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Cruise Ship Information

Costa Magica is a cruise ship for the Costa Crociere cruise line. She debuted in 2004 as a sister ship to Costa Fortuna, built on the same platform as the Destiny-class of the Carnival Cruise Lines. Magica pays homage to some of the most famous destinations in Italy including Positano, Portofino, Bellagio, and Sicily which are all incorporated into her public rooms and restaurants. At 102.587 GT, she is one of the largest in the Costa Crociere fleet.

 

Atmosphere on board 


More than any of its other brands, Carnival Corp.'s Costa Crociere, acquired in 2001, has taken the mantle of its big sister Carnival Cruise Lines and has parlayed it into "Cruising Italian Style" with savvy flair. Upon boarding Costa's newest ship, Costa Magica, which debuted in November of 2004, there's no question that you have just entered the whimsical world of Joe Farcus (Carnival's longtime interior architect and designer) ... with an Italian accent.

 

Costa Magica is enormous, especially for Europe, at 105,000 tons and carrying 2,720 passengers. (But it isn't the first: Its sister Costa Fortuna debuted in 2003 to equal success.) And on Costa Magica, "Cruising Italian Style" takes on new meaning since the interior theme of the ship is Italian holiday spots. Blown-up posters (manipulated by computer to look like Impressionist-era paintings) of destinations as diverse as Portofino and the Italian Alps line the walls and center the Italia Magica Atrium theme; the public rooms are also named for these places.

 

So this is most definitely a ship that is Italian in style and substance. "Cruising Italian Style" in Europe is an experience in cultural diversity that shouldn't be missed. Not only is it great fun -- and occasionally challenging -- but it's also eye-opening in terms of societal differences. I learned that kids are kids (and behave the same way in any language), that Europeans love to dance and will find any opportunity to swing around a ballroom floor, and that Americans, Canadians and Brits were the only people who attempted to stand in line for anything until finally giving in to the chaos around them.


Family with Kids/Teens

 

Good heavens, yes! This ship is filled with families, and while the Squok Club was busy at certain times of the day and night on my cruise, families tended to stay and play together, even until the wee hours.

 

The Squok Club facility, located on Deck 12, is bright and cheerful with several computer stations and play areas. There is only one room for all ages, but the kids don't seem to mind. Their "counselors" run them all over the ship in any event; the groups of children, from age 3 to 12, can be seen as pirates or chefs or in dance or art classes. One of the most enjoyable moments onboard for me was the group portrait being taken at a photography station. Approximately 20 kids, all ages, were sitting cross-legged on the floor, all dressed in costume, cheerfully yelling the Italian version of "cheese" while the photographer clicked away.

 

Costa also allows parents to go on shore excursions while their children are in the club, and there is no charge for the service.

 

There is a separate teen club with various activities for the 13 - 17 crowd.


Past Passenger Programs


The Ponte Vecchio shop features duty-free Italian designer goods as well as sundries. The library also houses the six-station Internet area, with 17-inch flat screen monitors and e-postcard capability. The 40-seat card room drew bridge fanatics, and the Sanremo Casino has 120 slot machines, along with six roulette wheels, seven Black Jack tables, a mini dice table and five video games. The Puccini Ballroom holds the Piano Bar and private parties were scheduled there, too, during the cruise. The Business/Conference Center has very comfortable chairs with pop-up writing tables and simultaneous translation facilities.

 

Fitness And Spa


The Saturnia Spa, located forward at the top of the ship, is a 4,600-square-ft. facility with all sorts of goodies for both men and women: Turkish bath, sauna, treatment rooms and beauty salon, plus a large workout room with new Technogym equipment. Work out while overlooking the bow and the vista ahead.

 

There are aerobics classes for all, no charge. Yoga, spinning and Pilates are offered for 11 Euros per class.

 

Spa treatments run the gamut from Swedish massage to (my favorite) an hour and a half special of full-body exfoliation, steam, milk-bath lotion rub, aromatherapy back massage and mini-facial for a special price of 99 Euros. Not bad. The salon offers hair care, manicures and pedicures.

 

Elsewhere on the ship, there are three pools on the Lido Deck, each separate and each with a different atmosphere, and six hot tubs. Although the forward pool is located next to the big slide, it is usually one of the quietest since most guests in that area use the middle pool. The aft pool is behind the Bellagio Cafe, under a glass dome, and was usually filled with families, as was the central pool. There seemed to be little oversight of kids on my cruise; there were many who were belly flopping in almost all of the hot tubs on board with no parental supervision.

 

There's a jogging track on top of the ship and a full, regulation-sized tennis court with stadium seating.

 

There are dance lessons by the pool every day with an aerobic beat to them, and dance lessons inside for salsa, merengue, waltz, tango, cha-cha and the like.


Food & Dining


Costa Magica's two main dining rooms, Costa Smerelda and Portofino, operate on a traditional set schedule for dinner and an open seating for both breakfast and lunch. Dining hours are later than North Americans expect: 7 p.m. for the early seating and 9:15 p.m. for the second. Costa Smerelda, located at the aft, is bigger and more attractive in that it's surrounded by windows on three sides, including the entire aft end overlooking the stern wake. Both dining rooms are listed as Deck 3, but both are two stories with second-floor seating around the rim of the main floor. Assignments are generally based on cabin placement: Forward cabins get assigned to Portofino, cabins further aft to Costa Smerelda. The maitre d's do attempt to place non-Italian-speaking guests at tables that are language-appropriate; English with English, German with German, Spanish with Spanish. Furtheremore, the wait staff for that section is well-versed in that language, so there are no barriers to ordering. (I was traveling alone and was accidentally placed at a table of Russians. No one spoke to me at all; it was as though I weren't there. The waiter informed the maitre d' who rushed over to apologize; he had meant for me to be assigned to the adjacent table, which had two American couples, a teenager, a single gentleman, and then ... me).

