All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Jet lag enabled me to spring out of bed at dawn to continue documenting the COSTA DIADEMA’s vast interior spaces. Aside from occasional encounters with the cleaning staff and their vacuums, the timing was optimal. This lively ship caters to people who like to enjoy long evenings of entertainment and activities, so fellow guest traffic was at a minimum.
Some of the standout venues included the double deck Discoteca Pietra di Luna with its multi-faceted ceiling, black marble and purple tivoli lighting (a Farcusian staple). This un-apologetically bold space is reminiscent of his Carnival FANTASY Class interiors of the 90s.
In deference to their Catholic origins, all Costa (and most Italian) ships have a dedicated chapel.
In the Galleria Shopping arcade, it was interesting to see MidCentury Modern influences in Farcus’ lighting choices.
Although it offers similar decor and an identical menu to the double deck Ristorante Fiorentino, the centrally located Ristorante Adularia lacks the other room’s opus scale.
At 11:00, I attended the Protagonisti del Mare presentation in Teatro Emerald. Geared for Costa’s most loyal and productive European travel partners, its main focus was to introduce new sales and promotion strategies. One nugget I found of curious interest is that in its advertising, Costa is veering away from the familiar bright yellow livery of its heritage in favor of a more generic light blue logo.
After the presentation, we rushed up to the buffet for lunch as the COSTA DIADEMA transited the narrows between Sardinia and Corsica. Not much later, it was worth braving the wind chill on the forward-facing terraces to witness our arrival on a gorgeous late winter afternoon. Ajaccio is located on the southwest coast of Corsica, some 210 miles southwest of Marseilles.
Props to the CARNIVAL MAGIC/COSTA DIADEMA’s design team for providing such a generous amount of forward observation space and a fully encircling promenade — these are vanishing and yet very much lamented features on most modern mega ships.
Who doesn’t love a few dramatic clouds on an otherwise brilliantly sunny day?
After the mass exodus of guests on shore excursions, we decided to explore Ajaccio on foot. Just beyond the harbor and a sailboat marina, there is a wonderful promenade that hugs the shoreline.
Bathed by the morning rain, Ajaccio’s pastel stucco walls were aglow in the sunlight.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio in 1769 in the Maison Bonaparte, which is now open to the public. In a nearby square, there is an impressive sculpture of the Corsican Conqueror in Roman garb.
When we returned to the DIADEMA, the tranquil waters of the harbor were mirroring her massive white, yellow and blue likeness.
To earn our next caloric infusion in Ristorante Fiorentino, we spent some time in the ship’s state-of-the-art gym. The COSTA DIADEMA has a wonderful assortment of cardio machines, a stretching area, an array of weight machines and free weights. Work out towels are provided but not so for sanitation wipes or even disinfectant dispensers — a curious omission in today’s ever-germ-conscious sea-going environment.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
This would be my first visit to Savona, a beautiful city that is some 60 kilometers west of Genoa on the Ligurian coast, which gets my vote as one of Italy’s (if not the world’s) most beautiful regions.
Before disembarking, we decided to “fuel up” under the Magrodome in the Lido Diana. Although the buffet can be a challenging experience with guests randomly darting between serving stations and ear-splittingly loud music making conversation next to impossible, the food was always of excellent quality.
The variety is more limited than North American-based ships and there are no eggs at breakfast but there is no skimping on high quality Italian offerings, such as extra virgin olive oil, freshly baked breads, Reggiano Parmesan, prosciutto, smoked turkey, salami, and non-GMO fruits and veggies that actually burst with flavor.
One thing that we did notice is that the otherwise attractive and convenient tabletop utensil racks were constantly being toyed with by curious children. We learned to bring along a bottle of Purell to sanitize our knives and forks before putting them to use.
From the Savona cruise terminal, we walked about a mile to the train station through the gorgeous Neoclassical and Art Deco city center to the train station. For a mere 8 Euros round trip, we purchased tickets to Pegli, a pretty town on the outskirts of Genoa just west of the airport and the renowned Sestri Ponente shipyard where the likes of ANDREA DORIA, GRIPSHOLM and FEDERICO C were built. I’ll write more about our time in Pegli in a separate Sea Treks post…
Maritime historian and author Matteo Frulio was kind enough to meet us and give a guided tour of Pegli’s Maritime Museum.
Housed in a former residence of the Doria family, the museum boasts beautifully preserved 16th Century frescoes in its ceilings and a lovely collection of pre-steam maritime artifacts. Most of its onetime ocean liner collection has been moved to Genoa but there were some gorgeous works of art on display that once graced Italian Line menus.
Our next stop would be the town of Albisola to visit the ceramic factory used by renowned artists such as Luzzati and Fontana to create their shipboard commissions. On the way, we stopped at a local patisserie for some nibbles, including an astoundingly delicious caramelized onion flatbread that will haunt me forever.
In Albisola, we soon discovered the ceramic factory was a bit too far to reach on foot and still leave ample time to return to the ship prior to sailing. Unfortunately, we had to abort the mission but I plan to return in the near future.
As it turned out, we re-embarked the COSTA DIADEMA with plenty of time to spare. Another quick workout ensued before we headed down to the a la carte, extra-tariff Ristorante Club Diadema on Deck 5.
The room exudes a subtle a violet tint from the floral ceiling fixtures and is elegantly set with custom “C” chargers, linens, stemware and SOLAS-compliant candle-style lighting.
Among my choices that evening were a delicious Parmesan truffle risotto and…
…the catch of the day.
Sated once more, we returned to our stateroom just as the ship began to shuffle in the high winds and moderate seas of the Gulf of Lyon.
End of Part Two.
More to come…
Special thanks: Diana Arellano, Charlie Doherty, Matteo Frulio, Anne Kalosh
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."