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Cruise Review - Costa Atlantica
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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Costa Atlantica
Eastern Caribbean
March 9, 2003

By Michael Kokesh

EMBARKATION:
The process was very speedy. We arrived with less than 60 minutes to spare. Although it didn't help that it took over 90 minutes to get our luggage from Ft. Lauderdale airport. The transportation to pier was okay. We were excited to get to the pier and found ourselves looking at our watch, only to make several stops at other piers. Granted, while Costa tries to save money by getting in on a group charter bus, it would have been nice to have our own private shuttle, almost made us feel like it was a cheap way of a welcoming.

Once at the pier, we were on the ship within 15 minutes after getting off the bus. We never saw our luggage from the time we were at the airport until we got done with the life vest drill. 

SHIP:
Good design, and very eccentric. They pay a lot of attention to detail and at times I thought I was walking into a Las Vegas hotel. We didn't have a clue how to get to our rooms at first, as they just welcomed us aboard and we were expected to know the way. We got in our room and were confused what to do and when to do it. We were running late I guess and were asked to go to the 3rd level for the lifeboat drill. The drill was terrible. We stood in 90 degree heat and they packed us up against the wall. Thankfully no one fainted. After 45 minutes we stood there, the short people were forced to the back, and none of us knew how to activate the light on the vest. We had to teach each other and what really made it confusing was no one around us spoke a bit of English. They apparently demonstrated how to work the vest, but we never saw anything, because they kept yelling at us to move back. I think if it was a real emergency, people would go into shock. We still had no clue how to get on to the lifeboat if we needed to, and had no clue what area to go to. They did a great job with lettering the walkway, and keeping luggage straight, maybe they should do the same for their passengers in the event of an emergency!

The layout is wonderful and makes it very easy to get on and off the ship. No matter where you are, you're not far from an elevator. We took the first 2 hours to tour the ship, learn shortcuts, where to take stairs and how to avoid large crowds. Thankfully we did, as some started to follow us towards the end of the week. If you know your ship and how to get around, you'll enjoy it that much more!

The pools were nice, especially the one in the rear. Its the adult-only area, although from time to time we saw kids running around. Not a problem, they were well behaved but still raised the question, how come no one enforces the rules on this ship? We saw a domestic dispute between a couple that actually became entertainment for about 20 minutes. Security stood there and it was actually becoming a distraction from enjoying the pool area and our Piña Colada!

CREW:
Can we just have one, just one person who speaks English please? Really, I know this is an Italian themed cruise ship, but come on, there must have been 80 different languages spoken and 90% of the ships passengers were American! They're nice, but they can't understand you. We ordered some "Baking Soda" to make a paste out of for a rash that developed (works great for taking the sting and redness away by the way) and we ended up with a drink menu from the bar. After asking 15 people, we had to resort to our waiter who handed us a box... which was in Spanish!

Again, where's the enforcement of rules? We saw people wearing jeans, shorts, and swim suits to dinner. Even on toga night, some people hardly wore anything at all, which turned a lot of heads. We and others respected the requested requirements as to what we were suppose to wear. If I had known we could have gotten away with a lot less, I would have done it. I would have been more comfortable in shorts and sandals then taking the time to get ready. We were very disappointed that Costa doesn't stand behind what they preach. If you set the rules, enforce them. If you don't care, then don't tell us what to do!

FOOD:
The pastries were terrible. Even the TRUE Italian folks from Italy said they were horrible. Mamma Mia! Learn how to cook, or don't cook at all. I got sick of the same old stuff day in and day out. We knew what to expect and there was never a change. Guests at our table wanted to order an additional entree at dinner, after they had already eaten and it was a big deal. You couldn't just ask for something more, you had to see the Maitre'D and explain why you were still hungry. I didn't know you had to defend your hunger! I recommend, if you think you want to try it, order it at the beginning. They don't care, after all, I ordered one of each of the deserts... they only brought me five of the seven. 

Just when you think they are going to wine and dine you at the midnight buffet... go to see what it looks like, but leave. You'll be teased into thinking that this buffet is like no other one in the world. All to find out that the same pastries you had Mon-Thurs are exactly the same, there are just more of them. How about some food? How about something other than sweets, cheese and salami?

I'll give them credit, the presentation rocks! But looks isn't everything, you have to have the taste. We read all these reviews from others about the 10th floor Club Atlantica Restaurant on how we should rush to make reservations. We made our reservations right when we got on board. No need. Do it at your leisure. They said you'll have to pay $23 each for a cover charge to eat there because its so special and good. The place wasn't crowded at all, and we went at 7:30 right when it opened up. The food was terrible. Unless you like exotic things that you will never try, by all means, waste your money and try it. It was an experience to say the least, we each had our own Maitre'D, which was very annoying. We like to sample each other's food, and each time we did so we were asked if everything was okay, and what was wrong. Unless you like to be questioned about every bite you eat, you'll find it not to be all cracked up to what people say it to be. I expect quality and excellence and the utmost expensive tables, romance, and comfortable setting. I felt like I was in a high school cafeteria with the bright colors.

