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37 Costa Magica Cruise Reviews

Costa Magica Review Dec. 23, 2006, Eastern Caribbean itinerary This was our 6th cruise, but our first one over the Christmas week. We have sailed on Orient Lines, several Carnival ships, as well as Norweigian. Given that this was ... Read More
Costa Magica Review Dec. 23, 2006, Eastern Caribbean itinerary This was our 6th cruise, but our first one over the Christmas week. We have sailed on Orient Lines, several Carnival ships, as well as Norweigian. Given that this was Christmas week, with ship at full capacity there were loads of children aboard, and the majority of passengers were English speaking North Americans. As this was a break- record day for number of ships leaving Port Everglades, the shuttle from our hotel (La Quinta Fort Lauderdale Airport, which was wonderful) to the ship took one hour! Those in taxis had a very expensive taxi ride. Luggage for some people was unloaded in the pouring rain, and many passengers complained of wet clothes in their suitcases. Would have been better if Costa used tarps over the luggage bins. Embarkation process was very organized. We arrived at the ship at 1:00, we were in our cabins by 2:00. This was not the experience of others who arrived later than us, and experienced very long line ups and waiting times. Debarkation was also very smooth. We did not go to our assigned lounge area to wait. We walked off the ship about 20 minutes after our assigned time. As there were so many non-United States citizens, the line for customs and immigration was somewhat long, but we were still off the ship in about ½ hour. Most people with same color tags had already gotten off the ship, and so our bags were very easy to spot. No problem getting a taxi to the airport. Someone directed us to an airport shuttle ($7 per person), but as we were a family of 4, a taxi ($15) was more cost effective for 4 people. Ship is beautiful. We were on the Carnival Victory in August, and it was the same ship, decorated differently. Balcony cabins, and outside cabins have lots of space, tons of storage. Cabin steward was efficient at keeping the cabin spotless. Yes, no towel animals, but this had no negative impact for us. Clock is changed twice on board to coincide with Island time. Once during the night before arriving in St. Thomas, the second time during the night before arriving in Grand Turk. We had snuck wine on board in our checked bags upon embarkation, and our waiter did give us permission to bring it to dinner, with no corkage fee. We did not however see others doing this. In Grand Turk, we brought more wine on board and carried them in our back packs. Security at the Xray machine did ask us if it was wine. We then bypassed the table where they were confiscating the liquor, and carried it to our cabins. Did not find the use of multiple languages to be a problem. During the show, English was primarily used. Smoking also not found to be worse than on other ships. It is mostly a problem in the casino. We had spectacular weather every day. Lots of lounge chairs on the ship, and if you don't need to be located right by the pool, it was no problem getting chairs on the many decks further away from the pools. . Itinerary Itinerary was great if you are interested in beach days, and we were so pleasantly surprised that they substituted Catalina Island for the Casa de Campo port!! ( No idea why they changed this, but it was on our list of Port of Calls when we arrived). A great day on the beach with free lounge chairs, umbrellas, and BBQ lunch. Bit of a rough tide the day we were there, but the kids had a great time playing in the surf. St. Thomas. Although the ship was supposed to be docked in Havensight, we ended up docked in Crown Bay. Havensight apparently has malls and facilities right at the pier. From Crown Bay you must take a taxi into town . ($4 each person). Taxis are very expensive in St. Thomas. There are many taxis at the pier. We negotiated with one driver to take us to a beach on the east end, pick us up 3 hours later, drop us in town for an hour and a half, and then pick us up and take us back to the ship, for $20 per person. We paid him at the end of the day, and he was extremely reliable in meeting us in our designated time and at our designated spots. There are many beaches in St. Thomas, all of which allow public access, even if they are affiliated with a hotel. The hotels will often rent you beach chairs, or have a dive shop where you can rent snorkel equipment. You don't have to be limited to Magen's Bay or Coki Beach where there are throngs of tourists. Go to Virgin Islands tourist information web site. They list all the beaches, and provide details as to whether they have chair rentals, restaurants. If you are looking to go snorkeling, they rate the beaches for whether there is good snorkeling or not. For those who are interested, the synagogue is not to be missed. The only negative for us on this cruise was the dinner seating times. We had contacted Costa Customer Service prior to our leaving, but they do not appear to give accurate information. They told us that early seating was at 6:00. Turns out there were 4 seating times- 5:30, 5:45, 8:30, 8:45. We were put at the 5:30 seating, which was way too early for us. We usually did not arrive until 5:50 or 6:00. Our waiter was OK with this, but heard that other waiters were not OK with guests arriving late, as it does mess up with their system of getting food. Heard that guests with the late dinner seating found the time to be much too late, because by the time they ordered their food, they started their meal well past their dining time. Lots of food to choose from, and although the presentation is not fancy, food is excellent. Pastas are consistently good. Caesar salad always available. Other salads are boring. (Hearts of palm salad is a mixed green salad with 2 pieces of hearts of palm, spinach salad is same green salad with 2 pieces of spinach). Several nights in restaurants are enhanced by presentations by the wait staff. Dancing and congo line with guests was fun. Toga night was fun, although not all guests choose to participate. Entertainment was excellent. Not Broadway caliber, but one should not go with this kind of expectation. Costumes and sets were impressive, and it was always an enjoyable experience. All in all, a fabulous week, enjoyed by each person in our extended family, from the oldest, age 81, to the youngest, age 6. Would have no hesitation in recommending this cruise to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
NOTE: My cousin just returned from the Costa Magica and emailed me this review. I felt it worthy of posting due to the rich 45 year first hand history of Key West. He tells things as they were and are, and it adds insight to this cruise ... Read More
NOTE: My cousin just returned from the Costa Magica and emailed me this review. I felt it worthy of posting due to the rich 45 year first hand history of Key West. He tells things as they were and are, and it adds insight to this cruise and line. Fred. We just got home from a weeks cruise. We got in on a 'good deal' a week for $380 apiece. Inside cabin, low deck. It was on an Italian cruise line.... Costa... We visited Key West, where we were stationed in the navy, back during the Cuban missile crises, in the 1960s. Back then, Key West was a quaint little village that was, basically, at the end of the earth (being at the end of U. S. 1, 160 miles south west of Miami). It had a rich history, but a small town atmosphere, being heavily influenced by Cubans. Cuban refugees, fleeing the Castro regime, would try to sail across the 90 mile straights between Havana and Key West. They would have had to hid a boat, and the preparations for the crossing, from the Cuban authorities. Sometimes in our change, we would get some Cuban money, which was the same size and denomination as ours. We'd receive the Cuban radio and TV station, 'QMCA', which would feature Fidel Castro telling what a wonderful, desirable place Cuba was.... They used to advertise on the (Key West) radio station, a jewelry store on Duval Street....that it was on the longest street in the world...it stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.... (14 blocks long). There is a famous landmark on Key West at the pier on the southernmost point of the island, designating that it is 'the southernmost point in the continental United States'.... Henry Flagler (back around the turn of the century) built an upscale hotel there. To get the potential guests to the hotel, he built an overseas railroad.... (I guess, getting 'there' would be a big part of the trip). However, a hurricane knocked down the railroad tracks, and the subsequent financial loss was more than Mr. Flagler could weather. They (U. S.) eventually took over Mr. Flaglers wrecked railroad bridges, linking the islands in the chain of keys, and used the steel girders, to build a highway from Miami to Key West. It is a beautiful drive, the first time....(but, boy, does it get repetitious, from then on...especially when we were only making $205 a month and are limited on staying in an expensive motel in Miami).. The fresh water we got, was piped down from Miami.... The sun beating on the 160 mile pipeline heated the water, such that when you took a straight cold shower, the water was so hot, that you started sweating...in the shower. About 60 miles west of Key West is the tiny island speck called 'Dry Tortugas'.....dry signifying that there is no source of fresh water, and tortugas, the Spanish word for turtles. There was a Civil War fort built on the islet. But the weight of the bricks was so heavy, that the foundation sank in the sand. And, although it was used, the walls settled and cracked terribly. It was eventually used as a federal prison.... Their most famous 'convict' was a Dr. Mudd....who had the misfortune of setting John Wilkes Boothe (who assassinated President Lincoln) broken leg.... The government thought that he was part of a conspiracy, and sentenced him to the prison on Dr Tortugas.... He was a model prisoner (being an upright honest citizen, anyway)... he eventually became the prison doctor, ministering to the other inmates... People in Key West had their own chickens....whether this was for poultry (to eat), or for their personal egg production, OR for the sport of cock fighting, (which was influenced by the Cuban culture). Termites were a big problem with wooden houses there. We had a friend (also in the Navy) who bought one of these old 'Conch' houses (for $20,000), and every time we went to visit them, there would be piles of sawdust on the floor, under the furniture, where the termites were eating the wood. At one time, there was a famine there, and the people resorted to eating the insides of a sea animal called a 'conch' (pronounced konks....rhymes with honks).... You've probably seen these pretty pink conch shells. Anyway, the rest of the country called the people 'conchs'....sort of a derogatory name. The people also did some sponge fishing and shrimp netting. When we were there, there was a definite 'pecking order', socially. The top tier were the white local people, second were the people in the Navy, third were the shrimp fishermen, and lastly were the 'people of color'. The high schools were still segregated....and the local colored high school was named 'Douglas' High. (I used to get teased that the high school was named after me). There are reefs surrounding the keys, and ship navigation was dangerous. The government had set up marker buoys and light houses, to help the mariners navigate safely.... But the local people would go out, and change these marker buoys and light houses, to cause the cargo ships to wreck...and then they (local people) would go out and loot the wrecked ships.... These people (I call them 'land pirates') were called 'wreckers'...and it became a (locally) acceptable profession. Some famous people used to live on Key West.....James Audubon, Ernest Hemingway (who was a local drunk, that made good in his writings), and Harry Truman had a permanent 'summer white house' on the Navy base there. One of the streets in town was re-named in his honor....Truman Street. One of the cross streets (on Truman Street) is Margaret Street. Thus there is a road sign that has the names 'Margaret' and 'Truman'.... which is a popular 'Kodak moment' place to take pictures (President Truman had an ugly daughter named Margaret). The Navy had a big impact on the local economy....there was the main navy base, which also had a submarine detachment, a sonar school, an underwater swimmers school (the basis of the future 'SEAL' team), Also, a hospital (which if you donate blood to, you got the rest of the day off....we called it 'vampire liberty'), an electronic test and evaluation detachment (which I was assigned to), an on the next island up, a navy air station called 'Boca Chica'. Where we lived, was right under the flight path of the incoming jet fighters. Kitty Corner from where we lived, there was a base ball field that had a high concrete block fence around it. During the 'Cuban crises' the Marines came in, and strung coils of barbed wire around the top of that wall, and installed NIKE missiles....pointed south, towards Cuba. We could see the white tips of the missiles. We had a radar installation, as part of the Boca Chica base, that would track air craft on the island of Cuba. By the time an airplane reached tree top level (there) we had already picked it up, and was plotting its speed, and direction.... There was a popular 'tourist attraction', which you caught down town on Mallory Square...a 'conch