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215 Costa Magica Cruise Reviews

Costa Magica was a beautiful ship and is always kept very clean. Our cabin stewart was one of the best we have had on any of our 15 cruises. Cabins: spacious balcony cabin and well appointed. The washrooms were large and had a great ... Read More
Costa Magica was a beautiful ship and is always kept very clean. Our cabin stewart was one of the best we have had on any of our 15 cruises. Cabins: spacious balcony cabin and well appointed. The washrooms were large and had a great shower. Beds were a little hard for our comfort but not a great problem. Noise level was kept to a minimum. Ship: Very clean but always seemed to be busy. Some large ships make you feel like there are fewer people on board but this one didn't. There were mainly Europeans on board(mostly Italian) and a sense of personal space was not evident during the week. Getting onboard was quite a long process, about an hour in a long Q. If you have a suite, you get a much smaller line. Disembarkation for us was very fast(about 15 minutes wait). Itinerary: Was excellent. Jamaica and Caymans were the usual. Roatan and Belize City were interesting. Took a private tour in Roatan with Bodden Tours for the day($50 for 6 hours split with another couple) and the beaches were very nice. Belize had a very long tender(looked like 5 miles plus and rough on very small local tenders). If you stray outside the little gated shopping area, make sure you are on a guided tour...poverty is very high and so is the crime rate! Kids Club: The worst we have encountered(compared to: NCL, Princess, Carnival, RCL). Not open long at all(ie.9-12am then 4-5pm then 9-11pm). Mainly watching TV and eating in the buffet. People were friendly but it seemed to open when it was convenient to them. Dining: The worst we have encountered. Food was tasteless most of the time, not a great variety and cold or hard(ie. pancakes made three hours ago). Buffet only open for a short time(7:30-10am, 12-2:30pm, 7:30-9:30pm). We always had to watch our watches to make sure we didn't miss lunch, and when we got there you had to search for a table as it was packed. Dinner was early or late. We had asked for a small table and got seated with a family of 4 at a table for 8. Overall: Would not cruise with Costa anymore. We would rather "settle" for Carnival than Costa(Prefer Princess or NCL overall). Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Background Information: This was my sixth cruise. I have previously been on Carnival Tropicale (4/00), Carnival Inspiration (3/02), Golden Princess (12/03), Carnival Glory (11/04), and Sun Princess (3/05). I went on this cruise with my ... Read More
Background Information: This was my sixth cruise. I have previously been on Carnival Tropicale (4/00), Carnival Inspiration (3/02), Golden Princess (12/03), Carnival Glory (11/04), and Sun Princess (3/05). I went on this cruise with my husband of almost two years. I was 14 weeks pregnant with our first child upon embarkation. This made for some unfortunate seasickness...which I was not used to. We are in our mid to late twenties. We love to cruise...this was our third together. Embarkation: There were very long lines at embarkation, even by 11:00 a.m. It took over an hour and a half to get through the lines. The system was not as good as Princess, but comparable to Carnival. Ship Info: The Costa Magica was beautiful. There were paintings on every wall. The atrium was beautiful as well. The ship is very large, and seemed very crowded. Cabin: We were in cabin 8311 (inside) on the Veronese deck. It was a good location. Not close to any elevators, but it was mid-ship and only one deck down from the pools and buffet. Cabin was smaller than both the Princess and Carnival cabins we have been in. Our room steward was great. He got us an extra mattress on the first night and always made our room up twice a day. We had a towel animal one day and we also got chocolates on our pillows on formal nights. (I liked getting chocolates EVERY night on Carnival and Princess, though). BRING AN ALARM CLOCK. The wake up call button in most cabins do not work. This requires you to rely on someone at Room Service to manually set the alarm. On two occasions, the alarm was set at the wrong time. One of the times when taking a nap, the alarm didn't even go off. We ended up sleeping through dinner and the show. Needless to say, we were not happy. Food: There were three locations we mainly ate - the buffet, the grill, and the restaurant. BEWARE Princess fans....there is not a 24 hour buffet. If you miss the lunch window at the buffet, you are forced to eat hamburgers and french fries until dinner. It got very tiring to eat the same thing over and over while waiting for late seating dinner. We decided to eat at the dining room for lunch on 4 of the days. The food there was MUCH better than the buffet and more filling as well. The dining halls were very pretty. They were well-lit and well-decorated. We were in the Portofino Restaurant for late seating (8:30). The maitre d' tries his best to seat you with people you have something in common with. At our table, there were 3 English-speakers, 2 Spanish-speakers, and 1 Polish-speaker. Needless to say, that made conversation difficult. However, as we are a young couple, we were happy to be seated with other young couples. We would have liked being seated at a larger table with English-speaking people, however. Service: The information desk and shore excursion desk services were not good. We had a couple of problems onboard and we were refused a manager. I found that the service people did not want to get their managers...and would tell you to come back the next day and you could see a manager. However, upon returning, no manager was ever available. They wouldn't do anything to fix our problems. They refused to compensate. We were very unimpressed with the service we received on Costa versus Princess, or even Carnival. If you want to be pampered...Costa is NOT the way to go. Entertainment: There were shows every night of the cruise. We attended a show every night, except the last night. The shows were good...but lacked variety. There was mostly singing and dancing. There was one show called Myth Trio that was absolutely phenomenal. It was an acrobatic show. Other than that show, I was not thoroughly impressed. Because of the variety of languages people spoke, we often had redundancy. Daytime Activities: There were minimal daytime activities compared to Carnival. There were a lot of trivia games and exercise programs. We did a little of those things. We really enjoyed the arts and crafts, which were offered on all sea days. They did mostly painting of pottery, as well as fans, T-shirts, etc. The activities were also redundant compared to Carnival or Princess' daytime activities. Shore Excursions: We were in San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, and Grand Turk. We only did one shore excursion through the ship. In San Juan, we did the Bioluminescent Bay Kayak Tour. BEWARE: This tour has a 3.5 hour round trip drive. We stopped at a McDonalds to use the restrooms for THIRTY minutes. This cut the actual tour to about 2 hours. It was ridiculous to say the least. We were unhappy about the false advertisement. They advertised this as a 7 hour tour....but after the drive and the bathroom break (which they say nothing about in the brochures or online)...it really isn't much of a tour at all. The actual kayaking through the bay was fun...but difficult because of the language barriers. Alot of people did not speak English and were not listening to what the guides were saying. That made the kayak trip in the pitch dark fairly difficult. In St. Thomas, we took a private tour (Ike Witt Daysail) to St. James to snorkel. This was very fun. In the Dominican Republic, there are not many choices. We took a shuttle to Altos De Chevon, which was beautiful! We loved it there. It was very picturesque and romantic. However, don't go during lunchtime because there isn't a whole lot to eat there. In Grand Turk, we took a taxi ($3) to Governor's Beach, which was completely secluded and beautiful. The waves were fairly high, which didn't make for good swimming. However, the beach was much prettier than at Cruise Center, where we were docked. We were on the entire beach with only 4 other people. Because of its' seclusion, we couldn't find a taxi back. We walked the 20 minutes back to the Cruise Center. Shopping is very limited at this port. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was slow and not well-organized. We were to meet in the theatre at 9:00 a.m....but did not leave the theatre until after 9:30. It took until 10:00 to get off the ship. Summary: We will not travel Costa again. We will be sticking with the trusty ol' Princess. Costa did not meet our expectations, unfortunately. Don't get me wrong though...it was still a vacation. However, if you enjoy Carnival or Princess...I would not venture off. I would have rather paid the extra $300-400 to go on Princess. 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
December 17-23, 2006 We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 22 staying at the Hilton Garden Inn where we had two 2 room suites. The hotel had complimentary shuttle service from the airport and to Port Everglades cruise port. I would recommend ... Read More
December 17-23, 2006 We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 22 staying at the Hilton Garden Inn where we had two 2 room suites. The hotel had complimentary shuttle service from the airport and to Port Everglades cruise port. I would recommend staying at this hotel if you are just wanting a nice place to stay the night before your cruise. It is within 10 minutes from the airport and the cruise port as well. It also offers complimentary shuttle to nearby shopping/restaurants. The embarkation was well organized. We arrived early along with a few hundred others, but we were whisked in and were on the ship in our cabins within 30 minutes of reaching the port. We had booked 3 inside cabins about a month before the cruise. This was the first time we had booked through the internet instead of using a travel agent, and we were very pleased with the service and promptness of receiving our cruise packet of information and tickets. We booked our airline tickets online ourselves. Upon reaching our cabins, our Costa cards were waiting on our beds. The cabins and bathrooms were not any different from past cruises inside cabins on Norwegian, Carnival, or Holland. The cabins are small as are the bathrooms, but I have yet to find a cabin I would call spacious on a ship. I'll just say I was not disappointed in our cabins. We had our luggage within 2 hours which gave us time to eat lunch and explore the ship before leaving port at 7 p.m. There were 6 of us and we were assigned a table for just us in the Portafino dining room early seating at 5:30 p.m. I would highly recommend this time, as the late seating was not until 8:30 p.m., and by the time those people were done with dinner it was between 10 and 10:30 p.m. For us, a six course meal that late at night was not something we would have enjoyed. After dinner we went to the second show in the theater. As for the entertainment....the singers and dancers were good, but we didn't think the theme of the shows were that good. Of course this is a matter of taste, because some people aboard thought it was some of the best entertainment they had ever seen on a ship. We kept going each night and did enjoy Thursday night and "toga/talent" night the best. Toga night was Friday night, and no one in our group wore togas to dinner. There were a lot of people who did though, so if you want to try your hand at making something to wear out of a sheet they provide for you, go for it! Three of us dressed in our togas after dinner and for the theater talent show. I believe there were 8 acts delivered by the cruisers (2 of them were excellent and the other 6 were entertaining). That's all I'm going to say about that. Max (the cruise director) and his staff are excellent and go out of their way to include and talk to everyone throughout the cruise. The ports of call were Key West which was only 5 hours, Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan Island in Honduras. We had been to all of these ports before (except for Key West). Two in our group had booked their own shore excursions prior to the cruise. They went cave tubing in Belize and horseback riding in Roatan. Cave tubing was something we had done before in Belize and had booked our own tour before the cruise. I would recommend booking the shore excursions yourself because #1 - they are less expensive and #2 - there are just a few people usually in your group rather than the huge numbers of people who go on the ship excursions. I know travel agents and the cruise lines tell you that they recommend booking through them, but from our experience we will always book our own. I would never recommend renting a moped/scooter anyplace. There are just way too many things that could go wrong (accident/injury to you/injury to someone else/hurting the scooter). These ports do not have the medical resources we are used to in the USA, nor do they recognize liability or collision insurance. These are the things that I am talking about when I say "use common sense" when booking an excursion. The food was about the same as other cruise lines. Some of it was good, some of it was excellent and some of it was not our favorite. The ship itself was nice and clean. The staff was efficient and friendly. There were plenty of elevators and hardly ever a wait. Deck 5 is the only deck that goes through to both ends, so figuring that out was a huge help in getting around. Disembarking was done by decks (color coded tags). That process took some time, but we did not ask to have early disembarking as we were staying another night in Ft. Lauderdale. We spent the last night before our morning flight at the Holiday Inn Express Convention Center. The taxi from the cruise port to the hotel cost $12. The hotel was clean, the rooms were ready by 10:30 a.m. when we arrived from the ship, and the hotel provided complimentary shuttle service to the airport the next morning. This hotel was about 10 minutes from the cruise port and the airport too. I know some of the reviews for this ship have been uncomplimentary, but we had no complaints and enjoyed getting away from a colder climate, spending time with family, and seeing other places even if we had been there before. We would not hesitate booking another cruise with Costa or the Magica. If there was anything I would say negative, it would be that they did not offer hand sanitizing stations except when getting back on the ship from ports (they handed out hand sanitizing cloths). As far as I know, there were not any outbreaks of any illnesses the six days we were on the ship, but I always feel that having hand sanitizers available at all times especially in the restaurant/buffet entrances/lines is a good idea. If you go on the Magica, I hope you have as much fun as we did! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
