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Jan. 27 – Feb. 3, 2008
By Mary & Vincent Finelli
This cruise was like “Old Home Week” for us. It was another wedding
anniversary cruise, in the company of our son Marcello, his wife
Paige and their son Marcello (5.75 yrs). Once on board, we were
reacquainted with so many of our Costa friends, that we now dispute
the old saying “You can't go home.” Costa's cruising Italian style
delivers distinct hospitality which is wonderful, and we basked in
it for a whole week. On Day One, at the boat drill, Guest Relations
Manager Martina Fantoni greeted us so warmly and by name, that we
felt special. She proved to be so helpful and kind throughout the
cruise, that we can't wait to cruise on Costa again. In the culinary
department, we have many friends including the following: Chef
Antonio De Luca, Maitre D' Bartolmeo Vitiello, 2nd Maitre D'
Raffaele Bailo (Music Man), and 2nd Maitre D' Marcantonio De Candia.
Later we will enumerate our new acquaintances including the elegant
Captain Paolo Benini.
Ft. Lauderdale is secure to a fault. Because we had an
motorized wheelchair we arrived in two autos. Our son Nicolas
brought his son Nicky (6 yrs.) along for the ride, just to see the
ships in Port Everglades. Big mistake! We soon found out that this
can be a problem, since Nicky did not have a picture ID with him. At
the security gates
entrance to the port, we were stopped and not allowed to proceed to
the pier with Nicky in the car, so we had to go back a few hundred
feet into a parking lot and transfer all the luggage into one auto.
Nicky went home with his Dad, without ever seeing the ship. Nicolas
was supposed to drive our car home. Instead we parked in the Port's
Garage ($105 per week). There is a lesson to be learned here: Even
small children cannot visit the pier without an ID. The security
guards could use a bit more
common sense in inspections and not being nitpick, when it is
evident that a six year old boy accompanied by his father is no
threat or danger to anybody. What normally takes one half hour, last
Sunday took one hour. Once at the pier we had to wait for Marcello
to return from the parking garage--another half hour. Costa's
boarding and check-in were swift, and we had wheelchair assistance
to our cabin. Total time from
home to cabin--two hours. It was too long on the pier, but Costa's
check-in time was fast.
The Costa Fortuna is the sister ship of the Costa Magica;
thus, we are quite familiar with the deck plan. The major
differences are in the decorations and the theme of the Fortuna. On
the Fortuna, Ship Architect Joe Farcus pays homage to many of the
former Italian Liners (naming major rooms and restaurants after
them) and to ports of call (naming the decks after them). On board
are many ship models, some arranged as a fleet and suspended upside
down from the atrium ceiling. This was very disturbing to us, and we
speculated on a better way to display these marvelous models. They
would look better if floated on a clear blue plexiglas sea and
suspended in the Atrium so that they could be visible from both
above and below from several decks. The nautical motif is instantly
apparent at the Welcome On Board Buffet: Deck 9 Napoli, Restaurant
Buffet Colombo, named after the liner Cristoforo Colombo 1954, is
decorated with huge Cobalt blue globes of the Earth and the walls
have a series of ancient maps, so interesting, that passengers stop
and stand to admire them, while temporarily forgetting the food!
The Costa Fortuna was built in 2003 at the Fincantieri Sestri
Ponente Shipyards near Genoa, Italy. She weighs 105,000 gross tons,
her length is 272 meters and beam is 36 meters; guest capacity is
3,470 with a crew of 1,030; there are 14 passenger decks and she has
a top speed of 22 knots. Her registry is Genoa, Italy.
Deck 1 Rio de Janeiro and Deck 2 Miami are all passenger cabins in
Categories 1, 2 (inside) and 6, 7 (ocean view).
Deck 3 Buenos Aires has the Costa Atrium Michelangelo. Aft is the
beautiful Restaurant Michelangelo 1965 (all ships have their launch
dates attached) with ceilings depicting the scenes of Michelangelo's
Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, Italy. There are gorgeous blue
and gold (Costa colors) Murano glass ceiling lights--so elegant. At
entrance is an accurate ship model of the Michelangelo launched in
1965, and on which we sailed in November 1968 from Napoli to New
York, just before our marriage January 26, 1969.
