service until the night of the 24th, when a note was slipped under his door. I felt that Costa Cruise line simply did not appreciate that there were protestants and that many protestants would want to have service on Sunday, Christmas. The difference in cultures was also reflected in some of the entertainment and food. Much of the singing entertainment was often in other languages. This was true for the stage as well as entertainment found in the bars. There was even a classical violinist and piano player who did one program, which I attended and enjoyed. Overall, the entertainment was quite good. The food was excellent, and reflected a European flavor, although there was one location which served hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries. Who would ever eat there? Costa did not supply toppings for soft ice cream, such as sugar sprinkles, or syrups. The ship game arcade is located off the casino, so kids would leave the arcade, and be found slipping into the casino area, and trying to obtain tokens and play the casino games. More control is needed by Costa. Nothing that Costa Cruise Lines did was major enough to spoil everyone from having a good time. Costa Cruise Lines does bring an international flavor to cruising in the Caribbean. The service misses the mark, but give them time. A good description for the cruise, is being unprepared for the American cliental and slightly disorganized.

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Nov 28, 2005

Western Caribbean

The worst cruise out of seven previous cruises. Service in the dining room was terrible. Food was bland and the entertainment was 3rd rate. Ship beautiful and cabin OK. Sorry Costa but never again.

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Nov 20, 2005

Western Mediterranean

Overall: Thumbs down, our first unsatisfactory cruise in many years. We like Costa because it is the least expensive way to see Europe, Asia, and Africa in a week to ten days. Costa's galaxy of itineraries feature a new country virtually every morning, with exotic destinations like Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. As soon as Israel gets a little safer, we are sure Costa will be the first to regularly schedule port calls. The Magica is Costa's

newest ship and one of their largest. With beautiful styling everywhere, from the public rooms to the hallways, the ship is jammed with art without being garish. You'll be playing hide and seek with the Esmerelda main dining room (sometimes even following the signs won't help you find it) and the ship's small public passageways create traffic jams of pushy passengers. We did not want to believe the legions of cruise reviewers who criticized the Magica's food. It just can't be that bad, we thought. Wrong. The Magica's food was the worst we've ever had at sea. Bland, tasteless dishes and truly awful coffee. Because of it, we won't be taking a planned trip on the Magica in the spring. Poor food quality, however, doesn't stop hordes people from mobbing Deck 9's buffets, taking every single seat. It's shoulder to shoulder, so plan on escaping to Deck 10 to find open seating. Service, on the other hand, is quite good -- in five languages. Costa has mastered serving the Euro market. Sure, some of the evening shows are super lame, but then again it's pretty hard to find entertainment to simultaneously satisfy English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish tastes. Strangely, shows featuring opera, mime, and fashion generally knock the socks off of any comedian, singers, or dancers. Small Changes -- While shore excursions have been bookable through cabin TV for some time, now you can book excursions and even entire cruises through special kiosks on Deck 3. -- Room service now costs 2 Euro except for the conventional continental breakfast. There are now a variety of breakfast pay-options, from a few Euro on up to 59 Euro for the true breakfast gourmet. Given other food, though, I'd be skeptical of getting your money's worth. -- The waterslide is an open tube and limited to children. This is good news, because closed tubes can cause injuries to adults (I was hurt on one of Carnival's ships in a closed tube, as have others). Embarkation Civitavecchia is the port for Rome, about an hour outside the city. Its embarkation area consists of a few large tents. Departing from our usual taxi strategy, we used Costa's transfers from the Rome Airport. Transfers are $60 roundtrip per person, A taxi costs $200 roundtrip at a minimum. Be sure to check with Costa as to availability of transfers. At Rome's international Airport, there may be only one scheduled Costa bus a day. Ports Savona in Italy is a typical mid-sized Italian town but unremarkable. A large market at the Piazza del Populo, a few castles, a few large churches. Barcelona is a grand European city with much to see in a mere six hours in port. Palma in Majorca is home to the jetsetting Eurochic (plus Michael Douglas). The Caves of Drach in outlying Porto Christo are lovely but not worth four hours of bus riding to see. Take the Valldemosa tour instead. In Tunis, try the trip to Carthage if you are into history. You will be surprised how modern the country is. In Malta, the jeep trip is long but covers all the fabulous scenery around the island and views of neighboring Gozo. Palermo, much like Savona. Good Deals -- Buy 13 liters of mineral or sparkling water for 23 Euro, much cheaper than sodas and better for you. The 44 Euro soda card is a value too if you just gotta have Cokes or Diet Cokes. This card also gets virgin drinks, shakes, specialty coffee drinks, and fruit drinks. -- The Magica moves to the Americas the last few days of November, so catching the last Med run gives you cool weather and a lack of tourists in the ports. Sales are 75% off on Med-branded clothing before they relocate to Florida or Brazil for the winter. -- To increase bar revenue, Costa used to take shore bought alcohol and hold it until the end of the voyage. Similarly, they take and hold alcohol purchased onboard. Costa is testing a new and much more common sense policy on the Magica -- buy all you want ashore or on board and bring it directly to your cabin. Costa has realized that old policy annoyed passengers and cost too much for screening, holding, and moving all that booze multiple times. Not So Good Deals -- The spa is expensive and offered very few discounts during the week. -- No wireless internet anywhere on board, and no free wireless in port. The Internet cafe is still quite high at 30 Euros per hour and runs at barely 56K over satellite. Pay wireless is available only in Malta, but it's high speed and cheap. -- The casino has no conventional poker tables. I guess the world's Texas Hold'em craze evidently has not reached the Italians. -- There are unusually long lines to get on the ship in port. Costa cut back on security and there is often just one guy to process hundreds of returning passengers. This route is not a good choice for the first time cruiser, who should do Costa's 7-day Venice to Istanbul run or an 11-day trip featuring Athens, Cairo, Turkey, and a few spectacular Greek islands. For the Magica, we suggest that Costa drops the ports of Palermo and Savona in favor of Monaco, Nice, Cadaques, or Sete. Hello to Jan and Bob, and shop 'til you drop Celia and Jimmy! To see all our reviews, see www.georgesmart.com/travel. Happy cruising, George and Eleanor Durham, North Carolina

