Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 333 out of 500
Accommodation: 135 out of 200
Food: 214 out of 400
Service: 260 out of 400
Entertainment: 60 out of 100
Cruise: 238 out of 400
Overall Score: 1240 out of 2000
Costa neoRomantica Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Costa neoCollection
Former Names: Costa Romantica
IMO Number: 8821046
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $325 million
Entered Service: Nov 1993/Nov 1993
Length (ft/m): 718.5/220.6
Beam (ft/m): 98.4/30.8
Draft (ft/m): 25.0/7.6
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (22,800kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 662
Passengers (lower beds): 1,578
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 36.2
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 789
Size Range (sq ft/m): 185.1-430.5/17.2-40.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 74
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 6
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 2
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
An elegant Italian-style ship for a mature audience
Overview. Being Italian, the ship is chic and very tasteful, and will appeal to the sophisticated. The layout and flow are somewhat disjointed, however. The ship’s multi-level atrium is open and spacious, and has a revolving mobile sculpture as its focal point. The decor is contemporary and minimalist in style.
The Ship. Costa neoRomantica (a play on the ship’s original name of Costa Romantica) is now over 20 years old, but is a fairly contemporary-looking ship, and is easily recognizable by its cluster of three upright yellow funnels. There is, however, no walk-around promenade deck outdoors, so contact with the sea is minimal, although there’s some good open space on several of the upper decks.
In 2011-2, the ship was given an extensive €90 million refit, refurbishment and renewal program that added more public rooms, two half-deck extensions, 111 new cabins, 120 suites and cabins with balcony, wine and cheese bar, a chocolate confectionary bar, new Pizzeria Capri (with its black and white tiled decor), a cabaret lounge and nightclub, and LED lighting. However, no additional elevators were installed for the additional growth in passenger numbers.
Facilities also include a Monte Carlo Lido indoor/outdoor bar; Vienna cabaret lounge; Piazza Italia Grand Bar (arguably the best place to see and be seen); a new atrium (with minimalist design features); a new neoRomantica Club Restaurant; Casino Excelsior; a wine and cheese bar, coffee and chocolate bar, and a Caffeteria that forms part of the Via Condotti shopping area. Out on the pool deck (Lido Saint-Tropez) several ‘private’ cabanas, adjacent to the pool, can be rented.
Although Costa Cruises is noted for its ‘Italian’ style, ambience and spirit, there are few Italian crew members on board. Although many officers are Italian, most of the crew members, particularly the dining room and housekeeping staff, are from the Philippines. But the lifestyle on board is perceived to be Italian - lively, noisy, with lots of love for life and a love of all things casual, even on so-called formal nights.
All printed material - room service folio, menus, etc. - will typically be in six languages: Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. During peak European school holiday periods, particularly Christmas and Easter, you can expect to be cruising with a lot of children of all ages.
As aboard other Costa ships, note that for embarkation, few staff members are on duty at the gangway when you arrive; they merely point you in the direction of your deck, or to the ship’s elevators and do not escort you to your cabin. Also, note that ‘wallpaper’ music is played 24 hours a day in all accommodation hallways and elevators, so you may well hear it if you are a light sleeper.
Accommodation. There are several different price categories. These include 16 suites, 10 of which have a private semi-circular balcony, while six suites command views over the ship’s bows. The other cabins are fairly standard in size, shape, and facilities; the ones on the highest decks cost more.
A whole ‘wedge’ of cabins with half-moon-shaped balconies, as well as normal balconies, has been added in the mid-section of the ship.
Samsara Suites/Cabins. Occupants of these 6 suites and 50 cabins have access to the Samsara Spa and its facilities, located at the front of the ship. Samsara accommodation provides organic cotton bedlinen, purifying shower filter, and a selection of ayervedic teas.
Suites/Mini-Suites. The 16 suites (with floor-to-ceiling windows) and 18 mini-suites are quite pleasant, except for the rounded balconies of the 10 suites on Madrid Deck where a solid steel half-wall blocks the view. A sliding door separates the bedroom from the living room, and bathrooms are of a decent size. Cherry wood walls and cabinetry help make these suites warm and attractive.
The six suites at the forward section of Monte Carlo Deck are the largest, and have huge glass windows with commanding forward views, but no balconies.
Standard outside-view/interior cabins. All other cabins are of a moderately generous size, and all have nicely finished cherry wood cabinetry and walls. However, the cabin bathrooms and shower enclosures are quite small. There are a good number of triple and quad cabins, ideal for families with children. The company’s in-cabin food service menu is extremely basic.
Dining. The 738-seat Botticelli Restaurant is of a fine design. There are tables for two to eight persons. You eat at one of two seatings (dinner on European cruises is typically at 7pm and 9pm). Romantic candlelight dining is typically featured on ‘formal’ night. Traditional cruise fare is served, and best described as banquet-style food. Note that there are no real sommeliers, so the waiters are expected to serve the wine. They also dance in the restaurant during the cruise - in a little bit of Costa Cruises show business style.
Other dining options. The 72-seat Samsara Restaurant is the venue for occupants of Samsara-grade accommodation. The restaurant is located at the aft of the ship on the port side of Vienna Deck. The cuisine is more health-oriented, and the venue is quieter and more intimate than the main dining room.
Club neoRomantica Restaurant is an extra-cost, reservations required, à la carte, cozy, 90-seat venue. While the banquette seating is unbecoming of ‘fine’ dining, it’s a rather pleasant spot for an intimate dinner, and features contemporary French and Italian fare that is worth the extra cost.
For casual meals and snacks, the self-serve Giardino Buffet is a small, cramped buffet. The buffet food items are very much standard fare (repetitive breakfast items are a major source of passenger complaints), with the exception of some good commercial pasta dishes. One would expect Italian waiters, but most hail from elsewhere.
Pizzeria Capri has something unusual for any cruise ship - a real wood-burning oven - used for making ‘genuine’ Neapolitan-style pizzas (the venue makes 15 different ones).
Enoteco Verona is a wine and cheese bar that features more than 100 different wines, and 80 cheeses from around the world. Italian coffee machines are provided in all bars (coffees are at extra cost, however), so there’s never a shortage of espressos and cappuccinos.
Entertainment. The Cabaret Vienna is the ship’s main showlounge. It is an interesting amphitheater-like design that spans two decks, with seating on both levels. However, the seats are quite upright and uncomfortable, and 10 large pillars obstruct the sight lines from many seats. Typical fare consists of revue-style shows performed by a small troupe of resident singers/dancers, with fast-moving action and busy lighting and costume changes that all add up to a high-energy performance.
Spa/Fitness. A Samsara Spa spans two decks in the forward section of the ship. It contains a gymnasium with some high-tech muscle-pump machines, an aerobics exercise area, thalassotherapy pool, Turkish baths, health bar, sauna and steam rooms, a solarium, and a beauty salon. Occupants of the 56 adjacent Samsara Spa cabins also have a private, dedicated, intimate Samsara Restaurant featuring slightly lighter fare.
The spa/fitness facilities are staffed and operated by Steiner Leisure, a specialist spa/beauty concession. Some fitness classes are free, while some, such as Pathway to Yoga, Pathway to Pilates, and Pathway to Meditation, cost extra. It’s wise to make appointments early as time slots can go quickly.