Costa Victoria Review Technical Chart MMSI: 247109000 IMO: 9109031 Call sign: IBLC Flag: COSTA VICTORIA Italy Vesseltype: passenger ship Built in Passenger Capacity Number of Crew Total Cabins Tonnage Length Width Decks Max Speed Cruising Speed 1996 Refurbished in 2004 2.394 (total beds) 790 964 (6 for Handicapped Guests) 75.166 t 252.9 m 32.2 m 14 (12 for Guests Use) 24 Knots 22 Knots Costa Victoria Deck Plans Solarium Deck 14 Costa Victoria is a middle child in the Costa fleet. It offers more style and options than the line's earlier ships -- and yet bears little resemblance to the Italy-on-steroids decor of the line's later vessels. Costa Victoria, which was in fact built by the Lloyd Werft shipyard and entered into service in 1996, is 75,000 gross tonnage, 252 metres in length and 32 metres in breadth. She can accommodate up to 2,394 Guests in 964 cabins. Facilities on the 14 passenger decks include 3 swimming pools (one with a roof), Victoria’s upper decks are home to three pools and spacious sunning areas, where, on sunnier days, many of the ship’s 1,928 passengers can be found. 4 jacuzzis, 3 restaurants, a buffet, a pizzeria, 9 bars, a theatre, disco, gym, beauty salon, spa centre, Internet café, and casino. To give you an idea of how big this ship is, the entire ship's surface equals that of fourteen football fields.Yet she was designed with a draft shallow enough and maneuverability skills exceptional enough and with dimensions small enough to allow her the ability to call on smaller ports of call as well as pass through the Panama and Suez Canals. To see Costa Cruise Line's new flagship COSTA VICTORIA is to open your eyes and mind to a set of entirely different and new concept of designs for modern cruising and this ship might just be the bridge to the future we Americans heard so much about! And if she isn't at least she complies with anti-terrorism laws recently introduced for passenger and crew protection. Both bridge and main control room have armor plated doors while a monitoring video system in vital areas keeps the ship under continuous observation. You'll feel safe in this ship!It has also consolidated Costa's position as the Continental European cruise line with the highest proportion of balconied accommodation. Despite having been designed and built in 1996, Victoria’s design retains its avant-garde feel. Prospective cruisers should expect an upscale European crowd enjoying the finer points of the cruising life—sipping espresso in the atrium bar, enjoying al fresco dining at the Bolero Buffet, and dancing into the wee hours at the Rock Star Disco, for example. The interiors of the Costa Victoria were designed by the Italian architect Pierluigi Cerri, and feature mosaics by Emilio Tadini. During the 2003/2004 winter season, the ―new‖ Costa Victoria is sharing the Savona Palacrociere, the new cruise terminal co-financed and managed by the Company. On Costa Victoria you'll find the best of both worlds: up-todate facilities combined with attractively understated decor and lots of Italian elan. Thanks to a major refurbishment last year, you'll also find more balconies available. In all, 242 balconies were installed at Germany's Lloyd Werft shipyard (where the ship was originally built). The complex procedure -- only possible on some ships, as it depends on the exterior configuration and the location of lifeboats -- results in a 44 percent ratio of balconied cabins, bringing her somewhat closer in that amenity to the company's most recent ships Costa Atlantica, Costa Mediterranean and Costa Fortuna (which have balconies on 72 percent of their outside cabins). While Victoria is hardly an aging ship, its 90s-era design makes it a great choice for cruisers in search of a minimalist aesthetic and unhurried atmosphere. Rowdy crowds, jampacked public areas, and midnight buffets aren’t the norm on this vessel. Italian style is at the forefront; the atmosphere is decidedly casual and friendly, with the Italian crew providing smiling service around the clock. Families, younger couples, and retirees are all common on Victoria, although the wide variety of nationalities present (and the accompanying language barriers) can sometimes make finding new friends a bit of a challenge. The largest passenger ship owned in Italy the COSTA VICTORIA is also the largest passenger ship ever built in Germany, a country famous for a long line of fast Atlantic greyhounds, each of them huge for her time. Built at the Vulkan Group's Bremen Vegesack shipyard the COSTA VICTORIA is a $300 million exponent of the collaboration of Claudio Fornasini, N.A. and M.E., head of one of Europe's premier naval architectural firm, Genoa's NAVIS S.R.L., the brilliant interior design work of Robert Tillberg of Sweden, a genius at projecting and executing ship interiors