train'... which was a jeep with a wood cover over it, that made it look like a train engine, which pulled little open cars, which went around the island, and narrated the things that you were looking at. (Key West is the only town in the continental U. S., where the houses don't have chimneys....because they don't need any heating systems). Anyway, to talk about the Key West of today..... Key West is 'gay friendly'. The Flagler Hotel has been taken over. The local taxi cabs are painted purple. The chickens have gone feral (wild) and roost in trees, and poop on people and cars. (Key West is a bird sanctuary....and chickens, being birds, are 'protected'). The navy bases have all but closed down. In fact, big cruise ships now tie up at the main navy base. Mallory Square is a huge tourist trap place now. Diamonds International (a very expensive chain of jewelry stores that capitalizes on the cruise ship trade) is now in Key West. Duval Street is still the longest street in the world....No one has ever gone the whole distance and stopped and had a drink in every bar....there are now 68 bars on Duval Street. The one thing that we did find quite interesting was Mel Fishers salvage museum. He discovered (after years of fruitless searching) a famous ship wreck called 'the Atocha' (there is a long Spanish name for the ship, but I can't remember it) that was loaded with very precious cargo. Gold bars, silver bars, coins, precious metal dishes, etc. It was only in 39 feet of water.. A lot of the recovered stuff is on display there... They also have stuff for sale....But what they have, for example various 'silver coins' recovered from the sunken ship (say, for between $185 to $300)....is really silver from the ship, but the coins are modern day duplicates.....they do have real recovered coins for sale.....but add two more zeros to the aforementioned price (say, $18,500, on up to ???) They did have some gold bars, in a clear Plexiglas display case...the case had a very small hole in it, that you could reach in and actually lift a gold bar....(which is really heavy)...unfortunately, the hand hole is only big enough to get your hand thru..but not big enough to twist the bar so that it would line up to be taken out.... Those same 'conch' houses that sold for $20,000 back in the 1960s are now beginning at $250,000....if you can find one that's been put up for sale. We left Key West and went to Cozumel, Mexico. There were a lot of Canadians, and other 'northerners' on board, so any water activity...sun bathing on local beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc. was very popular. (because we live in Florida during the winter, beach activity was not appealing to us....we did go ashore, and 'bummed around'. All the shops have the same junk for sale.... I think that someone controls the manufacture and distribution of the stuff that's for sale to the tourists.... Prices were extremely high.... Picture post cards that you can buy at a local Wal-Mart store, here in the U. S. for 20 cents, were 50 cents.... everything was priced up, accordingly. When were were in Cozumel, there were 7 big cruise ships....the next day, 12 cruise ships were due in.... It was defiantly 'Feliz Navidad' (Merry Christmas) for the local shops... There were a couple of Diamond International stores there, along with other high priced jewelry stores (Hey, what I know about diamonds.....someone could take a hammer to a coke bottle, and tell me the chunks of broken glass was high class diamonds....and I wouldn't know the difference!!!) The ship tied up, right down town Cozumel. The exchange rate was eleven pesos to a U. S. dollar. We then went to Belize City (country of Belize)...which is the only English language country in Central America. We had to anchor about a mile and a half out from the town, and take a tender (water taxi that holds about a hundred people) in. The big touristy thing in Belize was the Mayan ruins. We'd been there before, (and the beaches were not a drawing thing for us), so we wandered around town. Belize City has a population of about 70,000. And the highest building we saw was maybe 4 or 5 stories.....thus, we assume that the city is big, in area. We bought a big bag of peanuts from a local street vendor, (for 50 cents), and fed the pigeons, and ate some of the peanuts, too. The vendor said that he got up at 4 A. M. that morning, to roast those peanuts. (sure)... Anyway, they were the littlest peanuts we'd ever seen.....4 or 5 would make one peanut that we are used to. We bought a bowl of rice beans, beef, pigtail, and other stuff, from a woman who had a (street) stand near one of the banks. ($2 U. S.). It was very good. We only bought one, because we had seen the size of the bowls....and had adequate... The exchange rate was two to one....and our 'buying power' was about double what it is here in the U. S. But U. S. dollars are accepted everywhere, I did get some Belize coins to bring home. The people are poor....we did see a couple of people that weren't wearing shoes....but almost all of the people did have shoes...even if it was sandals....which we were wearing. The weather was warm....in the 80s.... and humid... We got a mini version of USA today, on the ship, and while we were worrying about keeping hydrated (because of the heat), we saw where the nations low temp was in West Yellowstone, MT. a couple of days....37 below zero, one time, and 27 below zero, another. We also got a couple of U. S. TV stations on the set in our cabin, and watched in amazement at the blizzard in Denver....and about the travelers being stranded in the Denver airport, as it shut down all air traffic. I think the most interesting port was Coxans Hole, on the island of Roatan in Honduras. We tied up at the pier (we were the only ship in). Basically, the same thing regarding the tourist souvenir stands.... All the same knick knack junk at each stand. I bought some post cards to mail, and went to the post office. The woman there said that they were out of stamps!!! I guess that it was just a branch post office. I did find a souvenir shop that did have some stamps for sale...she charged me $1 per stamp. Their exchange rate is about 19 Lempira to a U. S. dollar...thus their smallest paper money (one Lempira) is only worth just over five cents.... and the coins are 50, 20, 10 and 5 pesetas. Their smallest coin is barely worth more then the metal (aluminum) that it is made out of. I went to a bank to trade in a ten Lempira note for five (5) one Lempira notes, and five Lempiras worth of coins; I walked out of the bank with a handful of coins, and told the people in line 'Soy Rico' (I'm rich)...and the handful of coins I had was worth 23 cents U. S. People there smiled at me... We also saw some people who were not wearing shoes...whether it was because they were poor, or chose not to wear shoes because of the heat.... Friday, coming home, was a 'fun day at sea'. We did put our swim suits on, and soak up some rays (and some Zs).. The entertainment (floor shows) on the ship was probably the best we've ever seen. There were three main restaurants, and numerous others. The food was prepared Italian style....lots of olive oil... The lobster was 'oven baked'....very dry....they weren't very good...I only ate two of them. We had two formal nights (wear a suit for supper), but not everyone adhered to this...some people were casual....but that was OK. The Baked Alaska was laced with raisins.... Being the couth lad that I am, I plucked them out, and put them on the side of my plate!!! Debarkation was easy... If you had a valid U. S. passport, and could handle your own luggage, they let us off the ship around 7 A. M. We had parked near the airport at 'Fly and Park', and there was a line to get on their shuttle bus, when it came.... We took the last two seats, on the first shuttle. And was on the road, by 8 A. M. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
We just got off the Magica Sunday 12/03/06. We did the 7-day Eastern. We had a good time. I will say this was our 3rd cruise on Costa and we like it the least. But it still was a good cruise. I will rate the ship with a A, B, C, D or E ... Read More
We just got off the Magica Sunday 12/03/06. We did the 7-day Eastern. We had a good time. I will say this was our 3rd cruise on Costa and we like it the least. But it still was a good cruise. I will rate the ship with a A, B, C, D or E letter grade. A being excellent, B good, C as average, D poor and E horrible. In college I had an English professor who told us not to expect A's because a were for excellent work and most of us were just average people so expect  C's then we would all be happy and not disappointed. Embarkation get a D. It took us 2 hours to board. We got to the ship at 12:30 and were on the ship at 3:30. They needed more people working check in. Cabin get a C. We had an inside cabin 9216. Size was nice, closets were fine, and bathroom was huge compared to other cruise ships. BUT A/C was horrible. It never got cool in our cabin. They came and worked on it twice but it never got really cool. Bearable but not cool. Beds were extremely hard. And I like hard beds but they were too hard. Food gets a C-. Dining room was fairly good. Buffet was poor. Pay restaurant was horrible. Service gets a B. Good service but I have had better. I, to this day, have no idea what our busboys name is. He gave us drinks and that was about it. Agnes our waitress was very good very attentive. Cabin steward was OK. I gave his $5.00 and he emptied our refrig for us. Cabin was clean but no towel animals. He didn't even give us ice on the last night. Entertainment gets an A+. The shows were some of the best I have every seen and this was our 18th cruise. Singers and dancers were very good. One of the Platters sang and brought the house down. The Italian singer was the poorest and he was good. Roman Night, Toga Party was excellent. All of our guest entertainers were very good. One lady from Alabama did comedy and she was very good. Max and his wife Manuela were the highlight of the cruise staff. Max is the CD and his wife was in charge of most of the other activities. I have cruise with this team once before and they were as good this time as before. We had some folks getting sick toward the end of the cruise. I didn't but I felt like I was going to get sick for the past 3 days. My wife is in bed now she is extremely sick on both ends if you know what I mean. All in all would I cruise Costa Magica again? Yes I would but I wish it was the Victoria because in my opinion the Victoria was a better cruise experience. But any day on ship is better than a day at work. Don Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
I am not going to persuade anyone that this is the best cruise ever, or indeed that it is as good as Celebrity or RCCL, because it is not, however then again it costs nothing like a cruise with those companies. I have found in my 10 ... Read More
I am not going to persuade anyone that this is the best cruise ever, or indeed that it is as good as Celebrity or RCCL, because it is not, however then again it costs nothing like a cruise with those companies. I have found in my 10 years of cruising that everything is about expectation. Expect the best and get something less, then one is disappointed. We have typically cruised with Celebrity and RCCL and have always been happy with them, however last year we decided on a cruise with HAL on the Zuiderdam and spent the most money on a cruise ever. We were desperately disappointed and as a result was reluctant to spend that kind of money again. In fact, this cruise was the cheapest we had ever cruised for, in fact our balcony cabin was less than an inside with Celebrity. OK, the review. The embarkation was the usual "rat-race" and I find it hard to rate any of the cruise lines high [I particularly hate this element of any cruise] and so as expected this was 2-3 hours of misery, nonetheless. Once aboard, you have to be impressed with a very attractive ship, which was clean and still looked "new" [as it should being only 18 months old]. My only gripe was the layout was odd, with only one deck taking you from the front to aft of the ship without needing a lift or stairs. I guess the aim was to keep you in the Antrim where the shops, photos etc were to spend money. Nothing wrong in that, but this area became terribly crowded and in my view not big enough for that plan. Our cabin was on deck 7 and as stated with a balcony. The cabin was the normal "fare" for this type of ship. 200 ft of cabin plus the balcony. Everything clean and functional. My only gripe was that for 2 of the 5 days, they were maintaining the balconies! One day varnishing the banister and the next cleaning the glass - this in affect rendered that element somewhat redundant. Having given this some thought, since I had barely paid the market rate for a balcony, it did not bother me that much. [I actually don't understand why we have one in any event, without maintenance we were hardly compelled to use it]. Our cabin steward was never seen, but nevertheless the room was always cleaned when we were out and covers turned when we arrived at night. The dining room we had been allocated was the Portifino, first sitting with a table for 4, exactly as requested, so no complaints on that front. The food however was a little bland with not a great selection and one always felt when making selections that one was making some sort of compromise, i.e. given something else you wouldn't pick the choice, but there was nothing else. The waiter and his assistant were good though. A lot of people have critised the entertainment on board Costa ships, but this is the one area we had little to complain about - on all fronts it was easily as good as anything we had seen on Celebrity or RCCL, perhaps even better. We took our daughter on the cruise who is 5 and although she was reluctant to join the Squorks club, once she did, she never wanted to leave. We were very impressed with the whole setup here. You could basically leave your Children with the club at anytime between 9:00AM and 11:00PM. They even fed them if you wanted them too. We often went a long to see how she was, and it was clear that all the kids were having a great time and there were numerous parents struggling to get them away - top marks. We didn't do any tours on this cruise because the itinerary was familiar to us having done it several times before. The only comment I could make was that on the days we were at Cozumel and Honduras, the boat was effectively "empty" so a lot of people were on the tours. The only real disappointment was the Internet Cafe, extremely expensive $0.50/min and terribly slow. I had quite often spent $2 and still hadn't got to the webpage I wanted! So overall, given our expectations, we are were quite happy with the outcome. As stated, it is no Celebrity Cruise, but then given that the costs was less than halve we have paid before [a third of what we paid on HAL], it was not that bad. If I were to give Celebrity 10/10 and I wouldn't, then this was probably an 7-8. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Traveled on the Magica 4/09/06. Just a short review. The Magica is a very beautiful ship. We traveled the Western Carib. with a group of 8 including our 2 kids. We have traveled on almost every cruise line and 15+ cruises. For the value ... Read More
