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Costa Cruises: Costa Mediterranea

Fodorite Reviews

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Apr 13, 2016

Mediterrean

We have travelled on many different cruise lines and it is unlikely that we would choose Costa again. The catering was excellent. You could either have a buffet breakfast/lunch in a less formal setting or sit down meals in the formal restaurant. Dinner was always a sit down meal with theme nights. We had two fantastic waiters but talking to other guests their waiters were not so happy and helpful. We were lucky. No coffee

is provided after dinner, you have to go to a bar and pay for it!!! Good, clean. Didn't participate in them very much The one excursion we took to Pompeii was well organised and relatively good value for mone We embarked in Valencia, Spain. It was an easy process. Our cabin keys were on our bed when we got to our cabin so no waiting in long queues to check in. We had been emailing Costa for two months prior to our cruise asking for our cabin to be changed to a midship cabin as I get seasick in rough seas and a midship cabin helps. They told us to go through the agent we booked with and the agent told us to go through the cruise line and this went on for two month so we were pretty frustrated by the time we got on board. Also two months before our cruise we told Costa that we wouldn't be paying the service charge they impose so they were well aware of our intentions on this subject. However after being on the cruise for several days we got a call from Customer Services asking us to come and see them. We saw a young woman who took us in to a back office (she didn't invite us to sit down) and told us that we hadn't given them our credit card details and we told her that she wasn't going to get them. We gave her the THIRTEEN pages of emails that we'd written to Costa cruises where they hadn't replied to our request for a change of cabin and also of our intention not to pay the service charge. During our meeting with her she was constantly taking phone calls and going out of our meeting. She said that we would get a change of cabin in a few days time and she'd advise Accounts of our intention not to pay our service charge. We heard nothing more from her. About a week in to our cruise we got another call from Customer Services saying that we hadn't given them our credit card details so we went to see them again. We advised the young man on the Customer Services desk that we had advised his colleague that we weren't going to pay the service charge and that we were waiting to hear about a change of cabin. He was very abrupt with us and said the service charge was a tax and had to be paid. We pressed him on this point asking if it was an Italian government tax or something similar and he eventually had to admit that it wasn't a tax but that it was a service charge. The exchange got quite heated (in a public area!!) and a more senior person saw what was happening and intervened. The more senior person said he'd advise the Accounts Director that we were refusing to pay the service charge. We asked about our cabin change which had been promised to us and they said that we were on a wait list. We never got our cabin changed!!!! Our conclusion is that the Costa Customer Service staff will tell blatant lies to get you to pay their service charge. Throughout our cruise we were getting letters in our cabin saying that our room key would be cancelled if we didn't register a credit card with Costa. This turned in to a game of brinkmanship for us, our cabin card was never cancelled. On the penultimate day of our cruise we were bombarded with phone calls in our cabin "reminding" us that we hadn't registered our credit card with them. On the last day of our cruise we were constantly being called over the ship's public address system to come to reception. We ignored these requests. Finally when we went to disembark we were held back and another member of the Customer Service team came to see us and got us to sign a form saying that we'd refused to pay the service charge and we left the ship. Why couldn't they have done this right from the start of our cruise instead of hassling and threatening us throughout our cruise. All this hassle throughout our cruise cast a huge shadow over our trip.

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Jan 7, 2016

mediterrian

Food was terrible. Hours for restaurant and food court were very limited. The food court "traffic flow" was poor. Have only 2 hot food stations which were separated in food content to handle all passengers. Customer services at desk displayed personnel which were not friendly nor accommodating . Ship decor was dated and depressing. Ship signage was poor and often not displayed. English speakers are few and often not without

very heavy accent. Management of services and passengers was poor. In leaving ship we were kept waiting in a forward lounge with NO ship personnel to direct disembarkation and securing of passports. It was only after 30 min. of our appointed time to disembark that a mgt. person came who did nothing but justify his management skill. The itinerary for the cruise was good, the cruise itself was bad. Never will I cruise this line again. Maybe their "A" team was in the Caribbean for high season. Daily "newspaper" delivered VERY LATE ALWAYS. Difficult to plan next day activities. TV selection POOR..out of 24 channels, 15 were Costa ads. Usual was 3 English channels running loop of same 4 movies..if lucky. BBC was only constant and then on a repeating loop.

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Jan 3, 2013

Western Caribbean

There is a reason that Costa is the most popular cruise line in Europe, they give you the cruise you've imagined. Before I start singing the praises of Costa, I would like to begin by sharing some ideas on how to keep more of your money while still enjoying your cruise to the fullest. Holding down the add-on expenses isn't easy,after all, it's your vacation, you deserve it, and you want it to be special. However, there are ways to keep those

costs minimal. Start in the planning stages. Most cruise lines offer air and sea packages that save you the trouble of hunting for and booking your own flights, but they may not be the most cost-effective choice. You may be able to save a tidy sum by searching for a discounted fare on the Internet or by using the miles you've accumulated in an airline frequent flier program. By arranging your own air, you'll be responsible for transfers between the airport and ship. However, a real bonus is that you may save enough not only for transfers, but also for a pre-cruise hotel stay. It's always great to arrive early to unwind and to insure that you won't miss the boat, a real possibility with airline delays and cancellations. We usually take advantage of hotel and parking packages which offer free parking in the hotel lot with 24 hour security for the length of your trip when you book for the night before your cruise.The hotel takes you to the cruise port in their shuttle, so you free yourself of the stress of driving to the cruise port as well.The site we like best for these is Stay123. We can count on saving 50% or more of what we used to pay for the airport parking. Shore Excursions can carry a big price tag, so select them wisely. Shore excursions range from a simple half-day bus tour for less than $50 per person to exotic adventures and helicopter flights that can run hundreds of dollars per person. Some tours are cheaper if you arrange them yourself, either by contacting a tour operator ahead of time or hiring a guide when you arrive in port. In the latter case, the per person cost can be cut even further if you share your guide and transportation with another couple. This is a good time to point out that ship-to-shore telephone calls are very expensive ranging from $6 to $10 a minute. Most ships are wired for Internet access these days and email is a far cheaper way to stay in contact with the office or family. Connections can run from 50 cents to a dollar a minute and often are slow. If your cruise ship has a 'package' deal of a certain number of minutes for a set fee, you will often pay less per minute. However, if you can wait until you arrive in ports of call, shore side Internet cafes are often inexpensive and have fast connectivity. To save money while online, set up a simple web-based email account with Yahoo. Accessing Yahoo is universally very fast and you can get web-based email anywhere in the world. Don't use the email address assigned to you on your cruise ship; it's almost always more expensive than using a web-based mail account. Alright and so, this is our 3rd trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises, and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning ? Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is an especially unusual feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run. The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table. Costa Line describes itself as "Cruising Italian Style" and this is very evident in the good manners of its crew. Even though, they are a multicultural group, they all greet passengers There is always dinner music including the following: Classical Italian and American songs, Neapolitan favorites, and even Argentine tangos Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years. Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88). Day 4. At sea Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies. Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays. Day 7. At sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am The top-notch staff, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships, welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines, and we'll be cruising on Costa again.

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  • New

Jan 3, 2013

Western Caribbean

There is a reason that Costa is the most popular cruise line in Europe, they give you the cruise you've imagined. Before I start singing the praises of Costa, I would like to begin by sharing some ideas on how to keep more of your money while still enjoying your cruise to the fullest. Holding down the add-on expenses isn't easy,after all, it's your vacation, you deserve it, and you want it to be special. However, there are ways to keep those

costs minimal. Start in the planning stages. Most cruise lines offer air and sea packages that save you the trouble of hunting for and booking your own flights, but they may not be the most cost-effective choice. You may be able to save a tidy sum by searching for a discounted fare on the Internet or by using the miles you've accumulated in an airline frequent flier program. By arranging your own air, you'll be responsible for transfers between the airport and ship. However, a real bonus is that you may save enough not only for transfers, but also for a pre-cruise hotel stay. It's always great to arrive early to unwind and to insure that you won't miss the boat, a real possibility with airline delays and cancellations. We usually take advantage of hotel and parking packages which offer free parking in the hotel lot with 24 hour security for the length of your trip when you book for the night before your cruise.The hotel takes you to the cruise port in their shuttle, so you free yourself of the stress of driving to the cruise port as well.The site we like best for these is Stay123. We can count on saving 50% or more of what we used to pay for the airport parking. Shore Excursions can carry a big price tag, so select them wisely. Shore excursions range from a simple half-day bus tour for less than $50 per person to exotic adventures and helicopter flights that can run hundreds of dollars per person. Some tours are cheaper if you arrange them yourself, either by contacting a tour operator ahead of time or hiring a guide when you arrive in port. In the latter case, the per person cost can be cut even further if you share your guide and transportation with another couple. This is a good time to point out that ship-to-shore telephone calls are very expensive ranging from $6 to $10 a minute. Most ships are wired for Internet access these days and email is a far cheaper way to stay in contact with the office or family. Connections can run from 50 cents to a dollar a minute and often are slow. If your cruise ship has a 'package' deal of a certain number of minutes for a set fee, you will often pay less per minute. However, if you can wait until you arrive in ports of call, shore side Internet cafes are often inexpensive and have fast connectivity. To save money while online, set up a simple web-based email account with Yahoo. Accessing Yahoo is universally very fast and you can get web-based email anywhere in the world. Don't use the email address assigned to you on your cruise ship; it's almost always more expensive than using a web-based mail account. Alright and so, this is our 3rd trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises, and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning ? Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is an especially unusual feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run. The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table. Costa Line describes itself as "Cruising Italian Style" and this is very evident in the good manners of its crew. Even though, they are a multicultural group, they all greet passengers There is always dinner music including the following: Classical Italian and American songs, Neapolitan favorites, and even Argentine tangos Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years. Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88). Day 4. At sea Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies. Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays. Day 7. At sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am The top-notch staff, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships, welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines, and we'll be cruising on Costa again.

Read More
  • New

Jan 3, 2013

Western Caribbean

There is a reason that Costa is the most popular cruise line in Europe, they give you the cruise you've imagined. Before I start singing the praises of Costa, I would like to begin by sharing some ideas on how to keep more of your money while still enjoying your cruise to the fullest. Holding down the add-on expenses isn't easy,after all, it's your vacation, you deserve it, and you want it to be special. However, there are ways to keep those

costs minimal. Start in the planning stages. Most cruise lines offer air and sea packages that save you the trouble of hunting for and booking your own flights, but they may not be the most cost-effective choice. You may be able to save a tidy sum by searching for a discounted fare on the Internet or by using the miles you've accumulated in an airline frequent flier program. By arranging your own air, you'll be responsible for transfers between the airport and ship. However, a real bonus is that you may save enough not only for transfers, but also for a pre-cruise hotel stay. It's always great to arrive early to unwind and to insure that you won't miss the boat, a real possibility with airline delays and cancellations. We usually take advantage of hotel and parking packages which offer free parking in the hotel lot with 24 hour security for the length of your trip when you book for the night before your cruise.The hotel takes you to the cruise port in their shuttle, so you free yourself of the stress of driving to the cruise port as well.The site we like best for these is Stay123. We can count on saving 50% or more of what we used to pay for the airport parking. Shore Excursions can carry a big price tag, so select them wisely. Shore excursions range from a simple half-day bus tour for less than $50 per person to exotic adventures and helicopter flights that can run hundreds of dollars per person. Some tours are cheaper if you arrange them yourself, either by contacting a tour operator ahead of time or hiring a guide when you arrive in port. In the latter case, the per person cost can be cut even further if you share your guide and transportation with another couple. This is a good time to point out that ship-to-shore telephone calls are very expensive ranging from $6 to $10 a minute. Most ships are wired for Internet access these days and email is a far cheaper way to stay in contact with the office or family. Connections can run from 50 cents to a dollar a minute and often are slow. If your cruise ship has a 'package' deal of a certain number of minutes for a set fee, you will often pay less per minute. However, if you can wait until you arrive in ports of call, shore side Internet cafes are often inexpensive and have fast connectivity. To save money while online, set up a simple web-based email account with Yahoo. Accessing Yahoo is universally very fast and you can get web-based email anywhere in the world. Don't use the email address assigned to you on your cruise ship; it's almost always more expensive than using a web-based mail account. Alright and so, this is our 3rd trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises, and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning ? Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is an especially unusual feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run. The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table. Costa Line describes itself as "Cruising Italian Style" and this is very evident in the good manners of its crew. Even though, they are a multicultural group, they all greet passengers There is always dinner music including the following: Classical Italian and American songs, Neapolitan favorites, and even Argentine tangos Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years. Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88). Day 4. At sea Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies. Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays. Day 7. At sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am The top-notch staff, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships, welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines, and we'll be cruising on Costa again.

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Dec 2, 2012

Port Miami - Nassau - Ocho Rios - Grand Cayman - Roatan - Belize - Cozumel

A cruise that combined excellent, varied and interesting destinations with appalling management, organisation and service. Very mixed feelings from us, as the holiday was far from cheap and we are both exhausted from the constant problems we faced, instead of feeling refreshed and ready to return to work. Even something as simple as ordering a drink can be a very stressful experience that takes up to half an hour on this ship. Don't book if you are

looking to unwind, or if you have any experience in what a "real" cruise should be like. At times, and in the restaurant on decks 2 and 3, the food was acceptable, if uninspiring and heavily pasta-based. As others have said about Costa, one would at least expect the pasta to be well done, but it was usually cold and rubbery. Service was slow, and we often waited 30 mins just to get water. We were unlucky enough to be seated with another German couple whose names we never learned and insisted on using only the stuffy "Sie" form for conversation, which further detracted from the dining experience. Not Costa's fault, but we tried unsuccessfully to be moved to a table for two. Breakfast on decks 2 and 3 was acceptable, but the service was poor and very confused most of the time. It took a long time to get a simple order of eggs, often requiring us to chase lost orders and usually receiving someone else's eggs cooked a different way to how we ordered them. The buffet restaurant, however, was consistently simply appalling. It served the same limited menu every day for the entire cruise, for both breakfast and lunch. The scrambled eggs tasted artificial or pre-prepared. There was only one variety of pizza available for those that didnt want to attend the restaurant (margherita). A real let down compared to the buffets we have experienced before on both MSC and Costa vessels. Our cabin had a rotten carpet due to an AC leak, which resulted in a constant rancid smell. After complaining, instead of being moved or relocated, the steward was unfairly tasked with shampooing and drying it with a huge fan daily, which made no difference to the smell and only served to be a further inconvenience to us. The onboard activities consisted of very loud games on deck 9 for the (already loud enough) Italians. The shows in the theatre ranged from badly rehearsed and poorly produced to mediocre. The opera themed around the Costa Meditarranea included a background film of the ship and its singers, which amounted to nothing more than an overly sentimental, back-slapping exercise for its egotistical "stars" and a thinly-veiled protracted promotional trip for Costa cruises. Best avoided completely. Thank heavens for Ron, the English guitarist and one-man band, who was simply excellent. He was a wonderfully gifted and accomplished performer, inviting the audience to collaborate with him and genuinely enjoying the participation. He brought a real human touch to the entertainment, which was otherwise completely lacking on this horrifically globalized, sterile ship. The excursions are necessary on this route, as there is generally very little to see at the ports themselves. Often even a beach visit requires a booked excursion. Unfortunately, we were almost left behind on several of them because we were waiting at the bar or wherever (with others, all clearly numbered with stickers) to be taken to the next part of the excursion. We had to actively seek out Costa staff who told us most of the buses had already left for the next location. This was simply appalling, as the ship would not have waited for us, had we missed the last bus. The destinations on this cruise, however, were fantastic, and we were happy to get off of the grotty ship with its poor service, if just for 6 or 7 hours. It was apparent to us after a very short time on-board the Mediterranea that Costa are trying to claw back as much money as possible after the loss of the Concordia, through rigorous cutbacks in all areas of service. The food was average at best, and diabolical at worst. The communication with passengers on excursions was non-existent and on several occasions we would have been left behind or missed one of the sights/activities had we not actively sought out excursion leaders for information. The ship was dirty and has seen its best years. Our cabin had a rotten carpet and no amount of shampooing from our poor steward would eliminate the smell (no upgrade or cabin relocation was offered). This unfortunate experience has put us off Costa for life and cruising for at least a few years. A special mention has to go to the inept travel agency Berge & Meer who reached new levels of incompetence with this holiday, requiring us to travel for nearly 48 hours each way just to reach the ship docked in Miami from Germany. It seems Berge & Meer, on Costa's own admission, do not communicate with the cruise line in any way, making life very stressful for the unfortunate passengers who are customers of both. Our transfer from Miami port to the airport was on bus 7045 of a company called Miami Jet Tours (presumably hired by B&M) which we almost missed due to bad planning. After sitting in the empty bus for two hours waiting for other passengers and being preached to aggressively and without respite by its fanatically religious nutcase driver from Cuba, we wished we HAD missed it and paid for a taxi instead.

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Dec 1, 2012

miami bahamas jamaica grand cayman belize honduros cozmel

Here is the honest truth I have sailed more then 15 times and my last cruise aboard costa Mediterranean was a awful cruise experience the dinning or food was horrible very short schedule for buffets and in between the down time for buffet you had one choice tasteless cheese pizza. I don’t know how to describe my anger for not being able to eat according to my stomach needs if you were not reading the daily brochure you would have no way

to eat any thing besides cheese pizza and 50 cent size sandwiches served from 345 pm to 445pm besides that tea sandwich time which they called you ate cheese pizza. Granted they did have buffet from 7 to 10 am after ten no food at all nothing then lunch buffet was 1230 pm to 2 30 pm then pizza or tea/sandwich at 345 pm till 445 then only cheese pizza till your suppose to be nice sit down dinner one waiter 6 persons per table a very unappealing dinner menu. I was so disappointed I had the maître d come to my table and asked for a steak and he replied he had none to offer possible tomorrow I had to make a fuss in front of other guest in which the table thanked me for doing I did get the 3.5 ounce steak that was raw in middle the over all food experience was hard to find and not good upon my find I hated looking for food and usually ended up with tasteless pizza. The evening shows were worse then the food a couple has been singers and a cruise staff such as cabin stewards were the entertainment unorganized not in rhythm horrible and the last show was even worse which they called roman night which offered crew members dancing with no choreographed dancing at was so terrible, then on top of the bad performance they had guest in some type of a talent show singing worse then bad karaoke to get to go to midnight buffet we went to buffet at 1230 pm in which it was shut down with a 30 minute window of opportunity so we went to bed hungry our last night with no food to be found. food was horrible mostly cheese pizza and short buffet times and not fine dinning for our nightly dinner a disgrace to the cruise industry room was nice balcony was nice no onboard activities except looking for food to eat !!!!!! did not do any excursions had local driver each day but according to guest at table they had their excursions cancelled due to lack of sign up was angry most the time because we were both hungry and had too search for food.it really took away from any pleasure we found at the ports.

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Jan 13, 2012

Savona italy to Guadelope

After leaving Savona Italy it was with great anticipation I looked forward to this cruise. Customer service was rude, could barely speak english. As a Diabetic I had requested a container for my needles. One time they even gave me envelopes for them. After 5 days I finally got their attention. I had to visit the Doctor, after 45 min I finally found it, I asked at CS and again 4 other crew members, I just went in circles. On the final

night my bill was just put into my mail basket no envelop, in fact one page was pulled out, as thought some one looked at it. Not very appropriate or discreet. No food or non alcoholic beverages i.e.. coffee or tea after 5:00pm. Extra service charge of 5,50 euro for room service.Every breakfast was the same food. Dinners were dry over cooked. Sat at a cramped long table were you had to climb in an unladylike manner to get out. Needed food for my diabetes, so I took food back to my cabin. My stateroom was nice. Needs updating. Never did get my face clothes after 16 days Didn't really participate. I booked classes before i left and could not get after several trys to acknowledge I had them despite receipt. Just cancelled Every stop was breathing taking, don't miss out. There were only 8 people from Canada or the US. on the cruise.Thus My tours on shore were with German or italian speaking people. I had to pay the full price but had to listen to a foreign language.

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Mar 23, 2011

caribbean

Worst holiday of our lives thanks to Costa Cruises- Do not take your holiday with them. Poor food; Up sell everything; Poor itinerary; Rude staff at the bars- Currency in Euros(about $4 for a can of coke!)

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Oct 21, 2010

Mediterranean Discovery

The itinerary was excellent; stopping at several sites famous for ancient civilizations - amongst them Alexandria (for the pyramids), Athens, Ephesus and Rome. The crew, especially the animation team worked very hard presenting a lot of activities to keep the guests entertained. The cabin staff was pleasant and generally helpful. However there were many badly behaved guests who do not care to queue, smoke where they are not supposed to and children

using the adults pool. When we politely requested another guests to queue he replied "shut up you ***** I'll break your legs". It was also very shocking that other guests and some staff stood by and did nothing! Food was just average, and except for vegetarian choices, all other selections were precooked and refrigerated. It was very clean and the amenities were adequate but only very limited television channels in English (unless you pay for the movies). There were lots of activities especially round the poolside, the group dancing was very lively and good fun. The shows were also entertaining, and the violin/piano duo in one of the bars was a very nice change. It is advisable to book the shore excursions for the pyramids because of the traveling distances involved, the security and punctuality is most important. All Alexandria excursions wind up in the papyrus museum which is supposed to demonstrate the making of paper but in fact that took only 5 minutes at most and the museum was more an emporium with the rest of the time meant for the guests to purchase items there! For most of the other stops it is fairly easy to find your own way around (unless the destination is quite far like Lindos from Rhodes or Olympia from Katakolon). Excursions to Ephesus (from Izmir) is much better by private arrangement because the ship does either Ephesus or House of Virgin Mary but not both due to the time factor, however a private tour can manage it.

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Sep 24, 2009

Mediterrean

We enjoyed our recent cruise on Costa which included ports in England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. We have always cruised Holland, but were willing to try something new. There were some kids on board, mostly toddlers. The few who were school age did not have many activities specifically designed for them. We enjoyed the food, excellent choices at lunch and dinner. They have a great Happy Hour which runs at various times throughout the day:

two drinks for the price of one!! The cabins are very nicely situated and easy to maneuver. Our steward was excellent. We found the excursions to be well planned and excellent in content. I feel Costa is weak on their entertainment venues and English speaking televison stations! They were very accomodating to allow us an early departure on the last day. This ship was built in 2002 and it rocks quite a bit, despite it's size. I was sea-sick twice to the point of taking medication. They charged me 3 Euros to post a card back to the US! So, beware of their offers to handle all of your mail. Overall, a very immaculate ship with excellent service and overall value. Bon Voyage!

