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Cruise Ship Information

Costa Mediterranea is a Spirit-class cruise ship operated by the Costa Crociere cruise line. She was constructed at the Kvaerner Masa-Yards (currently Aker Finnyards) in Helsinki, Finland at a cost of over €400 million. Like sister ship Costa Atlantica, her design was derived from the Carnival Cruise Lines Spirit-class ships, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle. On June 16, 2003 she departed on her maiden voyage from Genoa to Spain and Portugal.

Public rooms aboard Costa Mediterranea such the ten floor high Maschera d'Argento atrium, were inspired by Italy's 16th and 17th century palazzi and decorated to reflect the ship's motto "Mai visto niente di simile" (You've never seen anything like it). The twelve decks are named after mythological and historical characters: Circe, Tersicore, Bacco, Teseo, Orfeo, Narciso, Prometeo, Pegaso, Armonia, Cleopatra, Pandora and Medea.

 

Atmosphere on board 


The sleek and sassy Costa Mediterranea is the second new ship to join Costa's fleet under the ownership of Carnival Corporation. The ship, like sister ship Costa Atlantica, makes a leap into the 21st century with a remarkably high percentage of verandah cabins. It's a most welcome addition, as well as a giant step forward for Costa, considering that prior ships offered a mere handful of balcony cabins, or none at all.

 

There's absolutely nothing ordinary or understated about Costa Mediterranea's decor. At first, the eye-popping ornamentation, designed by Carnival's super-talented Joe Farcus, is overwhelming. Farcus has outdone himself with incredibly inventive designs that reinvent details from 17th and 18th-century Italian palazzi (palaces). It makes you wonder if those palaces really looked that magnifico when they, too, were brand new. There's so much to look at that, in Farcus' words, passengers enjoy "a constant discovery process on board" though you may, in fact, feel like you're cruising inside a traveling theme park. Along with the theme park fun, however, goes a degree of regimentation-particularly with the assigned, two-seating system in the dining room. All in all, there are fewer mealtime alternatives than found on other large-ship lines, such as Princess, that have adopted free-choice dining.

 

Where Costa Mediterranea stands out from the pack is in its Italian exuberance, the hallmark of "Cruising Italian Style." The staff greets you with "buon giorno." The entertainment is full of gusto-though napkin-waving waiters dancing on the dinner tables isn't everyone's cup-of-espresso. In a nutshell, this ship is a terrific choice if you want to experience cruising with a definite European flavor and still enjoy all the expected comforts and amenities of an American-geared mega-ship.

 

Another area where this ship stands out is that it will become the first in the fleet -- aside from Costa Concordia and Costa Serena, Costa's newest -- to receive the addition of the line's interesting new spa accommodation concept. Beginning with cruises in April 2008, 44 existing staterooms on Costa Mediterranea will have been transformed into spa cabins. Though these are priced higher than the identically-sized balcony cabins, passengers are paying for extra services -- like three free spa treatments, complimentary fitness and meditation classes, and access to the ship's spa restaurant. And even though the balcony cabins are largely identical to those that don't get the spa treatment, they'll be outfitted with a few specialty items, such as aromatherapy diffusers and a mini bar loaded with healthy drinks and snacks.


Family with Kids/Teens

 

Costa's children's facilities are known as the "Squok Club," the name of a cute, friendly shark. Kid's activities are available year-round on both European and Caribbean itineraries. Offerings vary between the two regions, with programs on Caribbean sailings geared more toward Americans.

 

Depending on the number of children and teens on board, activities in the Caribbean are aimed at three age groups: Mini for 3-6 year olds, Maxi for 7-12 and Teen for 13-17. There are four full-time youth counselors (more for holiday trips). The two formal nights are "Parents Nights Out," and kids are treated to a buffet or pizza party while parents dine on their own. There is no extra charge.

 

Group baby-sitting is available for kids ages 3 (as long as they're beyond diapers) and up. It is offered by advance request and costs $10 per hour.

 

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 ship has three separate pool areas on Deck 9. The two central pools each have one, usually busy, whirlpool. One pool has a retractable magrodome roof for use in all kinds of weather. The smaller Apollo pool, all the way aft, is away from the crowds and has a bar and a third whirlpool. There is a neat waterslide up top on Deck 11, but it was only open a couple of hours during our entire cruise.

