Costa Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1854
Ships in Fleet: 11
Category: Mainstream

Summary: A Europe-based mainstream cruise line owned by Carnival. Ships are structurally identical to Carnival. Recommended for European cruisers who do not speak English - good for bargains in the Caribbean.

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Costa Cruises Cruise Ships

34 Reviews

Regions:Middle East, The Orient

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

6 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Middle East

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

1 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, World

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

1 Reviews

Regions:Western Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

15 Reviews

Regions:Western Mediterranean, Middle East, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

23 Reviews

Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

39 Reviews

Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.

7 Reviews

Regions:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe

Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. First-time Cruisers.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe

Good for: Group. Families.

11 Reviews

Regions:The Orient

Good for: Group. Singles. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
4.23
from 137 reviews

Cuisine

Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms

Staterooms

Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities

Nightlife

Shore Tours

Itinerary

Alternative Dining

User Reviews

137 User Reviews of Costa Cruises Ships
1. The Casino;
Publication Date: October 9, 2006

1. The Casino; A. Children gambling on the slot machines. B. Children running and playing around the casino with no adult supervision. C. A craps table with no craps dealer. D. When one roulette table was broken, the pit boss refused to open one of the other three tables. I addressed these issues to the casino manager, only to be lied to. I have been to casinos around the world and on other cruise ships, and this is the worst casino I have ever been to. I say this even though the wife and I won at least 400 euros while onboard.

2. The Food; A. The dinner every night consisted of frozen meals and what seemed to be leftovers. B. There was no 24 hour buffet. C. The food served at the breakfast and afternoon buffet was worse than anything I have eaten at an Army chow hall. The only edible food was the fresh fruit. D. Drinks that are normally available all day (water, tea, and coffee) were not, unless you were willing to pay for them.

3. The Service; A. With the exception of my waiter snd cabin steward,

everyone I spoke to or asked questions acted like I was ruining their day. Overall, the cruise personnel were just rude. B. On day 2 I asked the information desk for a complaint form, and I was told to wait until I recieved my review form at the end of the cruise.

4. The Excursions; A. The ports we traveled to were nice, but we were not there long enough to do anything, wit the exception of Rhodes. All other excursions had a 6 hour maximum time off the boat. B. If you did not purchase one of the excursions tours, you were forced to wait another 1 1/2 hours before you could leave the ship. Just another way for the cruise ship to get more money out of you, seeing how most of the tours consisted of not much more than walking around whatever town you were at, with a tour guide.

5. Onboard Entertainment; A. Nonexistent. B. Hot tubs were shut down at eight p.m. C. With the exception of the circus show, the rest of the shows were a waste of time. The only things left to do were go to the fabulous onboard casino, or get drunk.

This week long cruise was supposed to be a vacation, but I could not wait for it to end. I was happy to be off the ship and not dealing with anybody from Costa Cruises. I feel as though I am entitled to a refund. if anybody has any questions or comments please feel free to email me at drunkonduty247@msn.com. I will gladly explain myself in full detail.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: July 31, 2006

Do not go on the Costa Victoria if you are an American and enjoy good ships and good food. Our travel agent at Liberty Travel recommened this cruise fo my wife and I and two adult sons. Boy was she wrong or getting a huge commission.

The ship was not clean, the food was awful, the staff was not friendly towards Americans. The ship was either not in port long enough or at ridiculous times. For instance, we were in Mykonos from 4pm to 10pm. To late for the beautiful beaches and to early for the night life. Bari from 12 to 4. This is there siesta time. Santorini for 4 hours - you need all day.

On the dinner menu each night there was a star next to what food was frozen. All the fish, chicken and meat was frozen. The kids could find nothing to eat and they are not picky - it was that bad. I feel so stronly that noone elses vacation should be ruined like ours that I invite you to call my office at 305-682-1110 and I will be glad to talk to you.

This ship was the worst. We were lucky we booked 4 days in Venice at the end which we completely enjoyed.

