This was the fourth cruise of my life, the third with Costa Cruise Line. The first time, in 1979 I sailed on Romanza a 5,500 tons. Chandris Cruise Line's ship, in 1993 on board Eugenio Costa and last Summer on Costa Victoria. With me in this cruise there was my girlfriend Federica, 22 years old, for her this was the second cruise after Costa Victoria last Summer with me. As you know I'm 24 and I live in Venice and I study at University.
The itinerary was Venice-Bari-Katakolon-Kusadasi-Istanbul-Athens-At Sea-Venice. Thanks to informations office I received the break down nationalities of this cruise, it is the following: total passangers 2587 divided into 1750 italian, 313 spanish, 145 french, 143 swiss, 63 americans and others passangers from 14 nations. There were also 638 passangers with the age range 35-50 and 565 with the age range 50-70 and 386 with the age range 25-35, others age ranges are very similar with about 100 passangers for each.
The embarkationwas very good and fast even if the ship was full booked; it started at 10:30 am with check-in and at 2:00 pm with the real embarkation.
For passangers arrived by train or airplane there were Costa 's shuttle buses from the Airport and railway station to the pier.
If you arrived early as me there was the possibility, without pay an extra fee, to go to S. Marco square by aquataxi with the departure directly from the pier every 15 mins. This service was avaible after the check-in which takes from 10 until 30 mins. where there was the registration of ticket, credit card and Costa card for the cashless system.
About Costa card there is an important thing to say: from the first Atlantica cruise passangers have to register every time your exit or entrance in the ship putting it into an optical reader, so Costa 's crew know in real time the passanger's position ( on board or out of the ship).
From 2:00 pm passangers embarked in order of the check-in; I arrived at 11:00 am and I checked-in with numbers 540-541.
From the airport I remember to all there is the possibility to arrive directly to the pier by private aquataxi with about 80$ (there is the possibility to transport about 8 people at the same price).
After the check-in there was the possibility to book shore excursions and water,wine packages as boy and girl or honeymoon packages; all about drinks at the restaurant or at bars.-------
About the itinarary I can say it was very good, in all ports of call there was the right time to spend in excursion. Only Bari was not good because ship docked only for 3 hours and there was only the possibility to go to do the city excursion and it wasn't interesting because in Bari there aren't a lot to see; this port is used by Costa to embark south Italian people.
From Katakolon to Athens every day there were 3 or 4 shore excursions and all interesting: Katakolon ( olimpia and museum, olimpia and shopping, skafidia Costa private beach); Kusadasi ( efeso, efeso and virgin home ); Istanbul ( superistanbul, istanbul with lunch on board, istanbul, half day tour); Athens (acropoli and museum, acropoli, capo suion, corinto and the canal, corinto canal by boat). I did every day a tour and I didn't find any problems, all the organization was very good and we had the time to visit all places as programs said. I spoke with a lot of people who did different excursions and they said me same impressions, the worst thing was the temperature: 35░ in Katakolon, 43░ in Efeso, 38░ in Istanbul and 45░ in Athens!!!!!!!!! For all the week we didn't see any cloud....-------
The general overview of this cruise was very good for services and for organization but only sufficient about the ship, and not only for the design but also for some project ideas.
On Sunday when I embarked I spoke with a lot of italian people embarked on Monday before who was finishing their cruise which was the first for the ship and they told me that during the first cruise (as usual I say) there were problems as these: only 1 swimmingpool was opened and others 2 closed; 2 jacuzzi were opened and others two closed; shore excursions were on late and with little time to see museums or others places; buffet on deck 9 was half closed; the slide water was closed and the tennis court was also closed for all the cruise. Fortunatly during my cruise a lot of these problems were solved. There is only the problem of the water slide because when people go down in it when they arrive at its end water goes out of it and go down over the solarium against people who are taking the sun!!!!!!!------
Now I'll describe in a brief way all the places of the ship.
Deck num. A-B-C these are crew decks where I know that where are a lot of problems with air conditioned system and crew have to sleep with 15░-20░, on deck A there is the hospital and the pharmacy and the exit when passangers have to use tenders.
Deck num.1 On this deck there are cabins and Corallo Lounge, my favourite place, it is a theme lounge used as the second theatre to dance, for bingo or other entarteinments but it is very good because it has soft lights and soft colors and in front of every seats there is a little table; it's very beautiful the stairway to go directly to deck 2 with (as in all the ship) a murano vase. In this deck there is also the main galley, I visited it with a little tour with maitre because in this cruise the usual midnight buffet in the galley wasn't scheduled because they have a lot of problems to organize in the right way the galley. It is connected with the restaurant by escalators but during this cruise it didn't work!! So I understood why waiters were a lot of time on late to serve at restaurant...
