Costa Cruises Costa Magica Joseph Good, Costa Magica March 5, 2011 Western Mediterranean
My family and I took this cruise out of Civitavecchia (Rome). This was a very interesting and enjoyable week. I hope I can answer some questions about this cruise, since I was unable to find much of the necessary but trivial information on the Costa website or other cruise reviews.
Convenience Answers: 1. Yes there are 120 volt outlets in the bathrooms and on the vanities. 2. Contrary to any North American cruise I have ever been on people embark and disembark at almost every port. This has the beneficial effect of reducing the people in the terminals at the end of the cruise. Costa managed this very well. Typically the excursion passengers got off first, often by a different gangway. 3. It became easy to ignore any announcements not in English. There is no reason to expect English to be the first announcement, either- certainly don't be offended, enjoy the differences. 4. I have not been on a Carnival owned ship lately (Holland American was my last one) but the do-it-yourself credit card sign and sail registration is exceedingly smart.
Most importantly if you are reading this review for an opinion of the experience, this is not the typical North American Cruise. What other reviewers have characterized as loud, bright, and pushy, we found typically Italian, and very tolerable. Yes, sometimes we Americans can be a bit judgmental; we ought to enjoy the difference in cultures. If you learn to either let the pushy people break into the line in front of you or push back, you can hold your own. Certainly not everyone is pushy and some Americans can be pushy too. Most of all don't get upset with different behavior. Yes there were more people smoking, but we didn't find it impossible or inconvenient to escape the smoke. Enjoy your fellow passengers- is much better to watch the other passengers enjoying themselves in the lounges and dance floor, and they do.
Otherwise the on-board activities were fairly typical, somewhat language specific. Watch for the "all area backstage tour", no longer done on US based cruise.. It may conflict with the day in Palermo excursions so plan for it.
The food was typical to worse cruise fare. My wife put it this way "usually I cannot decide between entrees, but it was not the case this time". The food was not as good as we have had on other cruises. This might be more pointed on this cruise since the food is likely to be compared to the food of Italy, which is not Italian cruise food. We ate lunch in many ports.
There are not any "sea days". Rather each day finds the ship visiting another port. This makes the cruise an educational experience. Most of these cities offer historic areas showing forts, cathedrals, streets and villages from hundreds of years of civilization and occupants. The excursions offered a variety of opportunities to employ professional guides or do it yourself site seeing. We recommend the bus trip to Monaco. This was very enjoyable, but not the only one we took, you should build your own experience. The cruise stops in Italy, Spain and France were a very good mix, showing many examples of western Mediterranean culture and history.
Costa markets the Civitavecchia port to North Americans. This is convenient for getting there over the "pond". I found a car service on the internet, that turned out to be reliable and used them from FCO to Rome and from Rome to the port. We arrived about 2:00 pm and had absolutely no waiting, how nice- It makes the "special boarding" lines and "clubs" unnecessary. Since the itinerary skips Tunis for now, the cruise never leaves the EU, which expedites all border formalities.
In short this was different kind of cruise, but wholly enjoyable. If Costa fails to measure up for your expectations it is too bad but be sure this experience is what you want. It is wrong to expect a North American style cruise from Costa, particularly the in the Mediterranean. It is a very interesting way to vacation and a very good alternative to the Caribbean.