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Cruise Ship Information

Costa Pacifica is a Concordia-class cruise ship for Costa Crociere. She was handed over to Costa Crociere in 29 May 2009.[2] Her sister ships, Costa Concordia and Costa Serena, were launched in 2006 and in 2007, with Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Onboard facilities include the Samsara Spa and PlayStation World, an area boasting PS3 consoles, and the first recording studio at sea. The ship was inaugurated in a dual christening ceremony, along with Costa Luminosa on 5 June 2009.

Atmosphere on board

Big, bold and brash, the ship will also be relatively familiar to fans of Carnival's Conquest class; the layout's basically the same, and Costa Pacifica's interiors have been decorated by Joe Farcus, the long-time Carnival designer (and now a stalwart leader of the Costa new-build team).

All of Farcus' ships are designed around themes, and Pacifica's is music. It's amply represented in the ship's decor -- artwork, from antique violins to prints of scores, is simpatico, and decks are named after music styles. What's interesting here is that the theme is also carried through in ship activities. Unique to Costa Pacifica are cruising's first-ever recording studio (more on this below) and a "music maestro," who oversees the unusual-for-Costa enrichment opportunity. In this case, passengers can learn how to play piano, guitar and drums during their time onboard.

Beyond music, Costa Pacifica, which (like its Concordia-class siblings) is one of the largest in the Costa fleet, will appeal to travelers who want numerous entertainment options (from the rollicking two-deck Disco Fever to the elegant Wien Wien, a Viennese-inspired lounge that offers classical performances), an elaborate spa and excellent facilities for kids, all at extremely good value-for-money fares.

Family with Kids/Teens

I cannot sing the praises of this ship highly enough when it comes to accommodating families with children and teens. Because my cruise sailed during a school holiday, there were hundreds of children and teenagers onboard. While this could be cause for alarm for adults without children, it was actually a pleasant experience. The children's animation staff coped admirably with the added number of kids.

The Squok Club is the line's name for its children's program. It's divided into Minis (ages 3 to 6) and Maxis (ages 7 to 11). Activities were scheduled in blocks from 9 a.m. to noon, 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight. The children's room was far too small (though it is filled with fun, colorful stuff) to contain the number of children, so counselors improvised with excursions around the ship, using public rooms during off-hours for children's activities. (The line also offered staffed activities for children between 3 and 11 during port calls, so parents could take excursions without their children.)

Teenagers were divided between juniors (12 to 14 years) and seniors (15 to 18 years). There were socials and contests scheduled for this group, but the teens seemed happiest just hanging out with each other around the pool, in the video arcade or in one of the public rooms. (I never saw a rowdy teenager.) It was heartening to see young people enjoying a cruise. It made me believe there would still be cruisers in the future. (I went on my first cruise when I was 14 and was hooked for life.)

Past Passenger Programs

The ship is quite easy to navigate. There are thirteen decks and each passenger deck has a number and is named for a European city; stairway landings are decorated with each city's coat of arms. The two major stairways are open and made of marble. There are two banks of elevators, with four elevators apiece. Most public rooms are on Decks 8 and 9. On Deck 13 there's the Diva Disco, an underused circular room with panoramic views of the sea. (The room is mostly given over to teen activities, except for late at night.)

On Deck 9 from fore to aft are the upper level of the Opera Theatre; the Opera Bar; the Via Condotti, which contains four shops; the Romeo and Juliet Bars; two video arcades; the Casino Excelsior; and the aft facing Tango Ballroom. The Opera Theatre is a two level show lounge, built in the style of a Roman amphitheater. The stadium seating affords everyone a good view, except for those seated behind pillars. The seats are bolt upright and very uncomfortable. The other spectators are often more entertaining than the show on offer. There is no provision for service of drinks in the theatre.

The Opera Bar is a sit down bar (no bar stools) and the only indoor place onboard for cigar smoking. The Romeo and Juliet Bars overlook the Piazza below. The Romeo Bar doubles as the Pizzeria, while the Juliet Bar is the ship's wine bar.

The ship's shops include the photographer's shop, where you may pay for photographs, download digital photos, buy supplies and (surprisingly) mail letters and postcards. (This last service costs 1.50 euros [$1.80] per postcard or letter to the USA, which makes the 2 euros [$2.40] for a digital postcard seem like a bargain! Postcards, which are not stocked free in the cabin, cost 1.50 euros [$1.80].) Photos cost 11.95 euros ($14.40).

