Background Info: I am 16 years old, and I cruised with my mother from February 25- March 4, 2007. This was our first time on Costa, but not our first cruise. It was my 7th, and her 8th. We have sailed on HAL Maasdam, Zuiderdam, & Noordam; CCL Victory & Triumph; and X Zenith. We live in upstate New York, and only booked this cruise 18 days in advance.
Embarkation: We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on the day of the cruise. We were supposed to arrive by 11am, but due to flight complications, we didn't get to the cruise pier until about 3pm. (Good thing it didn't set sail until 7pm!) The luggage porters took our bags as soon as we stepped out of the taxi, and then we were off to go through security and check in. The line was surprisingly long, but moved quickly. We passed through security smoothly, and then waited some more to check in. From there, we got on the ship. We were onboard the ship within an hour, and were surprised at not receiving our cards or having our photos for them taken! Since we arrived so late, we were able to go straight to our cabins and get settled in. Not having to carry around our suitcases was great!!
The Ship: The Magica was impeccable. Everything was clean, she looked brand new. The layout is a little wonky, but you will get used to it. It was annoying not being able to walk from bow to stern on every deck, and we would always forget that. We loved the art work that is all over the ship, especially the panels in the stateroom hallways, and the large pictures in the stairwells. The lightbulb holders in the buffet area were very unique (arms and hands holding the lights).
Public Areas: There were 11 lounges and bars, and every night something exciting was happening. The Salento Grand Bar is the best, it is located right in the middle of deck 5, and is very open and has a nice dance floor. The Capri Lounge was great too, and the band that played in there was amazing. This is where karaoke took place. The Urbino theater is gorgeous...but make sure not to sit someplace where the poles would be blocking your view! The atrium is gorgeous...and the glass elevators are just too much fun (no matter how old you are!). The nightclub, Grado Disco, was tons of fun!! Popular music was played, and everyone was dancing and having a good time!
Activities: It would have been impossible to attend every single activity that was planned. Every day, there were dance and exercise classes by the midship pool. Also, many games like hula hoop competition, sexy legs, kens vs barbies, old macdonalds farm game, ect happened near this pool. Multiple trivia and quiz gatherings, as well as volleyball, ping pong, and basketball games occurred daily. Even Italian lessons!! The activities staff was amazing, each one speaking at least 5 languages!! It is unbelievable how much energy they have, and we talked to some of them personally and they don't know how they do it! No matter how fun their jobs look, it is very socially demanding and hard; most of the time their smiles are false.
Pools: There were 2 main pools...both on deck 9, located aft and midship. There was a smaller pool located up on deck 10, next to the end of the waterslide. Also, a kiddie pool was up near the childrens room. The pool area is the most active, and where everyone is on sea days, and the line for the waterslide often went down the stairs! Watch out for little kids (in the deck 10 pool)...they had discovered that the plastic cups were great for throwing water at people. There were several hot tubs, all of which were wonderfully hot and relaxing.
Service: Wonderful. The crew was amazing and very friendly (would say hi to us whenever they saw us, and remembered our names). I don't know how other people could say bad things about them!! They all spoke English very well (as it is a requirement for them if they come into contact with passengers), and were extremely accommodating to all the needs of the passengers.
Cabin: We were in cabin 7380, an inside on deck 7. It was the second one back from the aft elevators, and only 2 decks up to the buffet and 2 down to the casino and shops; no complaints at all about the location. There was plenty of storage space for all of our belongings. There were 4 drawers in a dresser, 2 nightstands, and 4 closets (one with shelves). The bathroom was spacious, and there were 4 shelves above the sink (perfect size & location for beauty products). The shower was good, had a retractable clothes line going across which was handy, and a shampoo dispenser (smelled quite nice, but we always bring our own). There was one problem with the shower. It would overflow everytime i used it. The drain was very slow, and the ledge around the base was not high enough to contain all the water! There is a drain behind the toilet too, and a path around the perimeter of the floor for water to follow, so maybe this was supposed to happen?? I doubt it though. So don't leave your clothes on the floor! Another oddity about the cabin: the handles on the drawers and closets were leather-like, and hard to get ahold of, resulting in the opening of them very difficult. We often left everything slightly open to avoid this issue. The lighting was great (fixtures were unique and modern), and there were plenty of mirrors everywhere. There was a minifridge, and a safe too. The artwork was cute, and the beds weren't that bad. Maybe because we were so tired when we retired to sleep? It doesn't matter. (We were happy to be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and NOT in the -10 weather in NY.) The sheets and towels were a little rough for our liking, but that didn't ruin our cruise or anything. (The pool towels that are left in your room for shore excursions are wonderful!!)
