The Costa Atlantica’s warm Italian ambience surrounded me from
the moment I stepped onboard. The ship was alive with color, and
the crew was friendly and helpful. A good start to a Caribbean
cruise, I thought to myself.
The ship’s weeklong Western Caribbean itinerary stopped in Key
West, Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. I’d visited those ports
before, and was mostly interested in how the Italian line (part of
the Carnival Corporation family) lived up to its “Cruising Italian
Style” motto in the warm Caribbean waters.
The answer is, pretty well.
The first thing I did was to try to find my way around the
86,000-ton, 2,114-passenger vessel. I usually spend most of my time
lost on large cruise ships, but the Atlantica is designed for
people like me who need help with directions. The ship was
extremely easy to maneuver because most everything is located on
the second and third decks the restaurant, bars, casino,
entertainment lounges and shops. It was well planned for easy
access to everything, and that made the cruise all the more
Dining was particularly pleasant on the Atlantica. Tiziano, the
main restaurant, has two sittings on two levels with a capacity of
1,220. The restaurant’s touches included tall, red taper candles on
each table on formal nights. The food was consistently good (if not
great) and service was excellent. The 24-hour pizzeria was always
popular, and I definitely recommend the pasta station and ice cream
in the ship’s Botticelli Buffet on deck nine.
“Ninety percent of the reason people come on cruises is food, food,
food. American passengers like meat,” said Ann Ryan, the ship’s
The Atlantica has nine bars, and my favorite was the Caffe Florian.
It is a replica of the world-famous, 18th-century cafe of the same
name, located in St. Marks Square in Venice. The artwork in the
cafe is awesome, and it had a cozy, intimate feel. Best of all, it
was a totally non-smoking venue (most of the bars onboard have
smoking and non-smoking sections.) The ship’s main lounge, Piazza
Madame Butterfly, features a waterfall, which provided a relaxing
backdrop for enjoying a drink or a cup of coffee. The Fortuna
Casino, offering slots, roulette and blackjack, was bustling at all
Art is everywhere on the Atlantica. Every time I turned around, I’d
catch a glimpse of Carrara marble, Murano glass and inlaid mosaic
tile that gave the ship an elegant, Venetian atmosphere. The
Tiziano restaurant has dramatic sculptures by Sergio Benvenati. I
especially loved a beautiful sculpture of a man with a lute.
The lounge area on the way to the restaurant is full of wonderful
black-and-white photos from Fellini movies, and I spent lots of
time admiring shots of classic movie actors. In fact, the 12 decks
of the ship are named for Fellini’s films. All the corridors have
playful drawings by Milo Manara. The glass bottles by Carlo Moretti
recessed into staircase alcoves were beautiful. And I really loved
the dancing figures by Lucio Bubacco in the elevators. They made me
smile whenever I saw one.
The cabins are adorned with colorful artworks, as well. My suite
had haunting, whimsical, colorful paintings by Elena Andreecu, a
Romania artist whose paintings reflect both her village background
and her life now in Italy.
The majority of the Atlantica’s 1,057 cabins are inside rooms, at
160 square feet, or oceanview (including oceanview with veranda)
rooms, which measure a roomier 210 square feet. Suites on the
Atlantica range from 360 square feet to more than 600 square feet.
Each suite has a spacious marble bathroom with a whirlpool tub and
a separate dressing area.
I was lucky enough to have a suite on deck six, which provided a
panoramic view of the sea from the large private veranda. It was a
lovely spot to have breakfast or an afternoon nap. A personal
butler attended to my every need and always made sure that my room
service order was correct. Passengers in suite accommodations can
order from the dining room menu for all three meals, a perk not
typically found on other cruise lines.
Each suite passenger also receives a complimentary dinner at Club
Atlantica, the alternative restaurant on deck 10. Otherwise,
there’s a $20 charge for the gourmet eatery. Reservations are a
must, since the Club Atlantica only has seating for 70. I
discovered one night that it’s best to book a table for an early
dinner at Club Atlantica. After 10 p.m., the area above the
restaurant becomes a cigar lounge, and the smoke wafts right
For passengers who want to stay fit, there is a jogging track that
goes around the ship, as well as a state-of-the art Techno Gym.
Machines were plentiful and very popular with passengers of all
ages. The Jacuzzi in the gym provided a place to relax after a
workout. The ship’s spa was also very nice and provided the usual
range of massages, facials and beauty treatments in a tranquil
Dante’s Disco, with its fabulous sound system, was a big hit during
the week with late-night disco lovers. The Atlantica also features
two lounges for stage shows, the large Caruso Theater and the
smaller Coral Lounge. One night, we were treated to a Spanish
juggler who was outstanding.
The ship also featured numerous “theme nights” during the cruise,
and I enjoyed those even more than the stage shows. The Italian
night was a street festival at sea, with bocce ball games, pizza
dough tossing, tarantella dance lessons and Venetian mask making.
Mediterranean night included fun-filled activities from France,
Turkey, Greece and Spain.
On our last night, the ship was the scene of one of Costa’s famous
wild toga parties some passengers dressed up in bed sheets, others
took to the stage to perform. The audience determined the winners,
and losers were “thrown to the lions” in a Costa version of
Throughout the cruise, there was always something fun going on that
kept the ship alive past midnight. The infectious spirit onboard
enticed even the shyest of passengers to come out and
“I like people,” said Max Bertolotto, cruise director. “They give
me energy to do my job.”
|JUST THE FACTS|
Company: Costa Cruises
Ship: Costa Atlantica
Size: 86,000 tons
Year Built: 2000
Plugging In: Internet use
is 50 cents a minute.
Hits: Special evenings like the Italian, Mediterranean and Tropical
nights. Dining room service offered in suites. Overall fun
atmosphere without being corny.
Misses: Smoking is allowed in lounges, and non-smoking sections
often provide little relief. Those sensitive to smoke might miss
out on some good lounge entertainment.
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean: San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John,
Catalina Island (Costa’s private beach oasis) and Nassau. Western
Caribbean: Key West, Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. (Note:
Next year the Atlantica will be sailing a European itinerary.)
Cost: From $599 to $2,549 per person for seven days.
Commission: 17 percent.