Cruise Critic On Board CostaConcordia - Countdown to Christening

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Costa Cruises
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 05:08 AM.
#1
Ewing, NJ
18,997 Posts
Joined Jan 2000
Cruise Critic's Associate Editor Melissa Baldwin boarded Costa's brand-new
CostaConcordia today for a special preview sailing. She'll be posting
"blog" entries right here at least once a day (starting today) leading up to the
official christening and naming ceremony this Friday in Rome -- with a
dispatch on Rome itself on Saturday.

Got questions about the ship or the Costa experience in the Med? Ask here,
and she'll answer as many as possible right here in this thread!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Laura
Sr. Manager Community
[email protected]

When your values are clear, your decisions are easy -Roy Disney-
#2
1,569 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Excellent! Costa's very own special sticky thread

I'm very much interested in this ship. Can you tell us what major changes/upgrades we can expect from her over costa's current flagships magica and fortuna?
#3
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
Hi everyone -- it is so exciting to be in Italy for the christening of CostaConcordia. Joe, new features onboard include a Grand Prix driving simulator that I will be testing out later this week, and a two-deck spa plus special spa-category cabins that I also can't wait to visit (and write about, of course)....

The ship also features a huge poolside LED screen -- and I'm going up there shortly to watch the World Cup action!

Otherwise, if you've been on CostaMagica, you'll feel right at home with the layout (I have, and do) and decor, which is bright and flashy a la Carnival Corp.'s designer Joe Farcus. When you first enter the atrium, look up for the wacky frosted glass lamps in abstract shapes that change color.

So far I've been able to deduce that the ship's theme revolves around European countries. The decks are named after them (Germania, Irlanda), and public areas get their monikers from major cities (Discoteca Lisbona, Ristorante Roma). But I haven't yet figured out the reason for shiny emerald green panels ... everywhere.

Keep the questions coming,
Melissa
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#4
60 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Hello, Melissa. We've traveled Europe a handful of times on ships oriented to U.S. passengers. It sounds intriguing to do an Italian cruise on a line that offers Italian ambience. Can you tell me if we'd feel comfortable onboard? Are signs, menus, etc. also offered to English speakers?

If you could compare this ship to an American-oriented one, which would it most be like?

Thanks Melissa!

Suzi
#5
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
Hi Suzi,
Whether or not you'll feel comfortable onboard depends, because every cruiser is different, but one thing you don't need to worry about is a language barrier -- all crew speak English as well as Italian, and signs and menus are in both languages (as well as others; I'll get back to you on definites, but I'm pretty sure I saw French and Spanish, too).

I'd say this ship can be best compared to those in Carnival's Conquest class. For one thing, CostaConcordia is built on the same platform. But beyond that, Costa is often described along the lines of Carnival with an Italian flair -- laid-back, "good times" ambience.

It will probably take some time to get used to traveling with a different passenger base, however. I like the fact that because Europeans love to dance, the disco gets going late ... and stays hopping until the wee hours (in fact, a few ladies just passed -- it's after 11 p.m. here -- and asked "Scuzi, which way to discoteca?").

One last note: store, spa and drinks purchases will be in euros, and the method of donation to the one-armed bandits in the casino is also euros.

Hope this helps!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#6
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
Yes, World Cup fever has taken over Italy, and the CostaConcordia, too. Tonight's game (Portugal vs. France) was broadcast on the LED screen poolside, and a good handful of folks -- myself included -- chose to take trays of food from the Lido buffet out to the deck for food AND "football." It was actually quite sophisticated; white tablecloths were spread over the tables, and all were set with cloth napkins, silverware, and bottles of olive oil and vinegar.

There were also rows of seats set up stadium-style in front of the screen. I often associate beer with sports, so I was surprised how many people were parked there in front of the big screen sipping wine and Champagne -- I suppose because both were being passed around by waiters and waitresses with trays.

Despite the occassional uproar, the party was nowhere near as crazy as last night's after Italy's big win ... a friend onboard told me that she spent last night in town, and the energy was electric. People were racing around in the streets tooting the horns on their Vespas, waving flags and blasting music. Wish I'd been there....
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#7
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
After a red eye from JFK to Frankfurt, and a mad dash in the morning for a connection to Milan, the last thing you want is to NOT see your luggage. But that happened today ... unfortunately, to me. The airline has since found my bag, but while I wait for it to arrive at the ship I want to share a really nice story about Costa:

When I explained my situation to the women at the passenger service desk ("I have been wearing the same outfit for, like, 24 hours!"), they hooked me up with an emergency kit containing a Costa t-shirt (now I don't have to also sleep in this outfit), Q-Tips and cotton pads, makeup remover, body lotion, toothpaste and a toothbrush, and other necessities.

The moral of the story: If your bag ever goes astray, it never hurts to ask ship staff how they can make your stay more comfortable!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#8
Stalybridge Nr Manchester UK
348 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Hi Melissa,

How is the food on board? We are cruising on the Concordia from the 6th January and as Hubby is a chef he can be a bit picky!

Is the choice varied?
Do they do steaks?

Which draught beers do they serve onboard (Peroni by any chance or Nastro?)

Cheers Shelley
#9
Yigo, Guam
261 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Hi Melissa,

How are they doing at keeping the announcements under control? We sailed on the MSC Armonia and it seemed like there was a consistent stream of announcements since they were all in five languages. Also, how's the entertainment so far and how is the coffee?

Thanks!
#10
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
Hi Shelledpea,

I love to cook and have a very Italian family, so I can be picky, too! So far the food has been quite good -- better than I remember from my last Costa cruise (CostaMagica), but nothing has blown me away yet (I'll keep you posted).

