Costa Smeralda…to discover
We discover the new flagship of Costa Cruises, the Costa Smeralda, upon its arrival to Savona to begin a long series of cruises in the Mediterranean.
A true ray of sunshine on a day with a severe weather alert for this region, this was how the Costa Smeralda appeared to me on Friday, December 20th. As soon as I passed the Margonara area, the ship appeared in all its majesty. It made a notable visual impact, especially for people, such as myself, that are used to seeing Costa’s smaller sister ships docked here. With its 337 meters length and 20 decks, the new flagship of Costa Cruises immediately monopolizes the attention of people arriving in cars to Savona, including my own.
After a quick check-in I am welcomed into the Colosseum, a three-story amphitheater that substitutes the classic atrium with panoramic Farcus-style elevator. This is the first ship for a western clientele that was designed by Adam D. Tihany, a Hospitality Designer defined in 2001 by The New York Times as one of the best architects in the world. The objective of the creative director, that coordinated a group of architectural firms from around the world, was that of showcasing how the Italian aesthetic and beauty is seen through the eyes of foreigners. The experiment worked perfectly: the Costa Smeralda amazes with its refined and elegant environments all with the common thread of the beauty of Italy.
The life on board the ship is concentrated on decks 6, 7 and 8 that can all be explored from the stern to the bow. Here we find all the main restaurants. One restaurant that stands out in particular is Arlecchino that has various rooms that are decorated in different styles. One pleasant discovery I made at the Reception area on deck 7 is that it will no longer be necessary to stand in line while you wait. It is now possible to simply take a number and then relax in the waiting area in front of the reception that even has a café/bar area. A little more toward the back of the ship we find the first ever museum on a cruise ship: the CoDe. The museum is four hundred sq.m of floor space dedicated to displaying what “Made in Italy” means through design pieces ranging from elegant armchairs and bicycles to clothes and objects made by Italy’s best artisans. Lovers of the green economy will be happy to learn that at the Photo Shop it will now be possible to view and order cruise photos on numerous tablets.
The beauty of Italian cuisine is represented inside the buffet restaurant where there are many themed areas. Don’t forget to visit the pastry shop to taste some delicacies but also to take a fantastic photo of the interiors made to resemble an elegant carousel. For Jazz music lovers we recommend the “Those of the Night” club, with its retro atmosphere where you can hang out after dinner. The Piazza Trastevere is the vibrant square at the heart of the ship’s social life where you can choose to eat a delicious gelato ice cream at the Amarillo, enjoy an aperitif in Venetian style at Al Bacaro or watch a sporting match at the Sports Bar. From this square you can access as well the two exclusive upscale restaurants on the ship: Panorama (reserved for guests staying in the Suites) and Bellavista (the club restaurant).
Pastel colors and geometric shapes characterize the new cabins that are smaller than on the sister ships but well thought out. The minimalist style can be felt in the choice to remove the minibar and the new concept for the nightstands. The true surprise is found in the bathroom where the shower curtains have been replaced by beautiful glass doors bordered by walls similar to white marble. Try the “Terrace by the sea”! Here it is possible to enjoy total relaxation with a sea view from inside a winter garden that is located between the sleeping quarters and the balcony over the sea.
Costa Cruises has paid special attention to the needs of families on board: on the stern, besides the Squok and Teen Zone areas, they have created an amusement park and a restaurant dedicated to kids and their parents with outside tables on the Piazza di Spagna.
What can we say about the Spa? I would have liked to stay forever in the lovely, scenic indoor swimming pool. It is elegant and modern with a touch of history added by the lion’s mouths that reminded me of Roman baths. The spa includes saunas, relaxation areas, a salt room, s hammam, and then the real treat: the snow room. Upon opening the door to the room, the fresh snow and the stone walls bring to mind a mountain chalet with a sea view.
The beach area is enchanting, with a pool with an automated removable cover, and on each side a staircase leading to the four glass Jacuzzis with sea view and a relaxation area. At the center and next to the water is a stage set up for live music for the music lovers. On the upper deck is the Nutella Bar, an obligatory stop for anyone with a sweet tooth.
The Costa Smeralda is a very large ship that takes days to really explore. I can’t wait to get back on board as a cruise passenger to be able to continue my exploration of everything I got the chance to photograph on this brief visit and of course to feel immediately right at home.