Please do not take a Costa crusie and never ever ever use Liberty Travel.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: May 1, 2006

My husband and I selected this 5-day cruise from Savona to Venice for its good value price and the ports of call. We chose the best deck - 8 - balcony cabin 8101 on the port side. Port side was the better side for views in all ports but the better choice of cabin would have been amidships - around 8166. In fact the two lower decks would have been equally good.

A reasonable pre-cruise hotel is Hotel Coccodrillo in Varazze, half an hour from the port, they supply taxi to cruise port for 10 euros each. We arrived at Savona cruise port at 11.30 a.m. for an advertised 1.00 p.m. check-in. On delivering baggage to handler, we were given a number - 13 - the number of our group to be called! The Costa cruise terminal building is spacious (even for 2,000 passengers), airy and modern with lots of light. There is a restaurant/bar area with efficient counter service, though expensive. Check-in did begin at 1.00 and group boarding according to number was smooth - about 20 minutes between each number, so we boarded at 2.45 p.m. Be warned, all

non-EU passengers must surrender their passports to the ship until the end of the trip - a photocopy is given to passenger for re-boarding at each port.

Cabin was spacious and closet space better than on other cruises - one hanging closet each and a shelf closet. Bathroom also quite adequate and cabin steward was extremely pleasant - we received bucket of ice on request each evening, as morning's supply had melted. Balcony adequate for two chairs and table. Television stations in English were very limited.

The number of English-speaking passengers was small - about 200 out of a total of 2,000 - although we were seated - second seating, with an American and an English couple at an 8 seater table. Second seating was nominally at 9.15 p.m. - a bit later than the normal 8.30 p.m. on other cruises that we have taken - and in fact there was a huge queue to get into the dining room each evening at this time, so it was really a 9.30 entry. We had two waiters to our table, but though very willing and pleasant, they seemed to have too many people to serve for optimum service time. Breakfast buffet was satisfactory, except for the plastic glasses and coffee mugs. Served breakfast in the dining room was very slow, too many people.

Naples - first port of call - due at noon, we were able to disembark at 11.45 a.m. and, as we had been there before, we took a ferry, right beside the cruise port at Molo Beverello, to Capri, arriving 50 minutes later. (We recommend taking a taxi to Anacapri and then the chairlift to the top of Monte Solare) Ferries and hydrofoils also leave from Molo Beverello to Sorrento. Our tablemates who took the ship's Pompeii tour were very impressed, but those who took the ship's special train to Sorrento were less so.

Malta - new cruise terminal being built - good taxi dispatch arrangement before you leave the terminal - there is a fixed list of tariffs for certain tours offered by taxi, and tickets are sold and issued there. You then give the ticket to the first taxi in line outside - we shared a two-hour taxi ride with another couple and went to the old capital of Mdina which was well worth a visit, and after visiting a few craft shops we were dropped back at the city of Valletta gates to explore on our own there.

Corfu - chaotic arrangements on the ship for disembarking, as they were issuing free (for 2,000 people!)passes for two shuttle buses into town - one to the terminal building which is a 15 minute walk from the ship, and another into town. The ticket system was quite unnecessary, one could just have walked off the ship and taken the first shuttle - first come first served. The ship's newsletter also informed that it was a 40 minute drive into town - quite incorrect - it was more like a forty minute walk. Result was we walked to the terminal and took a shuttle back to the ship, thus missing Corfu town.

Dubrovnik - tickets were issued for the tenders to go ashore - luckily this was better arranged. I picked up two tickets for tender number 5 after breakfast, went back to the cabin and returned to hear number 5 called about a half hour after picking up the tickets. This was most people's favourite port - lovely small walled city - we walked the walls, lots of nice shops, unspoilt by signs, very friendly English-speaking tourist-oriented people, could have spent longer here.

