My wife and I booked the cruise because the price was unbelievable and we had never been to Copenhagen. We immediately notified all of our cruising buddies and had a party of six booked on the cruise in minutes.
Since two of our cruising buddies lived near us in Tampa, Fl., I rented a minivan to drive us from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale to board the ship. The drive took about four hours and the embarkation at 1:00 pm went flawlessly. Our cabin (9239) was ready and we unpacked our carry-on luggage before heading for the Bellagio restaurant that turned out to be just a few yards from the cabin. The food was plentiful and very good and there were enough serving lines that there was no waiting.
After lunch, my wife and I took a tour of the ship. At 105,000 toms, she was the largest ship we had cruised on and one of the nicest. All the cabins were full and with a few children on board we had about 2770 passengers traveling with us. The fitness gym, complete with Jacuzzi, a small pool, sauna, and every piece of equipment you could think was just three decks up from our cabin. The spacious theater was six decks down and three swimming pools were just steps away on either side of the Bellagio dining room. We had early seating (6:00 pm) in the Smeralda restaurant that was on deck three at the aft end of the ship. It took a little walking to get to but we could use the exercise before and after dinner. The ship had just about everything one could want on a cruise. The only complaint we had was that there was no washer and dryer except the expensive ship laundry so we did a little washing in our bathroom that was really nothing new to us. The ship was spotless and almost identical to the Carnival Destiny and Carnival Liberty.
It looked like it was going to be a wonderful cruise until the afternoon lifeboat drill. We turned out for the drill and then it hit us in the face like a chilling north wind off the North Atlantic; the drill instructions were given in five languages. While English was the language of choice for the largest group of passengers (over 1000 of the 2770 passengers), there was a significant number of Germans (about 800) and Italians and 28 other nationalities many of them speaking French and Spanish. Little did we realize how annoying this was going to be. If you are use to cruising on ships that cater to Americans, don't cruise Costa. It is definitely Italian.
We sailed for Nassau at 9:30 pm. We found that there were a number of music venues and they were all very good and you could usually find a nice place for dancing after dinner. We preferred the Capri with the Night Out Band for dancing and the Spoleto Lounge for easy listening. However, beware of Paolo in the Capri lounge. When he takes over for the Night Out Band, people vacate the lounge and for good reason. He plays the piano and does a good job but when he opens his mouth to sing, it's time to leave. Costa needs to replace him.
The next day we arrived at Nassau. Since everybody in our group had visited Nassau before, we just took the water Taxi to the Atlantis hotel. If we had known that the taxi was not leaving until they were full, we could have avoided 30 minutes in the heat by taking a smaller boat. After a few hours at Atlantis we headed back to the ship for a late lunch and a rest before dinner and a show.
Formal dining on the Costa takes two hours and can become a little tedious. Our waiters were great and the headwaiter was more visible and friendly than on any cruise we had taken. The food was good but had a sameness about it that made it boring by the end of the cruise. The menu writer had obviously never seen the food that was actually being served or the chef had not read the description of the food on the menu. If you really got what was stated in the menu, it was pure luck. I had fruit cocktail for starter each evening and while the menu advertised the fruit salad as "exotic, tropical, Caribbean etc.," it was always just pieces of various melons. And the Italian idea of a sundae is not what Americans are acquainted with. Of course, there was pasta available every night. Overall, the people at our table rated the food as below average from their experiences on other cruise lines.
After dinner we headed for the Urbino Theater to see Van Pressley Jr. from the legendary Platters. He sang all the old tunes and did it very well. It would have been nice if Costa could have afforded all of the Platters but Mr. Pressley a good performer and sang in English. If the following shows had been as good as the opening one the total entertainment experience would have been outstanding. However, such was not the case. In my opinion Costa took six good shows for a seven-day cruise and supplemented them with mediocre shows to cover the 16-day transatlantic cruise we were on.
The two production shows, Magic Moments and Cinemagique were as good as any I have seen in over thirty cruises in the last seven years. The Myth trio in "Circus of the Seas" reminded me of a miniature version of the Cirque Du Soleil and done on a moving ship. John Ciotta, an Italian-American from New York put on an outstanding show. He sang a variety of songs in English and Italian and the crowd responded with a standing ovation. He did for an encore of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and I am sure that Frank would say "well done". The "Grand Variety Show" with Allison Mc Areavey and Ian Fraser and the Costa Magica Dancers was good but not up to the standards they set on their two big production numbers.
