Osiris Theater, the ship's Egyptian-themed main performance venue, can be accessed from Decks 2, 3 and 4. On Deck 2, the seating is banquette-style, with small, fixed tables spaced along the seating. On the other levels, it's cushy, high-backed theater-style seats, with no tables. Papyrus motifs and ancient Egyptian themes like pyramids and tomb paintings decorate the lobby and interior.
There is a nightly show, with two performances, timed so those at the late dinner seating can see the first show prior to dining, while those with early dinner seatings can attend the second show after eating. Performances on our cruise included a Cirque du Soleil-inspired variety show; a sexy magic show (with dancers in lingerie); two male opera singers; a '50s song and dance show; a duo of acrobats; a "dance around the world" show; an American soul and gospel singer; and a show featuring crewmembers.
The theater is also used for orientation briefings and the odd lecture (on our Caribbean cruise, there were lectures by jewelry educators who administered the ship's preferred shops and guarantee program). And, toward the end of the cruise, the children's Squok Club put on an adorable show, complete with costumes, music and projected backdrops.
Smaller presentations are held in the more intimate, grotto-like Isolabella Theater on Deck 1. It's lined with faux-pebble walls and giant half-shells, with a stage and dance floor. Seating is on banquettes and chairs with tables. Events as diverse as a passenger talent show, karaoke, the Costa Club captain's party and a "behind the scenes" ship lecture were held here. At night, it was often the scene of dance parties.
Daytime activities include dance lessons; poolside games; quizzes (many with an international bent); crafts classes, such as making roses out of crepe paper and napkin-folding; and lectures by the onboard port-shopping consultants. A couple of times during our cruise, there were also early-evening bingo games.
Dance parties seem to be the most popular evening activity on Mediterranea, typically taking place in the Isolabella Theater, which has a nightclub atmosphere. The small pop band performs an international mix of dance music, and it seems that many of the songs have accompanying hand motions or line dances that are familiar to Europeans. The entertainment "animators" often lead dancers in the motions from stage -- though we didn't feel pressured to follow the moves, since plenty of revelers were doing their own thing. There is also dancing to live music in most of the bars and lounges, covering a wide spectrum of styles (see Bars section below).
From time to time the "animators" mount events that reminded us of wacky game shows we've seen on Italian TV. One, called the "Crazy Hat Game" got several male passengers to perform various activities, with sound effects provided by the audience. Then there was the Mr. Costa contest, where male passengers were coached to do a partial striptease in the first round and dress in drag for the second round. Another night, there was a parade of passengers who had made costumes out of crepe paper. There were also two karaoke nights, and a special dance party on the Lido Deck for the "White Night" celebration, complete with go-go dancers.
The casino has 66 slot machines, six multigame poker machines, and four other electronic games, which all operate using passenger ship cards as currency; in the live-gaming area, there are four roulette tables, four blackjack tables and two poker tables. There is also a 10-seat "Poker Pro" table with inset video screens, but we never saw this in use. Tables are typically open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. onward on sea days; on port days, tables typically open at 8 p.m. The casino is also home to two pool tables.
Costa Mediterranea Bars and Lounges
With 12 places to party, Mediterranea seems to have a bar for every taste, music style and energy level. Cocktail offerings include the classics, as well as tropical drinks like rum punch or specialties like the Miami Vice, a yin-yang concoction that was half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri. There are also Italian favorites, including a Negroni, Aperol spritzer and Bellini. As they do in Italy, bars also have an espresso machine, and those that are open in the morning offer adorable miniature pastries. As on most ships, there's a "cocktail of the day" special. Nearly all the bars have music at one time of the day or another, and most have dance floors, too.
Isolabella Lounge (Deck 1): In the evenings, this grotto-like theater has a nightclub vibe, with a stage and dance floor, plus raked seating on banquettes and chairs with tables. The Dolce Vita band and DJ are typically the main attraction, playing international dance pop from 7:30 p.m. until either side of midnight, depending on the day.
