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  #1  
Old July 5th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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LauraS LauraS is offline
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Default Cruise Critic On Board CostaConcordia - Countdown to Christening

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!
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  #2  
Old July 5th, 2006, 12:52 PM
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Default

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?
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  #3  
Old July 5th, 2006, 02:42 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Thanks for the warm welcome!

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
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  #4  
Old July 5th, 2006, 05:14 PM
SuziClue SuziClue is offline
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Default Cruising Europe

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
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  #5  
Old July 5th, 2006, 05:39 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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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!
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  #6  
Old July 5th, 2006, 05:49 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Goooaaal!

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....
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  #7  
Old July 5th, 2006, 06:04 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default "You made the connection, however your bag did not..."

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!
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Last edited by melissa@cruisecritic; July 5th, 2006 at 06:07 PM.
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  #8  
Old July 5th, 2006, 06:31 PM
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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
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  #9  
Old July 6th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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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!

Last edited by nickle0806; July 6th, 2006 at 07:51 AM.
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  #10  
Old July 6th, 2006, 09:44 AM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Food

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
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  #11  
Old July 6th, 2006, 09:54 AM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Announcements

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!
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Last edited by LauraS; July 7th, 2006 at 12:50 PM.
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  #12  
Old July 6th, 2006, 10:10 AM
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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
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  #13  
Old July 6th, 2006, 12:17 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Beer report...

Shelledpea,
Oddly enough the only beer on tap shipwide is Carlsberg from Denmark, but one Italian brew -- Peroni -- is available bottled.
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  #14  
Old July 6th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Default Any good pix of this vessel?

She looks like Carnival Glory with a more traditional funnel.
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  #15  
Old July 6th, 2006, 12:39 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Portofino

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....
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Last edited by melissa@cruisecritic; July 6th, 2006 at 12:47 PM.
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  #16  
Old July 6th, 2006, 12:46 PM
melissa@cruisecritic melissa@cruisecritic is offline
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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.
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  #17  
Old July 6th, 2006, 12:55 PM
Marge106 Marge106 is offline
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Default Melissa

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
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  #18  
Old July 6th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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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/
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  #19  
Old July 6th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa@cruisecritic
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?
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  #20  
Old July 6th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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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.
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