if ever there was one (and there were several like America's own George Sharp, Jack Heaney, Henry Dreyfuss and Italy's amazing Gustavo Pulitzer) and the Studio Gregotti Associati of Milan who worked long and hard to put it all together. Her keel was laid on November 18, 1994, just two years to the date of this writing and this massive vessel was launched on September 1995. In nearly record time for so massive a shipbuilding project, the ship was complete enough to run preliminary trials in February 1996 and in May she was ready to perform her sea trials in the oft stormy North Sea. By then disaster had struck...the shipyard had declared bankruptcy leaving Costa Cruises in the lurch...with a nearly completed megaship..and the keywords here are NEARLY COMPLETED! It took some doing, politicking, diplomacy and some old fashioned armtwisting, but the ship was delivered on July 13, 1996, in time for workmen to complete finishing touches before the ship embarked passengers for the Maiden Voyage on July 28, 1996. That was a 7 nights cruise from Venice, Italy to the Greek Isles and Turkey...the first of a series of such cruises that kept the new giant busy until October 20, 1996 when she departed on her 18 night Transatlantic Cruise from Genoa to Bermuda and the USA where she was introduced to the travel world at New York, Baltimore and Cape Canaveral before making a triumphant arrival at Ft. Lauderdale where she will be based for her winter season of 7 day cruises to the Caribbean. The balconies were installed during a one-month stop when Costa Victoria was dry-docked at the German Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, where she was built. The work involved the fitting of panorama balconies to 242 oceanview cabins on decks 9 and 10, as well as to 4 minisuites on deck 11 – in all, 43% of the ship’s oceanview cabins. This was the first time that refurbishing of this kind had been carried out on a cruise ship that was already in service. The installation of the new verandas, which measure about 4.5 sq. m. in the oceanview cabins and roughly 9 sq. m. in the minisuites, also provided the chance to revamp other areas on board the ship. The buffet terrace, located on the stern lido on deck 11, has been extended by 60 sq. m., while two panorama promenades – each about 140 m in length – have also been added to deck 11, one on either side of the ship. , with Costa Europa and the new flagship Costa Fortuna. Both of these vessels are currently offering 11-day cruises to Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands. By virtue of this presence Costa has furthered its firm commitment to winter cruising in the Mediterranean in 2003/2004, offering a total of 40 cruises (33% more than last winter) and 6,200 lower berths (up 165% on last year’s figure). On February 13 the ―new‖ Costa Victoria will premiered in front of 400 travel agents coming form the North- West of Italy. Then she will leave from the Savona Palacrociere on Saturday 14th February 2004, when she resumes her winter programme of Mediterranean cruises, scheduled until 7th March 2004. Her 11-day itinerary takes her to Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, with stopovers in Naples (Italy), Messina (Italy), Alexandria (Egypt), Cyprus, Marmaris (Turkey), Rhodes, Athens and Katakolon (Greece). With the advent of the upgraded Costa Victoria, some 44% of the fleet’s oceanview cabins are now fitted with verandas overlooking the sea. Considering only the new design cruise ships built after 1996 (Costa Victoria, Costa Atlantica, Costa Mediterranea and Costa Fortuna), this figure is even higher, at 72%. This is another example of the way in which the Company is determined to further enhance the quality of the service offered to its Guests, offering them the most popular and sought after facilities. Costa Crociere is currently Europe’s number one company when it comes to offering balconies. And thanks to that facelift, Victoria now presents a pleasant combination of 90’s-era understated décor and contemporary amenities and technology. This brilliant new megaship boasts such notable features as the Planetarium Atrium, an atrium soaring 7 decks towards the sky, but by now such an item is no longer a novelty at sea so the designers worked diligently enough to create a public area entirely new to the sea. That's the ship's Piazza Concorde rising four decks, this grand Observation Lounge dominates the forward end of the ship and features a grand waterfall on one side, and a thus far unique floor-to-ceiling glass wall providing spectacular lighting and views forward. Inspired by the traditional Italian Piazza, a signature feature found on all Costa ships, this extraordinary room fills several purposes like Cabaret shows, games, bingo and port lectures. It can hosts hundreds, yet