A Tale of Two Ships

Two new Costa Cruises vessels take to the sea

By: By Marilyn Green


Costa Cruises

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Italy is known for the art of living stylishly, and nowhere has that been demonstrated better than this summer, when the country dramatically displayed its shipbuilding prowess with two very different Costa Cruises ship christenings in Genoa. It was the first simultaneous naming of two vessels built by the same shipyard, Fincantieri. The $1.2 billion project employed more than 6,000 workers.


The Pacifica is the third ship in Costa’s
Concordia class. // © 2009 Costa Cruises

For the double christening, Costa Pacifica’s theme of peace and harmony was manifested in music and appropriately represented by her godmother, Israeli vocalist Noa, a strong peace advocate. The elegance of the Costa Luminosa was echoed by godmother Valentina Vezzali, an Olympic fencing champion, at her christening.

While both vessels are more conservative in decor than recent Costa vessesls and carry the line’s signature art collections, each ship is as distinctive as her godmother. The Costa Luminosa weighs in at 92,600 tons and carries 2,826 passengers, and the Costa Pacifica is 114,500 tons and carries 3,780 passengers.

Pacifica is the third ship in Costa’s Concordia class, a sister to Costa Concordia and Costa Serena, and has many of the class’ successful features, including the Samsara Spa, with its staterooms and separate dining room elements that launched the whole spa stateroom concept in the cruise industry.

Staterooms are comfortable, with calming colors and clean lines. Of the 1,500 berths, 505 standard outside staterooms and 70 suites have balconies.

The Pacifica’s two main dining rooms — New York, New York and My Way — offer larger tables to accommodate the numerous families and groups that sail with Costa. The Lido buffet is so huge and varied that it is crucial to look at the whole range of national cuisines before choosing, as lunchtime is marked by grumbling passengers regretting the selections they hadn’t seen.

The gourmet Club Blue Moon, open only for dinner, functions like a normal a la carte restaurant, although at prices markedly lower than those normally charged for the work of Michelin-starred Ettore Bocchia.

Both European and American tastes are reflected in the breakfast menus, and a late-riser spread is set up in the Ipanema Grill — an important feature since the disco, packed with beautifully turned out guests, only starts up around one or two in the morning and rocks until dawn.

Children’s activities are not as heavily programmed as those of most mass-market lines’, although there’s plenty to do; European families tend to spend more time together than their American counterparts. A new entertainment feature is Playstation 3 consoles in every stateroom, along with Playstation Nights on the outdoor movie screen.

The Pacifica’s musical theme permeates every public space and corridor; in fact, passengers can determine their location by the music they hear. The ship has a recording studio where guests can record a one-hour session with extensive post-production that can make a frog sound like Maria Callas, all for around $50. Miles away from karaoke, the end result is a CD for passengers to take home with them.

Both Pacifica and Luminosa have swimming pools with retractable magradomes, Grand Prix driving simulators and two-level Samsara spa complexes, with special elevators for spa stateroom access and dedicated spa dining rooms. But different from the Pacifica, the Luminosa is the first ship to offer a Kinesis Room by Technogym, with equipment specially designed to improve health, fitness and muscle tone that can be used individually or in

The smaller Luminosa feels more like a premium-class ship. Known as the “Ship of Light,” it is the first in an elegant new class. Public rooms are lit by 120 Murano glass chandeliers and mosaics are scattered throughout the ship. Onboard, 288 original pieces of art adorn the walls, along with 4,733 reproductions. In the atrium, a large bronze sculpture is polished by guests who stroke her derriere. Staterooms are also rich in art, and 68 percent have balconies, giving Luminosa the highest proportion of balconies in Costa’s fleet.

In the a la carte Costa Luminosa Restaurant, passengers had very complimentary comments about the dishes they saw prepared in its open kitchen, a feature that is new for Costa. Other new features include a top-deck skating track where “Skorpion” skates are worn attached to shoes and an 18-hole championship golf course simulator that offers a choice of 37 courses. There is also a 20-seat, 4-D movie theater with several different shows, which is fun for all ages. One show features a trip through an abandoned mine, during which theater seats sway along with the car, a cobra projection comes at viewers and “spits” in their faces and other surprising effects that are reminiscent of the classic film “House of Wax.”

This fall, the Pacifica will sail seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises out of Rome (Civitavecchia) visiting Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Tunis, Tunisia; Malta; and Palermo, Italy, priced from $649.

Luminosa offers 11-night sailings from Savona, Italy, calling in ports in Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands, from $1,629.

Unlike many lines, Costa is not slowing down its newbuild program; in fact, at the naming, Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and CEO, announced an investment of $789 million in the company by the European Investment Bank to finance four new Costa vessels to be launched between 2009 and 2012. The next will be Costa Deliziosa, debuting in winter 2010.

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