Midship is the Restaurant Raffaello 1965, named for the
Michelangelo's sister ship and it also has the beautiful Murano
ceiling light fixtures and on its wall are displayed enormous
posters from the Raffaello's hey day. Midship is the main floor of
the atrium. Forward is the main level of a three deck high Teatro
Rex 1932, The most famous of all Italian ships and a Blue Riband
Deck 4 Santos aft holds the balconies of the two mentioned
restaurants, the Atrium and the theater. Also on Deck 4 is the
Library, Biblioteca Galileo Galilei 1963, and the Internet Cafe.
Deck 5 Genova aft has the Salon Leonardo Da Vinci 1960, the Conte
Rosso 1921 Piano Bar all in red, and the Conte Verde 1923 Ballroom
all in green. There was dancing in this room day and night, between
lessons and parties. The ship has many venues with live music and
dance floors. Next is the Casino Neptunia 1932 and the Grand Bar
Conte Di Savoia 1932. Forward is the theater.
Deck 6 Lisbona, Deck 7 Caracas, and Deck 8 Vigo are all passenger
cabins including inside, ocean view, veranda and suites.
Deck 9 Napoli forward has passenger cabins (inside and veranda).
Midship is the Lido Oceania 1932 with its three interesting animal
bronze statues (Koala bear, Kangaroo and joey, and the birds)
representing the fauna of Australia by Giovanni Solci. Aft is the
Restaurant Buffet Cristoforo Colombo 1954, all in lovely turquoise
blue and marine colors with ancient maps and globes everywhere. All
the way aft is the Solarium Lido Cristoforo Colombo with two
whirlpools, a swimming pool and a retractable roof. This area is
wreathed with beautiful tiles depicting the mythic monsters of the
seas. Here is the statue of the kneeling American Indian Girl by
Sara Righi. The lovely patina on this copper larger than life work
blends well with the marine colors of the Lido.
Deck 10 Barcellona forward again are cabins, and then the Lido
Barcellona and aft is the upper level of the Ristorante Cristoforo
Deck 11 Cannes aft has the Club Conte Grande 1927, an elegant Tuscan
Steakhouse. Forward is the Gym Saturnia 1927.
Deck 12 Funchal forward has the Squok Club, a children's area and
supervised fun and games that little Marcello loved and a spiral
water slide. Aft are the playing courts for adults.
In addition to three sets of passengers elevators, the decks are
connected by three grand stairways, each one decorated with a
different theme: the forward stairway is decorated with panels
painted by Luigi Voltolina representing the life aboard the old
transatlantic liners; the midship stairway was decorated by the
painter Paolo Grimaldi with panels dedicated to famous Italian
navigators, Cristoforo Colombo, Marco Polo,
Amerigo Vespucci, Sebastiano Caboto, etc.; The aft stairway is
dedicated to the ports of call which name the decks of the Fortuna,
decorated by Riccardo Benvenuti.
Mr. Farcus dedicated the motif of the Costa Fortuna to two decades,
the 1920's and 1930's, and the art on board is indicative of those
years, when the grand ships were the major mode of crossing the
oceans. It was during this era that the magnificent Italian Rex
captured the The Blue Riband from the German Bremen in 1933 making
the fastest transatlantic crossing to that date. For Italians, the
Rex still remains the symbol of elegance, luxury and the magic of
The elevator doors show reproductions of stylized Commercial Art
portrayals of 20s & 30s elegant travelers reflecting the internal
art of the Rex 1932 originally done by Vittorio Accornero. While in
the corridors, there are images of the same period dedicated to the
life on board the Conte di Savoia 1932 done by Franz Lenhart.
The Ship Neptunia 1932 was the first Italian passenger liner to have
“Classe Unica” or one class. This is a democratic achievement that
even to this day the Cunard Lines have not made. On Costa all
passengers are equal. This has led to Costa's motto of Italian Style
cruising, which includes international and cosmopolitan passengers.
The conversations among passengers heard everywhere on board are
generally in the
following languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish, English, etc.
