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Cruise Ship Information

In 1999 Festival Cruises delivered their first new build MS Mistral which was built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique. Her maiden cruise started on 17 July 1999, from Venice to the Greek islands.

Costa neoRiviera as Grand Mistral In Tallinn, June 2012

But following the collapse of Festival Cruises in 2004 most of its fleet was sold off including Mistral that was sold to Viajes Iberojet which was sometimes called Iberojet and the cruise line was owned by a company also named Iberojet. Mistral was renamed Grand Mistral. In 2007 Viajes Iberojet was sold to Carnival Corporation & plc and was renamed Ibero Cruises, the next year the Grand Mistral received the new Ibero Cruises livery and continued sailing for Ibero Cruises.  

In 2012 Costa Crociere planned to transfer the Grand Mistral in 2014, but in early 2013 they move the transferring to late 2013 to keep the schedule correct.

Grand Mistral was transferred to Costa Crociere in November 2013 and renamed to Costa neoRiviera, her itineraries will feature more overnight and unusual calls to ports, as a part of Costa's new project featuring their smaller ships. Costa Crociere invested 10 million euros into refurbishing Costa neoRiviera and into maintenance checkup of Costa neoClassica and Costa Voyager.

Atmosphere on board

Costa's neoRiviera (1,600 passengers, 48,200 tons) joined the fleet in 2013 after being transferred from Iberocruceros, where it sailed as Grand Mistral.

In November 2013, Grand Mistral was renovated so its public spaces reflect the feel of the Italian and French rivieras. The ship was has three restaurants, six bars, two shopping arcades, three swimming pools (including a splash pool for kids), hot tubs, a beauty and wellness center, hydrotherapy and massages, fitness center, show lounge and disco.

The ship has 624 cabins, including 94 suites.

Family with Kids/Teens

This is an outstanding ship for families, with one qualification: The Squok Club, a facility for kids from ages 3 to 17, isn't as elaborate as those you'll find on U.S.-oriented ships, but it does rival them with varied age-appropriate activities. There are four different age groups: Mini (3 to 6 years), Maxi (7 to 11), Teen Junior (12 to 14) and Teen (15 to 17).

For the younger set, there are arts and crafts, treasure hunts, shuffleboard and table tennis, as well as Nutella and ice cream parties. Operating hours vary from the usual; there, the club is open from 9 a.m. to lunchtime, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and again after dinner from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The Squok Club has a small splash pool, adjacent to its indoor facility. Unusually, Mini and Maxi clubs offer complimentary group babysitting each night until 1:30 a.m.

Teens engage in T-shirt painting, international karaoke, swimming pool frolicking and group dancing.

All kids have the opportunity for a pair of specially themed group dinners.

Costa keeps its clubs open when the ship is port so parents can take shore excursions and leave their kids safely behind.

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

Costa NeoRiviera's Samsara Spa is superb. It's massive, spanning two decks, and is literally a holistic playground. Features include a thallasotherapy pool with a lovely view of the sea and an array of aromatic steam rooms, the highlight of which is the Tridosha Sanctuary. There's the Japanese Tea Room, where some lounges face the sea and others are located beneath tanning lamps. Another lovely spot is the Temple of Peace, a meditation and relaxation lounge.

There are, of course, treatments, ranging from massages to wraps and facials. The standalone Venus salon handles hairstyling, manicures and pedicures.

NeoRiviera's gym, located adjacent to the spa, features Technogym equipment. There's a Kinesis circuit, along with treadmills, stationary bikes and the like. Yoga and Pilates classes are offered for 10 euros ($13.75), but use of the gym itself is included in the cruise fares. Facilities in addition to the gym include the locker room, sauna and changing rooms.

Aside from passengers who are booked in Samsara cabins, use of the facilities requires a fee. A four-day pass, which offers unlimited access to the thalassotherapy pool, aroma steam, Turkish bath, relaxation areas and tanning center, is 60 euros ($82.50).

Costa NeoRiviera has three swimming pools. Its magrodome-covered main pool, good for all-weather play, is a hub of family fun; it's two decks high, with sun loungers scattered on both levels. More sedate is the lovely pool at the ship's aft.

One of the most interesting recreational possibilities onboard NeoRiviera is the Skorpion Quadline Roller Skate option, found outdoors on one of the top decks. The skates are elaborately designed with a funky, retro look. The onboard skating is harder than you'd imagine (and, indeed, tougher than the skating tracks on ships like those in Royal Caribbean's Voyager class because the skates themselves are both more sophisticated and more challenging).

There's a sports court for half-court basketball. A virtual golf center offers a choice of some 40 different 18-hole courses.

Food & Dining

624 cabins in total, including: 94 suites, all with private balcony

Traditional regional gourmet menus developed in collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo

Wines by the glass paired with each menu, recommended by the Italian Sommeliers Association.

Flexible dining time in the restaurant, with the chance to choose the time you prefer

Special events: delicious brunches at sea, afternoon teas

Costa NeoRiviera has four restaurants. Its main restaurant, Taurus, is a beautiful two-deck venue tucked into the aft of the ship. It features gorgeous views from the wall of windows along the back and across each side. One of the best features about its layout is the way the large room is designed into smaller, cozier areas, each with a different ambience, so you don't feel as if you're eating in a banquet hall.

