Costa Magica Cruise Review
Continued from page 3
ABOVE: Costa Magica has two main dining
rooms, Costa Smeralda and Portofino. Each is on two levels, with assigned
seating at dinner and open seating at breakfast or lunch.
Dining and bars on Costa Magica
Restaurants, buffet, and grill
won't go hungry on Costa Magica: The ship has two main restaurants, a
two-story buffet, a specialty restaurant, and two poolside grills. Each day's
meal schedule begins with morning coffee at 6:30 a.m. and wraps up with "night
time surprises" in the lounges and pizza cooked to order until 1 a.m. If you're
hungry in the middle of the night, there's no need to beg your stomach's
forgiveness: A limited room-service menu is available around the clock.
Dining venues include:
bi-level Costa Smeralda and Portofino Restaurants, which
have entrances on Decks 3 and 4. At dinner, these restaurants have assigned
tables where guests speak the same language; at breakfast and lunch, you'll
be seated with other passengers of mixed nationalities. (In the evening,
there are two sittings--the first at 6:30 or 6:45 p.m., and the second at 9
or 9:15 p.m. If you aren't happy with your table or sitting, talk to the mâitre
d' in your assigned restaurant.)
A typical dinner includes
five or six courses, and you can juggle the order if you wish. (Some of our
tablemates preferred their salads early in the meal, American-style, while
another couple regularly had after-dinner cheese platters before the main
course.) Portions tend to be small, on the assumption that you won't just
order two or three courses.
The Vicenza Restaurant
on Deck 11 is Costa Magica's extra-cost specialty restaurant. It
has an Italian menu and boasts of offering "the fascination of a voyage into
the world of haute cuisine." We didn't try it, since bas
cuisine is good enough for us.
Bellagio Restaurant Buffet on Deck 9 is
the ship's fancy cafeteria, and it's where most passengers go for breakfast
and lunch. It's open for breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. most days, serves lunch
from 11:30 to 2 p.m., and has afternoon tea from 4 to 5 p.m. The Bellagio
also has pizza by the slice continuously from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. From
10 p.m. to 1 a.m., you can get made-to-order personal pizzas (served at
cloth-covered tables) on the Bellagio's upper level on Deck 10.
If the Bellagio is overcrowded, as it often is during peak
breakfast and lunch hours, you can nearly always find a table in the
adjacent Lido or pool areas.
regularly had breakfast in the Positano Lido (aft of the Bellagio Restaurant
Buffet), which has hot and cold serving stations. In addition, both Lidos
have grills that serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, hot French
fries, and other lunch items at staggered hours that run from 11:30 a.m. to
4 p.m. Other foods may be offered, too: One day, teams of chefs were
cooking up fresh batches of paella Valenciana by the pools.
You can carry your plate from the Bellagio buffet to either
of the Lido areas. This means that, for example, you can get made-to-order
eggs at the Bellagio's omelette station and take them to a table that your
companion has staked out by the pool.
Lunch and dinner menus nearly always include sugar-free
items, and Costa can accommodate other special dietary needs. Check the
Costa Cruises Web site for
Don't expect gourmet food. On a value-priced ship with 2,700
passengers, meals are cooked and served banquet-style (in the dining rooms)
and cafeteria-style (in the buffet). In the dining room, most of the dishes
are good, and some are better than good, but if you're a foodie who's
fixated on high-end cuisine, you may prefer to spend double or triple the
fare on a small-ship luxury cruise.
ABOVE: The Bar Italia Magica in the
Atrium on Deck 3.
Like most cruise ships, Costa Magica has drinking spots
aplenty--but unlike their peers on some American ships, bartenders won't hustle
you whenever you sit down in a public room or by the pool.
worth remembering that, in Italy, "bar" doesn't just mean a tavern or pub--it's
also another word for "café." If you're a teetotaler, you
can belly up to the bar and have an espresso without feeling like a wimp. But
don't order a latte or cappuccino after midday if you want to blend in with the
Italian passengers: In Italy, milk and coffee don't mix after breakfast.
Costa offers a variety of water, wine, beer, drinks, and
coffee packages that may or may not be good values, depending how much time
you'll be spending on board during a port-intensive cruise. (We stuck with
the pay-as-as-you-go approach; we might have bought a package if we'd been
on a transatlantic voyage with a lot of sea days.)
Pitchers of ice water are available on request in the Costa
Smeralda and Portofino restaurants, and you'll find self-service machines
for tap water, ice, tea, and coffee in the Bellagio Restaurant Buffet and
the Lido Grills.
If you're thrifty, want to avoid crowds, or don't like
drinking booze or soft drinks late at night, head up to Deck 10 between 10
p.m. and 1 a.m. and join the handful of passengers (and occasional ship's
staff) in the Bellagio Restaurant Buffet's upper level. Pour yourself a
glass of ice water, brew a mug of tea, or grab a cup of coffee and relax at
one of the tables that don't have tablecloths. (The cloth-covered tables are
for ordering a la carte pizza.)
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