It is the international mixture on Costa that makes it the No.1
cruise line in Europe.
SERVICE & FOOD
Guest Relations Manager Martina Fantoni should be proud of
the service provided to the passengers. The credit for the
outstanding service in all dining rooms goes to the 1st Maitre D'
Gaetano Gerocarni, whom we befriended aboard. Of course, it is in
the dining rooms, where most passengers recognize gallant treatment:
Fine dining, fine linens, fine table settings with candles, fine
music and of course fine food. This
describes the main dining rooms; wait until you go to the Club Conte
Grande 1927, the Tuscan Steakhouse on Deck 11, the highest point of
In this upscale restaurant the table is set with Versace chargers
and china and the table cloths and napkins are gold brocade. All
complement the fantastic recipes of the noted Genovese chef
Zefferino. The ambiance is enhanced by the pianist Antonio
Salomone's excellent repertoire of the following: “Le Mer,” “Moon
River,” “Smile,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” etc. The warmth of the
décor is created in rusts and browns, juxtaposed by black and white
marble flooring in geometric patterns.
We had an excellent meal of crab cakes, Bresaola con Rugala and
Parmigiano Reggiano, Insalata Caprese of tomato and Mozzarella di
Bufala, Caesar Salad; home made pasta; entrees were Beef Filet, a 12
0z. Veal chop, etc.; desserts were Tiramisu and Crème Brule` topped
with raspberry coulis. Naturally, the mellow finish was Prosecco
bubbly. Our Maitre D' Gustavo Portuondo and Head Waiter Roberto
Gutierrez kept close tabs on everything. We felt the elegance of the
evening for days to come.
Dinner in the Raffaello restaurant each evening was a delight. With
our friend of many years, 2nd Maitre D' Raffaele Bailo creating
happy times with his recorded medleys of famous Neapolitan and
classic Italian songs. Signor Bailo is retiring soon. Costa will
have a hard time finding another man like him, for he is the Italian
Festive flavor of the Costa dining rooms. We know that we will
certainly miss him. Maitre D' Bartolo Vitiello gave us a special
table near the entrance, which made it much easier with the wheel
chair. On board our friend Chef Antonio De Luca treated us to al
dente spaghetti with crab meat, and for our anniversary prepared for
us a special Pastiera, a delicious
Neapolitan Cheese Cake, which we shared with our new companions at
the next table, all delightful French Canadians. We made a new
friend Executive Chef Ciro Perfetto who should be congratulated on
the excellent cuisine daily. Wonderful choices are perfectly
prepared. We also met his son Chef Francesco Perfetto in the Tuscan
Steakhouse. It's wonderful to see him carrying on his father's
traditions so capably.
Our waiter in the Raffaello Dining Room was Edwin Fernandez; he and
his Asst. Collin Seguerira were marvelous all week, especially to
our grandson. Little Marcello especially enjoyed the chicken tenders
and fries and leading the Conga Line throughout the dining room!
Frequently, we had lunch in the Michelangelo Dining room where our
friend 2nd Maitre D' Marcantonio De Candia always accommodated us
with a nice table and selected for us some special appetizers. Here
we also met 2nd Maitre D' Carmelo Onorini, whom we had recognized
from previous cruises on Princess ships. Both of them, Marcantonio
and Carmelo treated us magnificently and made us feel welcome every
time we entered the
Cabin #6207 on Deck 6, all the way forward, is nicely
decorated in the traditional Costa woods and nautical colors. There
are two framed sketches on the walls in keeping with the 20s and 30s
art of the ship. When entering on the right is a large bathroom,
with a shower seat and safety rails all around. The turquoise tiles
were very pretty. Then, there is one end table with a lamp, a king
size bed, a medium size
coffee table and two upholstered chairs. We had continental
breakfast here every morning. It was prompt, hot and delicious.
When entering on the right there is a double armoire, a single one
is across the door way. There are plenty of shelves and hangers, and
a personal safe. Next, there is a lighted, mirrored vanity/desk with
four drawers, a refrigerator and a TV. The balcony is small and not
too private, since it is located near an exit to the prow of the
ship. When compared with the handicapped cabins on the Princess
Lines, Costa's are much smaller and located too far from the central
elevators. Princess clusters these cabins near the elevators, and so
do the Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Lines. The last two have much
larger cabins and balconies; on the Norwegian Dawn last month both
the cabin and balcony are huge.