Casanova Bar and Piazza Casanova (Deck 2): Naked Cupids float over this lounge, which is home to daytime quiz games and nighttime shenanigans like the "Crazy Hat Game" and "Mr. Costa Contest." In between, it tends to be the home of ballroom dancing, with a live band playing everything from tango to waltzes. Live music usually runs from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Canal Grande Bar (Deck 2): This bar, located in the casino, doesn't have music -- but it does host daily prosecco (Italy's answer to Champagne) specials from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., along with chocolate-dipped fruit.
Maschero d'Argento Bar (Deck 2): Located in the atrium lobby, this bar and its adjacent seating area get some heavy action between theater shows and dinnertime. It can be tough to find a spot to sit, and you're likely to get your drink much faster by going up to the bar, rather than waiting for the harried waiters to serve you. There's usually a singer/pianist entertaining here, playing easy listening music from 5:15 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. or so -- but now and then they mix it up and put a nighttime dance party in this area.
Talia Lounge (Deck 2): A smaller venue, with some heavy traffic passing through it to the main atrium, this bar and lounge is the home to Latin-influenced live music, usually from 5:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The dance floor is a postage stamp, but we saw some great dancers shaking it here.
Selva Disco (Decks 2 and 3): This is a serious disco, complete with blinking colored lights imbedded in the dance floor and a giant screen for videos. Too bad there wasn't much action here on our cruise. One reason could be that it's the teen domain from 11:15 p.m. until midnight, when it opens to adults. The teens tend to stick around, but don't dance, so the atmosphere seems a tad creepy with youngsters and oldies hanging out in the same space.
Roero Bar and Oriental Lounge (Deck 3): To our mind, this is the most beautiful bar on the ship, with a touch of Art Nouveau flair. Panels along the front of the bar have inset Asian paintings, and there's a beautiful mirrored back-bar. It's home to a piano player who performs international hits.
Dioniso Bar and Lounge (Deck 3): This intimate piano lounge just off the main dining room sees a lot of action following dinner. The Italian crooner performs easy listening music and Italian favorites.
Armonia Bar (Deck 9): Set between two Lido Deck pools, this shaded outdoor bar receives plenty of daytime patrons. It's equipped with plenty of stools, set along a broad arc that gives half of them a view of each pool. On a couple of occasions, when there's a late-night party on the Lido Deck, this bar also has nighttime service.
Apollo Bar (Deck 9): Facing the adults-only Apollo pool, this shaded outdoor bar is home to the daily sunset cocktail special from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., when there's live music. During the day, some folks bring their plates out here from the buffet restaurant to dine alfresco. Half the tables are designated as smoking.
Medusa Lounge (Deck 10): Located in the Medusa fee-restaurant, this lounge has low-key piano music from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. (later some nights).
Solarium Bar (Deck 10): This little circular outdoor bar has a "top of the world" feeling. Open during the day, it has a few shaded tables, and some great views, as well as being above the fray of the Lido Deck.
Mediterranea is home to four swimming pools, four jetted tubs and a waterslide.
The twin Armonia and Cadmo pools are located in the center of the Lido Deck (Deck 9), with balconies overlooking them from Deck 10. Both are bell-shaped with broad, very shallow (just a few inches deep) areas and a deeper oval pool in the center. A couple of stylish plastic armchairs are located in the shallow area, so you can sit in them and cool your feet off in the water. Each of the pools has four showers positioned around it. At the end of each pool is a jetted tub. On our cruise, the water in them wasn't really hot -- more like tepid. The pools are ringed by loungers, and then tables and chairs underneath the overhead balconies. Potty-trained children over the age of 3 are allowed to use the Cadmo pool, under the supervision of their parents. Children under age 16 are not allowed to use any jetted tubs. In practice, we saw kids and teens in both the Cadmo and Armonia pools and in the tubs.