I would have to say that our experience on this relatively new ship was certainly above average. Although the line to board was nearly an hour, the first impression once boarded was simply majestic: a modern ship with plush appointments ... Read More
I would have to say that our experience on this relatively new ship was certainly above average. Although the line to board was nearly an hour, the first impression once boarded was simply majestic: a modern ship with plush appointments wherever one stepped made up for the long lines. We had an oceanview room which was more than ample in terms of space and comfort. There was very little noise and our room stewart provided superb service. The itinerary was excellent and the shore excursion were informative and worth the price. We took two excursions........one in San Juan and the other in St. Thomas to the island of St. John. The service on this ship was excellent and it was evident that the entire crew was at your service for almost any request. This was especially true of the dining room staff. Unfortunately, the quality of the food in the dining room was only "fair." On the other hand, the buffets appeared to have better quality food on most days and of course, a greater variety. The ship has 13 decks and our cabin was on the second level. No cabin is far from an elevator and we did notice that the number of elevators was more than adequate to get you from one part of the ship to another and the wait was always brief (a great plus in my opinion). Evening entertainment was above average and we looked forward to the shows each evening. However, the activities planned during the day were not very exciting so plan on taking a book or two to read on one of several decks or at the pool (there are two main pools and one is sheltered). The ship also has a sauna and a steam room in addition to a library, large casino, massage room, gym, tennis court, and internet area. In summary, we had an excellent cruise experience and the value was exceptional. We would highly recommend this ship and itinerary (PR, DR, VI, Turks) to all. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
We just cruised Costa for the second time, our sixth cruise all together. This itinerary had three new ports for us, Old San Juan, LaRomana and Grand Turk. We would only wish to return to Grand Turk. That said our overall experience was ... Read More
We just cruised Costa for the second time, our sixth cruise all together. This itinerary had three new ports for us, Old San Juan, LaRomana and Grand Turk. We would only wish to return to Grand Turk. That said our overall experience was very good. Embarkment took 90 minutes,a bit slow but it moved along and we visited with folks and just relaxed. Our veranda cabin # 8255 had adequate space, a nice size bath. (We put lots under the bed)A/C worked well,mattress and pillows are firm but we like them that way. We ate breakfast and lunches from the buffets which provided a nice variety and better than average quality. We never felt crowded or had to wait in long lines. The evening dining experience did not measure up to our expectations. The menus were unimaginative and the quality was that of large hotel conference fare. Salads bland, desserts merely passing and entrees fair to good. Italian night was a bust-no Italian entree nor desserts! Great pizza and pasta offerings during the day however. Cabin service was very good. We requested to have ice available three times a day at it was always there--probably due to extending a tip on the first day. Room and bath was always clean Dining service was acceptable. Drinks, wine and food delivered on time. Staff made no attempt to be engaging even though our table of four was a fun,happy two couples. We enjoyed the entertainment very much. They had a good variety and Max, the Director, was a joy. Very professional.All the lounges provided enjoyable music and dance opportunities. I became ill the last night,a virus for sure. When I reported my situation and requested an early exit at disembarkment,Customer Service chose to ignore my rather uncomfortable situation. As this was the last few hours of an otherwise great trip we did not allow this to ruin the cruise experience. Costa again? Perhaps, based solely on itinerary however, as other lines can deliver an overall better cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
"It is amazing how one ship's service and quality can differ from another." -Overheard at Costa Magica Buffet on Day 1 of Voyage This cruise was to be the last for at least 5 years for my wife and I. We are about to start ... Read More
"It is amazing how one ship's service and quality can differ from another." -Overheard at Costa Magica Buffet on Day 1 of Voyage This cruise was to be the last for at least 5 years for my wife and I. We are about to start a family and know traveling will be difficult with little ones, and of course there is the financial cost to consider as well. We had taken four prior cruises and one other on the Costa Mediterranea. This in only three years of marriage! To say the least, we love cruising. And we thought we loved Costa. Things started going wrong almost immediately. Embarkation What a complete mess. We arrived at dock 22 at Port Everglades in less than a half hour from arriving at the airport. We were stoked. The flight, taxi, everything was flowing smoothly and quickly! We hadnt received luggage tags in the mail for our bags. We didnt know how this would be handled. A hint was definitely delivered when we didnt get our paperwork and later found out it had been filtered as spam and was now email only. Our last cruise on Costa Mediterranea was only in April, and that had DHL delivered documentation. That changed, apparently. I am all for electronic tickets overall. But not at the stake of a smooth delivery of service. That is exactly what happened when we got to the port. We had to wait in a line for luggage tags. And it was chaotic. No one knew where to go. Costas Florida crew, mainly elderly retirees, seemed as befuddled as most cruisers did. Why didnt we receive tags? What were we to do? So a line grew so that reps could verify documentation and hand out the tags. I waited in line for 45 minutes and finally one of the reps gave up and started handing them out. What a security risk! What a customer service fiasco. We finally got out of that line and entered the next fiasco. The luggage scan. We waited in this line for an hour and a half. The hold up wasn't actually security, it was Costa (once again). They did not have enough staff to check people in, so the line for that grew so long that security literally had to stop scanning luggage. However, I purchased a Suite. So I had priority embarkation. That didnt help in the security line. There was no security line for priority VIPs. After clearing security, I got right through to an agent to check me in. While the security scan generally isn't part of embarkation, nor is luggage check in, I give it very low scores here. I go into negative territory because after check in, once again we had to wait in line to actually get on the ship. That was another 20 minutes or so. I argued with the Costa rep that I had priority embarkation, but that did me no favor. With over two hours of rage built up, we got on the ship. We gave the photographer, models and greeters on board the cold shoulder. We were mad. Bad Costa, very bad. Cabin Despite being famished, we decided to unload our carry-ons in our suite straight away. I was immediately disappointed. The suite was small. It was definitely not the 600 sq ft advertised, closer to 275-300 sq ft. The bathroom was the major high point. The whirlpool and the rest of the bathroom were large and nice to use. We both took a whirlpool bath every other day of the cruise. Just outside of the bathroom is this poorly conceived walk-in closet setup. It has a dresser for a woman to put on her make up with the closet portion directly behind it. One could not get into the bathroom without bumping in and disturbing the wife. This was irritating. The rest of the cabin had wood accents and very nicely designed Magica artwork on the walls. We enjoyed it. It was enchanting and stylish. We immediately ordered mattress pads for the bed and feather pillows. We didnt expect to get them, but asked anyway. We got them, and a Suite Pillow Menu from Dorelan, an Italian based company. We could choose from 7 different pillows. We ordered two more pillows that had a very interesting design, with the temperpedic bed material (Dorelan calls it Myform). Our bed ended up having 8 pillows. Combined with the pads, sleeping was a true luxury and spending time in bed was our favorite activity ultimately on board. The balcony was another frustration. While it was long, it was not wide enough to easily get in and out without disturbing others on the balcony. Where this became annoying was when we tried to eat on the balcony. We had to play musical chairs and tables to avoid creating a mess. While any balcony is better than no balcony, I was annoyed. Later on in the day we returned to the cabin to find canapEs, Champaign and a fruit bowl with grapes, kiwis, mangos and apples. All very fresh and chilled. The canapEs included caviar, walnuts, brie and salmon. I ate the whole plate--my wife was not into them. The Champaign we decided to bring home as a gift for a friend, but when we had it wrapped by the duty free store, the attendant boldly said he wouldn't bother bringing it home because it was crap. LOL! Thats just great, Costa!! Our Butler introduced herself. Her name was Claudia and we thought she was very pleasant upon this first meeting. She cleared our refrigerator as requested in a love note, and arranged our pillows and pad delivery. My wifes first comment to me after meeting was, she looks utterly exhausted. She was right and this would have implications later. Our room steward, Julius, was a constant delight the entire trip. Very friendly, industrious and responsive. Overall, our room was really not very different in size from the room we had on the Costa Mediterranea in April. We had 7238 on that ship and Id estimate the size to be the same minus the walk in closet and luxury appointed bathroom. And the balcony was actually smaller! What exactly had I spent an extra 300 dollars per person on? Service? Maybe thats it.  (Note: Love Notes are what I call the notes I leave for the attendants of our rooms during our cruises. Instead of trying to track them down, I merely leave notes for them on the door whenever I need something. I call them love notes because I love to be pampered!!) Dining After checking out the room, we hit the buffet. Our experience on the Mediterranea was that food got progressively better as the cruise went on. We noticed this on our other cruises as well. We attribute it to staff exhaustion from the last cruise. It is our justification, anyway. So we didnt expect much. Food was OK, not stellar by any means. It continued to not be stellar through out the trip. We never ate in the main dining room, but had most meals brought to our room by our butler. Initially, she was quick to deliver, but she got slower and slower. One order never came and when we complained we were told dinner was over. Our final order of the cruise took over an hour and a half. With most orders, the food was warm to cooling by the time we got it in our room. Claudia seemed embarrassed but unable to do anything to remedy it. She looked lost and unempowered. Most orders were incomplete, lacked silverware, lacked salt and pepper, lacked butter for rolls obvious things. Claudia seemed to be making a very honest effort, guest services had a continuous line the whole trip. We didnt know who to complain to, and whose fault it was. We ended up doing nothing about this except note it carefully on our survey at the end. The buffet never got better. We had some outstanding pasta, of note was the gorgonzola gnocchi and bacon and onion spaghetti. The steaks were never cooked right and not flavorful at all. Sides were unpleasant green beans and other assorted things. The other option was to eat poolside at the grill. There my wife liked the deli sandwiches, and I enjoyed burgers and grilled fish. One frustration with the grill is that they wont make you a real cheeseburger, you have to put a cold slice of American cheese on your own burger. One day they ran out of American cheese and substituted Swiss cheese. I asked for American and was told they were out. . . only to find the next day that it was back on the menu there!! My wife started taking extra deli sandwiches to the room and putting them in the refrigerator to eat later. Costa, what are you thinking??!! Quality issues led to seeing lots of plates head to garbage cans pretty full. One night in the room after getting lackluster room service again, we sent nearly 75% of what we ordered to the garbage. We felt very guilty about this. A Suite perk is a free meal at Club Vicenzo, the for pay dining option on the Magica. Claudia strongly warned us to reserve a table early so we wouldnt miss it as it was very popular. We did so and reserved it for Monday night, on a day at sea. We expected it to be full. We walked in and it was empty at 7 PM. We stayed until 8:15 and no one followed us. The restaurant was empty minus us and one other couple. Service was very professional, with the laying of napkins in our laps and such. The table wear is from Gucci. We thought wed get a 5 star dining experience. No such luck. To say it was terrible would be an understatement. It was horrifically bad. We ordered t-bone steaks. I initially asked to see the steaks offered. The waitress looked perplexed and said we couldnt. The