My family has been working in the travel business for 30 years. They also offer cruises (currently Festival, Celebrity and Royal Carribbean; years ago also Costa). Costumers who had started with Celebrity and have tried another line after that, were a disappointed. All these lines are great, but Celebrity is quite the best one (service, food, entertainment,...).
I've just tried Celebrity (3 times; in November I'll cruise on Summit) and I can't imagine any better way to spend my holidays.
(Sorry, I'm German, so my English isn't perfect)
Skimble1973, I know RCL and Celebrity, but what's Festival? Now to compare the lines. I haven't yet travelled on Celebrity (6 plus more weeks) but have on Costa. It has been serveral years so things may have and do change. It's fun ship, complete with Toga party the last night. Our cabin was very nice; that's pretty much where it ends. The food was inferior, the service lacking in friendliness and entertainment average. I think, intinerary and price being close I would opt for Celebrity. This doesn't mean never cruise Costa, just dollar for dollar Celebrity is probably better.
My wife and I sailed on the Atlantica last year on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. We got a great deal on the cruise and even had a veranda cabin for our first and only time. We have been on 6 cruises with HAL, 1 with Princess and 1 with RCCL in addition to the Costa cruise. We are scheduled for our first Celebrity cruise this December on the Zenith so we haven't been on Celebrity but I can tell you a little about Costa and the Atlantica.
We had wanted to go on Costa for some time because we both enjoy Italian food and wine and figured an Italian cruise line would definitely be the place. Unfortunately we were disappointed in the food. They did have some Italian dishes but they wee not particularly outstanding. Actually of the 4 cruise lines we have been on I would rate Costa's food at the bottom of the list. That''s not to say I went hungary but it just wasn't that outstanding.
We ate at a table for 8 which included a lady and her husband who had cruised a lot including on Costa in Europe. She claimed that the food was better and a lot more Italian dishes were served when Costa was sailing in the Med.
The Atlantica is a beautiful ship both inside and outside. Our cabin was very nice with a nice size but not overly large veranda. There was room for two chairs and a small table. I don't think there would have been room to actually eat out there and you couldn't lay down because the chairs were straight back ones. The room did have a small refrigerator and a safe as well as plenty of hot water in the shower. It also had a nice queen size bed. The room steward did a good job of keeping it clean and stayed out of site most of the time. The public areas of the ship are "bright and cheery". The recreation of the Cafe Florian from Venice is amazing in its details. We visited Venice this summer and saw the original and it was amazingly similar to the one on the Atlantica. By the ways it was the most expensive bar on the ship charging more for same drinks as were served at other bars but you were paying for the atmosphere.
The ship never seemed very crowded although it wasn't full on our trip anyway but there seemed to be lots of room. The staff was friendly and very mixed in the various countries they were from. There were people from all over Europe and from the Caribbean. We even had an assistant waiter from Australia. Our waiter was from Romania.
The ship has several large pools and hot tubs which I used occasionally. Again they never seemed to be very crowded. There was a nice exercise area with many fancy exercise machines. It had a nice sized casino but like all ship casinos it seems to be programmed only to take your money not give you much back.
There is a specially Italian restaurant that costs extra (about $20 I think) to go to. We went one night and had a very nice meal that was probably the closest we came to real Italian food during the cruise.
The Roman night where everyone wears togas (bed sheets kept up with safey pins mainly) was funny. Everyone at our table participated. Some people really went all out and brought costumes they had made at home. Some of them were quite elaborate.
All in all it is a ship and a cruise line I would suggest trying but from what I have read and heard Celebrity is probably a higher class experience. I would think trying Costa out on a cruise in the Med would be the way to do it.
Steve, thanks for the info. I had never heard of them. Wwinf, sounds like you had a really great cruise. The veranda is about standard I think for most ships. If we were even to try Costa again I believe it would be a med cruise. I think they do handle the Europian itineraries quite well from what I have heard. Were there lost of smokers? This is a complaint I heard while still a TA. When I sailed the Riviera I was still a smoker so wasn't bothered at all.
As I mentioned in my earlier post we were on the Golden Princess on a Med cruise in July. Although there were a lot of Europeans especially from Great Britain on the cruise, we were never bothered by second hand smoke (neither of us smoke so we would prefer to avoid others leftovers). There was no smoking in the dining room, buffet area and show lounges and actually very few people smoked anywhere inside the ship. The smokers seem to congregate around the bars on the top decks. There the smoke could get bad at times. But generally given all the bad things we had heard about smoking in Europe, we didn't notice it as a problem even while we were ashore on tours or while we stayed a couple of days extra in Venice.
Now we were on a Xmas cruise on the old HAL Westerdam in 1997 and about half the passengers were from Europe (many were German) and they smoked everywhere and anywhere. They had the dining room supposingly divided into smoking and non smoking and we asked to be moved further from the smoking area because of the amount of smoke from the tables near our original table.
Luckily I think almost all cruise lines have banned smoking in the dining rooms at the very minimum. I think in the future you will see smoking banned everywhere on the interior of most ships and restricted to exterior areas.
Thank you for the information (and keep it coming if anyone can add to it) we are also looking at Costa for spring '04. We sail suites on Celebrity and HAL and were looking at a GS on Costa. Can anyone add info about the suite amenities?
I think, it depends whether you are American or European. We just came back from the Constellation this week. It has really unbeatable Broadway shows, good food and great service. The staterooms w/verandah are small but nice. But is was difficult to have breakfast on the cabin. So, best ship, best service, best shows. I did love it!
But my wife prefers an European ship for several reasons: the food is better with Festival, in the US known as First European. As a suite guest you dine in the speciality dining room. Best food we had.The cabins are larger with tub in the bathroom. There are other reasons as they have five languages aboard an European ship instead of just English; there are a lot of cultures and nations , what is quiet nice to my opinion. People are dressed up better than on most American ships. The temperature in the public rooms on the Constellation was too low to us, on Costa and Festival itÃ‚Â´s warmer. We got a cold.
On Costa food is rather bad and service is mostly no good. But for the itinerary (Venice to Istanbul) we will do the Costa Atlantica next fall.
BTW, we are European.
The Costa Atlantica is a beautiful, glitzy ship. However, in comparing it with Celebrity, there is no contest. Costa caters mainly to Europeans - with announcements in five languages all day long. There are no public announcements on Celebrity. The food is only OK. Entertainment is average, except for the toga party on the last night, which is a lot of fun. We found that with so many European passengers smoking was prevalent all over the ship. When you sat around the pool, it was very difficult to breathe because of the smoke. Also, the officer's were not very friendly - maybe it was a language thing.
If you have to choose, in my opinion, Celebrity would be the way to go.
Zabe, I was on Costa in the late 80s and doesn't sound like it has changed much. We were on the Riviera right after it became a Costa ship and had been re-furbished. It was beautiful, but the staff either didn't speak English or choose not to, the entertainment was so so; the food not particularly good at all but that Toga party! What a blast!!! I think I would have to get a really good price to try them again, right price anything is possible I guess. You are right about the smoking and I was a smoker in those days. While still a TA, the main complaints I heard was the smoke and the lack of kids activities.
I think the Atlantica looks more like a Carnival ship inside than a Costa ship. I find Carnival ships quite hideous inside. Many Europeans have expressed a dislike for the new Costa ships and prefer the older ships, like the Romantica.