The Online Cruise Travel Guide
Created by the Author of FODOR'S

tLinda Coffman's
Linda Coffman
Author & Cruise Authority

Cruise Lines & Ships Articles & Advice

Cruise Reviews

Before You Go 
On Board In Port Get a Fare Quote   Home Page

Cruise Essentials:

Site Search
Cruise News
Planning Tips
Packing & Lists
HOT Tips
Cruise Links
About Us


CLICK HERE for savings--CruiseCompete
Don't pay more than your tablemates...
CruiseCompete makes it easy to let independent agents compete to offer you the best deal.

Cruisers' favorites:

Cruise Travel Magazine
Cruise Travel

Porthole Cruise Magazine

Have a question or a review to submit? Write

Copyright © 1995-2013
Linda Coffman, SM

ll content is protected by United States Copyright Laws. Violators of our copyright, as well as bandwidth theft by "direct linking" of images, will be pursued by all means necessary. Find out more in
  Terms of Service

Costa Allegra
Western Caribbean
January 19-30 2006

by Hugh F. Barbour

This is my 17th cruise. 

BEFORE YOU GO: Research a little about the ports you will be calling at. Costa is great about telling you where to shop and what beaches are available, but they aren't so great in letting you know about local cultures, sights to see, etc. (LIKE MOST CRUISE COMPANIES.) All prices aboard ship are quoted in Euros. Bring a calculator. 

SHIP: This ship is FABULOUS! Small is definitely better if you don’t like the mega ships with 3,000 plus passengers. Nice design, handled the seas well--especially the rough seas we had most of the time (most unusual for this time of year). Peach and Rose hand cut Carrara marble, walls finished in the finest woods and decks named after famous impressionist painters. My parents and I were very surprised no lifeboat drill until day 2 - but then we sailed at 9:00 pm and second sitting had just started.

Statistics Amenities
Year Built: 1992
Refurbished: 2002 
Length: 161 feet 
Width: 84 feet  
Speed: 21.5 knots 
Decks: 9  
Crew: 450  
Passengers: 820 
2 Pools (1 Children’s)
3 Jacuzzi Spas
Beauty Center
Fitness center
4 Bars
Internet Center
Small Casino

EMBARKATION: Embarkation was at the Port of Miami. Once you passed Port Security at the Terminal entrance, you have to line up to check in. Have your passport out with your cruise ticket for the check in personnel. After you check in there is a large waiting area with chairs and restroom and a water fountain. We were supposed to start boarding at 1:30 pm, but were delayed for 15 minutes as the x-ray scanners broke down.

CABIN & AMENITIES: We had an Ocean View Cabin (4083) and it was the best cabin we've had (layout, and size). It was our first ocean view in 10 years. Good storage space (3 closets, lots of drawers, and some shelves). The cabin was equipped with a small safe, Mini Bar, and Television. The television got 2 satellite stations (NBC, New York, and WSEE, Erie, PA), 2 music channels, 5 movie channels (1 for each of the languages spoken onboard), some Costa Corporate channels, and 3 ship originated channels. The bathroom is very well equipped, with marble counter top, a wall-mount hairdryer, and a 115 VAC and 220 VDC sockets were provided for electric razors.

The onboard newsletter "Today" was delivered every night with announcements and schedules for the next day. It also contained a mini newspaper with all of the major news stories from around the world. These are also available in 5 languages.

ON BOARD: Your door key will be in the lock. You will also find your Costa Cards (these serve as ID, and credit card while on the ship) in your room. You do not need to register your credit card right away to use your Costa card to buy a drink or anything else on ship. Wait a day or two and then register your credit card to avoid the long lines. Oh, and do know that you will have to pay a 20% port surcharge on drinks bought while in port.

Costa was good about getting our luggage to our rooms within a few hours of our arrival, and we unpacked and had plenty of space. Even large suitcases will slide under the beds! We booked a room with an Ocean View and it was really worth it! The square footage is more than that of other ships we have sailed on. We found having the extra space made it easier with 3 adults in the stateroom.

Lunch was served in the Yacht Club Buffet on deck 7. This was the only day on the cruise to get a Hot Dog. The first night was all about learning where things are on the ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a disco, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 1 adult pool, 1 child’s pool, 3 hot tubs, etc. Walk around with the little color coded map they give you and get comfortable - there is a lot to see.

PORTS OF CALL: Same tours as every other cruise line. Consider not booking on ship - make your own arrangements in port or check and see if your travel agency or wholesaler can recommend a local tour company if you don’t want to use the ship’s tours.

Cozumel - Was cancelled because of Hurricane Rita. Progresso was substituted. If you have seen one port in the Mexican Yucatan, you’ve seen them all.

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Has really cleaned up their act since 1996. The government has finally realized that tourism is their mainstay and is now spending the most money in the Caribbean to promote tourism. 

Colon, Panama - It is so nice to dock in a Port. Anchoring in Gatun Lake on a partial transit of the Canal gets BORING! 

Porto Limon, Costa Rica-The Rain Forests and National Parks are spectacular. The tour of the Gatun Locks at the Panama Canal is great! 

Georgetown, Grand Cayman - Same thing’s to see as all the other times. You can only go to HELL and back so many times. 