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Sep 16, 2009

baltic sea

The Cost Mediterranea is a beautiful ship with very nice cabins. Ours included one of the largest showers yet experienced on board a cruise ship. But Americans should understand that you will be in the minority on many european itineraries. As such, don't expect an experience like those in the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera. The big problem for Americans is the food; it is bland and very European. Italians don't make pasta and pizza like you get

at home. The pizza is pathetic with little sauce and or other toppings and it's more a crust that would fit well into the bread lines of the depression. I don't know their reasoning. Throughout Europe the folks are catching on. In Poland we saw truly great pizza heaped with a plethora of ingredients, but the Italians will not be persuaded to get with it on their pizza. Avoid it. And here's the worst: THERE IS NO DINNER BUFFET! You have only one option: the sitdown 90 minute affair that includes a host of nearly inedible stuff. I wonder if ultimately all cruise lines will follow NCL's lead and convert to free-style dining; many are making the switch but not Costa! With no buffet you are really confined. They do offer a couple platters of that abysmal stuff they call pizza, if you want to eat away from the main restaurant. The Baltic cruise includes 8 enchanting ports. In both Helsinki and Travemunde Germany I was told that the local communities provide free bus service from the ship into the town because it's good for the economy. Costa charges about ten dollars for the shuttle, something, I heard, was provided free. There is some lack of organization where the onboard activities are concerned. The rap sheet about the next days activites always arrived very late each night and the menu was never posted outside of the restaurant. They claimed there was certain information on the cabin TV but it wasn't there (the days menu for one thing.) I realize Americans are in the minority and they must cater to the majority so they are forgiven; none the less, beware. They smoke on this ship, strange but true. The first night at sea we were kept awake by a loud rattling sound on our balcony. It continued each night. We called every day to ask for a repair. Finally on day seven of the ten day cruise it was fixed. Now the good things: the crew was as good as any I've experienced. Personnel tried their best to satisfy the needs of the guests. It is difficult to hear communication in several different languages and the entertainment is geared mostly for Italian speakers. They are forgiven, what else could they possibly do? I won't use Costa Again but lots of people will. It's a matter of personal preferences.

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Aug 25, 2009

WesternMediterranean

There were 7 adults travelling on the Costa Pacifica. The ship was new and beautiful. I wish I could say the same about the excursions. This was our 4th cruise so we have other cruise lines with which to compare. Costa's excursion desk is by far the most disorganized and rude I have ever experienced. We signed up for all of our excursions (some at every port) well in advance of the trip. Three of the excursions were cancelled and we were notified

by a note under our door the morning of the excursion. The employees working the desk would say it was not their problem. When I asked to speak to a supervisor the employee opened a door and spoke to someone who would not come talk to me. I asked that the supervisor call me and I was never called. The excursions we took left a lot to be desired. For example 2 of our group took a bicycle tour. There were 49 riders and the tour was in 2 languages and very little of the city was seen because of the large group. By the time an attraction was pointed out in one language the tour had passed the attraction when it was described in the second language. If anyone plans to take a Costa cruise--do not take their excursions. Do a city tour on your own -- you will see more of the city and the price is most reasonable. We paid for a tour and were taken to a market where we were seated for 40 minutes while we were shown rugs for purchase. No one on the tour bought these rugs. We were taken from there to another room where we were shown oils for sale. I do not appreciate paying for an excursion to see the city and spend over an hour being solicited to purchase items I am not interested in buying. The food was presented well. The wait staff was well trained and attentive in the dining room each night. We ate in the dining room every night and the food tasted fair--not what you would expect for a cruise. Many times we left and went to a buffet where we found the food offered was fair also. The stateroom was beautiful, clean and roomy. The attendant made every effort to keep it clean and well stocked. We attended the shows in the main theatre each night and found them entertaining but the talent was not what we encountered on other cruises. They were always 5-10 minutes late starting each night. Bingo was fun--the music in the open area was nice. The spa was pricey and not as high-in quality as other lines. We selected this cruise for the ports to be visited. We were not dissappointed in the ports. They were all beautiful. Had we known about the weaknesses of the Costa cruise line we could have chosen a different cruise line.

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Jun 21, 2009

Norway Fjords

We visited the Fjords of Norway. Ports of Call were: Hellystadt, Gerainger, Flam, Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo. The scenery was breathtaking. The cruise ship was superb. It was a very well organized ship; excellent food, good entertainment, well organized tours at ports of call or tour on your own. The Staff were excellent. The ship is Italian Registry and Italian hospitality was shown during the cruise. The only thing that I felt that could

be improved upon was that the ship being an European Cruise Ship had to talk in 6 different languages for announcements, one of which was English. This should be streamlined somewhat. Costa excellence was shown from time getting to ship to departure at the airport. Costa had representatives at the airport and special check-in counters for their cruise ship and it made the trip so enjoyable. Costa representatives were available if you wanted them until they could no longer go further at the airport terminal. You could ask as many questions and the hospitality was superb. We will definitely travel with Costa many more times. We had a Balcony statement with obstructed view on the 5th deck. We wanted this as the price was almsot the same as an Oceanview, but we had a balcony. The obstruciton was only at balcony ground level and we could see the beautiful scernry all around us. The obstrucitons were the life boats and tender boats that were hung belong our deck. I went on one Excursion in Flam and it was terrific. Flam Excurision is going on 1 tour bus and 2 trains and it is a must if you go to Norway. The other days I went into port or went on a tour from the city. In Stavanger I visited with cousins who I met for the first time. It was a short port of call, but very memorable and will be back to Norway to visit again.

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Apr 1, 2007

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranean Cruise Review Western Caribbean Robert Laimo This was my third cruise, first time on Costa. To say this was the worst I was ever treated on vacation would be a gross understatement. Only the room attendant, waiter and busboy treated my family and me the way people should be treated while on vacation. My encounters with members of Costa staff on the ship made me regret taking my family on this

cruise. I found the employees to be rude, unprofessional, and at times outright nasty. I heard the phrase "It's not my problem" at least 4 times from different employees when I had a question about excursions that we had previously booked months ahead of time on the internet. In one instance, I was charged an adult fee for 16 year old daughter to go horseback riding in Honduras. She has been riding since she was 4 and is the only person in our family who rides horses. Upon our arrival in Honduras, I was told she could not go alone because she was not an adult. I asked why I paid an adult price for someone not considered an adult when it came time for the excursion and why this was not clear on the website? Fair question I thought since I now had an upset teenager who could not go on the one excursion she was looking forward to and now could not wait to go home. However, the Costa rep organizing the people off the boat reminded me "this is not my problem." When I asked to speak to someone else, another young lady in a blue shirt with a clipboard, looking very official, said to me in near-perfect English, "I'm sorry. I cannot help you. I do not speak your language." As amazed as I was, I told her that she sounded pretty good to me. Again, I was told it was not her problem and I needed to move so as not to hold up anyone else. Nothing was said or done in any effort to try to rectify the situation to my satisfaction. This was just one of a number of incidents that, for the wrong reasons, made this one of my most memorable vacations. I tell anyone who will listen that cruises are amazing, this boat was beautiful, but DO NOT USE COSTA with so many other better options open to people.    

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Feb 4, 2007

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranean Cruise Review Western Caribbean Chuck Fisher We sailed Feb 4th from Ft. Lauderdale on Costa Mediterranean and had a really great time. We had a balcony stateroom (5270) on deck 5 at the stern near the centerline. The 'ride' was very smooth with a minor amount of the usual ship noises, occasional small vibrations, etc. The balcony was a plus. We left the door propped open at night for the sound

of the sea sliding past the ship and the great night air. Boarding the ship was an easy affair. We lined up for mere minutes at the terminal and the shore side folks had us registered and on the ship is short order. The stateroom was roomy, clean, and bright. The bathroom was actually quite well laid out and shower had no end of hot water (a real plus for me). There a great big dressing mirror in the room and gobs of lighting. The TV was sort of superfluous except for the great briefing tapes about the ship and the excursions. The food was good to great. The formal dining room is a treat. However, the seven course meals were a bit too much for us for every day, so we ate at the deck nine buffet quite a few times. The buffet had just about everything the main dining room had, but in a very relaxed setting. There's a hamburger and hot dog grill next to one of the pools and pizza and snacks at the buffet outside of lunch and dinner hours. The ship's crew were marvelous. Our cabin and the ship were always clean. They really make a fetish out of it on Mediterranean. The food staff were always ready to fetch anything or help find anything. I had an appetizer I didn't like and the immediately took it away and brought me another to try, and all with a truly helpful attitude - no snobby waiters, thank you. The entertainment staff did a great job. There are full productions in the Osiris theater as well as numerous lounge acts and musical solo, duo, and trio acts in the many lounges. The shore side tours were a mixed bag (as expected). We froze our butts in Key West due to nasty weather arriving from Canada, so we cut or shore time to go back and warm up. We did do the Conch Train Tour and I'd recommend that as a good way to just roam about the island and see things. Georgetown, Grand Cayman was nice, if a bit touristy (well, what did you expect?). We just roamed about until landing at Margarittaville where we had a pleasant couple of hours chomping on a monster chips and salsa 'Volcano' and washing it down with various rum and tequila drinks. Tourist junk is a lot cheaper here than in Key West, by the way. Roatan was our favorite. The weather cooperated and we took the Canopy Adventure Tour and Tabiyana Beach. You have to be physically fit to do the Canopy Tour. If you can't do a chin up or two and 5 or 10 full sit-ups without collapsing in pain - forget it. You also have to do a little walking on a jungle path full of tree roots. It is a very do-able tour and a once in a lifetime adventure. If you're up to it - GO! My wife and I are 61 years old and we made it. She did a minor George of the Jungle and banged a knee on one of the trees, but nothing serious. Tabiyana Beach was a real treat. There are trees providing adequate shade except right on the shore line. So you can cool off or bake away. The beers were a bit steep at $4 a bottle, but once again - what did you expect? Cozumel started out nice and then the weather did it again. A real downpour for hours messed up the desire to roam the beach. For me it was costly as we were stranded inside the beachside shopping mall - full of jewelry shops! My wife wound up with a beautiful red coral necklace and accessory set, set it silver. The guy we bought from had unique designs which is why we bought. The rest of them tend to all look alike, and then there was this guy. Finally back to Ft Lauderdale. Debarking was a minor disaster. Some couple scheduled to go up to West Palm Beach with the other 40 of us never bothered to read anything the ship sent us all, or go to the briefing in the theater, etc. So we all had to sit on the bus for nearly an hour while the crew tried to track these idiots down. Costa needs to group the exits by destination, and then give everyone something like 30 minutes from the time the first person shows up at the bus and then you're on your own! The customs and immigration folks were very laid back and that part of it went very nicely. The airlines coming and going managed to screw up in about as many ways as possible. Not Costa's issue, so I won't dwell on it except to say - airlines -! Our only regret is that we did not have more shore time at each stop. We rate the cruise as SUPER! The only negative thing is that in the US Costa uses hired hands to handle the phones, so no one can actually tell you about the tours or the ship as they've never been on it. Not a show stopper, but annoying. At sea, Costa really shines.  

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Apr 2, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean Wilf and Sall Maheu The ship was beautiful and very clean.The staff was most helpful. Romeo our waiter in the dining room was excellent. There was always so much to do. We did not get back to our cabin until around 2am each night. It was very good to have access to the internet 24 hours a day. We found the ports of call, Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman very nice

to visit. We did not like Ocho Rios. While the food was good it was nothing special. The entertainment in the theatre was only fair. Now comes our number one complaint, the mattresses. They were extremely uncomfortable. This was the biggest complaint to many other passengers that we talked to. When Costa replaces the mattresses, we would definitely like to cruise again on the Mediterrranea

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Apr 2, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Reviwew Western Caribbean Brad Patterson Sailing on the Costa Mediterranea was a wonderful experience. My previous cruise experience was through another cruise line on an older ship that is now out of commission. So, walking onto the ship I was immediately amazed by the bright, shiny, new, and immaculate décor. The granite floors, mirror walls, Italian glass, and attention to detail were

astounding. Everything was easily accessible from any end of the ship. My room was at the front of the ship with two twin beds that could be made into a queen, a generous bathroom, and three larger closets. Unfortunately I did not have a balcony room, but I still thought the room was very nice, remained exceptionally clean, and had ample space. The only complaint I have about the room was that the beds were slightly uncomfortable. The staff was extremely accommodating. The dinner waiter was excellent and attentive. There were multiple seating options at dinner (two, four, or eight person tables). The food was always delicious with more than enough options to please anyone; except for maybe the snobbiest eater. I did see one woman openly and loudly complain about the food, only to see her go back to get seconds, then thirds, and finally fourths! My take on that was that the food wasn’t nearly as bad as her attitude. Entertainment was fun. I did watch most of the evening shows which were always good. The Casino was nice and wasn’t even very smoky. The daily itineraries were packed with options for everyone. I was traveling with 4 adult friends and we enjoyed going to the lido pool during the day because it was the adult only pool. Two other pools were for adults and children, but even though there were 300 children on the ship, I never really felt overwhelmed by children, even in areas designated specifically for children (e.g. the water slide). I did participate in two shore excursions which were amazingly well organized and a lot of fun! At the Cozumel stop, I went to Playa del Carmen for the Dolphin Touch Experience, which was wonderful. In Jamaica, I went to Coyoba Gardens and Dunn’s River Falls, which was also a great experience. I always felt safe, secure, and entertained. One warning though…Dunn’s River Falls is somewhat dangerous to climb. You can still see it, take pictures, and walk along the beach if you want to experience it without having to climb it. My overall impression of the Costa Mediterranea Western Carribean Cruise: 1. Excellent Ship 2. Great Service 3. Excellent Shore Excursions 4. Great Accomodations 5. Great Food 6. Best Cruise Buy for the Money 7. Great Cruise for all ages I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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Mar 19, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Mediterranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean Ralph Stinson Gorgeous but gaudy decorated ship. Very Clean. Courteous staff. Fantastic entertainment. Shore excursions as advertised. HOWEVER-be prepared for cold food at the buffets. We had to eat all our breakfasts and lunches in the dining room when time allowed--at least the food was hot. They really have not figured out how to serve even warm food at the buffets.

Food in general was OK, however did not compare to Princess line. For a last minute cruise this line is fine, however if we had booked months in advance and paid three times more we would have been most disappointed.

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Mar 5, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean Vincent Finelli "Con te Partiro`...," once again we are cruising "Italian Style" on the Costa Mediterranea --- our third trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises --- and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning twelve

times in all? Let's start with the crew. Captain Massimo Garbarino, we have considered a friend since he commanded the Costa Romantica where our son was married on February 14th several years ago. He always takes a personal interest in passengers' views of cruising. Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is a nearly improbable feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run. There are many countries represented among the crew and passengers leading to a wonderful international feeling on board. The Mediterranea was built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Finland and Captain Garbarino oversaw the entire construction. She was outfitted in Italy and many crew members were on site studying and practicing their Italian, and then each summer the Mediterranea returns to her home port in Savona, Italy and cruises the Mediterranean Sea. From the moment passengers board, the air is full of the melodic Italian language. A very nostalgic sound to Vincent's ears since he was born in Italy. There are many languages spoken among the passengers from USA, Europe, S. America, and Asia. Our butler Ronald delivered the morning papers in both English and Italian, making us feel at home (where we normally listen to CNN and the BBC while Vincent reads the local US and Italian papers on line). It seems that old academic habits die hard! We are both retired teachers. The continental influence and the opportunities for speaking a foreign language always draw us back to Costa. Then, of course, the food on board is deliciously incessant. Thus, when you can't afford to go to Europe, but want a taste of the Continent --- Sail Costa. EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is easily accessed off I-95, just beyond the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Security is well organized and Pier numbers and Ship names are clearly posted. Embarkation was set for 1:30pm, but boarding began shortly before noon. We arrived at 12:30pm and went straight on with wheelchair assistance. We were in our suite before 1:00pm, where champagne, fresh fruit and canapés greeted us. This suite was all the way aft on Deck 6 with a large balcony. We checked on our dinner reservations: early seating (5:45pm) a table for two near the entrance to the restaurant --- excellent! We were off to the buffet of rare roast beef, fresh salads, pastas, fruits, fine cheeses and desserts --- very nice. SHIP We have reported in detail on this ship before (see 2004 and 2005 reviews), so here we want to draw more on how the ship's layout is conducive to creating an Italian atmosphere. The Costa Mediterranea was launched in 2003 and is registered in Italy; she is 86,000 gross tons and 960 ft. long with 12 decks and 1,057 cabins of which 678 have balconies. Double occupancy is 2,114 passengers with a crew of 920. Her cruising speed is 22 knots and a top speed of 24 knots. Her design is based on Carnival's Spirit Class and the Costa Atlantica is her sister ship. She has 2 Azipods and 6 diesel electric generators. According to Captain Garbarino, she can do one mile on eighty-five gallons of fuel. The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here. The same flow is also evident on Deck 9 Armonia with the two Pools forming open spaces. When passengers leave the Ischia Spa they pass the pools and on into the Perla del Lago Buffet, then toward aft to the Apollo Spa and pool with its fine Apollo statue by Rigamonti. From the moment passengers enter the ship they are surrounded by artifacts and motifs of that inimitable Mediterranean area: Venetian Characters, Egyptian Obelisks, Grecian statuary, all contributing to a fantastic cruise atmosphere. FOOD & SERVICE Guest Relations Manager Daniele Puma is very visible and easily accessed through the Passenger Services Desk. He is very capable of answering and solving passenger needs, not to mention handsome and with delightful continental manners. Each morning our Butler Ronald, in white gloves, delivered our full American breakfast punctually at 7:15am: eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, rolls, and fruit marmalades, including Mary's favorite apricot. Ronald set the table with a white linen cloth and a floral bud vase, which we collected daily, so that by the end of the cruise, there were six on our shelf, but, with the mirror behind them, they gave the optical illusion of twelve vases..., lovely. The Buffet on Deck 9 is abundant with many stations, so lines are short. Salad Bars, fresh fruit displays, hot entrees and made to order sandwiches are all available; the perfect touch is the Pizzeria and ice cream/dessert area. We had lunch there on the first day. However, we prefer lunch in the main dining room, Restaurant degli Argentieri, with its walls lined with vitrines displaying copies of famous silver pieces (vases, candle sticks, pitchers, etc.) and murals depicting Italian pastoral scenes. We enjoyed the special attention of Maitre D' Fernando Sanna (quite elegant in his tails) and the two 2nd Maitres D' Luigi Cuomo and Leonardo Moccia. They are all very observant and make sure every passenger feels special at every meal. Dinner each evening at Table #90 was enjoyable with our Waiter Valerio Olano and his assistant Victor D'Sousa. They were perfect and anticipated our every needs. Prosciutto and Grana Padana, Mozzarella di Bufala or Bruschetta magically appear as antipasto in addition to the menu's long lists of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, entrees, desserts, cheese plates and fresh fruit. If one cannot find a preference in these lists, there are the "Always Available" items: Caesar Salad; Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce or with meat balls and basil; Fillet of Salmon poached, broiled or grilled; Skinless Chicken Breast, also prepared as one likes it; and many side dishes of vegetable and potatoes, fried or baked with butter or sour cream, bacon bits and chives or anything also available upon request. Some of our favorite appetizers are the following: Beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmigiano and black olive tapenade, Escargots Bourguignon, Bresaola with tomato, arugula and Parmigiano, Vitello tonnato (thin sliced veal with tuna sauce), etc. Favorite soups: Cream of forest mushrooms, Pasta e Fagioli, French Onion Soup, Consommé Stracciatella, etc. Favorite salads: Tossed Spinach Salad (with bacon bits, chopped hard boiled eggs and croutons), Seasonal Tender Leaves (Belgian endive and Radicchio) and other mixed salads (i.e. water cress, spinach and pine nuts, etc.). Favorite pasta dishes: Bucatini alla Amatriciana (long pasta with pancetta and onion in a piquant tomato sauce), Tagliolini alla Bolognese with Porcini mushrooms, Penne all'arrabbiata (with a piquant tomato sauce), etc. Some of our favorite Entrees: Roasted Rack of Lamb, Ossobuco alla Milanese (veal shank in a special sauce), Fillet Mignon grilled to perfection, Mahi Mahi filets, Veal Liver with onions, etc. Everything was "delizioso!" Compliments to the Chef. The Gala Dinners are especially enjoyable with candles and flowers on the tables and complimentary champagne for all. Desserts included Cannoli, Italian cheese cake, Baba`, Tiramisu and the typical pies: apple, cherry, pecan, lemon meringue, and all sorts of freshly made ice creams and sherbets, or International cheeses and fresh fruits, etc. The wait staff are on their toes and they greet passengers in many languages. Quite a number of the staff are budding polyglots! The festive atmosphere in the dining room includes many types of Italian music from Opera (Aida's Triumphal March), to Neapolitan Classics to Modern music. Passengers will most likely find themselves dancing the Tarantella with a waiter. Food is great, the atmosphere is fine, a taste of Italy is wonderful. We especially enjoyed 2nd Maitre D' Leonardo from Bari, Italy whose kind attentions we very much appreciated. The Club Medusa is the upscale Italian restaurant, reservations required ($20 per person). It features menus by Gaultiero Marchesi which have been improved and diversified from the earlier ones we had on previous Costa cruises. Dining is on Versace plates and service is top notch. We can report that service and food on this ship are excellent. CABIN Suite #6260 is on Deck 6 Narciso. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table. Our suite had a picture of King Tut's golden mask and wall paintings from a pyramid, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme. There was another picture of a lady in summer attire. Our Stewardess Leonor, who is wonderful and has a sweet nature, kept the suite spotless. Thanks! ENTERTAINMENT The suave Cruise Director Paul Rutter leads the Costa Animation Team in the multitude of activities on board, which include Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Italian and Dance Lessons, Trivia Quizzes, Crafts, etc.... The shows nightly in the Osiris Theatre were entertaining. We especially liked the "Time Machine" on formal night and John Ciotta on Italian night. Most of all we enjoyed the Italian joy of life which pervades the Costa Mediterranea. On "Notte Mediterranea" each passenger is given a "passport," which they take to four different lounges set up featuring the cultures (food, music, games and customs) of Greece, France, Spain and Egypt. The passengers collect four "visas" and then turn in the passport to Passenger Services, and they will get a $100 discount valid for a Transatlantic or European Costa Cruise. Costa works hard to make cruises entertaining. DEBARKATION Sunday at 8:30am, a crew member came to our suite to help with the wheelchair. We had green tags, which were the third ones called. We were through the passport check, luggage pick up and customs in less than 30 minutes. We were on our way home by 9:00am. This was simple and rapid. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years. Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88). Day 4. At sea Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies. Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays. Day 7. At sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am CONCLUSION It is always pleasant to return to a ship we have already sailed on before, where most probably we'll be welcomed by some of the crew and officers we had befriended on earlier cruises. This was true on this cruise, where we encountered Captain Garbarino, Hotel Director Ann Ryan and Maitre d' Luigi Cuomo, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships. Needless to say, they welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We have cruised on about three dozen ships of nine cruise lines, but we tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines. We'll be cruising on Costa again, but our next cruises will be on Carnival Triumph, May 13th, on the Caribbean Princess, Sept. 23rd and on the new Freedom of the Seas, Oct. 15th. However, we'll keep our eyes open for special sales during the summer for a last minute booking. Happy Cruising!

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Feb 12, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Kristen I just got back from a week long cruise with my husband and friends of ours and I have to say the trip was great!! We flew into Miami from Canada and embarked from Ft. Lauderdale. Getting from the airport to the port was a nightmare!! Iy was soooo disorganized getting all the travelers together to get on the shuttle and go. They really need to work on that.

After we finally got on board everything fell into place. We got our room and cards right away and only waited about and hour for our luggage. From then on our trip was excellent! the food was delicious, service was perfect and the ship was cleaner than clean. I mean I didn't see a fleck of dust. The staff was soooo friendly. Everywhere we went we always got a hello and a smile. I have to say the only thing I will complain about is the movement on board. I'm so surprised no one has ever mentioned this in any reviews?? For one whole week the ship rocked constantly. I mean not one minute of feeling that you were still. Thank heavens I don't get see sick but our friend and had 2 days of sickness. The ports were great. The ship was great- (pools REALLY small) I mean I wouldn't even call it a pool. BUT- all in all our trip was fantastic! Its my second criuse(1st being Carnival) and I would definitely go again hopefully I wont gain 5 pounds next time. (lol) Bon voyage!!

