We recently had the opportunity to visit the Costa Atlantica in Venice, during a turnaround between her seven night itineraries. Everything we had seen and read about her, including Paul Motter's review in Cruise Mates, aroused our expectations of seeing a very new kind of vessel… and we were not disappointed.
After quite a few years in this Industry, I have visited and sailed on many vessels. Nothing had quite prepared me for the Costa Atlantica. No picture I have seen and no written word, including this, can quite capture the exquisite detail and nautical design refinements one finds here.
We spent all of Sunday, October 1st, from about 9:30am until shortly before she sailed in the late afternoon, on board. The morning was spent exploring her public areas and, after lunch, we visited virtually every cabin category on board. Here are a few of my impressions. One should note that the entire ship is themed around Felini's movies, evidenced by the choice of deck names and decorations in many of the lounge areas.
Carnival's Interiors Architect, Joe Farcus, has achieved the near impossible… a remarkable blend of the modern amenities considered the norm for cruise ships catering to an American market and a dramatic Italian/European decor that is truly unique. From the moment one steps on board the Costa Atlantica there is no mistaking her Italian heritage yet one is in a comfortable and familiar cruise ship environment. And what an environment it is!
Upon embarking, we enter the ship's La Dolce Vita Atrium… a spacious Atrium that ascends from deck two to deck ten. Three scenic elevators travel silently and look out on an opposite wall beautifully painted from top to bottom. An attractive bar is located in the center. It is a breathtaking space that exudes an Italian flavor and is both awesome and inviting.
The ship's Tiziano Restaurant is a well designed two level affair at the stern end of the ship. Spacious and attractive, the Tiziano has a painted ceiling, resembling in a way the famous Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Tables are nicely spaced and the busing stations are all located against the walls, giving the room an uncluttered look and good functionality. I spoke with a number of the assistant maitre d's and some of the waiters we knew from other Costa ships and their happiness with the layout assures me that it is a smoothly functioning restaurant.
Costa Atlantica's Botticelli Buffet and Napoli Pizzeria are located on Deck 10 and are nicely laid out and quite attractive. Her alternative dining venue, the Club Atlantica is gorgeous and spans two decks. It features cuisine from Italy's renowned Chef, Gualtiero Marchesi.
The ship has three pools, two for adults (one with a retractable dome) and one for the kids. It also has some outdoor Jacuzzis. The Ischia Spa and Olympia Gym also span two decks and offer a wide range of treatments, activities and fitness equipment.
The Costa Atlantica's many lounges have a variety of different decors, ranging from a Japanese "Madame Butterfly" motif to the Via Veneto Lounge… a photo tribute of Felini, and the dramatic and beautiful Coral Lounge. There is an Internet Cafe located in the library. These lounges and, in fact, all the public areas of the ship exhibit a remarkable attention to detail and artistic embellishment. The total effect is stunning.
And then there is the Caffe Florian! On the evening before we visited the ship, we visited the nearly three hundred year old Caffe Florian, in Venice's St. Marks Square. First opened in December of 1720, this delightful space is a typical Venitian cafe, with many small rooms all exquisitely decorated with paintings on the walls and ceilings. Each room opens out onto St. Marks Square where there are additional tables and chairs. And, there is a small orchestra playing the classics just outside on the sidewalk. The ambiance is remarkable as the music and good cheer wafts through the Cafe. We were invited by the Cafe Florian's owner, Daniela Gaddo Vedaldi, a vivacious and elegant lady who gave us the interesting history of the Cafe. For the first time in its long history, the Cafe Florian has entered into an arrangement with another Company and allowed the Cafe to be exactly reproduced on the Costa Atlantica.
I have never seen anything like the Cafe Florian on any ship. It is a remarkable reproduction, down to the tables, chairs and flooring. And, it is a venue in which people can enjoy the classics in elegant, historical surroundings, removed from the other activities on board. It is an exciting and pleasant surprise… something really new and different on board with all the magnetism and elegance of the original in Venice.
We enjoyed a delightful lunch in the Tiziano Restaurant… and were particularly impressed with the low noise level… helped I would think by the high ceilings, ample space between tables and many varied surfaces and decorative touches.
On to the staterooms! After lunch, we took several hours to visit every Category of stateroom on the ship. As a general statement, they are all generously proportioned and well laid out… lots of closets, storage space and good sized bathrooms and showers.
The Inside Staterooms measure a comfortable 158 square feet and are beautifully decorated. Category 1's are located on Deck 1… Categories 2 and 3 are on decks 6, 7 and 8. The only difference between these Inside cabins are their location.
80% of the Staterooms on the Costa Atlantica are OceanView and 85% of those have private verandas. Category 4 cabins, the least expensive of the OceanViews are really quite nice and quite unique. They are Obstructed View cabins (with Life Boats mounted outside) but, they have a unique feature… they all have French Balconies. Two doors with floor to ceiling windows, open inwards allowing fresh air and light to come in. They are really quite nice and an interesting alternative to the Inside Staterooms. These cabins measure a comfortable 175 square feet. Category 5 cabins are located on Deck 1, have large picture windows and also measure 175 square feet.
Categories 6 through 11 are veranda cabins. They all measure 175 square feet and have verandas measuring from 40 to 70 square feet. Prices vary mainly by location on the ship and by the size of the Veranda. The Costa Atlantica offers a wide range of choices of veranda cabins, including many that are much more affordable than those available on other ships.
A wide variety of Suite Accommodations is available, varying in size from 272 square feet to 367 square feet, plus veranda's ranging from 40 to 282 square feet. The suites are all well laid out and attractive. Their bathrooms feature double sinks, whirlpool bathtubs and are spacious. Butler service is available. The suite categories offer many different layouts, even within the same category, frequently depending upon the suite's location on board.
In general, the staterooms on board the Costa Atlantica are well proportioned, cleverly designed and laid out. From the minimum Inside to the Suite Category, all are fine examples of modern shipbuilding techniques. I didn't see one that I would not be comfortable sailing in!
I reluctantly left the ship shortly before she sailed on Sunday, October 1st. The overall effect of this vessel is overpowering. She is clearly one of the most interesting vessels I have seen in years. The amount of detail work… the quantity and quality of original art, the Murano Glass found on display in stairwell nooks… the incredible variety of her public rooms… the superb spa and health club facilities… her large Children's area (the Pinocchio Children's Room) and special pool with water slide… all of these combine in such a way as to make the total ship greater than the sum of her parts! I have no question that the Costa Atlantica will be enthusiastically received when she arrives in the Caribbean in November.