I am on my second day of a two-week vacation in Italy, and the weather is beautiful. We are staying at a hotel on the coast of Costa Smeralda, which is about an hour away from Tuscany by car.
The sardinia road trip 1 week is a post that describes the author’s journey to Costa Smeralda.
Contributing writer Bruce Parkinson is on a four-night Mediterranean cruise with Costa Cruises this week. As he travels from Barcelona to Rome, Bruce will be writing daily trip reports to share his experiences.
I’ve published almost 300 pieces since joining Cruise Radio as a contributing writer in October 2020, yet I’ve never set foot on a ship. The overwhelming majority of them spoke of cruise company litigation, health procedures, vaccine mandates, and huge financial losses. What a blast!
They were necessary to keep all of you cruise fans up to date on the progress of your preferred vacation option, but there was something lacking for me – like having the view below from my “office.”
While the worldwide epidemic isn’t over yet, life must go on, and the cruise industry has gone to great efforts to create an experience that is as secure as possible — as I described in my first trip report — while still providing pleasure, human connection, and a way to recover from the stresses of lockdown.
The rules are strict, yet everyone is having a good time.
So here I am in the Western Mediterranean, cruising aboard the huge Costa Smeralda, the flagship of the Carnival Corporation-owned cruise company headquartered in Italy. While the health restrictions are oppressive and at times irritating, they are also necessary, and people are having a good time.
Swimming, dancing, drinking, eating, and taking in new sights and activities onshore are all on the agenda. If you could see through my disguise – I never imagined I’d write those words — you’d see I’m always smiling.
North Americans – especially English speakers – make up a tiny percentage of the passengers onboard the ship, as I indicated in my earlier article. It isn’t an issue for me. The majority of the crew speaks enough English to answer any inquiries, and it’s sort of pleasant not to be able to understand what others are saying, particularly if they’re fussing about anything little.
Costa Smeralda is a small island off the coast of Italy (Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises)
“An Inexpensive Way to Travel Through Europe”
The primary marketing message to North American passengers, according to Costa’s U.S. VP of Sales Scott Knutson, is that Costa provides an inexpensive way to explore Europe, positioned between “modern” – think Carnival Cruise Line – and “luxury,” like Holland America Line. A seven-night trip in a balcony cabin is around $1,000 right now.
The ship’s staterooms are divided into 13 types, each with a similar, appealing design. The main differences are in terms of space and other features. I’ve seen eight of these, ranging from an inner cabin called a “Internal Classic” to a big suite.
I’m staying in a ‘Premier Balcony Cabin,’ which is around 200 square feet including the balcony. It’s a decent size for two people, with enough of storage, a nice bathroom, and a firm, comfy bed.
The balcony is roofed and walled, which is excellent for rainy days but not so great for sun worshipers. However, there are many spots to catch some rays around the massive ship, and the balcony is private, peaceful, and provides a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
READ MORE: Carnival’s Mardi Gras Trip Report: Final Impressions
Cuisine as well as entertainment Designed for a Global Audience
Even among our media group’s sophisticated food bloggers, I haven’t heard any complaints about the food and beverages. There are 16 restaurants and 19 bars to select from (some at an extra fee). I like cooking and eating, and I thrive on variety, so the quality and range of offers have piqued my interest. However, be aware that the food — as well as the entertainment — is geared at an international audience, so if burgers and fries are your thing, you may be disappointed.
Burrata is a kind of cheese from Italy.
On the Costa Smeralda, Italian food and ingredients are at the forefront. There are four major dining rooms, as well as buffet and a la carte lunch options. Crew-served buffets, for example, contain a lot of pasta, cured meats, and cheeses during the noon meal.
I had an a la carte meal yesterday that started with a wonderful seafood soup and continued with a fantastic pasta and lamb chops. Everything was wonderful. There’s a pizzeria (for a modest fee) that makes excellent hand-made pies using San Marzano tomatoes and ship-made mozzarella.
A sushi bar and a poke bowl restaurant, as well as a ‘acrobatic teppanyaki’ restaurant, are among the upcharge options for non-Italian specialities. To give you an idea, a big poke bowl costs 4 euros, which is less than $5.
We had dinner last night at Restaurante LAB, an unique venue where up to 48 customers (during regular hours) may help cooks prepare their food and even perform some cooking at their tables. Although this was not feasible at the time, we still had a wonderful meal with delicious wines provided by a kind sommelier.
Steak at LAB Restaurant
Chefs at LAB Restaurant
Over the course of the next several trip reports, I’ll provide my thoughts on shore excursions and entertainment. I hope you will join us.
READ NEXT: In 2022, Royal Caribbean will withdraw an upcoming cruise ship from China.
Note from the editor: Bruce is sailing as a Costa Cruises invited guest; nevertheless, all views and opinions expressed are his own.
The sardinia travel blog is a travel blog that has been published since 2008. It features around-the-world trips and experiences, as well as other interesting topics.
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