There is another problem of the prow location: the wind on the
balcony is so strong that the balcony cannot be used in the evenings
when the ship is going at full speed. It is actually dangerous. Next
time, we will try for a mini suite or suite. This cabin was so small
that we had to park the wheelchair in the bathroom! The cabin
steward Francis Baldo was phenomenal. He anticipated our every need.
Cruise Director Max Bertolotto is suave, debonair and
handsome. He has the ship's activities running like clockwork. We
met him on board the Costa ships over twelve years ago, but now he
is truly magnificent. There's Bingo, Dancing and Dance Lessons,
fitness programs, Italian Lessons, etc. Cruising Italian style is
great for making new friends. There are feasts with games like
bocce, toga parties and Roman Bacchanals. The shows are many and
varied with singers, dancers and comedians. We especially enjoyed
hearing once again John Ciotta the tenor from New York, who wowed
the audience and earned a standing ovation. There is something for
everyone and even quiet places to read or do crossword puzzles.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA Sail Away 5:00pm
Day 2. At Sea, we are sailing southeasterly.
Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 5:00pm Depart 11:30pm
An interesting excursion includes a visit to the Bacardi Rum
Distillery and a tour of San Juan by night.
Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm
This is a great place for shopping. An interesting tour includes the
Skyline Drive and the mountain top view of other Virgin Islands and
the famous Magen Bay.
Day 5. Catalina Island Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm
This is Costa's private island where the passengers can enjoy the
beach resort facilities such as chairs and umbrellas and the BBQ
offered free of charge. However, several types of water sport
activities are offered by independent operators not connected to
Costa. Costa Cruises discourages the use of these activities.
Day 5. Evening La Romana Arrive 6:00pm Depart 11:00pm
La Romana is only 5miles from Catilina Island. The only excursion
offered in this port is a tour to Altos de Chavon arena which
features a musical show with local rhythms and dances.
Day 6. At Sea -- Sea Depth sometimes is approx. 5,500 meters.
Day 7. Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 1:00pm Depart 6:00pm
A favorite excursion for us is a visit to Paradise Island and
Atlantis with its beautiful Aquarium.
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 7:00am
Guest Relations Manager Martina Fantoni arranged for
wheelchair assistance from our cabin. We had a twenty minute wait in
the Atrium, because ship personnel are not allowed to wheel
passengers off, only Port workers with security clearance can go off
the ship. We were off to passport check, baggage pick up and
customs, all in a matter of 15 minutes. Nice job Costa! However, we
had a half hour wait for Marcello to get the car from the Port
Parking Garage. The traffic in port is extremely heavy and
congested, since many other cruise ships arrive on Sunday; however,
the I-95 traffic was light and we were home in Boca Raton, FL in
less than 35 minutes.
The ship's atmosphere gives cruisers opportunities to meet so
many cosmopolitan people. The fascinating Captains, Passenger
Service Directors, Maitre D's and performers are all in extreme
proximity, very friendly and most apt to strike up a conversation
with cruisers. Meeting new people and seeing new places is what
cruising is all about. That is why we love “cruising Italian style”!
It has been more than ten years since our first cruise on Costa
ships. But the last few years both of us have developed ambulatory
problems, first Vincent and then Mary requiring wheelchair
assistance, thus we book wheelchair accessible cabins.
In our cruise reviews we have frequently suggested that wheelchair
accessible cabins should be centrally located in order to facilitate
the wheelchair bound people to access every important place, from
the dining room to the theater, with minimal effort. However, our
suggestions to make cruise ships more wheelchair friendly have not
been heard by those individuals involved in the planning and design
of new ships in the Costa and Carnival Cruise lines, since there has
been no effort to centrally locate the wheelchair accessible cabins.
In our opinion the cruise lines that have given the best effort in
making their new ships most friendly to wheelchair bound passengers
are Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Happy
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