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  #1  
Old October 12th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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lmf27 lmf27 is offline
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Smile Just back Costa Magica 9/25 – 10/2...

First I would like to say thanks for everyone’s helpful tips on the cruise critic boards, without the board as first time cruisers we didn’t know what to expect. All in all we had a good cruise, with a few bumps before and after the cruise.

Transfers – If you are interested in getting a transfer from Costa it is worth it if the time table and price is right for you. But make sure before you book you have more than a ½ hour to get off the plane, through customs, get your luggage, and find the Costa rep. When our transfer was booked for us I questioned only the ½ hour we had to get to the shuttle, I was told everything will be fine. But once I received our cruise documents I called Costa to ask to be put on a later shuttle I was told there wasn’t another shuttle and they would not wait for us. I asked for the transfer to the ship to be cancelled but to keep the return and for the 1st half to be refunded. They need to ask the Costa executives if it is possible to be refunded, we are still waiting... But lucky for us we meet a nice family that we hitched a ride with. We were at the port in one hour. Transfer on the return was fine, it took awhile for everyone to get on the shuttle but after that was no problem and well worth the money.

Embarkment - We received a number as soon as we got there, number 4. They started boarding at 1:30; we were on the ship by 2. It was great. I read about all of the horror stories, bring a book you will be there forever. Not true, at least for us.
Disembarkment – The night before you get a color tag along with details in the Today. We had red which was 1st to disembarkment. Every 15 to 30 minutes another color disembarks until 12, but you could stay on the ship until 2. You meet in the Theater (Deck 3) starting at 8:30 and then sent to Deck 0 for your luggage at the port. No problem, no rushing.
Ports of call embarkment and disembarkment – If you are not doing an excursion you can usually get off the ship a ½ hour after we get into port. And you need to be on the ship a ½ hour before departure.

Passports – All non EU passengers have to hand in their passports to Costa and carry around a photocopy. Costa will provide this to you. You do get your passport back if you get of the ship in Tunis and have to return it once back on. At the end of the cruise the Excursion desk opens at 8 on Deck 3, you will have to go for your passports then. It was a hassle with an 8:30 disembarkment. My suggestion to Costa, but them in our cabin with our luggage tags the night before disembarkment. It would have been so much easier...

We read some very helpful tips, some that made us nervous, and Costa was no help prior to the cruise. We were terrified by some comments...
Passengers - We heard Costa cruisers were for seniors. Our cruise had a nice mix, a ton of passengers were in our age group late 20’s early 30’s, families, children, couples both young and young at heart.

DRINKS – Wine Package – We read about all of the smuggling of alcohol in shampoo bottles. We couldn’t believe it, so we purchased the wine package. We would exchange a ticket every night at dinner. Along with the wine package was 10 bottles of water, we ended up not drinking all of them and took 5 with us, since we were continuing our vacation after the cruise.
Water – There was plenty of free water. In the Bellagio Buffet Deck 9 and taps around the pool area. We didn’t even have to ask for the free water at dinner, they just filled our glass unless we used a water ticket.
Alcohol – Costa and the boards said you can’t bring alcohol on board, if you did it would be locked up for you until the end of the cruise. We had no problem. We purchased two bottles one in Barcelona and the other in Palma de Mallorca. We also had two bottles given to us in Palermo. Nothing was ever said to us or any other of the passengers. We were also very nervous about the drinks being very expensive. We didn’t think they were. The daily drink special was 4.50 euros and most others were 6 or more euros, which is comparable to living in a bigger city.
Juice – Juice was free for breakfast you could choice of orange and grapefruit.
Coffee – Coffee was free, hot and American for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You could also ask for espresso or a cappuccino as well.
Soft drinks – Soft drinks were not expensive either. I paid 1.50 euros for a sprite.
Beer – A few days they even had beer specials for 4 or 4.50 euros.