has a few almost hidden nooks which provide extraordinary privacy. Also rising two decks is the Festival Show Lounge, Located all the way aft (most such rooms on giant cruise ships usually occupy the forward end but the Piazza Concorde forced the designers to develop an alternate location for the show room) and, unlike most other duplex show rooms aboard big cruise ships, this room not only manages to retain an air of intimacy, it is a very pretty space, as befits a room which functions as more than an auditorium. Its stage sits on a hydraulic lift which allows the director to alter its height from 8 inches off the floor to 3 feet. When at its lowest position, it's usable as a dance floor but for shows it's raised to a higher position. There are also several smaller, intimate bars and lounges like the Tavernetta whose decor is complimented by the paintings by Capt. Stephen J. Card of Bermuda (arguably the best marine artist of our time) of Costa Liners both past and present. Mirrored columns and marble topped bars dominate the atmosphere of the Grand Bar Orpheus and a glass stairway connects it to the Monte Carlo Casino one deck above. Like most other shipboard gaming rooms, slot machines, roulette and blackjack tables amuse countless passengers. Just outside the casino is an intimate piano bar called the Capriccio Lounge, a room with the feel of the cocktail lounge on an old Italian transAtlantic liner. This room is pretty important decoratively, featuring as it does floor to ceiling mosaics painted by Italy's Emilio Tadini. Named, "The Tale" which is "Racconto" in Italian. Taken together, Tadini's work tells a story...but I won't spill the beans here...go take a look and see it for yourself. For night owls who like to dance the night away, the COSTA VICTORIA offers the amusingly named "Rock Star Disco" which is located among public rooms but far enough off the beaten path that I never have to hear the pulsating music from its state-of-the-art sound system. Then there are a Conference Center where meetings for up to 50 people can be held. There are also two adjoining smaller rooms. The center is outfitted with Wolfvision equipment that allows for overhead and computer projections and audio and video. As if that weren't enough there's more...a Teen's Club which features dance floor, video games, 4 interactive personal computer stations, and large television monitor. Like so many other spaces aboard, it can serve alternate uses - it can be used as a mini-theater. The ship also has the Peter Pan's Children's Club which is the center for children's activities. The ship also features a Library, the Jolly Card Room, the Venus Beauty Salon and the Arcadia Photo Shop where passengers' photos are exhibited. As on all Costa vessels, the COSTA VICTORIA has a Chapel for interdenominational service. Big as she is the COSTA VICTORIA has both indoor and outdoor pools. The indoor pool is located in the Pompeii Spa and features Costa's Caracalla Spa program - which offers steam, sauna, Turkish Bath and Gymnasium; is my take on the indoor pool and surrounding fitness center...go see it...I bet you will want to swim or get some exercise...It always works for me! There are two outside swimming pools, a "splash pool" and six Jacuzzis. Above the lido area is a Tennis Court, a special feature of the ship, a miniature tennis court utilizing smaller rackets and balls. Runners will appreciate the 1,312-foot Jogging Track topsides. The soaring, seven-story Planetarium Atrium is the beating heart of Victoria’s public areas; it features a stunning design and one of the ship’s best cocktail lounges. The Portabello Marketplace is home to a number of authentic shops hawking gifts and treats. And the Pompei Spa offers massages, aromatherapy treatments, and much more. One of the problems on a multilingual ship is creating an entertainment programme accessible to all passengers. Costa Victoria achieves this with some good magic acts, a few Classical Music recitals and "fishnet and feathers" song-and-dance shows interspersed with acrobatic displays and performances by crooners. It's all fairly standard cruise ship stuff but a fair way to pass an hour or two in the evening. Main entertainment venue is the two-tier, theatre-style Festival show lounge but dance bands perform throughout the ship and the disco is well attended by snake-hipped Italian youngsters. Spa & Fitness Costa Victoria has a substantial double outdoor pool on Deck 11 and an indoor pool on Deck 6, flanked by the gymnasium and the Pompeii Health Spa. Deck 6 also has a jogging track and a hair and beauty salon.The indoor pool is attractively presented in clean white, pale blue and blonde wood, and has classic wooden steamer chairs for swimmers to relax on, but it is very popular and can get crowded.There