Costa Magica Cruise Review by Brian: CostaMagica - Northern Europe
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CostaMagica - Northern Europe
We flew to Copenhagen a day early. We took a 15 minute train trip (there is a station right in the airport) to the central train station then had a two block walk to our hotel. The Hotel First Vesterbro (approximately $180 USD per night including all taxes and breakfast) is just down the street from Tivoli Gardens and the main shopping district. We spent the day walking around Copenhagen and the evening in the not-to-be-missed Tivoli Gardens. We looked around more on Sunday then caught a taxi to the port in the early afternoon. We arrived at the port at approximately 2pm.
We have never experienced such a quick embarkation. Although we arrived just 30 minutes past the posted embarkation start time, we literally dropped off our luggage in front of the terminal then walked on to the ship. We stopped briefly while someone checked our tickets and passports but there was no line. Once on the ship, we immediately went to our cabin to drop off More our hand luggage then proceeded to a designated lounge to register our credit card. There was about a 15 minute wait to do this.
We have been on over 25 cruises. This, by far, was the most stunning and elaborate ship we have ever been on. Many reviewers on this site comment that the ship is garish and overly decorated to the point of being tacky. I must disagree. It is classically European with marble, gold and rich colors everywhere. The main atrium area, several decks high, is a sight to behold. It took us a couple of days to get oriented to the ship. The multi-deck restaurants presented somewhat of a navigational barrier when moving from one end of the ship to the other but after figuring out that we needed to traverse the ship using deck 5 or higher, it was easy to get to destinations on lower decks.
The casino deserves special mention. Costa commissioned a famous Italian puppet-making family to create 50+ medieval marionettes (each about 3.5 feet tall) to be displayed in glass columns throughout the Magica's casino. Take some time to absorb the stunning artistry on display here.
We had a category 10 balcony cabin (6459) on Deck 6. We chose this particular cabin because on the deck plans it appeared larger than the other balcony cabins, with a larger balcony. We were right! The cabin ran parallel to the hallway instead of perpendicular to it. As a result, it was quite wide and in addition to the glass door and large picture window standard in balcony cabins, it had a second large picture window. The balcony was easily twice the length of the balconies in other cabins--we noticed this later when we were off the ship as we could easily spot our cabin: the one with the really long balcony. There was plenty of storage room and the cabin was very nicely appointed, feeling like a spacious hotel room instead of a claustrophobic closet. Our cabin steward was professional and unobtrusive.
We have been on previous Costa ships (the Classica and Romantica) and felt the food was adequate and somewhat institutional and tired looking. The Magica, however, had substantially better food. The breakfast and lunch buffets contained a nice variety of items and everything looked fresh and interesting. Nothing outstanding, but we were never hungry. We ate all dinners in the dining room with delightful dinner companions and were fortunate enough to have a window table. Since it stayed light quite late, we always had a beautiful view of the sea while dining. Nightly entrees always contained a fish, a beef dish, a lamb or veal dish (favorites with Europeans) and a vegetarian dish. Only once was there a chicken dish that I recall. The food was served hot, well presented, and usually delicious. The pasta courses were always fresh and interesting. Note that wine packages consisting of 5-7 bottles of wine + 10 large bottles of mineral or sparkling water was a great deal at approximately 115 Euros ($148 USD). Be sure to order this on your first night and you'll be given coupons to later exchange for the wine and water. We found this to be a great value.
We have always experienced excellent service on our prior Costa cruises but felt that the service was exceptionally good on the Magica. All service personnel we encountered were extremely professional and friendly and the service in the dining room notably so. You couldn't pass a Costa employee anywhere without a smile and a greeting. With so many nationalities on board, many even remembered after the initial encounter what our native language was.
Entertainment isn't one of Costa's strong points but I wouldn't expect it to be considering how difficult it is to entertain so many different nationalities at once. The Broadway-style shows (of which there were two on this 7 night cruise) were good efforts with beautiful costumes, adequate sets and acceptable performances. While a bulk of the lyrics were in English, some others were performed in other languages and added a very international touch to the shows. Other shows were less interesting and certainly not the spectacles of other lines. Europeans are very social and I get the feeling that the shows aren't of much interest to them anyway. They would rather spend their times in lounges or the disco and those areas always seemed to be packed. Classical musicians performing in the smaller, more intimate venues were especially talented and entertaining.
We treated ourselves to many treatments including massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. While the treatments are expensive, they are wonderful. The spa staff was warm, friendly and professional and there is nothing like two hours of having your hands and feet worked on while dreamily gazing out a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows at the passing sea.
The gym was large and extremely well-equipped but somewhat oddly designed. The ceiling is quite low so tall passengers ought to use caution when using the cardio machines--I banged my head several times and I'm of average height. The windows are severely angled inward and not very tall so when using cardio machines your only option is to look straight down onto the water--you can't look out toward the horizon at all.
Be sure to take advantage of the sauna. While I can't speak for the women's sauna, the men's sauna was spacious and contained a large window that looked out to sea or to port. Very relaxing on sea days.
As always, we were just two of few Americans on this ship. Of the 3,000 passengers on this sailing, I would guess that 30% were Italians, 30% Spaniards, 15% Germans, 15% French and the rest a mix of Americans, Canadians and Brits. And this is exactly why we love sailing Costa so much. If you can get by the fact that many Europeans smoke (it's hard to avoid in the lounges), you will find that they are very friendly and fun-loving people, very warm and passionate.
I would recommend to anyone sailing on Costa to take the time beforehand and learn basic phrases in Italian, Spanish, German, and French. When encountering someone in passing, they will often greet you in a language other than English. How much nicer it is to recognize what they are saying to you and be able to respond back to them instead of the alternative response we often see--a blank stare or feigned deafness. Know that people are saying Good Evening to you and not insulting you. I was always able to return greetings, ask people how they were and then apologize for not speaking their language. When there is no common language, it's amazing what you can convey through pantomime!
For a ship carrying 3,000 people, getting on and off during port visits was always fast and effortless. We never waited in line for more than a couple of minutes.
We made stops in Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. I won't go into detail on these ports except to say they were all beautiful--and fascinating. Our weather wasn't too cooperative so it was cool, windy and often raining but we thoroughly enjoyed every port we visited and ventured out alone in all of them except St. Petersburg. There, we took a wonderful nine hour tour to avoid having to get visas. We learned so much about the country and how far it has come since the fall of Communism 15 years ago. An exceptional and very educational itinerary with spring flowers in full bloom everywhere!
I have to admit that as usual, we didn't wait for our color luggage tag to be called--we just walked off the ship as soon as we saw people starting to leave. The ship docked in Copenhagen at 8am and we headed to the gangway at 9:15am. 15 minutes later, we had collected our luggage and were in a taxi on our way back to the same hotel we stayed in on the start of our journey.
We love sailing on Costa and thoroughly enjoy the international experience it provides. We are sailing the Magica again this Thanksgiving in the Caribbean and are looking forward to spending another week on this beautiful ship.
We returned home from our trip with suitcases full of freshly washed and folded clothes. Watch out for Costa's laundry special the second from last day of the cruise. All the laundry you can stuff in a large paper sack will be laundered, folded and returned to your cabin on the last day of the cruise for approximately $26 USD. We managed to cram in a week's worth of dirty clothes. Careful folding is the secret. Less
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