Our cruising family consisted of me, dh, ds (11), mil and fil. We have all cruised numerous times and on several cruise lines. We are open to trying new cruise lines and ships based on price and itinerary and Costa was definitely one to try based on the price. We booked in September 2009 with an online booking agency we have used before. We picked our balcony cabins, 4216 & 4218, so we would be next door to each other.
I am an avid cruise critic member and read all the good, the bad and the ugly about Costa. We believe there are no bad cruises and this definitely was a great cruise for us.
We flew from Moline, IL on Friday, March 12 and for those of you that flew through Atlanta that day, we are all lucky we made it to Ft. Lauderdale in time to sail on Saturday, March 13. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 2 am-seven hours after our scheduled time. Our luggage arrived before us, so we grabbed it quickly and headed outside for a taxi to the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina. This is a beautiful hotel from the outside with the Marina. The rooms are slightly run down, but we didn't care because we were one step closer to the ship and very tired when we arrived. We had a buffet breakfast included in the price we paid. The in-laws drove in from Venice, FL and we were disappointed in the fact that you can't park and sail at this hotel. When we left at noon we could see the ships from the front of the hotel. We stopped and got some "liquids" to smuggle on and arrived at Terminal 19 at 12:15.
We dropped our luggage and fil parked the car. We went through security with a couple 12 packs of soda, tonic water and club soda with no problem. We walked right to the counter and were greeted with a smile by all. We were told it was a full sailing for the Atlantica. It was fast, friendly, and efficient and we were on the boat in about 15 minutes. We boarded the ship on deck 2 and they take your photo onboard with a handheld device. We headed directly to our cabins and met our room steward, Steve. He let us drop off the luggage and pick up our keys. We asked him to open the balcony divider, unlock the fridge and empty the contents. We headed to the Aurora bar on deck 9 for our first cocktail on board. We knew our way around the ship because it is the exact layout of the Carnival Legend that we sailed last year. We all agreed it is decorated much nicer than the Legend. We moved to the middle pool area and sat for several hours. There were six ships in port that day so we had lots to watch. Took several pictures of the Oasis of the Seas-what a monster ship.
We had late seating at 8:45 pm and the show was before dinner the first night. We were at Table 47 with Noel as our server and Alberto his assistant. Our table seated 11 and we quickly learned that PQ from our roll call was our dinner companion with her sister and French foreign exchange student. We quickly became a family at dinner and had the best time each night at dinner. We were sooooooo lucky!!!! We did have another family from New Jersey that only showed up twice to dinner, but we did see them several times throughout the week and they did not like the late time of dinner. The first night ds and I had prime rib. Cesear salad was a choice I made every night and loved it. Each night was an appetizer, salad, pasta, main course and dessert. Some nights you had to choose dessert when you ordered dinner.
Sunday-first day at sea. I went to deck 11 on the jogging track. It was busy so I ran for a while and then walked deck 9 several times. It was 9:00 and the chairs were already full, plus there was some "chair saving" going on. We had a late breakfast, which they offered at the Aurora bar each morning until noon-there is omelet's on each side. I registered our credit card at one of the kiosks on deck 3. Steve, our cabin steward, came and closed our balcony divider. We tried and tried to bribe him to keep it open, but he said the rules are to close them at sea and he left it open over night and the bridge knew it was opened-oh well, he promised to be back as soon as we arrived in St Thomas ( and he was prompt each time we arrived in port to open it). MIL played in the slot tournament and won it. We shopped at the 2 shops on board, they had less selection than previous cruises. Enjoyed the balcony with our IPOD docking station playing tunes-we brought an extension cord so we could have it out on the balcony. We had our muster drill in the afternoon our first day at sea. Pretty painless-there were some ladies that seem to take interest in our son and ask him several questions and they made me laugh. We rented the Blindside, which you can save rented movies for 24 hours. The national stations were from Denver, Colorado. There were stations for the ship info, shopping info and some channels in other languages. We watched basketball games from the NCAA tournament. The show, Circles of Life, was before dinner again and it was formal night. We did not have any pictures taken for formal night. When we returned to our cabin there was a note to call reception about our AC. I found our cabin steward and he said we requested our AC turned off and I said no they must have the wrong cabin. He made the comment "You are Americans and they never want their cabins warm." He took care of it for us and our AC was turned back on.
Monday-another sea day. DH and I rode bikes in the gym, which was limited in their equipment choices. We rode bikes and then jogged the outside track for a while. We ate a late breakfast again-make sure you check around because inside at the buffet are 4 omelet stations. We enjoyed our balcony and read. DS found some friends and spent the day with them. We went to super bingo in the afternoon. Love to play bingo in 5 languages. There were some silly circus games on deck 2 before dinner and the juggler, Jose, performed. I had Fettuccini for dinner, which was fantastic. Lamb was a popular choice for dinner and the snails served with cheese and garlic were a hit. Dinner service was a little slower tonight, but not horrible. Dinner starts at 8:45 and we get dessert at 10:30. Crew show after dinner tonight with some talented singers, not so talented dancers. Piano player was very boring. They served flambEed peaches with ice cream on deck 2 as you were leaving the theatre.