Venice - one highlight of the trip was sailing into Venice on a Sunday morning at 7.00 a.m. when all was quiet, fantastic view of St. Mark's Square before the crowds. Disembarkation fairly slow but organized - bus from ship to Piazzale Roma leaves you at point to take vaporetto into Venice proper. Later that evening we went to a point on the same outer canal to watch the Costa Mediterranea depart at 6.00 p.m, dwarfing everything around. Overall, we had good value for money and visited interesting ports. The food and service were satisfactory but not wonderful. More suited to a Mediterranean clientele than to English-speaking.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: April 2, 2006

Myself, my wife and four children (aged 10 to 14) cruised in the Eastern Med, starting and ending in Savona, Italy. This was our fifth -- but worst -- cruise.

Embarkation Embarkation was a nightmare. We were kept waiting for ages in the terminal building. There was a numbering system, so you knew when your number was coming up -- but had no way of knowing how long it would take. After waiting about an hour, we went through the worst boarding process imaginable, with far too many steps and lots of duplication involved -- e.g., four separate passport checks.

Cabins & Attendant Once on board we found we had been incorrectly allocated cabins. The root cause of the problem was the travel agent (Cruisedeals.co.uk - more on them later), so the reception desk stood their ground and refused to change our accommodations -- not very flexible of them, but admittedly not their fault. The cabins themselves were very clean and about the same size as on other cruise liners we have sailed on. Our cabin attendant was marvelous, a real gem -- sympathetic about our problems, very meticulous in her work, and

always cheerful. We canceled the ridiculously high standard gratuity charge in favor of giving it all to her in cash at the end of the cruise.

Food & Dining The dining experience was not great; in fact, it left a lot to be desired relative to other liners. The worst part was having to dine at set times. The service was poor and slow, even by European standards. You could eat buffet style outside of the main restaurants, but were offered nothing more than bland pizza and salad. The wine waiters were slow and sometimes forgot your order altogether. I think there were far too few waiters for both food and drink, which caused the problem.

Entertainment This was fairly limited. It needed to be more visual than verbal due to the number of different languages spoken by the passengers on board. Generally the quality of the acts was poor. The kids' entertainment was marvelous, however; my kids really enjoyed the activities and they ran to the club for long hours each day.

Reception The reception desk was slow, with long queues. It had an unfriendly staff who could pretend simply to not understand when asked something difficult -- very, very poor.

On Deck There was plenty of space to sit, and usually we did not have much trouble finding deck chairs -- except for days at sea, but that is standard on most ships. Waiters out on deck were few and far between, and seemed to wait for you to approach them rather than walking about asking if anyone wanted a drink. I tended to give up and walk to the bar myself. Again, there were far too few of them compared to, say, a Thomson cruise.

Itinerary The itinerary was marvelous: Savona, Alexandria, Cyprus, Rhodes, Izmir, Athens, Katakolon -- great places to go, and a very well-thought-out route. We spent two days early on cruising to warmer climes, giving everyone time to find their way about; then we had a port stop every day, other than the last day when the ship was heading north again.

The Ship Overall, the ship was very good. It's the exact same ship as the Carnival Glory, but with some different uses for various rooms. The gym was very good, and not too busy other than mid-morning (especially on at sea days).

Overall Summary The cruise had too many downsides. Compared to other cruise ships, it was definitely the worst in our experience, so we would never sail with them again. It didn't help that the reception desk staffers were not interested in our initial cabin problems; but even after that it was not the best of cruises.

Regarding the cabin problems, a quick word on Cruisedeals.co.uk: I booked the cruise asking specifically for two cabins capable of sleeping three people each, i.e. expecting two cabins each with four berths. When the tickets arrived, I saw that they allocated my wife and I to one cabin and my four kids (the oldest 14) to the other. I assumed this was a nominal allocation and that we could reorganize ourselves into two rooms of three (girls in one, boys in the other) upon boarding. However, just to be safe I called Cruisedeals to get it sorted out.

