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Copyright 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman

 

Costa Atlantica
January 2003

by Robert Rowan

Embarkation
Process was the worst ever using the older terminal in Ft. Lauderdale. They gave out numbers to people as they arrived. As groups arrived they were given earlier numbers - not a fair practice. No room for all to sit in the terminal and terminal was filled with smoke.

Ship
Nice design, handled the seas well. My wife and I and party of 6 were very surprised no lifeboat drill until day 2 - thank god, nothing happened on day 1!

Don't know why they put the restaurants right above the propellers - some minor vibration felt and a lot of movement on the one rougher than usual day at sea.

Crew
Very Italian, which is what I expected - fun crowd. Cabin staff a restaurant staff excellent. Saw a lot of the captain (he had his family on Board and was very approachable - spoke all 5 languages). Never saw him at the door for the usual photos at the entrance to the cocktail party. Cruise director (Ray Rouse)- we didn't leave with that usual feeling that we would miss him. Appeared to take more of a back seat. Assistant cruise director (Italian female - she was a blast) should get his job. 

Photo Guys
Great job. Sure wish one of these cruise lines would better organize finding photos. Do what they do a Disney World - give people a card with the photo roll number and post by that number. I think they will sell more photos. They do a great quality job. I would also consider digital images - save the trees and only print what people want. A few computer terminals, again stored by roll number would do it. $xx to print each copy.

Food
I can honestly say - the worst I had. Lobster tail - totally dry. Green Minestrone soup - what's with that? Even the Italian couple at our table (in US 20 years) did not like the food. Still put on a few pounds. When we visited our travel agent after the trip, she could not believe how many  food complaints she received. She was going to check on chef assignments since this complain, according to her, is unusual.

Buffet Area - well done - 1/2 of the ship was non-smoking. Food here was not bad. I guess pizza was authentic Italian style - looked like toaster pizza - tasted pretty good. No soda machines - juice and coffee only. They do come around selling drinks on a cart - pretty good idea. 

Entertainment
OK - but just OK. The dancers did more screaming and yelling that dancing. The talent show was done well (Roman Toga Caesar voting style - a blast). They did bring in a couple of circus-type acrobatic acts that were pretty good. The best night was Van Prestley of the Platters - man,  he can still sing great. Sang all the old Platters hits. Opera singers - good, I wanted to hear some Andre Boccelli/Sarah Brighton stuff.

Days at Sea - could have done a lot more for the passengers. They had a golf pro that did nothing - have some classes. Have a table tennis tournament. Casino small and smoky. Why don't these cruise lines get smart and make 1/2 of the Casino smoke free. Bar entertainment very good.

Ports of Call
Same tours as everybody. I think people are getting smarter. Consider not booking on ship - make your own arrangements in port Key West - not enough time in port. 

Cozummel - It's been about three years - man did they fix that place up. Nice shopping areas.

Jamaica has really cleaned up their act and don't get on your nerves. Catamaran ride to Dunn's river worth the trip. What a party on the way back - bottomless rum punch drinks helped! I did't want it to end - seas a little rough, but made the ride more enjoyable. Didn't prevent us dancing with the female crew on the front deck (it's the big Cool Running's cat) 

Grand Cayman - absolutely my favorite place. Bus tour operator was spectacular. Beach will be nothing but $2.5 million condos, so enjoy it while you can. I really went to Hell - so when someone tells me to go there...

Internet Cafe
50 cents per minute. I was glad to be able to use it.

Customs
Not one document explained the real rules. $800 per person (even their own paperwork said $400). They should explain the 2% (I think) over the $1600 up to $3600 and the 6% on jewelry above the $3600 - don't quote me on the accuracy of my numbers - but this is something that should be  explained and an example given to all in the boarding pamphlets. I  sweated out how much duty I would owe on my new Rolex until I wrote the check to Customs.

Port Disembarkation
At new terminal and done well. What a difference in terminals from the beginning of the trip.

Summary
To make it here, they need to Americanize their trip. Staff need to be able to give information in non-metric language (i.e., how long is the walking track? or post it on the track). Every announcement was in 5 languages - life vest demo in 5 languages. Why not give out translation headsets. I will even settle for using one myself while in a foreign country. Sorry, I guess that's the American in me. Food needs total rework. Use the crew more to entertain the passengers with things to do - not just after midnight in the bars.

I will take Costa off my list for now unless a real cheap deal comes along. Carnival is still the best buy for the buck - great food, great entertainment, great cruise directors - always something to do on days at sea.


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