The buffet area was okay. The pizza is claimed to be the best pizza anywhere. Italian style sure, but when you have bigger displays of week old jello and salami, you shouldn't claim pizza as being your big hit. Although having it available until 6am was nice, and you always found people going there right after dinner! Hmm I wonder why? Also the free juices and tea get shut off at like 4pm. Plan on drinking warm water or ordering a drink.

DAYS AT SEA:
They're okay. Plan on waking up early so you can claim a lounge chair. Don't let the towels fool ya. We figured out that people were rude and don't remove theirs towel when they're done. There is A LOT to do if you want to do it. Always read through the daily activities. Everything is done in Spanish, has nothing to do with Italian... they lost points for that... so we stuck to the back pool... peace and quiet.

FELLOW PASSENGERS:
The rudest, most annoying people on the ship. I told myself after day one that I was going to act like them. If I didn't, I would have been walked on. If someone is in your way, tell them to move and that they're in your way. A simple excuse me or pardon me is almost guaranteed never be heard. People will blow smoke in your face, push you out of the way, and by any means if you get caught up in their supposed good time, you'll pay the price. Everyone wants to hurry up and wait. Passengers need to realize this is not just their vacation and we all must share... if anything, fellow cruisers can wreck your vacation... play their game, its no holds barred!

PORTS OF CALL:
Forget the excursion packet they send you with your documents, they're not correct. Wait until you get on board and check them out. If you like catamarans and snorkeling, there is plenty of that stuff. The all day tour in the Dominican, from what I heard was too long. People weren't able to enjoy the Kandle show.

Also, 4 hours in Nassau is hardly enough time to walk more than a few miles from the ship. Arriving in San Juan at 4pm was terrible because you were almost forced to eat away from the ship, or wait on the ship and then get off for a few hours. Either way you either missed seeing the island, or missed having dinner on the ship and had to pay out $$$ for dinner. 

Catalina Island was by far, aside from St. Thomas, awesome. I felt bad for the elderly trying to get on the little boat to go to the island. If you have problems walking, get up early and start making your way to the exit, you'll need the extra time. Load up on food during lunch, you'll love the BBQ; by far the best food on the entire trip... true American food cooked right!

NIGHTLIFE:
This was a joke. Dante's Disco was a dive. There were more crew members dancing with each other then there were passengers in the club at all. Even though we aren't single, we stopped in on singles night only to find a handful of teenie boppers. The music was terrible, get with the century and play what clubs play these days! The floor is so dry and has so much grip, that if you plan to do any moves or slide around with your shoes, forget it! Learn to pick up every step and look stupid because you'll be the only one dancing!

The lounge area has dancing as well. Madam Butterfly is okay, although it favors the people that know how to dance. Unless you have your Masters Degree in dance and can really, really, really dance, you won't fit in here. Costa does nothing to favor the people who just want to have a fun time. Either you have to have it all, or you need to speak another language to have fun. Although, watching people and being a part of it all is truly a remarkable experience.

PORT DISEMBARKATION:
At this point in your cruise, Costa crew will care less that you're even there. They don't care, you'll get off someday. Plan on waiting up to two hours to get off the ship... we did, it was terrible. In fact, everyone was delayed because it took the Coast Guard forever to inspect the ship. Oh, and you think they handle your luggage well? Hahaha, what a joke. All the luggage, and I mean ALL the luggage is, well for the most part, in a neat orderly row(s) in a huge gymnasium style building. Have at it, you're on your own to find it! No order to it whatsoever, people running around frantically to catch their plane and can't find their luggage. "I had the black one with rollers." Either put a beacon on your luggage or spray paint it bright green, you shouldn't have a problem then.

SUMMARY:
For the first time on a cruise, we had a blast. I wouldn't do a Costa Cruise again, once is enough. Although if you like European style stuff with a Tropical twist, this cruise might be for you. Four days of non-Americanized atmosphere, food and people is good enough for me, seven and we never wanted to return. Chalk it up as a good time, recommend it to others, but you'll be glad you're home. You'll miss the warm weather and the tropics more then you'll miss the cruise. Carnival owns Costa, so if your looking for something different as far as layout etc, take Carnival, unless you want to hear about everything on a daily basis in five different languages.


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