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snipboy

Costa Magica Nov 26, 2006 Review

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"It is amazing how one ship's service and quality can differ from another."

-Overheard at Costa Magica Buffet on Day 1 of Voyage

This cruise was to be the last for at least 5 years for my wife and I. We are about to start a family and know traveling will be difficult with little ones, and of course there is the financial cost to consider as well. We had taken four prior cruises and one other on the Costa Mediterranea. This in only three years of marriage! To say the least, we love cruising. And we thought we loved Costa…

Things started going wrong almost immediately.

Embarkation

What a complete mess. We arrived at dock 22 at Port Everglades in less than a half hour from arriving at the airport. We were stoked. The flight, taxi, everything was flowing smoothly and quickly! We hadn’t received luggage tags in the mail for our bags. We didn’t know how this would be handled. A hint was definitely delivered when we didn’t get our paperwork and later found out it had been filtered as spam and was now email only. Our last cruise on Costa Mediterranea was only in April, and that had DHL delivered documentation. That changed, apparently. I am all for electronic tickets overall. But not at the stake of a smooth delivery of service. That is exactly what happened when we got to the port. We had to wait in a line for luggage tags. And it was chaotic. No one knew where to go. Costa’s Florida crew, mainly elderly retirees, seemed as befuddled as most cruisers did. Why didn’t we receive tags? What were we to do? So a line grew so that reps could verify documentation and hand out the tags. I waited in line for 45 minutes and finally one of the reps gave up and started handing them out. What a security risk! What a customer service fiasco.

We finally got out of that line and entered the next fiasco. The luggage scan. We waited in this line for an hour and a half. The hold up wasn’t actually security, it was Costa (once again). They did not have enough staff to check people in, so the line for that grew so long that security literally had to stop scanning luggage. However, I purchased a Suite. So I had priority embarkation. That didn’t help in the security line. There was no security line for priority VIPs. After clearing security, I got right through to an agent to check me in. While the security scan generally isn’t part of embarkation, nor is luggage check in, I give it very low scores here. I go into negative territory because after check in, once again we had to wait in line to actually get on the ship. That was another 20 minutes or so. I argued with the Costa rep that I had priority embarkation, but that did me no favor.

With over two hours of rage built up, we got on the ship. We gave the photographer, models and greeters on board the cold shoulder. We were mad. Bad Costa, very bad.

Cabin

Despite being famished, we decided to unload our carry-ons in our suite straight away. I was immediately disappointed. The suite was small. It was definitely not the 600 sq ft cruise.com advertised, closer to 275-300 sq ft. The bathroom was the major high point. The whirlpool and the rest of the bathroom were large and nice to use. We both took a whirlpool bath every other day of the cruise. Just outside of the bathroom is this poorly conceived walk-in closet setup. It has a dresser for a woman to put on her make up with the closet portion directly behind it. One could not get into the bathroom without bumping in and disturbing the wife. This was irritating.

The rest of the cabin had wood accents and very nicely designed Magica artwork on the walls. We enjoyed it. It was enchanting and stylish. We immediately ordered mattress pads for the bed and feather pillows. We didn’t expect to get them, but asked anyway. We got them, and a Suite Pillow Menu from Dorelan, an Italian based company. We could choose from 7 different pillows. We ordered two more pillows that had a very interesting design, with the tempur pedic bed material (Dorelan calls it “Myform”). Our bed ended up having 8 pillows. Combined with the pads, sleeping was a true luxury and spending time in bed was our favorite activity ultimately on board.

The balcony was another frustration. While it was long, it was not wide enough to easily get in and out without disturbing others on the balcony. Where this became annoying was when we tried to eat on the balcony. We had to play musical chairs and tables to avoid creating a mess. While any balcony is better than no balcony, I was annoyed.

Later on in the day we returned to the cabin to find canapés, Champaign and a fruit bowl with grapes, kiwis, mangos and apples. All very fresh and chilled. The canapés included caviar, walnuts, brie and salmon. I ate the whole plate--my wife was not into them. The Champaign we decided to bring home as a gift for a friend, but when we had it wrapped by the duty free store, the attendant boldly said he wouldn’t bother bringing it home because it was “crap.” LOL! That’s just great, Costa!! Our Butler introduced herself. Her name was Claudia and we thought she was very pleasant upon this first meeting. She cleared our refrigerator as requested in a “love note,” and arranged our pillows and pad delivery. My wife’s first comment to me after meeting was, “she looks utterly exhausted.” She was right and this would have implications later… Our room steward, Julius, was a constant delight the entire trip. Very friendly, industrious and responsive.

Overall, our room was really not very different in size from the room we had on the Costa Mediterranea in April. We had 7238 on that ship and I’d estimate the size to be the same minus the walk in closet and luxury appointed bathroom. And the balcony was actually smaller! What exactly had I spent an extra 300 dollars per person on? Service? Maybe that’s it…

(Note: “Love Notes” are what I call the notes I leave for the attendants of our rooms during our cruises. Instead of trying to track them down, I merely leave notes for them on the door whenever I need something. I call them “love notes” because I “love” to be pampered!!)

Dining

After checking out the room, we hit the buffet. Our experience on the Mediterranea was that food got progressively better as the cruise went on. We noticed this on our other cruises as well. We attribute it to staff exhaustion from the last cruise. It is our justification, anyway. So we didn’t expect much. Food was OK, not stellar by any means.

