We just got back from our Costa Magica cruise today which started 3/25-4/1 2007 to the Western Caribbean. I went as part of a larger group which consisted of 3 families with 5 children ages 6-8 years old.
I went for the cheap seats, an interior cabin on the second level (Tintoretto) and spent almost $1800 for one adult and 2 children. The room was spacious enough, very clean, and comfortable. I persuaded my cabin steward to take down the extra bunk so the children wouldn't fight over who got to sleep on the bunk. After a little tussle of words, he agreed and the kids were so happy.
There was a good mix of people from different nationalities, mostly European, so the overall mood felt like we were definitely getting out of the country. I was floored by the decor, which can only be described as "over the top." If you like life size human molded arms for the various light fixtures and chandeliers, then this is your baby. Literally, these arms are a green patina and in the closed fist rests a lightbulb to help you find your way, I suppose.
The cabin floors feature wall coverings with various female forms, all from different periods, so a unified theme is not discernible, except - well, female. The images were from all over the place, including hula honies, art noveau, art deco, wood nymphs, etc. I'm not an art snob, but this was bad form. Also, there were huge wall pieces of art at some floors that went from cartoonish fairies with wings to murals of tulips. I didn't quite get that either. In the rooms, the art was usually of something that evoked magic - aha! Costa Magica!
Ok, so the art was bad and so are the light fixtures. I was really worried about the food after reading some posts online and have to say I was pretty happy with it. The pasta dishes were fantastic, the caesar salad was authentic, and the beef and fish were generally pretty good. The kids menu was really boring but the good news was you could order off the adult menu for the children which I figured out a little too late in the cruise.
We chose the X1 package which was $11 per person per day and you could drink all the soda, wine, and water at dinner and lunch as possible. If you are a wine drinker, do not bother with this package. The wine as a friend described it was, vinegar with a hint of wine in it. You could do as our friend did, and bring your own 6 bottles to the table where they served it for you (and in this particular instance - no corking fee was charged).
Costa has a children's club called Squok Club. There are two age divisions, 3-6 and 7-12. The hours are 9- noon, 3-6 p.m., and 9-11 p.m. My kids didn't really like it all that well and complained from time to time, but there were occasions when I did witness them having fun. The staff are very nice and I felt comfortable leaving them there unless they tried to cling onto my legs while wailing for me not to leave. I usually got over my initial distress after a couple of minutes.
There were 2 nights when the children ate at the Squok Club and we were able to enjoy a nice dinner without the usual chocolate milk spills, bathroom breaks, verbal sparring, whining, etc. The meals seemed to be more delicious on those nights.
I went to one show on board and thought it was really cheesy. There were a few vignettes that were outright hokey - such as a duet featuring songs from Top Gun, with the male and female leads in flight jackets, a really bad Grease medley, the song from Ghost where Demi Moore is at the potter wheel and what's his face is fondling her, but on Costa they did a flowy dance to the song. The worst one was an adaptation from Harry Potter that we just didn't know what to do but laugh at.
I thought the service was decent. After a few nights, our waiter and head waiter really nailed down what we liked so we didn't have to order the sparkling water, wine, decaf after dinner, the fabulous caesar salad, etc. However, that being said, service was slow.
My favorite night was Italian night - you guessed it - Italian food but with a little fun. They did some old time Italian songs, Volare, That's Amore, etc. and the waiters danced some.
My least favorite night was Toga Night - the last night of the cruise when you are feeling like you need a little vacation from your vacation (as one friend put it) and it just seemed too fabricated to be fun.
Now for the excursions. I didn't book with the cruise line. I went on our own. We found a very terrific company called BarrettAdventures in Jamaica. Carolyn Barrett was amazing and took us to NON TOURISTY haunts. I repeat, no Senor Frogs, no Margaritaville, no Dunbar Falls. Instead, we went tubing down a lazy river, and saw the most beautiful view on the island at Firefly, Noel Coward's residence. Carolyn then took us to a REAL grocery store where we stocked up on jerk seasoning, aged rum, and blue mountain jamaican coffee. I can't recommend her enough!
On Grand Turk we opted to not stay at the cheesy Margaritaville cruise port entirely owned by Costa (so we were told) and went into the town. there is not much there, but it is quaint and lovely in a 60's Key West sort of way. I found out Grand Turk is whale watching area and there were great snorkeling spots. If you want to get away from it all you should visit this sleepy little town. I went to a little cafe, I can't remember the name, but it's on the way into town and it's oceanside and there's good food, and internet service! they played good tunes too.
Embarkation and disembarkation were terrific and ran like clock work.
Overall, Costa Magica delighted me and my children. We had a nice vacation, ate good food, visited 4 islands, and I didn't have to cook or clean during Spring Break. Not bad!