CREW: Mainly Italian, which is what I expected--fun crowd. All Crew members speak Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish. Cabin staff and Restaurant staff excellent. Cruise Director Gabriele - we didn't leave with that usual feeling that we would miss him. Appeared to take more of a back seat. Only showed up at mandatory events like the cocktail parties, etc. The Assistant Cruise Director,  Daniela should get his job. She was leading the exercise class, and all over the ship checking or helping the Animators (Cruise Staff).

COSTA KID’S CLUB GROUPS: Run by an energetic staff of youth counselors, the program is tailored to fit four separate age groups: 

  • Mini Club - For children from 3 (out of diapers) to 6 years old.
  • Maxi Club - For children from 7 to 10 years old.
  • Costa Teens Club - For children from 11 to 14 years old.
  • Teen - For children from 15 to 19 years old.

NOTE: Mini, Maxi and Teen Club programs may vary depending on the ship and number of children participating. While we were onboard the Costa Allegra, there were about 6 to 8 kids in the Mini Club and 4 counselors. Everyone was having a blast playing on the floor, reading stories, and doing crafts. No other age groups were onboard because of the time of year.

FOOD: I can honestly say, some of the best I’ve had on a ship. Even the Italian couple behind our table liked the food. You have to remember that American Italian cooking is nothing like real Italian cooking. A word of warning: Portions are European size, not American! The coffee in the Restaurant was American (Weak). The coffee in the Yacht Club was European (very strong). 1st sitting was at 6:30 pm, and 2nd sitting was at 9:00 pm for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were open seating.

Buffet Area - Well done. Most passengers spent breakfast and lunch here so I assume the food here was not bad. No soda machines; juice, tea, and coffee only. At Dinner time this area became the specialty restaurant (reservation only).

ENTERTAINMENT: OK, but just OK. Costa does not have Las Vegas type entertainment so before warned. The dancers seemed amateurish. They did bring in a Mime, a contortionist, a duo that played Chamber Music, Crew Talent Show, that were good. The best night was Van Pressley, Jr. of the Platters, he can still sing great. Sang some of the old Platters hits. The passenger talent show was done well (singing, dancing, The Full Monty, etc. - a blast). 

PHOTOGRAPHERS: They do a great quality job. Photos were displayed in two areas, by the theater entrances, and the casino entrances. Photos taken by Dinner Sittings were displayed: 1st sitting Starboard side, and 2nd sitting Port side making it much easier to find them. All other photos you had to search for. Some photos did have a number in the corner that you wrote on the order form they provided others did not.

INTERNET CAFÉ: I didn’t use it. Someone told me it cost 0.50 Euros per minute. Only 4 computer terminals and no WiFi. Also no attendant. Instructions were posted next to the terminals on how to use the system and the card reader for your Costa Card.

GRIPE: WHINY PASSENGERS. I heard some complaints regarding announcements made in 5 languages, and the rough seas we encountered. I like hearing all the announcements: it drowns out all the annoying whining in English. But, seriously, this is a cruise line marketed heavily in Europe and South America ("#1 in Europe" should be a dead giveaway), so there are LOTS of non-US citizens on board. On this cruise of 820 passengers about 300 were non-US citizens. If you want an English-only cruise, book elsewhere!

DISEMBARKATION: They ask you be out of your room by 8:00 am and there is no room service for breakfast. Breakfast starts at 6:30 AM. Because everyone is eating at once, there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and have breakfast there. It is tasty, hot, and they have a good selection.

After breakfast you go to your color coded assigned waiting areas if you are an American Citizen. Non-American passengers have to go to the Flamingo Ballroom for Customs and Immigration clearance, then they go to color coded waiting areas. Here you can relax until it is time for your group to leave. The system works very well, but you do still get some foreign nationals who can’t follow directions and hold up the disembarkation because they didn’t report to Customs and Immigration. When your color is called, you go down to the gangway and use your Costa Card one last time to check out of the ship. Once on shore, American citizens go thru Customs, then proceed to the color coded area to claim their luggage. After claiming your luggage, you hand in your customs declaration to the Agent at the Door and leave the terminal.


  • Alcoholic drinks are not very strong on board and quite expensive. 
  • The ship has some great prices on bottles of alcohol, but they won't let you have them until the end of the cruise because they are duty free. 
  • If you don't like something, send it back. They want you to have a good time and not everyone's tastes are the same. 
  • Feel free to ask for a second pillow, more towels, etc. They do provide pretty good service, but you do need to let them know what you want. The Room Stewards and Stewardesses are not mind readers.
  • OVERALL: I think this was a great ship with good food and service. The ocean view rooms are very comfortable and kept tidy. I disliked that we had too little time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it.
  • The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have a great time. 
  • They have healthy food choices including sugar free desserts everyday. 
  • There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and really I saw few people smoking anyway.
  • They had good prices on duty free bottles of alcohol on ship as well as clothes, t-shirts, and more. The shopping on board was good according to the people I spoke with. 
  • The casino has a few Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker and Roulette tables for play and lots of slots. 
  • Check out some of the onboard games and dances with the cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining.
  • They have a good variety of food and never complain if you want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile.
  • The Jogging track deck 8 was nice. It is out of the way of the other passengers, and the joggers did not have to play dodge the chaises lounges on the pool deck.

Now for the bad news! After the 2006 Caribbean season, Costa Allegra will sail to Genoa for a refit and then be deployed for the Asian market.

Back to Costa Cruise Reviews

CLICK HERE TO ORDER - Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises
Order My
Latest Book



Back to the top of  this page  

            Use keywords to search...

Search Search the Internet