Well, as promised, here is my review of the Mediterranea.
Embarkation was a snap. We arrived at the pier at 1:00 and were on the ship by 1:45. Although we had a Panorama Suite, there was ony a preference for checking in - which took five minutes. Customs could care less what our accomodations were, so they took up the balance of time.
We had Suite 6170. It was approximately 365 square feet - which is smaller than a similar grade suite on Royal Carribean by 200 square feet. But, the price was considerably less, as well. The cabin had a lot of wood trime and beautiful wood cabinets, and all marble counters and trim in the bath and remainder of the stateroom. In fact, there was so much storage, even after buying gifts, we could not begin to fill it all.
The ship is magnificent in every way. Past reviews of its' beauty are correct. It was by far the most beautiful we've sailed on (an in 20 cruises that says a lot). Cleanliness - the best I've ever encountered on a ship. Our stateroom was extremely clean. Every day, someone on the ship staff was cleaning something in the public areas of the ship - even down to scrubbing out small stains in the carpet on their hands and knees. One thing very interesting that I have never experienced before. Upon re-boarding the ship in San Juan, there was a sanitation station on the dock. Instructions were to use the towlettes provided to wash down our hands. I went a little further and washed my arms and face as well. This is an indication that they are trying to prevent Norwalk virus from entering the ship. GREAT plusses for this effort.
The food was very good - whether in the dining room, room service, or the buffets. The room service hamburgers were some of the best we've had on a ship. Everything came piping hot in all locales. We asked our waiter each evening what was best on the menu. He steered us the correct way without fail. The hamburgers at poolside were not nearly the quality of room service and were OK - but I'll take the room service version any time. We always got our room service items within 30 minutes of ordering - some times with double the cheese and crackers we ordered. It appears the Costa has finally gotten many of the complaints about their food and service almost totally solved - thanks to prior reviews. It shows they are listening.
The shows the first two nights ( a majician, and a review entitled "Out of This World") were poor. My wife quipped that this show was certainly out of this world, she just did not know what world. The best show was the steel band ensemble which played classical music (I know, sounds wierd) and they recieved a standing ovation after each song. Very worth seeing. "Solid Gold" another show, was also excellent and worth seeing.
We took a catamaran snorkel cruise on Catalina, the private island. It started an hour late and ended 1/2 hour early. They water was so rough, that no one stayed in to snorkel over about 20 minutes. Catalina can best be described as beautiful. However, if you do not get to shore early, as other reivews have stated, you will never get a place in the shade. It was, as others have mentioned, forth of July at a crowded beach. Very long lines for the BBQ food they prepare. We went back to the ship to eat.
The "Evening Under the Stars" shore excursion was cancelled due to torential rain. We really were looking forward to that show and were pretty disappointed - althought Costa does not have control of the weather.
Casino staff was very friendly and helpful and we broke even. Better than I thought it may be - but if you watch the machines and which ones are being played regularly by the same people, you'll find out your best odds. The Wheel of Fortune dollar machines were very popular and we saw at least four $1000 payouts on as many nights.
For those of you who want to buy a bottle of spirits on board - ask your caning steward of room service. They can and will get a bottle from a bar and charge your account. We drink Canadien club and 7up. A bottle (litre) was only $20 compared with $5.00 for a drink from the bar - great savings. They do not tell you they can get you a bottle. Ask and you shall recieve.
Our bed was as hard as a rock. We asked for another matress, and it was brought and the bed re-made very quickly. Suggest everyone do this when they board the ship and before retiring for the first nights rest.
Disembarkation was also extremely smooth. We got to our waiting area at 8:00 and were of the ship by 9:00.
Some communication problems are evident with the staff. Understandable since they are all foreigners trying to make us Americans happy. Bu, they did the best they could and we always were able to communicate what we needed - even if a bit frustrating at times.
Recommend Costa? Yes