It continued to not be stellar through out the trip. We never ate in the main dining room, but had most meals brought to our room by our butler. Initially, she was quick to deliver, but she got slower and slower. One order never came and when we complained we were told dinner was over. Our final order of the cruise took over an hour and a half. With most orders, the food was warm to cooling by the time we got it in our room. Claudia seemed embarrassed but unable to do anything to remedy it. She looked lost and unempowered. Most orders were incomplete, lacked silverware, lacked salt and pepper, lacked butter for rolls…obvious things. Claudia seemed to be making a very honest effort, guest services had a continuous line the whole trip. We didn’t know who to complain to, and who’s fault it was. We ended up doing nothing about this except note it carefully on our survey at the end.

The buffet never got better. We had some outstanding pasta, of note was the gorgonzola gnocchi and bacon and onion spaghetti. The steaks were never cooked right and not flavorful at all. Sides were unpleasant…green beans and other assorted things.

The other option was to eat poolside at the grill. There my wife liked the deli sandwiches, and I enjoyed burgers and grilled fish. One frustration with the grill is that they won’t make you a real cheeseburger, you have to put a cold slice of American cheese on your own burger. One day they ran out of American cheese and substituted Swiss cheese. I asked for American and was told they were out. . . only to find the next day that it was back on the menu there!! My wife started taking extra deli sandwiches to the room and putting them in the refrigerator to eat later. Costa, what are you thinking??!! Quality issues led to seeing lots of plates head to garbage cans pretty full. One night in the room after getting lackluster room service again, we sent nearly 75% of what we ordered to the garbage. We felt very guilty about this.

A Suite perk is a free meal at Club Vicenzo, the “for pay” dining option on the Magica. Claudia strongly warned us to reserve a table early so we wouldn’t miss it as it was very popular. We did so and reserved it for Monday night, on a day at sea. We expected it to be full. We walked in and it was empty at 7 PM. We stayed until 8:15 and no one followed us. The restaurant was empty minus us and one other couple. Service was very professional, with the laying of napkins in our laps and such. The table wear is from Gucci. We thought we’d get a 5 star dining experience. No such luck. To say it was terrible would be an understatement. It was horrifically bad. We ordered t-bone steaks. I initially asked to see the steaks offered. The waitress looked perplexed and said we couldn’t. The menu itself was confusing. There was an ala carte menu and then a tasting menu. You could taste 3 things for 25 dollars or 2 for 20. Suite passengers got to taste two things for 20. It would consist of a main entrée and a type of salad, and then side items and dessert. We got Caprese salads that were decent. Bread and breadsticks were passable, but not spectacular. But then came the main entrees. We gasped simultaneously. The T-bones were these thin strips of meat with a humongous bone wedged between. It didn’t matter how you ordered it, it came well done. It must have taken no more than 2 minutes to completely cook the poor thing. And the sides were laughable and so unprofessionally presented. They were on the same plate as the main entrée. Three short and tiny asparagus? Four carrots? Corn and red pepper? A plate full of cold fries, not shoe string potatoes that we ordered? It was day 2 and we were fed up eating on the damn ship. Don’t even ask me about the desserts at Club Vicenzo.

Was there every a fantastic meal? No. There wasn’t. If it wasn’t cold, or the entrée stunk, or the dessert stunk, it was something else that went wrong. We looked forward to deli sandwiches and ports so we could eat some real food. If that doesn’t turn you off to this ship, continue…I have plenty more, but first…

Entertainment

This was the only highlight of the cruise. The shows were of good quality. The first night was a former member of the Platters (Sonny Turner??). My wife and I are not into that kind of music, but the singer did put on a good show overall.

The Vegas style shows were well done and done without a hitch. Entertaining and fun.

The “Newlywed and Not So Newlywed” show, which is something we look forward to on other occasions was poorly attended. The CD, Max Bartolotto, was not entertaining and seemed befuddled by responses of participants. Several times he looked annoyed with one particular couple. His irritation was easily apparent and it made for a very displeasurable experience watching it. I was amused by old people talking about their sex lives like they were 18 year olds.

The much lauded Costa Talent Show was the true entertainment win of this cruise. The cruisers wowed us with their talent. Of particular note was the older lady comedian. She was outstanding. One unfortunate note was one particular cruiser sang an old hymn, and the response of the audience was to leave in droves during his performance. On our prior cruise, part of the fun was sending the performers to the lions. The talent was terrible, which made it enjoyable. No such luck here. The one area we were hoping would be bad, turned out to be good! Oh the irony!!!

The CD overall seemed unenthused and uninspired. He looked tired and worn out, as did his staff. I recalled assistant staff members Silvio and Eugenio from the previous Mediterranea cruise, and they were much more outgoing then. To the point where we thought Silvio must be on stimulant drugs. Apparently this time they were handing out MaryJane. While we didn’t participate in the Lido deck activities, we did often observe them from our sunbathing positions. They were poorly attended and participated. One of the staff members, Angelo, commented several times just how much he hated doing the Blackjack Tournament each cruise. That tells me there are fundamental problems among supervisors and staff.

As mentioned before, I did the Blackjack Tournament. We also participated in Bingo and the Arts and Crafts activities. The Arts and Crafts entailed painting ceramics, t-shirts and fans. We didn’t have to pay extra for them and got to bring them home as souvenirs. Bingo was held in Lounge Salento instead of the theatre. Eugenio hosted the Bingo. He is quite flamboyant to say the least.

Spa & Fitness

We used both the fitness center and sauna/steam rooms. The fitness center was difficult to find initially. There were no clear signs pointing it out. It is on the 11th floor behind the Saturnia Spa. You have to walk through the locker rooms to get to them.