menu itself was confusing. There was an ala carte menu and then a tasting menu. You could taste 3 things for 25 dollars or 2 for 20. Suite passengers got to taste two things for 20. It would consist of a main entrEe and a type of salad, and then side items and dessert. We got Caprese salads that were decent. Bread and breadsticks were passable, but not spectacular. But then came the main entrees. We gasped simultaneously. The T-bones were these thin strips of meat with a humongous bone wedged between. It didnt matter how you ordered it, it came well done. It must have taken no more than 2 minutes to completely cook the poor thing. And the sides were laughable and so unprofessionally presented. They were on the same plate as the main entrEe. Three short and tiny asparagus? Four carrots? Corn and red pepper? A plate full of cold fries, not shoe string potatoes that we ordered? It was day 2 and we were fed up eating on the damn ship. Don't even ask me about the desserts at Club Vicenzo. Was there every a fantastic meal? No. There wasn't. If it wasn't cold, or the entrEe stunk, or the dessert stunk, it was something else that went wrong. We looked forward to deli sandwiches and ports so we could eat some real food. If that doesnt turn you off to this ship, continue I have plenty more, but first Entertainment This was the only highlight of the cruise. The shows were of good quality. The first night was a former member of the Platters (Sonny Turner??). My wife and I are not into that kind of music, but the singer did put on a good show overall. The Vegas style shows were well done and done without a hitch. Entertaining and fun. The Newlywed and Not So Newlywed show, which is something we look forward to on other occasions was poorly attended. The CD, Max Bartolotto, was not entertaining and seemed befuddled by responses of participants. Several times he looked annoyed with one particular couple. His irritation was easily apparent and it made for a very displeasurable experience watching it. I was amused by old people talking about their sex lives like they were 18 year olds. The much lauded Costa Talent Show was the true entertainment win of this cruise. The cruisers wowed us with their talent. Of particular note was the older lady comedian. She was outstanding. One unfortunate note was one particular cruiser sang an old hymn, and the response of the audience was to leave in droves during his performance. On our prior cruise, part of the fun was sending the performers to the lions. The talent was terrible, which made it enjoyable. No such luck here. The one area we were hoping would be bad, turned out to be good! Oh the irony!!! The CD overall seemed unenthused and uninspired. He looked tired and worn out, as did his staff. I recalled assistant staff members Silvio and Eugenio from the previous Mediterranea cruise, and they were much more outgoing then. To the point where we thought Silvio must be on stimulant drugs. Apparently this time they were handing out MaryJane. While we didnt participate in the Lido deck activities, we did often observe them from our sunbathing positions. They were poorly attended and participated. One of the staff members, Angelo, commented several times just how much he hated doing the Blackjack Tournament each cruise. That tells me there are fundamental problems among supervisors and staff. As mentioned before, I did the Blackjack Tournament. We also participated in Bingo and the Arts and Crafts activities. The Arts and Crafts entailed painting ceramics, t-shirts and fans. We didnt have to pay extra for them and got to bring them home as souvenirs. Bingo was held in Lounge Salento instead of the theatre. Eugenio hosted the Bingo. He is quite flamboyant to say the least. Spa & Fitness We used both the fitness center and sauna/steam rooms. The fitness center was difficult to find initially. There were no clear signs pointing it out. It is on the 11th floor behind the Saturnia Spa. You have to walk through the locker rooms to get to them. My wife used the running machines and elliptical machines. She found them difficult to use because instructions were only in Italian. She figured them out eventually. The equipment and the room itself seemed old and not well maintained. They have a whirlpool set in the middle of the room above the fitness machines. The placement is odd. I looked in to see if I wanted to get in, and it looked dingy. The plastic molding in many areas was stained. I turned around and headed to the sauna. I have been a long time fan of the sauna. I belong to a fantastic health club with outstanding Finnish built saunas and steam rooms. My expectations are high and my knowledge of how to use them is also high. I've been to the real thing in arctic Sweden. I was not let down here. It was as if a Swede or Finn built the fine Magica sauna. It had two heaters and the wood work was well done. It was a large room with capacity for around 15 men. It had a large window to the sea, which was enchanting. Lighting was just right; enough luminosity to get around, but not enough to make you overly self-conscious with a bunch of other sweaty guys. The temps were around 150-180 degrees, the professional sauna users preference, so to speak. It was perfect, and I did a full round of warm ups and cool downs. The problem with the cool downs was that you had to sit near the toilets in the locker room. And someone obviously had a bad trip to the buffet. The steam room was a let down; the steam was intermittent and the room didnt have the right aesthetics. It was white and blue and had no lighting at all. One out of two isn't bad. Shore Excursions Per our usual operandi, we did no ship organized excursions. The forums here at CruiseCritic are outstanding and provide the researching cruiser more than enough information to organize or find better excursion opportunities. We had nearly two relaxing days at sea before our first port of call, San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a late arrival. We docked at 4:00 PM. This was misleading on the original viewing of the itinerary several months before. It said we arrived at 5 PM on Tuesday and left at midnight on Wednesday. It led me to believe we got nearly a day and a half there! Wrong! Read carefully! The worst implication of this was that one misses some of San Juans best treasures because they close at 5 PM! Namely, San Cristobal and El Morro! When we arrived at 4, I thought we could make a b-line for the doors, grab a taxi and perhaps spend at least a half hour at El Morro. No such luck. Despite the fact we departed a US port and made no stops in between, we still had to be cleared by immigration and that took an hour. We got off the boat at the pier in Old San Juan and found Royal Caribbean and Norwegian docked, with Carnival coming up behind us. The city was about to be flooded by at least 8,000 tourists. The pier was a madhouse. People shouting at each other, horns honking incessantly. It was disorienting. We ran to a Coldstone Creamery to escape. Later we started our tour of the old town. The temps were actually cool, but the humidity was unbearable for this sweat prone bear. I couldnt stand it. The locals were wearing winter coats. I know, I know you hate humidity and sweat but love the sauna.  I am a man of many contradictions. I am not sure where the 8,000 unwelcome guests of the city went, but most of them didnt get very far from the pier because within a block or two uphill, crowds dwindled considerably. Our goal was the restaurant Barrachina, home of the Pina colada. Just a bit further down the path is the Fortress residence of the Governor. It was lit up for the holidays and looked beautiful. At Barrachina we were treated to good service. It had started raining heavily by then and I felt sorry for those in the uncovered atrium of the restaurant. After I drank my pina colada, I became very nauseous. I am not sure what did it. I felt better several hours and half a bottle of maximum strength bismuth later. Our meal there was very good, a marinated beef dish, but pricey - 17.00. Barrachina also has a gift shop attached to it and is totally unfitting to the history of the restaurant. An interesting highlight was all of the Haitian gift shops in Old Town. They are worth a visit. I enjoyed using my limited French with the shop owners. We headed back to the pier at 9 PM and found a very long line. There was only one security agent allowing people back to the main pier! It took 45 minutes to get back on board. While in line a very intoxicated/stoned local entertained(?) the line with his bizarre little dance. I wasn't sure whether the man needed help or a kick in the pants. I was both horrified and amused. It is emotionally confusing encountering poverty and such social ills when on vacation. You are there to engage in pleasure--they are living their life devoid of it. A good friend of mine only does tropical forays to Hawaii for the very reason of the dichotomies of Caribbean tourism. Port two our eastern itinerary was St. Thomas. What can be said about St. Thomas that hasn't already been beaten to death? Our goal was to ferry to St. John and ultimately Trunk Bay beach. We arrived to a wicked rain storm and hoped for three hours that it would end. It did finally and we darted off. We picked up an overpriced tax (10pp each way) to Red Hook to catch the 15 minute ferry ride (5pp each way) to Cruz Bay, St. John. It is a very scenic ferry ride. One can also catch a ferry in Charlotte Amalie, but that makes it a 45 minute ferry ride and higher cost. Ferries ran from Red Hook and Cruz Bay on the hour. Once in Cruz Bay we grabbed a taxi (6pp each way) to Trunk Bay. It took 20 minutes and was a death-defying ride. The driver obviously knew the route well, and curves also!! Trunk Bay beach is extraordinary. It is your quintessential paradise. It is supposedly number 3 on the best beaches of the Caribbean and for good reason. While it is one of the few beaches in the US Virgin Islands that is public and requires a fee to enter (4pp), it is well worth it. After Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, this one is our favorite. We spent 3 hours there. Back in Cruz Bay later in the day, we found a cute place to grab some local fare. We got some Johnny Cakes and Pate pastries along with some Barritt's Ginger Beers. All of it was good and relatively cheap. Upon arrival at Red Hook, I found myself exasperated with the fact that wed spent nearly 60 dollars on just commuting around the islands. I didnt want to spend another 20 to get back to the ship. So I followed the advice of one of the posters and decided to grab a local bus back to Havensight. These 2pp transports are open air and at the time of the day we jumped on, it was loaded with school kids. Nearing the end of the day, it stopped frequently. I was nervous we wouldnt get back to port in time. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that I could not understand a word of the Creole the kids were speaking. I'd ask questions and they respond with indignity. One of the girls enjoyed my obvious discomfort and concern. Meanwhile, my wife soaked up the experience and adventure. We got back close to Havensight and hopped off. The bus driver stopped us and said he'd take us closer, but we knew we could beat the bus by foot. I thought this was very generous of the driver and was my best experience with a local of the day. Our third port was Casa De Campeo, Dominican Republic. In truth, the port is called Casa De Campeo, but is 30 minutes from the renowned resort and golf course. The port is actually across the channel from La Romanna Dom Rep's second largest city. We woke up early so that we could eat on the balcony with the city behind us. What was actually directly in front of us were large smoke stacks spewing back smoke into the air. It was never clear what was being manufactured there. Our intention was to take the port authority shuttle to Altos De Chavon, the Spanish village recreation at Casa De Campeo Resort. But an angry French Canadian warned us as we walked to the shuttles that they were a rip-off and to take a taxi instead. Shuttle rides to La Romanna and Altos De Chavon were 5pp each way. So we did the quick math and figured to do both would cost us 40 dollars. Our new Quebecois friend suggested we take a local taxi for 30 dollars and a tour. Great! We thought! As it turned out, none of the drivers spoke English and they wanted 35 for a 2 hour tour to both locations. We decided to take the adventure. Our driver was Daniel Jimenez. We communicated with a combination of my knowledge of Spanish and my wifes better knowledge of Spanish. We had these moments with him in the taxi where we would laugh in glee when we managed to communicate effectively. The taxi itself really was a circa 2000 Toyota Camry wagon in beat up condition, but comfortable. As with almost every taxi I've taken in the Caribbean, the gas tank gauge said it was empty and the fuel light was on. LOL! The tour of La Romanna consisted of the police station, fire station, main market square and shopping. The city was swarming with people, but no major apparent extreme poverty. It was relatively clean and orderly. The police presence was high, and they carried semi-automatic machine guns. This scared my wife, but didnt faze me. Id say the only point of poverty that I witnessed was a legless man with one arm on the bridge across the channel. That was it. Ocho Rios, Jamaica had far more observable poverty than La Romanna. An interesting point about the La Romannians is their lack of willingness to barter or negotiate. We found this with the insistent Daniel, and at the shop he took us to. They wanted their full prices and acted very insulted that we didnt want to pay them. I am quite serious about this point. In many other ports of call, they'll just wave you off if you cant agree on a price. In La Romanna, they got angry. I was very put off by this. The prices were high by American standards, let alone third world ones. I didnt want any part of it. They were trying to fleece us. My wife on the other hand was a different story. Her philosophy on the third world is that even if they are fleecing us, the price contributes to a better life for them and shed rather pay that than giving it through a third party like a charity. I tried to explain economic theory and reality to her, but she wouldnt have it. We ended up paying 51 dollars for two small sculptures of mediocre