“The Ship Of Light”
Visits California On 98-Day World Cruise
Shawn J. Dake
All photos by Shawn J. Dake © 2015 except as noted.
Visits to North America, and especially the West Coast, by the ships of Costa Cruises have been relatively rare events in recent years. The COSTA LUMINOSA is in the midst of a voyage around-the-world that has brought the 92,720 gross ton ship to a series of port calls including a day at San Diego and overnight stops at both Los Angeles and San Francisco. From there, the Italian-flag ship sailed across the Pacific adding a two-day stay at Honolulu where she concludes her inaugural visits to these U.S. ports. The COSTA LUMINOSA began this westbound 98-day circumnavigation of the globe on September 14th in Savona, Italy. At the conclusion of the voyage the ship will have visited 35 ports-of-call and given passengers the leisurely experience of 52 cruising days at sea. Many of the ports include overnight stays and sometimes as much as three days at a destination.
The COSTA LUMINOSA calls at the Port Of Los Angeles on October 11, 2015.
While World Cruise passengers have the luxury of time, I had about five hours to do a quick tour of the ship and become familiar with a sampling of her numerous public rooms, cabins and dining venues. This story can not provide a comprehensive photo gallery of all this attractive ship has to offer, but will hopefully give the reader a brief overview of what sets the COSTA LUMINOSA apart. The ship, initially known as yard number 6155, was completed in 2009 by the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy. It is a member of the highly successful and much talked about class of ships that originated in 2000 with the COSTA ATLANTICA and came to be called “Spirit Class” which evolved into the larger “Vista Class” for various brands within the Carnival Corporation. The COSTA LUMINOSA combines elements of both. With a length of 965 feet and a beam of 106 feet the ship is of a Panamax design capable of carrying 2,260 passengers at double-occupancy capacity.
The Supernova Atrium and Bar with Botero’s “Reclining Woman” in repose.
Guests enter through the Supernova Atrium. Rising through nine decks the atrium is a spectacular introduction to the “Ship Of Light.” Murano glass chandeliers and wall sconces decorate the space leading the eye upwards. At the base, a mammoth sculpture titled “Reclining Woman 2004” by renowned artist Fernando Botero dominates the lobby and bar area which is also home to the Reception Desk and Tour Office. Marble flooring and wall treatments, predominantly in shades of beige add elegance to the large space enhanced by ever-changing accents of color from the lights.
Chandeliers and ever changing lights enhance the different moods in the atrium.
Looking down the atrium with the red lights on.
All told, the ship contains 120 Murano chandeliers, 3,100 meters of LED lights and 20 types of marble among its decorative features. The interior design is by noted ship architect Joe Farcus and executed in a style much more subdued than many of his earlier efforts. Numerous artists contributed paintings and photographs throughout the ship with each of the three main stairways being overseen by a different individual artist.
Passageway through the Galleria Shops.
One of the most pleasant aspects of the ship is the harmonious blend of styles from one public room to the next. Often the transitions are accompanied by massive amounts of carefully inlaid tiles and various faux wood finishes. This is particularly evident on a stroll through the Galleria Shops, where blue tiles and wood-grained panels line the marble-floored corridor, where each shop entrance features door handles designed to resemble classic Costa ship funnels.
The Phoenix Theater.
The largest public room on the ship is the Phoenix Theater spanning three decks and seating 1,395 passengers. This show lounge is situated at the forward end of the three lowest passenger decks.
The Elettra Grand Bar and dance floor.
An interesting section of the Elettra Grand Bar on the starboard side.
Just aft of the upper two levels, the Elettra Grand Bar can be found on Deck 2, connected by an attractive spiral staircase to the Sirius Cafeteria and Antares Piano Bar on Deck 3.
A view of the Vega Casino facing forward.
The intimate Cigar Lounge.
The Vega Casino is nearly equal in size to the Grand Bar. These larger venues are offset by a series of small rooms including the cigar lounge, library and chapel.
Two views of the impressive Altair Discotheque as viewed from the upper level.
Although not directly located in the middle of the ship, the atrium acts as a demarcation zone between fore and aft. Another double-height room that is one of the more interesting features of this class of ship is the Altair Discotheque also spanning Decks 2 and 3. A colorful mosaic-tiled wall rises behind the bar and a two-story video screen graces the dance floor including live video of revelers enjoying themselves. Shades of orange dominate the furnishings and carpets but like most other sections of the ship the color palate is always changing through the use of LED lights. Sweeping curves of granite and marble add interest to the floor and the bar top.
The Virgo Bar on Deck 3, a quiet spot outside the Disco.
The Libra Bar and Lounge below on Deck 2 aft.
