Onboard: Italy meets the Tropics aboard Costa Atlantica

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Costa Atlantica this week as she sails an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Here’s his latest dispatch:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Wednesday Jan. 6, 2010 — A storied Italian cruise line has brought a mega-sized old-world party to a region renowned for celebrations.

The 2,114-passenger Costa Atlantica is in the midst of a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Guests today are enjoying the beaches, shopping and history in this, the second oldest city in the Americas.

The reunion of primarily Italian onboard revelers of all ages with their Spanish brethren is hardly a new one. Costa was the first cruise line to sail the Caribbean and has been plying the world’s oceans for more than 60 years.

But when passengers return to Atlantica later today, it’s all Italy all the time in style, hospitality and cuisine through the wee morning hours.

The ship’s 12 passenger decks, each named after movies created by the famous Italian director Federico Fellini, are decorated with prominently displayed paparazzi photos of movie stars.

A Venetian atmosphere permeates throughout the ship thanks to design elements featuring Carrara marble, Murano-glass accents and in-laid mosaic tile.

Look for an impressive replica of Venice’s Caffe Florian plus a massive, eight-deck atrium where passengers mingle and enjoy pre-and post-meal cocktails to soothing live music.

Atlantica features three pools, a spa and gym (complete with 44-spa cabins), sports court and jogging track, two main dining rooms, a reservations-only Tuscan steak house ($30 per person), a casino, show lounge, card room, Internet center and a host of bars and lounges. Kids (3-12 years) and teens (13-17 years) enjoy their own supervised activities and events.

Passengers have been partaking in a series of dance classes and cooking lessons and are eagerly awaiting the ship’s famed Roman toga party tonight.

There are two dinner seatings aboard Atlantica — 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. — and in keeping with the ship’s “love, laughter and la dolce vita’’ theme, look for early, late and even later performances by the ship’s singers, dancers and guest entertainers for night owls seeking to prolong their vacation day.

Guests familiar with the layout of many of Carnival Cruise Lines’ newer ships will feel right at home aboard Atlantica. Carnival is Costa’s parent company.

Later this week: We’ll take a closer look at the culinary journey afforded guests aboard Costa Atlantica.

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