Food – Breakfast – You could go to the buffet or your designated restaurant.
Lunch – Buffet, designated restaurant, or grill.
Dinner – Designated restaurant, buffet, specialty restaurant for 23 euro pp.
Room Service – Always available, coffee is only free until 10.
The food was good, but we expected more traditional Italian dishes for an Italian Cruise ship. The risotto was very good, as well as the soups and pasta. We really enjoyed the meals offered on the formal nights both for us were Palma de Mallorca and Palermo (dress code everyone was dressed to the 9). We also felt they should have had something typical from the port of call for the day. All in all it was good and we didn’t starve.

Service – Everyone was very nice, most staff spoke about 8 different languages. Everyone spoke English. Not one problem on the cruise. Our waiter Randy was great. But we never saw out cabin steward, except for one time. I had to find him and ask to open our refrigerator. After that we didn’t see him again. All he really did was make and turned down the bed and brought fresh towels. We had a few glasses in our cabin from the night before, and the next afternoon we had to take them to the bar. It was not a problem, but I guess we just expected them to be removed.

Smoke – We didn’t seem to notice the smoke. I have asthma and I definitely would have noticed. No one smoked in the dinning room, theater, or elevators. I didn’t even notice people smoking by the pool, casino, bars/lounges.

Lounge chairs – We read that lounge chairs were in demand. We left things on our chairs sometimes even just a towel and no one would bother them. We didn’t do it often, usually one of us would stay with our stuff or we would have a clear view.

Elevators – We didn’t have a problem with to many people using the elevators, but we also used the stairs as well. It seemed that more people used the stairs than elevators.

Pushy people – We didn’t come across this at all during the cruise, except for the Tunis excursion. And we just had to tell the person to please step back and excuse us. I do like my own personal space...

Excursions – We only did one excursion and it was in Tunis. We did the Historical and Cultural Tour. We went to the Bard Museum, Sid Bou Said, and Carthage. I was disappointed with Carthage; from the video seen on the ship I expected to see more. We only saw the Amphitheater and Aqueducts. A good way to view the excursion is either before the show starts in the Theater, they show what you could do and see the next day. Or at the post card desk in the casino, they have picture of all of the excursions and videos that you could purchase of your cruise.

Ports of call - Every night a Today and New Letter is put in your room along with a map of the town. The today is very helpful with providing different activities and specials. There was always something to do and the shows were good as well.
RomeCruise began and ended in Rome, no excursions were offered.
SavonaThe ship docked right in town, which was good for us. We decide to stay in Savona, found a market with good deals on clothes, food, flowers in Piazza del Popolo, just one block left of the Monumento al Caduti (War Memorial), also don’t miss the Fortezza del Priamar, great view of the town and water. After our walk we went back to the ship around 2 for lunch and relaxation. The passenger that took the Portofino excursion were not happy, only one hr. in Portofino.
BarcelonaThe ship docked 30 minutes from town. Costa offered a shuttle to and from town for 5 euros and outside the terminal was the Public Bus which offered it for 4 euros. The Public bus dropped you off at Las Ramblas. We did the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, but not enough time in 4 hrs. We did drive through the Olympic Village, and past Placa de Catalunya and Gaudi’s Buildings. We got off the bus at La Sagrada Familia, if was amazing only 5 euros pp to get in and 2 to go to the top, great views. Took a cab back to Las Ramblas. Needed more time, to much to see.
Palma de Mallorca – The ship docks about 1 hr from town, nice walk or you could take a cab. A lot to see around the Cathedral, then took the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. We had a chance to see different areas that we couldn’t walk to and got off at a stop a few block from port. Needed more time, also only about 4 hours.
Malta-Thanks for the tip of the beautiful picturesque view coming into port, well worth it. We found a private tour on the internet and highly recommend them. Maltatravelnet.com, you could e-mail Chris at info@maltatravelnet.com. Our guide was Joan and she was great. We loved Malta and she provided us a true Maltese experience. Best day of the cruise. We saw more then all excursions offered by Costa combined.
PalermoSo much to see and do, you could see the sites just by taking a nice walk. We heard the Selinunte and Palermo excursion was very good. We spent time with family.