Other shops include a duty-free store for liquor, perfume and cigarettesa a shop that sells Murano glass jewelry and other fashion items, and another that sells other jewelry and watches. Interestingly, there is no logo shop, per se -- the duty-free carries a limited line of Costa souvenirs -- and none of the usual Swarovski and Lladro.

The pubic rooms on Deck 8 from fore to aft are the lower level of the Opera Theatre, a small Roman Catholic chapel, two meeting rooms, the Piazza Italia, card rooms, and the library and Internet center. The chapel has an icon of the Virgin Mary, a free-standing altar and stations of the cross. The two meeting rooms are used by affinity and incentive groups. (An English language movie was screened in one of the meeting rooms once during my cruise.) The Piazza Italia is the focal point of the ship and reminds one of a plaza, er piazza, in a European town. There is a dance floor and a space for musicians, and the ship's main bar, the Grand Bar, is also located here. With marble floors it is a noisy, but joyful space.

The card rooms each have four bridge tables (cards and games are available from Reception). The library has four bookcases divided by language: Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and English. Most books are paperbacks that appear to have been left behind by previous passengers. Passengers may access books for one hour only each day.

In the Internet Center there are six computers with flat-screen monitors. As this is the only place on the ship for internet connectivity -- there is no broadband in the cabins, nor Wi-Fi anywhere -- the number would have been inadequate, and the situation was made inexcusable when the system crashed on the second day of my cruise and was not restored thereafter. The cost for surfing the Web is .50 euros ($.60) per minute. The Lobby is located on Deck 5 where reception and the tour office are situated. The pursers at reception have the daunting task of answering questions in many languages. They wear pins with flags representing the languages they speak.

There are laundry and dry cleaning services, but no self-serve launderettes.

Fitness And Spa

The ship is quite easy to navigate. There are thirteen decks and each passenger deck has a number and is named for a European city; stairway landings are decorated with each city's coat of arms. The two major stairways are open and made of marble. There are two banks of elevators, with four elevators apiece. Most public rooms are on Decks 8 and 9. On Deck 13 there's the Diva Disco, an underused circular room with panoramic views of the sea. (The room is mostly given over to teen activities, except for late at night.)

On Deck 9 from fore to aft are the upper level of the Opera Theatre; the Opera Bar; the Via Condotti, which contains four shops; the Romeo and Juliet Bars; two video arcades; the Casino Excelsior; and the aft facing Tango Ballroom. The Opera Theatre is a two level show lounge, built in the style of a Roman amphitheater. The stadium seating affords everyone a good view, except for those seated behind pillars. The seats are bolt upright and very uncomfortable. The other spectators are often more entertaining than the show on offer. There is no provision for service of drinks in the theatre.

The Opera Bar is a sit down bar (no bar stools) and the only indoor place onboard for cigar smoking. The Romeo and Juliet Bars overlook the Piazza below. The Romeo Bar doubles as the Pizzeria, while the Juliet Bar is the ship's wine bar.

The ship's shops include the photographer's shop, where you may pay for photographs, download digital photos, buy supplies and (surprisingly) mail letters and postcards. (This last service costs 1.50 euros [$1.80] per postcard or letter to the USA, which makes the 2 euros [$2.40] for a digital postcard seem like a bargain! Postcards, which are not stocked free in the cabin, cost 1.50 euros [$1.80].) Photos cost 11.95 euros ($14.40).

Other shops include a duty-free store for liquor, perfume and cigarettesa a shop that sells Murano glass jewelry and other fashion items, and another that sells other jewelry and watches. Interestingly, there is no logo shop, per se -- the duty-free carries a limited line of Costa souvenirs -- and none of the usual Swarovski and Lladro.

The pubic rooms on Deck 8 from fore to aft are the lower level of the Opera Theatre, a small Roman Catholic chapel, two meeting rooms, the Piazza Italia, card rooms, and the library and Internet center. The chapel has an icon of the Virgin Mary, a free-standing altar and stations of the cross. The two meeting rooms are used by affinity and incentive groups. (An English language movie was screened in one of the meeting rooms once during my cruise.) The Piazza Italia is the focal point of the ship and reminds one of a plaza, er piazza, in a European town. There is a dance floor and a space for musicians, and the ship's main bar, the Grand Bar, is also located here. With marble floors it is a noisy, but joyful space.

The card rooms each have four bridge tables (cards and games are available from Reception). The library has four bookcases divided by language: Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and English. Most books are paperbacks that appear to have been left behind by previous passengers. Passengers may access books for one hour only each day.

