The sleek and sassy Costa Mediterranea is the second new ship to join Costa's fleet under the ownership of Carnival Corporation. The ship, like sister ship Costa Atlantica, makes a leap into the 21st century with a remarkably high percentage of verandah cabins. It's a most welcome addition, as well as a giant step forward for Costa, considering that prior ships offered a mere handful of balcony cabins, or none at all.
There's absolutely nothing ordinary or understated about Costa Mediterranea's decor. At first, the eye-popping ornamentation, designed by Carnival's super-talented Joe Farcus, is overwhelming. Farcus has outdone himself with incredibly inventive designs that reinvent details from 17th and 18th-century Italian palazzi (palaces). It makes you wonder if those palaces really looked that magnifico when they, too, were brand new. There's so much to look at that, in Farcus' words, passengers enjoy "a constant discovery process on board" though you may, in fact, feel like you're cruising inside a traveling theme park. Along with the theme park fun, however, goes a degree of regimentation-particularly with the assigned, two-seating system in the dining room. All in all, there are fewer mealtime alternatives than found on other large-ship lines, such as Princess, that have adopted free-choice dining.
Where Costa Mediterranea stands out from the pack is in its Italian exuberance, the hallmark of "Cruising Italian Style." The staff greets you with "buon giorno." The entertainment is full of gusto-though napkin-waving waiters dancing on the dinner tables isn't everyone's cup-of-espresso. In a nutshell, this ship is a terrific choice if you want to experience cruising with a definite European flavor and still enjoy all the expected comforts and amenities of an American-geared mega-ship.
Another area where this ship stands out is that it will become the first in the fleet -- aside from Costa Concordia and Costa Serena, Costa's newest -- to receive the addition of the line's interesting new spa accommodation concept. Beginning with cruises in April 2008, 44 existing staterooms on Costa Mediterranea will have been transformed into spa cabins. Though these are priced higher than the identically-sized balcony cabins, passengers are paying for extra services -- like three free spa treatments, complimentary fitness and meditation classes, and access to the ship's spa restaurant. And even though the balcony cabins are largely identical to those that don't get the spa treatment, they'll be outfitted with a few specialty items, such as aromatherapy diffusers and a mini bar loaded with healthy drinks and snacks.