They did not fix it, and it transpires by their own admission they didn't even log the call on their system. I called them several times from the ship, but they refused to fix it, stating that our booking matched what their system said. I formally complained in writing on my return but was fobbed off with the same line. Beware !! I would never trust them with a booking again.

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The bottom line:
Publication Date: March 27, 2006

The bottom line: a crowded, noisy, glitzy environment; adequate cabin service; mediocre food; and corporate policies that are both cowardly and deeply insulting to American citizens and to Jews.

Details: The Costa Fortuna is an immense ship. The first problem comes at Costa's Savona, Italy embarkation terminal, where they try to debark 3,200 passengers between 8am and noon; and then embark 3,200 passengers between noon and 5pm sailing time. We arrived on our hotel transfer bus from Genoa at 12:30. We waited three hours in the crowded, boring terminal hall until our number was called; then we stood for another half hour in a security line. We finally reached our cabin four hours after arriving at the terminal.

Debarkation was similar; the ship docked at 8am, and it was 12:30 pm when our bus reached our hotel in Genoa.

Every time you leave the ship for a shore excursion, or return (hot and tired) from a shore excursion, you will spend time in a long queue. The worst was a time on Crete when Costa scheduled seventeen (I counted them) full tour coaches into the same restaurant for lunch at the same

time. We stood in that queue for over one hour waiting to reach the one serving line. It was horrible.

The interior of the ship is glitzy and gimmicky, like a second-tier Vegas casino. There is noise all the time -- the only quiet place is your cabin, if your neighbors are out. Even in the ship's tiny library, the PA announcements are at a piercing level. Every PA announcement is repeated five times, in Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. Sometimes Japanese is added. There are constant PA announcements for the many special events the ship uses to separate you from your money: art auctions, fashion shows, etc. When the PA isn't blaring, there's loud Euro-pop muzak going.

There is one casual buffet where all 3,200 people trample each other for breakfast, lunch, and to pig-out on cake and cookies at tea time. However it is not an alternative for supper, if you want to escape the dining room experience: the buffet only provides pizza and salads after 5pm. For anything else you have to go and be sociable at table for 8, and sit through a typical Italian antipasto, primi, secondi, dessert menu. The food ranged from just-ok to inedible.

The cowardly and insulting part is how Costa knuckles under to the Libyan authorities. Costa insists on visiting Tripoli. But Libya requires that (a) NOBODY on the ship carries an Israeli passport (2) NOBODY on the ship has an Israeli visa stamp in their passport (3) no U.S. passport holders are to leave the ship in a Libyan port. Costa took great pains to implement the anti-semitic policies (1) and (2), warning us repeatedly that if we snuck on the ship with an Israeli visa stamp, we'd be put ashore. And they provided no special events or entertainment to compensate their American guests who had to spend a day on ship in port (with the bars closed because Libya doesn't allow alcohol sales either).

Costa also took away everyone's passport and held them for the duration of the cruise. Europeans got their passports back the day before debarkation. Not so U.S. citizens -- our passports were held by the ship until the Italian authorities could "inspect" them -- as if they hadn't already checked them on arrival in Italy and when boarding the vessel -- and we didn't get them back until an hour after the ship docked at the end of the cruise.

There are so many ports that could be substituted for Tripoli -- Malta, Rhodes, Sardinia, any Greek island -- it is just a blatant insult to Jews and to Americans generally that Costa bows to the Libyan's outrageous demands. And infuriating that the Italian police -- or somebody -- wanted to specially "inspect" American passports.

Based on this I absolutely would NOT recommend this ship or this line to any U.S. citizen -- or to anyone of Jewish descent -- or indeed to anyone who likes peaceful or tasteful surroundings.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 26, 2006

This cruise was our 14th cruise in 15 years and one of our best. For the value the cabins with balconies are outstanding. Overall decor of the ship,layout and design was very good. The food was also very good. LOts of Itialian and pasta dishes but still very good quality. Service was also very good and overall great experience with the staff. For the value received for expense paid I would put this criuse in our top 3 and highely receommend. We went on the eastern caribbean trip to Tortola ,Virgin Gorda. Best destination in the caribbean. Forget the negative reviews, if you pay less than $1,000 per person for week long cruise this once is hard to beat for value received.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 26, 2006

Just got home from fabulous week!