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By Lisa_CR

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Jan 22, 2006

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Meditteranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean Lisa Our first time on Costa. I read every review I could find. The reviews were all over the place, but it seemed that a positive attitude would help. My husband and I were looking forward to the vacation, so we definitely went with a positive attitude. Embarkation: Real easy getting on board. We were dropped off at the terminal by friends and our bags were

immediately handled by a porter and stowed for putting on the ship. The document processing was simple. Bags arrived at our cabin within an hour. Cabin: After reading a recommendation in a review, I immediately asked for a topper pad for the bed when we got to our cabin, the cabin attendant got us one without hesitation and it certainly made our bed very comfortable. We had an inside cabin, it had plenty of space, storage was no problem and the bathroom plenty big enough. Took a minute to figure out that the knob on hot/cold for the shower needs to be pressed in to increase the temperature past warm. I think this may be to avoid scolding. Plenty of room under the bed (two singles pushed together) for our empty bags. Our cabin attendant was very nice, inconspicuous and always kept our cabin spotless. Dining: We had some concerns regarding food following negative reviews, but we found the food to be great. We ate breakfast and lunch at one of the many buffet areas every day. Food and service was very good, and no problems with crowds or finding a table to eat at. We ate dinner in the main restaurant (second sitting) all except one night when we went to the small upscale restaurant (Medusa) where there is a $20 charge for each person. The food and service at the main restaurant was wonderful and although it was very nice at the Medusa restaurant, I don't think I would bother going again as the food and service in the main restaurant was so good. The food was well presented and not at all strange as some reviews had implied, plenty of variety and excellent service. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows we went to. Fun, and performed by Costa prsonnel who were very good. I went to a couple of informal lectures also that were interesting. Bingo and Horse Racing were fun events and the casino provided a nice distraction too. Shore Excursions: We went on shore at each port but did not go on any organized trips. After looking around at the shops for a couple of hours we would return to the serenity and comfort of the ship. Disembarkation: Once again, very easy. After getting excellent instruction on what to do, it was a breeze. No trouble getting our bags and exiting through customs etc. A bit of a traffic jam outside the terminal, but that is to be expected. In summary: Excellent value. The ship is a work of art and kept very clean, the service is exceptional and the food and beverage services are great. The only negative comment and advice we could make has to do with the photography service. While the photographers were pleasant and non-intrusive, the actual processing and purchase of photos needs some attention. We purchased photos the second day, and again later in the week. We noticed that the color quality of the second set of prints was far better than the first set, so we went to the people in charge and asked if we could exchange the first prints for others where the color quality was better. We were told that they do not permit returns or exchanges. We were a little surprised at this rigid policy as every other service on the ship had been so accommodating. Our recommendation is to wait until the last day to purchase photos, then you will be looking at all photos in a group and be better able to get the best selection and also possibly qualify for a discount if multiple photos are purchased.

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Jan 8, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Lines Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Shelley I just arrived home from a week on Costa cruise line. We had a terrific time. The staff is friendly, the rooms are a good size, the entire ship is spotless, the food is good, I could go on and on. It is definitely a good cruise for the money. The ports were also good and had lots of choices for excursions. We loved the food in the dining room each night.

There were lots of neat new things to try. The buffet got old by the end of the week, but you are always free to use the dining room for breakfast and lunch too. We also had a fantastic wine and water deal--we got free wine at our table nightly and the bottles just kept coming! All in all, it was a great cruise and we would definitely sail with Costa again. Although we haven't been on other ships, many people we met had something to compare it to and loved Costa more. Happy Cruising!

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Jan 6, 2006

Bahamas

Costa Cruise Lines Costa Mediterreanea Cruise Review Bahamas Annette Costa offered this short cruise, Fri-Sun, as a filler after its New Years cruise. My husband, never sailed before and had always sworn he never would. Given the short duration of the cruise and the unbelievable deal we got, he agreed to try it. He was impressed with the ease of boarding the ship (beginners luck, of course) and upon entry he was amazed by the

size and the 'glitz' of its interior. The cabin was absolutely amazing! Having cruised many times in the past, I have to say the room was large enough to want to spend time in and the bonus of the veranda, gave the room an even more open airy feeling. However this was the coldest weekend of the year in Florida and it was too cold to sit out on the veranda and soak in the ocean views. The bathroom was even large enough for two to comfortably stand in at the same time. We were both impressed with how sparkling clean and immaculate the ship was kept. You can never tell that over 2000 people a week pass through it. The food was enjoyable, but because the ship wasn't full and this was just a quicky trip off the regular east/west Caribbean itinery of the ship, perhaps we weren't given the full treatment. The entertainment the first night was very sophomoric so we just stayed in the casino the second night and skipped the show. We had one uncomfortable experience in that the room steward was writing a bill up charging us for all the liquor in the mini bar. We don't drink and my husband took only one bottle of water out. This means someone was in our room and took it? Room steward said he is the only one with access to the cabin. He tore up the bill, but one has to wonder who took the liquor out then. We spent Saturday in the Bahamas, so we walked around a bit then went back to the ship to relax on deck. It was pretty cold and breeze out and for some reason the retractable roof over one of the pools was left open to the elements, which we couldn't understand. All in all it was a gorgeous ship, my husband can't wait to cruise again, and that makes it a success for us! Compared to the other cruise lines I have travelled on, Costa rates right up there!

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Dec 18, 2005

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean MaryAnn I have to say I was very impressed with my first cruise on Costa. After cruising mainly on Carnival in the past, it was a nice change. Even embarking and disembarking was a pleasant experience. First of all it was the cleanest ship I have ever sailed on up to this point! The staff was very friendly and the music on board in the various lounges was great

a lot nicer than our previous cruise. The food was very good in the dining room, we did try the specialty restaurant one evening but it was a little disappointing, service was no better than in the regular dining room. Our cabin steward was very good, kept our cabin clean and neat thru out the cruise. The only negative thing I really can say about the entire cruise was the beds were very hard, not comfortable at all, my husband and I are used to much softer mattresses. Having said that, my overall impression was very positive and I definitely would try Costa again in the future.

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Dec 11, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Steven Melosky Well you may have noticed that people are all over the place with this Cruise Line. I tend to believe that the very positive once are manufactured. I have sailed twice with Carnival and found that the Costa experience was sub-par compared to Carnival. So , If you think Carnival is sub-par then Costa would be sub-sub-par for you. Are you following?

I did think the ship was very beautiful and interesting in the majority of the public areas though I found the cabin rather plain. Cabin Steward service was acceptable though not inspired. The food ranged from blah to acceptable but never any better. On many evenings in the dining room I didn't order several courses of the meal because I couldn't find anything I liked. I also didn't care for the european style of dining service which serves different courses at the same time to people at the same table. The majority of the food on the breakfast buffet was cold. I personally do not care for cold eggs and cold pancakes but did find a area where they prepared hot eggs and omelettes and tried to keep it as my personal secret. The lunch buffet was better but still a bit limited in selection. I really enjoyed the deli on the Carnival ship and didn't find one on Costa. The pizza was very good though on Costa. I found the entertainment to be amateur but somewhat charming. Most of the shows were performed by the Costa employees rather than professionals and though It wasn't "Vegas" quality, it was obvious that they put great effort into it. The entertainment at the piano bar was horrible to say the least. Think 1st week American Idol quality. I did find the ship to be very clean and didn't find the smokers to be a problem at all. For whatever reason I DID find many of my fellow cruisers to be inconsiderate and on the rude side. It was also a bit tiring reading and hearing everything in 6 different languages. Overall not a terrible experience but I personally would not repeat. If this is the best you can afford on your budget then go for it as 90% of your experience is your attitude going in. I received very high recommendations for the Princess Caribbean ship and will try that one next. I hope this review is helpful to anyone making a Cruise line decision.

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Dec 11, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Eastern Caribbean Randy This was our 5th cruise and the first time on Costa. Thank goodness We did NOT read the reviews posted here before booking because we might have missed the best of all the cruises we have taken. Embarkation: Getting on board was very smooth and quick. We arrieved at the terminal at about 11:30. Borarding had not started and were seated in a holding area. After ony 15

minutes or so our documents were checked, security was completed, and we were aboard by 12:15. You might want to note that your on board "Costa Cards" will await you in your cabin, and that you DO NOT need to stand in the lines to link your "Costa Card" to your credit card. This task need not be completed until the day before disembarkation. So relax, and register later. Public Rooms: Not sure how to describe the public rooms. The Decor on the Mediterranea is over the top and at first a bit gaudy. But after the initial overwhelming visual impact wore off we realized that the Mediterranea has absolutely the most beautiful public rooms we have ever seen. We're not gamblers but the casino is quite large and seems to have any game you may want. All of the numerous bars were well appointed. The beautiful dining room must be seen to be believed. Cabin: The cabin was NOT decorated in the over the top fashion like the public rooms. There was plenty of room in our balcony cabin. There was plenty of storage space and we were able to stow all of our clothing and baggage comfortably. The one down side: the mattress was maybe 4 inches thick and pretty hard, but with all of the activities we slept like rocks and really didn't notice. However, if you require a soft cushy sleeping surface you might want to consider another ship. Fitness & Recreation: The fitness area was well equipped and well staffed. Best of all we have seen on a cruise ship so far. Dining: Well aren't we glad we didn't see all of the negative statements about the food. While the dining in the main dining room was not quite as good as what we experienced last year on the Holland America Zaandam, it was close. There were plenty of offerings on the menu and if for some reason an item was not what was expected, it was cheerfully exchanged for another. The buffet food was also good, and as far as quality it is certainly as good as the rest of the cruise lines. The buffet itself was a bit difficult to navigate at peak times, but the food selection was quite good. Keep in mind that Costa is a an Italian line. The food is Italian, not Carabbas, not Olive Garden, not Chef Boyardee. It's Italian and not all items will be what you expect or what you are used to. If you're a meat and potatoes person, choose another cruise line. If you like to experiment with new things, you'll love the Costa Mediterranea. Entertainment: We are not "show" people and did not attend any of the productions. The couple we traveled with DO enjoy shows and they were quite pleased. Entertainment in the lounges was also quite good, each having a different theme. Keep in mind again, this is an Italian Cruise line and some of the things you'll experience will not be performed in English. Service: In a word, excellent. You'll notice it is not showy. Our waiter was competent but never in your face. We never saw the cabin steward, but the cabin was always spotless. We finally decided that the service was done with quiet dignity, and it was refreshing. Shore Excursions: We can't comment too much. We didn't think there was enough time to do one in San Juan. We rented a Jeep in St. Thomas (good value thru Budget). We did take the Sugar Trek excursion in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. If you ever go to La Romana, you'll need to do this. It'll make you think twice next time you open a packet of sugar. The cane, for the most part, is harvested by hand. Disembarkation: Quick and efficient. Keep in mind that this is all controlled by Customs Officials. Costa could take hint from her sister cruise line Holland America and allow passengers to wait in their cabins. We waited in the Theater. It wasn't bad. Cabin would have been better maybe. Value for Price: Excellent. Best we've ever experienced. Don't be afraid to save a little by booking a balcony cabin with an obstructed view. You'll just be looking over top of the life boat. One other thing: We noticed on boarding that the ship was spotless. Noticeably spotless. The Center for Disease Control noticed too. While docked in San Juan the CDC inspected the ship. The Mediterranea received a perfect score of 100. The officers and crew were noticeably proud. Well done Costa Mediterranea! For the naysayers: Some negatives we're read in the reviews..... Smoking. Yes, there is more smoking on the ship than we're seen before, but the dining areas are non smoking. Must be a European thing. Rudeness. Yes, some people are rude. We've seen that this is a pattern on cruise ships. Seems some of the seasoned citizens are oblivious to those around them. Not sure there is real intent to be rude. We didn't find the Mediterranea to be any different from any other ship in this respect. The non USA clientele were fun to be around. Foreigners. Yup, unlike most lines you really will find people from all over the world. The approximate demographics we observed: 50% USA seasoned citizens, 20% USA middle aged and younger. 30% European, mostly Italian and mostly in the 20's and 30's. On this cruise there were very few children. All announcements were done in 5 languages. Listen close and you may pick up a few things. Summary: We've sailed with Norwegian, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Costa. This was our best cruise. Keep an open mind and a sense of humor and you too may have a wonderful experience!

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Nov 20, 2005

Western Caribbean

Costa Cruise Lines Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Western Caribbean Beth Caldwell We went on the Costa Mediterranea on the November 20, 2005 sailing of the Western Caribbean. Our group age range was my Son is 18, I am 42, my Husband is 49, and my Dad and his girlfriend (Liz) are 79. My family has sailed on the Costa Mediterranea in March of 2005. She is as beautiful now as then. The ship is always very clean and staff very

friendly. It is funny that we had the same cruise director and Captain as our first sailing. The cruise was the first sailing in the Caribbean for this season. So it took them longer to get through customs. So everyone had to wait in line till 1pm to board instead of the 11am. But you think about that being our only complaint. We had two balcony cabins next to each other and they opened the door between the balconies without a problem. The cabins were category 6. They were very clean and room steward wads great. Our luggage was to both cabins within 2 hours of boarding. Yeah, unlike Carnival were I did not get my luggage till after dinner. The buffet was for lunch was great; to be honest my son and Liz went to the buffet and the pizza and hamburgers for lunch. We explored the ship the rest of the afternoon. We did have to order my Husband and Son tuxes with the cruise line since a week before we left my Son said his suit was too small and my husband did not want to be the only one in the group not wearing a tux. The tuxes were in our cabin by 3pm the day we arrived on the ship. Out first port was Key West we did the Conch Train not purchased from the Cruise ship but in town it was a little less per ticket but you saw a lot more of Key West. The only bad thing was it did not leave much time to go shopping. Our second stop was Cozumel. I have never seen happier people as we did when we got off the tender, they welcomed everyone with a big “Welcome to the New Cozumel, we rebuild just for you!” Everyone is so friendly. Since the last time we were there was a lot of damage that we noticed... But we believe that they are going to come back better and stronger. We took the Dune buggy and snorkel tour. The first beach we went to was in bad shape. But the second one was beautiful and we had dinner there at sunset. The dune buggies were in bad shape but I think it was the first time they were used since Wilma. We all enjoyed the tour and the adventure that went along with it. Our third port was Ocho Rios Jamaica. We did the Martha Brae raft tour. It was beautiful we all enjoyed it. If you want a relaxing tour with beautiful scenery this is the tour. They pick you up at the pier and you take a bus about forty miles across the island. To what we would call a rain forest, this is you take the bamboo rafts on the river. It was one of the most beautiful areas that we have seen. The ride on the raft takes about one hour long, our tour guide was telling us all about each plant and what it was used for. It is sad to think of all the medicines we are losing by cutting down these forests. Our forth and finale port was Grand Cayman. We swam with the Sting rays. All I can say is want to do it again and the rays are just like puppy dogs. They liked kisses, patted, and just like dogs when you run out of food they leave. Back to the ship the shows were wonderful; we had everything from the ships production shows to singers brought aboard for just that night. The Gala Farwell Midnight buffet is on the most wonderful and beautiful productions that I have ever seen on a ship. They use lights and music in the presentation of it. I have noticed only Costa cruises do that. The meals and service is wonderful and defiantly 5 star... The staff always very helpful and friendly. The only bad thing I noticed this time on the ship is that it is becoming Americanized and what I mean by that Is that the people do not dress up as much for dinner as on the past cruises with Costa. Also not as many people dressed in Toga’s and before when they would have them specially made for that night. But all in all we have no complaints and highly recommend Costa Cruises. We all plan to do many more. If anyone would like any pictures or more information please let me know. Beth Caldwell A Touch of Gold Travel bethcaldwell at earthlink.net

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Apr 17, 2005

Transatlantic

The beautiful Costa Mediterranea travels from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA to Savona, Italy using the following interesting combination of ports: Key West, FL; a sea day; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, USVI; Martinique; Barbados; five sea days; Santa Cruz, Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands; a sea day; Gibraltar, UK; another sea day; and finally landing in the newly constructed Costa terminal in Savona, Italy. Eight sea days and eight

