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She is a spectacular ship and her first season was a big success. The comfort, the warmth and hospitality makes her the true flagship of the Costa fleet
Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (June 12, 2001)
When Costa Crociere was purchased by Carnival Corp. and Airtours, for $300 million in December 1996, the new owners began to plan how to restore the Genoa based company to its former glory.
The first step was to improve management, but fleet, itineraries and on-board experience were largely unchanged.
Soon, expansion plans were announced, and in January 1998, an order was placed in Masa Yard, the famous Finnish yard where a lot of cruise ships have been built since the mid sixties. At the same time a a sister ship was ordered for Carnival Cruise Line, which was later christened Carnival Spirit.
The Construction of Costa Atlantica
The ship contract value was $350 million. The start of hull assembly took part on 19 March 1999. She was built in the covered dock of the Helsinki yard.
In order to build this ship, the dock roof had to be raised by about five meters, due to the ship's aerial depth.
It was raised during the construction of the small cruise ship Europa in spring and summer of 1999.
The Costa Atlantica left the dock on 11th November 1999.
She performed excellently during the mid-May 2000 trials, exhibiting excellent sea keeping characteristics.
She was handed over on 30 June, with a few weeks delay on the original delivery term that was fixed for the end of May. Considering that the Costa Atlantica is the prototype of a new class of cruise ships, this delay is short.
Hundreds of workers had to work through the summer and the final touches were made when the ship was on its way to Italy.
Costa Atlantica left the yard in early July and she was presented to travel agents and maritime media in Venice on 15th June 1991, in a christening ceremony where the godmother was the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale.
Beginning from 16 July 2000, the Costa Atlantica operated weekly cruises from Venice to the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey.
On 28 August 2000, Carnival became the sole owner of Costa Crociere after purchasing 50% share of Airtours for $525 million in cash.
Carnival Corp. is very interested in the European market, and Costa has become its right hand in the Old World.
And so that, a big expansion plan began some days later with an order for a Costa Atlantica sister ship, plus two 105,000 GRT newbuilding which are to be built in the Sestri yard of Fincantieri, near Genoa.
Afterward the Tropicale was transferred to the Costa fleet, and will sail this year as Costa Tropicale in the Mediterranean Sea.
Next year, the Westerdam, from Holland America, will follow suit.
The Costa Atlantica began her inaugural season with 7 night cruises to Greece and Turkey throughout October.
Her speed allowed her to sail from Venice to Istanbul and back in a seven day schedule. She was the only ship that was able to perform this itinerary.
In November 2000, she made her first transatlantic crossing from Genoa to Ft. Lauderdale, where she began a series of 7 night alternative Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises through April 2001.
In May the ship went back to the Mediterranean to begin her new Eastern Mediterranean season, again doing 7-night round trip cruises from Venice.
Costa Atlantica Design
The Costa Atlantica was the prototype of a completely new Spirit Class type, also dubbed as 8000 class.
At 85,000 grt, she is the largest ship in the Costa's fleet.
At the moment, six units of this class are ordered by Carnival Corp., two for Costa and four for Carnival Cruise Line.
The second 8000 class cruise ship, the Carnival Spirit, was delivered in March 2001. The Holland America Line's 9000 class is almost the same design, with only slight modifications.
So, the 8000's design provides a common platform in technical terms for all the cruise lines of Carnival Corp., yet it allows the hotel and decoration side to be tailored to meet the needs of the clientele of each of these companies.
The final design was a tall cruise ship, which features an extra cabin deck compared with other Panamax-sized cruise ships.
In traditional passenger ship designs, such as the Celebrity┤s new Millennium, there are four decks occupied by passenger cabins with balconies, between the promenade deck (where all the lifeboats and the tenders are located, and most of the public rooms as well), and the lido deck where the swimming pools and other outside oriented rooms are located.
On Costa Atlantica, there are five cabin decks with balconies, this was achieved by moving a range of public rooms from the deck above the promenade deck to the lowermost deck in the hull.
As a first consequence, the number of outside cabins and cabins with balconies is very high: 80% of all the 1,057 passenger cabins face the sea and 70% are fitted with a balcony.
Also, the Costa Atlantica has 85,700 GRT, 8,000 more than the Costa Victoria, which also has Panamax dimensions. This fact means more earnings for the company.
The External Shape
The ship's exceptional length gives her an elegant greynhoud shape.
Outside the balconies, horizontal lines have been marked in order to reduce the height of the ship.
Traditional designs have lifeboats placed in niches of the superstructure, which itself has the same breadth as the hull.
On the contrary on Costa Atlantica the superstructure is narrower and so lifeboats are placed on the ship's side.
