One of the first things you notice on an exploration of Costa Magica's public spaces is the artwork displayed; in fact, there are 5,652 works of art on this ship, most provided by the Milan-based Brera Academy of Fine Art's students and professors. Vases, sculptures, original canvases and prints grace the walls, staircases, corners and crevasses throughout.
And then, of course, there is Joe Farcus's design, with royal golds and reds anchoring the other elements that celebrate Italy's vacation spots.
My favorite is the Grand Bar Salento, located mid-ship on Deck 5, with one of the largest bar and dance floor on the seas (along with that on sister Costa Fortuna). Pillars of gold and flashes of cherry red merge with the rich brocades of the loungers and chairs around the dance floor, which itself is inlaid with different woods in an intricate pattern at its edge. But it isn't the design of the space that had me so happy, it was the fact that this room in particular, a midpoint between the aft lounges and the atrium on the main indoor promenade, got the most use when there was music anywhere around it. In fact, the dance floor could be twice as big, and it would still get ample use.
The shops on the Deck 5 promenade are probably the most enjoyable I have ever visited, with high-end clothing, logo items, perfumes, jewelry, duty-free, baubles and tchotchkes in stores that circle the Italia Magica Atrium. The shilling of "inch of gold" and other specials still takes place in the corridors, but it seems like there is plenty of room and it didn't feel as intrusive as on other ships.
The Italia Magica Atrium itself is a pleasant spot to stop and have a drink or cup of coffee; you can watch the glass-enclosed elevators ascend; there is a glass dome over the space that allows light to filter in. On one side is the tour desk and on the other is customer service. Port side is the smoking section and starboard is strictly non-smoking.
The three-story Urbino Theatre, located at the bow, features a chandelier of Murano glass and columns inlaid with designs of musical instruments. This is where the nightly shows take place but is by no means the only entertainment venue on board.
Located at the aft of Deck 5 are three lounges: the Capri Lounge, designed to replicate the Blue Grotto, with blue lighting and shards of yellow granite; the Spoleto Lounge, unique in that it's entirely non-smoking; and the Capo Piano Bar, a delightful hideaway tucked into a corner at the aft end of the casino.
The Sicily Casino, located between the Grand Bar Salento and the aft lounges, is broken into two sections, with banks of slot machines on the starboard side of the ship and tables on the port side. On European itineraries, all gaming is in Euros. It's somewhat startling to be playing with a one-armed bandit and discover that your every move is monitored by a puppet, but there are, indeed, 65 puppets in glass display cases scattered around the room.
Deck 4 has the Internet Center, an expensive and almost useless affair, with trendy Italian-designed chairs that are so low (or computer stations that are so high) that you are working at chin level. In Europe, the cost is half of a Euro per minute; when the ship switches to U.S. waters, it will be 50 cents.
Adjacent to the Internet Center is the Grado Disco, which is also visible from the casino floor above. Oddly, while the Capri Lounge and Grand Bar Salento had crowds dancing the night away, including young people, the disco got very little use except for a couple of Pilates sessions that I noticed during the daytime and some very, very, very late-night stalwarts.
Also on Deck 4 is a small chapel and the quiet, attractive library. From here, you can also access the outside promenade where there are no deck chairs or loungers.
I found the flow on this ship to be problematic, even on Deck 5 which has the signature Carnival indoor promenade. To access most of the public spaces on the ship from either end, you have to figure out whether a restaurant, galley or otherwise closed structure blocks your path and work around it by going either up or down. On Deck 5, the crowds at the casino and in the Grand Bar Salento make movement difficult. There are a couple of meeting rooms on Deck 5, and the Photo Gallery circles the atrium on Deck 4.
Smoking is allowed only in certain places and not at all in the main theatre or in any of the dining venues, including the enclosed aft pool on the Lido Deck. Although it wasn't strictly enforced and although Europeans smoke more than do North Americans, most people were very respectful of the smoking restrictions onboard and followed the rules. The casino, which was filled with smokers, didn't get too smoky because it's a very large and well-ventilated space.