I did not eat in the main dining room last night, but I will tonight and will jot down sample items from the menu and post them here for you afterward. I'll keep my eyes open for steaks! I tried out the Lido buffet last night, and enjoyed the gnocchi very much (in a tomato-based sauce), as well as fresh mozzarella and crusty bread; the arrancini (fried balls of risotto) were not nearly as good as what I make at home because they taste best right out of the hot oil!

While we're on topic, it is important to note that the room service menu is very limited compared to what you'll find on North American ships -- only continental breakfast, and a couple of salads and sandwiches.

Stay tuned for more dish on the eats....as the cruise progresses I'll be able to better answer your question about the varied menus and options,
Melissa
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#11
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
Nickle,
So far, so good -- but that's probably because there have been few announcements. Most folks are boarding today, and we set sail for Rome at 6 p.m. (noon EST). On my last Costa sailing (CostaMagica), the muster drill took a VERY long time because it was in English, Italian AND Spanish since we sailed to Barcelona and there were many Spaniards onboard. I'll let you know how the drill goes tonight....

Last night's biggest entertainment was the airing of the World Cup; there was a show beforehand, but it seemed a lot of passengers opted to eat during so they could watch the game. I will find out some more details for you on last night's, and I intend to attend other shows throughout the week -- I'll keep you posted!

The coffee is very strong, again a European thing. I opt for tea onboard if I'm craving a hot beverage because my American taste buds don't care for Costa coffee, but I think it is personal preference more than quality in this case!

P.S. Shelledpea -- I am sure to saunter past a few bars today as I explore, so I'll check on the draught beer situation for you!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#12
Yigo, Guam
261 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Melissa,

Thanks for the low down on the coffee. As an American living in Europe you get acclimated to their ways. I can handle strong as long as it is not gray when I add cream. I had that problem on MSC, so that is why I asked.

Thanks,

Nicole
#15
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
I'm so glad I took the time to explore a little bit today before CostaConcordia set sail (which should be any moment!) for its new home in Rome.

This is only my second time in Italy, and my first time exploring anything in the area besides the cruise terminal! The adventure began with me and a few colleagues taking a walk into Genoa today to the train station (it's a few blocks away, maybe a 10-minute stroll); we hopped a train to Santa Margherita, which broke down about halfway -- we figured out we had to change trains when everyone started filing off grumbling in Italian! Once there, you can hop a bus or boat to Portofino, but it was drizzling so we grabbed a taxi for the 10-minute drive.

I felt I was suddenly transformed into an A-list movie star while sipping red wine at a cafe near the marina -- it is that magical. Cobblestone roads lead to a sprawling piazza with upscale shops and al fresco cafes, and boats and yachts bob in the marina, postcard-perfect for snapshots. I can upload photos when I return home if anyone's interested.

If you go, here's a shopping tip: If you don't have (or don't want to drop) the big bucks to shop in the Rodeo-Drive-meets-Italy shops like Hermes, stop into Baccerini, a jewelery store conveniently located next to a great gelateria (yum). I bought a stunning necklace of Murano glass beads for 20 euros that I'm sure will always be a reminder of my brief but wonderful visit to Portofino....
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#16
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
kimdave,
I wish I could upload pictures -- but I'm unable to on the computers in the Internet cafe (and there's no Wi-Fi to connect my laptop). I'll be sure to do so once I return home!

And yes, despite the traditional Costa funnel, the exterior -- and the interior for that matter -- does resemble Carnival's vessels, particularly because this ship is built on the same platform as Carnival Conquest and other ships in that class.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#17
Myrtle Beach, SC
364 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Isn't Portofino beautiful. I've done the same walk from the port to the train station several times myself and then taken the train to Portofino. Its funny, but the train always either breaks down or they ahve a 15 minute strike.
I need a favor, while you are on board, can you please ask around about an Italian crew member, Michele (Michael) Minutillo. Last time my husband and I were on Costa he was a fireman on board and was soon going to be promoted. We lost touch a few years ago and have always been curious about what happened to him. Any of the Italian crew should know who he is.
Who is the captain on board and is Alberto Marossa still the 1st officer. I used to sail with Captain Marossa (his Dad) many years ago when I sailed
with Home Lines. Just curious and if you find a minute (lol) and opportunity knocks I would love to know.
Also, can you let me know how popular the NASCAR simulator is. DH would love a shot at that.
Thanks,
Margie
#18
Yigo, Guam
261 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Melissa,

I am confused, what port did you embark at? I was under the impression that Genoa was a good hour away from Savona, which is the normal Costa port. If it is that easy to get to Portofino from Savona, we will skip the ship excursions and go on our own.

P.S. If you like bike tours, check out Fat Tire Bike in Barcelona. They run awesome tours for a fraction of what you will pay through the ship, 22€ vs. 50€, and they use old style bikes with the wide comfy seats.

http://www.fattirebiketoursbarcelona.com/
#19
414 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by [email protected]
kimdave,
I wish I could upload pictures -- but I'm unable to on the computers in the Internet cafe (and there's no Wi-Fi to connect my laptop). I'll be sure to do so once I return home!

And yes, despite the traditional Costa funnel, the exterior -- and the interior for that matter -- does resemble Carnival's vessels, particularly because this ship is built on the same platform as Carnival Conquest and other ships in that class.
Yep, yep, I see that.

Looking forward to the pix. No wifi at all? Have you tried stumbling for networks?
#20
Stalybridge Nr Manchester UK
348 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Cheers Melissa,

At least it's not heineken. As I say we have booked and for cruise only 11nts departing January 6th for 2 Adults and 2 children we have paid £1160.12 ~ We took the cheapest 4 berth cabin they have as we only ever end up sleeping in the cabin!

Flights from England to Rome were an extra £225 but hey who cares when it's still under £1400($2545) for a family of 4.