quality and a painting of good quality. To each their own. Altos De Chavon was the gem of this trip. On the way there we crossed through the famous sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. They stretched for miles and miles. Upon arrival at Altos, the security guard tried to explain that we had to pay 5pp on the way out to visit the place. I had not read this elsewhere and was very dubious about it. We toured the place and found it enchanting and very true to the old world it was modeling. The view of the Chavon River was awe inspiring as well. We didnt have time to check out the shops or restaurant, but have heard from other cruisers that they are well worth checking out. We left Altos De Chavons main park area from a different end that we entered. We got slightly lost on the grounds. We found Daniel and the taxi and hopped in and left. I waved to unpaid security guard as we drove off. I was sick and tired of being ripped off for the day. Many people have stated that Dom Rep is wasted port stop. I would disagree. Plan your excursion and adventure carefully and you'll enjoy yourself. While I felt fleeced, the adventure was worth it. Our final port calling was Grand Turk, the city of Cockburn. As it turns out, the port is several miles south of the city of Cockburn itself. It was constructed by Carnival Corporation last year as an alternative to nearby Nassau. The port area reminds me a great deal of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Carnival has created a little shopping area with pastel colors, and the beach area is very reminiscent of Half Moon Cay, complete with free lounge chairs and cabanas. The great part is that you can just hop off the boat and walk to the beach instead of taking a tender at Half Moon. The caveat to walking off the boat and to the beach is that they make you walk through the shopping area to get to it. It immediately struck my wife and I that it is similar to the casino hotel experience in Las Vegas. They make you walk through the Casino to get anywhere. Most of the shops are locally owned, with a few large jewelry and Duty Free shops mixed in. A Margaritaville restaurant is the anchor. You have to take a taxi into town. There is nothing else there except for a condo development and bar. The beach itself was nice, but somewhat spoiled by the pier which blocks a view of the open ocean. We walked further down the beach and swam where it was less obstructed. Many others followed suit and brought their loungers and cabanas with them. We ate at Margaritaville. It was expensive and mediocre in quality. We didnt order the 10 dollar 10 ounce drinks. While there I was moved by a couple who were very obviously in love. As I watched them at their out of the way table, I built this imaginative scenario of their lives. I imagined they were some French couple who probably are in their first stage of romance and enamored with each other with that youthful lust we all have in that stage. The woman had this look on her face that made me feel joyful. As if she was deeply concerned about every word that came out of her mans mouth. Sometimes I wondered if she was waiting for him to pop some question out his mouth. She had this apparent look of expectation. Her eyes were wide and she had classical European looks. He looked very Mediterranean and chain smoked. They kissed often and held each other closely and tenderly. I felt satisfied that these tourists were enjoying themselves immensely on this trip. They were imbuing joy around them. We had an extra long day at Grand Turk and really enjoyed it. Wed gladly take it over Nassau. Finally, a miserable day at sea, getting sicker and sicker with a bad cold. I spent much of the last day resting in our suite. But I got out for a late lunch. When I was done eating this woman came by to pick up my plate. It was the woman enamored with her man I saw from afar at Margaritaville. I didnt realize it at first. Now, she looked downtrodden and exhausted. I looked closely at her name tag, she was from Romania, like our Butler. I felt so sad at that moment. Sometimes I wonder if cruise staff have worse lives than my cat, who I think comparably lives an easy life. This has led to mixed emotions about cruising in the past. The facts are that most service staff on cruises work for tips. However, these tips actually pay a relatively decent wage overall, given US standards, and are extraordinary when compared to their home standards. But they work generally 7 days a week, for six months or more at a time. My understanding is that most staff get a half day or full day off every few weeks, depending on the ship and itinerary. Their shifts are split into two 5 hour shifts every day. I can see where this wears on a person in a short period of time. And I saw this with nearly all service staff on the ship. My heart was broken for this woman. Disembarkation I wish we could have saved the survey so we could comment on this. By far, this is one of the best benefits of having a suite. Disembarkation was very good (On Holland America disembarkation is awesome no matter what level of cruiser you are). They separated us out from the rest of the cruisers by having us go to Club Vicenzo. There we were greeted by a continental breakfast being served by the romantic couple from Margaritaville. This time the woman looked rested and pleasant. Her boyfriend/husband(?) seemed no different from the restaurant, except that his interplay and communication with the woman was much more formal, of course. We waited for 20 minutes upon arriving at 8:30 AM to get off. That was smooth. Gathering our luggage was smooth as well. It is said that any day on a bad cruise is better than a good day working. I am not so sure about that. I get a high when I've had a particularly good day at work. When I cruise I have a certain level of expectation and nearly every one was shot down on this one. I am very happy with every port experience, however. We cruised this ship knowing that it had mixed reviews in the past, but wanting the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
We just got off the Costa Magica on Sunday, November 26th, 2006. We were a bit disappointed with our overall experience being that we had a lovely cruise with the Costa Atlantica in April of 2004. We brought a total of 15 people with us ... Read More
We just got off the Costa Magica on Sunday, November 26th, 2006. We were a bit disappointed with our overall experience being that we had a lovely cruise with the Costa Atlantica in April of 2004. We brought a total of 15 people with us this time - they were going to see us get married in Grand Cayman. The port of Grand Cayman was closed. We did not get married there and after talking with the Cruise Director and another person at the information counter, there was no other alternative for us to get married. In other words, the ship's captain was not available. Being disappointed is one thing, but then we found out that a Carnival ship under the same circumstances of not being able to port in Grand Cayman had 3 couples on it AND the Captain MArried them --- we were not happy at all after hearing this. Why didn't we have that opportunity? The Eco-Jeep Excursion was not good. We had taken it on the Costa Atlantica in April of 04 and it was great. But this time they were building a road so no off-road jeep experience and no crocodiles for some reason and no snorkeling. So what did we pay $308 for 4 people for? Hanging out at a beach and climbing a lighthouse. Bad. I brought this up to the Costa Representative and she was going to right this up. Her manager did nothing the next day. They said all was completed. I said no, you did a classic "bait and switch" routine on us and that is not cool we need a refund of $30 per person. They did not agree. I could not see the report she wrote up so I don't know what she really told her manager. I kept my cool and explained to them you can't go charging credit cards and over sell something and not deliver. They DID NOT CARE. I have notified my credit card company and NOW I want the entire $308 refunded due to their lack of customer service. That was clearly handled badly by them. Food was lackluster. If they had not made the menus so enormously magnifico over the top with your expectations maybe that would have been better, but two small carrots and a boiled potato the size of my big toe and two thin slices of meat with parsley strewn about does not constitute gourmet fare for me. We started ordering two entrees. Maybe they are catering to the retirees who leave food on their plate all the time? Maybe for our ages (36 - 44) we should have taken a ship that left out of a younger port??? Bland pastries, small portions BUT the PIZZA was awesome and the pasta dishes blew me away with taste.....that was good. Information officers at the front desk did not acknowledge us when we had been standing there in line for 20 minutes and it was our turn to get assistance our helper started helping someone else and left us hanging. Bad customer service. That is just plain rude. We were very patient but left feeling not well attended to. Is the staff just tired and underpaid and taking it out on the cruise patrons? There are choices out there and we won't be back on a Costa ship. Our room was nice, bed was unusually hard....good size bathroom. Overall the ship is well designed, looked great for Italian taste in decorating, very clean. The big midnight buffet was a let down too. Only shaved meat and pastries. If you passed at dinner - the disappointment continues! Pass on a Costa cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Costa Magica Sept 3-10, 2006 Baltic: Copenhagen, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen George Smart and Eleanor Stell Overall: Take Princess or RCI instead Costa does Europe in five languages (English, French, Spanish, ... Read More
Costa Magica Sept 3-10, 2006 Baltic: Copenhagen, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen George Smart and Eleanor Stell Overall: Take Princess or RCI instead Costa does Europe in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese) least expensively with the most interesting itineraries and convenient schedules. We enjoyed four previous cruises on Costa around the Med, including one last year on the Magica. The food was so bad we could not believe it. Bland, never hot, and sometimes unidentifiable. So this year we were not happy that the Magica was the only Baltic ship fitting our schedule. This is the last Baltic run of the season before the ship relocates to Savona for the fall. After enduring painfully uncomfortable economy seating on SAS Airlines to Copenhagen, when ship embarkation opened at 12 we were in our room asleep by 1220. Costa, like many other cruise lines in the Carnival-owned system, has changed the way tips work. In the old days, which were only a few years ago, each passenger received envelopes at journeys end to tip their waiter, asst waiter, cabin steward, and head waiter. Staff members went out of their way during the trip to chat, entertain, and delight passengers so as to increase tips. Each dinner had entertainment by the dining staff. Cabin stewards were extra attentive, always around your cabin, fixing or cleaning it up in nice or unusual ways. Now the accountants are running the ship. Taking tips out of your control, Costa simply tacks on 6 Euro per person per day to your onboard bill. No longer dependent on impressing customers, the staff doesnt need as much time to serve, and therefore Costa has cut back slightly on personnel. While you have a nominal waiter and asst, they are simply order takers and servers, moving at lightning speed to moveem on, headem out. The cabin steward is simply a housekeeper as in a hotel. Youll get a chocolate on your pillow and a clean cabin but no towel animals or any other of the old kitschy gestures. Technically you can withhold tips upon checkout, but rarely does anyone do so. Not that the service is poor. The staff does a fine job efficiently. It is just that the charm is gone. Years ago the crew was almost all Italian. The accountants cost cutting has brought on massive numbers of Filipinos, Chinese, and Indonesians who work very hard and cost less than Europeans. Consequently, theres more Italian influence in your local Olive Garden than on a Costa ship. Cruising Italian Style? Baloney. The Magicas food this year was still poorly prepared. Were not food snobs, but theres nothing elitist about wanting meals hot, tasty, and fresh. Every English-speaking passenger we spoke to, from Canada to NZ to UK to Australia, found the food primarily bland, tasteless, and lukewarm. One would think on a supposedly Italian ship the Italian food would be awesome. Weve had better in an Olive Garden. Almost every entrEe is frozen before cooking and you can taste it. Costa goes out of its way to inform you the frozen items have been prepared using techniques of highest quality. Well, Costa, it may be sanitary but if it doesnt taste fresh, so what? We cant figure out why a giant ship stopping in a major port nearly every day cant serve more fresh food. Grilled fish dishes and fresh fruit are your best bets. Skip the awful pizza, tough steaks, overly sweet fruit soups, and over frozen shellfish. Even getting to dinner can be a mystery. Smeralda Dining Room cant be accessed from its own floors 3 and 4. One has to go to 2 or 5 and go up or down. Club Vincenza, the alternative restaurant on the 11th floor, serves up a better, hotter meal for 20 extra Euro per person. Thats a lot to pay for basic quality you should be getting in the main dining rooms. There are few good deals on board as those accountants have their hands constantly in your pocket. Spa services such as massage run $2 per minute or more. They will tell you ANYTHING to sell spa products, including pseudoscience about your toxins and skin care that would send any stateside dermatologist directly to jail for fraud. Hour long gym classes, formerly free in the old days, are now $15. The internet cafe is the worst ripoff at $35 per hour for 14-28k in this age of fat pipe wireless, which, by the way, isnt available at all, even for a fee. Getting any drink other than water or coffee or tea is 2-3 Euro. The buffet staff treat the free orange juice machines like prized champagne fountains, opening them only for a few hours a day and allowing only half a glass at a time so as to discourage use. Formerly free shuttles