I have just returned from the most wonderful cruise aboard the COSTA ATLANTICA and would like to share my thoughts and opinions with you, so here goes :-
TRAVEL AND EMBARKATION
We were due to go on vacation on 20th July 2003 . The day finally dawned and we set of. Our flights were with British Airways from Glasgow via London Gatwick to Marco Polo airport in Venice our flights were right on time and were great, flying over the Swiss Alps etc on a beautiful sunny day, THEN just coming into land in Venice was a sight to behold, we could see the whole of the Venitian Lagoon with St Marks square etc and we could also see our ship sitting in dock patiently awaiting us.It was truly a wonderful sight quite awe inspiring !!!!
We were then quickly into the airport terminal and awaited our luggage (helpful tip- if you are arriving here try your best to have a 1 EURO coin for the luggage trolleys) we waited the grand total of 10 MINUTES for our luggage (the best ever) walked through passport control and right in front of us were about 3/4 Costa Reps to guide us to a desk, at the desk we provided them with our transfer voucher and were informed that a coach would be there in 10 mins to take us to the port. It was then a pleasant 20 minute drive to the port itself. NO PROBLEMS so far. On arrival at the port and still on board the coach we were then given a card with an embarkation number and told roughly what time we would be able to board ship -if my memory serves me correct we were given #10 &12 - we were then told that those numbers would be boarding around 4.30 p.m and that if we wished we could go for some lunch or catch a waterbus into Venice (our luggage was taken care of) and as it was only 12 noon I think most people on the coach were going to do just that. BUT - thanks to these boards I remembered that someone had said to mention that we were in a suite and that we would have priority boarding - excellent advise THANK YOU !. I called the girl over and explained and my embarkation card was swiftly changed for # 1 and we were informed that we could board in about 30 mins and just to go right into the waiting area dock # 107. This area was a bit congested with numerous little trolleys/desks which appeared to be selling wine packages or similar, most of them had signs but only in Italian, so we headed for the Information desk where they spoke excellent English and they directed us over to another area where a rather disorderly line had formed but we managed to make our way to the front and show our cards and were told to come right through _ the other people in line had numbers as high as fourteen but obviously were willing to wait there until called. This part is not a complaint in any way but I would say that a few notices dotted around or the odd announcement might solve this problem. only my opinion.
We were then shown through a set of glass doors where the obligatory Photos were taken (mines was actually okay for a change I normally look like martian or something after travelling so Costa were off to a good start) We had to be shown to a tender/water taxi as due to the Festival of the Redentore our ship was not going to be able to sail down the grand Canal (pity) but was docked over in Mestre. It was a pleasant trip over to the Atlantica and we were very quickly on board after the first of many smiling Buon Giorno that we would hear on our cruise. Within 2 minutes of boarding I was IN LOVE with the Costa Atlantica -the ship was beautiful,spotlessly clean,wonderful and cool after our trip on the tender and every member of staff had a smile. I just hoped that the rest of the cruise was going to be up to our expectations :- READ ON FOLKS
THE CABIN,SHIP AND THE SERVICE.
After a never ending walk along the hall ( this is when we realised how BIG the ship really was-good for the waistline though haha) we finally reached our Suite # 5293 and our cabin steward Dedi was already outside in the hallway to ensure that we had everything that we needed.- I have a heart condition and need to sleep with a few pillows for comfort , I had hardly closed the door when Dedi appeared with 4 extra pillows - definitely points to him for quick service., Our Suite was wonderful, on entering there was door to our right leading into a dressing area with a large double wardrobe, and a dressing table with huge mirror surrounded by lights, a marble top and some drawers to the side - the hairdryer was in the top drawer. A further door of of this area led to the Bathroom with double sinks (again with marble tops) a bath with jacuzzi and and an over bath shower (excellent power) the bath had a full sized glass screen and also a small line to hold wet bathing suits etc. Toiletries consisted of a can with the Costa logo beside each sink holding small bottles of shower gel,shampoo and after sun, shower cap and soap. The rest of the suite was on par sized with a decent hotel room and again all surfaces were topped with marble, another dressing table/desk night stands and a table with adjustable height, another double wardrobe, more drawers, a couple of cupboards,a mini fridge which was stocked (we emptied it into one of the cupboards and put our own soda and water into it, even a couple of beers and there was no problem) There was also a leather sofa which i understand converts into another bed if required, a king sized bed and an easy chair. We thought the room was great.Our balcony was approx. 18feet long by 41/2 feet wide and it had 2 adjustable wooden chairs and a wooden table, I think standard cabins have plastic furniture on the balconies. we found the chairs very comfortable and they reclined incase you wanted to do a bit of sun bathing. The front of the balcony is made of blue glass which lets you see through it out to the ocean even from your bed (there is a floor to ceiling window just next to the bed) and from now on a balcony is a must for me !!!!! Our butler already had a bottle of champagne on ice for our arrival but he came and introduced himself as Daniel , brought us the list of shore excursions menus etc and explained what he could do for us, e.g book our excursions, table reservations for the Club Atlantica, room service etc and bring us breakfast in the morning - this sound good to me !!!
