Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Costa Cruises
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

Insider Take

Overview

A Spirit-class ship – small and accommodating with a whimsical decor by Joe Farcus. Recommended for Europeans.Read More

Best For People Who Want

An Italian carnival atmosphere; Plenty of deck parties, loud music and a wide range of facilities, including a large children’s facility and a water slide; All the options and activities that come with a megaship, including a large fitness area, plenty of balconies; lots of entertainment options.

Public Rooms

Many of the ship’s multiple huge public rooms and bars are connected by a walkway on the starboard side which creates a sense of constant flow and life, as passengers enjoy una passeggiata, though the manner in which the room to room flow can sometimes zigzag arbitrarily can be a bit confusing.

Quiet is hard to come by. Indeed, the library is the only public place on board you might reasonably expect to find some, but since it doubles as the Internet cafe, expect to find crowds in there at times. Also note that its bookshelves are unlocked only one hour per day

One special treat is a near perfect reproduction of what is probably the most renowned street cafe in the world, the Caffe Florian in St Mark’s Sq. in Venice. Designer Joe Farcus went to great detail to capture the timeless essence of the original cafe, from the somewhat worn leather booths to stucco walls and gilded frame Italian classic paintings on the wall – albeit the ones on the ship are reproductions.

The three-deck show lounge is lovely, but even with three decks the sight lines could be better, especially on the flat floor. There is a smaller, secondary show lounge directly beneath it, though, and three other lounges, including “Paparazzi,” which features stills from Fellini films. There are a large disco, a children’s room, and a small chapel.

Restaurants

In Club Atlantica, the alternative restaurant at the top of the atrium, features the menu of Michelin three-star chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Diners can choose between a “Tuscan Steakhouse” a la carte menu and a fixed “Tasting Menu.” The waiters and maitre d’ will act as if serving you is the highlight of their lives, and there’s a proper sommelier to keep your wine glass full. Before dinner, the room doubles as a bar, with complimentary gourmet appetizers from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. There’s live music during dinner. After dinner it becomes a cigar bar.

The two-deck Tiziano Restaurant, done in varying shades of gold with painted ceilings, offers fantastic views from the stern end of the ship through the tall glass windows. There are plenty of larger tables and some banquettes around the perimeter, but not so many tables for two.

It should be noted that, in the Mediterranean, the first dinner seating does not begin until 7:00 p.m., and late sitting does not start until 9:15 p.m., in keeping with European custom. In the Caribbean, 24-hour food service is now available with extended breakfast, lunch and tea time hours, plus a Late Night Buffet from 1:30 to 6:30 a.m.

Service

We’ll say it plainly: on a Costa ship you are an American in Europe. The company is expanding rapidly (undergoing a cruising renaissance in Europe similar to what the U.S. experienced years ago), so the staff can be surprisingly slow, and sometimes seemingly impolite, including the cabin stewards. You can always count on the bar staff to cheer you up, though.

Tipping

$8.50 per day is charged to everybody’s shipboard account, (including children, for dining room and stateroom personnel. Passengers can have the amount adjusted by visiting the Guest Relations Desk.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all bar tabs. Spa staff and room service staff may be tipped as service is received.

Entertainment

Expect neither lectures by former ambassadors nor first-run movies In the Mediterranean. Brace yourself for such politically incorrect games still common in Europe as actual “beauty contests” where young women of all nationalities vie for attention. Where you might expect one trivia game per day, Atlantica has as many as five or six, even on port days.

The pool areas are used during the afternoon for various games. The misanthropic can stand one deck above at the railing and glare down at the activities below. Daytime activities, mostly geared towards a younger, more active crowd, range from ping-pong tournaments to salsa dance classes to learning how to mix cocktails.

There is a wide variety of evening activities in at least four different venues. One lounge offers ballroom dancing for an hour a night. The huge, three-story Caruso Theater showroom features a different show or production every night, with everything from magic to flamenco dancers. Piazza Madame Butterfly lounge is filled each night for bingo, and the pool deck is used for themed deck parties. There is live music most nights in the Club Atlantica. The large, two-deck disco Dante’s is packed until late every night, probably in substantial part because it is fantastically atmospheric; descending the spiral staircase really does feel like entering The Inferno. The casino is the most smoke-clogged spot on the ship.