My wife used the running machines and elliptical machines. She found them difficult to use because instructions were only in Italian. She figured them out eventually. The equipment and the room itself seemed old and not well maintained. They have a whirlpool set in the middle of the room above the fitness machines. The placement is odd. I looked in to see if I wanted to get in, and it looked dingy. The plastic molding in many areas was stained. I turned around and headed to the sauna.

I have been a long time fan of the sauna. I belong to a fantastic health club with outstanding Finnish built saunas and steam rooms. My expectations are high and my knowledge of how to use them is also high. I’ve been to the real thing in arctic Sweden. I was not let down here. It was as if a Swede or Finn built the fine Magica sauna. It had two heaters and the wood work was well done. It was a large room with capacity for around 15 men. It had a large window to the sea, which was enchanting. Lighting was just right—enough luminosity to get around, but not enough to make you overly self-conscious with a bunch of other sweaty guys. The temps were around 150-180 degrees, the professional sauna user’s preference, so to speak. It was perfect, and I did a full round of warm ups and cool downs. The problem with the cool downs was that you had to sit near the toilets in the locker room. And someone obviously had a bad trip to the buffet…

The steam room was a let down; the steam was intermittent and the room didn’t have the right aesthetics. It was white and blue and had no lighting at all. One out of two isn’t bad.

Shore Excursions

Per our usual operandi, we did no ship organized excursions. The forums here at CruiseCritic are outstanding and provide the researching cruiser more than enough information to organize or find better excursion opportunities.

We had nearly two relaxing days at sea before our first port of call, San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a late arrival. We docked at 4:00 PM. This was misleading on the original viewing of the itinerary several months before. It said we arrived at 5 PM on Tuesday and left at midnight on Wednesday. It led me to believe we got nearly a day and a half there! Wrong! Read carefully! The worst implication of this was that one misses some of San Juan’s best treasures because they close at 5 PM! Namely, San Cristobal and El Morro! When we arrived at 4, I thought we could make a b-line for the doors, grab a taxi and perhaps spend at least a half hour at El Morro. No such luck. Despite the fact we departed a US port and made no stops in between, we still had to be cleared by immigration and that took an hour. We got off the boat at the pier in Old San Juan and found Royal Caribbean and Norwegian docked, with Carnival coming up behind us. The city was about to be flooded by at least 8,000 tourists. The pier was a madhouse. People shouting at each other, horns honking incessantly. It was disorienting. We ran to a Coldstone Creamery to escape.

Later we started our tour of the old town. The temps were actually cool, but the humidity was unbearable for this sweat prone bear. I couldn’t stand it. The locals were wearing winter coats. I know, I know…”you hate humidity and sweat but love the sauna”…I am a man of many contradictions.

I am not sure where the 8,000 unwelcome guests of the city went, but most of them didn’t get very far from the pier because within a block or two uphill, crowds dwindled considerably. Our goal was the restaurant Barrachina, home of the Pina Collada. Just a bit further down the path is the Fortress residence of the Governor. It was lit up for the holidays and looked beautiful.

At Barrachina we were treated to good service. It had started raining heavily by then and I felt sorry for those in the uncovered atrium of the restaurant. After I drank my pina collada, I became very nauseous. I am not sure what did it. I felt better several hours and half a bottle of maximum strength bismuth later. Our meal there was very good, a marinated beef dish, but pricey—17.00. Barrachina also has a gift shop attached to it and is totally unfitting to the history of the restaurant.

An interesting highlight was all of the Haitian gift shops in Old Town. They are worth a visit. I enjoyed using my limited French with the shop owners.

We headed back to the pier at 9 PM and found a very long line. There was only one security agent allowing people back to the main pier! It took 45 minutes to get back on board. While in line a very intoxicated/stoned local entertained(?) the line with his bizarre little dance. I wasn’t sure whether the man needed help or a kick in the pants. I was both horrified and amused. It is emotionally confusing encountering poverty and such social ills when on vacation. You are there to engage in pleasure--they are living their life devoid of it. A good friend of mine only does tropical forays to Hawaii for the very reason of the dichotomies of Caribbean tourism.

Port two our eastern itinerary was St. Thomas. What can be said about St. Thomas that hasn’t already been beaten to death? Our goal was to ferry to St. John and ultimately Trunk Bay beach. We arrived to a wicked rain storm and hoped for three hours that it would end. It did finally and we darted off. We picked up an overpriced tax (10pp each way) to Red Hook to catch the 15 minute ferry ride (5pp each way) to Cruz Bay, St. John. It is a very scenic ferry ride. One can also catch a ferry in Charlotte Amalie, but that makes it a 45 minute ferry ride and higher cost. Ferries ran from Red Hook and Cruz Bay on the hour. Once in Cruz Bay we grabbed a taxi (6pp each way) to Trunk Bay. It took 20 minutes and was a death-defying ride. The driver obviously knew the route well, and curves also!!

Trunk Bay beach is extraordinary. It is your quintessential paradise. It is supposedly number 3 on the best beaches of the Caribbean and for good reason. While it is one of the few beaches in the US Virgin Islands that is public and requires a fee to enter (4pp), it is well worth it. After Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, this one is our favorite. We spent 3 hours there.

Back in Cruz Bay later in the day, we found a cute place to grab some local fare. We got some Johnny Cakes and Pate pastries along with some Barritt’s Ginger Beers. All of it was good and relatively cheap.