We then went for a quick browse around the ship (our luggage hadn't arrived yet but is WAS only 2 p.m. had a snack from the welcome buffet, went back to our cabin and as our luggage was there, unpacked and changed, in time for our sail away followed by early seating dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed our sail through the lagoon and we could see the famous landmarks of Venice in the distance. The only snag being that we had to go for dinner before we had seen all of the sail down the lagoon. But we knew we were coming back the same way so it wasn't a problem FOOD AND DINING AREAS
We were first/early sitting which was at 7 p.m. main sitting was 9.45 p.m a bit too late for us. We had a table for 8 and had very nice table companions for the whole week.Our waiter and busboy were excellent although our busboy was quite new but he was ssooo eager to please. The food was excellent throughout to the point where as I can only manage 3 courses to remain comfortable after dinner I was in a real dilemma deciding what I could do without, I always had a starter but as I loved there soups AND their pastas it was a hard decision which one NOT to take, all main courses too were great.Just keep in mind that this a European ship with tastes to match in cooking (dont expect food to have an American slant, just as if you had gone to europe you would not expect to find American steak houses etc so enjoy the european slant on things) THE FOOD IN MY OPINION WAS SUPERB !!!! Our waiter was also very good in that if you choose something that he perhaps felt wasn't a good choice he would suggest something else e.g one evening for dessert we choose a lemon ice cream something or other (sorry i dont remember what it was called) and our waiter said "can I suggest that you choose something else" why we asked has it all gone or something "no he said, it is just that is is not made with real lemons but artificial flavoring and gelatin, but if you really want it i will order it, but I would suggest another choice" once again points awarded here for honesty and helpfulness. The food on the buffet stations too was excellent, but this is my one and only complaint from the whole cruise!!!! The restaurants at the buffets were CRAZY at meal times we could hardly get a table for the four of us at lunch time -my reckoning is that ;- 1.WE were in a minority being 4 of only 118 english speaking passengers,with the majority of passengers being Italian (not a problem in itself) BUT 2. The Italians on a whole love to eat, love to talk and love to take forever with lunch, this is where i feel the problem lies, as they have their lunch but remain at the table for AGES after they have finished eating to talk and talk and talk, So it does get a wee bit on the noisy side and tables are taken up for ages with them. But hey!!! its their vacation too ! so we just had lunch either later just before the buffet closed or went to the main dining room. 3. one other down point - sorry any Italians reading this - but they dont believe in waiting in line, if there is a line they think you have to join it at the FRONT !!! Other than that they were very courteous and always had a smiling Buon Giorno or Buona Sera when ever you passed them.
WE took the opportunity to dine in the Club Atlantica as we could dine free as suite passengers, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, there was only 3 other tables occupied, service, food etc were excellent and with a pianist playing and the stars shining in through the glass roof we were enchanted. Dont miss it. The theme nights in the main resuraunt were not to be missed either, on one occasion they dim the lights and the waiters come around carrying candles and then start to sing O SOLE MIO and dance with every lady guest, it was a lovely touch.
The entertainment was great and varied and they had a talent show on the last night for passengers, very good! The staff were all warm and friendly and were actually pleased to hear an English (or rather SCOTTISH) accent apparently the europeans on a whole tend not to have much to do in the way of speaking with staff, they very much just see them as waiting staff and are not too friendly towards them. But we found that when they heard anyone speaking in english they were only too happy to chat with them and we found that we had better service too!!
We booked 2 through Costa. Istanbul and Athens, had no problems what so ever with them. Excellent english speaking guides and our reservations were made on our behalf by our butler, so no waiting in line at the desk.They were reasonably priced andmost enjoyable.The other ports we just jumped in a cab and went to wherever we wanted. again no problems.
This to was swift and painless, we were given coloured tags for our luggage and an approx time that we would be off ship. and asked to be out of our cabins for 8.30.a.m. we could then wait in the Club Atlantica -suite guests- or a designated lounge for other passengers. We went onto the top deck for the sail up the GRAND CANAL -AWESOME truly amazing and the perfect ending to our WONDERFUL cruise. We then went up to club atlantica where pastries and soft drinks were provided, a Costa rep asked which colour tags we had (dark blue) and she came over to our table at 11a.m. and told us that we could now disembark. We were off ship and had our luggage in our hands by 11.15 a.m. PERFECT.
I know this has been rather ? long so I will just add a few short notes to cover any points that I feel I may have missed. Smoking - No problems here smoking is NOT allowed in any of the theatres or dining areas or elevators, I hate smoking and never had any problems here at all.
announcements - Again no problems here, very few announcements were made and any that were , were said in italian then english. The only exception being the lifeboat drill which was done in 5 languages but again this was not a problem . English speaking passengers - yes we were in the minority but we enjoyed the feeling of being in Italy (where we went for 10 days after the cruise) we actually felt that we were ABROAD . We were never made to feel as if we shouldn't have been there and actually managed to learn a few more words in Italian !
HELPFUL TIP FOR ANYONE WONDERING ABOUT CRUISING WITH COSTA - if you are the kind of person who likes things to be the same as home, surrounded by familiar things, foods drinks and people, Take a vacation in your back yard.
BUT if you are the kind of person who likes to try new things,see new places, talk with new people and basically enjoy life. THEN get on a Costa cruise. I could have my suitcase packed and be there again in a heartbeat if I could. If there is anything at all that you feel I have missed, just Email me and I will do my best to help.
Kindest regards from Scotland
Sandra aka happy cruizer