People take cruises for many reasons. So, apart from the niche players in the market who cater to very specific interests, cruise companies have to design their ships to provide something for everyone.
That means paying close attention to the menu, the shore excursions, the amenities and, crucially, the entertainment program.
The northern Italian village of Bormida has hit the headlines because its council is offering €2,000 to anybody who wants to come and live there.
The idea is to boost the population of the village, where rents can be as low as €50 a month. I, for one, am tempted — particularly given Bormida’s close proximity to the borders with Monaco and France, and to the beautiful port of Savona, where Costa Cruises has a terminal.
There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.
It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).
Despite the fact that more and more people remain, or become, single well into their adult years, most travel deals are still offered on a per-person, twin-share basis.
Quite often, that fact is buried deep into the fine print on the brochure or website, and many people have begun the booking process to find that that bargain journey is only going to be a bargain if they can find a friend.
For many travellers, cruising is about dancing. From the couples of a certain age who still like to cut a rug the old-fashioned way to the professionals who perform for the rest of us to watch on in awe, it’s all to be seen on the high seas.
Here’s some video I took on the Costa Diadema of the ship’s animation (entertainment) team and dancers, and some of the passengers, getting into the spirit.
Before I took my first Costa cruise, I researched the company’s vessels on the usual review sites and discovered that they tended to rank lower than the British and American ships.
Delving a bit deeper, I noticed that the criticism was coming mostly from Britons and Americans whose main complaint seemed to be the “Italianness” of the Costa offering.
Basically, some people didn’t like the fact that ships flying the Italian flag catered largely for Italians. They didn’t like the fact that English was demoted in onboard annoucements and during entertainment programs to a second, third or even fourth language. And they didn’t like the food, especially the authentic pizza (presumably because it wasn’t like the pizza they had delivered back home.)
I’ve just booked my next cruise — for next week (I don’t muck about) — and it will mean travelling on the flag ship of the Costa fleet, the Diadema.
With a capacity of 4,947 passengers plus 1,253 crew, a length of 306 metres, and a gross tonnage of 132,500 (all according to Wikipedia) — and, apparently, a stunning art collection — it’s a mighty vessel, though in most metrics smaller than the Norwegian Epic, on which I cross the Atlantic two years ago.
I’ll be flying into Munich on Etihad on March 10 and then making my way, probably by train, to Savona for the March 12 departure. The itinerary takes in Western Med ports including Palma Mallorca and Barcelona.
This will be my fourth Costa cruise in just over two years. I was hoping to travel with another company this time, but the dates didn’t suit my schedule. And, as usual, Costa had a great last-minute booking deal.