Upon arrival at Red Hook, I found myself exasperated with the fact that we’d spent nearly 60 dollars on just commuting around the islands. I didn’t want to spend another 20 to get back to the ship. So I followed the advice of one of the posters and decided to grab a local bus back to Havensight. These 2pp transports are open air and at the time of the day we jumped on, it was loaded with school kids. Nearing the end of the day, it stopped frequently. I was nervous we wouldn’t get back to port in time. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that I could not understand a word of the Creole the kids were speaking. I’d ask questions and they respond with indiganncy at my bright white European ass. One of the girls enjoyed my obvious discomfort and concern. Meanwhile, my wife soaked up the experience and adventure.

We got back close to Havensight and hopped off. The bus driver stopped us and said he’d take us closer, but we knew we could beat the bus by foot. I thought this was very generous of the driver and was my best experience with a local of the day.

Our third port was Casa De Campeo, Dominican Republic. In truth, the port is called Casa De Campeo, but is 30 minutes from the renowned resort and golf course. The port is actually across the channel from La Romanna—Dom Rep’s second largest city. We woke up early so that we could eat on the balcony with the city behind us. What was actually directly in front of us were large smoke stacks spewing back smoke into the air. It was never clear what was being manufactured there.

Our intention was to take the port authority shuttle to Altos De Chavon, the Spanish village recreation at Casa De Campeo Resort. But an angry French Canadian warned us as we walked to the shuttles that they were a rip-off and to take a taxi instead. Shuttle rides to La Romanna and Altos De Chavon were 5pp each way. So we did the quick math and figured to do both would cost us 40 dollars. Our new Quebecois friend suggested we take a local taxi for 30 dollars and a tour. Great! We thought!

As it turned out, none of the drivers spoke English and they wanted 35 for a 2 hour tour to both locations. We decided to take the adventure. Our driver was Daniel Jimenez. We communicated with a combination of my knowledge of Spanish and my wife’s better knowledge of Spanish. We had these moments with him in the taxi where we would laugh in glee when we managed to communicate effectively. The taxi itself really was a circa 2000 Toyota Camry wagon in beat up condition, but comfortable. As with almost every taxi I’ve taken in the Caribbean, the gas tank gauge said it was empty and the fuel light was on. LOL!

The tour of La Romanna consisted of the police station, fire station, main market square and “shopping.” The city was swarming with people, but no major apparent extreme poverty. It was relatively clean and orderly. The police presence was high, and they carried semi-automatic machine guns. This scarred my wife, but didn’t faze me. I’d say the only point of poverty that I witnessed was a legless man with one arm on the bridge across the channel. That was it. Ochos Rios, Jamaica had far more observable poverty than La Romanna.

An interesting point about the La Romannians is their lack of willingness to barter or negotiate. We found this with the insistent Daniel, and at the shop he took us to. They wanted their full prices and acted very insulted that we didn’t want to pay them. I am quite serious about this point. In many other ports of call, they’ll just wave you off if you can’t agree on a price. In La Romanna, they got angry. I was very put off by this. The prices were high by American standards, let alone third world ones. I didn’t want any part of it. They were trying to fleece us. My wife on the other hand was a different story. Her philosophy on the third world is that even if they are fleecing us, the price contributes to a better life for them and she’d rather pay that than giving it through a third party like a charity. I tried to explain economic theory and reality to her, but she wouldn’t have it. We ended up paying 51 dollars for two small sculptures of mediocre quality and a painting of good quality. To each their own.

Altos De Chavon was the gem of this trip. On the way there we crossed through the famous sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. They stretched for miles and miles. Upon arrival at Altos, the security guard tried to explain that we had to pay 5pp on the way out to visit the place. I had not read this elsewhere and was very dubious about it. We toured the place and found it enchanting and very true to the old world it was modeling. The view of the Chavon River was awe inspiring as well. We didn’t have time to check out the shops or restaurant, but have heard from other cruisers that they are well worth checking out.

We left Altos De Chavon’s main park area from a different end that we entered. We got slightly lost on the grounds. We found Daniel and the taxi and hopped in and left. I waved to unpaid security guard as we drove off. I was sick and tired of being ripped off for the day.

Many people have stated that Dom Rep is wasted port stop. I would disagree. Plan your excursion and adventure carefully and you’ll enjoy yourself. While I felt fleeced, the adventure was worth it.

Our final port calling was Grand Turk, the city of Cockburn. I was excited about just going to a place that included the words “Cock” and “Burn” in the same word. As it turns out, the port is several miles south of the city of Cockburn itself. It was constructed by Carnival Corporation last year as an alternative to nearby Nassau. The port area reminds me a great deal of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Carnival has created a little shopping area with pastel colors, and the beach area is very reminiscent of Half Moon Cay, complete with free lounge chairs and cabanas. The great part is that you can just hop off the boat and walk to the beach instead of taking a tender at Half Moon.

The caveat to walking off the boat and to the beach is that they make you walk through the shopping area to get to it. It immediately struck my wife and I that it is similar to the casino hotel experience in Las Vegas. They make you walk through the Casino to get anywhere.

Most of the shops are locally owned, with a few large jewelry and Duty Free shops mixed in. A Margaritaville restaurant is the anchor. You have to take a taxi into town. There is nothing else there except for a condo development and bar.

The beach itself was nice, but somewhat spoiled by the pier which blocks a view of the open ocean. We walked further down the beach and swam where it was less obstructed. Many others followed suit and brought their loungers and cabanas with them.