We had a good cruise for our first experience. Hope this is helpfully to others. Happy Cruising.
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  #2  
Old October 12th, 2005, 02:23 PM
george/patricia george/patricia is offline
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Very informative - thank you. Big J
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  #3  
Old October 12th, 2005, 10:04 PM
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Hi, I'll be on the Magica for a Caribbean sailing in the spring. What type of cabin did you have? Do the cabins have shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc., provided or must we bring our own?

Thank you!!
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  #4  
Old October 13th, 2005, 09:24 AM
jstrutton jstrutton is online now
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Considering we are US citizens and have US passports, I'm assuming that you did not have to get any visas for these countries?

Also, you didn't mention anything about Tunis on your cruise stops? How was it? Did you get a excursion from the ship or do it on your own?

Thanks.....jay
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  #5  
Old October 13th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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Cabin – People we spoke with said the cabins are larger compared to other ships. We thought it was very nice and plenty of room. We had an inside cabin that slept two. The bed was huge and comfortable. We were able to fit our luggage under the bed that is when we found out it was two twins put together. Three closets for hanging and shelves. The vanity had 3 drawers. There was one outlet, same as the US. I also brought a converter for our video camera. Using a curling iron was no problem. I was impressed with the hair dryer provided, a lot of power.

Toiletries – This is difficult, b/c we brought our own. I know they provided soap, body wash, and lotion. They had a sign in the bathroom with a list if items not provided in the cabin. If you wanted any of them you needed to call room service. I know lotion was on that list, and I believe shampoo and conditioner, but not sure. I will get back to you...

Visa - None needed.

Tunis - We did the Historical and Cultural excursion. It was nice to see. The museum was interesting, the Sid Bou Said had nice views and the blue doors and windows were pretty. If you like shopping the guide said not to purchase gold, it is not real. But he said the area is known from peacocks and birdcages. We didn't notice any peacocks, but the birdcages are nice. I took a few pictures. In Carthage we saw the Amphitheater and Aqueducts, but no other ruins like shown on the video. It was nice and would recommend this excursion, I didn't hear anything about the other excursions offered. We spoke with a family that tried to do it on their own, they didn't even make it out of the port and spent the day on this ship. So if you want to see Tunis, I would recommend one of the excursions. And remember for women to have your shoulders and knees covered.

Costa refunded us for our transfer yesterday, so I am very happy. I would cruise again with Costa. Have fun.
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  #6  
Old October 14th, 2005, 05:07 PM
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Your post is excellent! Thank you for all of the great advice.

We tried to book the Historical and Cultural tour online but it is sold out. Any suggestions?

Also, I am glad for the information on the Malta excursion company. How much did you pay? What sites did you have them take you to?

Thank you in advance.... we leave in less than 2 weeks!
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Old October 14th, 2005, 08:06 PM
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Default Tunis and Malta

About the Tunis excursion, I would go to the meeting the first day you are on the ship and see if you could register. Or stop by Deck 3 at the excursion desk, I believe they are open from 9-11 or 12 and then 3 or 5-8. I can’t believe it is full, we had a double decker bus and it wasn’t full. I would definitely ask and be pushy. This is the day that they accommodate you. They know everyone want to see Tunis, no word to lie there were more than 30 buses waiting for us when we pulled into port. Only a couple hundred stayed on the ship our Costa rep told us... Good luck.

Malta- Our tour was priced just for a driver at 55 Maltese lira, $165.00 US. We were very lucky Joan our driver was also a guide. We went to Mdina and walked around town, beautiful old town with great views, quaint alleys and door ornaments. Cathedral of St. Paul is also very beautiful. Mosta Cathedral – A bomb come through the dome during WWII and didn’t blow up. The bomb is actually on display and you could see where is come through. CraftVillage – We went to a glass blowing store and to a silver filigree store. Both very interesting and you could do a little shopping. Marsaxlokk – Very picturesque fishing village w/ multicolored boats, stone houses, fisherman at work and nets spread out to dry. We had lunch here as well, very good. Birgu – The three cities, Sengles, Cospicua, and Vittorisa, we took a walk and learn about the history of the towns. We planned to go to the Ghar Dalam Cave and the Tarxien Temples, but we ran out of time. We were dropped off in Valletta, were we walked around on our own, strolled down Republic St., stopped by St. John’s Cathedral, but the lines were huge, so we will see it next time. We went to the Upper Barracca Gardens, very nice views of the Grand Harbor and the Three Cities. Very short walk to the ship, just down 3 hills. Clothing – if wearing shorts make sure they cover your knees both men and women. You will have a great time, no matter what you do there, it is beautiful.