 

Costa Mediterranea's fitness facility and spa are combined on two decks. The Olympia Gym has an impressive array of state-of-the-art workout machines. They work two ways. You can establish your settings manually -- or sign up for a "key card" (and fitness consultation for an extra charge of $20); the key is pre-set so you are computer-guided throughout your workouts.

 

The area is tiered, so everyone has a sea view. Fun features include a forward-view whirlpool and separate men's and women's steam rooms, saunas and shower cabinets with multiple heads. The Ischia Spa, operated by Steiner, offers the usual menu of treatments such as Swedish massage ($99 for 50 minutes).

 

There is a small jogging track on the top deck above the gym, along with a netted basketball/volleyball area.

 

Caveat: Some fitness classes -- yoga, Pilates, kickboxing-have a $10 fee per session.


Food & Dining


The Restaurant degli Argentieri, based on a splendid 18th-century palazzo, is split into two levels and is the ship's main dining venue. It is a visually exciting space lit by fun glass globes that look like escaped balloons hanging from the ceiling. Dozens of fine silver goblets are displayed in little nooks throughout the room.

 

The restaurant works on an assigned, two seating basis and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (6:15 p.m. and 8:45 or 9 p.m. on formal nights). The late seating is geared to European dining customs and is quite late for many Americans. We, in fact, were usually just leaving the table at 10:45 p.m. And that did not even include time for coffee, which Italians customarily drink at a bar rather than at the dinner table. You can, of course, order regular coffee in the restaurant, but not cappuccino (a breakfast drink in Italy) or espresso. For these, you must go to a bar.

 

Dinner menus play up the Italian theme, with a different region of Italy highlighted each night. A tasty pasta course is always offered before the entree. Costa's "Salute e Benessere" ("health and well being") menus offer low-fat, low-carbohydrate options. Vegetarian selections are always available as well and are listed on the regular menu. The wine list is reasonably priced (many bottles around $24) with a predominance of Italian wines.

 

At night, the elegant Club Medusa (Decks 10 and 11) is the ship's alternative restaurant. A very cool glass stairway leads up to the Club from Deck 9. We found the appetizers, in particular, to be superb (try the grilled sea scallops or shrimp pie). There is a $23 per person cover charge and reservations are required. After dinner, the Club's balcony level transforms into a cigar bar that's open to everyone.

 

Caveat: If you want a fine dining experience at Club Medusa, don't accept the back table by the galley and tucked under the stairs. We did, though the restaurant remained half empty all evening with plenty of better seats going vacant.

 

During regular mealtimes, the sprawling Perla del Lago Restaurant on Deck 9 serves uninspired buffet fare. The numerous stations offer different dishes, so it pays to explore. The pizzeria, for example, is a separate station near the rear of the buffet area. While soft ice cream machines are scattered throughout, different ones are switched on at different times.

 

Though the ship offers round-the-clock food service, off-hour choices are slim. The 24-hour room service menu lists a few soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. All passengers may order espresso or cappuccino with their continental breakfast, a nice touch. Only suite passengers may order off the full restaurant menus for complete in-suite dining, including hot dishes for breakfast.

 

Costa is one of the few cruise lines to still offer a midnight buffet. The location changes nightly and may be served up as a tropical deck party, a galley visit, or an extravaganza in the dining room.


Entertainment


Evening entertainment ranges from dancing to romantic piano tunes in the Piazza Casanova Bar to opera or production shows in the main theater. The final night's passenger talent show was hilarious, thanks to the backup of the ship's professional singers and dancers. The amateur talent was pretty good, too. And, just walking into the three-tiered Osiris Theater is a trip. All those pyramids and pharaohs make you think you're in Egypt. Rest assured, the motif came straight from murals decorating a Roman palace built in the 1400s.

 

Daytime activities consist mainly of group games and fitness classes.


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

 

On Caribbean sailings, Americans are in the majority. Our cruise was roughly one-third European with passengers mainly from Italy, France and England.

 

During Costa Mediterranea's European season, the situation is reversed with primarily European passengers and 5 to 20 percent Americans. Americans will get a real European experience on board.

 

Announcements and daily newsletters are offered in a variety of languages -- a mixed blessing during the ritual emergency drill and on other occasions when the broadcasts continue from one language to the next.


Our recommendation


The Costa Mediterranea 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.