I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on the Costa Atlantica! The ship is absolutely gorgeous! I was a little hesitant because all the reviews are either "love it or hate it" and not much middle ground. I found the same to be true of the people I talked to on the ship. Everyone was very vocal in the likes and dislikes and no middle of the road.
I found the Embarkation a little long but I was there at prime time and with all those people, one has to expect a wait. At least there were chairs to sit in and over the years I've been in far worse situations (Southampton, New York, Tahiti). I think it was an hour and I was on board, exploring amd changing my dining room seating and they were very accommodating about that, no questions asked.
Overall, one cannot say enough about the look of the ship. The art, the statues, vases, murals, stairwells, everywhere you looked, the details were unbelievable. I loved the Cafe Florian and the Atrium and judging from the number of pictures being taken in those areas, everyone else did, too! The ship is spectacular! I also liked the Paparazi Lounge where there were fantastic, huge black and white photographs of stars. The ship was ideal for strolling around as many of the lounges were more a walk through situation than a "you have to walk in" situation (which is a good/bad thing). There were ensembles, entertainers in the smaller lounges which I enjoyed as I am not a production show person. The Cafe Florian had a great trio, violin, bass and piano! They were excellent and I never got tired of listening to them. The only thing I did not like (this is my fault in a way for booking in March not the cruise lines totally) was the number of children and teens on board and the lack of conrol. Because of the "walk through style" lounges you could be listening to nice music at the Florian and then a loud group of running children or noisy teens would hang out and ruin the listening. I heard the disco was horrible but I wasn't a nite owl this trip so I didn't witness that first hand. I attribute these problems to spring break/vacation time and the lack of evening activities for these age groups. (Side note: On the plane home I talked to people from other ships and heard some of the same comments and I was under the impression that cruise lines had cracked down on young people being so disruptive but apparently not and I did notice underage drinking which is very wrong)
The dining room was good (for my tastes) but not gourmet. Because I have not been on Celebrity or other more "attentive to food" lines, I am satisfied with good. My meals were on time, properly cooked, what I ordered and all were edible. On par with Princess, NCL, and Royal Caribbean the other lines I have been on. There were people with complaints but I was satisfied. The dining room was more fun than any of the other lines. Where other lines do a parade once or twice, every night is an adventure on Costa . Roses one night for the ladies, Congo lines more than once, champagne toasts, and, of course, the infamous toga night, which is not to be missed. The waiters came out and dance with the ladies on more than one evening. It was a party and very fun, but others may not like that sort of thing, I do. I found the food in the buffet area upstairs to be nomral run of the mill buffet food but I liked the choices. The best organized ever and seldom long lines even on sea days and always enough seats. I liked the fact that there were several omlet stations in the a.m. so you could get hot eggs immediately and I was always never more than 4th in line. The beverage areas were everywhere and away from the buffet lines plus they were always pushing carts of coffee around to serve you. I felt the employees were very conscientious and anxious to help. All the wait staff I dealt with were excellent.
The stateroom was absolutely wonderful. My first balcony cabin and I really liked that. The bathroom and shower were a very pleasant surprise. I also thought it was the quietest room I have ever had in terms of noise from either side of me or from the hall. I had neighbors and I never heard them. In fact, we were on a shore excursion together and they asked if I could hear them. Three young men, their wives, and mom and dad were next to me, across from me and I didn't hear a sound and they weren't quiet people! They loved to party and on our Catamaran tour the operators turned the punch making and entertainment over to them!!!
Speaking of tours, there were alot of choices and a great variety, but I felt that Nassau, St. Thomas were just too crowded for my taste (again, my choice of March is not the right time for me). The Catamaran tour to St. John found lots of sail boats there, other boats and just beach tours, too much! I took the Blue Lagoon tour in Nassau and never would have if I had known we would be on a three decker boat with 2 other cruise lines!!! One plus for Costa , we had six people from the ship with us (probably due to the various nationalities) and the other lines had maybe one for all those people. It was chaotic getting on and off the boat.
Addressing the issue of nationalities, I didn't mind the passenger mix at all and don't feel it is an issue although I have read way too many comments about it. People need to be more tolerant of other nationalities and their personal habits/customs. The smoking issue wasn't as bad as people have described (I have asthma and I am fussy about smoking, candles, excessive perfume, which all can bring on an attack) and I got along just fine. No one smoked in elevators and while there was more smoking than on other lines I didn't see it to be abused to where I couldn't get away from it. The dining room has a totally separate alcove for smokers and I didn't see anyone else smoking anywhere but there in the dining room. The announcements were a pleasure in that they never announced bingo, horse racing, art auctions or anything to their monetary benefit. Yes, the first day there were 5 language announcements but that was to get things started and safety is an important issue. Each day at 9:30, the cruise director made an announcement (not very long) and it was repeated in the languanges and that was it all day unless they needed to page a passenger. The most quiet ship I have ever been on and the least pesty in terms of hawking drinks. They had drink specials but they didn't push them and their bar staff was the most pleasant, low key and unobtrusive I've ever seen. People criticize because they couldn't get drinks by the pool or didn't know what the specials were because they didn't come around with them on trays, I say, oh, well! I never had trouble getting drinks and I checked the program every day to see if my favorite "frozen thingee" was listed! Believe me, I had more than my share of margueritas, my favorite!!! Also, the prices were the best of any ship. I ran into people buying pop to take onboard the Grand because they were tired of paying over 2.00, I told them I was paying 1.75 and 3.95 for wine and drink specials were 3.25. In 99, I paid way more than that for drinks on the Crown Princess.
This is getting rather long, but I did enjoy the ship, the staff, and the overall cruise experience. I wasn't a major participator in late evening activities because this was a mental recuperation trip for me and I needed time to myself (my own personal choice) so I can't talk about the show quality or the late night buffet or theme evenings. I heard people say some were excellent, some were just average which is about normal for most cruise lines, I think. One parting note though I still wouldn't say everyone should try a Costa Cruise simply going by human nature they are not what people expect in comparison to other cruise lines and people do judge things by comparing. I went on knowing that it might be 60, 40 or even 80% international and I didn't care. I work for a foreign, international company and I hear satellite broadcasts in 4 languages all the time and I cannot afford to be opinionated about other nationalities. I'll joke about it up to a point but not to where it is hurtful or insulting to someone. I don't feel anyone has the right to criticize or judge other peoples habits because they are different from yours. I have seen vicious, mean things on the boards about the Costa Cruise experience and I would never stoop to that level but for the same reason I won't say everyone should it try unless they are prepared to keep an open mind and are ready to enjoy a different experience. Again, I apologize for being so wordy!