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Oct 30, 2005

Western Mediterranean

Having enjoyed a perfect Mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean last year, this year my wife and I decided we would like to bring our children on a cruise. This time we selected the Costa Magica. Costa, reputed to be one of the best lines for Mediterranean itineraries, offered a very interesting mix of ports on this sailing. In fact I would say that the diversity of ports was the best part of our trip. In particular the opportunity

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

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By Lynn_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Mediterranean

We were a family of five Americans traveling on what was basically a euro-cruise for Europeans. However, it did not matter at all. My children are ages 23, 20 & 18 and met very interesting people and so did we. We had two adjoining outside cabins with verandas on the 8th deck which was just perfect. We were so pleased with the spacious rooms and ample closet space. The last cruise we took was to Bermuda with Royal Caribbean, where we were

disappointed in the size of the cabins and especially the bathrooms & showers. Everything about the Magica was fabulous! First, it was new, modern, huge, but the crew was so attentive to our every need, that it felt like you traveled with your own housekeeping staff. Every member of the staff was so willing to be helpful. The food, although primarily catering to the European palette, was exceptional. Every pasta dish was authentic and delicious. The soups were hearty, and seemed like they were home made. There was only one night where the prawns didn't taste quite right, but our waiter was quick to exchange our entree for another. The excursions were taylor-made to our specific itinerary so that each was timed perfectly to the ship's meal schedules. They also were not overly exhausting and the tour guides were exceptionally well-versed in the sites we visited. The entertainment ranged from excellent to okay, but it did not take away from the wonderful time we had on this Mediterranean vacation. We are looking forward to Costa's new ship, due to arrive in 2006, with what we hope is an all new itinerary. We're hoping it could possibly include Venice, Florence & Naples. What a great trip that would be!

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Mediterranean

Costa Cruise lines - Magica was a terrible disappointment. I had read a lot of reports the food was bad on Costa lines. I got scared when the first day our cruise director warned us the food wouldn’t be what we would expect, as we are not familiar with European food. Personally I’ve been to Europe numerous times, and while I am always happy to come home to American food, I’ve always found plenty of food to keep me happy. None-the-less,

being someone who can be content on a single food for the week, I wasn’t concerned. Additionally, I don’t go on cruises for the food, so it really didn’t phase me. Did I ever learn my lesson. The food was so bad, everything from burnt, dry chicken, to disgusting fish, even the French toast was awful. To make it worse, the second day we all got food poisoning from dinner. Do NOT underestimate how TERRIBLE food can deteriorate your experience. The ship itself was quite boring, it reminded me of the very first Carnival ship I went 15 years ago that was decommissioned that year, only not quite as fancy. The dining room looked like a cheap café with chairs that had the same fabric my father’s VW bug had for curtains. While there are 11 bars, most are just big hallways with a dance floor …i.e. constant traffic. Don’t plan on spending more the five minutes at the gift shops. Beyond that… besides a Casino… there really isn’t much else on the ship. There wasn’t a single place on the ship that felt elegant, or romantic. DON’T go on this ship if you are looking for a high quality relaxing piano bar. (They did have one, but it was in the center of the busiest part of the ship, and the piano player, that sang, was quite awful). As a matter of fact, almost all of the artists in all of the bars were quite awful. We attempted several nights to relax in a variety of bars, but ended up retiring early after severe frustration. Nobody dresses up. Formal night… many people wear jeans and shorts. Not that you fell comfortable in a Tux sitting in the incredibly cheap atmosphere of the ship. Entertainment was actually OK. If it weren’t for the incredibly rude Italians constantly getting up in front of you and standing, I would say the entertainment was almost good several nights, as long as you are open to opera and a few other Italian forms of entertainment. As with many ships… good luck finding a chair by the pool. The people on the ship (Italians) are incredibly rude. Woman would quite literally push you out of the way to get to the elevator first, to get to the buffet first, or just to get in front of you. The men would belch, pick their noses, and undress in public. Service was not any where near the standard of even Carnival (let alone Royal Caribbean). Getting a glass of water at the beginning of a meal would take about three or four requests and thirty minutes of wasted of time. Don’t even think about asking for a refill (we ended up bring water with us). Usually you would have to flag about three people down before someone would finally take your order. Don’t expect any towel animals or anything special in your room… while the rooms are nice (quite big actually)… there’s no special attention given to guests. The interesting thing about this ship was the way they board the ship. Passengers embark and disembark at almost every stop… which means its relatively fast to get on and off. It also means that unless you get on at the stop with the most people (Palermos, if I recall)… the ship caters its welcoming events to them. We actually had our emergency life vest demonstration the day before we got off, right after the welcome party for the English speaking guests… Nobody speaks English. Don’t plan on going on this cruise and meeting anyone, unless you know Italian or Spanish. There were about 50 people in total that spoke English. I’m sure there are plenty more bad things to say about Costa, but if I haven’t convinced you now not to go, then nothing can. The itinerary was very nice… just don’t even THINK about letting Costa take you through it.

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