In the Internet Center there are six computers with flat-screen monitors. As this is the only place on the ship for internet connectivity -- there is no broadband in the cabins, nor Wi-Fi anywhere -- the number would have been inadequate, and the situation was made inexcusable when the system crashed on the second day of my cruise and was not restored thereafter. The cost for surfing the Web is .50 euros ($.60) per minute. The Lobby is located on Deck 5 where reception and the tour office are situated. The pursers at reception have the daunting task of answering questions in many languages. They wear pins with flags representing the languages they speak.

There are laundry and dry cleaning services, but no self-serve launderettes.

Food & Dining

The Botticelli Restaurant is the ship's main dining room. It's located on Deck 8 aft with large windows on three sides. During the day, windows give views of the sea; at night one of two sets of shades is drawn -- plain room-darkening shades for ordinary dinners and shades that depict classic Costa posters for festive dinners. For festive dinners, there are also candles placed on the tables. The restaurant is one deck high. Most tables are for eight diners, but there are some tables for four and a very few for two. The floor, like those throughout the public areas of the ship, is marble. As all surfaces are hard, the noise level can be deafening, particularly in the evening.

Breakfast is served each morning from 7:30 until 9:15 a.m. Only hot beverages and eggs made to order (other than scrambled) are served. All other items are self-serve from a buffet of pastries, sausage, French toast, bacon and scrambled eggs. Catering to a European clientele, the buffet also offers smoked fish and sliced cheeses and meats. There are fruit juices, fruit salads, whole fruit and yogurt.

Lunch is served from a menu, divided among appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, entrees, cheeses and desserts. (There's at least one vegetarian offering in each category.) Dinner is served from a menu, and the offerings are presented in the same categories as at lunch. There are bottles of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each table for dipping bread and making salad dressings. Stewards take orders for all courses, including dessert, at the beginning of each meal. Coffee and tea are not served in the restaurant except at breakfast. Asterisks next to items on the menu indicate the main ingredient has been frozen, which is the case for all seafood and meat dishes. Portions are neither overwhelming, nor skimpy. It's possible to order many courses without overeating, but it will take the same amount of time to dine if you order two courses or six, as later course offerings are not made available to waiters until after earlier courses have been served. As for quality, think "Olive Garden," and you won't be disappointed.

The maitre d' makes every effort to seat speakers of the same language together. He failed in my case, as I ended up at a table for eight with only a charming Turkish couple whose English was limited (but better than my nonexistent Turkish). The line offers parents the option of allowing their teenaged children to sit at tables with other teenagers. This appeared to work well for both parents and teenagers. Breakfast and lunch are served open seating, while dinner is served in two seatings -- 7 and 9:15 p.m. On Italian Night, there are Italian songs piped over the loudspeaker in place of the songs formerly performed by the stewards (a result, no doubt, of the change in nationality of the crew from Italian -- when the custom began -- to Filipino).

Il Giardino is the buffet restaurant. Located aft on Deck 10, the room is divided into small seating areas with attractive wicker furniture. Outside the buffet there is an outdoor seating area called La Terrazza, which is shaded by a sail-like awning. Here there are wooden tables for four with padded chairs. Service in Il Giardino is divided into efficient stations.

Breakfast in Il Giardino is similar to the one offered in the dining room -- buffet for most items and a station for eggs made to order. Lunch features make-your-own salads, prepared salads, bread, cheese and cold cuts (for sandwiches), pizza, soup, a hot dish of the day (reflecting the cuisine of one of the nationalities onboard), desserts, fruit, yogurt and soft ice cream. On La Terrazza, grilled hotdogs and hamburgers with French fries are offered. Afternoon tea is served in Il Giardino. There are sandwiches, pastries and a dietetic corner for sugarless desserts.

A nice touch: There's a steward making individual infusions from large canisters of loose tea. Various teas, both varietals and herbal, are offered, and you can request a blend of your own choosing.

In the evening there's an informal dinner buffet, offering the same menu as the dining room, but served cafeteria-style. On warm nights you may take your tray out to La Terrazza to dine al fresco. Coffee and tea are available in Il Giardino 24 hours a day. There's a Pizzeria in the Romeo Bar on Deck 9, which serves individual pizzas in the late afternoon and late at night (at no charge).

Room service is offered 24 hours per day. There is a free service of continental breakfast: cereals, breads, pastries, juice, coffee and tea. At other times of the day, there's a limited menu of sandwiches and salads, for which there is a 2 euro ($2.40) cover charge.