I'll try and keep this brief, to please the editors of this fine cruise review on-line periodical. This was our 5th or 6th cruise and the first on Costa. After reading some of the reviews I was a bit hesitant, but any concerns were completely unfounded. First off, embarcation was fine. We flew down on Sunday, the day of departure, and had no problems.

Folks were extremely polite and efficient. We were aboard in about 20 minutes.

We expected an extremely "gaudy" ship, but were pleasantly surprised. She was very well layed out and beautiful. Our cabin, a balcony on deck 7 was as nice as on any ship we have been on ( which includes Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity).

The food, with one exception, was impeccable. The one exception was resolved by the entire staff ensuring that everything was perfect for the remainder of the cruise). We are New Yorkers and are pretty finicky about food, so when we say the food was very good, we mean it!

The entire staff, from our cabin staff, to dining room staff, bar staff, and casino personnel (including both Gabriella's)

were warm, wonderful, and professional).

Our ports, St. Martin, Tortola, and Nassau were good, but we should have gone to the Baths in Tortola, which we didn't. For those of you who read or write terrible reviews of this ship and line, we are sorry and if you write them, you probably got a vacation that was a self-fulfilling prophecy!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to e-mail me!

RZJB@aol.com

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 24, 2006

Food was VERY poor. Service was bad - you felt you were bothering the crew if you asked them a question. Most did not speak English. Our cabin steward, Jimmie, was wonderful. Entertainment was not good. Very much like a high school production. I do not recommend this cruise line. I talked to many people on-board, all had the same opinion - about 95% were negative. Beware, that's all.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 19, 2006

Just returned from a Western Carribean Cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea. The cruise staff were very pleasant and helpful. Our waiter, Ruel was excellent and the assistant waiter, Sahika was excellent. Our cabin steward, Jimmie was very friendly and helpful. The overall cruise was a delight and I would definitely go again. The Mediterranea is a beautiful ship!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 5, 2006

"Con te Partiro'...," once again we are cruising "Italian Style" on the Costa Mediterranea --- our third trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises --- and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning twelve times in all?

Let's start with the crew. Captain Massimo Garbarino, we have considered a friend since he commanded the Costa Romantica where our son was married on February 14th several years ago. He always takes a personal interest in passengers' views of cruising. Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is a nearly improbable feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run.

There are many countries represented among the crew and passengers

leading to a wonderful international feeling on board. The Mediterranea was built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Finland and Captain Garbarino oversaw the entire construction. She was outfitted in Italy and many crew members were on site studying and practicing their Italian, and then each summer the Mediterranea returns to her home port in Savona, Italy and cruises the Mediterranean Sea. From the moment passengers board, the air is full of the melodic Italian language. A very nostalgic sound to Vincent's ears since he was born in Italy. There are many languages spoken among the passengers from USA, Europe, S. America, and Asia. Our butler Ronald delivered the morning papers in both English and Italian, making us feel at home (where we normally listen to CNN and the BBC while Vincent reads the local US and Italian papers on line). It seems that old academic habits die hard! We are both retired teachers. The continental influence and the opportunities for speaking a foreign language always draw us back to Costa. Then, of course, the food on board is deliciously incessant. Thus, when you can't afford to go to Europe, but want a taste of the Continent --- Sail Costa.

EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is easily accessed off I-95, just beyond the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Security is well organized and Pier numbers and Ship names are clearly posted. Embarkation was set for 1:30pm, but boarding began shortly before noon. We arrived at 12:30pm and went straight on with wheelchair assistance. We were in our suite before 1:00pm, where champagne, fresh fruit and canapés greeted us. This suite was all the way aft on Deck 6 with a large balcony. We checked on our dinner reservations: early seating (5:45pm) a table for two near the entrance to the restaurant --- excellent! We were off to the buffet of rare roast beef, fresh salads, pastas, fruits, fine cheeses and desserts --- very nice.