port days makes for a very restful transatlantic crossing. Costa, which has just completed 54 years in the cruising industry, really knows how to do a transatlantic crossing: the first section of this cruise is a port intensive tour of diverse islands of Spanish, English, French and Dutch cultural influences which beguiles the passengers. Then five days of ocean crossing when at leisure one can choose to participate in various ship activities, enjoy the beauty of the ship's artwork or immerse him/herself in the "dolce far niente" (sweet do nothing). This particular crossing included beautiful weather and calm seas. It is a wonderfully relaxing time which affords passengers an opportunity to interact with each other and with Costa's amicable crew. There is both camaraderie and warmth reflected in the Italian character which permeates the ship. Costa is the largest Cruise Line in Europe and the "Pax Nationality" on this cruise reflects that: in descending order, there were a total of 521 Swiss citizens; 498 Italians; 331 Germans; 247 French (We resurrected our high school French!); 194 English; 99 Belgians; 55 Icelanders (who were easily recognized by their beautiful blue eyes.); 45 Spanish; 42 Austrian; 24 American; 22 Dutch; and finally eleven other nations represented by less than ten passengers each. In total 2,107 passengers from all around the world sailed together in excellent harmony for sixteen days. Wouldn't it be extraordinary if "ship" Earth could do the same? The lovely thing about Costa is its respect for all cultures reflected in the many languages utilized daily for updates and daily ship reports. As evidenced by the passenger breakdown by countries; Americans were in the minority, but we felt enormously welcomed. EMBARKATION Embarkation time was slated for 1:30pm; but, passengers started boarding at 11:30am. We arrived at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale at 12:30pm and went directly on board in only twenty minutes. We had curbside assistance with the wheelchair all the way to our stateroom. We were happy to see that our friend Hotel Director Walter German was on board. He proved very generous with his time and expertise. We look forward to sailing with him again soon, since he is capable of resolving all questions and this ship under his direction is pristine. The very kind Captain Francesco Serra exhibited his navigational abilities and promptness throughout this trip, since we arrived precisely on time at all eight ports. Of course, the newer Costa ships are state of the art in navigational equipment. We followed our usual first day on board routine: 1. Attack the "Welcome on Board Buffet." 2. Meet the Maitre D', in this case the very accommodating Lorenzo Pescetti, to check on our table assignment (all A OK!). 3. Finally, we return to our stateroom and rest. SHIP This was our 10th cruise on Costa ships and our second on the Mediterranea. We have already written a detailed review on this ship, thus for the description of the ship we refer the readers to check the archives of this web site. Following the artistic tradition set forth with Costa Atlantica, this ship, as well her sister ships, are floating art museums. In the words of Pier Luigi Foschi, President of Costa Cruise Line, as reported in the foreword of CRUISING INTO ART (a detailed discourse of art on board Italian Ships 1948-2002): "It is imperative . . . to provide permanent contemporary art exhibitions within reach of all our passengers . . . a means of learning, discovery and culture. The purpose of a ship is to astonish the passengers in every way, making their cruise unforgettable and encouraging them to return again and again." This cruise was unforgettable and we will return to Costa "again and again." This book's illustrations recall the themes of the various Italian Ships and they provide enjoyable recollections of the artwork we have admired during our previous cruises on the Costa Romantica, Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica. It also reveals the basis on which Costa relies to form themes for its decor. The Mediterranea follows these ambitious standards in presentation of art. Suffice it to say that the amount and quality of the art is stupendous. Areas are dedicated to Mythology (bronze sculptures of Armonia, Cadmo and Apollo on Deck 9), Commedia dell'Arte (Costumes of Characters in the Atrium) and Modern Dance and Ballet (a huge collection of Angela Cioce's photographs of dancers is on Deck 2). The "Restaurant degli Argentieri" with antique silversmith designs recreated by modern artists is a delight. In every area, even the corridors and stairways, there are works of art both whimsical and entertaining in oil, ceramic and bronze. As Foschi so aptly put it, the ships are both educative and cultural. One of the most memorable places on the Mediterranea is on Deck 2 Tersicore, where the birdcage elevators (lifts) give passengers an eight deck view of the Atrium with a large sculpture of 25 mannequin dancers by Gigi Rigamonti. Ride all the way up to Deck 10, or you may want to get off on Deck 9 and climb the crystal staircase to Deck 10. But we don't recommend this for passengers who suffer from vertigo. The public places in the Mediterranea are inspired by Italian art and architecture found in famous palaces and villas. Their decorations and furnishings evoke the splendor of the golden age of the models they symbolize; i.e., the Casino called "Canal Grande" is symbolic of the famous Barbaro Palace in Venice, Piazza Casanova is a tribute to the Albrizzi Palace also in Venice, the Winter Terrace is inspired by Villa La Pietra in Florence, etc.; Osiris Theatre, Restaurant Degli Argentieri, Perla Del Lago Buffet, Terme Ischia Spa and other areas are splendidly decorated, each in a specific way and style, to reveal the ageless beauty of memorable places. However, going throughout the ship, wherever we look around, we remain astonished and overwhelmed by the over abundance of repetitive details. Joe Farcus, the American architect responsible for the interior decoration of the Mediterranea and her sister ships of Costa and Carnival Lines, broadly uses repetition, yet we feel that sometimes more is not always better. Other facilities aboard are three pools and four whirlpools as well a water park for children with a big water slide, Olympic Gym, a Tennis court, a Library, the Internet Cafe`, a Disco, a Chapel and a great children's program the Squok Club described for us by Angela Paterno (Sicily). She is enamored of children, and makes a perfect leader. The ship's layout is conductive to mingling and we enjoyed the many new acquaintances we made in Sala Casanova where Bingo, Trivia and Cooking Demonstrations were held with Chefs De Luca and Molinaro. Costa has 11 ships on line now and there will be two more added soon: The Costa Concordia, to be launched in 2006, will be 112 thousand gross tons, 290 meters long, 35 meters wide, a draft of only 8 meters, with a her cruising speed of 22 knots. It will carry 3,700 passengers and a crew of 1,200. She is under construction at Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy. There is also a sister ship of the Concordia scheduled for 2007, as of now not named. This fall the Costa Magica will replace the Costa Atlantica in the Caribbean, with Ft. Lauderdale as home port for the winter season. CABIN Stateroom #4202 is wheelchair accessible; however, it has an obstructed view. Unfortunately, there are no wheelchair accessible cabins without obstructed view or with balconies. The only way for a person with limited mobility, like Vincent, to have fresh air and the view of the sea on this class of ships, is to book a suite, budget permitting. Vincent regretted his decision for booking this cabin and it became an on going joke between us. This was our last trip without a balcony. Each evening, after dinner, we went aft on the promenade, Deck 3, and viewed the sunset, thus placating the desire for a balcony. This room had a large tiled bathroom with safety rails; a queen size bed with two night stands; a console on the far wall with TV, safe, cupboards, a lighted, mirrored vanity/desk with drawers; a small coffee table, one upholstered chair and one stool/ottoman and a double armoire. Though spartan, it was comfortable and decorated in aqua and blues with maple wood accents. However, this stateroom has one conundrum, a loud background sucking noise, which we finally discovered was a main air conditioning intake located just below our window. Knowingly, we would have not booked this cabin under any circumstances, but the location is near the very efficient elevators, so we think there are tradeoffs. Our steward Frixie was very competent, extremely pleasant and obliging. FOOD & SERVICE Aha! Now we come to the "piece de resistance" and one of the main reasons we like to cruise Costa. We were delighted to see that Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion was on board and even more delighted to see our old friend Chef Antonio De Luca and meet our new friend Chef Massimo Molinaro. These gentlemen went all out to see that our cruise was a gastronomic delight. Antonio and Massimo did a cooking show and prepared Pasta al Salmone and Scallopini al limone --- mouth watering. Gino Binasco is Buffet Manager and the midnight buffet we attended was very well displayed and laden, one of the best we have seen at sea. Also on board was another old friend of ours, Bar Manager Sanzio Riccardi, the drinks on board were fantastic. The Mediterranea has twelve bars! The dining room staff included Maitre D' Lorenzo Pescetti, whose manners and competence were evident each evening. Our friend 2nd Maitre D' Francesco Frasca was also on board, and we nicknamed him Figaro, because of his happy nature as a factotum who was constantly in motion. He made our evenings fun and delectable. Table #275 was very aptly served by waiter Emerson Victoria and his assistant Francisco Villarante, all under the watchful eyes of Francesco, Luigi Cuomo and Supervisor of Wait Staff Marcial Sierra. Often Chefs De Luca and Molinaro discussed with passengers their preferences and tastes --- all the while listening intently. They were accessible and aimed to please all. We are going to share with you some of the interesting meals on board, course by course. There are four formal nights (or as the Italians say "Gala") with candles on the tables and free champagne with the dessert course --- a very nice touch. BREAKFAST in cabin can be full American or Continental. It was always punctual with hot chocolate and cappuccino. It was also served in the main dining room: Eggs anyway, bacon, ham, hash browns, hash and pancakes, French toast, rolls, Danish, croissants, bagels and lox, fresh fruits and compotes, etc. The same was offered on Deck 9 Perla del Lago self service buffet. LUNCH in the dining room had a variety of daily appetizers including the following: crab meat cocktail, fresh fruit cocktail with Grand Marnier, Gruyere cheese fritters, cod fritters, mixed antipasto with cold cuts, artichokes, olives, etc.. Some hot soups were Cream of asparagus, Potage de St. Germaine, lobster chowder and pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans). Cold soups included chilled strawberry, peach and watercress. Salads were inventive with a variety of greens: bib, iceberg, romaine, radicchio, escarole, arugola, etc. and additions were pinoli nuts, mushrooms, raisins, croutons. Two pasta courses were served at noon, such as spaghetti Carbonara, cheese ravioli with red sauce, trenette (pasta) with pesto sauce or pasta primavera with spring vegetables. Six entrees were available daily: i.e., Chef's salads, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, quiche, Squid with rice, broccoli and tomatoes, chicken Milanese (cutlets), beef sautéed with green peppers, and vegetarian pita pockets. Every day there were a variety of items always available: i.e., hamburgers, cheeseburgers, garden burgers, hot dogs, french fries, coleslaw, etc. Vegetarian diets included grilled polenta with four cheese sauce, chilled pear soup (delicious) and pasta with vegetable ragu. Desserts were mostly the classics: i.e., pies of apple, banana cream, lemon or pecan; creme caramel, yogurts, ice creams and freshly made sorbets. At every meal there was a selection of fruit and international cheeses served with biscuits or crackers. There were tasty moist cakes: German chocolate, almond, cheese and a variety of pastries such as Cream Puffs, Eclairs, Napoleons, Cannoli, Tiramisu, etc. DINNERS were presented with specialties of the Italian Regions and their local cheeses: i.e., Lombardia, Sardegnia, Sicilia, Piedmonte, Lazio, Campania, etc. Dinner was always a culinary delight with a multitude of offerings. Read the menu carefully and then if you are not salivating read the "Always Available" section: Caesar's salad, spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce, filet of salmon or breast of chicken prepared any way you like (poached, sautéed, grilled, etc.), baked or French fried potatoes, and finally steamed vegetables. We always consult with the waiters or Maitre D's to make sure we choose well, but even if one errs the servers are happy to change or obtain whatever you want. Every evening fish, chicken or fowl, veal and beef were available. Appetizers included Mozzarella in Carrozza, Oysters Rockefeller, shrimp cocktail, Escargot Bourguignon, grilled eggplant, fried calamari, Bresaola (air cured beef), prosciutto and melon, etc. Soups were hearty like lentil, minestrone, chicken broth with noodles, and Stracciatella (egg drop). Salads were varied, fresh and unique (portions were large). The pasta course was always an exercise in ingenuity: Fusilli (pasta) with clams and tomato concasse, rigatoni Alfredo, Bavette (pasta) with baby shrimps, Penne alla Norma with tomato, eggplant, and smoked provolone, or the simple spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes). The entrees included ossobuco with gremolata sauce, roasted rack of young lamb, beef tenderloin, veal scaloppine, roast sirloin of beef, Cornish hens stuffed with chestnuts, grilled halibut, beef kabobs, lobster tails, roasted turkey, chicken Cordon Bleu, etc. Desserts included English trifle, Italian Meringues, German Strudel, Napoleons, creme brulees, soufflés, mousses, swan puffs, Baba al Rum, Sicilian cassata (an ice cream delight) and Frutti di Bosco (wild blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries) --- all delicious. If we haven't made you drool by now, well we give up. Costa made this cruise a culinary tour de force! We thank them all from the Executive Chef on down to the waiters. A formal high tea was served in the Oriental Lounge every afternoon from 4 to 5pm. The Gala nights were simply memorable and the atmosphere always festive. Last, but not least, is the Club Medusa an alternative dining experience on Deck 10 (20 Euros per person) with an exclusive menu designed by Gualtiero Marchesi, featuring modern Italian cuisine, as well as a Tuscan Steak House menu offering great grilled meat and seafood, served on Versace plates. We had a table for two, overlooking the sea, enjoyed Merinda's exquisite repertoire of romantic music, and savored the following delicacies: Crab meat appetizer, filet mignon, porcini mushrooms and a veal chop so tender it could be cut with a fork and then it melted in the mouth. A delicious meal in an enchanting atmosphere! ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Franco Lo Faro and his staff were always very busy; this is an example of one day's activities: aerobics, physical exercises, dance lessons, Bingo, arts & crafts, cooking demonstrations, pool games, trivia and quiz games, art auctions, Bocce (Italian bowling of sorts), dart, and tennis tournaments. Musical entertainment was in every one of the twelve lounges and bars. Merinda De Wit, a beautiful singer and pianist, was our favorite. The Canal Grande Casino was open whenever the ship was at sea. The evening shows were exceptionally good. We enjoyed all of them, but especially the following: Guy Portier's Tribute to Ray Charles; Alberto Barocco's Tribute to Frank Sinatra; The duo Platchkov (acrobats from the Moscow Circus); Rob Torres (mime, magician); and the Trio Mulero, Senor Mulero's Flamenco dancing was exciting. We spent 16 days on board the Costa Mediterranea, sailed 5,817 nautical miles, and were never bored! We only wish that the Costa Today, the daily paper, would have listed the performers' resume` and their specialty and not the usual "...Cruise Director presents the dynamic talents of John Doe (name of the performer)..." without stating the performer's specialty. Is s/he a singer, a comedian or a magician? It's anybody's guess. Each evening it was a total surprise, but it was always enjoyable. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. FT. Lauderdale Sail: 9:00pm Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 1:00pm The Conch Train Tour visits the major points of Key West. Day 3. At Sea Day 4. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive: 1:00pm Depart: 11:30pm This is great timing, since the evening in San Juan is the best time. Visit Old San Juan and the ancient fortresses of San Cristobal and La Fortaleza. Day 5. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm This is the best shopping place in the Caribbean. Day 6. Martinique, France Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 6:00pm Supposedly here there are huge savings on well known name brands. Day 7. Barbados, BWI Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 6:00pm This port is well known for jewelry shopping. Day 8 - to - Day 12. At Sea On day 10 at c. 3:00pm we crossed the middle of the Atlantic Ocean Day 13. Santa Cruz, Tenerife Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 6:00pm We took a walk down town and shopped for inexpensive souvenirs. No tours for the handicapped. Day 14. At Sea Day 15. Gibralter, UK Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 1:00pm No tours for the handicapped. Hotel Director offered wheel chair assistance, but we joined with another couple and arranged a private taxi tour which was actually more comprehensive than the ship's tour. There are less than 250 Barbary apes (Macacus inuus, a form of monkey) divided into six families, or territorial groups. We saw them up close and too personal. Legend says when the apes go from Gibraltar, so will the English. According to our taxi driver, there are no game wardens and they are fed poor quality fruit (i.e., this day they got moldy melons.) To protect these friendly animals and their habitat, something should be done by the government, possibly funding a project for University students to study them and oversee their wellness. Day 16. At Sea Day 17. Savona, Italy Disembarkation 8:00am We took the ship's package with a bus to Genoa and stayed overnight at the Bristol Palace, rented a "Smart For Four" car and extended our trip for two more weeks in Italy. CONCLUSION This was our tenth cruise on Costa ships, although only seven appear in the list of the newly formed Costa Club, which does not seem to be well organized. We have applied for membership to the Club more than a year ago and have not yet received the membership cards or the free subscription to the magazine "Privileges of the Sea". There are three levels of membership, Aquamarine, Coral and Pearl, and we have been told that we are "Pearl," the highest level. We did receive on board privileges, such as a bottle of spumante, the daily fruit basket, fancy chocolate in the cabin on Gala night, the free dinner at Club Medusa Restaurant, etc.; however, with the membership number we would be able to get a 15% discount on selected cruises. The advantage of being a "Frequent Floater" of a cruise line, in addition to the privileges mentioned above, is the probability of finding on the ship staff members that you have met and befriended on other cruises before. It is like coming home again, where we find those familiar faces and enjoy seeing them. On this cruise we have encountered several officers and staff that we had previously met, who did their best in making us feel happy and comfortable. We did have a great cruise, thanks to them! The only complaint has been the cabin with obstructed view and the unpleasant noise. We hope that Costa Crociere will consider making wheelchair accessible cabins in all possible categories, especially in those with balconies. Unfortunately, on this class ship class wheelchair accessible cabins are only inside or with obstructed views. Nowadays we see more and more wheelchair assisted people aboard, and it is only fair that they should be able to enjoy cruising as well as the able bodied passengers; thus their limited mobility should not confine them to inside or obstructed view cabins. We are looking forward to booking a cruise on the Costa Magica next fall, hoping to find on her better accommodation than we did on this ship. We have already booked a cruise on Star Princess next October and one on the new comer gigaship Freedom of the Seas for the Summer of 2006. Happy Cruising!

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Mar 20, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

This was not just a family vacation, this was also our wedding. When we arrived at the terminal at10:30am, like instructed by the wedding planners at Costa. My future husband and friends has to load our own luggage on to the racks because no one was there to do it. Yes thats right there were no porters. I asked 6 different people where the wedding coordinator was. Out of the 6 people, 5 of them did not even know that there was a wedding

coordinator. Finally at 12:30 we were taken to our suite. Now mind you a am getting married at 1pm.At this time, I still have not met the WC (wedding coordinator) At 12:50 a person knocks on my door and says she is here to marry me. As I invite her into my room, she tells me that the WC was in an accident and the ship just called her 20 minutes ago. But, no one thought to tell the bride and her party. If someone had spoken up I would have been more sympatric. From here the trip really went down hill. Around 1:30pm we were finally married. After the ceremony we had our cake cutting and toast. Then we went for pictures, the 1 1/2 hour of pictures only 24 salvageable. The pictures were all over exposed. And all anyone could say is WE ARE SORRY!! This is a phrase I never want to hear again. Now, lets get to the cruise experience. My family booked a suite. The room was beautiful just like the rest of the boat. Being that we just got married I had purchased the honeymoon package. This included sparkling wine. That sat in the bucket without ice for 2 days. Its not that we did not ask for ice, it just was never brought. The water picture was not filled daily, and then there was the fact of running out of toilet paper and having to chase down the Stewart to get more. Even after he had cleaned the room. With is suite, we were to have a butler. The only thing that she managed to do was bring fruit once a day. My favorite part of the terrible room service was the fact that on Saturday afternoon the room stewart locked out mini bar, which had my infant son's juice in it. Now they did leave the juice out one the counter for me. I should be thankful for that I guess. The dinning room experience was not any better. We asked to be sat with our wedding party traveling with us, well that is not happen. I asked for a high chair for my infany son 3 times before I got up and got one from another table. My husband asked for food that we never got. The wait staff was terrible. When pouring wine they just leaned over you and splashed wine every where. Ocho Rios was a beautiful place and we had a wonderful time. Grand Cayman on the other hand was not. The ship was to be in port from 2pm till 7pm. we went down to get off the ship and were given a number. By the time our number was called it was 5:30pm. by the time the fairy got us to the island the stores were closing. This was just another disappointment. The last stop of our trip was Cozumel. This was the best day by far. We went in to the town with a purpose. There was a bottle of Tequila that we were looking for. While going through the stores we found a store owned by Alvaro Santiago and he had the bottle we were looking for. We ended up buying a case of flavored tequilas from him. Time passed , we went back to the ship. Turned our case of tequila in and went up to our suite. The last night of the cruise and a 7:30pm I am asking my room Stewart where my tequila is, he says he will check. I come back to my room and fine a note to call the front desk. I go down to the front desk. Guess what, they cannot find my tequila. Twenty minutes later they say they found my tequila and they are bring it to me. As we wait, the head ow housekeeping comes with an open box. Yes, that's right the case of tequila was opened and 2 bottles were half drank. All of our bottles were hand signed by the owner of the company and all the cards were gone. The only thing that the staff has to say is fill a comment card and WE ARE SORRY!!. We filled out a damage report and to this day we have not heard anything from the cruise line. Now I am at the end of my trip. We finally get off the boat and go to get our luggage and the icig on the cake happens. The brand new luggage that I just bought for this cruise is broken. Two of the pieces the wheels were broke off. Guess what they told me to do. Fill out a comment card and WE ARE SORRY. Out of all the trips I have taken, this was the worst experience I have ever had. The half drank tequila issue, which lasted about 4 hours. That's 4 hours worth of arguing with the staff about what they should do about the problem. The terrible staff, waiters, and room stewarts. If I can help anyone with their choice I would not recommend this cruise line.

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Feb 6, 2005

Eastern Mediterranea

We live in Ft. Lauderdale, so we only had to go to port everglades to embark, that went quite smoothly. When we went to our room, a suite with veranda, it was much smaller than described in the brochure. The ports were common, but we were ok with that. When dinner came around, the crew seemed to rush us, and the food was disappointing to say the least. I got the feeling they just wanted to fill the ship, take our money and the

romance was then over. The extra charges were shocking and the entertainment could have been done better by a bunch of high school kids. When choosing a cruise, keep in mind you get what you pay for. This is was our first Costa trip, we have been on other lines and Costa does not even come close to any of the other lines. Save your money or spend a little more and choose a better line. Cheyenne, Fort Lauderdale.

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Dec 26, 2004

Western Caribbean

After we booked the Costa cruise I was very nervous due to all the negative reviews. My fiance and I are experienced travelers, but this was our first cruise. The result was very good!!! We did see how some would view certain aspects negatively. Costa is European--and that does not mean it is a floating Olive Garden. Some things were different. The ship is incredible, immaculate, and luxurious: plenty to do, clean, roomy Staff and service

are wonderful. They did a great job! Entertainment was very good (shows, music, toga!) Lines for embarkment, food, etc… ---- GREAT! We got on and off the ship very smoothly! Spa facilities were very good Food: Buffet, Good: 3 out of 5, Restaurant: great: 4 out of 5, Midnight buffet: 5 out of 5! The buffet was okay, but not as good as I'd hoped. My fiancé had problems finding food she wanted, but she's picky. This is important: look at all the buffets before going through line. After 3 days we found the American Teenager buffet. It always had hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, chicken fingers, fish sticks, and French fries available. When we found this we liked the food a lot better. The pizza parlor was always opened, but the pizza wasn't very good. I could only eat it 2-3 times before I got tired of it. But….. Go to the sit-down restaurant. We liked it a lot. I do admit that sometimes it appeared we only liked one of the 3-5 entrees available, but when served we did. We always liked at least 2 different entrees available. The super nice restaurant, Club Medusa, required an extra $20 a person. Considering how much we enjoyed the entire experience of dinner, I'm not sure it was worth it. It was great, but so was dinner. Room service was great. We got breakfast most every morning--the only time you could get free cappuccinos and espressos. They were always 10 minutes early. We got room service at 3am one night. The sandwich came with mayo, which I hate. We called back and they said all their room service was pre-prepared. I asked for something else--a salad I think--and it was right up. Again, great service! Desserts are awesome! Pastas were great--especially pesto and marinara pastas at midnight! Okay, here are the negatives, but I don't think they are deal killers: A lot of kids--which is annoying in the adult sections (even the disco). The hot tubs are luke warm. Personally, I liked it a lot because we could stay in there a long time, but most people did not. The pools are very small. They are more like fountains. Thus, kids filled them up all the time. The Key West port was 8am until 1pm--not long enough. Cozymel was 8am until 7pm, Grand Caymen was 8am until 5pm. We were not able to port at Ocho Rios due to "wind," thus a lot of mad passengers. We did get free booze for an hour and 3 free bottles of wine, so yours truly was fine :-) Sodas cost $2 each--no free cokes with lunch! Tea, Coffee and watered-down juices are pretty much always available.   All in all, I would go Costa again. From what I heard from other passengers, it is pretty luxurious for the price. I think we will explore HA or something, but we would do Costa again. Good luck and enjoy your cruise!!!!!!

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Oct 14, 2004

Mediterranean

Costa Mediterranea offers a spotless ship, reasonably sized cabins, and lots to do -- in any of five languages, English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. For true pampering, choose another line like Princess or Celebrity. But for getting around inexpensively and comfortably to exotic places, Costa is best. As the largest cruise line in Europe, their ships go to unusual locations like Turkey, Malta, Egypt, Cyprus, and Tunisia. You

can bet they'll be first to Libya when it opens up. November, the end of the cruise season, is the best time to go. You'll risk rain but you avoid summer highs of over 120F in Turkey. There are no crowds (except in Istanbul, where there are always crowds) and fares are low. This cruise had only 1700 aboard out of a possible 2200: 86 people from the US and 250 English-speaking overall. Service is attentive, friendly, and responsive. The Captain is a gracious host, and unlike other ships which have dropped this maritime tradition, you can have your picture taken with him. Ports: Izmir offers the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the resting place of John the Apostle, and the "house" of the Virgin Mary. I'm all for shrines, but the only thing connecting this particular structure to Mary is a woman's vision from the 1800's. However, the site is indeed quite serene with nuns chanting as they wave the crowds through the tiny building. Olympia is the site of the original Olympics, especially meaningful if you are into track and field. The site of tourists taking a little jog around the ancient track is undeniably moving. Dubrovnik is a classic fortress town, much like Rhodes in Greece and Carcassonne in France, with a gorgeous, enchanting view of the Adriatic. Once inside the city walls, go to the end of the central street, turn right, go up the stairs, turn left, and find the "Cold Drinks, Beautiful View" bar outside the castle wall for a truly breathtaking vista. Bari is a nice little port town but not worth an excursion, many said. Costa stops there mainly to take on passengers from southern Italy. Istanbul, straddling Asia and Europe with 15 million people, is a must-see for its history, mosques, bazaars, and unbelievable traffic. The Sultan's Palace, Topkapi, has a Treasury showing extraordinarily large diamonds and emeralds (70-80 carats) plus alleged body parts of the prophet Mohammed, creator of Islam. You're taking this on faith, as 1400 years of trading in alleged relics makes such items suspect. As an example, all the pieces of wood said to be bits of the True Cross would probably fill a tractor-trailer today. On the hard and the food is just OK. Remember, you're here for the ports. Just keep chanting this over and over. I'm here for the ports. I'm here for the ports. Good. 1. Cabins: Buy at the low end of the cabin class. For example, the lowest price balcony is the same size as the highest price balcony and offers no additional amenities. Although we heard of no one getting sick, we suspect the onboard water was somehow less than pure. Our second clue was the brown water in the cabin sink which mysteriously went away when the steward was called. Our first clue was low-level indigestion which went away when we switched to bottled water and Cokes. 2. Food and Drink: Food options other than main dining are limited. The 23 Euro per person menu at Club Medusa, the specialty restaurant, is delicious and well-prepared. Try the black venus rice and the creme brulet. The buffet is closed for dinner. Pizza is open erratic hours 11am-130am. Nothing is open 24 hours except for room service, but they stop answering their phone around 2am. A candy bar from the cabin fridge runs $3.50. Costa sells a "Boy's and Girls Soda Card," 20 soft drinks for 36 Euro. Costa has no problem letting adults use the children's version, saving about 16 Euro versus paying for soft drinks at the bar. The 46 Euro Honeymooner's Card (no proof necessary) is a good deal, too, and includes prosecco, soft drinks, and some alcoholic drinks. 3. Tech: Internet prices are steep at 65 cents per minute on a slow connection. Save by finding an internet cafe in port for 2 Euros per hour. Phones, as always at sea, are extremely expensive at $8 a minute plus an $8 setup fee. Calls from a portside Internet cafe run only 15-30 cents a minute. Or, bring your GSM-enabled cell and chat like crazy the entire trip -- if your calling plan allows it cheaply from Europe. 4. Spa: Avoid the bad spa deals like $65 off after buying three $130 services. Even though the staff knows when things go on sale, they won't tell you until the day before. The industry standard 20% discount while in port was sometimes in effect, often not. If the spa traffic is slow, the best deals will be on the last three days. The gym is free and full of excellent workout machines. The five-head spa showers are fantastic and much better than what's in your room. The hair salon is expensive, $32 for men, much much more for women. 5. Procedures: Costa gives you something very official-looking called a landing card for re-entry from Turkish ports. This is just a silly formality. No official from either Turkey or Costa checks for it, and the cards end up in a pile of trash by the gangway. If you get Turkish or Croatian currency while off the ship, you're stuck with it as Costa does exchange these currencies This isn't a problem, however, as Turkish and Croatian shops gladly take Euros. Be sure to haggle in Turkey. They expect it, and if you don't then plan to pay 2-3 times more than the item is worth. Coming back to Italy, smile to yourself during the "extensive" Italian immigration/customs process. It's just one guy asking if you bought any Turkish rugs (just say no)! 6. Getting There: Costa's airport buses at $15 per person are cheaper than a taxi for two people. For four people, get a cab to the port for 35 Euro. Boarding starts at 1-130pm for VIP's and suiteholders, 2pm for everyone else. If you're planning to arrive the night before the cruise, save the hassle of schlepping your luggage all over Venice by staying near the Piazza Roma bus depot, where a free Costa shuttle will take you to the boat on embarkation day starting at 11am. The Hotel Airone is an exceptional value at 65 Euros per night including breakfast. To see Venice cheap, get the one-day 10 Euro tourist pass for unlimited use of the vaporetti (like subway cars but on water) which go all over including the surrounding islands of Burano, Murano, and Lido, among others. Finally, as it is easy to miss when travel planning, Delta has a direct flight to Venice every day from JFK, the only direct flight on a US carrier. 7. Odds and Ends: There's a charming chapel called Capella hidden away in the front of deck 4. Since there's no direct access from deck 4, follow the hall to the left of the Osiris Theatre on Deck 3, then go up the stairs and turn left. Catch Costa favorite Alfred Nocera's "Instant Fashion" for the most original entertainment you'll ever see on a ship - a hit with both men and women. Robes are no longer available except in suites -- even at the spa. Hello to Larry and Mary Lawrence, John and Sandra, Michael and Sharon! Happy cruising! George and Eleanor

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Sep 5, 2004

Mediterranean

WARNING: If you do not have children - do not do this cruise. First, I will say some nice things about this cruise. The staff were always friendly and helpful. Our personal butler and cabin steward were both wonderful. Our room was nice, but it was a Grand Suite and most people do not book a suite. We had the luxury of eating in our room whenever we wanted. Everyone else had to dine in chaos. The ports of call were great. We wished

to have more time to enjoy each stop. Greece and Turkey were amazing. Crotia, in particular, is a beautiful land that has yet to be over-developed. Go there now...before the resorts and hotels build; you will appreciate it. Now, for the bad...this cruise was filled with mostly European families. The children and parents did not follow rules for when and where children were allowed. I do fault the staff for not keeping on top of it. One pool, some sun decks, the casino, the spa and workout facilities are SUPPOSED to be 16yrs. and up. That was not honored. The children ran around the ship, constantly pushing elevator buttons, running into people, etc. The food is NOT Italian. Any good Italian would tell you that! It is massed-produced food that is mostly frozen until heating. Do not book this cruise to eat Italian for a week. If you don't mind buffet-style, frozen dinner type food then you should be okay. Try to find time to eat at the ports of call...amazing Greek and Turkish food! YUM! Also, the non-alcholic beverages are expensive. We paid over 2 EURO per diet coke (etc.). So, if you are trying to relax, or take your honeymoon this is not the cruise for you. If you have children and require activities for all...and don't mind bland food...then this is for you!