We ate at Margarittaville. It was expensive and mediocre in quality. We didn’t order the 10 dollar 10 ounce drinks. While there I was moved by a couple who were very obviously in love. As I watched them at their out of the way table, I built this imaginative scenario of their lives. I imagined they were some French couple who probably are in their first stage of romance and enamored with each other with that youthful lust we all have in that stage. The woman had this look on her face that made me feel joyful. As if she was deeply concerned about every word that came out of her man’s mouth. Sometimes I wondered if she was waiting for him to pop some question out his mouth. She had this apparent look of expectation. Her eyes were wide and she had classical European looks. He looked very Mediterranean and chain smoked. They kissed often and held each other closely and tenderly. I felt satisfied that these tourists were enjoying themselves immensely on this trip. They were imbuing joy around them.

We had an extra long day at Grand Turk and really enjoyed it. We’d gladly take it over Nassau.

Finally, a miserable day at sea, getting sicker and sicker with a bad cold. I spent much of the last day resting in our suite. But I got out for a late lunch. When I was done eating this woman came by to pick up my plate. It was the woman enamored with her man I saw from afar at Margarittaville. I didn’t realize it at first. Now, she looked downtrodden and exhausted. I looked closely at her name tag, she was from Romania, like our Butler. I felt so sad at that moment. Sometimes I wonder if cruise staff have worse lives than my cat, who I think comparably lives an easy life. This has led to mixed emotions about cruising in the past. The facts are that most service staff on cruises work for tips. However, these tips actually pay a relatively decent wage overall, given US standards, and are extraordinary when compared to their home standards. But they work generally 7 days a week, for six months or more at a time. My understanding is that most staff get a half day or full day off every few weeks, depending on the ship and itinerary. Their shifts are split into two 5 hour shifts every day. I can see where this wears on a person in a short period of time. And I saw this with nearly all service staff on the ship. My heart was broken for this woman.

Disembarkation

“I wish we could have saved the survey so we could comment on this. By far, this is one of the best benefits of having a suite.”

-Overheard at the waiting area for Suite/VIP cruisers.

Disembarkation was very good (On Holland America disembarkation is awesome no matter what level of cruiser you are). They separated us out from the rest of the cruisers by having us go to Club Vicenzo. There we were greeted by a continental breakfast being served by the romantic couple from Margarittaville. This time the woman looked rested and pleasant. Her boyfriend/husband(?) seemed no different from the restaurant, except that his interplay and communication with the woman was much more formal, of course.

We waited for 20 minutes upon arriving at 8:30 AM to get off. That was smooth. Gathering our luggage was smooth as well.

It is said that any day on a bad cruise is better than a good day working. I am not so sure about that. I get a “high” when I’ve had a particularly good day at work. When I cruise I have a certain level of expectation and nearly every one was shot down on this one. I am very happy with every port experience, however. We cruised this ship knowing that it had mixed reviews in the past, but wanting the itinerary.

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Nice review Snip,

I appreciate all of the detail that went into it.

Did you find the ship to be crowded? Deck chairs easy to find? Any trouble getting your own booze onto the ship?

Good Luck with starting your family,I hope that by the time you get back to cruisin, you will have forgotten the unpleasant parts of this trip.

 

Kurt

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Nice review Snip,

I appreciate all of the detail that went into it.

Did you find the ship to be crowded? Deck chairs easy to find? Any trouble getting your own booze onto the ship?

Good Luck with starting your family,I hope that by the time you get back to cruisin, you will have forgotten the unpleasant parts of this trip.

 

Kurt

No, we didn't find the ship to be crowded at all. The dynamics of the cruise passengers was interesting though, and I believe might have led to some of the issues we encountered. Here is the breakdown:

 

50% French Canadian

30% American

5% Italian

10% Latino

10% Other European (heard Brits, Irish, Germans)

 

They mentioned that you could count the kids on your hands, and that the average age of the cruisers on board was 66!! With my limited French, it seemed that they were very pleased with the food on board. The elderly were not happy at all with it.

 

So, with all this in mind, finding deck chairs was extremely easy anywhere you wanted to be.

 

We didn't smuggle booze on board, but did on the Mediterreanea and it was EASY. They even accomodated it by bringing us wine glasses to our room!

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Thanks for the great review.. We have booked a Corner Aft Cabin on Deck 7 and we are wondering if it is a good decision. Just wondering about the balcony size for that cabin. Also we have friends that booked an Suite 7326, is the balcony small for that cabin. You did not mention which cabin you were in, did you have a Suite or a Grand Suite? They say that the Grand Suite has the 600 sq ft and the Suites have the 260 sq ft.

 

I am concerned about the food after reading your review, hopefully it will get better before we set sail....

 

Thanks again

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Thanks for the great review.. We have booked a Corner Aft Cabin on Deck 7 and we are wondering if it is a good decision. Just wondering about the balcony size for that cabin. Also we have friends that booked an Suite 7326, is the balcony small for that cabin. You did not mention which cabin you were in, did you have a Suite or a Grand Suite? They say that the Grand Suite has the 600 sq ft and the Suites have the 260 sq ft.

 

I am concerned about the food after reading your review, hopefully it will get better before we set sail....

 

Thanks again

 

I was in a regular Suite, not a grand. I am going to assume looking at the layouts of the suites from the outside that the balcony width is the same--narrow.

 

Don't count on the food getting better before you sailing. And by all means, do not waste your time or money on Club Vicenzo. Sorry to disappoint.

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A friend and I were just on the Magica in March and we had a wondeful time! We just stayed in an inside cabin and didn't mind it at all. But then again, we didn't spend much time in our rooms. We figure why spend a huge amount of money for a suite or even a balcony room when the only time we are in our rooms is to sleep and take a shower.

