Costa Crociere’s new flagship will sail year-round in the
Mediterranean, so the company chose a name Costa Concordia
representing the “harmony and brotherhood” of the European people.
Ironic, then, that the ship’s inaugural festivities took place in
Italy on the same July weekend as the World Cup Soccer Finals.
Things were anything but harmonious as numerous invited
dignitaries, European travel partners and ship’s crew members
enjoyed a boisterous battle as they sat transfixed around the
ship’s huge poolside LED screen.
Fortunately, Italy proved victorious in the end; an auspicious
sign for a weekend focusing on Italian pride. Costa Concordia built
at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard is not only the newest and largest
addition to the Costa fleet, she’s the largest Italian cruise ship
Costa, of course, is a member of the Carnival Corporation family,
and Costa Concordia utilizes the same platform as Carnival’s
Conquest-class vessels. But the comparisons really end there.
There’s something about the interior design of Costa ships that
gives them an inherently Euro feel. They’re a tad more decadent, as
if to emphasize that Europeans take their holidays more seriously
than we do. They also like to see and be seen, and the ship
provides plenty of venues for that, including 13 different
The Costa Concordia’s design pays tribute to various architectural
and design styles that flourished in Europe, and more than 6,000
works of art make Costa Concordia a veritable floating gallery.
Public gathering places are particularly intense in their design
concepts. The opulent, Art Deco-inspired European Atrium is done up
in greens reminiscent of the Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz.”
It’s the perfect place to linger over an espresso or cafe latte.
The 1,200-seat Teatro Atene is a three-level tribute to Greek
Classical architecture. Even the ship’s buffet restaurant is a
colorful, Art Moderne showplace that has the feel of an elegant
The ship’s specialty, reservations-only restaurant, Club
Concordia, is decorated in bright, geometric patterns, a nod to the
Dutch “De Stijl” movement. Menus spring from the masterful mind of
Italian Michelin-starred chef, Ettore Bocchia, creator of
Costa Concordia’s much-anticipated Samsara Spa is the largest at
sea a two-level oasis that boasts a Rock Sauna, Aromatic Turkish
Bath, Winter Garden, Tea House and Solarium to name a few features.
A new category of accommodations, Samsara Cabins and Samsara Suites
offer direct access to the Spa, as well as special decor, amenities
and dining privileges at the Samsara restaurant, featuring spa
cuisine. It’s a veritable wellness vacation, and you don’t need to
wander far from your stateroom. But you might want to there’s so
much more to enjoy on the ship.
An authentic Grand Prix race car simulator (not for the faint of
heart) actually makes you feel like you’re taking off. For mere
lounging around, it’s hard to resist the stunning Ponte Francia, a
deck housing two pools with retractable roofs (the largest
enclosable space at sea). It’s ablaze with yellow tiles that gleam
like gold in the sun, a bit like the Emperor Nero’s palace in its
heyday. No doubt it will be packed with beautiful people during the
ship’s year-round Mediterranean cruises.
But you wouldn’t expect anything less from a Costa ship.
|JUST THE FACTS|
Company: Costa Crociere
Ship: Costa Concordia
Capacity: 3,000 lower berths
Hits: The ship is a true “floating spa,” thanks to the
two-level, expansive Samsara Spa. Guilty pleasures include the
Caffe Helsinki’s chocolate fountain.
Misses: No Wi-Fi, a disappointment for North Americans.
Itinerary: From now until the end of 2007, Costa Concordia will
sail seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from
Civitavecchia that will call at Savona, Barcelona, Palma, Tunis,
Malta and Palermo.