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Jun 20, 2004

Mediterranean

I would like to start off by saying one thing to all the people that have completely trashed this cruise, what are you talking about??? The Costa Mediterranea is a stunningly beautiful ship and the food and people are supperb. From the moment you enter the ship you are greeted by a friendly "bon giorno" and the beautiful decorations aboard the ship. Although the embarkation in Venice was very slow, they quickly make up for it

as soon as your on the ship. Then you get to see your veranda cabin, most cabins are with verandas. The rooms arent's your typical tight squeeze, here they are large and decorated even the bathroom is decorated. After, you go on to explore the ship and realize that it is a one of a kind masterpiece that you will never forget. Then, the food, the food is great! From breaks to the midnight buffet, everythings is absolutely delicious. Since I did t he mediterranean voyage, that is the one i will talk about. To tell you the truth, every stop has great tour that are completely worth wht you have to pay. From Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Don fret to pay for the tours, you wont rgret being able to see the beauties and wonders each port has to offer. Truely 1 of the only flaws came one week after boarding, that was unboarding.... iI sincerely fell in whole the sahiP and will keep my eyes open for future trip on the Costa Mediterraea, I will not think about it twice, I would repeat the tripin the bink of a eye... of course, I am going to try and find a trip longer than one week.

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Apr 11, 2004

Transaltantic

We have just returned from a 16-day transatlantic Costa cruise starting in Ft Lauderdale FL. on April 11th and ending in Genoa Italy on April 27th. Never have we experienced such a horrible trip as the one we had on the ship Mediterranea. According to our vouchers, confirmation from our Travel painting classes given by the children’s director because of the lack of children, dance lessons given at poolside where people were smoking

or given by non-understanding English people who did not want us to take a lesson, and trivia game quizzes were given mainly in Italian. Yes we know it is an Italian ship but the passengers were from Germany, France, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy and USA. We wanted to play Shuffle Board, but the equipment was broken due to previous teenage passengers. Now the ship was docked in Florida…why wasn’t the equipment replaced. How difficult is it to buy a set of Shuffle Board sticks and disks. We did enjoy attending the Art Auctions given by Kim and Nigel from the Princess Cruise Line. On other cruises that we have taken, one side of the ship is smoke free but the policy on this ship was to alternate smoking on each side. Consequently most of the ship ended up with people smoking. On the upper deck buffet, we encountered people smoking cigars in the non-smoking area. They just removed the non-smoking sign from their table and set it on another table claiming that this table was smoking. We did not think cigar smoking was allowed in a public eating facility. The off shore excursions from Costa were charged in Euros which surprised us since all the Caribbean Islands take Dollars. Fortunately we did not sign up for any excursions and hired our own taxi for a third of the price. It was wonderful having a native show us his Island. Most of the crew were friendly and helpful but there were a few such as one young man at the Courtesy Desk who when we asked for a deck of playing cards referred us to his colleague. All he had to do was turn around reach down into a cupboard and hand us a deck of cards. He understood what we wanted he just choose not to help us. We admire and thank greatly for the terrific, always smiling, sleep deprived, under tipped, waiters, assistant waiters, young ladies serving drinks, and naturally our cabin steward, (#5210.) They made us feel special, cared for and were always helpful. The evening entertainment had no great production acts that we are used to on other cruises. It was only performed once an evening usually at 10:45pm. Michelle, who we presume is the entertainment director, had absolutely no excitement, no audience participation, and his only job were to announce the performer. We did not understand his position because of previous cruises; it was the entertainment director that encouraged audience participation and basically was the life of the party so to say. After a week of mediocre entertainment, we stopped going and ended up playing cards with our friends. We have heard passengers from another Costa ship “Altantica” that the evening shows, of which there were two each evening, were of the same caliber as a Vegas Show. We definitely did not have any Vegas type shows on the Mediterranea. On all our other cruises eating was an important part of the trip but Costa Cruise Line ruined that for us. When we turned to hamburgers and hot dogs for our main meal there is definitely wrong with the food service. Although the food presentation was very nice, the quality of the food was the worst we had ever tasted. The veal, chicken, lamb, beef, and even the lobster were tough as nails and dry as a bone. When you require a steak knife to cut lobster there is something wrong. The Italian food we were looking forward to, was not there. Most of the pasta was either over cooked or undercooked and swimming in olive oil. The fish smelled fishy as if it had been frozen, thawed and then frozen again. The fish fillets were full of bones. The reason you fillet fish is to remove the bones. Desserts were tasteless and most of them made with whipped lard and palm oil. The only edible dessert was the ice cream in the dinning room, which was all American. It did not resemble Italian Gelato that you would expect on an Italian ship. The soft serve ice cream at the Buffet was loaded with corn syrup and palm oil. For breakfast we ate bagels, cream cheese and oatmeal. We cannot complain about the service from our waiters and assistant waiters. They tried very hard to make our meals enjoyable, but with the food they were given, it was an unobtainable goal. The food on the airline “Alitalia” had more flavor and taste and was much more enjoyable. Maybe you should hire the chef from the airline to take over on the Mediterranea. Rest assure that this letter will be sent to your mother company “Carnival Cruise Lines”, and word will spread about the treatment we have received from Costa. We will never recommend Costa Cruise Line. You claim according to the Internet “Mission” on the Costa Cruise site. “We at Costa make our guests very happy and they will repeat the cruise experience only with us….” Not only did you not make us happy, you’re inconsiderate, don’t care attitude, had better change if you wish to have the American and Canadian passengers on your ship.

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Feb 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

Having read unfavorable reviews of the Costa Mediterranea prior to our cruise, I felt some trepidation about this particular line and ship. After the cruise was over, I feel it is necessary to counter the criticisms of those reviews. In all, we had a very enjoyable week. The ship itself is absolutely the cleanest ship I've seen in my previous 14 cruises. The decor, I will admit, is eclectic in that some is ancient Roman, some Egyptian,

some almost art deco and some I can't identify. Loads of chrome and mirrors throughout the atrium, medieval drawings abound in the stateroom areas, numerous statues of ancient Romans, There is much decorative colored lighting throughout. Our cabin had the most storage space of any we have previously encountered and the bathroom, with it's royal blue tiles and aqua sink and vanity was beautiful. I had read that the staff was rude and often ignored requests. We did not find that to be true at all, especially in the dining room. We received friendly and courteous service. Our waiter, Ovideo was efficient, helpful and very funny. We found the food above average in quality, quantity and diverse in selections. Now of course, everything was not perfect as in any cruise. My criticism is mainly for the staff in the casino. As that is one of our favorite activities aboard ships we were looking forward to signing up for the slots tournament. However there was no publicity about when it would be held and none of the staff we asked seemed to know. On Friday, the daily schedule said it would be from 3 to 5Pm. I thought it odd as we were in port then. We did go to the casino at 3 and it was empty. That evening I asked one of the gentlemen staff about it and was told it had been held on Monday. On Saturday we attended another activity at 3:30 and stopped by the casino at 4:30 only to find the tournament in it's final minutes. Nothing in the daily schedule had mentioned it. I again approached that staff member and was told"sorry about that". Not a big thing but disappointing. Would I take another Costa Cruise? Probably yes. We enjoyed the ports of Key West, Cayman Island and Cozumel. Unless you are taking a tour of Mayan ruins, don't even bother to see Progresso-it's a sad, depressing poverty stricken town and some advise hepatitis and other innoculations before going ashore. We didn't take any shore excursions preferring to hire our own drivers for sightseeing or going to beaches.

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Feb 21, 2004

Western Caribbean

I don't know where I read it, but I agree with the person who wrote that a Costa cruise is not the worst time he ever had -- just the worst time he ever had and paid for it. I also love the one about feeling like the woman Sigourney Weaver rescues in "Alien Resurrection," where she simply says, "Kill me." That is how my husband and I felt when we finally got off this hellish nightmare of a cruise. I'm new to this

board, but I wish so much that I had found it before deciding to go on a Costa cruise. My husband and I joined a group from NJ for the February 21-28 western Carribbean tour on the Mediteranea. I'd never been on a cruise before, and after this unbelievable experience, I doubt I'll ever go on one again. It was truly the worst money I've ever spent in my life. (I'm going to leave out comments about Discovery Travel, Inc. in Marmora, NJ. They engaged in their own particular brand of incompetence, from start to finish, regarding our flights to and from Ft. Lauderdale and ground transportation to and from the ship. I'll reserve my comments here for Costa alone.) Good points: 1. Embarcation: I thought the embarkation process was extremely well-organized, efficient and speedy. No complaints. 2. Cleanliness: The ship itself was very clean and well-appointed. However, the decor was Vegas times ten -- gaudy to the point of garishness. Our cabin (8219) was a good size with a nice little balcony. The bathroom was adequate and the shower water pressure was good. The room steward kept the room very clean. 3. All-inclusive: The tips are charged at the end of the trip and were reasonable. We chose to give our waiter and waiter's assistant an additional tip in cash. It was nice to be able to order our drinks without concern for cost. However, you are only allowed a drink up to $7.00. Any drink costing more than this will be charged to your room. This made going to the wine bar a bust because the ones I wanted to try were over this limit. Bad points: There are really too many to list, but here is a smattering of the worst offenses: 1. The food was truly awful. I had a feeling it was going to be bad when our first meal consisted of greasy burgers and scary-looking hotdogs by the pool. But we were tired and hungry, and several Long Island iced teas helped lubricate the meal. Most lunches were of this caliber, including cold cuts or pizza from the buffet. On one truly frustrating day, we went on a 7-hour outing in Grand Cayman and were not given the opportunity to stop for lunch at any point. When we returned to the boat, lunch had stopped being served both in the buffet and the grill by the pool. Once again, pizza was the only food available regardless of the hour. The room service menu was laughable -- continental breakfast (no eggs or meat), sandwiches and salads. No real dinner food was available from the room service menu -- not even a burger. The dinner food tasted like it had all been frozen, defrosted and cooked to lukewarm. Everything tasted bland. The meats were tough, overcooked and stringy. The vegetables were forgettable and sauceless. The grilled salmon, which is always available on the menu, tasted very fishy and smelled bad -- inedible. The desserts were mediocre; all of the sherbert we ordered was half liquid by the time it was served. The gourmet restaurant on the 10th floor, Club Medusa, was hugely disappointing. For an extra $92.00 for four people ($20.00 surgcharge plus a service charge), we got to enjoy the likes of, for instance, a very confusing whipped parmesean cream cheese swirl served alone in a parfait glass (do you eat it straight, spread it on bread or what?), cold sliced veal with a disgusting pureed tuna sauce (tasted like canned tuna and mayo blended in a food processor), a watery, tasteless soup, and just-okay filet mignon. We did not have one really great meal the entire time. We had expected good seafood, fresh fruits (and there were a few on the breakfast buffet), lean meats, lots of salads and decadent desserts. Instead, it was crusty breads, pizza, a lot of pasta, greasy-to-tough meats, and soft-serve, machine ice cream. We were really disappointed with the food. 2. Uncomfortable temperature We were hot the entire time. This is unforgivable in the stateroom, where we struggled to get the temperature below 80, even with the lousy A.C. on full-blast. We all sweated in the restaraunts and in the casino. The only relief we got was when we went on deck and could enjoy a windy breeze to cool us. 3. No access to swimming pools There were three pools, one purported to be adult-only. However, all three were filled with people and children the entire time. We could not get into any of the three hottubs because they were constantly filled with children. The pools are filled with seawater and are drained each night. So much for a midnight swim or sitting in the hottub after dark. Worse, there were not enough deck chairs or towels. So if you wanted to get some sun on the days at sea, you had to have claimed a chair by 8:00 a.m. or they were all filled. We finally got chairs in a shaded area, but there were no towels. The only swimming we did on the entire cruise was on an excursion in Grand Cayman. (Swimming with the sting rays was probably the only fun we had on the cruise). 4. Slow and excessively expensive internet access -- $.50 per minute, and each page takes minutes to load. 5. Major sicknesses acquired on the trip -- all four of our traveling group were stricken with what the doctors are calling "cruise ship virus" or "traveller's virus." Each of us have missed several days from work after returning from the cruise due to flu-like symptoms with nausea, fever, upper respiratory infections. I got it the worst due to the salmonella or e coli poisoning I had from eating something on the boat. This gave me two straight weeks of diarrhea. which made me so dehydrated that I couldn't weather the viral part. I was in the hospital for dehydration issues and missed more than a week of work. Today is the first day since we returned (2/29) that I am well enough to write these comments. I'm thinking about filing a complaint and trying to get a refund -- if anyone has heard about someone being successful in doing this after getting sick on a Costa cruise, please e-mail me. 6. Nothing to do on the boat There were only two real "shows." Unfortunately, we had the second seating for dinner, and to attend a show, we'd have to go to the 11:00 p.m. show. Why they didn't offer a showtime before the seated dinner is beyond me -- but I imagine it had something to do with the Europeans eating later and going to bed later than we Americans do. In any case, unless you liked cards or the casinos, there was almost nothing to do on the boat but drink. And that was only fun for the first afternoon. 7. Too little time at ports of call Plan on five hours, tops at any given port of call. They were all touristy and a waste of time anyway, unless you really like t-shirt shops in Key West and cheesy diamond jewelers in Cozumel. Grand Cayman was the only stop worth getting off the boat. 8. Unbearable beds The beds, if you can call them that, are plastic and metal frames with a solid plastic slab foundation. Atop this is a horridly thin, 4" foam sheet covered with a bedsheet. There is a hard ridge of plastic running down the middle of the bed, which made intimacy impossible -- not that we'd have wanted to do anything like that, given the diarrhea, seasickness and general nausea from the wretched food. 9. Rude, rude rude Europeans Both the staff and the European guests were exceptionally rude. The guests had no concept of waiting in line and would physically push us out of their way. The staff were not helpful when we were hot and complained that there surely must be something wrong with the A.C. in our room or when I became ill from eating spoiled food. The European guests stank, frankly, to the point that we had to abandon a meal from the buffet when some unwashed Italians sat next to us at lunch. 10. Chaotic disembarkation process Plan on spending the morning sitting in a big room waiting to go through a cattle-call process. Don't plan on anyone caring about you in any way, shape or form, including your need to make a scheduled flight. You are assigned a color to tag your bags. If you don't have red or green, your morning will be screwed entirely. Enough said. Overall, it was an awful waste of money. We felt like, as my husband put it, we were on a floating prison without bars. We truly contemplated flying back fromCozumel and abandoning the rest of the trip. I wish we had. At least then, we could have returned home to edible food, a bed in which we could approach sleep, and an escape from terminal boredom. Instead, we are $5,000.00 down the toilet and a week of vacation time from work completely wasted. Top that off with two weeks's straight of hospital-level sickness, and all I can say about Costa crusies is that I regret this trip more than I can possibly ever say.

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Feb 1, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Before I go on with our Costa’s cruising experience, let me tell you that we have cruised before with Carnival Cruise Line and the experience had been so wonderful that we decided to go again. Our travel agent told us that Carnival Cruise Line had acquired Costa in the past year and that Costa had a brand new ship, that Costa was a notch over Carnival Cruise in terms of food, atmosphere and that in terms of decor it was more

subdued. We browsed the Costa Cruise internet site for more information, look ed at the itinerary proposed by Costa and finally decided to reserve an air to sea all inclusive vacation. We based our decision on a worry free vacation. We were two couples travelling together with our teenage children. We had two prerequisites at reservation time, we wanted adjoining rooms so that we could share balcony space and have breakfast together plus onboard activities for our teenage daughter and son. We received our Costa Cruise package from the travel agent the first week of January 2004. Now the experience begins : February 1st, 2004 1. Montreal Airport at 05h00 am to board on Flight DL1084 with Delta (reserved by Costa). Departure scheduled for 07h30 to Atlanta 1.1 Flight DL1084 left Montreal Airport at 08h40 (technical difficulties with aircraft) 1.2 Missed connecting flight, DL1510 in Atlanta 1.3 Rebooked on flight DL1017 with departure scheduled for 12h58. 1.4 Called Costa 800 line to advise of change of flight schedule (was not done automatically) 1.5 Flight left Atlanta 50 minutes late 1.6 Arrival in Fort Lauderdale at 15h15 1.7 No luggage at Fort Lauderdale Airport 1.8 Filled in luggage claim while Costa representative was calling the boat to confirm our arrival 1.9 We were advised by Costa representative that if Delta representative did not hurry up with the paper work, the boat would not wait. 2. Arrived at Port 19 to board at 16h25… actually ran to boat while evacuation drill was going on onboard. 2.1 At 16h35, we were onboard Costa Mediterranea and at information desk in order to inform them that we had no luggage. 2.2 Fill out necessary claim forms 2.3 17h00, the Costa representative at the information desk gave us 6 basic toiletry kits (one each), told us that it was the best he could do for us, that our luggage should be delivered at the next port of call « San Juan » on February 3rd (in 2 days). Your basic toiletry kit consisted of : Toothbrush & paste, mouth wash, comb, rasor & shaving cream, after shave & make-up remover. Our comment on the Costa toiletry kit : Was it designed only for men? What about Shampoo & Conditionner? When asked to our steward, reply was he did not have any. 2.3 We arrived from Montreal where it was –20C and are now on a boat where it is +20C. Our clothes were too warm to wear for 2 days. When asked our Costa representative at the information desk what he suggests we could do? His reply was « you will have to buy clothes. What happened to our Air to Sea worry free vacation??? 2.4 We made our way to the shops on the 3rd floor. We were able to find shorts & tops and bought for 88US$ + 96US$ worth of clothes with Costa logo on it (2 couples, two bills). We were unable to buy the following : Conditioner (Women have colored hair and conditioner is a must). What about Bathing suits, sandals? We could have bought dresses and purses but impossible to get shoes to go with them. What is the use? No place to rent dress up clothing (for men, women or children). 3. We received plenty of « we are sorry » from the Costa personnel and they had no problem communicating their inability to assist us. 4. We finally get to our stateroom and requested to open the balcony door between our stateroom « 6230 & 6228 ». We were now asking for the impossible. Comment : We have been cruising with the other couple before and have always enjoyed the open balcony door. We have never had a problem with this request from other Cruising line before. When we asked why to our steward, he simply said that this was the guidelines he had to go by. We had been looking forward to this trip and in the past 13 hours it had been going from bad to worse and we were on day one of our 7 day cruise. We, then, proceeded to our late dinner in the main dining room. Our reserved table was taken. Could you believe it… we had to settle for a table in the corner near the wine cellar. 5. On February 2nd, our steward offered to arrange Express free laundry until our clothes arrived. That was appreciated by all. We had breakfast on our balcony (we had dreamed of this moment for months now). Could not enjoy our fellow traveling companions like we had been expecting. This balcony door was closed to everyone's great disappointment. After breakfast, we went about to discover this beautiful ship. Our traveling agent was right when he said the decor would be subdued in comparison to the Carnival Cruise line. We also discovered that the average passengers were subdued. Most were over 70 years of age.  We were at sea on a golden age cruise ship. I am not kidding, on that first day we saw : A man with a gangrene leg with puss leaking out of it going into the hot tub! This was probably a great therapy for him but what about other passengers’ hygiene? We were appalled. We called the elevator, when it came there were 3 people in it with walkers. We called another elevator which had two canes and a walker … well, we took the stairs, these people needed the elevator more than we did. We also met people with body parts missing (ears, nose, fingers, legs, etc..). Other ones were going about on disabled scooters. Someone was going about with a oxygen carry on tank. And yet another person with a saline sack hanging from his wheel chair. HELP SOMEBODY! NO ONE EVER TOLD US WE WERE GOING ON A GERIATRIC BOAT. Although, we feel for the elderly and are respectful towards them. We understand that there will come a time when we will be older and in need of assistance. What we did not understand was why did no one tell us. Your internet site does not indicate that you prefer to cater to the older population. We discovered it at sea when it was too late to do anything about it. 6. As we were trying to adjust to this situation came Captain’s night… with our traveling clothes on. We had to explain the the Maitre D why we were not dressed up in order to enjoy our late dinner table in the corner. 7. February 3rd : Request to open balcony door again. Request denied again. The children wanted to play basketball… Reservations are necessary and the court that is advertised in all Costa documentation is nowhere near like the one we found on the boat. It was one quarter of the size of a real court, the net was unstable and the balls were not inflated correctly. We decided to check the water slide… It is open from 10h30 to 12h00. What the hell service is that. We have teenagers who need to reserve court time for basketball and cannot go sliding. Up to now, we have no clothes, can’t suntan, can’t play sports, can’t slide. We cannot open the balcony doors and enjoy breakfast on our balcony with our travelling companions. And we are traveling with teenagers. We resorted to the arcade as a last resort. We had to place a service call on the change machine, it was empty. We are on vacation and have to stay indoors since the only other thing available at this time is bingo or a game of bridge with the golden age. 16h30 : We call information « 7777 » to inquire about our luggage. They have just arrived since we just docked in San Juan. We proceed to the information desk and identify our belongings. They will be delivered to the stateroom shortly. 17h15 : We received our luggage. We proceed to open them put fresh clothing on and are finally out in San Juan by 17h50. 17h55 : We find a cab driver that informs us that all attractions close at 18h00 and that the shops are closing between 19h00 and 20h00 pm. We negotiated with him for a quick tour of San Juan even if we can’t get into the tourist sites. At 19h30, our overview tour of San Juan is over and we are now perusing the downtown district where 2 out of 3 stores are closed. We shopped at the grocery store and went back to our boat for 20h30 since there was nothing else to see. Comment : Why on earth did we stop in San Juan? 8. February 4th : St. Thomas We had a good day at Meagans’bay. Had little time to shop. This port of call could have used more time ashore. 9. February 5th : Catalina Island Had a fantastic day on the beach. We are young (in our forty’s with teenagers) and wanted to rent Sea doos / Jetski… The rental place told us it was impossible to rent… orders from Costa Cruise line. Comment : We traveled with full insurance coverage. We own motorcycles, cars and boats back home and are qualified drivers. This intervention from Costa was NOT appreciated. When we returned to ship, we received a call from our neighbor’s cabin asking us to keep our voices down they were trying to sleep. It was 16h30 pm. We were not screaming, we were on the balcony enjoying ourselves quietly. With the door closed. 10. February 5th : Casa de Campo We were looking forward to this port since we had great review from friends who visited the Dominican Republic in the past. We were also looking forward to some shopping. We were directed towards Altos de Chavon. We got there it was dark, we were stuck behind slow elderly people and had toured the site in 30 minutes. Imagine without traffic jam from the Golden We asked our steward for beach towels since we were planning to go to the beach on our own. He answered that beach towels were available only for the guest that were participating with an activity reserved from the boat. That we were not on any list and therefore we could not have beach towels. At that point, I lost my cool and told him at the price we paid for this CRAPPY trip, I wanted the beach towel and there were no arguments that were receivable on my part. We received our beach towels, got off the ship, rented a cab, went to the beach, rented Jestki’s… had a great time. We had time to see Atlantis, did some shopping and were back on time. All that in 5 hours. Our kids had a great time. Upon our return, the steward was requesting the beach towels. Went to dinner and when we returned, our bar was locked. At that point, we had the feeling that Costa could not get rid of us fast enough. 12. February 7th : Fort Lauderdale We went to breakfast in the main dining room. Waited for our turn to debark and left. The week spent with Costa was… A great ship, great food and wine. Our main disappointment is that we booked a worry free vacation « Air to Sea, all inclusive package » and we never had so much trouble. We travel every winter to a warm destination and Costa will never have the pleasure to take us along again. We will not recommend it to anyone under the age of 75. It would have been nice to be offered acknowledgement from Costa for our problems. After all, we paid extra for this « worry free vacation ». We had to pay for clothes that had your logo on it, had to do without a shared balcony, had to argue with your personnel for beach towels and deal with traffic jams from the elderly folks all week long. We don’t know how else to tell you how disappointed we are with the trip we just had. Thank god for sunshine and warm weather… that helped us soothe a bad situation. Thank god it was not provided by Costa since you would have probably managed to screw this one too!