Dancers will be delighted to know at least one sea-going tradition is still alive and well; every lounge aboard has both a stage and a large dance floor; even the main entry lobby has a wood-inlaid one at its center!

Cabins

The cabins’ caramel-color wood tones and warm autumn-hued fabrics are easy on the eye, and 70 percent have balconies. With the standard inside and outside cabins, you pay for location. Since there is virtually no difference in cabin size – 160 sq.ft. – it is wise to simply book the lowest outside or inside cabin categories and not pay extra just to be one deck higher. (The exception to the rule: Deck 4’s outside cabins’ views are obstructed.) All cabins have safes and mini bars and two lower beds that can be converted into a queen bed. Outside cabins with verandah are 210 sq.ft. and suites range from 360 sq.ft. to 580 sq.ft.

Some cabins are plagued by noise from the lounges, including the 10 cabins farthest forward on Deck 1 Cabins forward on Deck 5 also are noisy from the main lounge one deck below, and the occupants of cabins on Deck 8 deck amidships can all too easily hear the jubilation on the pool deck above them. Note also that the ship’s exterior undulates, protruding in places and retracting in others. If possible, book a balcony where the ship bulges out.

Special suite amenities include whirlpool tubs, terry cloth robes and slippers, additional toiletries, sparkling wine and cold canapes on embarkation day, daily fruit baskets, an additional Captain’s cocktail party, complimentary dinner at Club Atlantica, and personalized butler service. Do note that your butler may be very much on a par with your server in the restaurant, which is to say distracted borderline organized. Be sure to double-check requests and take nothing for granted.

There are no self-service launderettes or ironing rooms.

Children’s Facilities

“Cruising Italian Style” carries over to the Costa Kids Club, which offers extensive programs for youngsters — and guarantees relaxation for their harried parents. Though the Pinocchio Children’s Room doesn’t compare to those of such family-friendly cruise lines as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the large children’s “animation staff,” comprising from four to seven kids’ cruise directors, more than compensates. The special children’s dinner menu offers with pasta, soup, fish, chicken, hot dogs and burgers, pizza, sandwiches and desserts.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Tranquility; great food and service; not to be in a place where English is not the first language.

Onboard Experience

Costa Atlantica, signaling a new direction for Costa, is the European version of the Spirit-class of ships by parent company Carnival Corp. The unifying theme of the ship is “great films of Fellini,” and in fact, the ship’s christening godmother was Italian film star Claudia Cardinale.

In homage to the quirkiness of Felinni himself, each of the decks is named after one of his films, and deck eight receives the name of his film “Deck 8 1/2”.

Though Costa assures prospective passengers that they will be “cruising Italian style,” beyond the decor, less than ten percent of the actual crew are truly Italian, with most of the Italians in the navigation, deck and engine departments. The majority of the crew come from the Dominican Republic where Costa has established a school to train crew-members.

Though the interior design is impressively logical and easy to navigate, Atlantica’s signage does not measure up, as the public thoroughfares lack the “You Are Here” deck maps. Get used to carrying the deck plan you find in your stateroom with you for the first few days.

Though this ship does come to the Caribbean some seasons, during the 2006-2007 it is staying mostly in Europe, catering to a European audience, so expect announcements in several languages, smoky ships, and port stays far shorter than what first-time to Europe visiting Americans would prefer. When operating in Europe, the ship is overrun by German, French and Spanish passengers. Despite an English-speaking host and English-speaking shore excursions, many North Americans and even Brits are likely to feel like poor relations on these voyages. Note that when Costa does send any ship to the Caribbean, native English speakers are the large majority and English becomes the ship’s first language.

