For the price we paid, and the excellent itinerary I give Costa a big thumbs up. We have always wanted to visit the east coast and view the fall foliage and have been perusing the Canada/New England itineraries for some time – none seemed perfect. Costa, however offered an 11 night voyage with 2 overnights in New York and one overnight in Quebec City as well as ports for 10 of the days. Because the Atlantica was berthed at the Manhatten pier, we were able to walk to many of the sights in mid-town Manhatten without having to pay a hefty hotel bill. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will be repeating this itinerary, the word was they had difficulty filling the ship since many North Americans do not care for the “European experience” on board.
There are some differences with Costa that could be found irritating to some, the announcements were in five different languages and on board purchases (including excursions) were in Euro. Menus were a bit different, catering to European tastes although there was plenty of food we were familiar with.
The service staff were excellent, our room stewards and waiters were the best we have ever had, so no complaints there at all. I had no difficulty with the pursers staff, all my enquiries were politely and efficiently handled – it was also amazing to watch the staff converse easily in five languages.
Entertainment was average, we have seen much better on other cruise lines (Carnival and RCCL shine in that department), but it must be difficult for them to stage entertainment that can be watched by people from many different countries.
Food, for me was the big negative here – everything was extremely heavily salted, some dishes I couldn’t even eat. The buffet was better than the dining room for variety and quality. There is no real alternative to eating in the dining room for dinner – the buffet offers only pizza and there is only one alternative dining area. On this cruise we had great dinner companions so we did not wish to miss our dinner in the dining room, but on other cruises it was nice to have the option to go to the buffet. I don’t want to blast Costa too much on this – it is our experience that on some lines food quality has become poor (Norwegian) to fair (Princess). Our best dining experiences have been on Holland America, Celebrity and Carnival. One thing I really did like about this sailing is that dining was not “anywhere” or “anytime”. The dining room seating was traditional, with an assigned table for the duration of the cruise. I think this is one reason our waiters could provide us with such excellent and individual service.
The ports were excellent and I am sure that was enhanced by excellent weather (except for the downpour in Saughenay). Fall colour was excellent in Bar Harbor, but not really anywhere else – apparently the area has lacked the night frost needed to change the colours.
All in all, I am really glad we took advantage of this sailing, again the price and the itinerary were not to be missed.
Having said that, if all things were equal in price and itinerary, I would choose a cruise line other than Costa. The experience was interesting, but it is a bit more comfortable sailing on a North American based line.