from the ship to town now cost $7 roundtrip with long lines for tickets. The casino offers house-heavy games such as blackjack, slots, and roulette  no poker. Tips: Buy 13 liters of plain or sparkling mineral water for $30. Into wine? Buy a multi-bottle package your first day on board. And since this was the last cruise of the Baltic season, everything Baltic goes on sale midweek for 75% off. Looking for a great make-out spot? Walk all the way forward on Deck 9 to a private panorama overlooking the bow. Hey, enough about the boat. We were here for the scenery. This time of year, the weather could not have been nicer for touring. Tallinn, Estonia, is a classic medieval town recovering from Soviet occupation and a struggling economy. Russian St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, has the vast Hermitage museum and way too many tourists surging through. Helsinki is a typically clean, well-run, cloudy Scandinavian capital whose tour guides constantly remind you how much they still distrust the Russians. Despite being one of the most peaceful countries on earth, Finland still refuses to remove landmines on their Russian border. Stockholm is the most beautiful of the Baltic capitals, with canals and islands and rivers and grand architecture connected by the worlds best mass transit system. Skip the Costa-sponsored 83 Euro Ice Bar tour and do it yourself for 15 Euro. A very fun experience, drinking Absolut vodka at 20 or so degrees in provided ice parkas! (There are also Ice Bars in London and Milan). Having attained enough points from previous cruises, we reached Pearl status which is the highest past passenger level. Pearl gets a bottle of cheap prosecco, a little fruit basket, 10 Euros for the casino, a small model of the boat, an advance copy of the menu every night, and a cocktail party with 800 others. Yawn. This just doesnt reflect benefits wanted by super-frequent passengers. Note to Costa accountants -- put terry cloth robes in the room, provide free internet, private kitchen tours, and free soft drinks for equally inexpensive and much more appreciated perks! Finally, Italian and Spanish women will routinely cut in front of you on tours or to exit the boat. Tell them nicely to go to the back of the line. Despite the fact they will pretend not to understand, repeat it and they will comply. At buffets, it is an accepted practice once you hit the tray line to dart in and out, unlike waiting your turn like you learned in grade school. If youre an obese North American woman, leave those shorts in the cabin. Youll be helping international relations immensely. If you dont like any of the food, just politely set it aside. Barking criticism at the dining staff is embarrassing for everyone. They really cant help how lousy the food is. Blame the accountants. Bottom line: Take Princess or RCI to the Baltic. They will cost more and take a few more days, but youll be glad you did! Hello to John and Joann, Ray and Lynette, and Ice Bar mates Terry and Julia. If you found this review useful, please let us know. Happy cruising -- see all our cruise reviews at www.georgesmart.com/travel. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Poor Costa: Heres a cruise line that doesnt know what it wants to be. Lively Italian, sophisticated European, deep discount American. Or all of the above, overlaid with both panache and confusion. Costa, said a fellow passenger, is ... Read More
Poor Costa: Heres a cruise line that doesnt know what it wants to be. Lively Italian, sophisticated European, deep discount American. Or all of the above, overlaid with both panache and confusion. Costa, said a fellow passenger, is actually an Italian word meaning completely disorganized. No kidding. The cheapest cruise Ive ever seen offered 13 days across the Atlantic in May 2006 for just $499 - or 16 for $505 if you left from Florida. But the Costa reservationists were confused and the web site wanted $1499 for a berth which was really a grand cheaper. The boarding process lived up to the lines reputation: a 45-minute lineup because only one security screening station had been set up. Transfer from JFK was excellent, though, and the air arrangements, though complicated, worked. The ship is very large and very ugly inside, but the cabins are pleasant and well-equipped. It is singularly ill-suited for cruising oceans or non-tropical waters: there is no observation lounge, let alone a forward-facing one and the main route to the buffet goes out of doors. There is lots of public space, however, though seat-saving Europeans sometimes block access to it. The main show lounge is well-designed, though pillars obscure some sightlines. The ship has 20 elevators, so getting around is easy. Unless you are assigned to the aft dining room, which is orphaned away around a series of corners. Once there, the food is mediocre at best, though the service was eager, if occasionally inept. The Bellagio buffet got better reviews. Service in bars was dismal: servers would often make eye contact but not stop to offer a drink. Some bartenders needed basic drink-mixing lessons. Beds were hard, as I had read here, but my steward was a gem. In eight days crossing the Atlantic, the daylight hours were tedious: the need to communicate in five languages slowed any meaningful activity to a crawl. But at this price, no guilt attached to the idea of sleeping all day. At night, the ship came alive, with fine singers and musicians in the lounges and join-in activities galore. The main stage shows were energetic but suffered from homogenized multiculturalism - an Italians idea of what might appeal to an audience of many countries. Shore tours were adequate in the two ports we visited, though the departures were never on time and long lineups were common. The front desk operation was a disaster - confused and disinterested. The cruise staff worked hard though the cruise director was seldom seen. The Captain was, though, impressively. The mandatory tip was a mere six Euros daily, though a martini cost seven. Costa is an Italian cruise line and that wont change even if ownership is now entirely American. So if you speak the language or dont mind hearing it constantly, this might be a good choice, particularly in the Mediterranean, where the line is most at home. Elsewhere, I think, its a big fish out of water. At $499, no denying this particular cruise was good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
ARRIVAL We flew to Copenhagen a day early. We took a 15 minute train trip (there is a station right in the airport) to the central train station then had a two block walk to our hotel. The Hotel First Vesterbro (approximately $180 USD ... Read More
ARRIVAL We flew to Copenhagen a day early. We took a 15 minute train trip (there is a station right in the airport) to the central train station then had a two block walk to our hotel. The Hotel First Vesterbro (approximately $180 USD per night including all taxes and breakfast) is just down the street from Tivoli Gardens and the main shopping district. We spent the day walking around Copenhagen and the evening in the not-to-be-missed Tivoli Gardens. We looked around more on Sunday then caught a taxi to the port in the early afternoon. We arrived at the port at approximately 2pm. EMBARKATION We have never experienced such a quick embarkation. Although we arrived just 30 minutes past the posted embarkation start time, we literally dropped off our luggage in front of the terminal then walked on to the ship. We stopped briefly while someone checked our tickets and passports but there was no line. Once on the ship, we immediately went to our cabin to drop off our hand luggage then proceeded to a designated lounge to register our credit card. There was about a 15 minute wait to do this. THE SHIP We have been on over 25 cruises. This, by far, was the most stunning and elaborate ship we have ever been on. Many reviewers on this site comment that the ship is garish and overly decorated to the point of being tacky. I must disagree. It is classically European with marble, gold and rich colors everywhere. The main atrium area, several decks high, is a sight to behold. It took us a couple of days to get oriented to the ship. The multi-deck restaurants presented somewhat of a navigational barrier when moving from one end of the ship to the other but after figuring out that we needed to traverse the ship using deck 5 or higher, it was easy to get to destinations on lower decks. The casino deserves special mention. Costa commissioned a famous Italian puppet-making family to create 50+ medieval marionettes (each about 3.5 feet tall) to be displayed in glass columns throughout the Magica's casino. Take some time to absorb the stunning artistry on display here. OUR CABIN We had a category 10 balcony cabin (6459) on Deck 6. We chose this particular cabin because on the deck plans it appeared larger than the other balcony cabins, with a larger balcony. We were right! The cabin ran parallel to the hallway instead of perpendicular to it. As a result, it was quite wide and in addition to the glass door and large picture window standard in balcony cabins, it had a second large picture window. The balcony was easily twice the length of the balconies in other cabins--we noticed this later when we were off the ship as we could easily spot our cabin: the one with the really long balcony. There was plenty of storage room and the cabin was very nicely appointed, feeling like a spacious hotel room instead of a claustrophobic closet. Our cabin steward was professional and unobtrusive. THE FOOD We have been on previous Costa ships (the Classica and Romantica) and felt the food was adequate and somewhat institutional and tired looking. The Magica, however, had substantially better food. The breakfast and lunch buffets contained a nice variety of items and everything looked fresh and interesting. Nothing outstanding, but we were never hungry. We ate all dinners in the dining room with delightful dinner companions and were fortunate enough to have a window table. Since it stayed light quite late, we always had a beautiful view of the sea while dining. Nightly entrees always contained a fish, a beef dish, a lamb or veal dish (favorites with Europeans) and a vegetarian dish. Only once was there a chicken dish that I recall. The food was served hot, well presented, and usually delicious. The pasta courses were always fresh and interesting. Note that wine packages consisting of 5-7 bottles of wine + 10 large bottles of mineral or sparkling water was a great deal at approximately 115 Euros ($148 USD). Be sure to order this on your first night and you'll be given coupons to later exchange for the wine and water. We found this to be a great value. THE SERVICE We have always experienced excellent service on our prior Costa cruises but felt that the service was exceptionally good on the Magica. All service personnel we encountered were extremely professional and friendly and the service in the dining room notably so. You couldn't pass a Costa employee anywhere without a smile and a greeting. With so many nationalities on board, many even remembered after the initial encounter what our native language was. THE ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment isn't one of Costa's strong points but I wouldn't expect it to be considering how difficult it is to entertain so many different nationalities at once. The Broadway-style shows (of which there were two on this 7 night cruise) were good efforts with beautiful costumes, adequate sets and acceptable performances. While a bulk of the lyrics were in English, some others were performed in other languages and added a very international touch to the shows. Other shows were less interesting and certainly not the spectacles of other lines. Europeans are very social and I get the feeling that the shows aren't of much interest to them anyway. They would rather spend their times in lounges or the disco and those areas always seemed to be packed. Classical musicians performing in the smaller, more intimate venues were especially talented and entertaining. THE SPA We treated ourselves to many treatments including massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. While the treatments are expensive, they are wonderful. The spa staff was warm, friendly and professional and there is nothing like two hours of having your hands and feet worked on while dreamily gazing out a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows at the passing sea. The gym was large and extremely well-equipped but somewhat oddly designed. The ceiling is quite low so tall passengers ought to use caution when using the cardio machines--I banged my head several times and I'm of average height. The windows are severely angled inward and not very tall so when using cardio machines your only option is to look straight down onto the water--you can't look out toward the horizon at all. Be sure to take advantage of the sauna. While I can't speak for the women's sauna, the men's sauna was spacious and contained a large window that looked out to sea or to port. Very relaxing on sea days. THE PASSENGERS As always, we were just two of few Americans on this ship. Of the 3,000 passengers on this sailing, I would guess that 30% were Italians, 30% Spaniards, 15% Germans, 15% French and the rest a mix of Americans, Canadians and Brits. And this is exactly why we love sailing Costa so much. If you can get by the fact that many Europeans smoke (it's hard to avoid in the lounges), you will find that they are very friendly and fun-loving people, very warm and passionate. I would recommend to anyone sailing on Costa to take the time beforehand and learn basic phrases in Italian, Spanish, German, and French. When encountering someone in passing, they will often greet you in a language other than English. How much nicer it is to recognize what they are saying to you and be able to respond back to them instead of the alternative response we often see--a blank stare or feigned deafness. Know that people are saying Good Evening to you and not insulting you. I was always able to return greetings, ask people how they were and then apologize for not speaking their language. When there is no common language, it's amazing what you can convey through pantomime! THE PORTS For a ship carrying 3,000 people, getting on and off during port visits was always fast and effortless. We never waited in line for more than a couple of minutes. We made stops in Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. I won't go into detail on these ports except to say they were all beautiful--and fascinating. Our weather wasn't too cooperative so it was cool, windy and often raining but we thoroughly enjoyed every port we visited and ventured out alone in all of them except St. Petersburg. There, we took a wonderful nine hour tour to avoid having to get visas. We learned so much about the country and how far it has come since the fall of Communism 15 years ago. An exceptional and very educational itinerary with spring flowers in full bloom everywhere! DISEMBARKATION I have to admit that as usual, we didn't wait for our color luggage tag to be called--we just walked off the ship as soon as we saw people starting to leave. The ship docked in Copenhagen at 8am and we headed to the gangway at 9:15am. 15 minutes later, we had collected our luggage and were in a taxi on our way back to the same hotel we stayed in on the start of our journey. FINAL COMMENTS We love sailing on Costa and thoroughly enjoy the international experience it provides. We are sailing the Magica again this Thanksgiving in the Caribbean and are looking forward to spending another week on this beautiful ship. We returned home from our trip with suitcases full of freshly washed and folded clothes. Watch out for Costa's laundry special the second from last day of the cruise. All the laundry you can stuff in a large paper sack will be laundered, folded and returned to your cabin on the last day of the cruise for approximately $26 USD. We managed to cram in a week's worth of dirty clothes. Careful folding is the secret. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