Traveled on the Magica 4/09/06. Just a short review. The Magica is a very beautiful ship. We traveled the Western Carib. with a group of 8 including our 2 kids. We have traveled on almost every cruise line and 15+ cruises. For the value this was a wonderful cruise. Staff exceeded our expectations in quality of service and pleasantness. The ship seemed a little overcroweded compared to other lines such as HAL. And yes there are Italians and multilingual everything. We found it fun and enjoyable to spend time with people from other countries. A language barrier is what you make of it although it can be frustrating if you let it bother you. The food was a mixed bag. Some days superior food, other days just average. The only consistency was desert which was going to be limited in choice and average in quality. Just a couple of highs and lows on the ship. Entertainment was very good. Room service great. Price was unbeatable. Costa always seems to make more stops than other ships and this cruise was no exception making 5 stops on a 7 day cruise. Other positives: we had no trouble bringing our own wine and beer on board. The negatives weren't many. Mostly the kid's club hours were strange. The hours would extend way into the night, but the club was shut down most of the day. I guess this was good if you are wanting babysitting service, but our kids look to the club for meeting other kids and fun during the day. Also, the staff took the kid's all over the ship, all the time, with little notice or care. If you went to pick them up, you may have to wander the ship to find them. The ship is huge and everything is on Deck 5 or on top. This meant everyone was on deck 5 during the evening making things a little crowded. Overall the ship reminded me of a Carnival line (Costa parent company). Certainly not the elegance of Holland or Cunard, but the ship didn't go to bed at 8pm either. Overall the cruise was very good. For the price it was great. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
I just returned from a cruise on the CostaMagica, April 28 sailing to Bermuda and Nassau. I cannot believe some of the reviews I have just read. I wonder if I was on the same ship. Embarkation went smoothly although the need to register ... Read More
I just returned from a cruise on the CostaMagica, April 28 sailing to Bermuda and Nassau. I cannot believe some of the reviews I have just read. I wonder if I was on the same ship. Embarkation went smoothly although the need to register the credit card on board was somewhat of an inconvenience. The room, although I chose an inside cabin on this cruise was a good size and it was immaculate. The ship is large, as are many of the newer ships but it was absolutely beautiful. The service and entertainment were excellent. The entertainment staff provided much entertainment in the lounges, after the main show of the evening. It is a very lively ship, I call it the "Italian Carnival." If you are looking for a quiet, sedate ship this ship is not for you. I for one enjoy the fun. The food, especially the lunch in the Bellagio Buffet was excellent. Lots of authentic Italian dishes. In addition, each day a different "ethnic" lunch was available, from Greek one day, to Mexican on another day. The deserts were not quite up to par although there was plenty of fresh fruit and ice cream 24hrs. a day. The pizza was especially delicious. Nice and thin and different varieties each day. As far as the Lobster night, yes it was only a half lobster, but it was a good size and was delicious. All one had to do was request additional lobster tails and they were brought out without hesitation. My waiter brought me three tails. My tablemates also commented on how good the lobster was. The itinerary did not provide for enough time in Bermuda and since I had taken this cruise specially to see Bermuda, I was somewhat disappointed. Also there could have been a better choice of tours available. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Just returned from a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the CostaMagica. After reading other reviews, it seemed the general consensus is that everything is good with Costa except the food. And so it was with us. Embarkation was swift, ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the CostaMagica. After reading other reviews, it seemed the general consensus is that everything is good with Costa except the food. And so it was with us. Embarkation was swift, smooth and easy. The best of the nine cruises I've been on. We had a mix-up on the room in that we were supposed to have a mini-suite which included a butler, whirlpool tub and other "luxury" amenities. Alas, no butler or whirlpool. But after telling Jerome our steward what happened, he did his best to be our butler. And he was fantastic. We rarely saw him, but evidence of his work was obvious. He was excellent. Our cabin, 7425 was otherwise fantastic. Extra large room (though not a suite in size) with a HUGE balcony on the back of the ship. The balcony wrapped around from the side to the aft. All in all, it was probably 40 feet in length. If you can request, get 7425 or 7422 (friends had this one on the opposite corner). Now the dining...Try not to get the Smeralda Dining Room. Loud, bright lights and garish in design. We were told the Porofino Dining Room was much quieter and subdued. We asked to be moved after the first night away from the busboy station which is situated on either side of the room and next to the diners. The food was pretty ordinary. The breakfast buffet never varied from the same prepared eggs, potatoes and fruit. Dinners varied from okay to very good. The major exception was the lobster on Saturday night. It was absolutely AWFUL!!! Overcooked, mushy, yuck. Our servers, Allan and Michael were fantastic. A word of advice...once on board, book and reserve dinner in the Club Vincenza. It cost $20 more per person for the dinner. But it was fantastic. The filet mignon was the best I've ever had. The spaghetti in olive oil and garlic was superb. Wine selections were adequate and priced well. We booked the Club twice. Entertainment was okay. The usual bingo and casino, not quite off Broadway shows. Quite frankly, after so many cruises, we rarely take part in the shows. But in talking with other people we're told the shows were good. Personal preference, I guess. Though we didn't have any kids, we did take note of the kids club activities. They were always busy. Didn't hear any complaints from that. Shore excursions are like any other port. Investigate for your self and pick the one you want. For Ocho Rios, I highly recommend contacting Phil Lafayette. He was delightful. We went on the Dunn's River falls and the river rafting. Because we were with Phil, we got to the falls about an hour before everyone else from the 2 ships in port. It was simply fantastic. The river tubing was very relaxing. Then we stopped to eat at one of the local restaurants. Phil was ever the professional. Highly recommended. Disembarkation was same as any other ship. everyone in a rush to get off. Since we were staying in Lauderdale an extra day, we just waited it out on board. The ship itself is great. We were told there were 3000 passengers. It felt like 300. Very smooth sailing. Never felt the ship leaving port or at sea. Very smooth. All in all, I would recommend this cruise line. My overall score is a 4 only because I thought the food still needs a little tweaking. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
COSTA MAGICA Eastern Caribbean Jan. 8 - 15, 2006 By Mary & Vincent Finelli It was magical to return to Costa Cruises on board the CostaMagica. Even before boarding at Pier 21, we encountered our old friend 2nd Maitre D' ... Read More
COSTA MAGICA Eastern Caribbean Jan. 8 - 15, 2006 By Mary & Vincent Finelli It was magical to return to Costa Cruises on board the CostaMagica. Even before boarding at Pier 21, we encountered our old friend 2nd Maitre D' Francesco Frasca, who warmly greeted us like long lost relatives. We were happy to see that the Commandant was the personable Captain Giuseppe Russo, with whom we sailed last year on the CostaAtlantica. Then we saw Hotel Manager Walter German, with whom we had also sailed twice on the Costa Mediterranea. How wonderful, we already felt at home. January 8, 2006 was a cold day in Ft. Lauderdale and the tourists were eager to board, and so were we! EMBARKATION -- Boarding time is scheduled for 1:00pm. This day we arrived at 1:30pm and avoided long lines, since in that first half hour many of the passengers were already boarded. We went quickly through security and check-in. We then were assisted on board with the wheelchair --- all in twenty minutes. Costa reduces embarkation time by having passengers register their credit cards on board later. Next we headed to the Card Room, Deck 5 Leonardo, to check our dining arrangements. We had been placed in the Costa Smeralda Restaurant which is all the way aft. Hilton Marinos, Supervisor of Wait Staff, graciously transferred us to the Portofino Restaurant midship. Since our stateroom was all the way forward, he understood that with a wheelchair the distance created a problem. This was a big help in cutting the distance during the entire cruise! SHIP -- The CostaMagica is the new flagship of Costa Cruises. She was launched November 2004 and has been in service just a bit over one year. She, like all new Costa ships, is a clone of Carnival ships. Costa and Princess have joined the Carnival group and have brought with them a distinct Italian influence. The venerable Fincantieri Shipyards of Italy has built many of these new ships and the Costa Magica bears a brass plaque as the 6087th Fincantieri ship launched. The Magica, like other recent Costa ships (since 2000) bears the mark of Carnival designer Joseph Farcus. It has classical exterior lines. Yet, it is the interiors that abound in repetitive details based on a specific theme: in this case the figurative and literal magic of Italy. Although built with American influence, the CostaMagica still retains the power of magical Italian Art and scenery. The CostaMagica is 892 ft. in length; beam is 115 ft.; height at the funnel is 216 ft; her gross tonnage is 105,000 and her maximum speed is 22 knots. There are 1,358 staterooms (her full capacity is 3,470 passengers), crew and staff number 1,023, which is an acceptable ratio of crew to passenger. The Magica is rich in art with 5,652 pieces, of which 360 are originals. Her listed 12 decks are actually thirteen, if one counts Deck 0, all of which are named after famous Italian painters. Deck 0 -- Guercino is used for debarkation and also has the Emergency Medical Facility. We visited it since Vincent lost his cane. He was provided with one to use until we purchased another on St. Thomas, USVI. The staff was very helpful and efficient: there was a $20 deposit refunded upon return. Deck 1 -- Giorgione is all staterooms. Deck 2 -- Tintoretto is all staterooms. Deck 3 -- Raffaello is all public areas. Forward is the main level of the Urbino Theater with seats for 1,300: its excellent design (amphitheater style) allows for a sense of intimacy with the performers. It is named for the artistic and cultural city of Urbino in the Italy. It features a cupola with a stunning Murano crystal chandelier. The style is Renaissance, the seating is rich brocade in warm ivory and brandy tones. Midship is the Italia Magica Atrium; continuing toward aft is the Portofino Restaurant, next is the galley, and finally all the way aft is the Costa Smeralda Restaurant with a set of majestic terra-cotta sculpture group "Between Memories and Dreams" by Bruno Lucchi, at the entrance. Deck 4 -- Michelangelo forward holds the first balcony of the Urbino Theater. Toward midship is the Photo Area and the second floor of the Portofino Restaurant connected to Deck 3 by a staircase. Going toward aft on portside is the Chapel decorated with murals of "Via