The adults-only Apollo pool is located at the aft end of the Lido Deck (Deck 9). It has a similar set-up to the other pools, with a shallow area surrounding a deeper pool and a separate jetted tub -- but the pool is smaller than the other Lido pools. There are two showers. The pool area is flanked by rows of loungers, as well as the Apollo bar.
The Ischia Terme Spa also has a small jetted indoor pool, which is in a glassed-in area surrounded by the fitness facility on Deck 9. The pool is free and open to those 18 years of age and up.
The kiddie pool (or Squok Pool) is located on Deck 11. It's the only pool children under 3 are allowed to use. The waterslide takes off nearby.
Deck 11 is home to a netted sports area that serves as a volleyball court, soccer field, tennis court or one-hoop basketball court, depending on how it's set up. Organized games of basketball, volleyball and soccer are announced in the ship's daily bulletin. There are also two shuffleboard courts and a boules or bocce court.
A looping waterslide starts on Deck 11 and ends in a small tank on Deck 10.
The Virtual World space on Deck 4 houses 21 games, including air hockey, video games and other arcade-style machines, which are pay-to-play. A Ping-Pong table, foosball table and air hockey table can be found on the Lido Deck in the Teen Zone area.
All lounge areas are free and open to any passengers, with no adults-only or quiet zones.
A large concentration of loungers is found on Deck 9, the Lido Deck, which is home to three different swimming pools. Loungers surround both the Armonio and Cadmo Pools, which are midship. Further back from the pools, there are tables and chairs, under an overhanging balcony. So, if you want to lounge in the shade, it's possible to pull a lounge chair back under the balcony. The most Lido loungers are to be found aft, where the adults-only Apollo Pool is located. Here, there's no surrounding overhead balcony, so it's best for sun-worshippers.
You'll also find plenty of loungers lining Deck 10 (known as the Solarium) and Deck 11 (some of these are near the kids' pool), plus a few on the small, isolated upper deck areas designated as Deck 12. There are also some benches on a raised area, up from Deck 11.
Loungers are metal, covered with a mesh fabric (no cushions). On our cruise, the numbers of loungers appeared to be adequate, with unused loungers available even though some people had "saved" spots by leaving items.
Guest services is located next to the atrium area on Deck 2, and operates 24 hours a day. Desk staff speak an astonishing variety of languages. Currency exchange is typically available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The shore excursion desk is adjacent to guest services, and also has staff who speak a variety of languages. The hours vary widely, and are listed in the daily bulletin. It generally closes for the night by 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. When there are multiple groups of a particular tour, participants are organized by languages whenever possible. We were very happy with the shore excursions we took, and pleased that the pricing was the same or better than what we would have paid if we'd organized the same activity directly on our own.
Kiosks, where you can register your credit card and tie it to your ship card, are located in various public areas on Deck 2. We liked this feature, because it meant we didn't have to wait in line after boarding. Other kiosks offer information about the ship, including an electronic version of the daily bulletin, shore excursion information, and the opportunity to vote for your favorite crewmember, who can win a day off as part of the "Bravissimi" program.
The small library is located on Deck 3. Books are kept on locked shelves and organized by language, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Russian. Board games can also be found here. A staff member is available to check out books and games from 10 a.m. to noon and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (on some port days, hours are reduced). There is a small seating area with two facing sofas and a coffee table in between them, as well as a small table and two chairs.
Inside the library, there are also nine HP flat-screen computer stations and a printer, available around the clock -- though there was rarely more than one or two in use when we checked. Assistance is available during library hours. The same payment program covers both Internet access on these computers and Wi-Fi access using your own device. You can sign up using your ship card on a library computer or through your device.
We found onboard Wi-Fi coverage to be generally good, whether we were in our cabin or a public area. Downloads were speedy, but uploading information was slower; using Skype, the people we called could hear us, but we couldn't hear them. Internet charges are $0.50 per minute or $27 for a one-hour package and $65 for a three-hour package (or .50 euros, 20 euros and 48 euros, respectively, for European sailings). There is also an initial $3 sign-up charge, which entitles you to access ship information and sign up for shore excursions without incurring time charges.
