Disclaimer: I have told my husband that if I ever become a spoilt bratty customer that he should forbid me from cruising for a while... It is hard for me to believe that a cruise can ever be bad - it is all about what you make of it and realizing what an amazing privilege it is to experience the world this way.
Here are some highlights of our cruise to the western caribbean on Costa Atlantica:
+ Complimentary cappuccino when you order room service breakfast. + Staff members don't 'hover' around your table in the buffet dining room for a tip. + Pool entertainment was hilarious! It was the first time I experienced that the staff did not have to coax people into participating- they just naturally wanted to join in. Activities staff members at the pool were very enthusiastic and obviously enjoyed their jobs. + Excellent embarkation and and debarkation organization. We were on the ship within 25 minutes of arrival at the port, and off the ship within 15 minutes (including customs!) GREAT price. We paid for an inside cabin, got upgraded to an obstructed ocean view, and then upgraded again to a B8 BALCONY cabin - all for free... WOW! Our 5 year old son sailed for free. + Great chocolate dessert in the main dining room at night (Tiziano). Just ask for the Costa Chocolate dessert. It is available every night. + Food was great for lunch and dinner. Breakfast foods were a bit cold, but the cappuccino made up for it. Fresh omelets were always available and warm. + Teatime in Caffe Florian (our cruise included this on 2 afternoons - both days at sea) + Entertainment in the Piazza Madama Butterfly (Les Aristocrates Band and Paci). + Very few announcements in the cabins (only during the Muster Drill). Most announcements were only on the intercoms in public areas. The captain did not make announcements about where we were sailing, but look on your Today publication for navigational highlights. + Others may disagree, but I found the Muster drill to be very well done - the most comprehensive of all cruises we have been on. They take this seriously, as they should. + Pre-paid tips - I thought this would cause the cabin steward and dining room staff to be less motivated to serve you well, but they were very professional and we never had any complaints about them. I can honestly say there was no difference between them and other cruise lines where the tip is paid at the end of the cruise. It was convenient to have the tips taken care of. + Credit card registration - once again very efficient. There are machines strategically placed around the ship to electronically activate your onboard account. + Everyone has an opinion about decor, but don't let negative comments about the ship's condition put you down. In my opinion, the ship is beautiful with many surprises: Be sure to visit Caffe Florian and to take a thorough walking tour. There are hallways with beautiful decor (deck 3 outside the theater), chairs and tables - nice areas to sneak away for a quiet cup of coffee and a view of the ocean. + Although minor repairs are needed to carpet, the ship was VERY clean. We even saw the crew clean the inside of trash cans - spotless! + Anyone can purchase the boys and girls drink cards ($25.30 for 10 coupons). You can buy any virgin drink, soda, or even milkshake with these coupons. Still a bit pricey, but much better than paying full price. + An excellent children's menu with all their favorites is available in Tiziano (Hot dogs, hamburgers, fish fingers, chicken, spaghetti - and you can order any veggies that are on the adult menu to add to their selection). + WIFI is now available (about $25 for 3 hours that you just keep track of every time you log on). + This ship had our favorite Maitre d' ever. Take time to meet him. + I loved "The International", a Costa newspaper that had wold news updates. They delivered it to our cabin most of the days.
+ The pools had to be closed for sanitization (one pool at a time) - this is really a complaint against selfish customers who allow their children to swim with open sores or with diapers. COSTA staff did what they could to clean the pools as fast as possible. + Last morning breakfast was quite chaotic, but it is to be expected with so many people eating at once in order to disembark. Be prepared for the chaos and do not let the last morning ruin a nice time. It is amazing how quickly attitudes go sour on the last day of the cruise :o) + Surprisingly, the coffee was not good. There was no real cream (or half and half) for the coffee, unless you ordered in room during breakfast. (As mentioned, the cappuccino was very good). + Shows were not as good as on other cruises. + Buffet dinner only starts at 7:30 p.m. - pretty late if you have young children and opt out of dressing up for gala nights.
+ Familiarize yourself with the Botticelli buffet restaurant. There are 4 serving areas and many people did not realize this. We hardly ever waited in line but we knew the layout of the restaurant. + If you like having face cloths, pack some. Costa only provides small and large towels. + Pack shampoo and conditioner - COSTA only provides body soap in a liquid dispenser. + Regular irons are not allowed on the ship, but you are allowed to use a steam iron. + Call the cruise line or your travel agent 3-4 weeks before you sail to see if you can get a cheap or free upgrade. We got a free upgrade at that time from E1 to B8. (We got free upgrade from I2 to E1 at original booking) + Read the boards on this website and join the roll call for your cruise. I got VERY valuable information this way!
This was our fifth cruise and we enjoyed the international flair very much. Although Royal Caribbean is still my favorite line, Costa comes in at a close second. If you insist on only speaking or hearing announcements in English, this is not the cruise for you. This is an Italian line with many international customers. ALL staff members, without exception, treated us with respect and courtesy. We will absolutely sail COSTA again, if the opportunity arises.