If you have any more questions done hesitate to ask. I did the same thing before we left for our cruise.

Last edited by lmf27; October 14th, 2005 at 08:09 PM.
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  #8  
Old October 14th, 2005, 08:16 PM
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That is an awesome price for the Malta private car!! I am emailing for a quote right now.

Tunis... Just in case we have no luck.. Did you see any private guides or tour options at the port?? All I hear about is all these taxi's at the port and I just do not feel like haggling - especially since we are 2 ladies traveling alone - no telling how bad it can get. It would be nice if there was a tour company I could contact.

Thank you so much!!! I probably will be asking more soon

Leila
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  #9  
Old October 14th, 2005, 08:51 PM
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Default Toilettries and Public Bus in Barcelona

Toilettries - We are not sure about them providing shampoo and conditioner. If the ship ends up not providing them you could alway purchase them from the Costa shop or at one of the ports.

Public Bus in Barcelona - Sorry I entered the wrong prices. 2.50 euro each round trip.
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Old October 14th, 2005, 09:50 PM
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Thank you for your help!
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  #11  
Old October 14th, 2005, 11:40 PM
jstrutton jstrutton is online now
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I just tried on the Costa website to book the Tunis "Panaromic" tour and it went fine. We are booked on that one. Read too many bad reviews about getting around while at port. Figured might as well. One thing to be aware of is that once you are booked online for excursions, you cannot change them. Maybe you can call Costa to change/cancel, but can't do it online.

See ya on board....less than 2 weeks till we leave

Senay & Jay
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Old October 14th, 2005, 11:41 PM
jstrutton jstrutton is online now
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I just tried on the Costa website to book the Tunis "Panaromic" tour and it went fine. We are booked on that one. Read too many bad reviews about getting around while at port. Figured might as well. One thing to be aware of is that once you are booked online for excursions, you cannot change them. Maybe you can call Costa to change/cancel, but can't do it online.

See ya on board....less than 2 weeks till we leave

Senay & Jay
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Old October 14th, 2005, 11:42 PM
jstrutton jstrutton is online now
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I just tried on the Costa website to book the Tunis "Panaromic" tour and it went fine. We are booked on that one. Read too many bad reviews about getting around while at port. Figured might as well. One thing to be aware of is that once you are booked online for excursions, you cannot change them. Maybe you can call Costa to change/cancel, but can't do it online.

See ya on board....less than 2 weeks till we leave

Senay & Jay
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Old October 15th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Default You can cancel...

Just wanted to let you know you could cancel an excursion booked online. You can not cancel an excursion booked on the ship. I cancelled our Portofino excursion as soon as we got on the ship. The lady at the excursion desk, started to give me a hard time and we would not be refunded, but I told her I booked it online. No problem, that night in our cabin I received the paper work for the cancelled excursion.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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Default Just Back

Seems like we were on the same cruise, like you we were first time cruisers and whilst I enjoyed it (very much) my wife found the ship a bit overwhelming.

We had origiinally booked on a much smaller ship at the other end of the Med but that was cancelled and so we were transfered to the Magica.

I pretty much agree with your comments and in fact wish that amount of detail you have put down had been available before we sailed.

The point to stress is that the ship is Italian and cruises are structured in Europe for Italians, what happens in the Carib' is altogether different. and in my humble opinion people coming from the US and elsewhere should regard the ship as a mainly Italian experience. (we are from the UK).

Little point on the Alcohol, there was no problem at all, in fact we cleared the mini bar out and put our own drinks in to keep cool for the the first or second drink of the evening before going up for happy hour. In fact we brought our Gin and Vodka from the shop on board it was half the price of the cheapest duty free anywere on the trip but be aware it does sell out very fast though.

