After much research, I booked through an Internet travel agency that I had never used before. I booked a balcony stateroom for my DW and I and an inside one for my son and GF. My DW and I celebrated birthdays during this period so I decided to surprise her and upgraded to a Gran Suite for really not much money. Would I use this particular agency again? Probably not. I'll leave it at that.
My DW, DS, GF and I drove from New Orleans to spend New Year's with family in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area. Driving was more economical than flying due to the Holidays.
After getting dropped off we were directed to the check in area by some very friendly Costa personnel. We went through the security checkpoint without incident and proceeded to check in. It took us about 15 minutes from the time we pulled up and the time we were on the ship. We were truly amazed as this was the smoothest and quickest embarkation of any of our cruises. Once inside we were met by Costa staff who checked our documents again and took our picture with a handheld device. This took all of a minute or so. From there we were directed to our cabin.
Waiting for us in GS 7200 were a bottle of champagne, fruit basket, plate of hors' dourves, our Costa id. cards and the daily information pamphlets. The suite was spacious, with a large sitting area. The balcony accommodated two loungers, two adjustable chairs, a small table and had room to spare. Leading from the bedroom there was an area with a separate vanity and a large closet. The bathroom had marble double vanities, a bidet, and a whirlpool tub/shower. The bedroom area had a closet and ample drawer space where all of the stuff that my DW brought fit comfortably. The TV in the room was rather small but they carried the three major US networks along with a number of ship information channels and news and entertainment programs from Europe and India.
Minutes later we were greeted by our Room Steward Fanny (Peru) who was a gem all throughout our Cruise. Right after, we met Rodney (Philippines) our butler. He explained that he would bring us fresh fruit everyday and would serve us breakfast every morning if we chose to.
The Atlantica is a beautiful vessel. The decor was beautiful but you could tell in places (hallway carpeting) that the ship had been in operation for a number of years. However, none of the detracted from its charm. It had ample deck space and never gave us a "crowded feeling".
Before I discuss the food, I can say that we cruise to get away from daily stress and relax. We have never gone hungry on any past cruises and this one was no exception. Our wait team of Joseph (Philippines) and Mukesh (India) were outstanding and very aware of any needs that we might have.
The food, in our opinion, was typical of any cruise line that we have been on. However, it did have a distinctive Italian flair to it. For most daily dinners in the main dining room, they offered a meat entree', chicken, lamb, etc. The menu also included a different pasta dish daily although you could always order the standard spaghetti and meatballs. Of all of the desserts that we tried,we liked the cheesecake best.
With the exception of the pizza stations, I didn't visit the buffet although they served hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, tacos and salads and desserts. The pizza was delightful. Costa had two pizza stations. One that served pizza with ingredients that changed daily and another station that always served cheese pizza.
Entertainment: I only attended one or two shows and I can truly appreciate the effort that Costa's Cruise Director, Andrea, puts out in trying to entertain travelers from all over the world. When you get an audience that speaks 4,5 or 6 different languages it is a monumental task to please everyone. Andrea amazed me in the he could speak fluently in so many languages and would switch from one to another at the drop of a hat.
The service overall was outstanding. Everyone we came in contact with, from the bar personnel to the purser's office ladies was extremely polite friendly and courteous. Speaking of the latter, I have been on different lines where when you approach the front desk personnel they take care of you professionally and move you along. What impressed me on the Alantica was that each one of the front desk staff could not only speak a minimum of three languages but would take their time with EVERY passenger that they were assisting. This might put some people off but I found it charming that someone would actually take the time to listen and to try to help. As an example my DS GF was feeling queasy and I went to get her some Dramamine. In previous cruises, I have gone to the desk and asked for the same and the person who attended me would ask how many I would need. Then they would hand them over, say thank you and "Next". On Costa, this particular young lady (Germany), took the time to ask a number of questions, whether she had high blood pressure, was she pregnant? Thank God, no. Then she went on to explain how to take the pills and what their effect would be. This type of service totally wowed me. Just for that personal touch alone, I would sail with Costa again.
We had priority disembarkation so after a leisurely breakfast with our new friends we left the ship. Customs was a breeze and all in all we were out the door in about 15 to 20 minutes. Couldn't be any smoother. Costa has this down pat!
Negatives, the AC. At around 3 in the morning, we heard a whistling sound that sounded like a freight train. Come to find out that if we set the thermostat all the way up this would happen. After the second night we had this under control.
Did we get a good value for our money? Absolutely. Would we sail Costa again? Definitely.