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Jan 29, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Costa Cruise Line Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Jesse Delmar To begin, my first cruise experience was royal Caribbean so I believe my review will be quite fair considering that royal is THE cruise line these days. We being my husband and my 2 children aged 3 and 8, booked Costa on a whim. Not knowing how it would go, since we had our first experience with the royal Caribbean, were a little nervous before sailing.

However, we were pleasantly surprised. Firstly, the opulence even bordering tacky it was still kind of owe inspiring to see all the gold glitter and marble in one place at one time. Everything was immaculate, the service was amazing remember I'm comparing to royal Caribbean) If you dropped a napkin there would be three people ready to pick it up for you. The food, now, we're Canadian with quite a variety of European backgrounds, bottom line this means picky. It was not very elaborate but very tasty and instead of having a million different things it was just narrowed down to a smaller variety but again it was very good. Royal on the other hand has a lot more variety but I found it very bland and very repetitive. I can't understand why peoples' reviews were so harsh. I imagine you can't have it all. I know that for the same room on royal I paid a lot more double almost. As for the kiddies club one word AMAZING, my kids were happy and safe and the counselors did a great job. For me that was very important. We're planning on going on the new "Magica" in January 06'but after I've read the reviews I'm a little worried now. I guess a new ship needs to iron out the kinks. Will submit my review upon my return. If anybody out there can write up on the Caribbean experience for the Magica it would be greatly appreciated.

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Jan 11, 2004

Western Caribbean

The Costa Mediterranea has been dubbed "The Pearl of the Mediterranean" since Costa Lines is the premier line of Europe and this spectacular ship cost over 400 million Euros (c. $500 million). Although this Spirit class ship was six years in the designing stage, this ship was just eight months in construction. The conceptualization of a new class of ships requires more time because there will be more than one ship made to these

specifications. From the Spirit plan Carnival has constructed four ships: The Spirit, The Pride, The Legend and The Miracle; and Costa has built two: The Atlantica and The Mediterranea. These Spirit class ships have been built at Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Helsinki, Finland, where 25% of the world's latest cruise ships have come. Costa Mediterranea is a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide, 196 ft. tall and the gross tonnage of 85,700 tons. She has twelve decks; 1,057 cabins, 742 of which have balconies. She has six diesel generators and a maximum speed of 24 knots. Her total passenger capacity is 2,680 with a crew of 920. Costa ships are easily distinguished by their yellow smokestacks with the large blue "C" on them. She is sleek with a pointed prow like a huge yacht and her motto is "Mai visto niente di simile" (You've never seen anything like it). EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is a nicely organized port, where security is present and reassuring, but not overwhelming. The tickets had an embarkation time of 1:30 pm and it was accurate. Cabin keys are left in the stateroom doors and credit cards are taken on board. Priority boarding is given to wheelchair passengers and suite occupants. It took just ten minutes to check in and then we waited to board at 1:30pm. We did not have the usual Costa assistance on board to our stateroom, but once there the steward and butler were prompt in welcoming us and giving us excellent service. THE SHIP What primarily distinguishes the Mediterranea from her sister ships is the interior decor. Joe Farcus has long been Carnival's principal interior designer and Costa, as a member of the Carnival Corporation, now has the Farcus touch everywhere: detail, repetition and extravagant use of art work. This ship spectacularly features the works of over 34 contemporary artists (mostly Italian) with works commissioned specifically for the Mediterranea (paintings, sculptures, photographs, silver works, ceramics, etc...). If you enjoy art as we do, then the Costa Mediterranea is the place for you. The whole ship is a floating museum. The main dining room contains over 175 sculpted silver pieces in 96 niches, the work of Pampaloni Argentieri a Florence, Italy based studio. These pieces were created from designs of famous artists like Giovanni Maggi (c. 1600). The Costa Mediterranea is a combination of new and old with something to intrigue every passenger --- myths, legends, and modern art present much to be admired and enjoyed in the particulars and the details --- educational too! The Mediterranea's decks are named after mythological and historical people and her theme encompasses many Mediterranean countries. Deck 1. Ponte Circe (Greek sorceress, daughter of Helios and Oceanid) forward has the Salone Giardino Isolabella, a lounge with huge scallop shells circling the room interspersed with ocean pebble columns topped with marble balls. The stage is flanked with two larger than life sculptures of Poseidon. The scallops on the carpet and the excellent hammered copper tables give warmth to this room used for club style shows and the Captain's cocktail receptions. Midship on this deck are inside and outside staterooms. Aft is the bottom floor of the Discoteca Selva (Disco). Deck 2. Ponte Tersicore (Terpsichore, Muse of Song & Dance) forward has the Teatro Osiris (Egyptian god). The theater's Egyptian theme is carried out with stylized slender pyramids and Egyptian Pharaohs on each side of the stage. Down front on the right is the T. Eskelinen (Finland) sculpture of a charioteer driving four horses. It is dated MMIII, a gift of the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard Personnel. The theater's sea blue Chandeliers shaped like medusa (jelly fish) are reminiscent of the Aegean ones we had seen near Piraesus, Greece. Once, while sailing into this port, we were mesmerized by the many delicate and beautiful ones. Going toward midship is the Piazza Casanova, a study in heavy white alabaster ceiling and wall drapery supported by white putti (cherubs) in amusing positions. The design owes its origin to the Celbrizzi Palace in Venice. Midship is the Casino Canal Grande, which combines Baroque and Gothic architecture just like the Barbaro Palace in Venice after which it is styled. Next is the Hall Maschera d'Argento, the eight deck tall atrium with Giorgio Tani's six costumes from the Commedia d'Arte by Nodolini, and the many white medusa on each deck. Here are Francesco Petrollo's excellent bronzes: "L'Angelo del Mare" (recalling the Greek "Boy on a Dolphin") and "Le Torri" (the towers). Toward aft is the Talia Lounge and the Discoteca Selva (Disco). All the way aft is the lower level of the Ristorante Degli Argentieri, a beautiful room of muted colors with silver, copper and the sepia tone oval photographs of ancient Roman ruins. Here are the many silver objects, (goblets, vases and candle sticks) mentioned before, displayed in niches. Some are stunningly unique; Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy) arranged for the Keeper of the Keys, Ian Suplito, to give us a tour of these amazing objects. Some of these are like Aladdin's lamp, others were birds or fishes, from 17th century designs. Umberto, an old friend of ours, is very proud of these pieces and the restaurant ---- rightly so (more on Umberto later). There are unique white blown glass globes which give a festive look to the dining room. There is a two deck high tower near the staircase, which displays ancient silver smith tools and fiber glass sculptures leaning from the tower windows and holding silver objects by Sergio Benvenuti (Lucca, Italy). Deck 3. Ponte Bacco (Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and feasting, equivalent of the Greek Dionysus) forward are located the first balcony of the theater, and the entrances to the Winter Garden walk that encircles the theater. This is a serene quiet place to sit at tables overlooking the ocean, a well kept secret. Going toward aft is the Library/Internet Cafe where many philosophers', writers', and artists' portraits hang; one of them is that of Joe Farcus, the architect of the interior of this and several other ships (a challenge to the future cruisers is to locate him). Next is the Salone Orientale, based on the Roero Di Guarene Palace, Cuneo, Italy. The elegance of this room is lovely. Midship are the Via Condotti Shops with many designer boutiques (i.e. Versace) and the photography gallery. Toward aft is the Sala Dionisio (this cruise used for the "Kosher Cruise" services). The Dionisio Bar and lounge are surrounded by many murals of grape draped youths. Here Miranda, a wonderful singer, sang and played piano beautifully every evening. All the way aft is the second level of the dining room. Deck 4. Ponte Teseo (Theseus, the Greek mythological slayer of the Minotaur) forward is Mondo Virtuale (Arcade) for the young cruisers, and the Chapel with fifteen beautiful panels "Way of the Cross" by Roberto Bixio (Genoa, Italy). Both the Arcade and the Chapel seem to be accessible only from the Winter Garden walk on deck 3 by stairways. Here is also the second balcony of the theater. The rest of this deck has cabins, some with obstructed view and some with veranda. Deck 5. Orfeo (Orpheus, son of Apollo, famous lyrist), Deck 6. Narciso (Narcissus, the beauteous youth in love with his own image), Deck 7. Prometeo (Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from heaven and gave it to man) and Deck 8. Pegaso (Pegasus, the legendary winged horse) are mostly staterooms and suites. Deck 9. Ponte Armonia (Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, wife of Cadmus) is all public areas. Forward has the first level of the Olimpia Gym, the Health Spa with sauna and whirlpool and the Beauty Salon; midship are the twin pools with whirlpools of Cadmo (Cadmus, son of and cabinetry and 12 inch mahogany ceiling trim boards. The desk, bar, night stands, dressing table and bathroom counters are all granite. Lamps are elegant copper and brass with Murano glass shades. The art work is Andreescu's (Timisoara, Romania) painting of a girl with a cat at sunset and a background of blue domed white buildings recalling Santorini, (which was like her painting on the Atlantica --- a girl with a green eyed cat). The other painting was a Borghi geometric background of a medieval Italian town, with a sail boat, church and compass. Entering on the left is the anteroom to the bath with vanity and lighted armoires. The bath has twin sinks, six shelves, and a shower and jacuzzi tub. Next is the bar with TV, personal safe, a cabinet with four huge drawers, a double armoire and a queen bed. The far wall is all windows to the balcony with teak wood chaise and table. When entering on the right there is a mirrored wall, a lighted desk/vanity and refrigerator, then a double peach leather sofa/bed, granite coffee table and an upholstered chair. The feel of the cabin, with all the wood, brass, and copper is one of an elegant Captain's cabin, very nautical. Our steward Dace (Latvia) and Butler Desi (Bulgaria) were superb. Many thanks! FOOD & SERVICE These aspects of ship life always come under the supervision of the Hotel Director, in this case, Walter German (Italy) ---- a very genial task master, who has set the highest of standards for the Mediterranea. His warm demeanor filters down to those under him. Guest Relations Manager Francesco Taormina (Sicily) was cordial and helpful in every way. Bar Manager Sanzio Riccardi (Italy) was even helpful in pointing out many exquisite details; he knows his ship. This ship is top notch in service. Under Maitre D' Umberto Iacomino (Torre del Greco, Italy), the food and service in all the dining venues is superb. On formal nights, Umberto is resplendent in his cut away and pin stripe trousers and he is constantly alert and mindful of the passengers needs. His two assistants Francesco Frasca (Italy) and Lino Minichini observe each table and insure excellent service. We had a table for two #275, near the staircase and were ably served dinner by Waiter Nilo Ocray and his assistant Michael La Chica. At lunch we had waiters Aldwin Castillo and Ronald Pinto, who were excellent. Breakfast, we had in our suite each morning. It was always prompt, hot and delicious. Butler Desi went the extra effort to please us and she succeeded. Breakfast can be ordered from the dining room menu which includes the following: Fresh fruit juices and fruit compotes, yogurt; cereals both hot and cold; eggs any way; pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast; bacon, ham, sausage, chopped steak, hash browns and hash; herring, salmon lox; croissants, rolls, Danish, bagels; and a wide variety of coffees, teas, hot chocolate and milk. The buffet has an equal selection, but we usually avoid the buffet, since it is not easy for Vincent to carry his tray. Lunch, we usually do in the dining room. The Mediterranea luncheon menu has five or more appetizers, from fruit plates to eggplant Parmigiana, to both hot and cold soups. The salads are varied and abundant (radicchio, romaine, arugula, Boston Bib and escarole are some of the offerings). A pasta course is served and it is always excellent and different: ravioli, vegetarian lasagna, rigatoni, fusilli, and farfalle. Lunch entrees include Spanakotiropita, Boneless chicken breast (excellent, tender and juicy --- Mary had this twice), Flounder with parsley butter, Lamb kebabs, and Beef Stroganoff, for example. Desserts are a wonderful mix of American and European favorites, such as the following: Pecan pie, eclairs, sorbets and ice creams, Tiramisu (sugar free too), Italian cheese cake, etc.... Dinner menus are quite interesting, especially for those passengers taking Italian lessons on board. The menus are in Italian with English, French, Spanish and German translations. Each menu emphasizes a different Italian region and its culinary style: Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romana, Campania, Sicilia and Sardegna. Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion offers the best of these regions, yet he does not forget to give the best of other famous cuisine like French and Caribbean. Chef Antonio de Luca was in charge of the Kosher Cruise, but he always made time to discuss the menu with us and offered us excellent light, flavorful pastas and sauces. We highly recommend the pasta on board as the best at sea. We suggest trying the Italian dishes since they are original. Antonio and Maitre D' Umberto gave us a wonderful gourmet cruise, and we surely appreciated it. Mille grazie! ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Paul Rutter oversees many activities, but perhaps the funniest comes on the last evening, when Paul as Julius Caesar holds a Roman Bacchanal with passengers providing the entertainment. The rest of the passengers may vote "Thumbs Up" and send the performers to the Buffet , or "Thumbs Down" and send them off to the Lion's den. By the end of the cruise the passengers are warmed up and very vocal! The shows during the week had some high spots: John Ciotta, lead singer of the Costa Reviews, has a fine voice, and the singers and dancers are quite good. Two concerts not to be missed are Maestro Mauro Bertolino performing Chopin, Mozart, Scarlatti, Beethoven and Gershwin on piano. Magnifico! And secondly, Mario La Manna, singing Neapolitan songs --- "Non ti scordar di me," "Mamma," "O sole Mio," etc. This is the super fine voice of the tenor of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican --- Pure beauty. Both of these performers received well deserved standing ovations. There are many other activities on board such as the following: Bingo, the Casino, Dance classes, Exercise classes, Children's programs and there is even a Golf Pro on board and golf reservations at each port. PORTS OF CALL Recently we have significantly reduced the number of shore excursions we take at the ports of call, mainly due to Vincent's limited mobility and to the fact that we have visited these ports many times. We generally spend our port days enjoying the semi deserted ship by having soothing hydromassages in the whirlpool, visiting our favorite spots, admiring the artwork and, most of all, relaxing. Some of the suggested excursions listed here are either the ones we did before or have been recommended to us by fellow passengers. 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Departure: 7:00pm 2. Key West, FL USA Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm For first time visitors the Conch Train or Trolley Tour (1 hr., $19) will give a quick overview of this city. The rest of the day can be spent visiting Hemingway's home, Truman's Little White House or Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum. 3. Day at sea. 4. Progreso Merida, Mexico Arrival: 7:30am Departure: 5:30pm For those interested in Mayan archaeology, Chichen-Itza Tour is a must (8.5 hrs., $93, including lunch). 5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 4:00pm The clear waters and the beautiful coral reef near this island make Snorkel and Scuba the best available excursion at this port: Fury Sail & Snorkel Beach Tour (4 hrs., $43.50); Unlimited Snorkel Adventure (2.5 hrs., $31); Scuba Adventure (3 hrs., $75), designed for non certified divers; Certified Scuba (3.5 hrs., $76). 6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 9:00am Departure: 6:00pm Last year we had a wonderful experience in the "Bubble Sub." It is a small submarine for 2 people which dives 50 - 60 ft. to the coral reef and is guided by an outside pilot. It was a great 360 degree view in a pressurized cabin of colorful fish, coral and sea turtles. The information for this excursion can be found on the web < http://www.caymansubmariners.com/excursion.htm >. Other notable excursions are Stingray City and Island Tour (4.5 hrs., $43.50) where it is possible to snorkel with the friendly stingrays. 7. Day at sea. 8. Ft. Lauderdale, USA Arrival: 7:00am Debarkation: 9:00 CONCLUSION This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and a great one. It is nice to come aboard and find out that we already know several crew members: Captain Garbarino, with whom we have cruised twice before; Maitre d' Umberto Iacomino, whom we had met two years ago on the Atlantica; the Chef Antonio De Luca, who in 1999 prepared the food for our son Marcello's wedding banquet aboard the Romantica; etc.... It is like coming back home, when we encounter the many familiar faces and feel the special attention that these people have reserved for us. That for sure makes our day, or better said, our cruise! It is nice that Costa is initiating a new program for repeaters, the Costa Club, with three levels of membership (cards): Aquamarine (2,000 points), Coral (2,001 - 5,000 points) and the Pearl (5,001 or more points). The points are assigned for the number of cruising days (100 points per day) and the amount of money spent aboard (40 points for 52 euros). The privileges associated with these memberships vary from discounts on selected cruises, fruit baskets and bottles of spumante in the cabins, discounts aboard on Costa merchandise and beauty treatments, to free dinner in specialty restaurants, etc.... This was a great cruise, a cruise Italian Style! We look forward to cruise again on Costa ships, perhaps on the new Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica. Our next cruise will be on RCI's new ship, Mariner of the Seas, Feb. 22nd, 2004. Happy Cruising!

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Jan 2, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Greetings, we just got back from the Costa cruise, and I have a lot to tell you about. So, I'll take it in stages, so it will be easier. Just so you know, this is my 4th cruise. BEFORE YOU GO Research a little about the ports you will be stopping at. Costa is great about telling you where to shop and what beaches are available, but they aren't so great in letting you know about local cultures, sights to see, etc... EMBARKATION