Taurus is open for breakfast and lunch on an open-seating basis. Times vary depending on itinerary, but typically breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. Dinner is a set-seating, set-time scenario with two options: 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Breakfast is primarily a buffet, largely identical to what's served in the Andromeda Buffet. The layout features meats and cheeses, delicious pastries, cereal and yogurt; you can complement that by ordering off the menu. (The eggs Benedict was prepared perfectly.)

Lunch is lovely, too -- a low-key alternative to the busier buffet -- and it's ordered off a menu with choices of appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Don't miss

the pasta dishes, ranging from "anytime" offerings of pomodoro and Bolognese to specials like pesto. Each one we tried was absolutely superb.

Dinner is the big event onboard, and preparation of dishes is definitely ambitious -- a sort of contemporary melange of European cuisines with Italian definitely standing out. Once again, pasta dishes were a big hit.

The wine list is predominately Italian, with a smattering of other new- and old-world choices, and it offers bottles from a nice range of price points.

The ship's buffet restaurant, Ristorante Buffet Andromeda, is open for breakfast, lunch and tea (or a late-afternoon snack). Most inefficiently, it operates in a lunch counter/cafeteria fashion, where passengers line up to plod through the various offerings. The quality of the food is steam-table fare, though exceptions include breakfast's omelet station, lunch's pasta station and the hot and crispy just-baked pizza slices that are available from lunchtime through the evening.

There's a small grill by the main pool, Lido Dorado, for casual choices like sausages and burgers. It's open for lunch.

The NeoRiviera Club Restaurant, located in a scenic spot on Deck 10, is the ship's boutique restaurant. It's open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For a 25 euro ($34) cover charge, the Club, specializing in steak and seafood, offers four courses, from antipasti to desserts. Surf and turf is a standout, as is the sea bass. Reservations are recommended. The Club is only open for dinner.

It's hard to believe the Samsara Restaurant, which primarily serves passengers on NeoRiviera's spa plan, is a healthy restaurant because the food is delicious. It's open for breakfast and lunch to package-holders only, but, based on availability, anyone can book a table for dinner. The charge for those who don't occupy Samsara cabins is 25 euros ($34) per person, but it's well worth the price. The restaurant is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dishes are prepared more healthfully, to be sure (lower sodium and calories, for instance). It's a small, intimate restaurant with plenty of tables for two. Samsara is adjacent to the Taurus main restaurant.

Complimentary room service is available only to passengers who book the premium category of standard balcony cabins and above. Otherwise, expect to pay 2 euros ($2.75) per order. The menu's somewhat limited (continental breakfast in the morning, then a small selection of salads, sandwiches, soup and a few desserts).

Costa accommodates special dining requests with a vegetarian menu and range of dishes that are low calorie or sugar free. It also has special menus for diabetics and passengers with celiac disease; arrangements should be made at time of booking.

Entertainment

At night, Costa NeoRiviera just glows with live music and other forms of entertainment laid on at its lounges, not to mention its three-deck main theater. The entertainment, aimed at a multilingual crowd, relies more on music, slapstick comedy and good-natured audience-oriented pranks than it does on Broadway-esque productions. The Phoenix, the main theater, is home to musical and dance productions; one big hit on our sailing was a Groucho Marx-inspired comedy routine involving members of the audience.

Other key venues include the Grand Bar Elettra, which has a large dance floor; Supernova Atrium Bar, which features instrumentalists and vocalists who play pop (and sometimes even classical) tunes; Libra Bar; Virgo Bar; Piano Bar for fabulous international karaoke (songs sung in French, German, Spanish and English, among others); and, of course, Disco Altaire, where a DJ's selections thrum into the wee hours.

The ship's main pool, which is covered by a retractable glass magrodome, has a massive screen and is often used as an evening cinema.

On days when the ship is at sea, there's a fair range of activities. These include poolside dance workouts, video quizzes, seminars on topics like "relieving back pain," table tennis tournaments, and arts and crafts.

One big hit on Costa NeoRiviera is its Costa Racing Team virtual simulator, in which you can try out your Formula 1 driving skills. Cost ranges, depending on level of expertise, from 12 to 18 euros ($16.50 to $24.75). There's also a 4D cinema at the Mizar Theater; the cost is 8 euros ($11). Other inside pursuits include a virtual arcade and the sprawling Vega Casino, with everything from blackjack to slots.

Costa offers a range of shore excursions, but the multilingual approach doesn't always work so well; if there are not enough English speakers onboard who've booked tours, passengers could find themselves lumped in with a tour guide who's also catering to French or German travelers, or find the tours canceled altogether. Selection-wise, shore excursions primarily cover the usual general touring topics; a handful emphasize recreational opportunities.

In ports that are some distance from tourist attractions, Costa offers roundtrip shuttle service for a fee.

Theatre

Casino

Disco

Internet Point

Card Room, Library

Shops

Photo Gallery

Squok Club

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

With Costa neoRiviera you'll discover a new way to travel for connoisseurs: longer stopovers you can enjoy to the full, exclusive and unusual destinations, away from the usual routes, more intimate spaces, comfortable and personal, far from the crowds. Costa neoRiviera is inspired by the charm and atmosphere of the Italian Riviera, the Cote d'Azur and the Amalfi Coast. Be seduced by its new charm.