My husband and I sailed, along with friends, the Costa Magica transatlantic May 4-20, Ft. Lauderdale-Copenhagen. Before I start the review, I want to make clear that we definitely got our dollars worth since this was an extremely inexpensive cruise, including airfare at $1400 pp. We embarked in Ft. Lauderdale. We have been through that port several times, as usual the embarkation was a breeze and we were on the ship very quickly. My first clue that we were in for an 'interesting' voyage: as soon as we got through the door, I asked one of the staff a question, got a blank stare. Didn't understand me. Oh boy. Got to our cabin, we had an inside on the lowest deck, which was fine, it was sufficient. I must say our steward was excellent. First night out we were pretty tired as we had flown to Ft. Lauderdale from LAX and it was just a long day.
The first couple days were non eventful. Nassau was fine, been there, done that. We had a sea day and a half to arrive in Bermuda, we were supposed to dock at 6 p.m. Weather was rough and our ship could not get into the port safely, so I guess we bobbed along out there all night. Next morning we were able to dock,we had a very nice day touring Hamilton and the beaches, on our own. We took the city bus all day for $5, what a deal. I highly recommend it.
The next few days is when it gets really interesting. We knew that every announcement would be made in no less than 5 languages, but no matter what you think...it gets really, really annoying. We like to do trivia on sea days, I gave up after the 2nd day...the cruise staff conducting the trivia could not pronounce the words. They couldn't spell the words. We didn't know what we were supposed to be trivia-ing about. And when they asked the trivia question, it was also in 5 languages. Most activities were very unorganized at the least. I kept wondering why there was always a long line at the purser's desk, day and night. I later figured it out.
Our first issue happened a week into the trip. We, and our friends, got notices in our room to come to the shore excursion desk regarding the excursion we had booked in Copenhagen before we flew back to the states. My girlfriend had RUN to the desk when she boarded the first day to sign us up as the Costa website was impossible to navigate. Anyway, seems the staff had decided to only offer our excursion in Italian ONLY. Mind you, we had been signed up for a week already and now they are telling us this? We asked if more Americans, or english speaking passengers signed up for this particular excursion in the next few days, would they offer it in English. No, only Italian. We could go on the Italian bus, uh duh. No. I was pretty ticked off at this point, and I said, why did i t take you a week to decide to eliminate the English speaking bus, sounds like discrimination to me. She just looked at me and said, 'Well, this is an Italian ship. Well, my Euro is as green as their Euro. There was another excursion that was similar that we could sign up for, but it was more money. We suggested that they give us that excursion for the same price as the one we had originally signed up for. Nope, couldn't do that. Ok, so we just signed up for it because we really needed an excursion that would get us to the airport. Mind you again, language problems here. Long story short, over the next week there was a major screwup with our tickets our friends got theirs, we got one at a much lower price, and then didn't get a second one for us. The staff was basically just rude to us and 'oh well'. We got fed up toward the end of the 2nd week so we wrote a note to the Captain asking to meet with him at his convenience. Well, the last day of the cruise we did just that. The Hotel Director escorted us to his quarters. The Captain was truly annoyed and I am sure that Hotel Director's goose was cooked as this really should have been handled at his level. Well, the Captain agreed with us on this issue of cost and told the Director to fix it. This price issue did not get fixed until we were out of our cabins to disembark and my husband had to hunt down the shore excursion people as we were still short a ticket. We finally got the missing ticket, but none of this should have even happened.
Most evenings there were activities...one night was 'Carnivale'. What a mess. In one area, there were 3 cruise staffers making venetian masks. Taking a plain white mask, drizzling glue on it, then glitter. Not a big deal. You would have thought they were giving out money. Oh my, I have never seen so much shoving and pushing and rudeness ever. Where the staff messed up was they should have had a roped off line, one at a time. One woman got so upset with one of the staffer, for no reason that I could figure out, the poor girl started crying. Oh come on, its a cruise. My friend and I gave up. It wasn't a big deal for us, but give something away and true bullying comes out. The evening before we got to Dover, England we were having dinner and a couple at the table next to us came in to dinner. The man was extremely upset, so we asked him what happened. He had just come from the pursers desk. Seems that a couple from England they had met on board asked them that day if they had received their invitation to the farewell Captain's private gala for passengers disembarking in Dover. Well, no so our friend went to the pursers desk and they told him that the gala was for 'all passengers except Americans'. I am not kidding. He said he told them that he wasn't American, he was Canadian, but what would it matter if they were American? No answer. This confirmed to us that there was truly discrimination against Americans. I expected that in our ports in Europe, but not on the ship.