 

We did have long lines for embarkation, but we just tend to roll with things. We don't mind waiting. There are a lot of people trying to get on the ship, so obviously there are going to be lines. This does not make us mad or annoyed. It's something just to expect.

 

We LOVED the "Newly Wed, Not So Newlywed" game. It was HILARIOUS! And Max was also our cruise director and he was great, too.

 

We truly enjoyed the entire trip. We can't wait to go back on the Magic in a couple of days. Yay!!!!

 

We hear people complain about different ships ALL the time, but we don't understand why. A cruise is what YOU make of it. Take things with a grain of salt. Don't LET things annoy you or bother you. Decide that you are going to have a good time, no matter what!

 

Personally, I am not crazy about the food on the ship, either, but this doesn't make me mad. I know that I don't particularly care for the food on the boat, so I bring snacks with me to eat.

 

I hope everyone has a great time on their upcoming cruise! Make the most of it! :)

 

~OneoftheHoosierGirls

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I initially asked to see the steaks offered :D

I wonder how happy they were when you left the ship)))))

Next time dont spend so much time writing, try to injoy your tirp)))))):eek:

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A friend and I were just on the Magica in March and we had a wondeful time! We just stayed in an inside cabin and didn't mind it at all. But then again, we didn't spend much time in our rooms. We figure why spend a huge amount of money for a suite or even a balcony room when the only time we are in our rooms is to sleep and take a shower.

 

We did have long lines for embarkation, but we just tend to roll with things. We don't mind waiting. There are a lot of people trying to get on the ship, so obviously there are going to be lines. This does not make us mad or annoyed. It's something just to expect.

 

We LOVED the "Newly Wed, Not So Newlywed" game. It was HILARIOUS! And Max was also our cruise director and he was great, too.

 

We truly enjoyed the entire trip. We can't wait to go back on the Magic in a couple of days. Yay!!!!

 

We hear people complain about different ships ALL the time, but we don't understand why. A cruise is what YOU make of it. Take things with a grain of salt. Don't LET things annoy you or bother you. Decide that you are going to have a good time, no matter what!

 

Personally, I am not crazy about the food on the ship, either, but this doesn't make me mad. I know that I don't particularly care for the food on the boat, so I bring snacks with me to eat.

 

I hope everyone has a great time on their upcoming cruise! Make the most of it! :)

 

~OneoftheHoosierGirls

 

For us, a lot of individual problems spelled big trouble. I think we are opposite in that way. For us, these details are important. While it is true that a cruise is what you make of it, a lot of it was out of our control. And we certainly didn't want to make waves because that will negatively impact oneself as well. We got a suite because we are not people persons. We take these trips to spend time together, not to meet other people. Hence, we spend an inordinate amount of time in the cabin. We want it to be nice.

 

If you bring snacks to eat on a cruise you are definitely cruising the wrong line. Alcohol is one thing, but not food. That is unacceptable that the food would be so bad you'd bring your own and that is what you are implying here not so subtly.

 

What strikes me is how one ship could be so different from another. Perhaps several months ago the Magica truly was a different ship with different service. We were on the Med in April and thought we'd never cruise another line again. Now, we are wondering if we'd be throwing the dice on another Costa ship. I think there is a clear lack of standardization and policy from one ship to another and that is wrong. I can understand it going from Carnival to Costa, but not Costa to Costa. I still would recommend the Med, but not the Magica.

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I initially asked to see the steaks offered :D

 

I wonder how happy they were when you left the ship)))))

Next time dont spend so much time writing, try to injoy your tirp)))))):eek:

 

 

Unlike other posters who are afraid of making comments about their cruises in their reviews because of comments like the above, I say bring it on. Want to critique me? Go for it. I put it out there, so call me on it if you want. But I will respond and in some cases, I will respond harshly, like I am about to now. So prepare yourself for that if you decide you want to challenge me.

 

Club Vicenzo is billed as a premium 5 star steakhouse restaurant aboard the ship. I have gone to 5 star Michelin rated restaurants and steakhouses. I come from the Chicago area. I understand what a good steakhouse is. There is a standard--you apparently are not aware of it. That's OK, Outback is good for 90% of the population and most of the time is for me as well. But when I want to drop 80 dollars on a filet, I have certain expectations. My expectation at Club Vicenzo is that the beef would not be of that quality, but something resembling that. Not Prime perhaps, but at least Choice!! So, when I order and inquire about the steaks I expect that I will get to see what today's offerings look like--what the marbling is, the approximate sizes of the cuts, etc. That offering tells one you are in a prime steakhouse when they bring it out. Bill yourself a prime steakhouse and you better damn well follow the standards or call yourself something else. End of discussion.

 

I would hope that the staff was sorry to see me go. 90% of my complaints I kept to myself. I was very polite and overly respectful to everyone who worked in service. I know it's a tough job, and when management doesn't give you the tools or quality to do your own job well, that stinks. Most people don't recognize that it's managment's fault most of the time and they blame the staff. I don't do that. I understand the difference.

 

I wrote notes to remind myself of issues, but wrote most of my review over the last three days.

 

Good day to you.

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Thanks for the review.

 

Were the times for dinner 6 pm and 8:30 pm.?

 

How was formal night? Did you see alot of tuxes?

 

We're on Magica in April so, obviously, we would have hoped for a better review. However, on that particular cruise Magica is going to Bermuda

 

and we live in Florida, so it's an opportunity for us to go there without flying up north to get on a ship. So, we are using Magica for transportation.

 

Did you notice anyone ordering the wine package?

 

How was the casino?

 

Thanks again....