is a tall, enclosed wooden counter for booking spa treatments rather than a spa reception room, which means queues build up (the Italians love their health treatments) -- but once you get past the booking process and into the treatment rooms, the atmosphere is more soothing. The spa has free-to-use men's and women's saunas and a unisex steambath; treatment rooms include a thalassotherapy suite, several massage/facial rooms and a room designed for Shiatsu massages with a mattress on the floor. All are simply designed, with Indonesian batik wall hangings and drapes adding a hint of exoticism.As in most Steiner-run cruise ship spas, treatments are far from cheap, but these are more affordable than some. Shiatsu massage costs 99 Euros for 50 minutes, as does a La Therapie galvanic facial. The most expensive treatment is the Elemis Seaweed Massage which -- at 160 Euros for 80 minutes - will, I suspect, leave your wallet looking slimmer than your thighs. For those who prefer to tone up the hard way, the spa offers free shape-up and general fitness classes but charges 10 Euros a head per session for more specialist exercise programmes like Yoga, Pilates and Kickboxing. Personal fitness training is also available; 75 Euros buys you one hour in gymnasium hell, while 45-minute sessions on Back Care or Flexibility cost 35 Euros, and a half-hour "Butt, Legs and Tums" session costs 30 Euros. Costa Victoria's public areas will also be popular with lovers of elegant surroundings that engage the attention without bringing on a headache. By day, the Tavernetta Lounge on Deck 12 is a soothing retreat for those who like to doze over a book and watch the world go by. Honey wood walls and coffee tables, creamy cane furniture, big windows and soft furnishings in ice cream colours -- pistachio, cream, pale gold and pink -- give this lovely lounge the feel of an elegant conservatory. Next door is a small (six computer) Internet cafe.The prettiest watering hole onboard is the Capriccio Bar on Deck 7, which has eyecatching (and no doubt, eye-wateringly expensive) mural-covered walls depicting brightly coloured jugglers and acrobats in shades of vibrant orange, red, cream and terracotta on a midnight blue "dreamscape" background. The lovely deep-cushioned sofas are cozy and welcoming. The only downside is the continuous flow of traffic through the bar to the Casino Monte Carlo, which rather prevents drinkers from enjoying an intimate atmosphere. Another highlight is the Orpheus Grand Bar, which lies on Deck 6 -- just above the Fantasia and Sinfonia restaurants -- and is a popular venue for pre- and post-dinner drinks. Mushroom-shaped white pillars inlaid with brass and surrounded by circular seats give this lounge the retro feel of a trendy 1960's nightspot (though thankfully, without the mindbending psychedelic decor). The Concorde Plaza -- at the forward end of Decks 7 to 10 -- is even more striking, a lovely multi-tiered monochrome area with large, sloping windows and cream, grey and white marbled floors. At the bottom is a substantial bandstand and the walls surrounding it are designed to look like the house fronts in an Italian square, complete with plant-laden balconies. While the top tiers of the Plaza are multi-level lounge areas, the bottom level (on Deck 7) houses the ship's main shops, selling Italian fashion accessories including silk ties, dress jewelry and affordable evening wear. Beyond these shops is the Portobello Market Place -the top level of another three-tiered, airy atrium space with more shops, windows on two sides and glass elevators. This is very much the heart of the ship and is frequently filled with bargain hunters checking out the latest offers. One deck down on Deck 6 is the Squok children's centre, the photo gallery and the Rock Star Disco, an L-shaped room with a long bar opposite a DJ station. Beech laminated walls give this disco a trendy look but the polka dot bucket chairs and chrome topped tables are showing their age and could use an update.A quieter haunt is the small Planetarium piano bar on Deck 5, which stands opposite the Reception Deck at the bottom of the atrium. Bookworms will find a small, basic and rather gloomy library tucked away on Deck 7, near the ground level of the ship's Festival show lounge, adjacent to a small meeting room and opposite the ornate (and very Roman Catholic) chapel. The library offers a few board games and a limited but acceptable range of English language books by well-known authors including PD James, Ian Rankin, Michael Crichton, Ed McBain and Tom Clancy, but there are no reference books or comfortable chairs to sit and read in -- it's really a takeaway affair. And its opening hours are very limited (typically an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon), so you have to be