by Vincent & Mary Finelli
March 4, 2007
There is an old saying "It is the company on a voyage that makes it so enjoyable." This, our fourth cruise on the Costa Mediterranea, proved the old adage right! There is a list (or rather a roster) of old friends and acquaintances, that we met again on board, which made this a terrific cruise. The wonderfully friendly Captain Giuseppe Russo tops the roster. The others are the following: the accomplished Hotel Director Attilio Sissa; Chef Massimo Molinaro with whom we crossed the Atlantic two years ago; Maitre D' Bartolomeo Vitiello with his impeccable continental manners (Yes, ladies you will be greeted with a kiss on the hand); The 2nd Maitre D' Antonello Tievoli (with the quirky reversible last name "I love it."); Then, there is the 2nd Maitre D' Raffaele Bailo (the Music Man), whose contributions to the ambiance of the Restaurant Degli Argentieri are immeasurable. Finally, Passenger Guest Relations Martina Fantoni, a lady who provides cruisers with a great sense of the "Costa Family." This concludes the list of old friends, later on we will enumerate the new ones.
This was our 13th Costa Cruise and all excellent ones. Perhaps, it is the manner in which Vincent approaches them --- with enthusiasm and a sense of homecoming. The very Italian flavor on the Costa Ships is contagious, enhanced by a decidedly international mix of passengers, since the Costa Line is after all the most popular in Europe.
Like her sister ship the Costa Atlantica, she sports the traditional Costa blue "C" on her yellow smoke stack. Built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards, Finland in 2004; she is Panamax: 982 ft. long, 104 ft. wide, 196 ft. tall with a gross tonnage of 85,700. She has 12 decks and 1057 cabins of which 742 have balconies. She is powered by 6 Diesel Generators and has a maximum speed of 24 knots. Her total passenger capacity is 2,680 and has a crew of 920.
Enough of the specifics, the Mediterranea is graced with the works of 34 contemporary artists and a large heavy tome (over 250 pages) has been devoted to the great art collection on board: "L'Arte della Commedia." La Commedia dell'Arte (the Comedy of Masks) includes the famous classical characters of Pulcinella (Punch), Colombina (Columbine), Arlecchino (Harlequin), Rosaura, Capitan Spaventa (Captain Frightful), etc. The atrium's main wall has the six masked Venetian characters in full regalia -- a sartorial triumph! The Vignale designs and the Cioce photographs of dancers are stunning and of museum quality. There are 48 Cioce panels in the Atrium Maschera d'Argento (Silver Mask Hall), depicting dance in movement so beautifully, that they are unforgettable. There are also many sculpted figures in dance poses which occupy the rest of the 8 deck high wall.
Decks 2 (Tersicore) and 3(Bacco) are public decks with the Osiris Theater forward, Via Condotti Shops, the Piazza Casanova, the Casino, Passenger Services Desk and the Tour Desk and the two level restaurant of the silversmiths "Ristorante degli Argentieri."
Decks 4 (Teseo), 5(Orfeo), 6 (Narciso), 7 (Promoteo), and 8 (Pegaso) are all staterooms.
Decks 9 (Armonia) and 10 (Cleopatra) are all public areas including the Buffet and grills, pools and whirlpools, spas, gym, tennis courts, jogging tracks, etc.
The Costa Mediterranea is an art and amenity filled ship of the first magnitude.
FOOD & SERVICE
Of course, not only is the ambiance Italian, but so is the food. Our waiters Julio Katinding and his assistant Chester Coronica were tip top. We enjoyed appetizers of Grana Padana and Prosciutto di Parma, pate` with pistachios, and Escargot. The various soups were interesting and the hot ones included pasta e fagioli and double chicken broth with tortellini; the cold ones included Pear cocktail with Kirsch, and chilled cucumber yogurt with dill soup. Pasta courses were abundant such as Farfalle al Salmone (Bow ties with Salmon), Fettuccine Alfredo and Penne con Pomodoro Fresco (pasta with fresh tomato). The entrees included Beef, Veal, Lamb, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna (steaks or Carpaccio), swordfish broiled to perfection and quite succulent. The King crabs were wonderful too. Chef Massimo Molinaro made terrific swordfish involtini (roll ups). Excutive Chef Giovanni Scalet is to be congratulated for his many unique offerings. Bravo!
Desserts were varied and not overly sweet. Excellent Napoleons, Baba au Rum, Tiramisu and fresh exotic fruits from raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to papayas, mangos and Kiwis. We had room service each morning for breakfast and our Butler Carla was always punctual and hot items were hot and chilled ones cold. The full restaurant menu was available: eggs any way, pancakes, waffles, French toast, fruits and sides orders of bacon, and potatoes, Danish, Bagels and rolls of all kinds. The breads on board Costa are very crunchy, just the way we like bread. Grissini (bread sticks) are fresh and delicious and set every night on every table.
We dined on Deck 10 at the Club Medusa Restaurant twice. This upscale Italian restaurant has a beautiful setting and wonderful ambiance, with the excellent music of pianist and singer Domenico Mancuso (a wonderful repertoire and excellent voice). The dance floor is large and well used. The tables are set with gold brocade tablecloths and Versace red and gold plates. We chose the fixed taster's menu, which is an eight course meal that has a duration of about two and one half hours. But there was also an a la carte menu with great variety. The Club Supervisor is Rahul Upadhyay, whom we met before; he is very efficient and aims for excellence.
Congratulations to both Captain Russo and Hotel Director Attilio Sissa, they have a well oiled machine.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 2. Key West, FL USA Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm There are free shuttle busses to downtown. We have been in Key West many times, thus we have visited all of the interesting places including President Truman's Little White House, The Key West Shipwreck Historeum, the Hemingway Home and the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar. This time, we just did some shopping downtown.
Day 3. At Sea.
Day 4. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm Tendering ashore. We did not go ashore. However, among the tours we prefer are the Stingray Sandbar Snorkeling (2.5 hours, $ 47) and the Stingray Observatory and Island Highlights (3 hours, $ 60).
Day 5. Roatan, Honduras Arrive: 10:00am Depart: 5:00pm We took the West Side Highland Tour (4 hours, $ 46) and were disappointed in both the Carambola Botanical Garden and the visit to the Butterfly and Parrot Park.
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm We consider this port as the best shopping place in the Western Caribbean. For those interested in archeological tours, the visit to the Ancient Mayan city of Tulum is a must (8 hours, $ 82). Several great snorkeling and SCUBA diving tours are available.
Day 7. At Sea.
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive: 7:00am