Mailing services are available at the Photo Shop on Deck 3. Cost to send a standard postcard is $2.30. The ship's photographers are ubiquitous, snapping the usual formal night and going-ashore shots, in addition to offering a trunk full of props and specialty photos, including sepia-tinted pictures with old-time costumes.
The Via Condotti shops are located on Deck 3, on both sides of a curving walkway. The shops are stocked with Italian goods by designers such as Armani and Valentino, a large assortment of jewelry by names like Swarovski, gift items from the region (for example, rum cakes and rum balls in the Caribbean), liquor, cigarettes, sundries, and Costa logo swag. There's also a separate Costa shop tucked into another location on Deck 3.
On Caribbean sailings, port shopping consultants are onboard to advise on jewelry purchases. They provide shore maps that list jewelry stores approved by the ship's guarantee program. On sea days, they also set up an information table on Deck 3 near the shops.
A card room, which always seemed to have some players, is located on Deck 2. Glass walls on one side (lined with shelves of delicate Venetian glass items) and sea views on the other make it less claustrophobic than card rooms we've seen on other ships.
On Deck 4, a peaceful 32-seat chapel offers daily mass (times in the daily bulletin), and is also open during the daytime. However, weddings can't be performed here.
Another spot to find peace and quiet is the d'Inverno Terrace, a narrow indoor "winter garden," with tables and chairs, that wraps around the outer aft area of Deck 3.
The Sala Dioniso, on Deck 3, serves as a small lecture room or private function area.
The spacious Terme Ischia Spa has a Roman theme, with art resembling ancient mosaics. The facility is operated by Steiner, a respected cruise ship spa provider. There are eight treatment rooms, including one for couples; each is equipped with a shower. There is a pleasant changing room with mirrored wood lockers, restrooms, vanity area and showers, as well as a steam room and sauna for each sex. These facilities, along with a jetted pool located in the fitness area (but partitioned from it by glass walls), are free to use -- a nice perk, not found on many ships. There's also a small relaxation area with loungers next to the jetted pool. The spa facilities are restricted to passengers 18 and older.
The large adjacent Venus Beauty Salon has nine hair stations, with two hairdressers; one pedicure station; and one manicure station.
Services include massages, facials, wraps, exfoliations, manicures and pedicures. The spa also offers French Ionithermie treatments, involving algae and electro-stimulation, focused on slimming and detoxifying, as well as metabolism tests. Spa and salon product lines include Sebastian, Keratin, Steiner and Elemis.
Spa personnel offer free daytime seminars on topics like "Secrets to a Flatter Stomach," "Bright Eyes," "Cellulite: Fact vs. Solution" and "Footprint Clinic."
As is the case on many ships, the spa offered specials as the cruise continued, with the best deals on days when the ship was in port. Particularly for sea days, it's important to reserve in advance. The spa hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Located at the front of the ship, on Decks 9 and 10, the Olympia Gym fitness area is tiered on four levels, and surrounded by windows, making for a pleasant workout environment. Hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. In the center is a glassed-in jetted pool, accessed via the spa. On the first level are eight treadmills, six exercise cycles, one elliptical machine and eight TechnoGym circuit machines. On the second level, you'll find four stair-climbers and two arm-cycle machines. Level three contains three sit-ups benches and two TechnoGym circuit machines, while level four houses six TechnoGym circuit machines, three treadmills, two exercise cycles, one stair-climber and one elliptical machine. There's also a weight area on this level, with three lifting benches.
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can connect it to the exercise machines to create a profile and continuously monitor your progress.
