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Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

Costa Atlantica

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From the sublime to the….well, not so sublime.

It’s not often that a Costa Cruise Line ship visits New York, so anticipation ran high when the time came to tour Costa Atlantica. Costa, in turn, was eager to have the New York media and travel agent community become better acquainted with “cruising Italian style”. Sadly, distance oft times lends enchantment.

The 85,000 ton, 2114 passenger, Costa Atlantica went into service in 2000. The unifying theme of the ship is Federico Fellini’s films. Each passenger deck is named after one of his films – Deck 8 ½ , for example – and decorated with large paparazzi photos of movie stars.

One enters the ship via the 10 deck high atrium. Structurally, this area has great impact. Soaring? Yes. Dramatic? Absolutely. Beautiful? Attractive? Appealing? Not so much. The whole area is gaudy in a way that would make Las Vegas blush. Restraint doesn’t reign supreme elsewhere on the ship either. Almost as if placed to ambush the unsuspecting, one encounters dizzying combinations of geometric patterns at war with each other, scattered throughout the ship.

The main dining room is Tiziano Restaurant. Since there is only one alternative restaurant, Café Atlantica, most passengers will eat in the main dining room each evening. To accommodate such a large number of guests, the restaurant occupies two decks with a central staircase in the center. On many ships with a two-level dining room, there is a large open central area around the staircase which gives the dining room a feeling of space and airiness. This is not the case in Tiziano, however. The lower level feels closed in by the low ceiling, emphasizing the length of the room and negating the impact that the large windows at the stern should have. The overall effect is oddly claustrophobic.

There is, however, a bright note. Caffe Florian is a faithful reproduction of the restaurant by the same name in Venice, and is quite beautiful. Here it functions as a lounge.

The ship was full at the time of my visit, having just completed a transatlantic crossing with a layover in New York before continuing on to Canada/New England. Great for Costa, but a limiting factor for the tour participants since there weren’t any cabins available for inspection.

Costa currently commands 2% of the American cruise market. They are launching a marketing campaign aimed at increasing their market share. I wish them well. Based on my observations, it will be a tough sell.

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