Both my husband and I have travelled extensively around the worlds, including Asia and Europe, for business and pleasure. We love discovering different cultures, foods, arts. When we want to relax, we believe cruising is by far the best options, having the chance to have good family time, and also for the parents to have some quiet time and romance while the kids are enjoying themselves and making new friends.
We thought Carnival was a good choice for kids but since we're seen it steadily go down the drain, we have decided after our last cruise on the Carnival Glory that we would try something else. Our plan was to go Royal Caribbean but I found a really good deal (kids free) on line with Costa on the Atlantica.
We travel with our two kids, a boy and a girls, ages 7 and 9. This was our 5th cruise. We had done 3 Carnival (5 and 7 days Caribbean, 10 days central america) and a 7 days Disney Cruise. Costa was by far the best cruise we're done so far. Yes, Disney is great for kids, but since my husband and I are not Disney fans, we felt it lacked entertainment for us. And our kids are not sure if they prefer Disney or Costa!
Boarding was the best. Quick and efficient, no line up. We had a veranda room with balcony. It was roomy and comfortable with lots of storage space and spotless like the whole ship. The hallway carpet is worn out and could be changed, but hey! That won't spoil my vacation. Since Costa's clientele is mostly european, specially when sailing the Mediterranean, smoking still prevails and I could smell the lingering scent in the cabin. I asked the stewart for some air refreshener, and it was fine.
I loved this ship's design. There was several cozy places in and out where we could lounge around. It felt like there was always more to discover. Cafe Florian with it's rose Petal tea served in silverware was my favorite spot after dinner. The ship is packed with art work and Fellini pictures. Just walking around after dinner is a pleasure. You might not like the design of the boat. That is personal.
The food was delicious, both at the main restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and at the dining room for dinner. Except for once, we did not come across cold food as mentioned by other reviewers, and what was served was at a good temperature. One of the reviewers also mentioned the bread. Yes, it has a hard crust, but it is due to the type of bread itself. It is in no way stale, and it is yummy with olive oil and balsamic vinegar! I have to give one bad note for the upscale restaurant. First it is opened to the main restaurant making it quite noisy, and honestly, the food served did not justify the $30 extra. We usually always take this dinner option, but next time we will pass on the Atlantica and stick with the dining room which is quite excellent with a good variety.
We read something about drinks prices, but we found it no different from other ships. Happy hour is 2 for 1 twice a day. You will save if you take a wine package. They have a very good selection of italian wines and we have never been disappointed with our choices.
Unlike other reviewers, we never felt any lack of food. I mean, how much can you eat??? If you love your burgers and fries and don't like more exotic and different food, and good italian wine, this cruise might not for you.
If you feel uncomfortable with several languages spoken around you, this cruise might not be for you either. Yes, there are people from all over the world and the MC makes all introductions in 5 languages-english, french, italian, spanish and german!
If you prefer typical cruise ship performances, this cruise might not be for you. We enjoyed all the shows, and yes they were different from other shows we saw on cruise ships.
If you feel the Italians are snob, this cruise might not be for you!
Like in any Italian neighborhood around North America, the Italian are a proud and rich culture. The staff is extremely proud of the ship and the service they offer. We more then once gave compliments about the service, and their smile shows the gratitude and pride. At any given time we would see several officers around the ship. They are constantly present, checking that everything goes smoothly. Service is quick and efficient.
If we had to give a bad note, it would be for the gym. The state of the art training program within the machines is not available anymore, and my husband who likes to go every morning to the gym when he travels found that the cardio machines were very cheap and should be changed. There was also no entertainment device build in such as a radio or TC screen which is now a standard in any gym.
Now for the kids. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL STAFF!! Unlike Carnival and Disney, the Kids Camp is small but the kids are not restricted to this area. They actually go out! There are activities on the Sports deck, the movies are presented in a different room on deck 3, and evening activities are in the Teen lounge until 10:30. Lunches and snacks are taken in the restaurant in a section reserved for them. And, again unlike other ships, there is activities in the pool! One feature I really appreciated...there are NO computers!!! Costa relies on several staff members assigned to entertained the kids. Did I mention they were WONDERFUL? !! There are several hands on activities and costume making, parades, and even a scavenger hunt on the full length of deck 2! Unlike Carnival, we found that the food offered to the kids was healthier, and the kids club is opened all day giving the parents more flexibility in scheduling activities.
Disembarkation? Like getting on, just a breeze! And at no point did we feel rushed to leave, or did we have to do a line up.
Yes, we did have the best cruise and we are extremely disappointed that Costa does not sail the Caribbean in the summer. We are cruising again at the beginning of August and we will try Royal Caribbean but I will miss Costa.......