My fiance has never cruised before. I've been on a Premier cruise (long time ago) and the Carnival Sensation.
We flew to Montreal, trained to Quebec.
We were impressed at the size of the room for the price paid. HOWEVER, because the ship is ITALIAN, be aware that all ONBOARD charges are in Euros. As the Eurozone collapses, the Euro is falling in value compared to the Dollar, so maybe this wont be an issue for you, but we did not expect that.
Service was spotty. Some people were bend over backwards accommodating, others seemed like we were inconveniencing them.
The ports were diverse and each one was very interesting. The only one we wish we'd skipped was Sydney, NS. Nothing there but a Tim Horton's. Docking in Manhattan was a huge huge bonus and we loved being in the heart of the city. The views are spectacular and being 6 walking blocks from times square was priceless.
What almost defined our cruise was the fact that about 40% of the ship contracted Norovirus while onboard (including us). Several nights the dining room was virtually empty. (We had 2nd seating - 6 at our table). The crew did nothing noticeable to slow down the spread. There were hand sanitizers, but no one really used them. Sick passengers should have been banned from the buffet and dining rooms until they were not contagious. An announcement would have also been useful. We were really disappointed at the lack of concern for the health of the passengers.
That being said, if we were about 30 years older (we're 25) we would have loved the Atlantica. Ballroom dancers will have PLENTY to keep you occupied and learning new steps, and those that love the Italian decor style and entertainment will surely be thrilled.
Drinks and excursions are overpriced, but that's to be expected. The casino was well run and very fun for us Smoke was NEVER an issue, even when walking past the small smoking sections (i only could find 2 inside the ship).
Food was only OK. Maybe a 5 out of 10. It got old VERY quickly.
I wouldn't cruise Costa again unless we got a killer deal like this one. $70 a night for 2 people to eat all day and sleep in Manhattan/Boston/Quebec/Newport?! That's just too good to pass up!