Costa Magica may have been modeled after Carnival Cruise Line’s Destiny-class vessels, but she’s Italian through and through. With a festive ambience, culinary treats galore (pasta, pastries, pizza), and extravagant décor (oversize photos of Portofino, mannequins of knights and ladies), this 2,720-passenger ship is an Italian celebration of la dolce vita.
What We Love
Ample Deck Space: Besides the amphitheater-style deck around one of the four pools, there are plenty of spots on the Mantegna and Canaletto decks where you can grab a chaise, order an Aperol spritzer, and enjoy sunshine and salty breezes.
Choice of Embarkation Ports: Costa Magica cruises the Mediterranean and the French Caribbean, where you can board in a variety of ports (for example, Rome or Marseille) to enjoy the itinerary segment of your choice. And since the entire ship isn’t embarking at once, you can expect shorter wait times and less chaos.
Best Known For
Italian-Themed Dinners: Menus spotlight a different region of Italy each evening, with dishes that go far beyond familiar fare. One course may be Venetian-style salt cod with baked polenta, another a Taranto-style pasta with mussels, tomato, and chili pepper. Whatever the menu del giorno, it will be sure to pique (and satisfy) your appetite.
The Nightlife: Early to bed? Not on this ship — the disco doesn’t even open until quarter past midnight. The rest of Costa Magica's 11 bars and lounges range from animated to intimate: The dance floor is never empty at the Gran Salento Bar, nibbles are paired with Primitivo and Chianti Classico at Capo Colonna, and soulful Latin music is the specialty at the Spoleto Ballroom.
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Who It's Best For
Active Mature Couples: Because its itineraries are on the longer side, Costa Magica attracts fun-loving older couples in low and shoulder seasons. Some activities — i.e. lots of ballroom dancing — are tailored accordingly.
Families with Children: Cupcake decorating, soap bubble parties, pool games — Costa Magica’s Squok Club has countless ways to keep junior cruisers from catching cabin fever. During summer, when there can be as many as 1,000 kids on the ship, more animators and DJs are brought on board to get the party started.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Passengers Are Largely European: It may feel like a session of the United Nations on board. The jumble of nationalities means English speakers aren’t front and center — in fact, our muster drill was conducted entirely in Italian — so these sailings are best for patient, culturally curious cruisers who can go with the flow. Fair warning: Misunderstandings with the staff can occur on occasion and entertainment beyond song and dance (quizzes, comedy acts) can be a challenge to follow.
It’s Not Costa's Glitziest Ship: Costa Magica is slated for refurbishment at the end of 2017, and while she's functional and spic-and-span, she's starting to lose her sparkle. The ship also lacks the line’s latest amenities, such as the gourmet mozzarella bar and Pepper the Robot — a trilingual four-foot-tall robot that passengers can interact with for ship info.
No Flexible Dining — Yet: Dinner takes place at two seatings (6:30 pm and 8:30 pm) in the Portofino or Costa Smeralda restaurants, which are assigned according to cabin number. Although a flexible dining plan is in the works, the only other options are the Bellagio Buffet (open for just one hour in the evening) and a handful of cover-charge venues that provide more variety than they do value.
Theater Can Get Packed: It’s always a full house at the three-tiered Urbino theater, despite the fact that there are two shows per day. Arrive early for a good seat.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.
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Costa Magica at a Glance
- Line: Costa Cruises
- Class: Fortuna
- Number of Passengers: 2720
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2004
- Refurbish Date: 2012