Crucis" (The Way of the Cross) by Artist Karl Demetz. Starboard here is the Internet Cafe ($0.50 per minute of use) and portside is the Disco Grado. All the way aft is the balcony of the Costa Smeralda Restaurant. Deck 5 -- Leonardo forward is the third tier of the Urbino Theater, and toward midship are the Galleria Shops, L'Aquila Bar and the Salento Grand Bar with its marvelous collection of silver pieces (Pampaloni Argentieri). Next is the Casino Sicilia with the 65 classic Sicilian marionettes (Teatro dei Pupi) displayed in glass cases. These individual pieces have been made by the artist Emanuele Salamanca of Catania, Sicily, with the cooperation of several other artists, who developed the initial idea of Joseph Farcus. These simply wonderful two to three feet tall marionettes have been appropriately located in the Casino Sicilia, since the tradition of the "Teatro dei Pupi" (the Marionette Theatre) evolved mainly in Sicily; even though, this phenomenon of popular culture and tradition has been encountered at different times throughout Europe. The figures depicted here are the characters from the epic works of "Orlando Innamorato" by Boiardo and "Orlando Furioso" by Ariosto, which are based on the French Carolingian "Chansons de Geste" (the Song of Roland). They are magnificent in facial expressions, clothing and armor, with exquisite design and detail. All the way aft is the beautiful Capri Lounge inspired by the grottos of Capri (especially the Grotta Azzurra). The extensive use of marble flooring throughout the public decks makes for easy gliding with a wheelchair. Deck 6 -- Caravaggio, Deck 7 Perugino and Deck 8 Veronese are all staterooms. Deck 9 Giotto forward has staterooms, midship the Maratea Pool, Bellagio Buffet, and aft the Positano Pool with removable cover. Here, by the Maratea Pool are the beautiful bronze sculptures of a bathing lady, and a boy and a girl each seated on dolphins, all by the artist Giovanni Smeraldi. By the Positano Pool is the bronze statue of Poseidon by Bruno Lucchi. Deck 10 -- Tiziano forward again is staterooms, then midship is the Palinuro Pool with a long water slide from the deck above. Aft is the balcony of the Bellagio cafe. This is a very nice area for dining. Deck 11 -- Tiepolo has a jogging track and the upscale restaurant Club Vicenza, which is a must see and dine opportunity. Its decor is inspired by the famous architect Palladio. On the stairways there is a large bas-relief representing the facade of the Venetian church S. Giorgio Maggiore and on the walls, surrounding the ceiling, there are many and many models of the most famous Palladian villa "La Rotonda" (interesting, but a bit overdone, a la Farcus!). We very much enjoyed dining one evening in this elegant restaurant, especially listening to the beautiful piano music of Vincenzo Silvestris, whose marvelous repertoire included both classic and modern melodies. This was a night of heavenly music and a feast fit for the gods. The very young Chef Luca Agnorelli dazzled us with the following: Carpaccio of veal with shavings of parmigiano cheese on a bed of wild greens and arugula, trofiette (hand made pasta shaped like cavatelli) in a pesto sauce with tomatoes, a tender and succulent Veal Chop, and for dessert a delicious Tiramisu. The Versace tableware, the impeccable woven cloth linens and the recipes from the famous Belloni & Belloni (B&B) Restaurant made this dinner a special event. The Belloni family from Modena has a long tradition in culinary arts with 5 Star restaurants world wide (even in Las Vegas). We were most aptly served by Rahul Upadhyay and MaryClaire Calimlim. Deck 12 -- Mantegna has the tennis and basketball courts and the children's room Squok Club. This ship is gorgeous in its details and pleasant to the eye. The forward staircases, at each deck, are graced with pairs of bronze sculptures by Giovanni Smeraldi which continue a magical theme and within the murals of floral art by Casagrande and Recalcati there are winged horses (pegasus), fairies and mermaids, so beautiful and ethereal. Much of this art unfortunately goes unnoticed by some of the passengers. There is an abundance of exquisite artwork on the Magica, another floating museum by Costa Crociere. One of the most apparent faults of this ship design is the location of wheelchair accessible cabins, which makes it more arduous for passengers with limited mobility. The wheelchair accessible staterooms, 10 of them with ocean view and 2 with balcony, are located the farthest possible from the elevators, all the way forward. The only ones near the elevators are 8 inside wheelchair accessible staterooms. This is also true for the Costa Fortuna and all the Carnival Conquest class ships, as we have recently cruised on the Carnival Glory and experienced the same difficulty. On this cruise, since the wind is the strongest at the prow, Vincent could only use the balcony when the ship was in port. We have observed that Royal Caribbean International and Princess lines cleverly cluster wheelchair accessible cabins near the elevators. Moreover, we see on board increasing numbers of passengers with wheelchairs, thus we feel that cruise lines should be more accommodating to the needs of these passengers. Just because people are physically challenged, it does not follow that they don't like to have a window or balcony from which to view the sea. In fact, it seems that, due to their limited mobility, they would spend more time in their cabins and on the balconies enjoying the view and breathing fresh air. FOOD & SERVICE -- We are happy to report that food and service were excellent under Hotel Director Walter German. We encountered many back-to-back cruisers, especially Canadians, who were on board for a whole month. We dined each evening in the Portofino Restaurant at table #338 with terrific waiters: Nelson Tiamzon and his assistant Roger. Maitre D' Bartolomeo Vitiello and his Assistant Maitre D' Marcantonio de Candia make sure that all passengers feel special. The two formal meals on board are made unique with blue ribbon tied menus, candles on the table and complimentary champagne served with dessert (to be accurate, not champagne, but Prosecco, an excellent sparkling Italian wine). Every morning at 7:00am breakfast was delivered to our stateroom: Cappuccino, Hot chocolate, fresh fruit and juice, sweet rolls or full American breakfast. Or, if you prefer, all of this and more is available at the Bellagio Buffet on Deck 9 from 7:00am on until 11:00am and full breakfast served in the Portofino and Costa Smeralda dining rooms continuously from 7:30 until 9:30. For lunch we usually went to the Costa Smeralda on Deck 3 and saw our friends Asst. Maitre D' Francesco Frasca and Chef Antonio DeLuca and these two made our lunches fun, and were pleasantly served by Waiter Viktor Bankov. We had wonderful meals. Asst. Maitre D' Raffaele Bailo provided music and enjoyment to the diners. These were a truly international group of passengers judging by their response to much of the music and entertainment in the dining rooms. Each night in the Portofino, we had exquisite meals served with particular attention, starting with the freshly made bread sticks and crunchy crusted rolls. Appetizers included the following: Vitello tonnato, Terrine of gorgonzola cheese, bruschetta, fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail etc. Soups were quite varied and included: Cream of asparagus, Oxtail, Chicken consommE with egg, etc. Salads were from fresh Belgian Endive, Arugula, Romaine, Iceberg, Watercress, Radicchio, etc. In the Italian tradition there is a pasta course which included the following: Fusilli with lamb ragout, Linguine Pasta with sea food, Penne a la Norma with smoked Provolone and eggplant, etc. Entrees included: Grilled swordfish, Baked cod, Veal Ossobucco a la Romana, Filet Mignon, Roast Rack of Lamb, Lobster tails, etc. Finally, desserts were excellent and not overly sweet. There were Cannoli, Baba au rum, Italian style cheese cake, fresh fruits, international cheeses, freshly made ice cream and sorbets, pies and cakes. These are all delicious because our old friend Executive Chef Villardo Purificacion has everything running smoothly. Chef De Luca did a cooking demonstration along with his daughter Emma (Rigatoni with capers, olives, and tomatoes... delicious). Asst. Pastry Chef Susanne Fritz supervised a demonstration of Vincent's favorite dessert "Pastiera Napolitana" (a Neapolitan Cheese cake traditionally made at Easter time). Susanne is great and her desserts are perfectly balanced, not too overly sweet, just right. At the same show Assistant Maitre D' Nello Scala assisted with the preparation of Scallopine a la Marsala and it was tender and delicious. Finally, Bar service is great under our old friend Sanzio Riccardi, imagine overseeing 11 bars! He does it excellently. The Costa Magica has the two main restaurants, Costa Smeralda and Portofino, the buffet restaurant Bellagio, the upscale Club Vicenza restaurant, eleven bars, a three deck theater, Casino, Library, four pools, a spa/gym, jacuzzi, a jogging track, a chapel, a cyber cafe` and a disco and sundry other venues. Yet, we feel the service and food all over the ship are excellent and the facilities are spotless. The most recent CDC Sanitary Inspection (Dec. 12, 2005) yielded a near perfect score of 99/100. CABIN Wheelchair Accessible Stateroom #6208 is all the way forward at the prow of the ship, too far from the elevators for those with mobility difficulties. Unfortunately, there are several sister ships of the Magica which have the same problem (Costa Fortuna and Carnival Conquest class ships, the Glory and Liberty). The decor is simple with maple wood, salmon colored ceiling moldings and draperies of woven turquoise and salmon matching fabrics. When entering, straight ahead is the large bath with safety rails and a huge 5'x5' shower and a sink with mirrors and shelving. In the corner there is a single armoire and to the right is a double armoire. There is a lighted vanity/desk with stool, a TV, refrigerator, a coffee table and an upholstered barrel chair. There is a a queen bed and finally a glass wall and door to the balcony. The tiny balcony holds only a set of two chairs and a small table all attached, there is no room for a chaise lounge or recliner chair. This is a warning to all who book these cabins: Do not open the balcony door when the ship is traveling fast or when it is windy. During this cruise we had three high seas days. Two days were at the beginning and one at the end of the cruise. This is something we have not encountered much on our 57 cruises. Our wonderful Cabin Steward was Roger Eulalio, who was a perfect attendant. Thanks! ENTERTAINMENT -- Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is smooth and his rendition of "Just A Gigolo" is great. The ship is well designed so that passenger traffic movement flows nicely from the Atrium to the Casino, to the bars, lounges, Grand ballroom and to the Disco. The cruise staff is friendly and conducts many activities including the following: Trivia games, Bingo, dance lessons, Italian lessons, singles parties, fitness classes, ping pong, tennis and volleyball tournaments, Horse Racing, etc. Since Costa is "Cruising Italian Style," most of the entertainment has a distinctly Italian flavor with tenors like Edmondo Rahme and "Roman Nights" and Toga parties. Actually, most nights we caught the early shows, but many other passengers told us the club entertainment was great. DEBARKATION -- With the help of the pleasant and courteous Flavia Esposito from the passenger service desk, who has also given us information on the art work aboard, we arranged the wheelchair assistance for debarkation. At 8:00am a crew member came to our cabin and accompanied us through passport control, baggage pick up and custom, all the way to curb side where we met our son with the car. By 9:00am we were on our way home. Excellent. PORTS OF CALL -- Day 1 Ft. Lauderdale boarding 1:00pm, sailing 4:30pm. Day 2 -- At Sea Day 3 -- San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 5:00pm Depart next day 1:30am Day 4 -- St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 7:30am Depart 5:00pm Day 5 -- Catalina Island, Dominican Rep. Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm La Romana Arrive 6:00pm Depart 11:00pm Day 6 -- At Sea Day 7 -- Nassau, Bahamas, canceled due to high seas and wind. It is better safe than sorry. Day 8 -- Ft. Lauderdale Debarkation 8:00am CONCLUSION -- This was our 11th cruise on Costa ships and as usual another great cruise, if we disregard the cabin location and the lack of opportunity to use the balcony. The most positive aspect of this cruise was meeting again so many people among the ship officers and staff whom we had befriended on previous cruises. It is like going back to your own home town, where people recognize you and greet you with a pleasant smile and who are genuinely happy to see you again. It surely made us feel good, as good as any homecoming! That is the main reason why Costa remains among one of our favorite cruise lines, not mentioning Italian cuisine that Costa chefs do so well and the festive atmosphere that is often found throughout the ship. These are the ingredients for a pleasurable cruise. On the other hand, Vincent usually enjoys relaxing on the balcony, which is why we rarely book only an ocean view cabin without balcony, and never an inside cabin. When economically possible, we book a suite, but cruising as frequently as we do, we cannot always afford a suite, thus we try to book early to select the appropriate cabin that fits our taste, needs and pocket. Due to Vincent's limited mobility, we usually book a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony near the central elevators of the ship. However, this has not been possible on this ship nor on any other Costa or Carnival ships, since the CostaAtlantica and Mediterranea and their Carnival sisters, the Spirit and Conquest class ships also do not have wheelchair accessible cabins that meet our needs. The Spirit class ships, including the Atlantica and the Mediterranea, do not have any wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony, thus people with limited mobility may have to book either inside or obstructed view cabins. And as for the Magica and the Fortuna, as well as for the Carnival Conquest class ships, the location of the only two wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony is all the way in front of the ship, as we have described earlier in this review. Two of our other favorite cruise lines that do more for the disabled passengers in regard to the location and quality of the wheelchair accessible cabins are Princess and RCI. Yes, we enjoyed this cruise and we'll cruise on Costa again and again, but on these ships we'll try to book a suite next time. We hope that Joseph Farcus will read our criticism and in designing the new Costa and Carnival ships will be seriously looking at the designs of recent Princess and RCI ships in order to make his ships more user friendly to those with disabilities. Guess what? We are sailing this Sunday, Jan. 29th, on Carnival Liberty on which we had booked the exact same balcony cabin prior to sailing on the Glory and Magica. Recently, we tried paying for an upgrade to a suite, but the price was too high for this cruise, so we'll be in the same situation as before. Naturally, once on board, the first thing we'll do is to ask the Maitre D' to moved us to the more centrally located Golden Olympian Restaurant rather than dining in the Silver Olympian which is located all the way aft. One reason to travel several times on the same cruise line is the repeater advantage. Now on Costa Lines we are Costa Club Pearl members which give passengers concrete advantages: Free Champagne in the stateroom, a lovely tropical bouquet of flowers, fresh fruit bowl daily, a free dinner in the upscale specialty restaurant (Club Vicenza) and finally a nice model of the ship. Not bad! Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Hello All - I am relatively new to Cruise Critic as I joined to research prior to our first cruise on the Costa Magica New Year's cruise. I wanted to share our experience, as it seems to be different from some: Embarkation was ... Read More
Hello All - I am relatively new to Cruise Critic as I joined to research prior to our first cruise on the Costa Magica New Year's cruise. I wanted to share our experience, as it seems to be different from some: Embarkation was awful, very long line and we are not patient people, so that was not a good way to start the trip. We had only carry-on luggage, so chose to self-disembark at the end of the cruise. That was much better. The food was outstanding in the restaurants. The buffets were good too, but if you did not get there right away when they opened, it wasn't as fresh (duh), so we ate in the restaurant as much as possible. For us, (2 adults, two kids, ages 7 and 9), the restaurant was the most fantastic part of the ship itself. The food was fantastic and plentiful and you could pick whatever you wanted. Our kids tried many many foods for the first time, lobster, tenderloin, mahi mahi, the list goes on.. and it was all beautifully prepared. The service was fantastic (everyone -- waters, maitre d', room stewards, everyone) and I really believe everyone there wanted to do everything in their power to make it a great experience -- like they really cared about our enjoyment. My son celebrated a birthday while on board and they brought out a beautiful cake for him with candles. We are early risers and because of the kids, we tended to go to bed early as well, so we did not see many of the shows. The ones we saw were a bit cheesy, but decent talent, and our kids enjoyed it. We don't feel that we missed much by not seeing them all, though. Nor did we do much in the bars. There were many and they were beautiful, but we did not go. In fact, we only drank wine all week. Bought the 6 bottles of wine/10 bottles of water deal and that was just right for us. Only drank the free juice and iced tea or coffee during the day. We don't drink much pop anyway, so we were all fine with that. And the ports were awesome. We had fantastic weather too. We did not do any organized excursions, but we did get to the beach 3 times, which was definitely our favorite thing to do!! At St. Thomas we took a safari bus and ferry over to St. Johns/Trunk Bay (awesome!) and in the Bahamas we took a taxi to Atlantis and got to the public beach from there. Catalina Island was fantastic as well, and very comfortable because Costa has all the food, chairs and umbrellas right there for you. We snorkeled everywhere, so it was a new experience too. The last night of the cruise was "TOGA" night and everyone was provided with sheets to dress up. Way fun!! The kids really loved it and although not everyone dressed in Toga, everyone was very supportive of those who did. It was a great way to end the cruise. The worst part of the cruise for us was the number of people. We did get more accustomed to it by the end of the cruise, but the first day we were at sea, all 2500 passengers were on deck 9 (I swear!!), people hogged the deck chairs all day, it was loud and the pool was still cold, so the kids wouldn't swim either. I did complain about the water temp and it was warmer in one of the pools by the very next day (I think they switch water with the warmer ocean water once they get further south). All of us had a very hard time adjusting the first couple of days because of this and I was afraid it was a huge mistake that we went. Our kids wouldn't go to the Squok Club either - they just weren't comfortable there and wanted to stay with us -- so we were just at a loss on how to entertain them. But we got into the groove as the week went along -- read books, played Gameboy, chess, Yahtzee, used the slide -- and I think the people on board were more dispersed as well. It never seemed as busy after the first full day at sea. We were on an inside cabin, though, so I think that because of our personalities (wanting more privacy), we would choose to splurge on a balcony cabin next time so we could spend more comfortable time alone. Of course, after hearing about the teenage girl that went overboard the week right after our cruise, we have wondered about this line of thinking. And my husband and I did end up take motion sickness meds all week, so never got sick, but never really felt great either. If we were to cruise again (not sure if cruising is for us), we would have no problem going with Costa again, but would try to find a smaller ship. I hope this helps. We really appreciated the responses we got to our questions prior to our cruise, so just thought we should give back. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We enjoyed our experience on CostaMagica. Our room was shared by two adults and two children and it was very spacious by standards with a window that was a complete wall. The adult bed was a queen, one twin was against the wall and a bunk ... Read More
We enjoyed our experience on CostaMagica. Our room was shared by two adults and two children and it was very spacious by standards with a window that was a complete wall. The adult bed was a queen, one twin was against the wall and a bunk pulled out of the ceiling. We had a lot of room in the cabin! The atmosphere on ship was very "welcoming" and "unstuffy." The entertainment is not the same caliber as Royal Caribbean's Line or Princess's, but it was rousingly delivered! The recreation staff, i.e. Cruise Director & cohorts really make the ship an "enthusiastic, warm, fun environment." Many passengers became involved in the activities offered because of the staff's energy whether this was for a deck exercise class or a dance lesson group activity. This crew kept "momentum on the move." We were concerned about the issue of food prior to leaving for vacation, having read some poor reviews of the fare on CostaMagica. All in all, we were relieved after our first day of meals. The food for the most part was good. It is not as lavish a presentation as Royal Caribbean or Princess. For example, desserts are more "European" in nature...not emphasizing carbs & sugar, more emphasizing fruit, cheeses, gelato, simple pastries... Beef Filet was delicious & offered in several dinner selections as was a variety of seafood. The one selection that was poor was shrimp which was served with legs, eyes,....and was soggy & fishy tasting. The waiter was more than willing to get us something else when we politely objected. Baked Alaska was one of the Christmas Dessert Highlights. Alcohol is readily available-especially many good selections of wine. What was very positive, we thought, was that the alcohol is not "pushed to an aggressive degree," as we have experienced on some other cruise lines. This was dignified and refreshing! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Wed 23rd - Stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn near Heathrow which cost £119 (no breakfast) but with 11 nights car parking. Thu 24th - We were up at 4 a.m. to catch the hopper bus at 5 a.m. from the hotel to the airport as we were ... Read More
Wed 23rd - Stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn near Heathrow which cost £119 (no breakfast) but with 11 nights car parking. Thu 24th - We were up at 4 a.m. to catch the hopper bus at 5 a.m. from the hotel to the airport as we were catching the 7.10 a.m. flight from Heathrow to Milan on Alitalia. We got to the airport about 5.15 a.m. but couldn't join the massive queue because a sign told you not to join before 5.30 a.m.. We did this but every so often Alitalia would call people forward who were going on earlier flights. This happened about 3 times. One British couple behind us were very angry and tried going to one of the counters to see if they could be taken 1st. (They were very posh and probably didn't think they should be queuing with the rest of us). After he was sent back from one desk, a few minutes later she went to another check-in desk and lo and behold she signaled him to join her. That was them taken care of. The rest of us were still queuing at 6.45 a.m.. We had to run to the gate so there was no time for duty free or breakfast. Because we have different surnames and were separated the last time on Alitalia I took the trouble to ring them beforehand and explain the situation and "booked" seats side-by-side. What happened when we got to the desk - separated. What is the point? What is the point? On the plane the breakfast was disgusting and the pilot was up and down like a yo-yo. His descent was appalling. The worst thing though was when we were waiting to take off Hubby noticed that a whole bunch of luggage was being covered up and being taken back to the terminal. Sure enough half the people on the flight only received part of their luggage. They had to fill in reports and that delayed the bus departure time. The worst of it was knowing that Alitalia had done it deliberately because there was so much freight on the flight that they just didn't bother loading all the luggage! Unbelievable. Luckily Costa arranged for the luggage to be delivered to Naples (our next stop) but Alitalia couldn't have cared less. Hubby reckons it was lucky we were very late getting our luggage checked in as that meant our bags were on the top of the heap and would have been loaded 1st. (Don't know if that's the case or not). Overview CostaMagica is an Italian ship and I was interested to see how the Italian cruise experience differed from the American experience. Well it was definitely "Cruising as only Italians know how"!!! Everybody was complaining about the food & service. I don't know if this was because the Magica is a fairly new ship and therefore has teething problems but the organisation was 0. All the announcements were in 5 different languages and the shows were limited (obviously because comedians etc were out because of the language situation). A few of the shows were good but very amateurish. The open seating at breakfast & lunch in the dining rooms was a shambles. They didn't "fill up" the tables, you could sit where you wanted but when you placed your order with the waiter it didn't go any further until he'd filled a whole sheet of orders from nearby guests. It meant waiting anything up to 20/30 mins for your 1st course. There was a lot of Italians on the cruise (obviously) and a lot of family groups which resulted in a lot of noise - even in the corridors late at night. It was a 2 hr bus trip to Savona where we were given a number and told to wait till our number was called. They were only on No. 6 and we were 23!!! We went for a walk around Savona but only for about half an hour as we were carrying our hand luggage. Eventually we boarded the ship at about 4 p.m.. We went exploring the ship and it was VERY bright. It reminded me of a fairground with all the lightbulbs flashing. It was enough to give you a headache. There were 3 pools, one with a cover over and 6 hot tubs in all. In the hot tubs it said "no children under 12" but obviously that didn't apply to the Italian kids cos there were even babies in nappies in the tub. I pointed this out to a deck attendant but he just shrugged his shoulders. At about 5 p.m. it was the lifeboat drill