If you get to the ship right at 1 pm, you will wait about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to get on. Here's an alternative idea - Drop off your bags at between 11:00 & noon, go have lunch, walk around some stores, and return around 2:30-3 pm. This will get your bags on early [therefore to your cabin early], and you won't have sat in a crowded room for an hour or more. ON BOARD You will find your Costa Cards [these serve as room key, ID, and credit card while on the ship] in your room. You do not need to register your credit card right away to use your Costa card to buy a drink or anything else on ship. Wait a day or two and then register your credit card to avoid the long lines. Oh, and do know that you will have to pay a port surcharge on drinks bought while in port. [coffee, coke, alcohol] Costa was good about getting our luggage to our rooms within a few hours, and we unpacked and had plenty of space. Even large suitcases will slide under the bed! We booked a room with a balcony [Costa frequently offers free balcony upgrades!] and it was really worth it! We found having the extra space and the ability to sit outside on our own balcony extremely enjoyable. The first night was all about learning where things are on the ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a disco, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 2 pools, several hot tubs, etc... Walk around with the little color coded map they give you and get comfortable - there is a lot to see. They have a nice party at the pool for the sail away with music, and it's good fun. DAY ONE AT SEA My hubby and I got up, grabbed a quick bite at the buffet [all your fav American b-fast foods - egg, bacon, ham, cereal, orange juice, coffee, tea and water as well as cheese, meat slices, fruits, bread, pancakes, waffles, and more]. I'm sure you'll find something you like. We then hit the gym [3 levels at the front of the ship]. It has an amazing view as well as many different types of equipment - treadmills, weight machines, steppers, bikes, and more. There is also a large jacuzzi, tanning lights, steam room and sauna available at no extra charge. They offer pilates and other classes for a small fee. Buy a package at the beginning of the trip if you want to get the best deal. We took this trip after the Xmas and New Years cruises - on those cruises, there were over 500 children on board. For our cruise, there were around 150, so going to the pool in the afternoon or sitting out on the deck was quite relaxing. Costa has great programs for kids that keep them active and happy. I bought a piece of art at the art auction - this is really one of the best deals I've seen on Costa. They only allow 3 bids to keep prices low, and if they have more than one piece, they will sell that piece to everyone who wants it at the third bid. Really, I bought a piece I have seen in a gallery for several hundred less and no tax! It was a bargain. And of course, they serve free champagne. Dinner was fun with good food and service. This was the first formal night and almost every man was in a suit or tux and women wore lovely gowns. There was the captain's welcome party before and people got free cocktails and danced on stage in the Osirus Theater [beautifully decorated Egyptian themed theater]. They had a live band - I must tell you, music on this ship is excellent in the lounges and the theater. They do try to make these nights special. There were several photography sections and the photo prices were quite reasonable. We were at the second dinner seating [8:30pm] - we sat at a large table and met some great people. I always recommend people to sit at large tables because you are traveling with people who are like you - they like to travel, see the world, meet people, etc... It's so much fun to discuss where you are, what you're doing, and where you've been with a group of people. Of course, if you don't like your group, you can get your table changed. About the food and drink - the food was good throughout the trip; however, if anyone didn't like something, the waiter immediately took it away and replaced it with something else. More often, people really liked a dish and asked for seconds. They don't mind at all. So if you want that second lobster tail, steak or dessert, just ask for it! Tap water on ice is free as well as iced or hot tea and coffee. However, sodas and alcohol are not. Costa offers a package of five bottles of wine and five bottles of water at a good price. My husband and I drink only a half a bottle a night, so they stored the extra and had it ready for us the next evening. My friends brought their own bottles of wine on board. They brought them to the dinner table and the servers opened and served them without complaint. It was very nice. The Time Machine show was worth the effort - a little hoaky, but great sets, and some talented singers and dancers. After was the midnight buffet - these are always worth a look see as they have some great dishes beautifully prepared. DAY TWO SAN JUAN We didn't arrive in San Juan until 4 pm which was a shame because the stores close early! However, during the day, we did try something different - they have a high tea in the Bar Orientale with loose leaf high quality teas, finger sandwiches, and pastries. It was really nice. What wasn't so nice was the BIOLUMINESCENT KAYAK TOUR - don't go - it's a waste of time and money. It was 1 1/2 hours on a bus in traffic, then 30 minures paddling, and then just tiny flecks of occasional light in the water - really! I had heard this was a great trip, but it is a farce, don't waste your money. We were double disappointed because we couldn't see San Juan at all as the trip took all the time alotted for our stay. We heard from others that the San Juan fort was interesting, shopping was good, and that the restaurants were great. This evening at the midnight buffet, they had international night with four stations around the ship. Again, this was really worthwhile and great fun. Excellent pate at the France station and chocolate and churros at the Spanish station. DAY THREE ST. THOMAS We ordered breakfast in the room this morning and ate it out on the balcony. There isn't a huge selection for room service, but it was fun to have cereal, croissants [with butter and great jam], and coffee while looking at the lovely islands in St. Thomas. This was a fun port where we had time for shopping in the morning [there are some great deals here - not steals - but good prices with no taxs and they double your allowance when you buy at St. Thomas so definitely know what you want to buy and go get it]. Costa has great shopping talks you can see live or watch on TV. Go talk to the port shopper as she can tell you where the best deals are as well as give you extra discount cards. There are some steals to be had in the back rooms of some of the large establishments. The port itself was pretty if a little congested with traffic. I wanted to see more, but we had an excursion to get to. We did the sail and snorkel to Christmas cove - this was good fun. The sail boat the St. Christopher was lovely with a fun crew and we took quite a few pictures while sailing. The snorkeling was pretty good with lots of parrot fish nibbling at the coral. They teach new people how to snorkel and let the ones who already know how off the boat first. On the way back, they serve rum punch to warm you up. Overall very fun! This evening before dinner, we went to the Bar Roero in the Lounge Orientale and ordered a bottle of Prosecco [light Italian Champage]. They had a male Italian singer who was excellent and served canapes with the wine. This is a great bar and very relaxing with lovely ambiance. As we didn't finish the bottle, they held it behind the bar for us for the following evening. Dinner was again lovely. DAY FOUR CATALINA ISLAND This is a great place for lying in the sun and just relaxing. There is swimming, snorkeling, hair braiding, as well as people riding bananas and intertubes while being pulled along by boats. Really an excellent beach day. They have music and shopping just to the left and games. However, if you head down further to the left following the boardwalk, it gets quieter if you just want to relax. Drink staff walk along the beach and take orders, so you don't have to leave your spot if you don't want to. Lunch was out on the island and they had great fruit, burgers, BBQ ribs and more as well as water, iced tea and coffee. Again, you have to pay for those sodas [they do have a soda pass for kids for a reasonable price - ask the first day!] In the late afternoon we went to La Romana port in the Dominican Republic. The people on the ship tried to dissuade anyone visiting this port as there is a lot of poverty. My husband and I decided not to go; however, a couple at our dinner table went and said it was quite interesting. You exit the ship and get a cab driver who takes you somewhere to shop and actually goes into each shop with you. Then he takes you to a bar/restaurant. They said the food was 4-5 star and really worth it. However - getting in and out of the cab there are many beggars. The cab driver acts as guide and guardian, so an interesting experience if you are up for it. Because we didn't go to La Romana, we went to the casino on board instead. There were lots of 25 cent slots and table games like poker, roulette, and black jack. They had a $5 blackjack table and you could use cash or your Costa Card to play. It was a good time and we played for 2 hours and actually walked away with more than we started with [that rarely happens though I must admit]. Tonight they had the Caribbean party - this was great fun as they had steel drum music, then dancers, and then they did European line dancing which includes songs from South America and Europe. Its fun and you don't have to know how to do it - just jump on in. They give you a colored lei and let the fun begin. A great midnight buffet with ice sculptures and excellent food out by the pool. DAY FIVE AT SEA A great day to relax by the pool, hit the gym, and do whatever. They have some fun activities and games - I went and did the line dancing - it is good fun and great exercise. Oh, and I should mention on the pool grill they do have good hot dogs [no relish], hamburgers, and fries everyday. They also have pizza available all the time [look for the fresh parmesian cheese and red pepper]. They also have vanilla/chocolate soft serve ice cream available for free. They had another auction today with new art - very fun, free champagne, and they gave away quite a bit of art, so it was worth it. Tonight was the second formal night - everyone really dressed wonderfully and we had prime rib and lobster - yum! The show Solid Gold was great fun with very popular songs, cute songs, and good dancing. DAY SIX NASSAU This was lovely as we pulled into port past a little lighthouse and pink buildings. We went to have lunch at Senor Frogs - this is an adventure - they have an MC, music, karaoke and things happening the whole time. You can participate or not. I just enjoyed watching their antics as I sat by the water and looked across the bay and toward our ship. It's a bit pricey, but good fun. Shopping in Nassau isn't as good as St. Thomas, but there were some deals to be had. The Del Sol shops sell nail polish that changed color in the sun. It's a cute gift and not too expensive. Many people took cabs to the Atlantis resort which was beautiful and also had shopping in it. There was a straw market, but not any real quality products that we noticed. It might have been better to get out of port and go to the beach. Tonight was toga night - we didn't really know what to expect. Some people brought their own togas while others used the sheets provided. One great idea I saw was a woman wearing a re dress with the togas sheet draped over her shoulder and belted in the middle. We alas did not toga, but it was fun to watch those who did. We went to the Roero bar and ordered a bottle of prosecute, had a glass, and then took the bottle to dinner with us. They don't have a problem with this. Dinner was good as usual. Tonight was the passenger talent show called the Baccanal - I was surprised, but many passengers were quite good. Then back to the room to pack. Our bags needed to be packed and outside the room by 1:00 am. Be sure you don't pack anything very valuable [jewelry] or medications in those bags. They are quite good but something could get lost! DAY SEVEN DISEMBARKATION They ask you be out of your room by 8:00 am and there is no room service for breakfast. Because everyone is eating at once, there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and have breakfast there [second seating 7:45 am] - it is tasty, hot, and they have a good selection. Here you can relax until it is time for your group to leave. A cab will cost $8 per person to the airport and is just as fast as Costa transport [and cheaper] SOME THINGS TO NOTE Alcoholic drinks are not very strong on board and quite expensive. If you want good margaritas, you might want to bring some tequila and mixer on board yourself. Again, if you have a favorite wine, bring it on board and they will open it and serve it to you for freee at a bar or restaurant. The ship has great prices on bottles of alcohol, but they won't let you have them until the end of the cruise! If you don't like something, send it back. They want you to have a good time and not everyone's tastes are the same. Feel free to ask for a second pillow, more towels, etc... They do provide pretty good service, but you do need to let them know what you want. Costa offers great discounts and you get your cruise for a lower price - the trade off is that there are fewer servers per person on board, so you probably won't get 5 star service. But then, you didn't pay for 5 star service. OVERALL I think this was a great ship with good food and service. The balcony rooms are very comfortable and kept tidy. I disliked that we had too little time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it. The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have a great time. They have an excellent gym and fitness program and healthy food choices including sugar free desserts everyday. There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and really I saw few people smoking anyway. They had good prices on duty free bottles of alcohol on ship as well as clothes, tshirts, and more. The shopping on board was good. The art auctions are definitely worth the time. The casino has reasonably priced tables for play and lots of slots. Check out some of the on board games and dances with the cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining. The theater shows I think have improved since my last Costa cruise years ago - so that's nice. They have a good variety of food and never complain if you want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile. I guess that's all - Bon Voyage!

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Dec 14, 2003

Western Caribbean

Costa Mediterrenea Dec 14, 2003 Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale. Third sailing in the US on a ship entered into service in July, 2003. TIP: Never book a new ship. First tip off that this would be a less-than-memorable cruise was not being greeted at the airport by a Costa Representative. After searching for a phone, I had to page the rep twice before someone showed up. Then we had to walk almost ½ a mile in the terminal

to the baggage claim area. “Oh you don’t need transfer vouchers, just show them your upgrade slip from Costa,” said the travel agent, “and your names are on their list.” What list. We were not on any “list, but the Costa rep saw that we had paid for the transfers and just let it go. Bad start #1. Check in at the Costa pier. Little did we know that there would be 18 ships in port that day-sort of like a parking lot for ships. We walked to the check-in counter, and were supposed to b e given “preferential” treatment since we had been upgraded to a suite. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The 2 yentas at the check-in were more concerned about talking to each other than taking care of us. The upgrade ship issued by Costa did nothing. This slip, I will add, was issued by Costa in JULY of 2003; we were not informed of this upgrade until about 2 weeks prior to the sailing. Of course the tickets were issued with the ORIGINAL (Cabin # 8188) BOOKING instead OF THE UPGRADE #7200. Then we were given a ticker with #11 and told to “take a seat with the other passengers and wait until our number is called.” OK, I thought that the suite passengers had their own waiting area as I had read in other reviews. Well, about 45 minutes later, ticket #1 AND suite passengers were called to board. A mad crush to the gate and that upgrade slip again was worthless. We just got into the cattle line for the security check and was shocked and disappointed to see elderly and disabled passengers waiting to board. When a wheelchair becomes available, they we will board them. Other ships board elderly, disabled and families with children along with suite passengers. This was uncalled for and really made me angry. I guess that there are no disabled passengers in Europe. Tip: GET A PASSPORT AND USE IT. You would be amazed at the items passengers try to use as identification. One elderly passenger was refused boarding because she “forgot” her I.D., and was turned away. She had no one to get her passport left at home. Unfortunately, the ship could not bend the rules so she was forced to leave. After being scrutinized, we were allowed to board and have the ship ID issued. The main lobby is just breathtaking-5 stories high, and this being the holiday season, decorated with a 2-story high Christmas tree. The ships’ theme is “The Dance” and the paintings, sculptures and wall-décor well accentuate the theme. We found our cabin, almost dead center of the ship and close to everything. The room: Cabin #7200 is on the port side. It is about 350 square feet, spacious and well designed. 3 full sized sliding-door closets with ample storage drawers. Most ships we have been on I wind up living out of the suitcase for the week with no place for any storage. The “butler” arrived with cold “canapés”-actually 10 dime-sized pieces of stale bread with mystery spread. Additionally there was a bottle of sparkling Italian wine and a basket of fruit that looked as if it had lost a battle with an irate supermarket bagger. Then came the finding of the luggage. Since our tags issued by Costa said “8188” it was necessary for my husband AND the “butler” to go to 8188 and retrieve the luggage. Once that was done, we went to the welcome buffet and looked around the ship. The wait staff at the buffet were, to say the least, dis-interested in helping the passengers and were more concerned with talking amongst themselves. The first dinner was fair, but the wait staff were over-burdened with too many tables and the help just ignored the diners. Our waitress was fantastic in spite of her less-than-helpful busboys. Since the dining rooms is mostly the male-dominated area, a woman waiter is sneered at. We skipped the first mid-night buffet because by 9:30 we were really tired –it was a very long day after leaving our home at 3AM to drive to Philly airport for a 7:Am flight to Miami. We had originally booked the Carnival Paradise from Miami and purchased the airfare based on the Paradise; however this “deal” came up and Fort Lauderdale is not that far from Miami. Anyway, Monday, 12/15/03 Key West Cool, sunny and 70. Perfect for site seeing but not beach weather. Toured the usual touristy-spots and Hemmingway’s House ($10 per person). Well worth the cost. Back to the ship because I was not feeling too good, a quick lunch and a spot on deck. Unfortunately the lounge chairs look beautiful but they are metal mesh and are very uncomfortable. We had the early (6:30) seating and our dinner companions were delightful. Dinner low-lights were tough prime rib veal Oscar with crayfish and asparagus which was missing and grouper which was ok. Unremarkable desserts. The first show which was a “review” was marginal. The bad thing is that unless you are on the first level, sitting upstairs is dreadful. Too may posts block your views of the stage. Tuesday, Dec 16, 2003 day at sea on the way to Progresso, Mexico. I should have had a clue that something was wrong when I could not go out on our deck because of the high winds. It seems that a winter storm came in and the seas were VERY rough-30 to 40foot waves, and 60+ MPH winds. We ordered room service which did come when we asked. Juice, coffee, 2 rolls, 2 sweet rolls, butter, jelly, cream, yogurt, sugar. Of course we had to put the dishes outside for someone to retrieve them. By this time I was really ill and needed to see the ships’ doctor. I must admit that the visit was very thorough and far better than I was expecting. Back to the room and back to sleep until dinner. Today was the Captain’s Cocktail party. Dinner highlights were seafood salad-squid, and other items, tough beef Wellington, shrimp with saffron rice, pork chops. I opted for grilled chicken and the largest baked potato ever seen. Desserts included cherries jubilee which I passed. Tonight’s entertainment was the Island Magic steel band. Now most people, me included, think that steel bands only play “Yellowbird” at the poolside. This band played show tunes and at first the audience was stone-faced. After the second song, they audience was cheering. Other entertainment in the lounges were equally good, mostly Italian jazz and rock. Late night surprise was a pastry buffet which I passed. Day 3-A storm at sea. Since the weather was bad, the port of Progresso, Mexico was closed and we had another day at sea. The shop was shaking badly all night and for the first time in years, I’m really sea-sick. I still wasn’t feeling all that great and another day of rest would do me good. Of course, we received a revised schedule of activities and all trips were cancelled. So, instead of informing passengers that the trips would be credited to their accounts by the END of the trip, we were told, that they trips would be “automatically” refunded. Automatically means immediately to most folks so when they trips were NOT refunded there were plenty of irate and angry passengers. Of course language barriers abound on the ship and I was told “eventually” by a tour-operator with a cavalier attitude instead of saying “by the end of the trip.” Same nonsense-“our computer system isn’t working,” etc. They showed “Seabusicuit” which I opted to sleep. The show was Classical Concert with Mauro Bertolino which I skipped and opted for sleep instead. So when 11:30 rolled around, I was wide awake and went to the Tropical Night Deck Party which was lovely. Beautiful ice carvings, desserts and a HUGE try of fabulous Italian meats and cheeses which I just photographed. We docked in Cozumel around 8PM with no announcement and many passengers eagerly disembarked for a night on the town. Thursday, Dec 18, 2003, Cozumel, Mexico Another chilly-60degree, and windy-35MPH day. We walked through the duty-free pier and into a shopping area. After taking some photos of other ships in port, we went into one of the local stores. I found an interesting piece of pottery which I world have purchased but the help kept following us and looking at us as if we were criminals. I don’t understand why people are in business-to chase customers away. We went into Diamonds International and had to leave because they store smelled like moth-balls-great for shoppers. With nothing left to do but go back, we walked through the duty-free pier again-and security. I found a lovely ring at one of the shops and asked how much it is and the clerk walked away from me. Don’t you want my business, I asked, and he said NO. OK then, I guess you must be independently wealthy I said and he said “No tourist business.” So we went back to the ship for lunch which was Greek Specialties. I wound up with a strip steak for lunch which was really good. So far the shopping aboard is a major disappointment. Unless you love amber jewelry, there wasn’t much to buy other that t-shirts, liquor, etc. After an unremarkable dinner the evenings show was Mario La Manna, Italian tenor who was fantastic, so much so that we saw the show twice. Friday, December 19m, 2003 Grand Cayman Unfortunately we did not dock in Georgetown because of the rough seas but docked at another area along with 2 other ships. Again with the rough seas, we decided to stay on board so I could feel better. We dined at the Club Medusa-their up-scale restaurant menu by Gualtiero Marchesi and décor-dishes, linens, etc., by Versace. Dinner starts with a martini glass of cream of cauliflower mousse with bacon-ok, not to my liking, but definitely different; your choice of 4 appetizers, we had the scallops in a light vinaigrette and the lobster pie which was actually a compressed “cake” of solid lobster meat topped with a HUGE shrimp. Then your choice of 4 pasta dishes and then a filet, lamb, or 2 fish dishes. My husband had the filet which was served with a merlot demiglace, toasted pine nuts and spinach, and I had the lamb and polenta. For dessert my husband had “eggnog parfait” which was actually a scoop of eggnog ice cream served in a dish with a fantastic chocolate sauce and shaved chocolate, I had a raspberry torte served with fresh raspberry coulees and a piece of star fruit. Then a glass of Champaign to end the meal. Normally they charge $20 per person, but this was included in the cost of our cabin. Unfortunately we missed lobster night and the show” Solid Gold” which we’ve seen on most ships. We did stay up to see the Grand Buffet. Unfortunately trying to photograph it was a disaster, so we did the best we could and left without eating anything. Saturday, Dec 20, 2003-at sea Breakfast in the cabin then a walk on deck. Not much to do since the weather really did not allow for pool nor hot tub usage. We went to the disembarkation talk and just goofed off the rest of the day. This was the best night because it was Roman Bacchanal day-come dressed in your togas (sheets left in the cabins with directions). After a forgettable dinner, we waited for the show. It was passenger talent show/toga party-the best thing all week. All good things finally do end, and Sunday was time to get off!!! Unfortunately the disembarkation process was just as awful as embarkation. We allegedly had “priority” and waited with everyone else. TIP: Always have your travel agent issue you vouchers for transfers. The copier at the pier was broken and out upgrade slip was confiscated. The bus FINALLY left Fort Lauderdale at 10:30 so passengers with 11:30 flights were out of luck and the cruise line did nothing for them. We had a 1:30 flight home so we had plenty of time. Final score: Cleanliness 100 Cabin stewardess 100 Food -10 Pool 75 Entertainment 90-bnetter than average Cruise director Paul-100 Captain Massimo Garbarino 100 Dining room waitress 100 Buffet help ZERO Dining room at lunch-ZERO Room service 70 Remember: a bargain is only a bargain if you truly love it.

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Dec 7, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

The CostaMediterranea (Anchored off Catalina Island in Santa Domingo) The Set-up: As a member of the travel industry, I was given the opportunity to take a 7 night Eastern Caribbean voyage on the Costa Mediterranea, as part of a group, following a cruise convention in Fort Lauderdale. I had chosen to forego the cruise convention, however, in order to spend a pre-holiday week-end with family and enjoy some Christmas festivities

