Costa Cruises

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The Verdict

Is it Carnival or is it Carnivale? Decorated in a Europe-meets-Vegas style, these ships are eye candy for the ADD set.

Size (in tons) 85000
Number of Cabins 1056
Number of Cabins with Verandas 678
Number of Passengers 2114
Number of Crew 920
Passenger/Crew Ratio 2.3 to 1
Year Built 2003
Last Major Refurbishment 2007
Cabin Comfort & Amenities 4.0
Ship Cleanliness & Maintainence 4.0
Public Comfort/Space 4.0
Dining Options 3.0
Children's Facilities 3.0
Decor 4.0
Gym & Spa Facilities 4.0
Enjoyment 4.0
Sister Ships Atlantica


Typical Per Diems: $70-$110

Atlantica sails the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale (winter) and New England/Canada from New York & Quebec City (spring).

Mediterranea sails New England/Canada from New York & Quebec City (fall).

Atlantica, and sister Mediterranea, ushered in the future for Costa, being a kind of European version of the Fun Ships operated by sister company Carnival. Atlantica was the first of the Farcus-designed Costa ships, and you'll recognize the designer's touch in the flashing lights along the elevators and also in the many mosaics and frescoes throughout and the tons of Carrara marble that would have driven a Renaissance sculptor crazy. The Atlantica's Fellini theme and the Mediterranea's 17th- and 18th-century Italian palazzi motif work particularly well to combine Italian flavor and Farcus's fantasy. Cruising on these ships is like being in an Escher painting: fantastic detail and endless illusion.

Built along the same lines as Carnival's Spirit-class ships, at nearly 1,000 feet long, the ships cut a sleek profile, and their bright yellow, barrel-like smokestacks, emblazoned with a big blue Costa C, distinguishes them from their Carnival cousins.

Despite the obvious success of the Spirit-class design (six Carnival and Costa ships are based on it, and Holland America has adapted it for its Vista-class vessels), there are some odd bits. The main public decks have a zigzagging layout that lacks the easy flow of some competitors, and some areas in the bow are downright bizarre: For instance, the wide outdoor promenade on Deck 3 ducks indoors as it goes forward, becoming a long, strange, marble-floored lounge with some small tables and chairs. Is it a place to sit? Is it a place to walk? No one seems to know, so it gets hardly any use.


The cherry woods and jewel-tone fabrics in the cabins create a pleasant environment, and well over half of the cabins on each ship have private balconies. Inside cabins are a snug 160 square feet, while outside cabins are 175 square feet. All cabins have a stocked, pay-as-you-go minifridge, a hair dryer, a personal safe, and more than adequate storage space; all outside cabins have sitting areas with couches. The views from all category-4 cabins on Deck 4 are completely obstructed by lifeboats, and the category-6 balcony cabins directly above, on Deck 5, are partially obstructed as well. Bathrooms have good storage space.

The 32 Panorama Suites on Decks 5 and 6 are great for families, measuring 272 square feet with 90-square-foot balconies. They have attractive granite coffee tables and countertops, wooden chairs, and desks. Suites have large couches that can double as a bed, two separate floor-to-ceiling closets, lots of drawer space, and large bathrooms with whirlpool bathtubs, marble counters, and double sinks. Adjacent is a dressing room (on a recent Atlantica cruise with her family, coauthor Heidi loved hiding from her kids in it!) with a vanity table, drawers, and a closet. The Grand Suites are the largest accommodations aboard. Six are located amidships on Deck 7 and measure 372 square feet, plus 118-square-foot balconies; the other eight are aft on Decks 4, 6, 7, and 8 and measure 367 square feet, plus 282-square-foot balconies.

Both ships have new spa "wellness" cabins and suites that have direct access to the spa via elevator and stairs; perks include a personalized wellness consultation, three free spa treatments, two fitness or meditation classes, and cabin extras that range from special shower and air filters to a minibar stocked with healthy food and drinks.

Eight cabins are wheelchair accessible.

Dining Options

Aside from an elegant two-story dining room, there's a two-story alternative, reservations-only restaurant high up on Deck 10, charging guests $23 per person for the privilege of dining (suite guests can go free of charge once per cruise). With a quieter and more romantic mood, its atmosphere is its best feature, with dim lights, candlelight, fresh flowers, soft live music, and lots of space between tables (thought the vibrations from the funnel are distracting).

For casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner, head to the sprawling indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant. Soft ice cream and pizza made with herbs and fresh mozzarella are served from stations here. On a recent sailing, we were impressed by the variety of items at lunch, from a range of seafood to the beloved parmigiano cheese wheel and prosciutto ham (imported from Italy, of course), cold cuts and salami, daily hand-tossed pasta of the day, and cruise staples such as stir fries and burgers. The thin-crust pizza was delicious and featured toppings from salmon to Gorgonzola cheese.

One of Atlantica's most delightful spaces is a faithful copy of Venice's Caffe Florian, a great choice for a glass of wine or a specialty coffee, complete with an old-world decor of dark red velvet upholstery and classical art (unfortunately, the Mediterranea does not have a Caffe Florian).

Public Areas

Atlantica's theme is taken from Fellini's movies with huge stills from his classics and blown-up paparazzi photos of stars. Each deck is named for a Fellini film -- La Dolce Vita, La Strada, and so on -- and the eighth deck is dubbed 8 1/2. Playful fantasy permeates the ship, from the lipstick-red leather chairs to the suspended glass staircase connecting the two levels of Club Atlantica, the alternative restaurant/nightclub. Mediterranea's decor is inspired by noble 17th- and 18th-century Italian palazzi, and it's heavy on dance and theater imagery. When you first lay eyes on the Alice in Wonderland-like fantasyland atrium, for instance, it's a bit jarring -- all bright colors, glowing light panels, textured and sculpted metal surfaces, Roman-style ceiling murals, and fiber-optic squid swarming up eight decks. On both ships, warm wood tones, lots of art, and Italian marble everywhere create rooms that are ├╝ber-rich and entertaining. These ships are destinations in and of themselves.

The discos are a darkish, two-story, cavelike space with video-screen walls, fog machines, and translucent dance floors. The three-level theater on each ship has velvety high-backed seating and very high-tech and elaborate stages. Downstairs, on the lowest passenger deck is a smaller show lounge used for late-night comedy acts, karaoke, and cocktail parties, but don't worry, you're still above the waterline (just barely). There's also a big glitzy casino with a festive Vegas-style mood, several large lounges that feature musical entertainment in the evenings, a smallish but pleasant library/Internet center, and a roomy, elegant card room. A kids' playroom, teen center, large video arcade, and chapel (these are not all alike) are all squirreled away in the bow on Decks 4 and 5.

Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities

The oceanview gym is a pleasant, two-tiered affair with machines on many different levels and a large hot tub in the center.

The spa provides your typical menu of treatments, including 50-minute massages, facials, and reflexology. There are three pools on each ship, two of them in the loud, active main pool area and another in the stern. Above the latter is a neat water slide for all ages. Other sports and relaxation amenities include four hot tubs, a golf driving net, and a combo volleyball, basketball, and tennis court. If you explore, you'll find lots of deck space for sunbathing and hiding away with a deck chair and a page turner.