The disco can be entered from both levels. Just outside the entrances are corresponding lounges and bars, bearing the astrological names of Libra and Virgo.
The Taurus Dining Room facing aft from the balcony level on Deck 3.
From the lower level of the Dining Room on Deck 2 with the grand piano above center.
The Asian-inspired decor of the extra-tariff Samsara Restaurant.
Also on dual levels, the aft section of the COSTA LUMINOSA is anchored by the Taurus Dining Room. This rather spectacular space has an open well through the center with a small bridge to accommodate a piano and a sweeping staircase at the forward end near the entry. Meals are served in two sittings with selections designed to appeal to the multiple nationalities of primarily European travelers that Costa attracts. The adjacent Samsara Restaurant is an intimate space designed for those occupying the Samsara Spa cabins or passengers desiring healthier cuisine choices.
Port side of the Andromeda Buffet with tables set for dinner.
Starboard side of the Andromeda Buffet showing the wood inlaid tables and glass panels.
While on the subject of dining, the casual Andromeda Buffet occupies a very large area seating up to 572 passengers, situated between the two swimming pools midship and aft on Deck 9. Decorative wooden houses and tables inlaid with colorfully stained woods contribute to making this one of the most attractively designed Lido restaurants afloat. There is of course the requisite Pizzeria as well. Outdoors, bars are conveniently located at both ends of the dining area.
Club Luminosa is the exclusive extra-tariff supper club located at the top of the Atrium on Deck 10. Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises.
The most exclusive restaurant aboard is Club Luminosa, spectacularly set at the top of the atrium. This intimate dining venue carries a cover charge of 25 Euros for those looking for a fine-dining experience. Multiple courses can include starters such as the popular Lobster Caesar Salad, wonderful risotto and pasta choices like pesto with whole clams and entrees of almost every description including very fine lamb chops, seafood selections and Surf And Turf with Filet Mignon, grilled shrimp, scallops and a bit of lobster.
A unique presentation of “Surf And Turf” are among the tempting entrees available.
For those that can’t decide on dessert there is always the option to try them all.
Individual desserts are all tempting but many diners opt for the sampler plate giving a selection of five of the choices beautifully presented. Service in this restaurant, as might be expected is top-notch.
The well-appointed gymnasium overlooks the bow.
The mid-ship swimming pool on Deck 9 welcomes World Cruise passengers.
The Racecar Bar is next to the Grand Prix simulator.
To work off the added calories the Samsara Spa covers two decks at the forward end of the ship. The gymnasium on the lower level offers amazing views over the bow and out to sea. There is also an outdoor Yoga Area surrounded by a jogging and roller skating track and two sports deck areas fore and aft, high on Deck 11. A rather unique addition to these upper decks is a Grand Prix racing simulator and the adjacent Costa Racecar Bar. There is also a 4D Cinema that seats 20 and three Jacuzzis to relax in after all that stimulation.
Panorama Suite 6202 affords views to the Port side and overlooks the bow.
Bedroom area of Suite 6202 beckons occupants to a good night’s sleep.
Dual sinks and a full-size tub bath are nice touches in a suite bathroom.
Cabin 8218 is a standard balcony configuration within the Samsara Spa staterooms forward on Deck 8.
With a nearly full load of passengers on the World Cruise there were limited opportunities to view the wide variety of suites and staterooms offered onboard. The top accommodations are the six Grand Suites and the four Samsara Suites. All are very large with private balconies. For those not worried about the motion of the sea, attractive Panorama Suites are located at the extreme fore and aft ends of the ship on five different decks with balcony views not only to the sides but also overlooking the bow or the wake at the stern. The majority of Oceanview cabins come with private balconies although there are several without on the lowest level Corallo Deck 1 and some obstructed view cabins on Agata Deck 4 behind the lifeboats. There are also a few forward facing ocean view rooms below the bridge. Slightly smaller inside cabins can be found on all decks.
COSTA nighttime funnel LUMINOSA.
The COSTA LUMINOSA and her sisters have proven to be an ideal size to undertake these longer grand voyages and are equally at home on shorter cruises in the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Three out of the four in the Costa fleet have already operated cruises Around The World. With a size that allows passage through the major canals of the world and a relatively high cruising speed of 21.6 knots (with a maximum speed two full knots faster) these ships can display great flexibility for planners, creating interesting itineraries. Although they are part of a platform that has created a great many ships for a number of partner cruise lines, their unique interior décor gives each ship a individual personality of its own, thankfully not succumbing to the cookie-cutter sameness of so many competitors vessels. The COSTA LUMINOSA represents one of the more interesting and attractive additions to the world’s cruising fleet.
Special Thanks to Scott Knutson, Diana Arellano, Martin Cox and Peter Knego.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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