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oops, sorry, just re-read your review and noted that you didn't eat in the dining room.

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Thanks for the review.

 

Were the times for dinner 6 pm and 8:30 pm.?

 

How was formal night? Did you see alot of tuxes?

 

We're on Magica in April so, obviously, we would have hoped for a better review. However, on that particular cruise Magica is going to Bermuda

 

and we live in Florida, so it's an opportunity for us to go there without flying up north to get on a ship. So, we are using Magica for transportation.

 

Did you notice anyone ordering the wine package?

 

How was the casino?

 

Thanks again....

 

Dining times were 5:30 and 8:30. On one night they varied by 15 minutes for one reason or another. They were listed in the Today paper.

 

At formal night we didn't see any tuxes, but did see a fair amount of suits/ties. We did eat in our room, but went out for the entertainment afterwards.

 

Got nothing on the wine packages, but I understand there is a "secret" one you can order before boarding. Search this forum for more details.

 

The casino was small and very tucked away! Usually the ships make you walk through it to get to one end of the ship. Not so on the Magica. The key benefit for me was not having to enhale the smoke that usually eminates from them. I did the Blackjack tourney there. It's decent, but the smallest I've seen on a ship.

 

Enjoy your cruise!

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Why am I so sleepy? :confused:

 

Hopefully they kept your glass half empty for you in the restaurant.

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We were on this cruise last month - it's first Caribbean sailing of this season. Grand Cayman was cancelled and it was pouring rain in Jamaica the whole day.......that left us on the ship a lot. It was our 13th cruise and the worst ever. Costa did me a great favor, they have cured me of my cruising addiction. I no longer have a desire. For the first time in over 6 years I don't have a trip booked to look forward too. We are going to save lots of money. Thanks Costa!!!!!!!!!

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Sorry your cruise wasn’t all it could be.

 

Just a few points/comments I wanted to add.

 

The service should have been better and normally is.

 

Embarkation sucks on every cruise line. But given it was thanksgiving, and this WAS the first Costa Caribbean cruise of the season, 2 hours is within the 1-2hr embarkation average.

 

Also, security vs. convenience is always a trade off.

 

How did you get onboard with no documents?

About your spam filter: Technology can be a blessing, and a curse if not used correctly. Always check your filter after ordering something online!

 

The suites on the Costa magica are the same as 10 other carnival sister ships from destiny and conquest class.

 

Spending time in bed was our favorite activity ultimately on board.

-as it should ;)

 

I think the food on Costa is excellent.

I am in no way being demeaning but it sounds like perhaps you are more the 'sandwiches, burgers and fries' type people than the 'authentic Italian dining' type.

The fact that you ordered t-bone steaks at the ships premier pay restaurant which is set up to be an authentic Italian restaurant right out of the heart of Italy with one of the most renowned Italian chefs tells me this.

Italians are known for Italian food, not American.

 

I am also interested in some more description about why the food was bad rather than saying it was 'laughable" or "passable".

What did you think about Costa’s food the first time on the Meditereania?

 

I speak for other Costa cruisers when I say if you did not attend the main dining room you missed out on a ton of fun. The dinner entertainment and experience is awesome. I hope you at least donned a TOGA on the last night!

But if you prefer dinner in the cabin, there’s nothing wrong with that, each to their own.

 

I’m glad you enjoyed the shows.

I thought Max was very entertaining and full of life.

"The fitness center was difficult to find initially."

Sounds like you needed to read my 'getting around the magica' thread!

 

San Juan is ALWAYS a late stop. Everyone complains across cruise lines that there is not enough time in that port.

 

Our final port calling was Grand Turk, the city of Cockburn. I was excited about just going to a place that included the words “Cock” and “Burn” in the same word.

Hahaha

Thanks for your review of this port, it sounds like a nice new exciting place.

 

Thanks for posting your cultural make up of the ship. From my cruise I would say...

20% American

30% Canadian

20% Italian

20% French

10% German

 

I also found CARNIVAL to be JUST as diverse as COSTA, with more Latino than any other group.

 

 

“A cruise is what you make of it….”

 

-JoeT

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Why am I so sleepy? :confused:

 

Hopefully they kept your glass half empty for you in the restaurant.

Funny! We went to Club Vicenzo and had our water glasses always full there. Otherwise, we kept our own glasses full. ;-)

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Embarkation sucks on every cruise line. But given it was thanksgiving, and this WAS the first Costa Caribbean cruise of the season, 2 hours is within the 1-2hr embarkation average.

 

How did you get onboard with no documents?

About your spam filter: Technology can be a blessing, and a curse if not used correctly. Always check your filter after ordering something online!

 

I think the food on Costa is excellent.

I am in no way being demeaning but it sounds like perhaps you are more the 'sandwiches, burgers and fries' type people than the 'authentic Italian dining' type.

The fact that you ordered t-bone steaks at the ships premier pay restaurant which is set up to be an authentic Italian restaurant right out of the heart of Italy with one of the most renowned Italian chefs tells me this.

Italians are known for Italian food, not American.

 

I am also interested in some more description about why the food was bad rather than saying it was 'laughable" or "passable".

What did you think about Costa’s food the first time on the Meditereania?

 

I speak for other Costa cruisers when I say if you did not attend the main dining room you missed out on a ton of fun. The dinner entertainment and experience is awesome. I hope you at least donned a TOGA on the last night!

But if you prefer dinner in the cabin, there’s nothing wrong with that, each to their own.