quick. Fortunately, there are enough bars and plenty of space out on deck for reading, and drinks prices are fairly moderate -- cocktails cost 5.75, liqueurs 4.75 Euros and excellent Italian coffees range from 1.75 Euros for a cappuccino to 4 Euros for a specialty coffee with whiskey, cognac, rum or Amaretto. A 15 percent service free is added to bar bills. If the offering in so many of the public areas aren't enough to tell you what this ship offers in the way of entertainment, you haven't read anything...Of course the ship offers the entire range of cruise ship entertainment from specialty acts to cabaret to grand variety shows to movies, TV and casino action. While Victoria's design and decor doesn’t sport a specific theme, the ship is as elegant as any in Costa’s fleet. The vessel is home to seven bars and lounges, three swimming pools, a theater, and a casino; other highlights include the Concorde Plaza—a four-story atrium near the ship’s bow that houses lounges, huge windows, and shops—and the Portabello Marketplace, which sits at the top of another airy atrium. Bars, lounges, and casinos: Bellavista Bar: A quiet cocktail lounge located on the Carmen Deck Capriccio Bar Lounge Monte Carlo Casino Concorde Plaza Bar Tavernetta Lounge: Nightly music and dancing Rock Star Disco Jolly Card Room Festival Show Lounge: Nightly shows, music, and dancing Orpheus Grand Bar: Located above the Casino, this intimate lounge hosts live music and dancing Planetarium Bar: A scenic cocktail lounge located in the seven-story Planetarium Atrium Sirena Bar Nettuno Bar Swimming pools: Main Pools: Located on the Sun Deck Misting Pool: Located on the Solarium Deck Indoor Pool: Located on the Traviata Deck Family & Children Victoria offers activities and babysitting in the Squok Club, located on the Traviata Deck. At the center of the action is the Peter Pan Children’s Room, where activities for younger children include treasure hunts, face painting, sailor knot lessons, and theme parties. Costa’s Teens Club hosts pool parties, photography lessons, dancing, and karaoke. Activities are available for the following age groups: Mini Club: children ages 3 to 6 years old Maxi Club: children ages 7 to 11 years old Teen Junior Club: ages 12 to 14 years old TeenZone: ages 15 to 17 years old The Squok children's club on Deck 6 caters to children up to the age of 12, while teens get their own area on Deck 12. The Squok facility is fairly basic: a big, wooden-floored room with TV, a basketball net, arts and craft supplies, chairs, tables and big portholeshaped windows overlooking the deck.But activities -- including basketball tournaments, Coca Cola parties, craft classes and treasure hunts -- are offered from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., so parents do get some peace. And although there is no outdoor play space, kids' sessions are scheduled in the pool on Deck 11. Teens have their own hang-out, complete with funky furniture, surfboard-themed decor and a wall full of photographs depicting jolly groups of gorgeous, pouting Italian girls -- this area will be very popular with teenage boys. Fellow Passengers Italians predominate, with a smattering of French, Spanish and other Europeans. The crewmembers speak good English, but unless you're a confident polyglot, you'll spend most of your time with your travelling companions. A word to the wise -- the Italians don't do "manners" as we do, so don't expect many thank yous if you hold a door open or show other courtesies. They don't mean to be rude, it's just their way. And since the introduction of technology enabling passengers to use their cell phones at sea, most are too busy babbling into their ear-clamped mobiles to notice you exist. Shows: The Festival Show Lounge, which hosts Vegas-style revues, variety shows, and individual performers, is Victoria’s main entertainment venue. Shore Excursions: Costa offers a wide variety of shore excursions. In fact, the cruise line classifies its excursions as Easy, Moderate, and Hard, to ensure that passengers are adequately prepared for the day’s outing. Passengers can book activities at the shore excursions desk on or via in-cabin televisions. However, excursions tend to sell out, and the line encourages passengers to book in advance. Fitness & Recreation Stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, treadmills, and stair steppers Saunas and steam rooms Running track Thalassotherapy pool Aerobics area Facials, massages, and more available in Pompeii Health Spa Private treatment rooms Fitness classes with personal trainer In a ship this big which seems to always offer more than one of every public space there are two main dining rooms - the Fantasia Restaurant and the Sinfonia Restaurant where meals are served at two seatings. Costa Victoria's two main