then dinner. We were dining in the Portofino restaurant and had a table of 8. Four of our tablemates were English and the other 2 were Egyptian. I had smoked salmon, chicken & veg soup, baked hen, vanilla ice cream. Hubby had fruit cocktail, soup, prime rib, cheesecake. Needless to say we were exhausted so we had an early night. Fri 25th - Had breakfast in the Portofino restaurant where we met a couple from the bus so we sat with them. There was a buffet available (cold cuts etc) plus you could order hot stuff from the waiter. It was very hit & miss though and the woman who was at our table got her omelette before her porridge! We handed our passports in at Guest Services so they could stamp them with a visa for Egypt then we queued to validate our credit card. We were on our balcony as we sailed into Naples but although the balcony was huge it had a covering of water on it plus some soot blotches. We had lunch in the grill of hamburgers & fries then got ready for our trip to Herculaneum/Ercolano @ 43 Euros each. We travelled south by bus to Herculaneum which was home to beautiful villas and the most luxurious properties of Roman aristocracy. While the wooden buildings of Pompeii were destroyed by volcanic ash, the destruction of Herculaneum was caused by a flood of hot mud. The hot mud sealed and protected the area and you can see inlaid pavements, mosaics and paintings. We had previously done Pompeii and thought this tour to be much better and our guide was great -handsome Italian in his mid 20's. Quick wash & brush up when we got back then off to dinner. We had fruit cocktail, bean & veg soup, T-bone steak, rum & raisin & vanilla ice cream followed by cheese & biscuits. We were going to order the wine package which was very reasonable £55 for 6 bottles of wine and 5 bottles of water but you had to have one of each kind of wine on the list. You weren't able to pick the same wine every night so we just chose our wine from the wine list every night and drunk the iced water (which is free whereas the bottled water you have to pay for). After stuffing ourselves we went for a walk on deck then a stroll thru the shops. Sat 26th - At Sea. Breakfast in Portofino restaurant then off to the Italian class. We left early though as it was a bit boring as she had to translate everything into 5 languages. Met up with the English speaking host, Ricky, who was next to useless. I complained about the soot on the balcony but he wasn't interested. We signed up at the Costa desk to become Costa Club members which entitles you to some benefits the next time you cruise but unless the price is really something special I doubt if we'll sail with Costa again. Still, never say never. We checked out all the decks and had a good old nosey around the ship. We had lunch in the Costa Smerelda restaurant (you are supposed to stick to your named restaurant but what the heck, we felt like a change). Unfortunately it was full of Germans so we were missing nothing. Ricky had told us there were 900 Germans, 900 Italians, 300 Spanish, 300 French and 300 English speakers on the cruise. Interesting. After our exploring we had a nap then got ready for the Gala Cocktail party followed by dinner. I had duck as a starter, soup, beef and chocolate soufflE. The show was good. It was songs from movies i.e. pretty woman, ghost etc and the singers & dancers were excellent. We went back to the cabin to change and Hubby managed to find the Italy -v- Scotland match. Sun 27th - At Sea. We had continental breakfast in our cabin which was OK but the best for breakfast was Celebrity. We had a long lie in our cabin and as it was nice and sunny we had a walk around and stumbled across a section in the buffet which served different kinds of foods every day i.e. Italian, German & Mexican. I had the German lunch and Hubby got his stuff from the ordinary buffet. We had a glass of wine on our balcony then a nap before getting ready for dinner. I had soup, Caesar salad, lamb cutlets. Mon 28th - Up at 5.15 a.m. for our trip to the pyramids. 99 Euros each. Had breakfast in Bellagio buffet. We were on the coach at 7.30 a.m. for our 3 hr trip. We left Alexandria on our way to Saqqara, site of the famous step pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser and the Mastaba of Mereruka which is the oldest stone structure built on such a grand scale. The tour made its way to the old capital Memphis where we saw the alabaster Sphinx and the statue of Ramses II. We continued to the pyramid valley of Cheops, Chefren and Micherinos and the Sphinx. After a packed lunch we stopped at a papyrus workshop and did a bit of shopping before returning to the ship. I bought a T-shirt with my name written in hieroglyphics and a long Egyptian/Arab kaftan for floating around the house in. The T-shirt was £7.50 and the dress was £15. Not bad. Hubby and I both were a bit disappointed in the pyramids - they were just not as imposing as you expect them to be. Plus of course the closeness the McDonald and KFC doesn't help! Egypt was dusty and dirty and the houses in Alexandria looked as though they'd been bombed. The coach driver was a lunatic and it's a wonder we got back in one piece. He was always on his horn (it made a tune) and slammed on the brakes at the least thing. 94% of Egypt is desert but what we saw was lush & green. Seemingly Sadat (the assassinated president) wanted to reclaim the desert and his policies are still being carried out. There were loads of pigeon roosts by the roadsides as it is a very common food in Egypt - not much meat though!! Tue 29th - Cyprus. Continental breakfast in room then had a nap. Up for lunch which I had in the Mexican part of the buffet, very tasty. Hubby had the ordinary buffet. After lunch we set off on our tour to Paphos at 50 Euros each. First of all we had a brief stop at Aphrodite's Rock where according to legend the Goddess of Love was born then it was on to the beautiful area of Paphos on the SW coast of Cyprus where many interesting historic relics awaited exploration including the house of Dionysus and the Tombs of the Kings. We had some free time for shopping then we were on our way back to Limassol. We were back in time for dinner at 6.45 p.m. instead of the usual 6.15 p.m.. I had prawn/shrimp cocktail, swordfish, soup, filet steak, pudding then cheese & biscuits. Ron, one of the guys on our table had had a go at them up at the buffet because of the disappointing selection of foods. He had a meeting with the head honcho who assured him that the ship had been built for the American market but I don't think so. There is no way the Americans would put up with that buffet. It was mostly cold cuts and not the usual macaroni cheese, chicken, French fries etc. We had a go at some slots in the casino and put in 5 Euros and won 30E. We had a lovely walk on deck followed by a coffee in our room. I read my book whereas Hubby watched "Gone in 60 seconds" in Italian! The telly was rubbish. There was loads of Germany & Italian channels but only one in English and that was the news - then when the Pope died all the channels were showing the same thing. Wed 30th - We docked early. We had breakfast in the Bellagio buffet then wandered off the ship for a walk around Rhodes. We like Rhodes because if you just walked off the beaten track where all the tourist shops were it was like stepping back in time. Old folks buying their veg from the local shopkeeper and the narrowness of the lanes etc. On our way back there was a duty free shop which we dropped in on. I got 2,000 cigs for £7.50 for 200. What a deal. Naturally I "gave" them away when I got back and made a tidy profit. Back in time for lunch in the Portofino restaurant where I was absolutely astounded when Hubby ordered the baby octopus!! We made the mistake of having a bottle of wine with lunch and that was it - we slept the rest of the afternoon. The time for our dinner was 6.15 p.m. each evening and most of us arrived around about that time - except for the 2 Egyptians on our table, they were always late. At first the waiter kept us waiting till they joined us but this night he took our orders and it was just as well - they turned up at 7.05 p.m.!!! Talk about bad manners. Really if you arrive over half an hour late you are supposed to see the maitre d' not just stroll in when you feel like it. What was worse though was they did it deliberately as they said "6.15 is too early". Fine - then go to the buffet and not spoil our dining experience. I had soup, lamb and some kind of chocolate pudding. We didn't have a bottle of wine as we were still suffering from the after-effects of the wine at lunchtime. Hubby managed to find some football on the telly, Italy -v- Iceland. Thu 31st - Turkey. Breakfast in Bellagio buffet then we caught the shuttle bus to Marmaris for 5 Euros each return. There was a big covered area of shops which was just as well cos the rain was bouncing off the pavements. We bought a bottle of wine, big bottle of water, some crisps & nuts - as if we didn't get enough to eat!!! The shopkeepers were good-humoured though and I bought a lovely "Gucci" bag for 30 Euros. They would try and encourage you into their shops and when I said "I'm just looking" they replied with "and I'm just selling". Made me laugh. Back in time for lunch in Portofino restaurant. Then contacted by Guest Services and we changed cabins from 6467 to 9217 which was a 2 grade upgrade. By the time we'd organised everything it was too late for us to have a nap so we went down to dinner. I had shrimp in cheese sauce, veg soup, sirloin steak, choco concoction. Fri 1st Apr - Athens. Continental breakfast in room. We arranged to meet a couple called Maria & Paul who we made friends with on the bus to Alexandria. Her parents are Portuguese but moved to London when she was 2 so she spoke perfect English. Paul on the other hand only came across when they got married about 8 years ago. He was quiet to start with but he and Hubby seemed to get on fine. We tried to get a taxi to take us to the metro station but they insisted it was within walking distance - really they were hoping for bigger fares but hey ho. It was about a 25 min walk then we got an all day underground ticket for 3 Euros. We got to the stop for the Acropolis and it was a fair old hike up a hill but we managed. It was 12 Euros to get in and we spent a couple of hours there and had a good old look round the Parthenon.. We walked back down the hill a different route and our ticket entitled us to enter a few more sites so that was interesting. We stopped off for a kebab and a cappuccino then walked thru the flea market on our way to the Plaka. The Plaka was supposed to be full of posh shops and we saw lots of people with fancy shopping bags but I don't think we found the right place. We were passing a jewelers when the guy highjacked me into his shop and I ended up buying an 18 carat gold ring with a typical Greek design. I like it. We caught the tube back to Piraeus where our ship was docked. While Maria and I were laughing and hee-hee ing away she managed to slip it into the conversation that they were Jehovah Witnesses. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I said, "Yeah but you don't go knocking on peoples' doors though" and she said, "yes, that's an important part of our teachings, it's a very serious part of being a Jehovah Witness" and did I know that Jesus' name was Jehovah. By this time I was sweating imagining them turning up on our doorstep with a copy of "Watchtower" for us. Ahhhh. Before she spilled the beans they had asked to come to our cabin and see what the balcony was like so I'd given her the cabin number. They turned up and we had a couple of glasses of wine then Hubby & I made the excuse that we'd need to get ready for dinner. They were on late sitting so they left. For dinner I had the breaded swordfish, chicken broth with egg strands, beef strips in red wine & Neapolitan cake with cream & ice cream followed by coffee. We had a quick fling in the casino but didn't win anything. Sat 2nd Apr - Greece. Breakfast in bed. We took the Olympia & shopping trip for 44 Euros each. It took us back through impressive excavations and ruins to 776 AD and the start of the modern Olympic games. Olympia is located in a green lush valley fertilised by the Alfelos River. We saw the temple of Zeus and his statue, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and the stadium which had a capacity of 40,000 spectators. From the excavations we went to the village of Olympia where we had some free time to stroll and shop. We banged into Maria & Paul who had hired a car for 35E and followed the bus to the sites. Good idea. Back in time for lunch in the dining room. I had Parma ham with cheese & pear, plaice with chips & coleslaw (special order just for me). Hubby had the fried squid, broccoli soup, grilled chicken. We went to the buffet for our pudding and ate it on our balcony with a cup of coffee followed by a leisurely nap. For dinner I had cheese soufflE, grilled lamb chops served with a thyme sauce, lobster and baked Alaska. ( I had the 3 main courses as they were everything I liked). Well, you only live once. Hubby had the melon cup with port wine, cream of mushroom soup, baked lobster serviced with pilaff rice + baked Alaska. The waiter came round your table and got the women up to dance which I didn't like very much - I was too busy concentrating on my food! The show was called "Magic Moments". Maria had called Hubby in the cabin wanting to meet up but Hubby said I was sleeping. I wasn't really but I just wasn't in the mood to be converted. Sun 3rd Apr - Breakfast in the Bellagio buffet then we had a quick 20 mins in the hot tub