The other shows were weak. Price and McCoy and Vincenzo Silvestris were probably the best of the fill-in shows. Allison Mc Areavey, the lead female singer in the production shows was not strong enough to do her own full show. From what I saw, I think that Ian Frazer may have been a better choice for a full show. The bubble art show was a good children's show but there were few children on the ship. Maria Grazia was a so-so singer and her straw-like hair detracted from her singing. The Duo Badi should have stayed in the Piano Bar. The only good thing I can say about the "Fantasy Sorin Show" was that the lead in by the Magica singers and dancers was the best part of the show. Probably the best of the fill-in shows was the Costa Magica Crew Show that was promoted to prime time. For amateurs they were outstanding. There was no comedian on board and probably for good reason. Comedy in five languages would probably not translate well. The cruise director announced all the shows in five languages which got boring after awhile. On-board activities were plentiful and well attended. There seem to be something going on all the time. The most attended activity seem to be sun bathing and on the sunny days, it was hard to find an empty lounge. The only complaint I heard was that there were not enough bridge tables. It seemed that the eight tables could not handle the number of bridge players on board. This has not been the case on other cruises when tables usually outnumber the players. The fitness center was packed in the morning but seem to clear out by about 10:00 am. There were plenty of special events and were attended well. There was limbo, line dancing, ice sculpture, karaoke, hat making, and bocce ball for those so inclined.
There was a nice casino but the gambling devices were in Euros and you lose three percent off the top because you must change your dollars into euros before you even try the machines. We chose not to gamble. The shops on board had the same problem. We found as we travel that prices seem to stay the same as the currency changes. What cost 10 dollars on some cruise lines cost 10 euros on Costa and 10 pound in England. The Art auction had the same problem. All the bidding was done in Euros so the prices paid for art carried a 35% premium over other art auctions we had attended. Needless to say we purchased no art on this cruise.
Since we had visited all of the places that the cruise ship stopped except Copenhagen, the only shore excursion we purchased was in Copenhagen. However, our traveling companions did do the Normandy excursion from Le Havre and gave it high praise. It was unfortunate that the Magica could not dock as scheduled in Bermuda because of high winds but we did have a few hours ashore the next day. We landed in the Azores on a Sunday and the shops were closed. However they had a festival in Ponta Delgada and they had a four-mile bed of flowers that was very beautiful. The shops in Le Havre were also closed when we stopped there so we walked around the city for a few hours and enjoyed meeting some of the local residents.
Several hundred passengers toured Paris from Le Havre and London from Dover and had nothing but good things to say about the excursions. We toured the white cliffs of Dover and aside from being blown by high winds, we enjoyed the tour. It was rumored that a couple of people were lost in Paris and missed the bus back to the ship. While I cannot confirm the rumor we did sight a police car rushing with lights flashing up to the ship about thirty minutes after our scheduled departure time. We departed shortly thereafter so the rumors might be true.
The debarkation in Copenhagen was a disaster. We were asked to leave our cabins at 8:00 am although debarkation was scheduled to start at 9:00 am so it meant that 2770 people and their hand luggage were crowded into the public places for over an hour because debarkation never starts on time. Around 9:30 am debarkation started. We marched down the stairs to the warehouse where some people picked up their checked luggage and proceeded to the exit only to find that the busses were not yet there. There was a marathon being run in Copenhagen and because of street closures the busses were late. The warehouse was full of people milling around and as luck would have it, the busses for the people at the back of the pack arrived first. It was about an hour before our bus arrived and it cut our tour short by about an hour. However, since some free time for shopping was built into the tour, we did not miss any of the sights of Copenhagen. Our tour guide was great and we enjoyed the sights of Copenhagen. We even had time for lunch at McDonalds before rejoining the tour group for the ride to the airport. We had no problems getting on our British Airways flight to London to visit our English friends for a few days before flying home to Tampa.
Some of the complaints I heard on board the Magica were really trivial. Several people complained about the lack of chocolate candy on their pillow each night. Costa only gives you pillow candy on "formal nights." The biggest complaint from Americans, other than the time wasted by giving announcements in five languages, was really a clash of cultures. While the English, Canadians, and Americans are willing to get into line at the buffet or before the doors open for the shows, the Germans and Italians seem to push their way into the buffet line at whatever point they find the food to their liking. They also seem to push past people exiting the theater to get seats while those in line wait patiently for people to exit the theater before looking for seats.
All in all, the cruise was a great value for the money spent. However, my first cruise on Costa will probably be my last. Unless, however, they are going somewhere I want to go and the price is right!