restaurants -- the Sinfonia and the Fantasia -- are located on Deck 5. Expect something of a huge, impersonal dining space and you will be disappointed. Each dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and two dinner seatings nightly; menus rotate daily, and often feature themed cuisine (Italian or French, for example). Pastas, steaks, and seafood are especially popular here. Menus feature well-presented international dishes and there are themed French and Italian nights. Not surprisingly on an Italian ship, the pasta (made fresh daily) is excellent, salads are crisp, and there is a good choice of desserts (though, oddly, only salt and white pepper on the tables -- not the black pepper mills so beloved of Italian waiters the world over). Lunch menus are also substantial, with grilled chicken or steak always available alongside daily specials like Reuben sandwiches, pasta dishes and treats like ricotta cake with apricots and ice cream sundaes. However, staff seem overstretched at lunchtime and service can be slow -- possibly because both restaurants offer open-seating lunch. A solution might be to open only one for lunch, extend its opening hours and concentrate staff there. We ate in the Fantasia Restaurant, located midships, just behind the panoramic elevators that serve the Planetarium Atrium. Whoever designed this room and without looking it up or asking I would credit Sweden's Robert Tillberg, conceived a beautiful room, softly romantic and so well done that while it can provide you a sense of a formal space, you can't help but feeling coddled both by the deco-inspired decor and the attentive service. Our waiter was Indonesian, the busboy Romanian and since I can handle enough of both languages to make friends quickly service was extraordinary easily as good as the food,t is the Sinfonia Restaurant and while it's not a clone of the Fantasia, for it's color scheme differs considerably yet that room manages to convey the same impressions both have good traffic patterns (HIGHLY important when you consider the numbers to be served) and serve food from the same kitchens. Both restaurants have large picture windows that allow port and sea views. Victoria's identical main dining rooms are visually delectable blends of warm beechwood walls, plush carpets, and comfortable chairs. As found in the dining rooms of the COSTA ROMANTICA and the COSTA CLASSICA, scenic murals were painted to transform the ocean-view dining room windows by day to Italian scenes by night. Paintings of Venetian and ancient Italian ruins have been created by Italian artist, Alberto Andreis. These theatrical shades set the tone and atmosphere for Costa's gala nights. Alternates to the two dining rooms for casual breakfasts and lunches, there is the roomy Terrazza Cafe and indoor Bolero Buffet on Rigoletto deck, where passengers can enjoy a semi-al-fresco lunch under the shade of a huge sail-like canopy. Bolero Restaurant Buffet this popular spot serves sprawling buffet breakfasts and lunches daily. is completely surrounded by glass windows that overlook the water while continuing your breakfast and lunch. From the indoor buffet is the outdoor Terraza Café, Protected by a large white canopy, Made by Canobbio, an Italian firm specializing in circus tents and sports arena coverings, it's the largest of its kind anywhere. It ought to be that canvas overhead cost $200,000!, it's perfect for outdoor dining, Terrazza serves casual breakfasts and lunches daily; it’sa great place to enjoy a meal with a view. Outside main dining hours, The COSTA VICTORIA also features a casual Pizzeria. you can visit the Pizzeria on Deck 13, which has large windows along one side, fresh pale green, blue and green decor , and an attractive fruit-laden market stall as its centerpiece that serves the real stuff - Open for limited hours—typically 3 PM to 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM to 1 AM. The Pizzeria serves hot slices, salads, and ice cream authentic piping hot pizza dripping with melted cheese. More than it's Greek inspired decor, I remember the friendly Spanish speaking steward whose answer to my question "¨Hay pizza para mi (Do you have some pizza for me)? was an enthusiastic "Hay pizza para todos (There's pizza for EVERYBODY)." Easily as popular as the Pizzeria is the Nettuno Ice Cream Bar and Grill where more snacks beckon people night and day. This big ship sure has plenty of places to eat and drink! Club Il Magnifico by Zefferino Located inside the Tavernetta Lounge, this upscale restaurant requires reservations, and for good reason. Open daily from 7:30 until 10 p.m. -delivers both. Candlelit, with spacious tables and seductive music provided by a smokyvoiced torch singer, this is the perfect venue for a romantic meal, and the menu -- designed by the owner