Shopping on board was poor. Not that I cruise to shop, but it was really bad. They sold amber jewelry almost everyday outside one of the shops, expensive. No sales on anything, very small sundries area to buy aspirin, etc. I was glad I had brought all that stuff myself because I wouldn't have found it there. Adding insult to us, they had part of one shop 'closed' off. The windows were wide open, not papered over or anything so you could see in the closed off section. The whole last week they were setting up that part of the shop for the Baltic cruises after ours. There were some lovely things in there, so my friend asked the manager if they were going to open that shop to us during the cruise and she was told that another manager was getting on board in Paris, then they would open it. Well, it never opened. I know it's not a big deal, just say no, it's not going to open , not for this cruise. End of discussion. And they really should have papered over those windows, we weren't the only ones looking in there longingly.. Unfortunately, two days before the end, I got quite sick. I went to the ship dr. the day before we got to Copenhagen, he was Italian, and of course, could not speak English. What else is new. So somehow I managed to tell him what was wrong..I walked out of there with 3 days worth of antibiotics, amoxicillin, and generic cough syrup. That will be $44 Euros, ma'am (approx $60 usd). I got back to the cabin and looked at those pills. I am allergic to penicillin and told him so. My husband took the pills down there and they said, no problem, ok to take. Uh huh, right. I'm so glad none of our party had a real emergency, that would have been really scary. I ended up going to my dr. a couple days after we got home as I wasn't much better. She could not believe they gave me those pills. She was glad I didn't have an allergic reaction. And you always give out at least a 10 day course of pills.
Disembarkation in Copenhagen. Well, that was a fine mess. As everyone needed to be out of their cabins by 8 a.m. we went to the main theatre with our hand carry luggage to wait. It got crazy. One of our cruise critic members had been on board with her 9 year old son, who is probably the most mature and polite 9 year old I have ever met. In the theatre that morning, all of a sudden we hear this ruckus...As our friend and her son were coming into the theatre, this woman and her husband literally shoved our friend out of the way, when our friend complained to them about it, the husband came back and punched her. No kidding. Security was standing right there, did nothing. We couldn't believe it, a man hitting a mom. The ship was full of Europeans, mostly germans, and this couple was a german couple. Unfortunately, most of the Europeans we had dealing with were bossy, pushy and rude. Anyway, our friend was ok, but what the heck!
We didn't buy many drinks onboard. Cocktails were more expensive than on any ship I had been on before, and sodas were expensive too. Brought our own sodas on board, so that helped. What we did love: The meals were for the most part really good. We had heard a lot of complaints before hand that they didn't know how to cook beef. Karen and I almost always had the beef if it was offered, it was tender and delicious. Lots of Pasta. Some of the main dishes were kind of weird combinations. Lots of Anchovies. Anchovy sauce, anchovies on salad, I guess if you like anchovies its ok. Not to our taste. The ports were wonderful. The Azores are absolutely beautiful, we had a wonderful excursion to Paris and also to London. Copenhagen was nice, what we saw of it. We never did see the Little Mermaid statue that was supposed to be on our tour so we were disappointed. All in all a good value for the money. I don't think we would cruise with Costa again, but if a great deal pops up,who knows. Oh one last thing. No toga party. Everyone in our cruise critic group had brought fabrics, etc...to create togas. We were told there would be a toga party. I think most of our group was disappointed. My husband wasn't very happy to have to haul that stuff home. Well, the fabric will make great kitchen curtains, I guess.