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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Costa Cruises

MS CostaTropicale

Rating:Three Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Costa Cruises
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1982 / 2001
Length / Tonnage: 671 / 36,674
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 511 / 1,022
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Year Round Mediterranean
Telephone / Fax: Tel 124 0561 / Fax 124 0561

Review by Christopher E. Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

TravelPage editor Mark Goldberg was one of the pursers in the CARNIVALE when the ship's Master Captain Fossati asked him to translate a report from Italian into English for him. The subject was his impressions of the plans for an as yet unnamed intended new cruise ship, the first ship to be built for the line...the plans he saw that day in November 1978 eventually grew into the Tropicale, first of Carnival Cruises new generation of "Fun Ships". She left the Carnival fleet in 2001 and joined Costa later that summer as Costa Tropicale.

Public Areas
The year was 1982...grand atriums and plush vestibules were by and large a distant memory of ships built during the first years of this century. So to that extent, the CostaTropicale (formerly Carnival's Tropicale) still seems like more like a ship than a Grand Hyatt..and unlike a hotel...the Costa Tropicale was built expressly to sail through the tropics. Her public rooms were designed and decorated for nocturnal activities, so they are not overly appealing by day. Even after her 2001 renovation they are hardly as plush than such rooms on board her newer fleet mates. But there are features the Costa Tropicale has that will please...there's an enclosed promenade, for instance...and to accommodate this traditional item on the public room deck, many of the rooms have big windows...but they do not always let you look out unobstructed to the sea...when I sailed this ship the crew used to keep the curtains drawn.. Still, the rooms are large and well suited to their purposes. Now subdued and sober compared to some of the newer ships, the Tropicana Show Room and MIami Ballroom are cavernous spaces seating all comers in loveseats and sofas, well cushioned but with backs a little too low for prolonged comfort. Both rooms have a good size dance floor, and the Tropicana Show Room is the venue for evening performances.

The Habana Casino, once again not as lavish as the casinos on the newer ships, is centrally located and offers all major games. Duke Piano Bar, aft of the casino, is the most novelly decorated room aboard, with pillars and beams with keyboard designs. This room is the coziest public space on Costa Tropicale. During the Costa re-fit the Exta-Z Dance Club was converted to a third restaurant, the Bahia Club. Of particular interest and pleasure to me is that enclosed promenade I mentioned a couple of sentences ago...it's almost a public room unto itself. Stretching a good length of the ship, on either side, the promenade is dotted with many tables and chairs, from which one can laze their onboard time away, watching the passing parade of passengers or sea life, without being subjected to whimsical Mother Nature. Such promenade areas are becoming increasingly rare, so a word to all you traditionalist ship fans....sail the Costa Tropicale now, while you still have a chance...

The expanded gymnasium is located on Zaffiro & Topazio Deck and while still smaller it can almost compare with the facilities on her fleetmates. Still, it has windows that look aft toward the main swimming pool and smokestack. For an aerobic workout, the gym is fine. Beyond that, you might be disappointed...but how many passengers do serious workouts at sea anyway? But you won't be disheartened by the deck space and swimming pools fitted on the Costa Tropicale. This ship has 3 pools and oodles of outdoor room, with enough nooks and crannies to appeal to anyone wanting to distance themselves from the sports activities led by the on board staff.

As the Tropicle, the Costa Tropicale wowed the public with bold decor statements in 1982, but how times change! She's nineteen years old now and I've read many comments like "an old, smaller ship with dated decor" My how time flies! Still, the Costa Tropicale is comfy and has enough public space to accommodate her charges.

In a move that no doubt irked Carnival Cruise's public relations department, designers of the Costa Tropicale saw fit to create her Restaurant Corallo without portholes or windows. Don't be put off by this tragic design faux pax.....firstly, on ships with views from the dining room, not everyone gets to sit next to the window. Secondly, in such dining rooms, stewards usually draw the drapes during dinner seatings so unless you are rebellious or a trendsetter, willing to be the first to open your drapes, any view you have will be courtesy of the curtain maker. Thirdly, the table conversation, thanks to you, dear passenger, will be so scintillating that all eyes should be focused on you and your table companions. So who needs a sighting of a brown bear or whale on the Alaska run? Besides the service, the Restaurant Corallo is a happy memory to this wide bottomed cruise reviewer.....the chairs are wonderfully comfortable, with cushions on rattan frames that successfully evoke a tropical feel. The room is well lighted and carpeted to help reduce noise levels. I have dined in other ship's eateries with the most innovative designs and architecture, but I'm just as happy in Costa Tropicale's dining room.

There's plenty to eat here and though it's been a while since I sailed in her, it's not all that many months since my last Costa cruise and consistency is one of their claims to fame...so you will eat as much as you like, and since you neither have to go to the store to choose and buy the foodstuffs, haul it home and cook and serve it...you might find it wonderful...then again...maybe not...

On Lido Deck, the Glada Gran Buffet serves as what a decade ago was called a snack area. Far less sophisticated a space than on the newer ships, this room has a buffet that provides rudimentary picnic and barbeque type foods. It's a place where you'll want to eat and run...even at night should Costa's alternate dining experiment include evening meals here...

These are like the private quarters in the newer ships, but the Veranda Suites, while well equipped, are ugly and corporate looking. The beds in those quarters are near the passageway, and the wall separating me from late night revellers and early morning room stewards was not overly soundproofed. But the storage space was fantastic! As for the standard cabins, you will not be able to tell the difference between them and their counterparts on the newer fleetmates. There is the expected dandy storage space, beds that convert to king...but again, the inboard sleeper will be an obstacle to be surmounted should the outboard snoozer need to move first...

Who Goes
The CostaTropicale offers a great cruise experience for a moderate price so she appeals to a wide variety of savvy travelers. Some first timers love this ship, experienced cruisers recognize her great values and sophisticates are drawn to her like bees to flowers! But keep in mind, if you are uncomfortable in foreign ambiance and don't like to hear other languages, if you wonder what the crew is muttering about, if you fear you will miss out on the best jokes because they are in Italian, if you feel EVERYONE should speak English as a first language you will HATE it here so keep away from this ship.

This winter, the Costa Tropicale sails from Venice on 5 and 7 day trips to the Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean. Her 7 day voyages visit Bari, Katakolon, Santorini, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Dubrovnik and Venice. You also spend one day at Sea.

Well, I don't know. Some cruise ship sophisticates nearly wretch at the thought of sailing on this ship, but when I'm in a neighborhood restaurant kind of mood (decor wise), the Costa Tropicale seems appealing. I honestly like her exterior lines, and I love the deck spaces and the way they are arranged Thanks to Costa the on board attitude is perhaps a bit more personal and welcoming than what one gets on some seagoing "megamonsters". The key to Costa's charm is it's dedication to making you feel as if you are in Europe. The few weaknesses I've found on board are when the line has necessarily conceded to American demands.....hamburgers and hot dogs at lunch, for example. I applaud Costa and its fleet for having an identity...their ships truly stick out of the crowd and cry "Benvenuto"!

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