Final couple of points, you are not obliged to pay the "tipping charge" that is included on the bill, ask them to exclude it and pay your waiters where ever you eat and drink and the steward looking after your room directly.
(If you want to)

The "domestic" staff are worked hard, 8 months of split shifts with no days off and they need(!) exellent ratings from you at the end of the trip, otherwise they do not get renewed at the end of the 8 months contract . That said I never once saw a crew member who did not smile and say good morning.

BTW we gave our steward an advance tip it help smooth out the trip
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Old October 29th, 2005, 08:46 AM
Winnipeger Winnipeger is offline
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Default Dancing on the Magica

We're sailing on the Magica beginning November 28th and the information about the ship is great! My wife and I enjoy dancing in the evenings on our cruises and wonder if the bands play a good variety of ballroom dance music? We also saw photos of a very large dance floor that we believe is the Salento Grand Bar area. Can you confirm?

Thanks!
Bob & Doreen
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  #17  
Old October 30th, 2005, 05:12 PM
AndrewJ AndrewJ is offline
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Re: Guide in Tunis. We were on the Magica in August 2005 and had a great time. We arranged a guide in Tunis in advance. It was very successful - they were waiting on the quay with our names on a signboard. The car was a minibus, very modern and comfortable, with air conditioning and seat belts. Driver + english speaking guide. We had arranged to go the the Bardo Museum and then onto the souk in the Medina. 4 hours for EUR 125 in total (3 passengers). Email contact batouta.voyages@planet.tn.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Default Salento Grand Bar

Bob & Doreen,

We never danced, but always walked by and even had a few drinks there. The band plays good music. Alway the same couples dancing, but it was nice to just watch. A few nights they held dance contests, you'll have fun..

Lyn
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Old October 31st, 2005, 10:43 PM
Winnipeger Winnipeger is offline
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Default Salento Bar

Lyn -
Thanks for the information. The November 28th cruise on the Magica will be our first cruise on a European ship and we're really looking forward to the adventure!

Bob & Doreen
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  #20  
Old November 1st, 2005, 01:48 PM
atlanta99 atlanta99 is offline
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We are recently back from Western Med trip on the Fortuna, and I would agree with almost everything Lyn said about her experience on the Magica--the good as well as the minor inconveniences

Return of passports the morning of disembarking would be the number one complaint--the only time the whole trip where I felt really hassled and in a madhouse. Everyone was trying to get it at the same time and there were no lines--and they started the process after the time they said we were already supposed to be in the lounges waiting to disembark if we had the first disembarkation time. They definitely need to fix that system.

None of the pushy European people I had read about on previous boards, even at buffets (only the pushy Americans, yours truly included, trying to get our passports back the last day) --and smoking did not seem like a big deal either. There were sections in the upper decks where there were ashtrays and others where there weren't any--so just look for tables without ashtrays.

Alcohol prices didn't seem that expensive to me. Also, we bought wine at almost every port and went through the x-rays to get on board without anyone ever mentioning it to us.

Staff were all very friendly and tried to be helpful throughout the trip, including at the embarkation terminal. If only the website and the telephone answerers in the states had been as nice and helpful.

Bring your own shampoo and conditioner--shampoo is available if you ask a couple times. But conditioner is non-existent on-board at all. We bought some at a store in Palermo.

Good tap water available at all meals--they bring you a big pitcher at dinner and then constantly replace it when nearing empty.

Food was good enough, but not fantastic--probably the best of all worlds, actually--good enough to satisfy you without being so good and so prevalent that you felt obligated to eat too much.

Also, about Tunis--there must have been some problem with Lyn's particular Historical and Cultural Tour that day. We took the same tour and spent a full 45 minutes walking at leisure through the main part of the Carthage ruins. We also saw the aqueducts, the ampitheater, the Bardo museum and Sidi Bin Said as well. It was a great trip with a very informative and funny guide who spoke excellent English. It also should be very doable on your own. My 72 year old mother went on her own with a couple from New Zealand and they just hired a taxi for a shorter two hour tour and saw most of what we saw except for the Bardo museum. No problems or hassles at all.
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