Costa Cruises Costa Magica Western Caribbean January 15, 2006
First and foremost: This is an ITALIAN Cruise. Go to your local LITTLE ITALY and spend a day there. If you find yourself bored with the culture, you will not like this cruise. While cruising the Caribbean, this cruise will still attract more Europeans than others due to their multilingual staff. FOOD: BE PREPARED FOR ITALIAN FOOD. If you don't like salami, cheese, and pasta, you will not like this cruise. If you're Italian, eh, you'll feel right at home.
This is not a Royal Caribbean Continental American Fare. As an Italian-American, I can appreciate both and usually prefer the latter. But as a traveler, I appreciate the authenticity of international foods. It was like boxing up Italian Culture and Authentic Food and shipping it to a US port where I could experiment with foods, some I know, some I did not, including the Greek fare,...it was authentic alright, I couldn't make it out. But with Italian always available, I could always find something I liked. As noted in Cruise Critic, deck 9 front and back are Italian, always fresh pasta in front, the rear has Italian entrees and Pizza...sometimes without sauce, remember: NOT always American style. The sides of the buffet would alternate each day, one day Greek, one day Spanish, etc.
The main dinners, well, rib eye was great, lobster is lobster, and prime rib is prime rib. I had surf and turf on the waiter's tip and he had no problem combining the plates and later asking us all if we would like seconds of lobster. Each night they feature a different city in Italy, Rome, Naples, Palermo, etc. and the foods associated with those regions. We even took home a menu as a souvenir. This is the authentic cuisine, be prepared for an Italian Experience wrapped into a Beach and Excursion Cruise. Perhaps you should not mix these two since either one on their own is exciting. Then again, its like getting two cruises in one. If you just want fast food, beer, and beach, this is not the cruise for you. They do serve burgers, fries, and beer $3.50-4.25, $5.00 pina coladas for daily special drinks, but this is not their specialty.
They always have cold cuts and cheese...such as provolone, always hard-parmesan, and different types of very good hard salami and other varieties...not Oscar Meyer. If you have ever made fresh pasta, cooked it alta dente, and created a mild tomato or cream sauce, you will enjoy this cruise. If you like tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, bruschetta, minestrone, veal, pork, eggplant, beef, duck, cornish game hen, risotto, beef carpaccio, and six course meals, you will like this cruise. We read some negative food reviews and maybe they just cleaned their act up a bit. I still had to workout just to avoid gaining too much weight. This is not about quantity; I was extremely choosy on what I would eat! Even with my microscopic portions, I gained weight and enjoyed the food.
SIX COURSE DINNERS (ALL SEPARATE and SEQUENTIAL: appet., soup, salad, pasta, main, dessert): They start out with 3 choices of appetizers, 3 choices of soup (1 chilled), 2 choices of salads (yes, they serve soup first then salad, plus, Caesar salad also available), 2 choices of pasta, six main courses to choose from, and finally about 5 desserts to choose from. If you're not impressed, have them send you another. They also always have a vegetarian menu in the front and always have another menu available throughout the cruise as an alternative.
Entertainment: I was impressed again, with some Broadway bits mixed with numbers about movies, like Austin Powers and the Matrix. The toga night is different too with the show that night outrageous. They do sing at dinner quite a bit more and turn a timid crowd into a party train. I was two tables away and couldn't wedge myself back to my table to grab my camera. Standing room only!
Homogenous Carnival (owns Costa). The thing that I was quite amazed at is how homogenous the cruise experience is. There is still more food than you can eat, more entertainment than you can attend, and more activities to celebrate your vacation. That said, I could still see myself getting mad if something was changed without our knowledge. For example, a post-cruise excursion that was not properly documented on their website of which airport it takes you to and the staff not knowing until two days before the cruise ends. The biggest problem with any adventure is uncertainty. The certainty and homogenous nature of cruising in general can be reassuring and comforting. Go to Carnival, check out their liberty, and you'll see how similar the Magica is! Excursions all depend on what you choose. Very satisfied.
Check-in was no line at 1 pm, 4 minutes max! More reps than boarding passengers.
By day 3 and without cell phone, I had completely washed away concerns of home. It certainly draws you into a relaxed environment. All you have to do is relax and allow yourself to be pampered...and don't feel guilty if you have to ask what the course is or that you prefer a different plate.