SHIP We have reported in detail on this ship before (see 2004 and 2005 reviews), so here we want to draw more on how the ship's layout is conducive to creating an Italian atmosphere. The Costa Mediterranea was launched in 2003 and is registered in Italy; she is 86,000 gross tons and 960 ft. long with 12 decks and 1,057 cabins of which 678 have balconies. Double occupancy is 2,114 passengers with a crew of 920. Her cruising speed is 22 knots and a top speed of 24 knots. Her design is based on Carnival's Spirit Class and the Costa Atlantica is her sister ship. She has 2 Azipods and 6 diesel electric generators. According to Captain Garbarino, she can do one mile on eighty-five gallons of fuel.

The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here.

The same flow is also evident on Deck 9 Armonia with the two Pools forming open spaces. When passengers leave the Ischia Spa they pass the pools and on into the Perla del Lago Buffet, then toward aft to the Apollo Spa and pool with its fine Apollo statue by Rigamonti. From the moment passengers enter the ship they are surrounded by artifacts and motifs of that inimitable Mediterranean area: Venetian Characters, Egyptian Obelisks, Grecian statuary, all contributing to a fantastic cruise atmosphere.

FOOD & SERVICE Guest Relations Manager Daniele Puma is very visible and easily accessed through the Passenger Services Desk. He is very capable of answering and solving passenger needs, not to mention handsome and with delightful continental manners. Each morning our Butler Ronald, in white gloves, delivered our full American breakfast punctually at 7:15am: eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, rolls, and fruit marmalades, including Mary's favorite apricot. Ronald set the table with a white linen cloth and a floral bud vase, which we collected daily, so that by the end of the cruise, there were six on our shelf, but, with the mirror behind them, they gave the optical illusion of twelve vases..., lovely.

The Buffet on Deck 9 is abundant with many stations, so lines are short. Salad Bars, fresh fruit displays, hot entrees and made to order sandwiches are all available; the perfect touch is the Pizzeria and ice cream/dessert area. We had lunch there on the first day. However, we prefer lunch in the main dining room, Restaurant degli Argentieri, with its walls lined with vitrines displaying copies of famous silver pieces (vases, candle sticks, pitchers, etc.) and murals depicting Italian pastoral scenes. We enjoyed the special attention of Maitre D' Fernando Sanna (quite elegant in his tails) and the two 2nd Maitres D' Luigi Cuomo and Leonardo Moccia. They are all very observant and make sure every passenger feels special at every meal.

Dinner each evening at Table #90 was enjoyable with our Waiter Valerio Olano and his assistant Victor D'Sousa. They were perfect and anticipated our every needs. Prosciutto and Grana Padana, Mozzarella di Bufala or Bruschetta magically appear as antipasto in addition to the menu's long lists of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, entrees, desserts, cheese plates and fresh fruit. If one cannot find a preference in these lists, there are the "Always Available" items: Caesar Salad; Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce or with meat balls and basil; Fillet of Salmon poached, broiled or grilled; Skinless Chicken Breast, also prepared as one likes it; and many side dishes of vegetable and potatoes, fried or baked with butter or sour cream, bacon bits and chives or anything also available upon request.