Entertainment

Mine was a port-intensive cruise with only one full day at sea (the last). The cruise director's staff are called "animators," and so they are. They must liven things up in five or six languages, and they succeed admirably.

There are few planned activities, and rarely are two scheduled to happen concurrently. More often than not, there's time between activities. If you don't want to miss anything, you won't.

There are competitions like ring toss, passing a hula hoop from one person to the next while holding hands, and kicking shoes into a wastebasket affixed to a higher deck. For the more sophisticated passengers, there are group dance lessons. There are also trivia quizzes (quite a feat, given the languages spoken). Each language has its own host.

Each evening there was a show in the Opera Theatre. It was given twice -- an earlier pre-dinner show for the late seating, and a later post-dinner show for the early seating. In order to appeal to the greatest number of people, the acts were mostly visual. There is a resident song and dance troupe, and there are other entertainers who rotate among Costa's fleet. On my cruise there were several singers, a magician and a contortionist(!). The singers and dancers performed enthusiastically, but the sound level was deafening.

In the Tango Lounge each evening, a talented Macedonian couple played musical instruments and sang to a click track. There was a pianist who played cocktail music in the Piazza. There's jackpot Bingo daily, though, alas, no art auction.

Cocktails and other beverages are served at the Capri Bar (midships pool area); Grand Bar; Juliet Bar; Terrazza Bar; Tango Ballroom; Opera Bar; and Diva Club. Prices are fair for mixed drinks (5 to 6 euros [$6 to $7.20]). Italian drinks like Grappa and Limoncello are available, and all bars serve Lavazza cappuccino and espresso, regular and decaf, for a nominal charge (under $2). Children (and adults not too proud to ask for a "children's card") can have a card that entitles them to 20 juices or soft drinks (but not mineral water) at a discount. As it is an Italian ship, Costa Romantica's wine list runs heavily to Italian wines. While a few wines are expensive, there are many to choose from at between 17 and 19 euros ($18.40 to 20.80) per bottle. Half liter carafes of wine are available at 8 euros ($9.60), and wines by the glass for 4.50 euros ($5.40).

The video arcades contain a large number of games that cost .40 euros ($.48). There are also shove ha'penny and hockey games that are free. The Excelsior Casino has one dice table, three blackjack tables (minimum bet: 3 euros [$3.60]), one Caribbean stud and one Caribbean draw table, roulette and .10, .20, and .50 euro slot machines. The casino is quite small and not crowded on European sailings. The Tango Ballroom is an aft-facing lounge with tiered seating. This is the ship's alternative show lounge, which offers musical acts and a small floor for ballroom dancing. There is a bar (with bar stools).

Are religious services "entertainment?" Three religions had major observances the week I was onboard. Muslims observed Mawlid an Nabi, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday. Despite there being Muslim passengers and crew onboard, there was no mention of the holiday in "Today." Jews observed Passover. There was also no mention of the holiday in "Today." A nice touch would have been an offer on the part of the ship's company to provide Jewish passengers with the necessary foods for a Seder and to offer space for one. Christians observed Holy Week and celebrated Easter. The ship's resident Roman Catholic priest offered the customary services, but he apologized for not speaking French, English or German and told the Spaniards they could understand Italian (which I'm sure came as news to them). The ship's accommodation of religious observance was, given the particular week of my cruise, inadequate. The ship was decorated with white crepe paper bells and Styrofoam cutouts of doves -- which were intended to be Easter decorations -- and each cabin door was decorated with a crepe paper egg. On Easter Eve passengers were given large Lindt chocolate Easter eggs in their cabin.

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 my European cruise the majority of passengers were Italian, French, German and Spanish. There was, however, an unusually large number of Americans, mostly families from American military bases in Europe, and a large group of English-speaking Filipinos. The English host said the average number of English-speaking passengers on a European Costa cruise was 40 - 60; on this cruise there were over 250. The cruise also had the lowest average age of any cruise I've taken. In my late 50's, I'm often among the youngest passengers -- here, I was among the oldest. The average age was only about 35 (certainly an average reduced by the large number of children). There were few identifiable singles. Because of the variety of languages spoken onboard, there were few announcements and none promoting onboard activities.

Our recommendation

Result of an innovative total restyling project, Costa Pacifica is a refined, prestigious and elegant ship, ready to be discovered, which will surprise you and win you over at first sight. Everything is fully taken care of to give you a new and extraordinary cruise experience.