So, she gives an impression of being not so long, but a lot of people say that she looks like an apartment building above a hull.
The conservative aspects found on the former Costa's cruise ships, such as the massive use of portholes, are restricted in the Costa Atlantica to the forward and aft part of the hull.
Other Costa's outside features, such as the yellow cylindrical stack (her most striking outside characteristic), are also found on this ship.
The whole external design is pleasant, but also strong.
Her profile is well balanced, with the radar mast forward and the funnels aft, but could be better if the big funnel were located more forward.
At sea, when sailing, her profile gives her a sensation of speed, far from the boxy lines of the former Costa flagship, the Costa Victoria.
Costa lovers are surprised when they see the inside of the Costa Atlantica.
The interior is strikingly different from the other ships of the fleet.
Costa Atlantica is the first Costa ship to have its own theme.
As a consequence each of the twelve passenger decks are named after movies directed by Federico Fellini, and drawings by cartoonist Milo Manara are displayed throughout the ship creating a lasting tribute to the famous Italian film director.
The décor of some rooms is also in Fellini's memory. Each space has a different personality, as Costa Cruises strives to create an ever-changing atmosphere and the lay out of the public areas encourage people to move from place to place and to gather is small groups.
Distinct signs (in three languages) direct passengers to their cabins as well as to the public rooms onboard.
There are 15,000 sq. meter of a splendid British made tapestry, which is designed by Farcus in green red and blue tones.
Also, each deck has its own colour tapestry, which help passengers to orientate on board.
Both vertical and horizontal passenger flow is well planned, and the stairs (its railings have the green balls that we find everywhere on the ship) and the lifts are ample and efficient.
There are three gangways on board: the forward one is for the crew, amidships is located the access for the passengers, and the aft one is used for logistic and technical duties.
The 10-deck high La Dolce Vita Atrium is the main gathering area of the ship.
It's located amidships (aft compared to other Farcus designs) and, as a consequence, it has a better effect on movement on board and makes it easy to find your way around the ship.
It is also the largest of the Costa ships, so large as to comfortably accommodate all passengers and offer a panoramic view of the ship's interior.
The passengers embark directly on the lower level of the atrium, or one deck below, and this helps orientation on board.
The atrium is decorated in warm red, gold and blue tones and features a curved piano bar (La Dolce Vita, plenty of photos from Fellini's films) aft starboard on its lower deck, which has work very well in other cruise ships like Carnival and RCCL ships.
I liked her twin wood and marble staircases, but the open Venetian passageways, that overlook the atrium from each deck, similar to Star Cruises ships, the bright stalagmite-shaped chandeliers and the flashing elevator lights add too much glitz for a European cruise ship.
The photo gallery is located on the second level. It has a small display area considering that there are more than 2,000 passengers on board.
In the atrium we find high backed red leather chairs, a Costa tradition, and marble made sofas.
The two lower decks are the most overdone, with semicircular green lighting (as in the stairs), mosaic socles, blue buff triangles and red ceilings.
I find the decoration a bit garish, high quality, but with loud colours, in line with other Farcus' designs. On her second deck there is also vibration and an excessive noise level.
Forward of the Atrium the passengers find the big Fortuna Casino, and the Madame Butterfly lounge, which has a lot of glass geishas encircling the room, with a strong Oriental taste.
Just above it has a splendid staircase, which works as a second atrium. The passenger find the Cafè Florian, which is a smaller replica of the famed Venetian lounge.
It has three separate ambiences.
One contains a portrait gallery of Venetians, the central one houses a mosaic, and the other has portraits of figures seated on clouds, together on a stage.
These are two of the twelve bars on the ship with various ambiences. Forward is the lowest level of the theater.
The Caruso Theater is three decks high extending up to deck 4, and is decorated in red and gold blues.
Small mosaic tiled tables are provided on the lowest level for cocktails, which is an area decorated mainly in blue. Seats are roomy and comfortable. The amphitheatre seats are upholstered in red tones, and a splendid mosaic, another Costa trademark, is located in the rear of the room.
There are four central pillars and other six located on both sides, this means that some passengers could not have a very good view.
Passengers should avoid the upper right and left corners which offer the poorest view. From here only the front stage is visible.
The air conditioning system is too noisy as well.
The wide stage can accommodate original choreography shows, and the acoustics are good.
The Caruso Theater offers nightly entertainment, including the ship's │Made in Italy▓ performance, a tribute to Italy that can be appreciated for its music and visual appeal.
Passengers should get to the theater early, as it fills up quickly and some spectators have to stand to watch the production.