Some of our favorite appetizers are the following: Beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmigiano and black olive tapenade, Escargots Bourguignon, Bresaola with tomato, arugula and Parmigiano, Vitello tonnato (thin sliced veal with tuna sauce), etc. Favorite soups: Cream of forest mushrooms, Pasta e Fagioli, French Onion Soup, Consommé Stracciatella, etc. Favorite salads: Tossed Spinach Salad (with bacon bits, chopped hard boiled eggs and croutons), Seasonal Tender Leaves (Belgian endive and Radicchio) and other mixed salads (i.e. water cress, spinach and pine nuts, etc.). Favorite pasta dishes: Bucatini alla Amatriciana (long pasta with pancetta and onion in a piquant tomato sauce), Tagliolini alla Bolognese with Porcini mushrooms, Penne all'arrabbiata (with a piquant tomato sauce), etc. Some of our favorite Entrees: Roasted Rack of Lamb, Ossobuco alla Milanese (veal shank in a special sauce), Fillet Mignon grilled to perfection, Mahi Mahi filets, Veal Liver with onions, etc. Everything was "delizioso!" Compliments to the Chef.

The Gala Dinners are especially enjoyable with candles and flowers on the tables and complimentary champagne for all. Desserts included Cannoli, Italian cheese cake, Baba', Tiramisu and the typical pies: apple, cherry, pecan, lemon meringue, and all sorts of freshly made ice creams and sherbets, or International cheeses and fresh fruits, etc. The wait staff are on their toes and they greet passengers in many languages. Quite a number of the staff are budding polyglots!

The festive atmosphere in the dining room includes many types of Italian music from Opera (Aida's Triumphal March), to Neapolitan Classics to Modern music. Passengers will most likely find themselves dancing the Tarantella with a waiter. Food is great, the atmosphere is fine, a taste of Italy is wonderful. We especially enjoyed 2nd Maitre D' Leonardo from Bari, Italy whose kind attentions we very much appreciated. The Club Medusa is the upscale Italian restaurant, reservations required ($20 per person). It features menus by Gaultiero Marchesi which have been improved and diversified from the earlier ones we had on previous Costa cruises. Dining is on Versace plates and service is top notch. We can report that service and food on this ship are excellent.

CABIN Suite #6260 is on Deck 6 Narciso. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table.

Our suite had a picture of King Tut's golden mask and wall paintings from a pyramid, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme. There was another picture of a lady in summer attire. Our Stewardess Leonor, who is wonderful and has a sweet nature, kept the suite spotless. Thanks!

ENTERTAINMENT The suave Cruise Director Paul Rutter leads the Costa Animation Team in the multitude of activities on board, which include Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Italian and Dance Lessons, Trivia Quizzes, Crafts, etc.... The shows nightly in the Osiris Theatre were entertaining. We especially liked the "Time Machine" on formal night and John Ciotta on Italian night. Most of all we enjoyed the Italian joy of life which pervades the Costa Mediterranea. On "Notte Mediterranea" each passenger is given a "passport," which they take to four different lounges set up featuring the cultures (food, music, games and customs) of Greece, France, Spain and Egypt. The passengers collect four "visas" and then turn in the passport to Passenger Services, and they will get a $100 discount valid for a Transatlantic or European Costa Cruise. Costa works hard to make cruises entertaining.

DEBARKATION Sunday at 8:30am, a crew member came to our suite to help with the wheelchair. We had green tags, which were the third ones called. We were through the passport check, luggage pick up and customs in less than 30 minutes. We were on our way home by 9:00am. This was simple and rapid.

PORTS OF CALL

Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm

Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years.

Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88).

Day 4. At sea

Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies.

Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays.

Day 7. At sea

Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am

CONCLUSION It is always pleasant to return to a ship we have already sailed on before, where most probably we'll be welcomed by some of the crew and officers we had befriended on earlier cruises. This was true on this cruise, where we encountered Captain Garbarino, Hotel Director Ann Ryan and Maitre d' Luigi Cuomo, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships. Needless to say, they welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We have cruised on about three dozen ships of nine cruise lines, but we tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines. We'll be cruising on Costa again, but our next cruises will be on Carnival Triumph, May 13th, on the Caribbean Princess, Sept. 23rd and on the new Freedom of the Seas, Oct. 15th. However, we'll keep our eyes open for special sales during the summer for a last minute booking. Happy Cruising!

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