Decor

As Costa’s first ship designed by Carnival’s zany Joe Farcus, for whom there is no such thing as “too much”, this ship could be the spawn of Italy and Las Vegas, or maybe a new theme-park for Disney, call it Italyland. Mostly, it is an homage to Italian artisans, including plenty of Venetian glass and reproductions of Italian classic painters. There are plenty of sweeping staircases, Carrara marble and Renaissance-style mosaics.

The “must-see” of the ship is the Caffe Florian, which is a near perfect reproduction of the most famous sidewalk cafe in the world (by the same name) residing in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Its dark red upholstered chairs and banquettes, wooden floor, and Renaissance paintings make for a very comfortable, inviting atmosphere.

Overlooking the 10-deck atrium, the two-deck Club Atlantica, with a crowning skylight and opaque orange/yellow glass surrounding the upper level, serves as the ship’s very attractive alternate restaurant and late night Cigar Bar. The atrium also serves as a public room, and the bar on the lower level is the ship’s social hub.

Cuisine

That Italy has some of the world’s greatest cuisine should not be taken to mean that Costa serves the world’s best food. Indeed, menus appear to be designed to appeal mostly to an Italian audience, and should you order a selection from another continental derivation, you will probably end up thinking, “I should have gone Italian.” You would suppose that they’d get pasta dishes right every time, but pasta depends upon fast service before it gets cold and rubbery. At the buffets, you will be presented with what Europeans are used to as “fast food” including beans for breakfast, and cheese, hard sausage and rolls for lunch.

But behold the exception, the alternative restaurant Club Atlantica, where for around $23 you can not only savor a delicious meal, but also escape the clamor of the main dining room.

In the Caribbean, Costa has implemented 24-hour food service with extended breakfast, lunch and tea time hours, plus a Late Night Buffet from 1:30 to 6:30 a.m. Complimentary gourmet appetizers are available daily in Club Atlantica from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., and new entrees have been added to the menus of the specialty dining room, purportedly supervised by two of Italy’s most renowned chefs.

Fitness/Spa

The very large fitness center and spa run by Steiner’s of London are on multi-level upper-forward decks, giving exercisers wonderful views. A wide selection of weights, treadmills, bikes, rowing machines and other sophisticated training equipment is available, as well as a popular large indoor Jacuzzi situated underneath a skylight. All the machines are by Technogym Italy, and are part of a self-guided circuit training system, kind of a personal cyber-trainer.

A small jogging track on top of the fitness decks circles the mast. The Promenade deck on Deck 3 does not go all the way around, however, creating a large U shaped path that tends to be virtually empty during many hours of the day. There are three pools on deck with whirlpools, none heated. The large water slide, beloved of kids, is open only one hour a day.

Attire

On the two ‘gala’ nights, a casual jacket and tie are standard, while many men wear an actual suit. In the European style, ties are optional, especially on younger men. In the Caribbean, there is also a theme night on which many passengers wrap themselves in sheets and call them togas. Europeans tend to dress fancier for daytime activities than Americans, so don’t expect not to feel underdressed in cutoffs and a T-shirt on European sailings.

Ship Overview

Introduced in 2000, Costa Atlantica is a tribute to Italy’s best known filmmaker Frederico Fellini. Each deck is dedicated to a different Fellini film, and the walls feature the paintings of Milo Manara. Costa Atlantica’s itineraries are centered primarily in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as Middle Eastern voyages from Dubai.

The basic layout of these contemporary ships is nearly identical to parent Carnival Cruise Line’s Spirit-class vessels. Interiors were designed by Carnival’s ship architect Joe Farcus, whose abundant use of marble reflects Costa’s Italian heritage. Artwork commissioned specifically for each ship was created by contemporary artists and includes intricate sculptures in silver and glass. Don’t overlook the lighting fixtures, which were created especially for the ship, most of them crafted by the artisans in Venice’s Murano-glass factories.

The nice flow between public lounges is broken only by piazzas, where you can practice the Italian custom of passeggiata (strolling to see and be seen). And there’s plenty to see; these are visually stimulating interiors, with vivid colors and decor elements to arouse a sense of discovery. One of the most elegant spaces on board Costa Atlantica is Café Florian—inspired by the original in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square.