but Hubby wasn't impressed as it wasn't hot enough for him. Hubby went to the disembarkation talk - I don't know why - if you've been to one - you've been to them all! After a nap it was lunch in the Portofino restaurant. We went to the "behind the scenes of the Costa Magica" with Ricky the English speaking host but all it was was a slide show (boring) - I was hoping to physically go behind the scenes but no such luck. We walked out after about 10 mins. Hubby managed to catch a bit of the grand prix then we went to high tea in the Bellagio buffet but it was a disappointment. There was only one kind of sandwich (tuna) and they were curling up at the corners. Suitcases had to be out by 1 a.m. but Hubby started a bit of packing before the farewell dinner. It was sad to say cheerio to our waiter & his assistant and all our tablemates - even the Egyptians! God he was boring. Once he started and he caught your eye - that was it. You were hypnotised like the Jungle Book - a couple of times I was rescued by another tablemate but then they run the risk of getting sucked in themselves. I think there was something shady about that couple cos one of his stories was how he had won £1.7 million at the bookies on some kind of accumulator but he could only get £100,000 of it because the bookie had a limit. I think that was what we was blethering about but by this time I'd switched off. We had planned to go to the Karaoke but Maria had rung earlier in the evening stalking me again so we decided against it. Costa had us out of our cabin by 8 a.m. and on the bus and on our way by 8.45 a.m.. We arrived at the airport by approx 11 a.m. and when we joined the queue for check-in were told to come back at 12 midday. Obviously dragging your luggage around the airport is out so most of us just grouped together & chatted. I recognised someone from our bus going to check-in and they told us the flight was overbooked and we should get our seats even if we couldn't check in our luggage. So we joined the queue again. This time some of us were allocated seats (again I had rung and booked the seats beforehand - to no avail) but our luggage was weighed and came to 48 kilos. The chap told us to take some out and put it in our hand luggage. Doh. Some people were allocated their seats, some were not. Some had their luggage taken and some didn't. Absolutely no consistency whatsoever. After putting the extra weight from our luggage and putting it in our hand luggage we were able to check-in. At one of the other check-in desks an Egyptian chap & his wife put their luggage on the belt and it came to 61.5 kilos. Was he asked to take anything out - no. Did he have to pay extra baggage - no. I was mad as hell. At least we were in the 40's. I reckon people are frightened to upset these people and stick to "safe" targets like us. People who more or less stick to the rules and the ones who go completely beyond reason get away with it. As expected our flight was delayed and departed over an hour late. Again the pilot was up & down like a yo-yo and we had to circle Heathrow probably because we missed our slot. The meal was disgusting (but that was expected). Well that was it. A bad day at sea is still better than a good day at work. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
COSTA MAGICA - January 31, 2005 Before going into details, here is a summary of our experience: The good, the bad and the ugly.... The good: - Itinerary was wonderful: Egypt was the highlight, and many more nice surprises such as ... Read More
COSTA MAGICA - January 31, 2005 Before going into details, here is a summary of our experience: The good, the bad and the ugly.... The good: - Itinerary was wonderful: Egypt was the highlight, and many more nice surprises such as Rhodes. - We met some wonderful people on the cruise, we enjoyed the international crowd. - The ship being so new it's very clean, and it is well kept. - There is a well defined smoking side on the ship, and other than in the casino, you don't really get bothered by smoke - there are no ashtrays near elevators which is a good deterrent for people since no one smoked in these areas. - Tea in the Bellagio Buffet restaurant has a good selection of whole-leaf teas of good quality that they put into a sachet. You also get real porcelain cups which is a nice contrast from the picnic plastic mug you usually get at the buffet... as for the food, it was not great, and the dessert were the same ones everyday. The bad: - No more chocolate on your pillows... not essential, but a nice touch before going to bed - No more bathrobes... had I known I would have brought one - No more toiletries The ugly: - Food: quality, variety... it's just the worst food we've ever had on a cruise. I'm sure this will change soon as everyone was complaining. - No other dining option than the restaurant. They say the buffet is open but all there is, and this is true for all 12 nights we were there was a plate of iceberg lettuce, one with radicchio, olives, cold cooked cauliflower and carrots, 1 kind of cold cuts, and 1 kind of cheese. They also have pizza available til 1am. - Embarkation in ports was a nightmare... it took up to 1 hour to get back on the ship when we returned from some excursion, especially in Egypt, when 7 buses all returned at once... this was not pretty. People were upset, yelled and pushed. EMBARKATION Costa Concierge just opened in 2004 their new cruise ship terminal in Savona. It's a beautiful building well designed to wait for embarkation. It has a great outdoor patio where you can sip a beer or cocktail watching the harbor activity, while waiting for you number to be called. Since most passengers come with Costa transfers from either the Nice airport or Genoa airport, a Costa rep comes onboard the buses and give everyone a number. The luggage are automatically transferred from the bus to the terminal. Then, we proceeded to the terminal where there are many comfortable seats to wait for your turn. It was a bit long, over 1.5 hour wait, but at least is was comfortable. Then we cleared security fairly rapidly and proceeded immediately onboard. Everyone was asked to immediately go to the theatre to hand their passports. They keep them for Egyptian immigration processing. Then we went straight to our stateroom where we found our Costa Cards on the desk. No need to wait in line to get your card. Also, the luggage was already in the cabin when we got there, which is always a great relief!! The buffet was only open until 4pm, which was a bit tight. We had not eaten lunch so we ran upstairs, and just managed to put a few things on our plates before they closed off all the buffet lines. So overall, the process was very smooth even if it was a bit lengthy. OUR CABIN We had reserved cabin 7401, a category 8 balcony cabin. The cabin is very spacious. It has a 3-door wardrobe with 2 separate hanging closets, and one with shelves with a full length mirror. The vanity has 3 drawers, and a small cabinet unit for smaller object storage. There is a small fridge, as well as a safe that uses a magnetic card for locking (any card with a magnetic strip works). The bed was comfortable. There is also a very wide couch that can probably transform into a bed - it's not a pull-out couch, but the width of the couch is the length of a bed. There is also a small table that is adjustable to either be used as a dining table for breakfast, or as a coffee table. The bathroom is large enough, with the usual amenities, but no toiletries. There is one bar of soap, and for the 12 days we were there, we never got another one! No shampoo, or lotion. You can get lotion and showers caps on request only. Also, there are no bathrobes available either. Had I known this, I would have brought a bathrobe. Our cabin steward was extremely discreet but polite and very efficient. He did not speak much Italian nor French (which is what 80% of the people on the ship spoke) but we managed to communicate in English. The room was promptly done as soon as we left in the morning. The cabin service was great. DINING ROOM SERVICE and FOOD We had a table for 6 on the upper section of the Portofino restaurant, situated at midship. The ship has two dining rooms and the galley is in between. Because of that, you cannot go to the front of the ship on deck 3 and 4. Since our room was aft, we always had to go down to Deck 5, then walk forward, and down again to Deck 3 or 4 from there. Not a big issue, but it is confusing at first. For the first time, we dined at the first sitting which was at 6h30 PM. This was a bit early since we were gone on excursions most days, and didn't return until 5 or 5h30. That didn't leave us enough time to unwind and get ready for diner. We were always rushed to shower and go down to the dining room. The second sitting was at 8h45 or 9 PM depending on the night. Knowing what I know now, I would choose the second sitting, even if it's a bit late just to have a bit more time after returning from excursions. The food was definitely sub-standards. The menu offered a variety of dishes, but the preparation was not well done. Meat were never cooked properly, were tough and flavorless. The fish was often fishy tasting. We never once had a baked potato, we had most often boiled potatoes, and once we had mashed that were so gluey that needed to be cut with a knife. The vegetables were always frozen. We had shrimp once at the first gala dinner as a shrimp cocktail, and on the last gala menu, there was a langouste thermidor, which was not good at all, very tough. Filet mignon? Never to be seen. On the first night, we asked for dressing for our salad. We were offered 4 different kinds, and asked for blue cheese. The dressing we receive tasted really odd. Every other night, the only dressing available was Thousand Islands... this is odd. I must say that the pasta dishes were always tasty, and our server told me at some point that many people ordered two pasta plates as dinner instead of the meat dishes - I did that a couple times and was happy about my decision. Our server Paolo was Colombian and his assistant George was from the Philippines. They were both very friendly. We communicated with them in English, which was a problem for many passengers as most spoke either Italian or French. The Maitre D', Dario was friendly and very helpful. On many nights the dining room was extremely hot, and as soon as I mentioned it to him he got on the phone with the engineers and we immediately felt the AC turned on. We also requested on one night a table at the second sitting and he obliged us very gracefully. The service was slightly chaotic on the first 2-3 nights, and we had to wait more than 45 minutes between our appetizer and soup, but after the first gala dinner, things smoothed themselves out, and service became more organized. We had lunch in the dining room once, and the nice thing is that you can sit wherever you want. They don't 'fill' tables. The menu was limited, but the service was efficient. Breakfast in the dining room only had a cold offering - continental breakfast: breads, cold cereals, juice. If you're longing for eggs Benedict, fill up before you leave... BELLAGIO BUFFET Breakfast was the same every morning. We had a variety of freshly baked goods, croissants, chocolatine, brioche, Danishes etc. that were very good. Fresh fruits, berries and cream, muesli, cold cereals and yogurt completed the cold buffet. The hot buffet had hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, beans, waffle and French toast. There was also a selection of marinated fish, cold cuts and cheese. This was fine even if the selection became boring after a while. Lunch was served at two central sections which had a more conventional offer, and on two side stations that had a 'theme' menu everyday. The food was average at best. IT was always very crowded and the best bet was to find a seat on the mezzanine level which usually a bit quieter. The grills by the pools offered hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and lamb chops. After 2h30, the only food available was the salad bar which consisted of iceberg lettuce, radicchio, quartered tomatoes, olives, a mix of cold cooked cauliflower and carrots, one cold cut, one cheese and buns. There is also pizza available until late in the evening. If you didn't feel like going to the dining room, you really had no options. Tea was the highlight of our food (or beverage) experience. They had a nice selection of whole-leaf teas of good quality that they put into a sachet. The cherry tea and the black currant were particularly good. You also get real porcelain cups which is a nice contrast from the picnic plastic mug you usually get at the buffet. The sandwiches were always dried, and the few pastries served were the same one everyday... Soft serve ice cream was available almost all the time, depending on the days, sometime the machine was on, sometimes it was off. EXCURSIONS Naples: We didn't take a ship's excursion as we had been to Naples 3 times already. We wanted to go to the Museum of Archaeology, but since we were there on a Tuesday, it was closed. So we opted to go on our own. We walked from the ship to the Castel Nuovo, which is just across the street - a 5 minute walk from the cruise ship terminal. Since it was raining, we opted to take a city tour bus for €18. Then, we went to visit the Castel Nuovo. The entrance fee was €5 for me, and it was free for my mom. There was a few exhibits of 16-19th century paintings. Alexandria: This was to be the highlight of the trip and it was. We chose the Pyramid, Saqqara and Memphis tour (€99 per person) and really enjoyed it. As opposed to all other tours that included a meal