Deck num.2 From the prow to the stern we find the first floor of Teatro Caruso, this floor is the best to see the stage because first of all you have in front of you a little table and because on the second and third floors there are lights and glasses which disturb the view and also there are a lot of pillars. Caruso is big enough but has different colors (black,dark blue and red) which are horrible! Out of it we enter in Piazza Madama Butterfly, a japanese theme place, there there is a stage where there are a lot of entarteinments; it is very beautiful because is all red and it has along the windows glass sculpture. After it there is the casin˛ which is normal, there are more than 100 slot machines and a lot of table for roulette, black jack, caribbean pocker and in it there is a bar with a little stage with a piano, it is all red and black with a lot of marbles. Walking along the street we arrive at the central hall which is horrible because it seems a slot machine!! There are the three panoramic elevators with 3 different colors...there are lights everywhere...there is pompei's painted in one side and in the other side there are others murano vases....in the middle there is a bar with a piano over a stage taller than other floor.... After this incredible place we arrive in Via Veneto where there are a lot of photos of italian artists of '60, even here there is a bar with a piano and at stern there is the entrance of the restaurant Tiziano. The best place of the restaurant is on Deck 3 near the windows at the stern because they are very very large, there are only 10 tables for 2 in all the restaurant!! At the entrance there is the stairwway with an horrible sculpture but Fargus design is this... Others places in the restaurant are very good and there are a lot of murano glasses and very beautiful ligths.
Deck num.3 On this deck there is Florian, this is the exact copy and there isn't a lot to say; for me was made in a good way but not in the right place because is connected by a water stairway with madama butterfly which is a place very different.. On this deck there is also the library with internet cafŔ which is not yet opened with 5 computers and the possibility to use adsl connection. Atlantica hasn't an e-mail address unfortunatly but its personal web site is www.atlantica.Costa .it, on this deck there are also the disco which is very good and sala paparazzi for meetings and the bar paparazzi with an other piano, there is also photo gallery with photo shop.
Decks num.4,5,6,7,8 Only cabins, at prow there are virtualworld, children room and the little church (also this is horrible with strong colors).
Deck num.9 There are swimmingpool areas with 2 in the middle of the ship and one at stern; incredible but true: they are too small for this ship!!! I spoke with ship's director and he said carnival wanted 3 swimmingpool and they are so small. You have to believe me when I say in them are able to enter only in 8-10 people, entertainment staff said me Costa Allegra or Marina's swimmingpool are large as these!!! (Costa Allegra and Marina are 30,000 tons....) Also the space for deckchairs is small, if you arrive at 10 am to take the sun you have to go to solarium because in this area there isn't enough space! On this deck there is also Buffet Botticelli and Pizzeria Napoli open all the day while botticelli is open for the lunch with 8 buffets divided for dishes (2 for pasta,2 for fish and meat,2 for grill and 2 for dessert). This place is good but we had to wait a lot before to eat.
Deck num.10-11-12 In these decks there is the solarium, very big, the tennis court wich is in a good place without wind thanks to the very big glasses against wind and the spa which is terrific because the gimnasium is on 3 decks and it has also a jacuzzi and a lot of rooms for sauna and steamrooms, naturally there is the beauty salon. On deck 10 there is club atlantica where you could have the alternative dinner payng 15$ per person by Gualtiero Marchesi cousine, I think suite's guests have here all dinners because I saw same persons all the nights. I did here one dinner and it was fantastic also because there are panoramic windows.-----------
About the dining I said possibilities where you could have it, pizzeria is opend 24h, botticelli buffet is opend for breakfast-lunch and in the afternoon, club atlantica only for dinner. Men¨ was always good and with a lot of choices also midnight buffet were good: 3 at restaurant, 1 at swimmingpool and 3 times all around lounges and bars with mobile kitchens and tables.----------
I had cabin num.8135, an inside cabin on deck 8; it was very good with all the accomodations as described in the brochure. I spoke with others passangers and I know someone had problems with vacuum system or with air conditioned system but in my cabin was all good as the steward as for the restaurant waiter and the busboy. ONLY A VERY IMPORTANT THING: OUTSIDE CABINS ON DECK 5 IN FRONT OF TENDERS WITH BALCONY HAS THE TENDER WHICH COVER THE PANORAMIC VIEW AND IN Costa BROCHURE THIS IS NOT WRITTEN!!!!!!!!------------
About entertainment and fitness was all very good and Costa staff was fantastic also if they have problems with space arouns swimmingpools. All days was organized a lot of plays, tournaments and at night shows were better than last year and also bar musicians were excellent.-----------
Dress code was informal even if to nights were gala night; unfortunately during these two nights we found people with only a t-shirt while I and my girlfriend as a lot of others passangers weared gala suit. About tipping Costa suggested to give 2$ per person per day to restaurant waiter and busboy, 1,5$ per person per day to cabin steward and 0,75$ per person per day to the maitre.
So as you can understand for me the cruise was very good for all, only one thing was not so good: the ship's design as for colors as for space choices as for furnishing.