Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Costa Cruises
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeSmall

Introduced to the Costa fleet in 1993 as Costa Romantica, the ship underwent a $120-million transformation that resulted in her relaunch in 2012 as Costa neoRomantica. The renovation added a Samsara Spa, fitness center, Samsara Restaurant, à la carte restaurant, more suites, new categories of spa accommodations, and more staterooms and suites balconies. Cruises to the Western Mediterranean and Baltic are highlights of Costa neoRomantica’s European itineraries.Read More

These two sister ships were designed to bring the Costa fleet up to speed with other cruise lines in the 1990s, and the effort paid off. Public areas clustered on upper decks are filled with marble and furnished with sleek, contemporary furnishings and modern Italian artworks. The effect is vibrant, chic, and surprisingly restful. Lounges and bars are sweeping and grand; however, the areas set aside for children are skimpy by today’s family-friendly standards. The two ships diverged again after Costa Romantica‘s major transformation in 2012. Neither ship has a true promenade deck, but the Lido areas for sunning and swimming are expansive.

Midsize and intimate, each ship retains a like-new luster from regular refurbishments. Unfortunately, Costa Classica lacks the large number of balconies that have become as popular with Europeans as North Americans. Costa neoRomantica holds the edge here, with balconies added during her refurbishment.

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

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

  • 10 passenger decks
  • Dining room
  • buffet
  • pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi
  • safe
  • refrigerator (some)
  • 2 pools
  • Fitness classes
  • gym
  • hot tubs
  • sauna
  • spa
  • steam room
  • 7 bars
  • casino
  • 2 dance clubs
  • library
  • show room
  • video game room
  • Children’s programs
  • Dry-cleaning
  • laundry service
  • Internet terminal


The layout of these midsized ships makes it easy to learn your way around
Duty-free shops have Italian designer goods as well as the usual logo stuff
The observatory has a 360-degree view by day and morphs into a disco at night
Outside cabins on the lowest passenger decks have large portholes instead of picture windows
There are no self-service passenger laundry rooms
With smoking areas in most lounges, the smell of cigarette smoke can be bothersome

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins


Liberally paneled in light cherrywood, cabins are fairly spacious and have ample storage. Ocean-view staterooms feature large porthole-style windows. Suites are generous in size with large seating areas; they also have butler service. Designed when the balcony craze was just taking off, Costa Classica has only 10 suites with balconies; six forward-facing suites do not have balconies, and 18 minisuites have the same amenities as the suites but are not as large.

All accommodations have soft-color fabrics in a minimalist style and have a personal safe, TV, and hair dryer. The combination desk and dressing table has a large mirror; a small seating area with a table and two chairs are typical furnishings.

Bathrooms are tight in ocean-view and inside cabins, even by modern cruise-ship standards. The usual bath amenities include the basic soap and shampoo. Suites have the added luxury of a whirlpool bathtub and double sinks.

Six staterooms are wheelchair accessible on Costa Classica.

Food & Drink


The single main restaurant on each ship serves open seating breakfast and lunch, with dinner in two assigned seatings. Breakfast and lunch are also available at the Lido buffet, where seating is indoors or out. Dinner buffets are scheduled for certain nights during the cruise, as are traditional midnight buffets. An upscale alternative, reservations-only restaurant on Costa neoRomantica carries à la carte charges—a perk for suite passengers is a complimentary dinner for two there. The Samsara specialty restaurant on Costa neoRomantica is complimentary for passengers in Samsara Spa cabins and suites and requires reservations and a service charge for all other passengers on a very limited space-available basis. Each ship has both a pizzeria and a patisserie, and 24-hour room service is available.


Performances by the resident production singers and dancers as well as guest entertainers are scheduled most nights in the main theater. Secondary show lounges feature singers and musicians and are the venues for Costa’s signature parties, during which the entertainment staff goes into overdrive to encourage passenger participation. There is a quieter and intimate piano bar as well as other lounges with music for dancing and listening as well as a disco.

Spa & Fitness

Caracalla Spa on Costa Classica and Samsara Spa on Costa neoRomantica offer treatment menus including body wraps, massages, and facials. The Samsara Spa holds the edge with its thalassotherapy pool, but both ships have saunas and steam rooms.

Key cruising tips


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
102 feet
723 feet
954/266–5600 or 800/462–6782

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