Cruising With COSTA DIADEMA, Part Three

Peter Knego wraps up his latest trek, a five night cruise aboard Costa Cruises’ brand new COSTA DIADEMA, with a visit to Marseilles before disembarking in Barcelona.

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

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COSTA DIADEMA at Marseilles.

Drizzle greeted us as we stepped ashore in Marseilles to join a full day tour to Arles and St. Remy. The COSTA DIADEMA was the only cruise ship in port, dominating the western end of the massive harbor.

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Arles city square.

Our coach rumbled westward along the main highway, offering nice views of the sea, pastoral estates and farmland. Once at Arles, we exited and walked down a narrow avenue to the main city square. One benefit of our off-season timing was the lack of crowds (or just about any other tourists, for that matter).

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Arles underworld.

Our guide provided some interesting background on the architecture, which includes elements of Celtic, Roman, Gothic and NeoClassic. Although the weather was not photo-conducive, one could easily understand what captivated VanGogh and other great painters in the region.

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Roman Deco intersection.

In one city square the partial facade of a Roman temple was artfully integrated into the wall of an Art Deco hotel and, frozen in time…

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Cafe de la Nuit, Arles.

…Van Gogh’s silent Cafe de la Nuit patiently anticipated the arrival of spring

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Arles amphitheater.

Our walking tour also included external views of the striking Roman amphitheater that is used to this day for concerts, sporting events and even bullfights.

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Framboise versus fountain.

We had free time in Arles to seek out some French delicacies, including utterly perfect confections that were well worth the hypoglycemic shock.

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Carousel on the outskirts of Arles.

So much of what we witnessed was akin to walking into a familiar Impressionist painting. Our tour next headed to the town of St. Remy — birthplace of Nostradamus — where we had time on our own to explore and even do some post card shopping at the local flea market.

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Rocky remnants.

On the highway back to Marseilles, we diverted for a close look at a fog-enshrouded monastery that was built into a stony precipice.

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Les Antiques Roman ruins near Arles.

Our final stop was at a pair of beautifully preserved Roman monuments within walking distance of the Saint-Paul asylum where Van Gogh spent his final years.

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Van Gogh’s asylum.

In the still functioning institution, which Van Gogh painted, there is a haunting bronze likeness of him in the courtyard.

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COSTA DIADEMA at Marseilles.

It was nearing dusk as we returned to the ship.

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COSTA DIADEMA Tavola Teppanyaki, facing forward.

We would soon enjoy a superb dining experience in the extra tariff Tavola Teppanyaki on starboard Deck 5.

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COSTA DIADEMA Tavola Teppanyaki setting.

Well worth its $25 cover and then some, the restaurant is handsomely appointed and features seating in the round surrounding grill stations where the chef turns cooking into a form of performance art.

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COSTA DIADEMA Tavola Teppanyaki ingredients.

There are a number of main courses to choose from, including chicken, beef and lobster.

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Asparagus crepe in Tavola Teppanyaki.

After whipping up a sonic frenzy with his cooking utensils, our spirited chef prepared a mouth-wateringly delicious asparagus crepe appetizer.

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Tofu main course in Tavola Teppanyaki.

We chose the tofu main course, which was prepared in advance of the non-vegetarian entree options. Doused in savory sauces, garlic and onion, it was probably the best tofu I have ever had (and I actually love the stuff).

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Full steam ahead at Tavola Teppanyaki.

Our dining companions were surely relieved when their courses hit the grill with a sizzle and a scrape or two.

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Lobster main course in Tavola Teppanyaki.

The lobster lovers were soon engorged. Some delicious homemade green tea ice cream capped off a spectacular evening in one of the finest restaurants afloat.

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COSTA DIADEMA Evening show in Teatro Emerald.

There had been so many activities on this short cruise, I didn’t get a chance to see much of the entertainment, so made a point of peeking in at the French acrobats doing their contorted best in “Come Fly With Me”.

Monday, March 2, 2015

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Buffet breakfast aboard COSTA DIADEMA.

On this final morning, as COSTA DIADEMA berthed in Barcelona, we enjoyed our most peaceful breakfast experience thus far by heading to the less populated aft portion of the Corona Blu buffet area. I will actually miss those delicious melons and the smoked turkey doused in extra virgin olive oil…

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Barcelona overview.

Few cities rival Barcelona for its museums and varied architecture. There is just so much to see and do.

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Gaudi.
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Golden Gehry.

Our morning tour included drives past some of the more well-known sites by a range of architects from Gaudi and Callatrava to Frank Gehry.

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Medieval encounters.
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Gothic overload.

And while I am much more a fan of what came before and after, we did see some impressive Gothic sites and a mandatory cathedral or three.

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Catalunya monument.

There was time to get some lunch near Las Ramblas before we reconvened at the Catalunya monument where our coach took us to the coastal town of Sitges some 35 miles south of Barcelona.

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Welcome to Sitges!

We enjoyed the opportunity to spend a little time in the place where the Barcelonans go to get away from it all.

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Doña del Mare to Sitges.

Sitges’ golden beaches were almost tempting enough to brave the chill but not quite…

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Sitges sunset.

And so ended our brief slice of life aboard and around Costa Cruises’ new Queen of the Mediterranean.

End of Cruising With COSTA DIADEMA

Special thanks: Diana Arellano, Charlie Doherty, Anne Kalosh

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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