After booking our CostaMagica trip I became concerned reading some of the derogatory member ratings. We had a wonderful time! The ship is beautiful and very well maintained. While the buffet (breakfast and lunch) was adequate, the dining ... Read More
After booking our CostaMagica trip I became concerned reading some of the derogatory member ratings. We had a wonderful time! The ship is beautiful and very well maintained. While the buffet (breakfast and lunch) was adequate, the dining room experience was very delightful. We have cruised several other lines and Costa Mediterranea. We found the food on Magica on par with our past experience: good variety (not all pasta as someone claimed), well prepared, beautifully presented and hot food was hot when served. The themed music and festivities at dinner made each evening an adventure. Our balcony cabin was large and comfortable and the staff was excellent. We were joined by a couple who had never cruised before and they said they'd do it again! The only criticism I have is the ship layout. It's impossible to get out on deck except on the upper levels (by the buffet and pool areas). Also, if you're eating in the Smerelda Restaurant (deck 3 aft) and want to go to the excursion desk (deck 3 forward) you have to go up to deck 5 which runs the length of the ship, then down again. Maybe I'm directionally challenged, but without being able to see the ocean (most of the windows in the common areas were covered by shades) I had a difficult time orienting myself front to back. Finally, the theater productions were amazing! Costumes, special effects and set designs worthy of a top Broadway production. We didn't have children with us, but since it was Easter break there were a lot of young folks onboard. They all seemed to be having a blast. I highly recommend the Magica for a "magic" vacation! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
I would not recommend this cruise line. I recently completed a cruise on 4/28/06 from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda and Nassau and back. This cruise line could become a world class line if management is willing to make improvements. The ... Read More
I would not recommend this cruise line. I recently completed a cruise on 4/28/06 from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda and Nassau and back. This cruise line could become a world class line if management is willing to make improvements. The Pros: The ship is well kept and clean. The crew and servers are helpful and courteous. The entertainment, though different from more traditional cruise lines, is very good. Cabins are adequate, though not large. The ship is lively and festive. Good dance floor and music. The Cons-The FOOD: Italian cuisine is amongst the world's finest, but you would hardly know it from that which is served on this ship. Pizzas, pastries, main courses cannot compare in quality to what you can get in a good Pizzeria or local Italian Restaurant or Bakery. I could go on with countless examples: Baba Rum (no rum)flat tasting. The Oso Bucho- fat and gristle covered up by a dark sauce. Shrimp & Mussels that are hard as a rock etc,etc.. You can find some things that taste good and the food is palatable, but not first rate. The selection of food is narrow in scope. You have to spend time figuring out what to order. No Saltimboca a la Romana, or the real good stuff. The Organization or lack thereof: The ship is large and it gives you a closed in feeling when inside. The Bellagio Buffet is a joke. You go through the chow line for breakfast and then must search for the whereabouts of a grapefruit. The coffee is here, but the sugar is far removed, in some cases. There are three chow lines and one of them is different from the other two. It is a disjointed operation, not a smooth linear procession. Minor annoyances: The cabin draws have small loops for handles making it difficult to open, especially for a woman with long finger nails. In some restrooms, the doors are so near to each other that entry is difficult- you must open both doors simultaneously or get trapped between the two doors. There are more things like this which are annoying. Their debarkation procedure is a joke. They tell you to be in a certain location at a certain time and that you must be out of your cabin by 8 A.M.. I just stayed in my cabin and did not leave at 8 A.M.. After 9 A.M. I saw many people passing by my open cabin door. I asked them "Where are you going?" They replied "we are leaving the ship," so I just followed along and left the cabin. Another annoyance is the long wait on line to activate your credit card-yes "I said activate," just like Microsoft Windows, from whom they were no doubt inspired-joke. Costa is not like HAL where things are well disciplined. Excursions are unorganized. You do not know the time of these excursions until you board the ship. So, if you booked two excursions on the same day (via the Internet), you do not know if there is a conflict with times. I had such a conflict, and it took me 3 times to finally get one of the conflicting excursions canceled. They exhort you to resolve excursion conflicts on the day you board, which is a burden on the traveler. Since you must wait on a line to activate your credit card, as alluded to above, you can see that this is not a pleasant experience. On board shops are pricey and limited in selection. If management changes these things Costa could be a first class cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Embarkation was crowded and disorganized, even dropping off luggage was a hassle of disorganization. After boarding, you were "pointed" towards an elevator to find your room on your own. The beds was very hard as were the ... Read More
Embarkation was crowded and disorganized, even dropping off luggage was a hassle of disorganization. After boarding, you were "pointed" towards an elevator to find your room on your own. The beds was very hard as were the pillows. The dining rooms were well hidden and you could not get there in a straight line. The first night was a nightmare of trying to find the correct dining room. The food was poor, selections unimaginative, deserts pitiful. The buffet upstairs not much better, it was real easy not to gain weight on this cruise. The casino tables were always crowded and they were slow to open more blackjack tables, for those of you who like 3-card poker one table and one table only. Music playing in casino inspired ear plugs. They do have a fairly good selection of slot machines. Disembarkation was again lengthy and disorganized. We did not come into the same birth a common occurrence at Ft. Lauderdale so had to take a shuttle to the car park. The shuttles however were not marked nor were there signs to direct you. Registering your credit card at the beginning of the voyage is a mega hassle, it is done after you board the ship so another line to stand in folks. Then a lot of people had to go to the pursers office another 2-3 times because they did not get confirmation codes from the credit card companies. The attitude of the pursers office people was not good, they did not care that you were being unconvinced. It's like if you don't like it get off! The shows were mediocre and scheduled at weird times. When in port there was never an announcement that you could now get off the ship and most important never a clue as to what floor you could disembark at! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
CostaMagica to Bermuda and Nassau 4/21/06 This was our 16th cruise. This was our Costa cruise. We decided on this cruise because of its itinerary to Bermuda and the price. Embarkation: We arrived at the airport the day of the cruise and ... Read More
CostaMagica to Bermuda and Nassau 4/21/06 This was our 16th cruise. This was our Costa cruise. We decided on this cruise because of its itinerary to Bermuda and the price. Embarkation: We arrived at the airport the day of the cruise and took a taxi to the pier. We arrived at appx 12:30. It seemed crowded but the lines moved quickly. The reason the lines were going so fast was there was no credit card registration, no room keys given and no security photos taken. Our room was ready upon boarding. There was a blank key in the door slot. Displayed on the bed were the room keys, along with a variety of paperwork, shore excursions, welcome information and the Costa Today, a daily paper reviewing all ship activities and meal schedules. The Ship: The ship is beautiful, extremely clean and well maintained. Costa does a fine job in this area. It was a little difficult to navigate around the ship. Getting from one the front of the ship to the back required going up or down a few decks to cross an area then back up or down again. Room: We had an inside cabin located mid ship on deck 7 directly across from the grand suites. We had plenty of room for all our things. There were 2 hanging closets, one closet with shelves and several drawers in the desk. We asked our room steward empty the refrigerator and add a mattress topper, which we had read about on previous reviews. She emptied the refrigerator right away and our topper was added when she turned down the sheets that evening. It really made a difference if you prefer a softer bed. Our cabin steward was excellent and the room location was wonderful. It was quiet and centrally located. Food: Food is very subjective on each persons tastes. Some meals we enjoyed, some not. We found the food on this cruise to be Hit and Miss. It was a little tricky trying to figure out what to order. We found ingredients mixed together that we thought were unusual combinations. Breakfast was the usual fare. Lunch & Dinner: We encountered a few surprises along the way. One lunch I had a deep fried shrimp and fish platter. It would have been excellent had the shrimp been peeled before being battered and deep fried. Biting into the shell was a surprise. The cheese cake had candied fruit in the mixture. I enjoyed the grilled chicken that was always available. The cold soups we tried were very good. We were disappointed in the buffet. No hand sanitizers. Every station served exactly the same thing. The selection was poor. Pizza had 2 choices each day, cheese and 1 other topping of the day. If you wanted pepperoni and it was Hawaiian day, you were out of luck. Dining Service: Hit and Miss. The first few nights it took 45 minutes to receive the 1st cup of coffee that was requested upon sitting down for dinner. On formal night my husband first received the wrong meal, only to be replaced with a steak that was raw. By the time the waiter came back, desert was being offered. My husband was so frustrated; he decided not to wait for another steak and went to the buffet. Other nights were very good. Service for lunch and breakfast seemed inconsistent. Some times great and sometimes very slow. Entertainment: There was a variety of music being played on the ship. Many people seemed to be enjoying themselves dancing or just relaxing with conversation. We only attended 2 shows, Roman Night and Tropical Night which we found enjoyable. Ports of call: We did not take any ships tours. Bermuda: We arrived at the Royal Naval Dockyard pier on a Sunday evening appx 7pm. Most everything was closed with the exception of a Pub. We just walked around the area picking up maps and tourist information then went back to the ship to review the information. The next morning, we purchased a one day bus and ferry pass at the tourist information office just off the ship for $12.00. This gave us unlimited access to both the busses and ferries all day. We took the ferry over to Hamilton and browsed the shops. We returned by bus for the scenic tour. Along the way we stopped at Warwick Long Beach for some awesome photo opportunities. This beach was pretty secluded with lots of rock formations in the water. The water was quite clear. The water was still a little to cool for swimming. After spending a few hours on the beach we went back to the bus stop and caught the next bus back to the ship. This is one place we will definitely return to. Nassau: We walked around the streets and straw market for a few hours. Disembarkation: Our meeting place was the theater to wait for our color tag to be called. When it was called we were told to go down the staircase to deck 0. It took a good 35 minutes to get down stairs to exit the ship. Once off their seemed to be a lot of confusion. Everyone was trying to figure out where to go to catch the bus to the parking lot, tours etc. We found our car rental courtesy busy and we were on our way. All in all, we enjoyed this cruise. We received what we paid for. Would we sail the Magica again? Not sure. We prefer American cuisine. 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