I particularly liked the ceiling, which is heavily decorated, and has the same circular lighting as that of the Atrium.
On the highest deck there is a bar and rounded windows, fitted with automatic curtains for darkness, that makes it possible to use this huge space in the day time.
The marble floor is splendid and the two spiral staircases, located on both sides, are excellent.
The Caruso theater is also accessible to wheelchairs on its lowest level.
Behind the main theatre, on deck 1, is located Corallo, the secondary show lounge seating 320 guests, where an Italian orchestra plays every night.
It is decorated in blue, with a lower reflecting ceiling and a lot of brilliant pillars.
The blue walls are splendid with glass enclosed white coral lines and this gives a vivid blue sea background. Its red chairs are excellent too.
Access is difficult through the spiral stairs on either side of the theater and the multicolored mirrored atmosphere enhances the underwater theme of the lounge.
On deck 3, two entrancies on both sides of the Caruso Theatre lead to a flagstone path that goes around it, with small tables and wicker chairs, beside large portholes.
At the forward end of this quiet area are located the ship's chapel and the children's center.
Aft the atrium, on deck 2, the disco lovers find Dante's Inferno, the ship's disco, the place where the night never ends.
The passengers enter it through a revolving door which contains noise and the walls are decorated in red tones, the design on the carpet imitates flames and the ceiling is also red.
The disco is two decks high, with a glass dance floor forward, below the seating area, which contains the two level bar, and a spiral staircase which connects them.
This staircase houses Murano glass figurines of the devil and an angel by Lucio Bubacco.
The dance floor is just the right size, and passengers who don't like dancing can enjoy the music and cocktails.
There are few chairs... it's a place mainly for dancing.
It resembles the Carnival Destiny's disco a lot, another Farcus' work.
The two-level Tiziano Restaurant is located aft on deck 2 and 3, above the main galley. It accommodates 1,300 people at each sitting. The catering movements are facilitated by eight escalators, split into groups of four between port and starboard, which link the galley with the main restaurants.
The layout of the escalators means that this room hasn't any natural light or sea views on both sides.
There is only a large window in the stern.
Also, the waiter stations are located near the escalators, which means that waiters and busboys have a long run every time the passengers need something.
The restaurant is spacious and allows for comfortable seating. Here, Costa serves formal meals and is decorated in a myriad of pink and gold tones, which work well with the wood and glass panels adorning the staircase.
European influence is heavily felt in this main dining room, not only by the Italian artworks but also by the frescoes of the ceiling, reminiscent of the Renaissance. There are beautiful portraits and canvases on both sides of the restaurant.
The passengers enter the restaurant on its upper level, a balcony, which is narrower than the lower main floor and has some circular windows without curtains, a former Costa design.
This level is surrounded by the promenade, from where the passengers can see the restaurant. There is a spiral stairway between the two levels, around a pillar decorated with angelic sculptures.
There are four pillars, but with less brilliant decoration. The floor is splendid, with marble in the passage ways and carpet under the tables, and the restaurant is divided into several sections by glass and wood balustrades.
There are chairs for children, and the lighting is through halogens, with a circular lamp at the top of the pillars.
The Paparazzi Bar, located forward the restaurant on deck 3, has an extensive gallery of photos by Tazio Secchiaroli, one of the best-known press photographers of the 1960s. It's a good place to enjoy a pre dinner cocktail.
I think the dining rooms located aft could be more brilliant if the galley were forward.
This way, the restaurant can be surrounded on three sides by picture windows as on Celebrity or HAL cruiseships.
The Tiziano is darker, and less brilliant than other main dining rooms, but the cuisine is excellent.
Costa Atlantica offers other dining options, such as the Botticelli Buffet and Napoli Pizzeria, which serves informal buffet breakfast and lunches as well as pizza.
The Shopping Gallery
On deck 3, forward the Atrium, the Shopping Gallery is a true Costa space, with a tastefully done winding promenade, with a Versace boutique, a Venetian shop, etc.
There are a lot of classical pillars that follow a circular way, and every window has a different form.
Close to the Cafè Florian is located the Library, which also works as an Internet center, this double use isn't a very good idea.
The Library is the quietest room on board, and also the most elegant. It has four pcs, a lot of books, and a splendid decoration: teak bookcases, green glass, crystal chandeliers, and green walls.
The Costa Atlantica's alternative restaurant is the Club Atlantica, situated on decks 10 and 11, at the top of the Atrium.
It also serves as a night club and observatory. The passengers enter in this splendid room through a glass staircase, commissioned by Luciano Vistosi, that gives you a sense of walking in the air.