 

The food at supper is ample and attractively served by attentive waiters who go out of their way to please. The pasta and rice dishes were absolutely spectacular on my cruise, some of the main courses (the osso buco, listed as "braised veal" in the English menu, and most of the beef dishes) were excellent, and the rest were merely OK, filling but not fantastic. The appetizers are good, sometimes unusual; we were curious about a smoked duck with tuna sauce (tuna sauce??), so one brave soul at our table ordered it ... and then quickly ordered something else. Desserts and salads are largely uninspiring.

 

Note: The waiters in the American and Canadian sections ask their guests if they want salad served with the main course; otherwise, it's served at the end of the meal.

 

A wine-and-water package is offered, with six bottles of Italian wine (three reds and three whites -- some very good) and six bottles of either still or "gas" (sparkling) water, at a cost of 99 Euros, which everyone said was an excellent buy. "Free" water will not be served at mealtimes; your only option is bottled.

 

Costa Magica's dining rooms offer seagoing traditions with a decidedly Italian twist: One night, waiters stopped mid-serve to waltz with guests, and on another, what we would call the Parade of Baked Alaska was carried out with light sticks and sparklers and had everyone cheering.

 

The Bellagio Buffet on the Lido Deck aft is surprising for several reasons. For one thing, it's big and expansive -- fitting for a ship this large, but unusual for a Europe-based cruise -- and for another, the food is really good, with several stations around the restaurant (and outside, both front and back) offering Italian specialties, international fare, grilled items and pizza. And finally, most surprising of all is the 24-hour coffee set up, with a robust brew available all day and night, practically unheard-of in Europe, plus tea bags, hot chocolate packs and milk (hot milk available in the morning). There's also an ice-cream station which has three flavors of self-serve ice cream available most of the day.

 

Trivia tidbit: The coffee and ice-cream stations use Carnival's cheerful green, blue and yellow plastic mugs and bowls. It was fun to watch people as they got their coffee; Americans and Canadians filled the 12-ounce mugs nearly to the top; the French and Italians only put about an inch in the bottom of the mug (except at breakfast) because they are accustomed to using tiny cups with small amounts of very strong coffee.

 

The room is big enough to accommodate most everyone quite comfortably, plus there's a second floor gallery and outdoor sections both forward and aft of the restaurant with tables and chairs. Problems arise, however, due to the limited number of hours that the buffet is open ... and when the pizza line and tea-time starts at 4 p.m. (after the buffet has been closed for two hours, and people have returned hungry from shore excursions and have only until 5 p.m. to grab a bite), there's a stampede that strains the resources of the facility and causes flaring tempers.

 

Bellagio becomes a "pizza trattoria" late in the evening, from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., and there is usually a midnight snack of some sort, either in the Bellagio, in the galley, or canapes served in the bars and clubs along the Deck 5 promenade.

 

High up on Deck 11 is Costa's alternative restaurant. Taking a page from the trend on U.S. based ships, Costa Magica has adapted its Vincenza Tavernetta Club into a quiet, 88-guest elegant space with cooked-to-order steaks and chops and personalized service. There is a 23 Euro surcharge to dine here.

 

Room service breakfast is an expanded continental offering, with a choice of rolls, croissants, Danish pastries, cereals, juice, yogurt, and coffee, tea or hot chocolate. It's served by white-gloved attendants; coffee arrives in heavy porcelain pots, not plastic thermoses. While there is no charge for this (tipping is recommended at delivery), the rest of the room service menu consists of exactly three sandwiches (tuna, egg, and ham and cheese) for which your shipboard account will be charged 2 Euros.


Entertainment


Almost every public room onboard Costa Magica has entertainment of some sort or another, whether it's the pool band, individual vocalists, the classical duo in the atrium or the pianist in the Capo lounge.

 

The production shows in Europe tend to use fewer vocal effects due to language issues, so except for a Broadway show-tune revue (which is pretty much universal), the nightly offerings consist of a lot of dancing, acrobatics and magic.

 

The sail-away parties and music are particularly enjoyable ("Ciao Ciao Barcelona," for example) with music and revelry either at poolside or in the Grand Bar Salento, and the dancing in Salento and Capri lounge is fantastic, whether it's tango, polka, waltz, cha-cha or merengue. Whole families dance together, or get together to learn the steps. It was wonderful for me to watch even though I didn't participate.

 

There are lively art auctions, bingo (10 Euros for one card, 20 for three), and games around the pools and in the lounges ... Name That Tune, The Hat Game, Magic Box ... in all the languages, of course. And at dinner time, one or another of the soloists is on hand to serenade the diners.


Tipping

 

A standard gratuity of €7 per adult per day for cruises up to eight nights or €6 per adult per day on longer cruises is automatically added to shipboard accounts and distributed to cabin stewards and dining-room staff. The applicable charge for teens between the ages of 14 and 17 is 50% of those amounts; there is no charge for children under the age of 14. Passengers may adjust the amount based on the level of service experienced. An automatic 15% gratuity is added to all beverage tabs, as well as to checks for spa treatments and salon services.


Fellow Passengers

 

A healthy 80 percent of passengers hail from Europe, particularly Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain. Costa says 20 percent, typically, are English-speaking. Costa appeals to young families and young couples on romantic getaways, and the vibe onboard can definitely be quite active for cruises that are 10 nights or fewer.


Our recommendation


The Costa Magica is one of the most coveted ships in the Costa Fleet. The recent remodels on this amazing vessel make your experience more beautiful, modern and comfortable. With the amazing Galileo Disco and Observatory on the top deck, you can enjoy the 360 degree views during the day then party in the disco at night. Truly a beautiful ship with many wonderful amenities.