We, a family of four, were on "Easter" cruise (4/9 - 4/16) aboard Magica. This cruise had a modified western Caribbean route. We had an inside cabin on deck 7, with assigned table in Smeralda Restaurant (first seating). The ... Read More
We, a family of four, were on "Easter" cruise (4/9 - 4/16) aboard Magica. This cruise had a modified western Caribbean route. We had an inside cabin on deck 7, with assigned table in Smeralda Restaurant (first seating). The ship -- It is large and modern, decorated Italian style. After all, it is an Italian ship. Many signs and announcements were in Italian (followed by English and possibly other languages). It took longer to figure things out (since we don't know Italian), but didn't bother us much. There were many paintings and art works as you would expect, and they were quite European. Deck 3, 4 and 5 of the ship are public function decks. Due to a restaurant in the mid ship, going through from one end of the ship to the other can be a bit tricky. Deck five has the casino, and it also serves as a passage unless one wants to walk up and down stairs to avoid it. There are three pools and large area of sun deck, and of course, plenty chairs. I heard the pools use salt water. Service -- I'd call it "industrialized" service, and Costa may not be alone on that. One probably won't get the feeling of being treated like a royalty on the ship. It's more like the services on your local hotel or restaurant, although a bit more attentive. If the expectation is set like that, all should be fine. Most crew members spoke English, more or less. The waiters and cabin stewards were "international" like many other major lines, and many of them were hired from Asia. My cabin steward took care of 22 cabins. I figured if he spends just 30 mins in each, that would have taken 11 hours a day already. So here comes the aforementioned "industrialized" service. The job was still well done, but I won't expect too much details or extra attention. We still got one towel animal on one night, if any of you care, and mints or chocolates on the pillows on two nights (some cruise lines still give these every night). The steward fulfilled a few requests quite well, although one could tell that he was trying to do a million things at same time. Keep in mind, however, we stayed in a regular cabin. High-end suites may receive better in-cabin service. For us, the cabin service we received was good enough, on the par with other lines we've experienced. Restaurant service was similar. It's good enough to impress first-time cruisers (meaning better than most restaurants on land), but nothing specially good. Bar service was particularly slow in the restaurants. We sat near a service station, and the shuffling of dishes and utensils made loud noise which affected the mood sometimes. The dances and parades led by restaurant staff were very well done. Cabin -- We had an inside cabin, which is the smallest kind on the ship. It compares favorably with some other ships, however, and had enough storage for a week-long cruise. Bathroom was comfortable. The shower was enclosed by a thin curtain, but functional. No problem with water pressure or temperature. It's a quad cabin, so we had pulldown beds. The upper beds could fold up into the ceiling, which was a good feature. When they were down, the cavities on the ceiling gave extra height to the upper beds. A metal sheet, which was part of the ceiling when folded up, is on the side to hold the bed from the ceiling when the bed was down. There was probably one draw back of this design: when the one sleeping on the upper bed kicks the metal at night, the metal sheet was like a gong:-) Good thing my kids didn't kick that much... The cabin had a safe and a small hairdryer. The safe can only be operated by the first ship card locked it (the safe had no number pad, but a card slider). The hairdryer was stowed in a drawer and connected from there. Shampoo was provided in a dispenser. The cabin had a good size TV. Usually two movies every day, and most other channels were cruise channels. The lighting of the cabin was pretty good. The ship has large amount of verandah cabins, and if I remember correctly, most if not all ocean-veiw cabins are located at the lowest two levels. Food -- Although owned by Carnival, Magica is still an Italian ship. The food there definitely had an Italian twist. I personally think the food was excellent, and better than some other lines I've been on, giving that I like Italian food in general. If one doesn't like Italian, I can understand the complaints. There were plenty of prosciutto (raw ham) and various kinds of pasta, and as for entrees, choices of meat (beef, pork and once lamb), fish and sometimes poultry. As usual, vegetarian and low-carb choices were available. Overall, it was not that different from other mainstream cruise lines. Costa offered probably more courses in a meal, however: appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entree and dessert. Even lunch menu was similar. To my taste, their fish cooking (not really cooking, I believe also due to the material they use) was not that good, even though almost every night a different kind of fish was used, but other dishes tasted mostly great. Pasta was generally simple, without complex or exotic ingredients, but the sauce always tasted good, and I was able to finish every plate of pasta I had. In short, one can see that chefs had a limited budget to work on(which is true on most cruise lines), but the cook was mostly great. Oh, there was one lobster night like some other lines, but I wasn't impressed with that half lobster even with a low expectation (other entrees were not that attractive to me either at that night). I ate enough other courses that night, so didn't care about the entree. BTW, desserts were uninspiring in general, but one probably would be too full to eat dessert anyway. We had one excellent birthday cake, however. We requested a birthday cake for my son's birthday, which well exceeded our expectation (both in taste and size). One thing interesting is about the pizza on this ship. They generally had two choices of pizza in the buffet line at each lunch, dinner or snack time, and one choice is always cheese (Margarita) pizza. There was no dedicated pizzeria. While the pizza was good (very thin crust, like one would find in northern Italy), I thought that was hardly a showcase of Italian pizza variety. There were a few mid-night buffets, and every midnight there was at least some snacks available in the deck 5 lounges. Midnight buffets might have prosciutto, salami, cheese plates, not just cakes and cookies (aka chocolate buffet). Note that two sitting times for dinner were pretty far apart: one restaurant was 5:30 and 8:15, and the other was 5:45 and 8:30. Kid's program -- There were 4 age groups: 3-6, 7-11, younger teen and older teen. I looked at the teen program list, and they were mostly evening activities. Pre-teen kids usually have programs from 9am to 12 noon, 3pm to 6pm and then 8:30pm to 11:30pm. Two formal nights, kids program provided kids group dinner. The program hours had a European twist too, as one can see, but seemed to work quite well. The kids club was open every day, whether in port or not. The cruise daily indicates that for those booked shore excursion and want to leave the kids on the ship, group sitting was available. I didn't try that and don't know the details. My daughter went to the 7-11 group a few times, and thought she liked other cruise lines' program better but it was not bad. Organizing -- Generally, activities were well run. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth. We arrived about 12:30pm for embarkation, and not too many people were waiting. The check-in desk didn't seem to have good connection with Costa though. You probably already know that the credit card registration is done on the ship, not during check-in. The room key is not given at check-in either, it is on the lock of the room (yes, anyone walks in your room first gets to take your ship card on your bed:-). Pre-regist online on Costa web site doesn't seem to do anything. Paper forms were still needed. Tender process in a couple of ports were not well run, however. People were still waiting to get off the ship 2-3 hours after tender started. I saw many tender boats, also two tender boats can dock at the ship at same time, but most of the time the next boat was waiting for people to be loaded onto the previous tender. Not that people were particularly slow to get on the boats, just the process was badly organized. Well, you can also call this as "easy going" style if you happen to be in a good mood. Entertainment -- Typical cruise fair. The production shows were fairly well presented, usually 45 minutes each, repeated for two dinner sittings. A couple of shows were impressive, and above average in my opinion. There was also a guest talent show at the last night. Medical office -- We visited the medical office due to my son's fever. The doctor and the staff were mostly Italian, and communication to the doctor was translated by a nurse. The medication was Italian too, and probably not familiar to the US visitors. The nice thing, however, was that the price was also Italian (so to speak), and we paid just $18 for three medications. The office visit charge was also low, $40 or $50 per visit during day time. From the office experience, one could tell that the office cared more about the patients than profit. In any case, it's not fun to be sick on a ship. Other notes -- The muster drill was on the second day, a bit unusual. Fitness center is inside the spa at the very front, and has quite nice equipment. It is not very large for the size of the ship and therefore quite busy. The steam room and Sauna room have good size. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
My husband, teenage son and I were on the CostaMagica 5-day Western Caribbean sailing 4/16/06-4/21/06, and we had a MAGNIFICENT time! The ship is simply beautiful: hints of Italy everywhere, with a little "whimsy" thrown in (if ... Read More
My husband, teenage son and I were on the CostaMagica 5-day Western Caribbean sailing 4/16/06-4/21/06, and we had a MAGNIFICENT time! The ship is simply beautiful: hints of Italy everywhere, with a little "whimsy" thrown in (if you have an eye for detail, you'll find plenty here!). The Magica is kept impeccably clean: at any given time, we would often see workers cleaning the decks, polishing glass, etc. And the staff - I cannot say enough about them: they were wonderful! We were ALWAYS greeted with a smile and a "Good Morning, Afternoon," etc. as they would pass us in the corridors. They were some of the friendliest we've encountered through numerous ships and cruise lines. To address some of the specifics: Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 2:00 and were on the ship by 3:20! Pretty good, considering the ship was at capacity (3000+ passengers)! My only "gripe" here - and this is minor! - was the Embarkation photo: Instead of having each party pose in front of a nice background (like most cruise lines do), they took our picture while we were standing in line to board, with a girl in a sailor suit holding a "Costa Magica" life preserver standing with us (and a crowd of people behind us) - kind of a tacky way to do it, I think (Sorry, Costa - but I know you can do better!). Once onboard, our cabins were ready, and off we were, to explore the ship - and the buffet! Dining: MAGNIFICO! The buffets were varied (although if I'd known they'd only have Greek Salad and other Greek specialties the first day only, I would've had more!), and there were ALWAYS plenty of options available to please everyone. We thought the pizza was fantastic: true Italian-style, thin-crust pie! Dinners in the Dining Room (we were in the Portofino Restaurant - lovely!) were fantastic! Again, plenty of options to choose from, with 6 courses (appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entree, dessert), always freshly prepared and DELICIOUS (With thousands of passengers to feed, it still amazes me that they can deliver such a wide variety of fine meals, and so consistently! Kudos to the very hard-working, incredible chefs!). The Escargot, Vichyssoise (sp?), Calamari salad, and virtually ANY pasta dish were some of the best we've ever had: just as we remember while traveling in Europe. (Flavor is a totally objective thing, I realize, and everyone has a different palate; some might have a more "Americanized" taste. All I know is that our extremely picky 16 year old loved it ALL, even having "seconds" on a couple of occasions!). Service: OUTSTANDING! Our Room Stewardess, Paola, was a sweetheart. Our room was always tended to efficiently and our requests always met with prompt action - and a warm smile! A STANDING OVATION goes to our Waiter, Gilbert, and Busboy, Christopher...they were the BEST and we miss them (When they're not playing our Bulls, Gilbert, we'll be rooting for your Kings!). A warm "GRAZIE" goes to our Maitre d', for his "special delivery" of fresh prosciutto and parmesan to my Italian mother-in-law! And for my husband's birthday cake, too! Cabin: BEAUTIFUL! VERY spacious and stylish. Plenty of storage space...and the bathrooms were larger than on most cruise lines. And since we got adjoining cabins, it felt like a 2-room suite. We didn't miss having a window at all, since we weren't in the cabin all that much, anyway (and in spite of being over the Lounge, their musicians were usually finished by 1am or so, so it didn't bother us at all). Teen Program: All but non-existent, as far as my son was concerned...but that's not Costa's fault! My son didn't know anyone, so it was difficult for him to assimilate in such a short period of time; especially when just about all of the teens onboard were traveling with other teens. Next time, we're bringing a friend for him to hang out with! That being said, it was sure nice to be able to spend some quality time with him; we made some great family memories. After all, isn't that what it's all about?! Grazie, Costa! Entertainment: The "physical comedian" (mime-like performer: Rob Thomas?) (Very Good!), and the (Not-so)-Newlywed Game with Max, the Cruise Director (Not to be missed! One of the funniest we've seen!) were hilarious. Also, do NOT miss the "Mr. Pizza" contest...it was HYSTERICAL! "Tropical Night" was a blast - even my teenager joined in the conga line! And don't be shy and miss out on the fun: TOGA! We never laughed so hard, figuring out how to "wear" our togas! GO FOR IT! So much fun! We tried to catch the Talent Show the last night, but because there was only one showing, and we had late dining, we couldn't get seats. We couldn't see through the numerous people standing in the aisles, so we missed it...but we heard others say it was very good. I would just advise future cruisers get there earlier and save some seats. All in all, the Magica was a MAGICAL cruise! We highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great vacation at an excellent price! Costa is by far the best value (quality to quantity) for your travel dollar out there. We look forward to sailing on the Magica again in the future! Until then, ARRIVADERCI, and BUON VIAGGIO! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
