There comes a time when the ship becomes a destination in itself, and that is what has happened with the Costa Atlantica for us. This is the fourth time we have sailed on this elegant ship; each time we marvel at her ornate beauty and the many distinctive areas in which passengers can enjoy the pure celebration of all things Italian: wonderful food, wines, art and of course music. We have done the Western Caribbean itinerary many times, so this cruise was booked for pure relaxation and pleasure on board.
This ship is dedicated to the Great Italian Federico Fellini, film director extraordinaire, and both decks and corridors are named and imbued with the character of the Maestro. There are a multitude of enlarged paparazzi style photographs of the '50s and 60's period of "La Dolce Vita" by Tazio Secchiaroli. The many actors of the times are forever preserved at the height of their beauty and youth, including the following: Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardiner, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, David Niven and of course Marcello Mastroianni, etc. All are shown strolling on the streets of Rome, which brings back our own youth, nostalgically renewed while we stroll around this magnificent ship: Ah, Marcello Mastroianni driving a Triumph sports car with Carlo Ponti holding on to his Fedora and seated next to him. Oh look, there is the movie star, sex goddess Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Fontana di Trevi. There is Fellini walking right up the middle of Via Veneto, as if he owns it, which he did in those days! Thanks to the Costa Atlantica, we are invigorated by our youthful memories of Rome and another more elegant and playful time.
EMBARKATION In Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the Costa Atlantica was berthed at Pier 21. Baggage handlers quickly took our luggage and we went directly to a separate Check-in Counter for Wheelchair and Suite passengers. There was a crew member to assist us: We arrived at 12:30pm and were on board by 1:00pm. Very efficient. In our Panoramic Suite we were greeted "Italian Style" with a bottle of Prosecco Spumante chilling, a huge assortment of fresh fruit ( Mangoes, grapes, kiwi, strawberries, etc.) and a wonderful floral arrangement of exotic flowers (orchids, antherium, pittsoporum, etc.) all coordinated by our terrific Butler Alex Cortes. We were off to the "Welcome Aboard" buffet, where cruisers recognize immediately the Italian influence on food and service. We have already published three reviews of the Costa Atlantica, so this review will concentrate on what "Cruising Italian Style" means. We met Captain Giuseppe Russo, an elegant gentleman, who wanted to converse with Vincent in their Neapolitan dialect. This took Vincent back 50 years to his youth and memories of Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno and the Amalfitan Coast. We also met Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whose knowledge of the Costa Atlantica goes back to construction days at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyard in Finland. She was kind enough to share her insight with us.
SHIP The Costa Atlantica is first of six sister ships: Costa Mediterranea, and Carnival's Spirit, Pride, Legend and finally the Miracle. Having sailed on all but the latter, we feel that the Atlantica is the one whose interior is most true to Italian design. Here are many exquisite reproductions of fine Italian paintings by Titian, Botticelli, Raphael etc., original venetian glass work in passage ways, stairwells and elevators, and a multitude of artworks by a dozen or more contemporary artists, which make this ship a truly floating museum. However, the most characteristic place on board is the beautiful replica of the famed Caffe` Florian (original in Piazza San Marco, Venezia). This caffe` with its frescos, along with the Fellini memorabilia and the beautiful artwork throughout the ship, evoke Italian Style. Costa Atlantica also has a Pompeian mural recreated down to the original cracks in the fresco. The bird cage elevators in the atrium give passengers a wonderful view of this well executed reproduction of an ancient Pompeian painting as they ride.
The ship's statistics are a Panamax 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide with a gross tonnage of 85,000. Eighty percent of her cabins are ocean view and most of these have private balconies. We refer you to our previous reviews for ship details and deck by deck descriptions.
CABIN Suite #6219 is quite familiar to us, since we have stayed in it before. Combinations of dark and light woods, brass, copper and granite all give the effect of a traditional Captain's quarters on a brigantine. It is large roomy, stylish and comfortable, all in warm shades of peach and coral. When entering on the left, there is a small ante room with a lighted vanity and two huge wardrobes; then there is the full bath with two sinks and a Jacuzzi tub with shower. The bathroom is done in marble, tile and granite. Next is a full granite bar, a private safe, TV, a huge dresser and two more wardrobes. There is also a king sized bed with night stands and reading lamps.
When entering on the right, there is a mirrored wall and a desk with mahogany pillars and ebony capitals and a refrigerator. There is a leather sofa bed, a comfortable arm chair and a large granite coffee table. The far wall has a floor to ceiling window and a door to the balcony which holds two teak chairs and a table. In addition, our wonderful steward Anna Agustine brought a chaise lounge for Vincent. The draperies and sheers were coordinated to the bed linens and there was even a blackout drape. Excellent.
FOOD & SERVICE Under the close eye of Ann Ryan, both food and service are great. We usually reserve a table for two near the dining room entrance and table #276 was just that. We still enjoyed conversing with the couple at the next table, who were curious about Vincent's wine selections and items on the menu. The lady was turned on to Prosciutto & Melone (Napoleon and Josephine's wedding breakfast) which she proceeded to order frequently.