 

You make an interesting point about embarkation. This was their second cruise, we were right after their Thanksgiving cruise, but I did get the sense that the crew was attempting to get it's new itinerary sealegs, so to speak. I am sure that is something the shoreside staff is dealing with as well. We did have our email documents--I did recover them from the junk folders!! *wipe brow*

 

Regarding the food, I think the primary complaint is that the food rarely tasted fresh or hot/warm. That is where the quality issue comes in. We did enjoy our entrees much more on the Mediterranea. A recent review posted in the "review" section of CC says they had a similar problem with dining room fare. We should have eaten more often in the buffet. Most of our experiences there were decent to good. The problem with the room service is that it comes from the dining room. That the problem overall though, the food is supposed to be better coming out of there. Right? Club Vicenzo is supposed to be a steakhouse. I spent 2 weeks in Italy and never saw a steakhouse there. I am not sure what to say, except that I was disappointed. I'll try to post what our meal looked like. I think you'll agree that it was pathetic, regardless of tradition. We decided on this cruise to relax more than have an active "fun life." We got the suite so we could hang out all day in the room or our balcony and have our meals delivered. We did have fun in the dining room during our Mediterranea cruise. You are quite right, it is very fun and loud!!

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Usually the ships make you walk through it to get to one end of the ship. Not so on the Magica.

 

This is incorrect. In order to get from the middle section to the aft section on deck 5 of the magica you must walk thru the casino. nit picking i know :p.

 

thanks for correcting me. you were on the second cruise. i forgot that the t-giving cruise 11/19, the one i was on victory was the magica's first carib.

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But when I want to drop 80 dollars on a filet, I have certain expectations. My expectation at Club Vicenzo is that the beef would not be of that quality, but something ...:D

 

1.you paid $20 pp for complite meal:rolleyes: ,no $80.00 for filet only

2.I never been in Chicago,but in Europe and most of North America its not normal to ask to SEE your meat)))))its not a Lobster House))))

3.Good luck on your privat Yaht cruise next time,masmedia cruise its not for you:eek:

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actually, on other lines (HAL zuiderdam comes to mind) they do bring the uncooked cuts of meat out prior to ordering to describe each cut to you and explain the preparation...I have also seen this done on land in NYC and DC. I would not expect this at a fine Italian rest but one billing itself as a premium steak house, then yes, I would expect this.

 

I expect dining on a cruise to be on par with what would cost $125-150 per couple on land, even more if it is a "pay" restaurant on board.

 

Thank you very much for your review. You were very detailed and personal and I appreciate that. If I may ask a few personal questions.....

 

1. What are your ages. I am assuming you are of a certain age if you are getting ready to start a family.

 

2. Career and education levels?

 

3. I see you have also cruised on the Zuiderdam and a RCCL ship. What were your thoughts on them?

 

I am not trying to pry just trying to get an idea of how similar we are to see if your thoughts on this cruise are indiciative of how much we will like it.

 

ps - you don't have to wait 5 years! Our daughter is 7 and we cruise with her a lot (usually one trip per year is grown ups only and at least one trip with her). Once they get to be about 2 and are potty trained - VERY easy to cruise with children. She loves the kids club and we enjoy showing her the world....

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Your review was very informative however we are leaving tommorrow and it didnt scare us at all! Once more, a cruise is what you make of it, this is our 9th cruise on 5 different cruise lines, we will most enjoy being pampered, being well fed, and most of all being with our family. But we will think twice perhaps about the specialty restaurant.

 

P.S. Joe Trizeo? Do you work for Costa? You seem to be so knowlegable.

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P.S. Joe Trizeo? Do you work for Costa? You seem to be so knowlegable.

 

haha my first call out! no unfortunetly i do not work for them. i am italian and have cruised costa before and have researched and read these forums about every day for a year so far.

i am also young so i soak up information and knowledge like a sponge and like to share it.

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But when I want to drop 80 dollars on a filet, I have certain expectations. My expectation at Club Vicenzo is that the beef would not be of that quality, but something ...:D

 

1.you paid $20 pp for complite meal:rolleyes: ,no $80.00 for filet only

2.I never been in Chicago,but in Europe and most of North America its not normal to ask to SEE your meat)))))its not a Lobster House))))

3.Good luck on your privat Yaht cruise next time,masmedia cruise its not for you:eek:

 

I have been on many cruises and I think your reply is extremely short sighted. If we want people to be honest about how they feel on a given cruise then we must accept what they say without any putdowns. After all a review of a cruise is telling people how you as an individual felt about your experience and frankly I think many of snipboy's comments are valid. I will go one step further and say I think each cruise line should be checking these reviews on an ongoing basis to see if perhaps they are falling short in any aspects of their product. Yes, I always intend to enjoy myself on a cruise but I certainly feel that I don't have to settle for a lesser product and if you do I guess things can never get better because you are willing to settle.

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I have been on many cruises and I think your reply is extremely short sighted. If we want people to be honest about how they feel on a given cruise then we must accept what they say without any putdowns. After all a review of a cruise is telling people how you as an individual felt about your experience and frankly I think many of snipboy's comments are valid. I will go one step further and say I think each cruise line should be checking these reviews on an ongoing basis to see if perhaps they are falling short in any aspects of their product. Yes, I always intend to enjoy myself on a cruise but I certainly feel that I don't have to settle for a lesser product and if you do I guess things can never get better because you are willing to settle.

 

this is true. while i disagree with some of what snipboy says, i understand that his cruise experience will be totally different than mine. he is doing a good job and i'm also seeing other members trying to do a good job about discussing the information and not attacking the posters.

 

lets not turn this into the carnival forum haha:p

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