Costa Cruises invited me on nearly back-to-back European cruises, and I discovered loads. I visited among the most fascinating and fantastic cruise ports (Rome, Barcelona, Istanbul, Athens), and I used to be additionally certainly one of beneath 25 individuals onboard from the USA. Speak about an immersive trip! I’ve cruised loads, and by no means had I been in conditions the place English was not the first language or not spoken in any respect and guess what? It was truly cool not having the higher hand for a change.

Listed here are 9 ideas for cruising the Mediterranean with Costa that can ease your apprehension and allow you to get essentially the most out of your cruise trip.

Barcelona, Spain

Photograph credit score: Catarina Belova / Shutterstock.com

1. Anticipate Full Immersion

To reiterate. Costa Cruises will take you a bit out of your consolation zone if you’re from the U.S. You’ll be totally immersed in a gaggle of like-minded cruise-loving multicultural passengers, the place there’ll generally be a language barrier. After all, you received’t have bother discovering menus and newsletters in English, however typically, actions are solely in Italian (that is an Italian cruise line) and French. There are additionally a handful of different languages, too. 

On my cruises, Costa was simply beginning itineraries, they usually hadn’t been again to work after COVID for very lengthy. The ships had been solely operating at about 33-60 p.c capability, which meant that the cruise excursions and excursions had been restricted. Do not forget that Costa cruise excursions are in numerous languages, extra so than another cruise I’ve been on.

As soon as, I needed to take a port tour in Barcelona that was in two completely different languages, neither of which was in English. I had been there earlier than and simply needed to get higher footage, so I took my probabilities and went anyway. One of many two tour guides spoke a little bit of English, so he may advise when and the place to satisfy throughout our free time. I couldn’t perceive any of the narrated particulars, however I obtained what I got here for.

One other time, we had three completely different languages on our bus and tour. That meant the occasions spent in church buildings and factors of curiosity had been longer than anticipated, because the information needed to swap hats and clarify the surroundings to every group, however I took that point to wander round alone and take footage.

2. We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Being an American on a European-based cruise ship means adjusting to issues the way in which they do them in mentioned nation, which on this case is Italy. Dinner occasions in the principle eating room had been 7:00 p.m. for the early seating and 9:30 p.m. for the late seating. The primary night time I went to the principle eating room with a gaggle of different cruise buddies; we didn’t depart till nearly midnight. I’m an American. We eat round 6 p.m., in order that took some getting used to. 

Professional Tip: There is no such thing as a dinner buffet on Costa Cruises. The reason is is that Italians want to make the night meal all about household and sitting down collectively as an expertise, so to talk, slightly than fast service. 

There are many different restaurant choices, lots of which require a further payment. We dined at our favourite eating places (specifically Heineken Star Membership & Bistro) at earlier occasions on most nights.

Nightlife is a giant a part of Italian tradition, so anticipate the ship to get rockin’ round 11 p.m. and final till the wee hours of the night time. That doesn’t imply loud, obnoxious drunks operating round; fairly the other. There have been individuals of all ages (some even sufficiently old to be my grandmother) dancing and having a grand time. Watching the Europeans benefit from the ship’s actions, DJs, dance events, and festivities was a ravishing factor.

Professional Tip: I by no means had bother understanding the Costa employees, nor did they’ve issue understanding me. I did encounter somebody within the reception space who didn’t communicate English, however she kindly and shortly obtained a colleague to reply my query.

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain

Photograph credit score: Melody Pittman

3. Add On The Pre Or Publish Cruise

In case you are flying from the USA, it’s a lengthy technique to Europe. I’m on the West Coast and flew to Rome as soon as and Istanbul one other. That’s an 18-22 hour day, relying on flight connections. I extremely suggest you add on Costa’s pre and post-cruise days. Not solely will it provide you with time to sightsee by yourself within the embarkation metropolis, however the value for the extension is cheap. This goes for after the cruise, as properly.

In Rome, we disembarked at 8 a.m. However, if you happen to had been staying for the post-cruise, you might hang around on the ship and benefit from the meals, pool, and actions earlier than being bussed to the improbable resort. We did have to go away our stateroom, although. The resort was inside strolling distance of the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Transfers had been included. 

