The Costa Atlantica has recently started operating out of Shanghai, targeting the Chinese market. One of my wife's friends had booked up to go on the ship and so my wife decided that we would go too. The cruise was from Shanghai to Korea's Jeju (Cheju) island and then to Busan city, one sea day and then back to Shanghai again.
The ship uses a new cruise terminal in the Baoshan area of Shanghai, rather than the Internation terminal in the centre of the city. Baoshan is easy enough to get to by subway and then a short taxi to the terminal, but it is quite a bit away from the city centre and about as far as you can get from airport.
Boarding the ship was relatively strait forward though I had never done this before and everything was in Chinese, I had to rely entirely on my wife to get through. Nobody at the terminal spoke any English and it would be quite difficult to navigate without a Chinese speaking guide.
The ship itself is staffed with a very multicultural mix. All spoke English fluently but only a few spoke Chinese, thus the roles were reversed as I translated for my wife.
We were travelling in February, so the outside parts of the ship were cold and windy. The outdoor pools were closed. Only the pool in the fitness centre was really usable.
Chinese people don't go in for formal/casual dress distinctions. Thus at evening dinner everyone dressed in their jeans and sweaters as they had during the day time. The five course evening meal consisted of western style food which not all the Chinese guests appreciated. On the first night, the other guests at our table only ate ice cream. The second and third nights they didn't show. We noticed that a great many people were eating at the buffet counters on the 9th floor rather than the formal dinner. However, everyone attended for the final nights formal dinner which was Italian fiesta themed.
The shows on the first two nights were excellent professional performances, though the male signer mist a few of the high notes. The third night's show was Cabernet by the staff, rather than professionals. It was a bit hit and miss and some of the acts just didn't work at all. We missed the fourth night's show because we had the later 8pm seating, which was late starting that night, and the dinner overran considerably.
The excursions were included in the cruise package by our travel agent. We had to wait for the Costa excursions to leave first then we were taken out by the agent. The excursions themselves were poor quality. Much of the time was spent in duty free shops rather than attractions or wasted on the bus driving to the duty free shops.
For example, on Jeju island, the boat docked at 2pm and we were disembarked within 30 minutes of that time. We spend 30 minutes in a museum, 1 hour in a duty free shop and 20 minutes at the sea shore in the city. The remaining 3 hours of the excursion was wasted on the bus driving to and from the duty free shop. A great shame as Jeju island was listed as on of the new7wonders of the world with volcanic craters, lava pipes, waterfalls and dramatic coastal scenery and we saw none of that.
The cabin was sufficient for our family, my wife, two daughters and I. It consisted of a double bed and a set of bunk beds. The verandah was large enough for two to sit however, what with it being February, we didn't sit out much. We did spend a little time outside looking a the sea but not too much.
The internal areas of the ship are finished to a high standard and the staff are always polite, happy and attentive. My youngest, two year old, daughter loved going up and down the glass lifts in the foyer. However she was too young to take part in the children's activities.