in Naples. Luckily, I had chosen to fly from Cleveland, Ohio into the Fort Myers airport on Thursday morning, just before travel was affected by the first winter storm of the season. Friday morning a number of airports in the mid-west and northeast were closed (Cleveland being one of them) and numerous flights were cancelled or delayed. I guess there really is something to be said for the old adage that timing is everything. Although having enjoyed my visit with family, I eagerly awoke Sunday morning for the relatively easy drive across Alligator Alley to connect with my cruise companion, who had attended the conference. Although a seasoned cruiser, this would be my first cruise on a Costa ship and, I was anxiously anticipating the opportunity. Embarkation: On a cool, but sunny day, I arrived at Port Everglades about noon, to be greeted by a massive traffic jam. It took about ½ hour to get through the port security check point. Of course there were 8 ships in port, all leaving at approximately the same time, so the congestion was somewhat understandable. Once I arrived at the terminal, I was to discover my wait had just begun! In an effort to be efficient and save time, I had collected my friend’s luggage from the hotel upon my arrival in Fort Lauderdale. As part of the travel industry group, I was required to pick up my documents at the pier, which I was able to do without any difficulty. It was at this point, however, that my ordeal became interesting. Arriving at the pier with both of our sets of luggage, I discovered that my traveling companion was still completing other ship inspections as part of the concluding events of the conference. It appeared that nearly 2000 passengers had arrived at the terminal at the same time, and the lines were becoming increasingly longer with each passing minute. I was only provided two luggage tags with my cruise documents and had four pieces of luggage in tow. Realizing the embarkation lines were moving slowly, I decided to check the two largest bags and get in line with the remaining two, rather than wait for my friend. Now, I am sure I must have been a sight pushing one suitcase with my foot, dragging my carry-on behind, and at the same time trying to fill out the information required on my cruise documents with one hand and using my cell phone to remain in communication with my friend. Once inside the terminal, I discovered there were only two security lines operating for all these passengers. Well, that explained the long lines! Finally, passing through security, I thought I was finally home free! Hah!! Moving to the other side of the security checkpoint, I was greeted by the sight of a snakelike queue of people that appeared to weave back and forth endlessly (Think Disneyworld on one of the most crowded days of the year). It took over 1 and ½ hours to get through the entire process. This was not at all how I had hoped my cruise would begin, but I am pleased to say that this was one of the few negatives of my whole experience. The Ship: Entering the ship on Deck 2, into the nine deck high Main Atrium; I was immediately struck by the elaborate and ornate design of the ship. (It provides a definite WOW factor). It was quite obvious that the décor was a Joe Farcus original, which I will elaborate upon later in this review. As I drank in my palazzo surroundings, I was greeted with a hearty “Buon Giorno” by very friendly shipboard personnel and escorted to my cabin. Finally, someone to help carry some of my excess baggage! Main Atrium The Cabin: I was escorted to my ocean view Cabin 1219, Circe Deck (1), midship. This is the only deck in which there are ocean view cabins that do not include a balcony. It turned out that the cabin location was perfect. It was close to the midship elevators, providing easy access to most public rooms and when we docked in port, the gangway was located just a few feet from our cabin. My home for the week was not overly large, but certainly comfortable. Beds were placed parallel to the window, and could be configured as 1 king or 2 twins. As a side note, I have read a number of negative comments regarding the quality of the beds. While the mattresses were not super plush and a bit on the firm side, I found them to be satisfactory. Two bedside tables with a small storage area and attached lamp are provided. Maplewood cupboards and shelving compliment the burnt orange and off white décor of the cabin. Along a mirrored ½ wall was a dressing table with 1 desk drawer and 4 smaller drawers (one, however, is utilized for storage of the hair dryer). There was also an open shelving unit that housed the flat screen, interactive TV. In addition to being able to check your account, shore excursions could also be booked from your cabin TV. Be aware, I did hear a bit of grumbling on board that there were miscommunications regarding shore excursions booked through the interactive TV, which might have explained the long lines I saw at the Shore Tour Desk. Since I had not booked any shore excursions, I can not attest to the fact, but thought it was worth mentioning. Limited satellite television was offered: No CNN, but I did receive ABC from various cities on various days. Movies, in multiple languages, could be purchased, but at the relatively high price of $8.95US. Below the TV, there was a cupboard for the safe, activated by the Costa Card. The Costa Card was also my cabin key, charge card and identification. A lower cabinet provided 2 small closed storage shelves and a cupboard housing a mini-bar. It was minimally stocked with beverages and snacks, but there was some space to chill provisions you may have brought on board. It was not computerized, so there was no fear of moving an item and being charged erroneously. A sofa bed, which could accommodate an additional passenger, and a small table, completed the furnishings in the room. The cabin only had one electrical outlet, so I would suggest you bring an extension cord. Although a relatively powerful hair dryer was provided, it was the kind that requires you hold down the button during use. I particularly liked the numerous lighting options in the cabin, especially the side lighting along the mirror. Not only did it provide a softer lighting effect, one always looks better than in harsh overhead lighting! The bathroom was compact, but provided ample shelving on both sides of the mirror, and the shower was actually large by mainstream cruise ship standards. The circular design of the shower opening kept the shower curtain in place, avoiding the ever so common clinging shower curtain syndrome. If you have read any of my other reviews, you know that I judge a cruise ship shower by the ease at which I am able to shave my legs. This shower won the Norris Seal of Approval, due in most part to the adjustable shower head and well designed controls. Toiletry amenities included shampoo, soap and hand lotion. My cabin stewardess, Maria, was a very nice young lady who tried to accommodate our requests, though not always successfully. As an example, I had requested an extra pillow, which Maria was unable to obtain. She did, however, anticipate our needs and provided prompt and friendly service. We enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails or a glass of wine in the cabin regularly and like clockwork, Maria would always be one step ahead, delivering fresh ice, just when it was time for “cabin happy hour”. Jokingly, I even mentioned I may need help with transforming a sheet into a toga on the last night and she made it a point to let me know she was available and would gladly offer her assistance, if needed. At the end of the cruise, I had the opportunity to check out many of the other stateroom categories, so I have included photos of the various stateroom configurations, as well as my own cabin. Oceanview Cabin Inside Cabin Oceanview Verandah Suite Public Rooms: As mentioned, the ship was extremely ornate and had the imprint of Carnival’s corporate designer, Joe Farcus, everywhere. At first, this very bold, ornamental design, with an abundance of brass, marble, glass and wood was overwhelming. Upon further inspection, even though it was a bit overdone for my taste, the attention to detail was impressive. Individual pieces, such as the marvelous chandeliers, Murano glass pieces, sculptures and paintings were quite beautiful. Even the furniture, wall coverings and intricate inlaid wooden dance floors were amazing artistic creations. Although each room seemed to have a character and style of its own, there was a grand theme that connected each part to the whole. Imagine the ship as a 17th or 18th century Italian palazzo, in which ancient mythology is the decorative theme. The ship was so rich in design, however, that I was on visual overload by the end of the cruise. The designer’s touch, whose work can be seen on many Carnival ships, was not the only Carnival mark on the Mediterranea. If you have ever sailed on the Carnival Legend, Pride or Spirit the layout of the ship is almost identical. Other than décor, they appear to be exactly the same, even down to the placement of light fixtures, with one exception: Unlike the Carnival ships, there is no Wedding Chapel next to the library on the Mediterranea. Instead, a larger chapel occupies a space next to the video arcade. The only public room on Circe Deck 1 is the Giardiono Isolabella Show Lounge, located forward. There were a number of activities scheduled here nightly, but unless your cabin was on deck one, it could be easily overlooked, as it was hidden under the main theater. That’s a shame, as it was a very attractive lounge. Seating was well designed for viewing, the dance floor was exceptionally large and the décor was understated and appealing. Giardiono Isolabella Show Lounge Most of the public rooms were located on Tersicore Deck 2 and Bacco Deck 3. On both of these decks all the public rooms were connected by a walkway that ran along the starboard side of the ship. The Osiris Theater occupied decks 2, 3 and 4, forward. Just as the name implies, it had an Egyptian motif with pharaohs ensconcing the stage and hieroglyphics adorning the walls. The main floor had excellent sight lines, but there were some obstructed views in the upper two levels. Also, the seats were configured in such a way that those on angles provided very little legroom. The theater never appeared full and we had little difficulty finding seats for all of the performances we attended. Moving aft along the walkway on deck 2 the Piazza Casanova is one of the many lounges that provided an excellent dance floor. Its low ceilings created a deceiving intimacy to the space. The décor of the lounge befits its name. As Casanova was known as a lover, it seemed appropriate that the entire room was decorated with cherubs in a variety of sizes and positions. Directly across from this lounge, on the starboard side of the walkway was a glass enclosed card room. This proved to be a very quiet room and as an added bonus was equipped with an electrical outlet. Even on vacation, there are some of us who needed to work with the aide of a trusty laptop. This was a nice alternative to working in the stateroom (especially when the one electrical outlet in the cabin was being utilized for other things). The Grand Casino The walkway then led to the Grande Casino, which was quite large. Slot machines ran the length of the starboard walkway and from blackjack to craps all standard gaming tables were available. A small bar was also located in the casino that doubled as the ship’s sports bar. Now, I know we hear that cruise ship slots tend to be tight, but one of the ladies from our traveling group won $3,000. I won’t mention her name because she wasn’t planning on sharing this good news with her husband when she returned home. Figures in the Atrium From the casino the walkway led to the Atrium, which I have already mentioned as being quite ornate. In the center was a bar tucked between two grand staircases resplendent in chrome and brass railings. Mythological faces adorned the platforms of the bar stools. Banquette seating lined each side of the large dance floor. Gazing upwards there were weird jellyfish wall lamps traversing the walls of the nine story atrium. I’m still not sure what that was all about! Full-size figurines in resplendent costumes sat watch high above the staircase. Make sure to ride the glass elevators in the Atrium to get the full effect. Along the wall, on the port side, was the information desk and shore tour desk. The golf pro was also stationed there. Be prepared for long lines at the tour desk during their limited service hours. The Talia Lounge Small sofas and conversational seating traverse the walkway leading to the Talia Lounge. Comfortable seating, interesting glass lamps, a marble walkway and a small dance floor provided the setting for Cotton Club, my favorite duo, to perform nightly. This lounge was prone to much walk-through traffic, however, as it was located outside the disco and was the main egress to the dining room. The disco occupied two-levels, deck 2 and 1, but the only access was on the upper level. Although there was seating and a bar on this level, a winding staircase led down to the dance floor, DJ and more seating. Decorated boldly in bright yellow, blue and red with lots of glass and brass, a pulsing lighted dance floor, and a full wall of TV screens this room exuded energy. It was a very popular spot for the crew and they helped to keep the energy level high until the early morning hours. The Disco At the very aft of the ship was the two-level Argentieri Restaurant, the Mediterranea’s main dining venue. I found this to be one of the most visually appealing rooms on the ship. The split-level design worked well with the polished wood and ceiling frescos to provide a sense of spaciousness and elegance without overpowering. Silver goblets were beautifully displayed in cases throughout the room. Diffused lighting was provided by circular windows and circular glass globes on the ceiling. The glass globes had colored spiral ornaments hanging from them, however, which were reminiscent of balloons left over from a party. They somewhat distracted from the overall effect of the room and, personally, I would have chosen to eliminate this attempt at whimsy to maintain the room’s richness. The Dionisio Lounge Moving forward from the upper level of the restaurant, on Deck 3, was the Dionisio Lounge. Its physical layout was similar to the Talia Lounge on the deck below, but here coffee tables of rich marble and a beautiful piano took center stage. Very formal and stately, this was the perfect venue for the talented pianist, Nancy Ruth, to perform or an intimate concert with maestro Mauro Bertolino. On deck 3, the balcony level of the Atrium was the location of the Photo Gallery. Pictures were displayed on both the port and starboard sides of the Atrium. The photographers on this ship were artists in their own right. It was a visual delight to peruse the pictures on display. The standard cruise ship photos were taken, but so were an array of beautiful photographs both in color and black and white that captured passengers unaware in natural poses. Close-ups of passengers of all ages with a multitude of expressions captured their true essence. Unfortunately, photos were not on display long. They were removed after 2 days, which required searching through massive bins of the discarded photos on the last night in order to retrieve any photos you wished to purchase. The walkway from the photo gallery leads directly to the Via Condotti, the duty free shop and boutiques. The winding path provided plenty of shopping on both sides. There were some beautiful Italian Murano watches on sale that were quite tempting, but I convinced myself that I didn’t need one. Now, I regret not having purchased one. Perfume and liquor prices on board were competitive with the duty-free prices on the islands. The standard logo wear and cruise ship souvenirs were available. You could even order a custom made suit. Oriental Salon Entering the Oriental Salon you are greeted by an attractive fountain and staircase. Interestingly, the signage in this part of the ship is confusing, since this is also the Roero Bar, which is the Wine Bar. We walked back and forth about ½ dozen times looking for the Wine Bar, only to discover that’s where we were. This is an attractive room, but seating is strange. Curved banquette seating is offered, but the way it curves makes it very difficult to sit comfortably. The décor of this room seemed a little out of place with the rest of the ship, as an oriental theme prevailed. Even the waitresses were dressed accordingly. Next to the Oriental Salon was the Internet Café and Library. Library hours were limited, but the Internet Café was open 24 hours. Cost to access the internet, on one of the 10 computers, was $.50 a minute. It was not very busy (at least whenever I was there) and I never had to wait for a computer. Service was relatively fast by shipboard standards and efficient. To their credit, at least to my knowledge, they never lost connection on this cruise, which seems to be one of the most frustrating aspects of shipboard internet service. The library, on the other hand, not only had limited hours, but limited inventory. Arriving at the second level of the Osiris Theater, there are two corridors that flank the theater entrances. These outer halls are actually the Terrazza d’Inverno Lounge. These hidden treasures are quiet walkways that offer seating along the outer walls of the ship that are perfect for reading or quiet reflection. I am sure that this space remains undiscovered by many. They are also the corridors one must take to gain access to the chapel. I mentioned the poor signage in this part of the ship and here is another example. There are arrows pointing upwards towards a stairway that indicates the Chapel and the Video Arcade. Well, those stairs do not lead you to either. They are accessed by the set of stairs that are at the end of the Terrazza d’Inverno. The Terrazza d’Inverno The chapel and video arcade were the only public rooms on Teseo Deck 4, forward. The relatively large chapel was quite nice and had the ambiance of a real church. As part of the Italian experience, a traditional Latin mass was offered daily by a charming Italian priest. The downside was its location. Having already mentioned it was hidden away in a remote corner, it required climbing the set of stairs from deck 3 to access. Obviously, not very wheelchair accessible and offered a challenge to the frail and elderly. The next 4 decks were devoted to staterooms, with the exception of the Squok Club (children’s playroom), located on Orfeo Deck 5, forward. Just like the chapel, this was a difficult room to find. It took some serious searching and the arrows indicating its location were very deceiving. Once I found it however, I was not impressed. It is an uninspiring area and boring compared to the magnificent children’s facilities on so many of the newer ships. On the flipside, I found Monica and Gloria, part of the youth staff, to be very energetic and enthusiastic. I have included the children’s program (The Mini Club for children 3 to 6 years of age and the Maxi Club for children ages 7 to 12) as an attachment to this review. However, I should mention that there were very few children on board this sailing and according to the youth staff; the schedule is reflective of the numbers. For example, there were so few teens on board, that they did not even have a printed schedule. Activities were planned on a daily basis by the few teens on board and posted on a large surfboard near the pool. The Apollo Pool Area Ahh! Speaking of the pool, let’s now look at the upper decks of the Mediterranea, where most of my days were spent. Starting at Armonia Deck 9, aft was deck space with a small pool and whirlpool. The Apollo Bar and one of the luncheon grills was also located here. This pool area was designated as adults only, which may explain why it was quite popular, thus quite crowded. There were so few children on board this sailing, however, that the designation was unnecessary. The self-service buffet, The Perla del Lago Restaurant, could be accessed from either side of the pool deck. Numerous stations were scattered throughout this buffet area with seating at both tables and booths. The beverage stations near the center of the restaurant often appeared congested, but I believe it was due to the traffic pattern. There appeared to be no designated entrance or exit, consequently passengers entered the area from all four directions and got bottlenecked in the middle. Two more grill areas were located outside the restaurant on both sides of the stage. This stage was the location of most of the daily activities that were scheduled poolside. Tables ran the length of both port and starboard sides of ship, with lounge chairs surrounding Cadmo Pool and the adjacent elevated whirlpool. This pool area had a retractable dome, but was not utilized during my cruise. Since so many of the day’s activities were scheduled here, lounge chairs filled rather quickly in the morning. A glass enclosed partition, with a bar on both sides, separated Cadmo Pool from the adjacent pool and whirlpool. This pool area was much quieter and less congested than the neighboring pool. The water in both pools was a bit on the cool side, but the water temperature of the two whirlpools was near perfect. The Main Pool Area Forward of the pool areas was the Venus Spa and beauty salon. Weight loss, detox, makeover and massage clinics were just some of the scheduled offerings from the Spa. There were separate ladies and men’s sauna and steam rooms, along with numerous, private spa treatment rooms. Spa services were many and varied, from mini-facials and body massages to self-tanning and pedicures. I have included a Spa Menu in this review. I would recommend the Spa Taster. Forward of the Spa, the very large two-level Olympia Gym offered stationary bicycles, treadmills, stair-climbing, rowing and resistance machines, as well as, free weights and dumbbells. The gym was designed in tiers so that a view of the ocean was visible from every machine. There was one whirlpool spa suspended in the center of the two-levels. On most days the gym was open from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm. Adjacent to the gym was a nice size, mirrored aerobics room. Although most of the regular exercise classes were conducted outside at the Cadmo Pool deck, yoga and Pilates classes were held here. An additional fee ($10) was charged for these special exercise classes. The Gym Exiting the gym from the upper level, Cleopatra Deck 10 was a wraparound open deck that went completely around the ship. The real jogging track is on deck 12, but many people, including myself, used this deck for our morning walks. If put off by the overcrowded lounge space around the pools, this deck was the answer. There were ample lounge chairs offering significant space to spread out. Positioning yourself on this deck, directly above the Cadmo Pool, as I did, provided a perfect spot for lounging, yet still close to the activities. The only other public room on this deck was the bi-level alternative dining venue, Club Medusa. This room was quite airy and open, due to the windows along the exterior walls and the opening to the upper level of the atrium in the center. Tables were arranged in a circular fashion around the atrium. Dinner was served from 7:30 – 9:00 pm nightly and then from 10:00 pm – 2:00 am, the Club Medusa Balcony became the Cigar Lounge. Club Medusa Other than the Club Medusa Balcony, the children’s pool and the water slide were located on Pandora Deck 11. The water slide had very limited operating hours and children had to be at least 4 ft. in order to ride. Dining/Food: Costa adheres to a very traditional/regimented dining service. On most days in the main dining room, all 3 meals are served according to first and second seating schedule. Second seating dining adheres more to European custom and may be considered too late by American standards. On formal night, second seating dining was at 9:00 pm, on other nights, 8:45 pm. I have become accustomed to dining late, so this appealed to me. Since I am on the topic of scheduled dining, let me share details of the main dining venue. Contrary to many reports, I found my dining experience in the beautiful, two-story, Restaurant degli Argentieri to be totally pleasurable. First, my wait staff, Ian and Neal, was outstanding! They provided prompt, efficient, friendly and courteous service. In fact, after the first night, I relied on their recommendations for all of my meals and was never disappointed. They were very experienced and knew which meals were past hits, and those that were misses. Often they would give me a look of disapproval when ordering a course and make another suggestion. Now, I have heard that inconsistency seems to be a word frequently used to describe a Costa meal. I thank my waiters profusely for steering me in the right direction, as my meals were consistently good. Food was not only tasty, but served to my exact specifications. I have also heard comments regarding the timing of the service, and here again; I found this to be a positive. Traditionally, each course of the meal is served to everyone at the table at the same time. Here, each person was served individually, as they completed each course. Now, for someone like me, who occasionally eats soup and never eats salad, sitting through courses and watching others eat is, at times, tedious. I much prefer this brand of service. Meals were never rushed, however, and somehow lingering over glasses of wine, dessert and coffee while engaging in lively conversation, we frequently found ourselves some of the last to leave the dining room. Lunch and breakfast in the dining room, however, were mediocre. I much preferred the self-service buffet for breakfast and the grill for lunch. There was a limited assortment of fruit and pastries, but there was a wide variety of other breakfast offerings served from 7:30 – 10:00 am. If you happened to get a late start to the morning, an extensive continental breakfast with eggs cooked to order was offered at the pool grill from 10:00 am until noon. Interestingly, there was one morning when we were to advance our clocks one hour. That morning there were many people walking around the buffet area at 10:30 am (they had forgotten to move their clocks ahead) grumbling and complaining that they could not get any breakfast. Had they read their daily planner, or taken the time to walk around the corner, they would have realized that the grill served food until lunch began. The buffet offered a great variety of lunch choices at the numerous stations scattered throughout the restaurant. Each day one station was devoted to a specific ethnic cuisine, i.e. Caribbean, Greek, Italian, etc. There was a pasta station where the chef was creating a new pasta selection daily. Each offering I sampled was excellent. The pizza served at one of the buffet stations from noon until 2:00 am was, by far, the best cruise ship pizza I have ever had. The dessert station, however, was mediocre and uninspiring. There were actually three grill areas set-up to serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken burgers and French fries daily from noon – 4:00 pm. I found the burgers to be quite tasty. There was also a beverage station at the Patio Grill that served coffee, tea, juice, water and milk all day. Club Medusa was the specialty restaurant. Although we had every intention of trying this alternative venue, we never found the right day to accomplish the task. Dinner is served nightly from 7:30 – 9:00 pm, by reservation only, at a cost of $20 per person, plus a 15% service charge. I spoke with one couple who had eaten there and felt it was well worth the price. I guess that will be one of those things I will make sure I try on my next cruise. Costa is one of the few lines who has not eliminated the midnight buffet. Each night they offered a variation of the theme: The first night we had crêpes flambé served in the lounges; night two a buffet in the galley; the third evening was a pastry buffet poolside; evening four was Italian treats in the lounges, night five was a tropical buffet poolside; the sixth evening was the Midnight Buffet Magnifique; and on our final evening, midnight snacks were offered in the lounges. Animator Pool Stage Entertainment The Cruise Director on the Mediterranea was average at best, but his Cruise Staff, known as “Animators”, were personable and thoroughly delightful. It was obvious that they enjoyed their work and their energy was infectious. Not only were they good at involving passengers, I was quite impressed with their command of multiple languages. Kudos to the “Animation Team”, they were in great part responsible for making my cruise so enjoyable and a definite highlight of the onboard entertainment. Evening entertainment was weak, by typical American cruise standards. There was only one major production show, but as they were trying to appeal to an international passenger load, in which language was a barrier, somewhat understandable. We were entertained by a very talented tenor, a gifted pianist and an interesting steel drum band, but definitely not your usual “main event” fare. The lounge entertainment, on the other hand, was a veritable smorgasbord of musical genres. On any given evening, music by Frank Sinatra to Elvis or The Beatles to Pavarotti, from jazz to salsa could be heard in the lounges scattered about the ship. Europeans seem to favor participatory entertainment, as opposed to sitting and being entertained, and through a variety of theme events in the numerous lounges, Costa delivers. It was common to see a 50’s Dance Contest in one lounge, while an entire Italian festival was going on in another. While Reggae Night was entertaining some folks, others were participating in karaoke. One of the things I found particularly enjoyable on this cruise was the nocturnal activity. Atypical of many of my recent cruises, there was an abundance of late night action (definitely a European/Cosmopolitan influence). It wasn’t until after the evening show, often scheduled for 11:00 pm, that lounges came alive. The disco didn’t start filling up until after midnight. Having spent numerous cruises wandering around the ship after 1:00 am looking for any form of entertainment, or people for that matter, this was a pleasant divergence. The Cruise: Day 1: After unpacking my carry-on, I wandered back up to the Atrium, deck 2, to enjoy the welcome aboard music. The Atrium Bar proved to be a perfect position to enjoy a cocktail and listen to the welcome aboard music, while watching for my cruise companion to board the ship. It also afforded me the opportunity to peruse the décor in greater detail. As this was a Caribbean cruise, English was considered the official language on board, but as I sat at the bar, it was refreshing to hear the variety of languages being spoken around me. Greeting my friend, we managed to have time for a cursory ship tour, before the requisite lifeboat drill, scheduled for 4:00 pm. Being an international cruise experience, the lifeboat drill was conducted in 5 languages. Although it was a bit tedious (particularly since this is one of my least favorite activities), I did try to make it a learning experience and increase my foreign language skills. By 4:30 pm we had set sail and wandered up to the Bon Voyage party poolside, on deck 9. It was extremely windy and the show consisting of one song/dance routine was somewhat disappointing. Sailing from Ft. Lauderdale Since neither my cruise companion nor I had ever sailed on Costa, we decided to check out the Welcome Aboard show scheduled for 5:30. Well, it quickly became evident that this cruise would be similar to any other Caribbean cruise. For us, the presentation proved to be somewhat redundant, but had value for first time cruisers. (By the way, this informative talk was presented in English only). Wandering the ship, we met a couple from Boston, who were part of our travel industry group and joined them for a lively discussion on first impressions of the ship. The evening entertainment, a magician, was scheduled as a 7:30 pm pre-dinner show for those of us with late seating dining. Well, I am not a fan of pre-dinner shows, nor of magicians, so I opted to do some exploring, while my friend chose to check out the show. Dinner that evening was scheduled for 8:45. We located our table for 6 in the rear corner, on the main floor of the Restaurant degli Argentieri. We met our dining companions, two delightful couples from our travel industry group. Interestingly, my friend is from Montreal and one couple was originally from Montreal. As it turned out, a large number of Canadians, particularly Quebecers were onboard. Our waiters, Ian and Neal, were both excellent and made our dining experience truly pleasurable each evening. Tonight’s offerings were from the Lombardia region (Milano). The pasta dish, bavette with baby shrimps, was exceptional and my millefuille napoleon dessert was worth every calorie. After a very lengthy dinner, we listened to an excellent duo, Cotton Club, at the Talia Lounge, located outside the disco. We ended the evening dancing off our dinner calories at the disco. This late night venue proved to be quite popular. Day 2 (At Sea): I awoke early and started my first day at sea with an invigorating power walk, basking in the warmth of the early morning sun. Breakfast followed my morning walk. Dining al fresco, I savored perhaps the best omelette I have ever had. Ahhh! This had all the makings of a perfect day! The sun was shining brightly in a blue, cloudless sky and the lounge chairs were beckoning. It was time to engage in my favorite “Sea Day” activity, sun bathing. I located a perfect spot on deck 10, above the Cadmo pool on deck 9. As many of the day’s scheduled activities took place on the stage and open deck at the Cadmo pool, I was close to the action, but yet removed from the hustle and bustle. Exercise classes and dance lessons were a major part of the day’s events. On many cruises, I forego participating in activities, as they interrupt my “sun time”. So, I was particularly pleased that these activities were conducted poolside. I could participate in as many activities as I would like and still enjoy the sun. Each day a variety of different dances were taught poolside. Brazilian dances, the Cha Cha, and “Baciata” were this day’s offerings. I love to dance, as did the many Europeans on board, and dancing poolside became a favorite pastime for many, including myself! Now, one of the advantages of lessons being taught in multiple languages, is the opportunity to practice the steps over again each time they are presented. Speaking of activities being presented in different languages, bingo in 4 languages is quite entertaining. This is a good place to mention that in addition to the activities presented in multiple languages, there were a good number of activities presented in English only, for example: Shore excursion and port and shopping talks, the champagne art auction, arts and crafts and bridge play. Other than the lifeboat drill, all informational talks were presented in each language separately, in different locations throughout the ship.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

I have been on the Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria, prior to this sailing on the Mediterranea, and I knew that Costa would not disappoint, in spite of what you might have read in other reviews. My experience on board this ship exceeded all my expectations for food quality, service, activities (both teens, kids and adult), entertainment, and ship décor. The ship was absolutely beautiful and spotless. I can understand why Costa just

received a perfect score (100%) on an unannounced visit by the Center of Disease Control. The embarkation and disembarkation process was efficient and easy. My family ranging in age from 12 to 18 had a terrific time, and we would not hesitate to go an another Costa sailing. I have read some very positive reviews about the Mediterranea, as well as some negative reviews. In my opinion, some people just like to complain about insignificant, petty things, and this is the way they must live their life. The negative reviews I have read about this ship are completely unfounded. Attitude is everything and life is what you make it. Some people just don’t know how to relax and roll with the punches. Some of these reviews relate to lost luggage or delayed flights which were not even Costa’s fault. They were mad before they ever got on board and were just seeking to find fault with the staff, activities, and food. No cruise is ever perfect, but the experience is what you make it. Once you get on board, just sit back, relax, enjoy being with your loved ones, and take in all the beautiful detail that has gone into making this ship a floating museum and a fun place to vacation. The staff is extremely friendly. If you’re also gracious, cordial, and have a positive outlook on life, your experience will be exemplary like mine was. Don’t hesitate to experience this ship – you won’t be disappointed!

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