Europe’s number-one cruise line combines a Continental experience, enticing itineraries, and Italy’s classical design and style with relaxing days and romantic nights at sea. Genoa-based Costa Crociere, parent company of Costa Cruise Lines, had been in the shipping business for more than 100 years and in the passenger business for almost 50 years when it was bought by Airtours and Carnival Corporation in 1997. In 2000 Carnival completed a buyout of the Costa line and began expanding the fleet with larger and more dynamic ships.

An ongoing shipbuilding program has brought Costa ships into the 21st century with innovative large-ship designs that reflect their Italian heritage and style without overlooking the amenities expected by modern cruisers. Acknowledging changing habits (even among Europeans), Costa Cruises has eliminated smoking entirely in dining rooms and show lounges. However, smokers are permitted to light up in designated areas in other public rooms, as well as on the pool deck.

  • 12 passenger decks
  • Specialty restaurant
  • dining room
  • buffet
  • pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi
  • safe
  • refrigerator
  • DVD (some)
  • 3 pools (1 indoor)
  • children’s pool
  • Fitness classes
  • gym
  • hot tubs
  • sauna
  • spa
  • steam room
  • 6 bars
  • casino
  • 2 dance clubs
  • 2 show rooms
  • video game room
  • Children’s programs
  • Laundry facilities
  • laundry service
  • Internet terminal

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
If earlier Costa ships were Armani (cool and serene), then these are Versace (sexy and slightly outrageous)
Duty-free boutiques offer enough Italian designer items to satisfy most shopaholics
Forward on the outdoor promenade decks are serene retreats in the form of enclosed terraces
Italians consider cappuccino a breakfast beverage, so ordering it in the dining room following dinner is frowned upon
Frequent announcements are annoying
Coffee is available at numerous bars, but there is a charge

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Cabins
Amenities
Bathrooms
Accessibility

Cabins generally follow the outline of their Carnival counterparts, with the distinctive addition of a Grand suite category. Nearly 80% of the suites and staterooms have an ocean view, and of those more than 80% have balconies. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves; suites have a walk-in closet. Although connecting staterooms are somewhat scarce throughout the ships, balcony dividers can be unlocked to provide connecting access in upper-category staterooms.

Light-wood cabinetry, pastel decor, Murano-glass lighting fixtures, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical for ocean-view cabins and suites. Inside cabins have somewhat smaller seating areas for lounging. Suites have DVD players.

Extras include shampoo and bath gel in shower-mounted dispensers; suites have a whirlpool bathtub.

Eight staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

A single two-deck-high formal restaurant serves open seating breakfast and lunch, while the Italian-accented cuisine is served in two traditional assigned dinner seatings. An upscale, reservations-only alternative restaurant features Italian specialties—while there is a charge, it’s well worth it for the intimate, candlelit atmosphere and interesting menu selection. Reserved for guests occupying Wellness cabins and suites, a Wellness Restaurant on each ship serves lighter fare at lunch and dinner. Coffee shops serve delightful, authentic Italian specialty coffees and treats. The casual Lido buffet, pizzeria, and 24-hour room service are alternatives to dining room meals. Costa is one of the few cruise lines to continue the seagoing tradition of lavish midnight buffets. Room service is available 24 hours from a limited menu.

Entertainment

After dinner and a coffee in the coffee bar, on most nights there are performances by the resident production singers and dancers as well as guest entertainers in the main theater. The secondary show lounges feature singers and musicians and are the venues for Costa’s signature parties, during which the entertainment staff encourages passenger participation. There is a quieter and intimate piano bar as well as other lounges with music for dancing and listening as well as a disco.

Spa & Fitness

The Ischia spa has a hydrotherapy pool and complimentary saunas and steam rooms in men’s and women’s changing rooms, but it has no thermal suite. A complete menu of spa treatments includes facials, body wraps, and massages.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2000
Number of Cabins
1,057
Passenger Capacity
2,114(2,682 max)
Crew Members
920
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.30
Gross Tons
86000
Width
106 feet
Length
960 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
954/266–5600 or 800/462–6782

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