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Cruise Review - Costa Atlantica
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Copyright 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Costa Atlantica
Eastern Caribbean
April 6-14, 2003

By Ken & Christine Bowles

The bottom line:
I'll go ahead and give you the bottom line right up front: if you enjoy good food, and staff that speak and understand English then DO NOT go on a Costa cruise! If you enjoy bland food, however, and do not want the staff to understand what you are trying to say, then come on board!

Pre-cruise expectations:
My husband and I were excited beyond measure to go on this cruise - this was to be "the honeymoon we never had." My parents were coming down to stay with our three-year old so that we could have a glorious time on the cruise. We were initially supposed to be on the Royal Caribbean "Adventure of the Seas", but then had to cancel a month before. My husband found a sell-off for Costa, and we ended up with a suite on the Costa Atlantica for the same price that an oceanview stateroom would have cost on RC. We thought we were getting a really amazing deal! Wrong! We were really excited after reading Mary & Vincent Finelli's rave reviews about the Costa Atlantica. I'm sorry, but there is no earthly way that they were talking about the same ship.

Overall Impression:
A beautiful ship... kept spotlessly clean and very glitzy. Reminded me of Las Vegas. Only one problem ... that's about all it had going for it. The one nice thing about the ship was that it was easy to find our way around, which was a bonus.

Embarkation:
Because we had a suite, we got on very quickly. The majority of the passengers were stuck in these horrific long lines (resembling the ones you get stuck in at an amusement park while waiting to get on a ride). The heat was stifling in that room. We received the luggage to our room almost immediately.

Arriving on Board:
Our first impression when we got on the ship was "wow!" Definitely a beauty. We were warmly welcomed, and then we had to figure out for ourselves where to find our cabin. That was quite confusing. But it did not take long at all to find our way around the ship.

Within minutes of arriving in our cabin, our cabin steward, Carmen, knocked on our door, introduced herself and welcomed us. She was the most delightful and sweetest person and kept our cabin absolutely spotless. She was, by far, the most efficient and friendliest staff member. Quite honestly, the only efficient staff member.

Our butler didn't arrive until day two ... and we couldn't understand him hardly at all. We were trying to ask questions about our mini bar and ice bucket. After he left, me and my husband were asking each other ... "so was the mini bar free or not?" "Did he say that he'll bring us ice every day, or do we have to call him and request it?" We were both shrugging our shoulders. This turned out to be a major theme of the cruise: staff who speak with such heavy broken accents that you can't understand them, and they can't understand you. This was very frustrating and definitely not enjoyable.

Food:
From the very first meal in the main dining room, we thought the food was mediocre. Which, in itself, was quite shocking for us. My husband had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise food before, and couldn't believe how bad the food on Costa was, in comparison. This was my very first cruise, but I've always heard people rave about the food on cruise ships. Obviously those people weren't on the Costa cruise lines. The food was very bland, but far worse than that, it was inferior quality! I had really been looking forward to some fine pasta dishes. Quite honestly, I've made better pasta in my own kitchen.

About half-way through the cruise, we had both ordered steak. The steak was so tough, we could not chew through it. It was obviously a very poor grade of beef, and we couldn't believe they didn't have the good grace to be humiliated by what they were serving! In all honesty, I wouldn't have given the steak to my dog to eat--it was that tough! The waiter then brings my husband a menu so he can select another entree, then he promptly disappears. Not surprisingly, the inefficient waiter brought us a menu that was entirely in French, so we couldn't read it at all. That was our last meal in the dining room. From then on, we ate the buffet dinners--when it was available, that is. There were two nights that we were forced to eat pizza (if you want to call it that) and salami for dinner, because that was all we could get. 

The midnight buffet was a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it wasn't our eyes that have taste buds. Food, yet again, repeat of previous meals and snacks... and quite bland.

Staff:
The staff give you the impression that they care about you... as long as you don't have any problems, and don't need their assistance in any way, shape or form. This was made abundantly clear to us when we decided to watch a movie one night. The theatre was showing "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding". My hubby and I were cuddled up together in the comfortable seats and enjoying the movie. About 3/4's of the way through the movie, all the lights suddenly came on in the theatre. No one could see the movie, yet we could still hear what was happening. Not surprisingly, there were absolutely no staff members in sight to correct this problem, so we had to rent this movie when we got him, to find out how it ended. We had to rent this movie when we got home, just so we could see the ending!

Final thoughts:
Time and time again during our cruise, it was made clear to us that Costa cruise lines cares far more about appearance than anything else. My husband was extremely upset about the treatment we got on the cruise. He had been on a cruise before, and knew that I'd always dreamed of going on one, so this cruise was supposed to be a "gift" to me. It turned out to be not much of a gift at all. There are a lot of things we can overlook. But when you are served below-standard grade beef in the main dining room for supper, that is just absolutely disgusting and there is no excuse for that. It was most definitely not a wonderful cruise at all - but my husband and I ended up having a wonderful time together despite being on the Costa Atlantica. We would definitely go on another cruise again, but we would never go on another Costa cruise.


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