Costa Atlantica by STEFANIA Baltic Sea August 8, 2004 I had my first experience on Costa and I'm very enthusiastic about its costumer care. I have had many previous experiences with almost all the major Cruise Lines such as Celebrity, RCC, Princess, Cunard, Carnival etc., and I have to admit that I was a bit skeptic about an Italian Cruise Line. We chose two cruises, the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic Capitals from the 08/8/2004 to 08/22/2004 and we requested the complete packages (airplanes, transfers, hotels) to Costa.
I received the cruises documents from my Travel Agent. The booklet was the most complete the most explanatory I ever had. All was clearly reported and nothing was left undefined or unclear. We had a very good assistance form the Costa representative, arriving and departing from Copenhagen and from and to the port. We really felt sheltered from them. There were a Costa help desk in each hotel ( The Square and Admiral) and the representative were very helpful and nice, giving us a letter with the welcome of the Cruise Line and all the information we need during our stay and the scheduling of the drop in and drop out services. The rooms at our hotel booked directly from Cruise line were very good. I liked a lot the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen. It's a very particular building, and it deserves a stay. The embarkation was very smooth, notwithstanding the security procedure with a warm welcome by some members of the crew coming into the amazing "La Dolce Vita" Atrium.
The ship is fine and it's a very big vessel, very stable and very silent (sometimes I asked to myself if we were sailing or not), no seasickness (yahoo!). The cabin (we choose the first deck and one inside cabin) was very comfortable and full of space in the cabinets and in the drawers. Our Cabin steward Rodney from Philippines, was very kind and professional and he made a good job also with the Laundry service (very professional).
The most of the passengers were Italians, then we had a great representatives of Spanish (very cheerful and nice), then Germans, Portuguese and French people.
Although it is a smoker free ship, I never felt a smoke smell in all the vessel.
The lounges are all beautiful and inspired to our Federico Fellini. The most requested lounge was the Piazza Madame Butterfly, where two duo singers and players performed (all very good). This is maybe the focal point of the ship, where many activities are held. The most of the Italian guest skipped some lounges like Caffe' Florian, always deserted. It's a pity that a so vast space is often oven like. The Olympia Gym very big and full of any kind of gears. The outside decks are very well maintained, and there where sun chairs all with soft mattresses. The three swimming pools are very nice, and when the weather was not very good, the middle swimming pool was covered by the crystal mega dome. All seems not very overcrowded. The Coral Lunge, directly down to the Caruso Theatre, was a nice place for dancers and for parties. It should be more improved by different performances. I appreciate a lot the most beautiful glass vases collection in each level near stairways and lifts.
The Botticelli Buffet has 4 buffet lines plus two smaller lines dedicated to cakes and ice cream and to the Health Corner. Each day two buffet lines were dedicated to a typical national dishes (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, and- one of the best- to the Italian seafood). Outside the Botticelli Buffet and in the Ginger and Fred Pools and the Aurora Pools after, there were two grill lines serving breakfast and typical grill food like Hamburger, French fries, and hot dogs (quite far from Italian taste )
About food....(I increased 2 kilos!!!!!!! I hate Costa!) very, very Italian. The taste of the food is very good, we often ate fish, frequently fresh - they grant us that trucks from Genova reach the Atlantica every 3 days!- and it's true because we ate some kind of Italian specialties that you can find only over here! The buffets are very different and various (one day I counted 5 different kinds of pasta (2 kind of spaghetti dressed with different sauce - Carbonara and the other with tomato sauce olives, anchovies and caper, one oven polenta topped with cheese, Gnocchi di semolino - better that the ones that my mom and I make at home, and chick peas soup), plus grilled prawns, fried calamari, mussels....at last a great and good quantity of food! I had to notice the continuous check in the restaurants and buffets of the Maitre D' Fernando Sanna and the Director of Services. They were everywhere! The Tiziano Restaurant is a very wide two stores dining rooms, sober, and well decorated. We requested a table for two on the second seating (9,30 pm, maybe later for not Italian guests) but the service was very smooth and attentive.
Our waiters (Gabriel from Romania and Wayne from India) was very carefully ( I requested a special bread and I found it each dinner on my table thanks to the cares of Wayne). Both waiters were always ready to fulfill any of our requests. The service in the dining was very, very good, I felt sheltered and cared from our maitre Mr. Salvatore, who had a nice and pleasant words for all his guest. The executive chef, Paolo is a young man from Genova or Liguria and he received the biggest applause and standing ovation from all the guests during the farewell dinner. He deserve all the ovations. (I congratulate with him personally). All his staff make a very good job. For the first time in a back to back cruise we had for dinner an additional menu, a second chose of the regular menu. Cakes was very good (specially soufflEs, Pastiera - one Neapolitan specialty, and fruits sorbets, as also starters (we appreciate grilled oysters and the delicious and very special "Frittella di Gianchetti" a sort of pancakes made with baby fishes). Excellent seafood dishes, soups, and some little surprise like fried calamari or bruschetta that sometimes were served.
To say the true pizza was not very good, and the afternoon tea is a little bit lack. They must improve the variety of the snacks (On the Infinity I had one of my best afternoon tea, my mom said the elegant tea on Cunard was a must!)
entertainment AND CREW
The crew on board are very nice and patience, and the service is very attentive....specially the personnel at Reception, always ready to solve any kind of problems. The Captain Welcome cocktail and the repeaters cocktail are very sober and elegant, no hint about business affairs, and our Master Giuliano welcomed all the guest with some beautiful and poetical words....in 5 languages - at last Italian. The shows are very good and the Cruise Director, Michele and his staff was very nice and not too much invasive.
We had a very good service from the free shuttle, available by the ship in the most ports, and the program of the day named the "Today" is very full of information ( I bring with me a copy of it and plus a copy of the menu of Gala Dinners). I forgot! We had a surprise from the Master of the ship. We were sailing through Flam Fjord, directions Bergen. The ship made a little deviation to another little pristine Fjord. We reached a very amazing place! A minor harbor. Two little villages, between mountains and a glacier, waterfall, little red houses, no kind of noise, and the ship made a couple of rotations allowing all the passengers to watch this fairy-tale landscape. It's a night lovers ship. I was very happy about this because I remember a cruise made in the Caribbean some years ago on board another ship, when the most of the activities were over around 10,30 pm. What a bore! Except two Gala evenings each week, suggested dress is casual, but I must consider that from Spanish People to French, the most was wearing a semi formal robes during the informal evenings. Not much tuxedos.
So at last one of my best experience I never had of all my cruises (Obviously I'm not talking about luxurious cruise lines!) It was my best cruise considering the quality/price factor. I wish to suggest Costa to all the people who expect to live a very Italian experience and love to be always followed and pampered by a very efficient and very discrete organization and a living cruise.