I expected the Italian specialties to be a strength on Costa and I wasn't disappointed. With the exception of the osso buco which was tasteless and not properly seasoned, just about every Italian dish I had was top notch. Pesto lasagne, octopus, beef and mushroom stew in wine sauce, anything from the pasta station and especially the Lasagne Bolognese were favorites. Most of the dining room fare was mediocre at best. My preferences were found mostly in the lunch buffets. Breakfasts were a bit less than the quality I've experienced on other lines. They seemed to have a tough time keeping the pancakes, waffles and French toast hot enough. I had an omelet in the dining room one morning and it was fine but I did not get a chance to try the omelet station at the buffet. They did not add any variety to the breakfast fare. Each day it was the same old, same old. The most pleasant surprise was the pizza. I had not tasted good pizza on a cruise ship since a 1997 Alaskan trip on the old Star Princess. Costa's pizza, though a bit too doughy and undercooked if you take it by the slice at the buffet, is much better at night after 10pm or so when they will make a small individual pizza for you. Not all toppings are available each night but there are 4 or 5 choices of pies. I asked for mine to be well done and it came back just perfect. Comparing Costa's cuisine to other lines I would have to put them behind Princess and Norwegian, on a par with RCL, but well ahead of Holland America, Celebrity(which has really gone down the tubes lately) or Carnival. Of course if you're Italian like me and you insist on good basic Italian food, Costa may be right up your culinary alley.
The area where the Atlantica needs the most improvement is in their scheduled activities. We like trivia contests, the more the better. Costa has them all right, sometimes 3 or 4 a day. But they are without a doubt the least challenging and most disorganized games I've seen on board a ship. Maybe it would have been more fun if the staff member running the trivia games didn't have an accent that was totally unrecognizable in the civilized world. I asked another staff member where she was from. She told me she was from England. I said, "Which England, the one on this planet or the one on Alpha Centauri?" Turns out she was from Yorkshire. Imagine Shrek with his mouth full of a whole jar of peanut butter. Most of the time was spent asking each other "What did she say?" When we finally won a game they told us the prize would be sent to our cabins. We're still waiting. Considering the cheapo prizes they gave out to other winners we didn't bother following up.
Movies were $8.95 inroom only, no movie theatre onboard. Also not one flat screen TV on the whole ship that I saw. They really need to upgrade there.
The theater shows were no better. Very European. Jugglers, acrobats, Italian tenors. Like a bad Ed Sullivan show. Not even a live orchestra. All the music for the shows was pre-recorded. One night however they had a comedian/ impressionist who was pretty good. He claimed to be Bruce Springsteen's second cousin. Hey, I believed him.
We did find one really good lounge band, the Brian Ellwood Trio. Ellwood plays a nasty piano and he handled rock n roll, Motown, country and standards with ease.
My wife was not nuts about Costa overall. I admit I was a bit more enthusiastic than she but if she won't go on Costa again I guess that's it. Too bad. I loved that Lasagne.