of Italy's legendary Zefferino's restaurant chain -- is superb (I can particularly recommend the hot shrimp in batter, cheese-stuffed cuttlefish and light-as-air almond cake).The food here is the ship’s best, but it doesn’t come cheap: Reservations in the Magnifico cost 22 Euros a head, and a 15 percent service fee is added to your bill, but the food is worth stumping up for. Wine, priced from 17 Euros for a perfectly respectable Dolcetto d'Alba red to 110 Euros for a bottle of Dom Perignon, is affordable Drinks and service charges in the Magnifico restaurant all have 15 percent gratuity added automatically. Steaks and Italian fare are the highlights at this intimate spot, which features candlelit tables and a sultry lounge singer. Costa Victoria offers 24-hour Room Service from a limited selection of snacks around the clock at a 2 Euro supplement per item ordered. The ship also pays lip service to the old cruise tradition of the midnight buffet with "Midnight Surprise" snacks served in the bars and lounges. The night I checked these out, they turned out to be slices of watermelon and pancakes, which certainly surprised me! Elsewhere on the ship, wine prices are even lower; in the Bolero buffet, 7 Euros buys a small carafe of house wine (Soave or Valpolicella), a bottle of Pinot Grigio costs 17 Euros, and Chianti ranges from 18 to 22 Euros a bottle. Clothing By day, Costa Victoria is a casual ship, but be warned: the Italians are stylish dressers, so show up in a singlet, baggy shorts and a baseball cap and -- unless you're under 12 -- you'll look rather silly (as, indeed, you would anywhere). There is a Captain's cocktail party, gala welcome and farewell dinners for which passengers tend to dress smartly, but black tie isn't obligatory. Tipping; to cover service from waiters, bus boys and cabin stewards, gratuities of 6 Euros per adult traveller (3 Euros per child aged 4 to 17) per cruise day are automatically added on to the final bill. The COSTA VICTORIA has 964 passenger cabins, most of them located on upper decks and sixty per cent of them outside rooms offering either an oversized porthole or a large square window. Among these, there are six suites and fourteen mini suites. Generously sized at an average of 430 square feet, the suites can accommodate four passengers. Besides the main bedroom area is a small sleeping room with an upper and lower berth...VERY handy for a family of four! Each suite is finished in pearwood and coordinated with fabrics by designer Laura Ashley. At 301 square feet in area are the minisuites. With the same extra berth arrangement these mini-suites have a lot to offer -a sitting area and mini-bar. Standard inside and outside cabins aboard the COSTA VICTORIA are smaller than you might expect these days...more like Royal Caribbean in thinking than Holland America or Princess...yet I HAVE to tell you that ranging from 120 to 150 square feet, these COSTA VICTORIA cabins are BRILLIANTLY thought out and perfectly equipped. Within each room is a refrigerator-bar, piped in music, multi-channel television, a safe, and a telephone that is directly connected by satellite to shoreside stations. All cabins are fitted with sliding doors that separate the living area from the bathroom. The bathrooms are circular in design, including rounded shower stalls and vanity areas. Amenities include liquid soap, various toiletries and a hairdryer. Because most adult Americans are non-smokers and so many Europeans love to puff away, Costa Cruise Line went to the added expense of doing something about the fumes...and the COSTA VICTORIA is equipped with a unique "fan coil" system which allows each cabin to be refreshed with its own recycled air or with air coming from outside the vessel. In this way, the air of those cabins used by smoking passengers will not be mixed with air of a non-smoker's cabin. Victoria has 964 cabins, just over half of which are outside (ocean view). Of those outside cabins, 246 feature private balconies. The ship’s standard staterooms offer a variety of configurations ranging from four-bunk berths to two twin beds; amenities include air conditioning, televisions, direct dial telephones, safes, minibars and hairdryers. There is ample storage space in the cabinets and closets, and basic toiletries are included in the bathrooms, which feature showers and vanities. Inside accommodations range from fourberth to twin-bedded cabins. Twin sea views with picture windows and balconied outside twins are available. At the top of the range, 300-square-ft. mini suites and 430-square-ft. top-grade suites feature separate seating and dining area. All cabins have individual air conditioning, televisions, direct dial telephones, safes, minibars and hairdryers. I stayed in an oceanview cabin on Deck 9 and was impressed by the