Vasco da Gama: classic but innovative

The Vasco da Gama, a ship in operation since 1992, now sails for the German brand Nicko Cruises, a branch of the Portuguese company Mystic Invest.

After her long stint as Statendam and a stint for P&O Australia as Pacific Eden, the Fincantieri-built ship went to Cruise & Maritime Voyages under the current name Vasco da Gama before being taken over for the German company.

The ship retains much of its original classic elegance, especially in passenger decks 6 and 7, but also in the outdoor facilities such as the central pool or the beautiful Oasis Pool at the stern. The spirit of Nicko Cruises  is to offer a ship for “explorers”, a classic style cruise on board, but with exclusive and out of the ordinary itineraries.

Vasco da Gama can accommodate up to 1500 passengers in different types of accommodations, from the comfortable inside cabins to the sophisticated Penthouse Suite, a real “house on the sea” with a table for 8 people, a living room and a wonderful bedroom with every comfort. The cabins with balcony have a large outdoor space and are located on the highest decks.

Deck 6, the first of those dedicated to passengers, houses the elegant Atrium, the first level of 3 of which it is composed, reaching the height of Deck 8. Here there are comfortable armchairs and sofas that make the environment a great living room for reading or for spending your free time in peace. From here you can also access the wonderful outdoor promenade that makes a complete tour around the ship.

Deck 7 offers the main services: the Reception, the Excursion Office, Future Cruises and the Auditorium. At The Cellar, wines are served by the glass while waiting for dinner time, with a touch of Portuguese labels. Towards the bow is access to the first level of the Hollywood Theatre, passing through the interactive Photo Gallery, while a couple of conference rooms are available towards the stern.

In the aft area is the Waterfront Restaurant, the main restaurant open for all meals, bright and elegant, especially in the evening.

Deck 8 is home to most of the beautiful guest quarters. At the bow is the upper level of the theater, very spacious and elegant. Moving from here towards the stern, on the right, there is a first series of stores, the Shopping Gallery, with clothing and fashion, souvenirs and sweets. On the left is the very popular Ocean Café, open all day and furnished with “tribal” objects such as necklaces and amulets and some exotic plants.

In the middle of the ship, on deck 8, there is the Sports Lounge on the port side, with comfortable raised tables and a beautiful view of the sea, the Captain’s Club, with live music and excellent cocktails, and a second series of stores, also called Galleria Shopping, dedicated to jewelry, tobacco and spirits. A little hidden gem is the Mix Bar, which in the evening has excellent piano music and, in the afternoon, beautiful armchairs behind the windows.

Blues lovers will make an obligatory stop at the Blue Bar, an elegant environment dedicated to this musical genre and where every evening you can listen to excellent musicians. Not to be missed, at the Blue Room, also the Gin menu: specialties from all over the world combined with the best tonic waters.

On the opposite side, also on Deck 8, are the small but well-stocked library and the wonderful reading room The Study, which also houses a piano for occasional performances.

The aft part of the eighth deck is dedicated to catering: the small Chef’s Table is open only for events and tasting initiatives while opposite is The Grill, a specialty restaurant with a menu dedicated not only to the grill, but many other specialties of land and sea.

Also located aft are the Waterfront Mediterranean and Waterfront Fusion restaurants, one dedicated to predominantly Italian, French, Spanish and Greek flavors, the second to oriental recipes but with a delicate mix of internationality.

On Vasco da Gama, deck 11 is dedicated to the Lido, equipped with a central swimming pool and two large Jacuzzis. The area enjoys a mobile cover that allows use even in cold and bad weather. Overlooking the Lido are the Alfresco Grill, open 12 hours a day, the Lido Bar, which serves the entire area, and Cappuccino’s, which specializes in coffee but also in excellent ice creams and small cakes.

Continuing towards the bow there is access to the Jade Spa, with free access by reservation, and the gym. The former has a beauty salon, a series of rooms for massages and treatments, an aromatic sauna and a relaxation area with tepidarium, Turkish bath and whirlpool.

Towards the stern there is the Club Bistro, a buffet restaurant open for all meals. Very nice corners dedicated to salads, wok cuisine and ice cream parlor. The furnishings here are very colorful and modern, creating a clear separation from the classic style of other interiors.

Going out on the Terrasse, overlooking the stern of the ship, you can find tables and sofas to eat your meals, or simply sit and admire the sea. On deck 10 below, but comfortably accessible from the Terasse, the Oasis Pool opens up, the large aft Lido paved in teak, served by the small Oasis Bar.

An area dedicated to children, Kinderland, occupies the aft end of Deck 12, with a nice outdoor area available to younger cruise passengers. At the bow end of deck 12 instead is Dome, the nightclub dedicated to the second part of the evening: live music or juke box, it is the place to stay up late at night. But it is also the place to read a book while sailing, with a 270° view of the sea. The outdoor area serves on one side as a smoking area and all around the pool as a jogging path.

Vasco da Gama is a ship that reminds us of the true style of cruising based on enjoying the sea and the tranquility on board, in the knowledge that we are traveling on a small jewel with a long history. The style brought on board by Nicko Cruises adds a touch of informality and modernity and, above all, leads the ship on itineraries not often travelled and small ports of call that are not easily encountered in cruise programs.

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Gabriele Bassi