There is one personal trainer onboard; you can book hour-long private sessions for a fee. The trainer also offers a boot camp package that costs $86 on Caribbean sailings (83 euros in Europe) for a 30-minute session or $199 (206 euros) for three sessions. The trainer offers 50-minute group Pilates and yoga classes for $12 (Caribbean sailings) or 12 euros (European sailings). There are also free morning stretching sessions, abdominals workouts, walks and "muscle wake up" classes on the Lido Deck, some conducted by the trainer, others by the sports staff.
Separate from the fitness complex, there is a small 100-meter jogging track on Deck 1. You can also do a walking lap of the ship on the Promenade Deck (Deck 3), which comes out to about half a mile, but you'll have to walk part of it indoors at the bow.
For travelers with children ages 3 to 11, Costa Mediterranea can be a great deal, due to the free, all-day kids' club. There are also organized activities for teens, but no childcare for those under 3 or in diapers. However, if there's space available in the club, children under 3 can come there to play if accompanied by an adult.
The ship also has the option for connecting cabins, and can accommodate up to four people in some of its regular cabins in every class. Cribs or cots, baby baths and bottle warmers are available on request, as are pureed foods. There is a kids' menu in the dining room, and high chairs are available. Families also receive priority boarding.
There is a kiddie pool on Deck 11, as well as a waterslide. Aside from the kids' club space, this is the only area onboard designated for children.
Mediterranea's free children's program is the Squok Club, a cozy hideaway located at the front of the ship on Deck 5. Children ages 3 (including those turning 3 during the cruise) to 11 are eligible for Squok Club, but they must be potty-trained. There's an orientation and sign-up meeting for parents on embarkation day.
The hours of planned activities generally run from 9 a.m. to midnight, but free group babysitting is available from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. (24-hour advance sign-up required). On port days, the club opens 15 minutes before shore excursion departures begin but, if you're leaving your child while going ashore, 24-hour advance sign-up is required.
Kids ages 3 to 6 are registered in the Mini Club. They must be signed in and out every day by an adult, using the child's ship card. Kids ages 7 to 11 are in the Maxi Club and, with parents' permission, those over 8 can sign themselves in and out. At times when there are large numbers of children onboard, each age group has its own area and activities; otherwise, the age groups are combined.
The Squok Club space is decorated in blues and oranges, with bright-colored fish-shaped light fixtures overhead. Underfoot, the carpet is decorated with kites and stars. In the Mini Club area, there are adorable tot-sized tables and chairs with backs shaped like hearts and flowers. Equipment includes activity benches, kid-sized basketball hoops and an art area. The Maxi Club is similar, but with larger furnishings, plus shelves of books and games. The "secret clubhouse" atmosphere was so inviting when we dropped by, we wished we could hang out and play!
In terms of activities, most days are themed (Spy Day, Jungle Day, Smurfs Day, Pirates Day, etc.). Parents receive a schedule of daily activities for the entire cruise. Activities include games related to the daily theme (for example, a treasure map and hunt on Pirates Day), coloring, bingo, crafts, aquatic games at the kiddie pool, dances from around the world, movie nights (movies presented in the majority language of kids watching) and daily snacks at 4:30 p.m., plus events like Donut Night or an ice cream party at 10:30 p.m. There are also opportunities for kids to learn to count and say hello in other languages, led by the multilingual staff. Although there was a variety of nationalities among the kids when we visited the club, everyone seemed to be engaged, getting along and having fun together.
Kids can participate in the daily Squok Club lunch, served in the buffet restaurant, but parents are required to book it in advance by 10 a.m. that day. Dinners are organized on only two nights per cruise, and have a special theme, like "Dinner in the Jungle."
There's a Teen Zone hangout area, located on the Lido Deck, with Ping-Pong, foosball and air hockey tables. Kids 12 to 17 are welcome to participate in activities, which include organized sports, crafts, treasure hunts and nighttime events in the disco, like speed dating, Mr. or Miss Teen Zone, musical bingo and SMS Night. This program is much more casual than the kids' club, with one mid-morning activity, one late-afternoon activity and one or two night activities on sea days; the morning activity is eliminated on port days.