in a restaurant, we had a lunch bag that we picked up as we debarked the ship in the morning. It was certainly not a gastronomical feast, but it allowed us to spend more time at the various sites. The excursion started with a 3 hour bus ride to Cairo. On the bus, our guide talked about the ancient Egyptian civilizations, the most important pharaohs, etc. Because of our limited time in the city, and very little shopping opportunities, she offered to take orders for cartouche jewelery and t-shirts. Upon our arrival in Cairo, she called in the orders, and we were able to pick them up at the end of the day. They offered various size of cartouches in either silver, gold or silver with gold symbols. I ordered the most expensive one and it was $95 US. The small one made of silver was about $25 US. Once at the store, you could pay in €, dollars or with a credit card. Our first stop was the Pyramids. We first went to the high plateau where we had a view of all three pyramids. We had about 15 minutes to take a few pictures. This stop had several merchants selling statuettes, pyramids, brass plates, post cards etc. This is one of the better shopping opportunity - so if you want some souvenirs, make sure to get them there. We bought 3 small pyramids in engraved brass for 1 Euro. Be wary of camel drivers… they will let you hop on their camel for free, but will charge you whatever they want to let you off… this happened to one of our friend… They will also charge you just to take a picture, so pretend you shoot something else! And watch out for camel pooh… Then we drove to a parking lot located between the Kheops and Kephren pyramids. There, we had about 30 minutes to walk around. Those who wanted could go inside the Kephren pyramid. Those who went said it was not worth it, as you walked in a very small and dark tunnel that is about 5 feet tall, and ended in a room that was completely bare. All objects and wall painting were removed. You also have the opportunity to go visit the royal barque, but again time is very limited, if you choose to do this, you have to run. We chose to walk up to the pyramid and just sink in the magnitude of the work… it's even more impressive that what can be expected. Our next stop was at the Sphinx. We had some time to wander on our own, and then we were able to eat our lunch at the restaurant terrace. We were given a coupon for a drink. The view was spectacular… We had 1.5 hour to walk around, and take in the sight. This was great. Then, on to Saqqara. As we got there the wind started to blow and we witnessed a sand storm!! We went into a mastaba which was the tomb of Mererouka. There, we were able to see several rooms with unbelievable wall drawings and hieroglyphs. Once we got out, the storm had receded and we went on to the pyramid of Djoser, the step pyramid. We had about 30 minutes to walk around. Next stop was in the ancient site of Memphis. The ancient city is no longer there. Palm trees cover most of what was once the capital of Egypt. But there is a small outdoor museum with the famous alabaster sphinx, a few sarcophagus, and the colossal statue of Ramses II. Even if there isn't much to see there, it was a nice addition to the whole trip. It was very pleasant to see the lush palm trees covering this site - a nice contrast with all the sand surrounding this area. Last stop - Papyrus Institute. This is the last stop of all tours. They show you how papyrus is made in a 5 minute demonstration. Then you have time to shop for your papyrus and then you can walk up to the jewelery store, where you can pick up your cartouche, and then shop for other jewelery. The papyrus are relatively inexpensive. You can get small ones for €8-10. We were looking at a large one but found it a bit expensive - it was €75. The salesman told us 'How much do you want to pay for it…' we didn't think we could or should barter in a shop like this, but I guess you could… I offered him 50 and he accepted. When I went to the cashier to pay, the credit card machine didn't work. All I had was €40, and he gladly took it! Limassol: We have not booked a ship excursion here, and I wished we had. We were in Limassol on a Saturday, and most stores were closed. Also, we were in town only for a few hours, which didn't give us a lot of time to do things on our own. We took the ship's shuttle into town (€5 per person return) and walked around the town. We went to the Castle which dates to the 12th c. This castle served as a prison up until 1950. It has a good exhibition of household pottery and ceramics dating from the 4th-18th c., as well as some weapons, and many interesting engraved tombs covers. At €4 per person, it's a short but interesting visit. There is also a rooftop terrace from which you have a great view of the city, and of the ship in port! There's a lovely garden with various artifacts, olive press and citrus trees that were all filled with bright lemons and oranges. Other than the castle, there isn't much to see in Limassol. We walked around a bit, then took the last shuttle back to the ship at 5pm. Rhodes: Rhodes City Tour (€39) a half day tour that started out by a short drive up to the ancient acropolis of Rhodes. Unfortunately, there isn't much left of the temple that once stood there but three columns. We drove past that and then went to the ancient stadium, still in very good shape. There is also a small theatre that was redone in the last century. After that stop the bus drove us to one of the door to the medieval city, and we did the rest of the tour by foot. We walked to the Grand Master Palace which we visited with the guide. Even if this former house of the Head of the Knights was completely redone in the last century, it contained very well preserved mosaics from the island of Kos, and restoration work was interesting to see. We walked down the streets of Knights where each nation had a hostel, according to the language spoken during the time of the crusades. The tour ended in the old city, near the port. A that time we had an hour to walk around, shop etc. At 12h30, we could either get back to the ship with the bus, or stay in town and walked back to the ship - a 15 minute walk at the most. We truly enjoyed this day in Rhodes. Most shops were opened in the walled city, as well as bars and restaurant. Also, the day before, we received a sign-up sheet offering the possibility of going to a jewel factory in the afternoon in Rhodes. You need to sign-up but it's free - they just need to know how many people would go to get buses. Since we were back on the ship, I decided to go for the ride. The store is about 15 minutes out of the city. They had opened the store just for us. There's a small museum with antique gold pieces. They have a lot of silver and gold jewelery. From what I could see, not many people have made purchases. The gold prices were very high - unless you absolutely fell in love with something, it wasn't worth it. As for silver, the prices were more reasonable and I found a nice bracelet with the Greek meander pattern for €25. Those who chose the full day excursion went to Lindos in the morning, ate in a hotel (buffet style) and then did the Rhodes tour in the afternoon. Some of our friends did that tour and enjoyed it. However, some people found the 300 steps to go to the top of the Lindos acropolis a bit strenuous. One guy hired a cab to get up there… From what I understand, if you have lots of energy, do the full day tour, and if you have to choose one of the half-day tour, stay in Rhodes, it would be a shame to not at least walk through the old city. Marmaris: Dalyan and Caunos Express (€52) Only two choices of excursion here and both see the same sights. The only difference is that the full day tour includes lunch at a local fish restaurant (€74). We opted for the 'express tour' in order to have some time in Marmaris for some shopping. The excursion was very pleasant. We had an amazing guide, Bekir, from Istanbul. Because of a snow storm in Istanbul the guides could not fly in, so they had to drive for 10 hours to meet the ship. The drive to Dalyan was just over an hour. There, we embarked on tarp-covered boats to go along the river and view the temple-tombs of ancient kings carved into the rocky cliffs. Then, we arrive at the archaeological site of Caunos with the Roman Theatre, the Roman Bath and the streets of this city founded in 5th Century B.C. After the visit, the boat takes you back to the village and to the bus. We were dropped off at the pier at around 2:15pm. We could either take the ship shuttle into town (€5 per person return) or cabs were waiting there also. Cabs were €5 each way for up to 4 persons. We went into town. I was expecting a typical 'turkish' market, but found more or an outdoor mall. In fact it's a labyrinth of streets covered with a glass roof, with all kinds of shops selling jewelery, ceramics, leather goods, clothing. Some are nice, some are shadier. We were told Turks were the master of counterfeiting - I've never seen so many fake Louis Vuitton and Gucci in my life!! But contrary to what we often see, these were really good copies, made of good leather with good finish (not all though, you have to be careful). You can get purses and shoes at very very good prices. From what we've seen, they will cut the prices in 4 from their original asking price. This was really our only shopping occasion so we bought a few things. Athens: Acropole and Museum (€63) By the time we got to Athens, we were tired, and everyone had a cold... We had to be back on the ship by 4h30, which is early. So we took a half-day tour to the Acropolis and the Archaeological Museum. We had a shared tour - half French, half Italian, which wasn't really a problem as we had 2 separate guides. After touring the main monuments and building of the city, we stopped at the Museum. Our guide Effie brought us to the most significant pieces of the museum, giving us detailed information on Greek history, architecture and art. We saw the gold mask of Agamemnon, the bronze Poseidon and Young jockey of Artemision, and the statue of Athena Nike, just to name a few. After the museum, we drove past the parliament house and saw the guards dressed in their traditional costume. Today, they had to wear a thick woollen cap as it was only 3 degrees Celsius, with a light snow! Then we stopped at the original Olympic stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Finally we arrived at the Acropolis. We slowly went up to the top with our guide. We stopped by the theatre. The temple of Athena Nike was gone!! I couldn't believe it… when we got to the entrance, there was a sign saying that the temple had become unstable, and was dismantled piece by piece. 'The aim of the current restoration project, in process since 2000, is to correct the inadequacies of all the previous restoration projects and to reinstate the building's original geometry.' The Propylaia is also under restoration. The wind was blowing so cold at the top, it was incredible! But the magnificence of the Parthenon made it very endurable. We had about 30 minutes of free time to explore on our own the top of the Acropolis, Parthenon, Erechtheum and its caryatides. We all met back on the bus and went straight to Piraeus. It was a good tour, but they won't let you off the bus in town. You have to go back to Piraeus, and then take your own transport back into town. We were too exhausted, and we got back to the pier at 2pm - which didn't give us enough time to go back into the city. The only full day tour is the Acropolis and Cap Sounion. Those of went enjoyed it. Katakolon: Olympia and Museum (€52) I didn't have too much expectation for this tour, but I was positively surprised. It was a cold but sunny day. We first started by driving to the site of Olympia - about a 30-40 minute drive. Our guide Katia was extremely interesting. We walked the site with her in about 1 hour. The site is lovely, with lots of trees. We saw the temple of Hera, the place where they light the Olympic flame, the stadium, the temple of Zeus, the palaestra and gymnasium. Then we had about 30 minutes free time. We then walked to the museum which is just off the site. We had a guided tour of the museum again with our guide. It was very interesting. We saw the Hermes of Praxiteles and the Nike of Paionios. Then, we returned to the ship, just in time for sail away at 1h30. The small town of Katakolon is not too far, maybe a 15-20 minute walk from the pier. Some excursions stopped there to allow people a bit of time to shop. One other excursion combined the site of Olympia and a stop in a restaurant in Katakolon where they were served tapas, ouzo and a local band entertained them. Apparently this was lots of fun. Well this concludes the excursions we enjoyed during this great cruise. Our last day was at sea, and allowed us to pack our bags without too much stress. DEBARKATION Debarkation was very smooth. Our meeting point was at 9h15 in the theatre, which was pretty good! Then we quickly proceeded outside in the new terminal, and were able to quickly recuperate our luggage. Buses were waiting outside, and were clearly identified for the various transfers available. By 10h00, our bus was en route toward Nice, where we had a 1 night post-cruise before returning to Montreal! Well that's it for now... I know I haven't talked about everything, like entertainment etc. but I'd be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Costa Magica Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.2
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.2
Enrichment 1.0 2.7
Service 4.0 3.7
Value For Money 4.0 3.2
Rates 3.0 3.9

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