We didn’t depart the ship till round 1 p.m. on our Istanbul disembarkation. It was improbable having Costa Venezia nearly all to ourselves. We had complimentary meals, our beverage playing cards nonetheless labored, and we simply loved the surroundings. I felt it added some much-needed rest earlier than our taxing journey again dwelling.

Main dining room - Costa Venezia

Predominant eating room – Costa Venezia

Photograph credit score: Melody Pittman

4. Guide Your Restaurant Reservations Early

Costa Cruises embrace the principle eating room and buffet along with your cruise. The opposite eating places (there’s an abundance) have a payment related to them. It could possibly be $5-$10 for an excellent meal within the Heineken Bar, $2 for the fries my daughter and I had been hooked on every day, $3 for a bowl of gelato, a nutella and banana crepe, or $25-$30 for a four-course hibachi model meal.

I like to recommend you analysis the Costa Cruises web site (or go to my web site for a Costa meals and restaurant information) and test Cruise Critic to see what’s obtainable. You possibly can e book some eating places on-line earlier than your cruise. If that isn’t an choice, e book them as quickly as you board the ship. That approach, you’ll be able to make sure to eat in any respect the locations you need to strive; they’ll refill. 

Thermal pool on a Costa cruise

Thermal pool

Photograph credit score: Melody Pittman

5. Familiarize Your self With The Thermal Spa

Some individuals like me are spa junkies, and others draw back from the spa. When you aren’t conversant in the thermal suite, you must test it out. There can be a free walk-through on the day of embarkation.

Professional Tip: New to the spa? A sizzling stone therapeutic massage is sweet for first-timers. 

You should purchase a day or a week-long thermal suite move to get pleasure from its choices within the Solemio Spa. The facilities embrace heated mosaic chaise loungers (a private fave), rainfall showers, a wonderful sauna and steam room, an enormous thermal pool, and… get this… a snow room.

Snow room on a Costa cruise

Snow room

Photograph credit score: Melody Pittman

Yep, my Costa Toscana cruise ship had a snow room with temperatures under freezing, the place you might step inside to get cooled off immediately. I’m not a fan of chilly, wintery climate at any time, however for some motive, after being within the sizzling thermal pool on daily basis, it was a refreshing technique to finish my spa day. Are you able to think about how unimaginable the images had been?

I can’t bear in mind the precise price, although I feel it was $50 per day or $199 per week-long cruise. Nevertheless, they’d a particular deal the place you might get the weekly move and spa service for $130. I all the time schedule a facial or physique remedy, which is almost the identical value, so this was a serious rating for me.

Professional Tip: The thermal pool and heated lounger space have floor-to-ceiling home windows, a wonderful place for final rest and watching the world go by.

6. Utilizing The Costa App

Costa has a snazzy smartphone app to maintain monitor of your cruise days, reservations, and such. Nevertheless, the app was unavailable for these from the USA throughout my cruises. Fingers crossed they’ll get that mounted quickly.

7. Carry A Converter

Our cruise stateroom had USB plug-ins and European retailers (220-240) however no 110-volt retailers (customary American). Fortunately, we introduced a plug adapter converter from dwelling.

Istanbul, Türkiye

Istanbul, Türkiye

Photograph credit score: Melody Pittman

8. Board At A number of Areas

You possibly can board Costa ships at a number of places for a similar cruise. Costa makes use of a ferry schedule, which is the time period to explain making your round-trip cruise from a number of ports that the itinerary visits. So, if you happen to’d slightly spend extra time in Naples or Savona, you might do the Mediterranean cruise I did from Rome, however board and disembark there.

The Costa Venezia in Türkiye

The Costa Venezia in Türkiye

Photograph credit score: idiltoffolo / Shutterstock.com

9. Carry The Household

Multigenerational cruises are the very best; I’ve skilled them and made household reminiscences for years. Costa has the Squok (the title of the child applications) Restaurant for households touring with kids. Although I didn’t have my granddaughter on these cruises, I might have liked a household outing that catered to her age group.

Enjoyable Truth: Carnival Cruises is bringing the Costa Venezia ship to North America for cruises crusing from New York beginning in 2023. The Costa Firenze will comply with in 2024 for Lengthy Seaside itineraries.

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