Club Atlantica is another dining option, with flowers, candlelight, a lively bar, china designed by Gianni Versace and food prepared by Gualterio Marchesi.
There is a charge to dine here, but the ambience and the cuisine give value for money. I think the ambience is more American than Italian.
There are two outdoor swimming pools, located amidship. One can be used in bad weather because of its 1,000 square metres retractable airtight macrodome, now a standard in all Carnival Corporation's ships.
There are two adjacent whirlpool tubs and a bar. Aft the funnel there is another pool, exclusively for children, which incorporates a winding water slide two deck high, with an additional jacuzzi.
The water slide is a novelty in Costa ships but a standard in Carnival ships)
The families are one of the main targets of the Costa marketing, and the ship is well fitted for them.
But I think this aft pool hasn't the ambiance and sophistication found on her Costa Classica and Romantica counterparts, with their two jacuzzis over the stern with excellent sea views, and their teak decked pools.
In the forecastle there is another pool for the crew, with a jacuzzi. A splendid feature is the outside promenade on deck 3, under the life boats, which surrounds about 95% of the ship.
It is perfect for jogging or walking, but it lacks deck chairs for reading, sunbathing, or simply for relaxation purposes.
If the promenade could surround the entire superstructure, it would work better.
The Olympia Gym, located above the wheelhouse, spans two decks, with several tiered levels so that everyone can see the ocean through the picture windows.
Besides the fitness fanatics can watch television while they work out here.
It offers the latest workout equipment and aerobics programs, as well as massage, hydrotherapy and Thalassic therapy treatments.
The Olympia Gym is decorated like Roman baths, with columns, Greek sculptures, etc.
The marble floor, black ceiling and indirect lighting is splendid here. Basketball, volleyball and tennis can be played on the multi-sport field located on the upper level. A jogging track on the outside deck links directly to the gym.
Costa Atlantica's cabins are spacious and comfortable.
845 of the ship's 1,057 staterooms offer an ocean view, and 678 of these have balconies (almost 70%), a fact that makes Costa Atlantica unique among European cruise ships.
There are six 36 sq. meter penthouse suites on deck 7, and 52 suites of 27 sq. meter.
All cabins come complete with a queen size bed (which can be converted into twin beds), direct telephone service, TV, hair dryer, safe deposit box and mini-bar.
All are artistically decorated in subtle colours, with warm cherrywood surfaces and have a lot of closet and drawer space.
Bathrooms are equipped with standard amenities such as soap, shampoo, body lotion and shower cap. The suites have a marble mosaic tile designed bathroom, and a bath/jacuzzi.
There are many triple and quadruple cabins on board to accommodate families, which means a maximum capacity of 2,680, whereas the lower bed capacity is 2,114. A nice detail is the mailbox located outside the cabin door.
The ample balconies have a spring device to keep the door closed, a blue glass front under the railing which means that passengers can see the sea from their cabins, and wicker chairs and teak deck, in the suites.
The partition between balconies is better than on other cruisehips, even though there are spaces above and below.
There are 74 balcony cabins on deck 4, the lowest deck with balconies, but the disappointing feature is that the view is obstructed.
Her Inside Designer
Joe Farcus is an innovative and visionary designer and certainly responsible for the success of the Carnival fleet, but I sincerely think it was a mistake to let him design the interior of the Costa Atlantica.
He has 'Carnivalized' the ship and she bears no resemblence to the sleek and clean Italian styling of the other Costa ships.
I don't understand why Carnival hasn't maintained the former Costa marine architects, as Carnival did for Holland America Line, its premium market branch, after the purchase in 1989.
The traditional style of every HAL ships was mantained.
I think it is a good idea to use the same hull for the entire Carnival fleet, and so saving a lot of money, but Carnival should differentiate the interior designs from the different companies.
The Costa Atlantica's Passengers
The Costa Atlantica has a broad client base.
Costa designed a family oriented ship, with a supervised children's play room featuring games, toys and movies, video arcade and a waterslide.
Babysitting for age 3 and above is available on request from 6.30 pm to 11.00 pm, and certain hours when the ship is in port.
The Atlantica is also suitable for a more sophisticated type of traveller, who can appreciate better the 400 works of art and the cultural atmosphere created by rooms such as the Tiziano Restaurant, Piazza Madame Butterfly and Caffe Florian.
The busy first-time cruisers can use the casino, disco and lively lounges, that keep them awake well past midnight, moving around the vessel with facility.
The Costa Atlantica is a spectacular ship and her first season was a big success. The comfort, the warmth and hospitality makes her the true flagship of the Costa fleet.
For further information: Costa Cruises