Unique to the Costa Line is the placement of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each table. We were pleased with the quality of both ingredients and we used only these condiments for the entire cruise on the excellent fresh, crunchy rolls, bread sticks and salads. Food favorites are very personal; however, "when in Rome...," we suggest trying the Italian specialties, you will not regret it. Executive Chef Paolo Maspera runs a great galley. At Ms Ryan's suggestion, we tried the Pizzeria at 10pm where four different types of pizzas were piping hot. We noted that the crew was waiting for the hot pies to arrive, so we knew that changes had been made and the quality improved. We now can say the pizza is good on the Costa Atlantica.
Food & Service in the Tiziano Dining room and all around the ship are under the expert direction of Maitre D' Ciro Onorato, whom we had previously met on the Costa Mediterranea. He frequently visited us at our table to ascertain that everything was to our satisfaction and recommended us to his Assistant Maitre D' Riccardo for anything we may desire. We wish to thank them both for their courteous attention. Our waiter Randi and his assistant Dan were excellent. Both food preparation and presentation were wonderful. The menu and quality were superb. The only culinary lapse was in the soups. They were certainly not traditional and mostly bland. For example, French onion soup was not a clear broth but rather a potato thickened one, and certainly the clam chowder was not creamy. Several of our fellow passengers commented in a similar fashion. However, the rest of the menu was delicious, including appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. The wine list included a variety of good wines, moderately priced.
Guest Relations Manager Gisella Iasi is friendly and cordial even in the face of rudeness from a passenger: A female travel agent wanted to view occupied cabins at 10am and would not understand why both the request and the timing were inappropriate. All this occurred while we were being assisted by Gisella; so, we turned to the agent and politely told her that obviously she was in a bigger hurry than we were; thus, she should be served before us and we would return later and wait on line again. None of this made an impression on the rude woman. Gisella you deserve a medal for that one.
We know that service on board emanates from the Captain and the Hotel Director on down. Both Captain Russo and Hotel Director Ryan are detail people who exemplify the manners their crew emulate.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is an old acquaintance of ours from the Costa Romantica, 8 years ago. He has come up through the ranks and knows how to engage passengers and entertain them. His rendition of "Just a Gigolo" at the Thursday night Variety Show was a great opener. Each evening the crew using games got passengers to participate in programs all over the ship. MINGLE was the buzz word. There is musical entertainment all over the ship. Salone Corallo on Deck 1 had one of our favorite singers accompanied by the Nite Out Band. Tiziana Sinagra (Sicilian), who sang in both English and Italian ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?" "Only You," "New York, New York" and "O Sole Mio") has a powerful voice and a range that rivals the famous Yma Sumac.
The Caruso Theatre presented New Yorker John Ciotta an Italo American tenor, who brought the audience to its feet. There was also a "Classical Concert At Sea" featuring violin virtuoso Joan Badea of Romania accompanied by Mihail Zadic on piano. Their repertoire included "Roumanian Rhapsody" by Enesco and "Czardas" by Monti. They were brilliant playing very difficult pieces. They also performed at the Caffe` Florian.
There were games like Bingo, Bridge and Casino Tournaments, Trivia and Passport Visa Night. Any passenger who collected four stamps at the ethnic (Greece, France, Spain and Turkey) shows received $100 off their next Mediterranean Costa Cruise. The nice mix of activities is eclectic enough to satisfy all passengers. Even Ann K. celebrating her 90th birthday, while on her 100th Costa Cruise was having a good time!
PORTS OF CALL Since we have cruised the Western Caribbean and visited these ports many times, we did not leave the ship at all. During port days we enjoyed the ship by getting a hydromassage in the whirlpool early in the morning and then leisurely visiting the various interesting public areas. We did not have a rigid schedule, our priority was relaxation. And relaxed we were throughout this cruise! Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale Departure: 7:30pm
Day 2. Key West Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 1:00pm
Day 3. At Sea
Day 4. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 7:00pm
Day 5. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:30pm
Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrival: 8:00am Departure: 5:00pm
Day 7. At Sea
CONCLUSION This was a great cruise, almost a perfect one. This was our eighth cruise on Costa ships and the fourth on the Atlantica, so we knew well what to expect, and everything met our expectation. The delicious Italian cuisine, the friendly and festive atmosphere, meeting again old acquaintances, Maitre D' Ciro and Cruise Director Max, and making new friends is truly "Cruising Italian Style." What more to expect? Not much! The Pizza on board has improved since our critical review of an earlier cruise on the Atlantica, and hopefully, when we'll return on a Costa ship, in a not too distant future, the soups will be better. We feel that Costa Management listens to passengers and tries to achieve the highest possible customer satisfaction. We did notice a large number of cruisers at the repeaters' party, where we met a ninety year old lady celebrating the 100th cruise on Costa, a telltale indication of satisfied customers. Happy Cruising Italian Style!