By Ginger Dingus, Cruise Critic contributor; updated By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Costa Mediterranea Overview
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.
Costa Mediterranea Fellow Passengers
On Caribbean sailings, Americans are in the majority. Our cruise was roughly one-third European with passengers mainly from Italy, France and England.
During Costa Mediterranea's European season, the situation is reversed with primarily European passengers and 5 to 20 percent Americans. Americans will get a real European experience on board.
Announcements and daily newsletters are offered in a variety of languages -- a mixed blessing during the ritual emergency drill and on other occasions when the broadcasts continue from one language to the next.
Costa Mediterranea Dress Code
On formal evenings, women wear everything from party dresses to glittery gala gowns. Men generally opt for dark suits rather than tuxedos, though Costa has a convenient tux rental package. There are two formal nights on a seven-night cruise. Other nights in the Caribbean are casual, the ultimate in casual being the last night's Roman Bacchanal when the crew hands out bed sheets to be worn as togas. I was surprised to see that only half the passengers participated. A number of past Costa passengers went all out, bringing their toga gear from home.
Costa Mediterranea Gratuity
Costa's guidelines suggest $3 each for the cabin steward and waiter, $1.50 for the assistant waiter and $1 for the head waiter/maitre'd. All tips are per person, per day and are automatically billed to your account unless you ask Guest Relations to alter the amount. Cocktails and wine have an immediate 15 percent gratuity added during Caribbean cruises and a 10 percent gratuity on European voyages. Spa and beauty salon services also have a 15 percent tip added "for your convenience."
We were so impressed by the friendly staff on this cruise who always greeted and smiled. Nothing was too much trouble.
The attention to detail was amazing. I am a very large lady and the arm chair in restaurant degli Argentieri was ...continue
Our second cruise this year with Costa and probably our last. We embarked at Heraklion on 25th October and, with hindsight, this experience set the tone for the entire cruise. The queue to check in and deposit luggage was not particularly long so ...continue
October 2013 rowingmachine
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This was our first cruise and so we have nothing with which to compare it. It was my wife who had wanted to try a cruise and I was the sceptical one. The boat was much bigger than I had imagined and much better appointed. We are ...continue