The embarkation was crowded and slow at 12:00. I had to return to my car for a camera and returned at 3:00 and there was absolutely no line. I would recommend just arriving later and avoid the hassle. Our cabin was nice and at midship. ... Read More
The embarkation was crowded and slow at 12:00. I had to return to my car for a camera and returned at 3:00 and there was absolutely no line. I would recommend just arriving later and avoid the hassle. Our cabin was nice and at midship. However, we found out the first night that we were above the grand lounge, which played music until 1:30 AM every day. It sounded and the vibration felt like the band was in our cabin. The ship was fully booked, and no other cabin available. Sleep was impossible. We talked to others on our deck with the same problem. On the third day, I saw a couple disembark and spoke with them and got their cabin number, 1326. I went to the service desk and later managed to get moved to 1326. This was a nice window cabin on the first deck. The food was fair and the selections rather ordinary. The lobster night was a half of lobster, which amounted to about four bites. A friend had a fish dish one evening and received a special knife(?). I watched her trying to cut the fish and struggling. She gave up and had the veal Parmesan, which she said was even worse. The desserts were mediocre and not presented on a tray to help with the selection. All of the crew and staff were great as I have usually found on my cruises. The entertainment was exceptional. We enjoyed the shows. We did not care for the size of the ship. At some point, you have 3,000 people trying to do the same thing at the same time, board, go ashore, casino, buffets etc... We had a great price, but I would not recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
The parent company may be CCL but Costa is a still a bad tempered step-child. The other reviews have been kind. This was the worst cruise I have every taken and I've been on NCL. They make you stand in line twice to check-in, once ... Read More
The parent company may be CCL but Costa is a still a bad tempered step-child. The other reviews have been kind. This was the worst cruise I have every taken and I've been on NCL. They make you stand in line twice to check-in, once before you board and again after you board just to give them a credit card! We wanted to rest after being up at 4 am to get a taxi and transportation to the port but the room steward wanted to unlock the mini-bar and was knocking on the door every 15 minutes. The food was cold, bland and the service slow. The waiters and bus boys either don't understand english or just ignore what you ask for. I ask for whole wheat toast and got rye, I ask for whole wheat toast again and got white, the third time I got rye again. Then I was told they don't have whole wheat toast, but they had it on the buffet! My wife didn't get her entree at lunch one day and the waiter argued that she did not order one when everyone at the table had heard her. Self service at the buffet is the only way to dine on this ship. The entertainment was what you would expect at a junior high play. The singers were first round rejects from American Idol and the dancers looked like it was their first time on stage, it's excusable to miss a step when the seas are rough, but that night were were in port! All the photos, 1000's of them, were in plastic trays. Some were on display like on CCL but most you had to thumb thru to find your pictures. My wife and I gave up about half way thru one tray. If you like to read take your own books with you, the library is only open 2 hours a day. Most of the passengers I spoke with after the cruise were not happy and do not plan to book with Costa again. In my opinion the other reviews of this cruise were too kind, the crew is surly, the food is cafeteria quality at best and the entertainment second rate. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
This was only our 2nd cruise (1st was Royal Caribbean) but we had an absolutely WONDERFUL time on our Costa Magica cruise. Theres a couple of administrative bumps that they need to work out (outlined below), but overall everything ... Read More
This was only our 2nd cruise (1st was Royal Caribbean) but we had an absolutely WONDERFUL time on our Costa Magica cruise. Theres a couple of administrative bumps that they need to work out (outlined below), but overall everything (service, food, cabin, etc.) exceeded expectations. It seems that all the reviews for this ship are really good or really bad, so I wanted to throw my hat into the good side. We provided our own air through Delta. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Ft Lauderdale Airport and Cruise port which was great because they provided free shuttle service from the airport and to the port the next morning. Checking in was a challenge and found everyone seemed to think so. If Costa can streamline the process here, it will be wonderful. Arriving at the terminal, the line was wrapped around the outside of the building. I asked a Costa rep about the priority boarding procedure which we were entitled to because of our suite. She said I could walk past all these people in line and knock on the door and tell them we had priority boarding. RIGHT! Not going to play that game with hot, frustrated travelers. Once inside the building more weaving of the line in Disney World fashion. When we finally got into the main room where check-in was taking place we finally were directed into the priority line which only had 5-6 people. However, there was a large group of non-US high school girls, that according to the Costa line monitor, had documentation problems (I dont know how they got on the plane to get there). So instead of taking 1 agent to sort out these issues, they used all three priority agents, so our line did not move for 20 minutes. Finally people began getting frustrated and going to any agent (non-priority) and that caused some issues with people feeding from the main line. After checking our documentation, they stamped our tickets and we were free to go through security and board the ship. However, after you boarded the ship, you then at some point had to register your credit card for online purchases. I dont know how long they would let you keep charging until that registration was made. I had already charged a beverage card for $56 before I registered my credit card. You must be able to do it up until the last couple of days of the cruise because it was always in the Today ship newsletter, but you were given the impression that it had to be done the first day. My line took around 20 minutes. Why the credit card registration could not have been done at check-in remains a mystery. This was the only downside of the trip, now on to the good stuff& We had a suite which gave us a few extras (butler, free dining one night at Vicenzas-the specialty restaurant, etc.). Even though it was just myself and 14 year old daughter this cruise, the extra room was great. The suite had an oversized queen bed, plus a sofa where the back pillows pulled off to make a twin (a little more comfy than the average sofa bed). There were 2 substantial sized closets (one in main area, one in dressing area), a vanity/dressing area. The bathroom had 2 sinks and just a slightly smaller than normal bathtub (with Jacuzzi jets). Our room always had fresh fruit, ice, and ice water replenished often by our butler Cris. Cris also delivered us an afternoon snack each day. The suite offers the availability to have full meals in your cabin, but with the exception of a couple of breakfasts on excursion mornings, we ate in the dining areas. The ship itself, being very new, is gorgeous. The atrium area in particular is lovely. The dining rooms might seem a little loud to those prone to beige decorating, but it all seemed to work. I thought the food offerings were great. My daughter is a semi-picky eater, but there was some form of steak on the menu each night. Every fish dish I had in the dining room was absolutely outstanding. The pasta sauces were some of the best I have had. Our waiter Bendi and assistant waiter, Joel, gave us some of the best service I have had in any type of restaurant. If something that you wanted wasnt on the menu, they made every effort to get it for you, and were successful 90% of the time. We had a table for 6 which was the perfect size for conversation. Two of our table mates (John and Rita) had been on 30+ cruises. They were staying on the ship for a back-to-back cruise the next week. The only downside of dining was the one night we dined in Vincenzas. Service seemed very inattentive and slow. Also my fish here was bland and any special requests were not well received. However, it appears that we must have just had bad luck as our table mates went a couple of nights later and said their experience was wonderful. As far as activities go, there is something going on every hour of the day. My daughter and I were more into lying on the deck with a good book and our ipods during the day. The shows were very good. We took 2 shore excursions-both snorkeling trips. If you have done any previous snorkeling, I would not recommend the St. Thomas Coki Beach trip. Its nice clear water, but not a lot of coral to attract many species of fish. There were lots a fishjust not a huge variety. You snorkel off the beach there. Nassau was better for the coral, fish, etc., but it was extremely choppy on the day we were there. I dont think most companies I have used before would have even done the trip. Beginners had a really tough time. This trip takes you by catamaran to a bay/channel area between Nassau and an outer island. I enjoyed the private island (Catalina Island), but thought the ship should have provided free water and iced tea from the time we arrived (9:00 a.m.), rather than forcing you to purchase soft drinks or bottled water until the lunch buffet opened. In San Juan we just did a little shopping (didnt arrive until 5:00p.m. and left shortly after midnight). Disembarkation was a breeze for us. Our flight time had been early (11:00) to begin with and Delta changed it to a 10:24 a.m. departure. After showing our ticket to guest services early in the voyage, we were assigned priority disembarkation. We were off the ship, through immigration, and had our luggage by 8:10 a.m. In summary, if a Costa ship sails to a destination I want to visit, I will definitely choose it over other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
As we live only an hour away from Port Everglades, we cruise frequently and for seven day cruises generally prefer to drive to the port and park in one of their conveniently located garages. Embarkation was a seemingly endless queue, but ... Read More
As we live only an hour away from Port Everglades, we cruise frequently and for seven day cruises generally prefer to drive to the port and park in one of their conveniently located garages. Embarkation was a seemingly endless queue, but went fairly quickly as no photos were taken nor was credit card registration handled at this time which resulted in long lines for two days as people were asked to report to rooms at certain hours to register their cards. We have never sailed on a ship that allowed smoking in the cabins, so were unpleasantly surprised to find that our cabin reeked of cigarette smoke. Customer Service quickly saw to it that our cabin was cleaned to our satisfaction. The cabin was small but adequate for our needs, and our cabin stewardess was delightful. Passengers should be advised to bring their own shampoo and moisturizers because they are not available in the bathrooms. Towels, both in the bath and on deck, are threadbare. The Magica is a very large ship and it's easy to get disoriented when trying to find your way around. The Portofino dining room is mid ship on decks 3 and 4, so you have to go to deck 5 to walk the length of the ship. The gangway is on deck zero, but not all elevators stop at that deck, which resulted in a lot of confusion when passengers disembarked at ports. The library is a tiny room with few books, and is only open two hours per day. Internet service was fast as compared to our experience on other ships, but is was expensive and the chairs were much too low to be able to type comfortably. Communications are almost nonexistent aboard this ship. The daily newsletter has more ads than information, and few announcements are made via their speaker system. There are plenty of activities for everyone, but if you want to curl up with a good book you'll find there are no comfortable chair on this ship. One must also be careful while sitting on deck 10 because soot from the stacks can be a problem, which we found out the hard way. Customer service took care of cleaning our clothes. The buffet was good for breakfast and lunch, but the choices were not quite as nice for dinner as in the dining room. Food was generally good -the only disappointment being that Florida, not Maine lobster was served at the last gala dinner. Our steward recommended prime rib instead.) The dining room staff was very attentive and the service was excellent. Disembarkation was a little confusing because we did not get our final newsletter, and the ship arrived at a different terminal necessitating a shuttle transfer to the parking garage. But once we left the ship, the process went very quickly and we found a shuttle waiting for us at the curb. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
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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