Tuesday-St. Thomas. We docked at Crown Bay next to the Oasis. When you leave the ship on deck 1 midship you have to take steps to get on and off ship, deck A forward no steps. At Havensight are Sea Princes, NCL Pearl and Carnival Dream. We had breakfast in the dining room with excellent service and a first for us on a cruise-hot toast served. Got off ship at 9:30, took taxi to downtown. We headed directly to Imperial Jewelers-mil needed to replace a ruby in a ring we had given her. We wondered around the shops while waiting for her ring. Very busy with lots of people. We stopped for beer and talked with a couple on the Oasis. It was their first cruise and they were really enjoyed it. Picked up mil's ring and headed back to the ship. We had an interesting ride since the driver took us to the wrong pier. We laughed about it and it was interesting to see how the other pier has changed since we were last there. We watched people from our balcony for several hours at Crown Bay. We even saw a couple of runners trying to get to the Oasis on time. There was a comedian/impressionist before dinner, Stephen Sorrentino. He was mostly good with his singing impressions. At dinner tonight the quiche appetizer was a hit.
Wednesday-San Juan. We skipped breakfast today hoping to find a local eatery for an excellent lunch. We were off the ship at 9:45 and took off on foot. FIL needed a phone charger and we were on the hunt. We went from CVS to Radio Shack to Walgreens. All very nice and helpful. We got a suggestion for lunch and found the free trolley. There are several stops for the trolley and several routes. We ended up at San Cristobel fort at Trolley stop 6. In-laws have a pass to the national parks and got us all in for free. We walked the fort and got some amazing pictures. It was very interesting and informative. We watched a movie at the end of the tour about the fort battles of Puerto Rico. The suggestion we got for lunch was Raices-Puerto Rican food served country style. Great atmosphere and very friendly. After lunch, headed back to ship for a nap. Tonight was toga night and I went to Madame Butterfly lounge to get our sheets and a few instructions on how to wear them. Some very elaborate togas and lots of fun in the dining room. There was an older gentlemen handing out candy to the kids-we think he was a maitre d of some sort and he was having fun. We took pictures of our dinner group on the stairs and had some wonderful tiramisu for dessert. We went to the passenger talent show after dinner and we laughed so hard. Andrea, cruise director, came in a chariot being pulled by 2 lions (girls dressed in lion costumes). The cruise director staff sat on stage and were really enjoying themselves. The audience had to vote to send them to the buffet or the lions. It was very "corny" but very humorous. A few talented singers and others not so talented.
Thursday at sea-another late breakfast at the buffet. Lazy day for us. Enjoyed our balcony and watched some NCAA basketball. Pools were very busy. Spent some time in the casino. There were several activities to choose from. It was 2nd formal night and there was more dancing in the dining room. Baked Alaska for dinner and sparklers. We went to the show after dinner-a tribute to different types of dances.
Friday-morning at sea. Breakfast in the dining room and we went to one more game of bingo. We arrived in Nassau at 12:30. Got off the ship and took a taxi to Atlantis for $4 per person. We toured as much of Atlantis as we could for free. A day pass was $80 for 12 & under and $110 for adults. Was not worth that amount of money since we only had a couple of hours to spend there. There were 5 ships in port that day. We have not been to Nassau since 2001 and the pier has changed a lot. We ate lunch at Atlantis and shopped. Gorgeous marina area. Back on ship spent some time at casino and I actually won $32-woo hoo. It was the farewell dinner and we did not attend the show before dinner as we were busy watching more basketball. We had our last dinner with our new "cruise family". We were very fortunate to make new friends and enjoyed our week with them. We packed our bags and we planned to carry our own luggage off the ship.
Saturday-up at 5:30am and the ship was already docked in Ft. Lauderdale. We went to late seating at 8:00am in the dining room for breakfast. We went back to our cabins at 8:45 to get our luggage. We were dark blue tags and scheduled for 9:15. We never heard any announcements, so we headed to deck 2 at 9:00 am and just walked off. Easiest debarkation ever!!! We went through customs and were in the car by 9:15 and at the airport by 9:30. Very long day at the airport because our flight was at 5:30.
I read many negative review before this cruise and honestly I can't imagine these people were really on Costa.
*We were greeted with smiles by crew and staff. *Great food with many selections *Cruise director and staff had lots of energy and were fun to watch *We attended more shows than we have before. Great job by the Atlantica dancers and singers. *Ship layout was the same as Carnival Legend so we already knew our way around. *We would have like the balcony divider to remain open for the entire cruise. *Easiest embarkation and debarkation ever. *There were several languages but that just added to the fun. *Lots of kids, but not unruly or out of control. Our 11 yr ds found many friends and enjoyed hanging out in the disco after dinner.
We would definitely cruise Costa again. We enjoyed our week on the Atlantica!!!