simple but stylish decor -- cream walls and curtains, cherry wood fittings, a deep red carpet, and a cheerful poppy-patterned bedspread and cushions on two bucket-style chairs flanking an oval coffee table. The lighting was cozily subdued but strong enough to read by, and there was ample storage space -- including a triple wardrobe, deep drawers and two substantial bedside cabinets -- as well as a small balcony with two sit-up chairs and a coffee table. And the bathroom, though equipped with space-saving white plastic shower and wash basin units, had a pretty grey and white marble floor and sink top, six storage shelves and plenty of towel rails. Italy, Spain, Corsica Ship Departure port Departure date(s) Month Number of nights Costa Victoria Savona starting from US$379,00 Promotion: ProntoPrice , Children Free , Todays Deal 21 November 2008 3 United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain starting from US$999,00US$1.119,00 Ship Departure port Departure date(s) Costa Victoria Dubai 13 - 20 - 27 December 2008 3 - 10 - 17 - 24 - 31 January 2009 7 - 14 - 21 - 28 February 2009 7 - 14 - 21 - 28 March 2009 4 - 11 April 2009 7 Number of nights Dubai, United Arab Emirates Muscat, Oman No detailed information available. Held by the Portuguese for almost 400 years, Muscat is built around an old Portuguese fort and the Sultan's palace. At the ancient Muttrah souk, antiques, colorful textiles and spices are sold. Information courtesy of Renaissance Cruises. Fujairah, United No detailed information Arab available. Emirates Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates The largest city in the Persian Gulf also gives its name to the largest of the United Arab Emirates. Created after the British pulled out of the Persian Gulf in 1971, the Emirates consist of seven sheikdoms formerly known as the Trucial States. During the 3rd millennium BC, the climate of this area was more temperate than today's and flourishing Bronze Age culture developed on Abu Dhabi's coast and in the desert oasis area of Al Ain/Buraimi. Information courtesy of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. Al Residents point to an Bahrain, ancient gnarled tree said Bahrain to be 'the Tree of Life' from the Garden of Eden. In fact, Bahrain's many bubbling springs have made the island more fertile than most Arab states. The city of Manama features a magnificent mosque and an excellent archaeological museum, revealing that Bahrain's roots as an important tading power go very far back in time. Information courtesy of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. 7only Italy, Greece, Croatia starting from US$929,00 (May) US$1.209,00 (June) US$1.349,00 (July, August) Ship Departure port Departure date(s) Number of nights Costa Victoria Venice 9 - 16 - 23 - 30 May 2009 6 - 13 - 20 - 27 June 2009 4 - 11 - 18 - 25 July 2009 1 - 8 - 15 - 22 - 29 August 2009 7 How to reach the port of Savona by car: For guests arriving from the Motorway from East (Genoa) we suggest that you exit at Albisola. After passing through the tollbooth, turn to the right and follow the signs for Savona and Porto / Palacrociere. After approx. 800 m, at the intersection turn to the right and follow along the Via Aurelia which leads along the coast for approx. 3 km until reaching the city of Savona. After a brief ascent (Via Gramsci), take the roundabout turning to the left at the Priamar castle and follow the directions to the Porto / Palacrociere up to the customs entrance. For guests arriving from West or the Savona â€― Torino motorway we recommend exiting at Savona. Follow the directions for Savona Centro and Porto / Palacrociere, following along the main street (Corso Svizzera). At the roundabout (after approx. 1 km) continue along the main street (Via Stalingrado). After approx. 1.5 km you will enter the city, passing under a railway bridge: at the roundabout continue along the tree-lined street (Corso Tardy Benech and then Corso Mazzini) until the entrance to the port. For cruise guests arriving in SAVONA by train: Get off at the Savona train station. From here you can reach the port in 10 minutes by taxi (cost approx. Euro 15).From the Genova Porta Principe train station you can use a private bus transfer service from 1:30 pm, which should be booked in advance through your travel agent. Note: If no reservations have been made, this service will not be available. For cruise guests arriving in GENOA by airplane Guests who booked their flight with Costa Crociere will be met by our representatives after exiting from customs. For guests who arranged their own flights, there is also a private transfer service in correspondence to flight arrival times, which should be booked in advance through your travel agent. You can reach the port of Savona by taxi at a cost of approx. Euro 80.