Food and Dining: Once again, I can not believe that people have complained about the food!!! It is delicious!!! We were disappointed at no sushi, but don't worry...they made up for it in their pasta dishes!! In the buffet, the food was great!! Always pizza, pasta, salad, a meat or 2 of some sort, fresh fruit, vegetables, all the regular cruise fare. The only area they lacked in was dessert. The selection was very limited, and always cold (pie is supposed to be warm!) The ice cream made up for it though, having self-serve machines located all around deck 9. There were specialty ice creams available at the bars, but we thought that it was ridiculous to pay for ice cream on a cruise so we never got any. The food in the buffet is just about the same as in the dining rooms. We went to dinner the first couple of nights, but each night the service got slower and slower!! Originally, we were assigned the early seating, but we were able to easily change that to the late seating (allows much more time to get ready after being onshore all day). On the second formal night, instead of lobster, there was king crab legs. Personally, I preferred this!! It was delicious!! Breakfast: offered in the dining room (Smeralda) from 7:30-9:30. We never went to this. A buffet was set up from 7:30-11am. The one by the back pool was always the least crowded, and had the same exact things as inside the Bellagio. There were pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels, hash, and fresh fruit available. Lunch: offered in the dining room (Portofino) from 12-1:30pm. We also never went to this. The buffet was available from 12-2:30 in the Bellagio, and the grill was open from 11am-6pm. Dinner: There is 2 different seatings in each restaurant. Costa Smeralda: 5:45 & 8:30 Restaurant Portofino: 5:30 & 8:15 Also, a buffet is set up from 7:30-9:30 in the Bellagio, and a specialty restaurant from 6:30-9:30pm (never went to it). ONE OF OUR FAVORITES: from 9:30pm-1:30am, a pizzeria was set up in the Bellagio. We did not discover this until near the end of the cruise, and the pizza here is THE BEST. Each night there were about 5 different types of pizza offered, so Im sure you would be able to find something you liked. They would make you your own pizza, about a foot in diameter. Also, every night there was a midnight buffet, and the theme differed from night to night. Furthermore, there was tea time. One was in the Spoleto Lounge, Deck 5, from 3:45-4:45pm,where there was a WIDE variety of tea to choose from. The other was in the Bellagio and had mini sandwiches and desserts (4-5pm).
Childrens Program: I participated in the teen program (13-18 years old), and it was wonderful!! The two teen directors, Marco and Sabryna, were fabulous!! There were a couple activities scheduled daily, and they were tons of fun! The prizes were great too. I saw the littler kids around the ship sometimes, participating in themed dinners and treasure hunts, and they all had a smile on their faces (and often face paint too!!).
Entertainment: The one show I actually went to, Myth Trio in Circus of the Seas, was FANTASTIC. I actually went to both seatings. It was unbelievable!! All of the other shows were basically the same as on every cruise...a special singer one night, a Broadway-type show, a magician, ect...
Theme Nights: Almost every night had its own theme. It was so much fun, this is part of the reason why Costa is amazing. Italian Night: Supposed to wear red, white, or green. There were several stations all around deck 5, such as rose making, mask making, face painting, and dance classes. Mediterranean Night: You were able to visit 4 different countries this night. France..and there was a Can Can show (hilarious!!!!), and Moulin Rouge-type singing. Greece...a fun dance..OMPA! Spain..dancing the Paso Doble. Egypt and Turkey....crazy belly dancing!! (also HILARIOUS). Also followed by a midnight buffet with food from each country in each section. DO NOT MISS THIS!! Roman (Toga) Night: This is one thing Costa is known for. Everyone is supposed to get dressed up in a toga (and accessories!) and spend the night in it! This is the Guest Talent Show and Crew Show night too, and happened on the last night of the cruise. Maybe only about 50% of the pax actually wore a toga, but the ones who didn't missed out on all the fun! Tropical Night: Tropical wear, with music by the calypso band and dancing by the pool! Dances such as the YMCA, and limbo. Tons of fun!!
Ports of Call: all of the ports we had been to already, so we knew what we wanted to do. Cozumel: we went to Mr Sanchos for the day and just relaxed on the beach. It was $15 each way for a taxi. Then we went shopping around town, bought vanilla and liquor. Grand Cayman: We walked to 7 mile beach. It is gorgeous there. Did not like having to wait for tender tickets in the Urbino Theater, and the tender ride was long. Ocho Rios: We shopped and then went back to the ship. Grand Turk: Took a taxi ($5/person/each way) to Cockburn Town. Walked along the beach, which was gorgeous and secluded!! and shopped around town. We found out that there are NO TAXES (land, school, ect..)at all, but it will cost you $22 for a roll of aluminum foil. (still only $1 for a beer though!)
Other Passengers: About 80% of the passengers were European. Being onboard this ship was like being in a foreign country. Most of the other pax were Italian and French. None of them were rude at all, they were all lovely to converse with (give that you can speak their language/interpret their English). A couple were pushy and cut in line, but hey, Americans do that too!!! Im sure you would find someone on any other cruise line who would cut infront of you (we found it on HAL!).
Debarkation: There was the option of early self-debarkation. We opted not to do this, since you would have to carry all your own luggage offboard, and 2 woman pack a lot!! They hand out colored tags, depending on your cabin and status, and you get assigned a time to get off the ship. They don't even check if you leave in the right time (we got off earlier than assigned). There was one discretion with a passenger and his/her card, apparently they tried to get off without paying for their onboard purchases. That did hold up the line, but was resolved quickly. After we got off the ship, was had to go through customs. There were 2 different lines, one for US passengers and one for Foreign. They both moved at about the same rate.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience and would cruise Costa again in a heartbeat!! We are trying to plan to go on the Fortuna this winter. (The Magica wont be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Too bad. This ship is amazing!)
Feel free to email me if you have any questions, or would like to see photos, daily programs, menus, ect.