Sailing on the New Costa Deliziosa

Ken Shapiro blogs from the new Deliziosa and finds there is nothing quite like experiencing Italy with Costa

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Chocolate and coffee bar on board the Costa Deliziosa // (c) 2010

Coffee and chocolate bar on board the
Costa Deliziosa

Last week, I was one of a handful of travel writers from the U.S. to be invited onboard the new Costa Deliziosa as it sailed around Italy — from Venice to Genova (Savona). The new ship, from the Italian cruise line Costa Crociere, is just one in a string of newbuilds that will come online in the next year or two for the fast-growing company.

As lovely as the Deliziosa is, I discovered that the best part of a Costa cruise is the European ambiance onboard. This is especially true in Italy. From the first buon giorno to the last ciao, sailing with Costa in Italy adds authenticity to passengers’ European vacations.

I would imagine that the international vibe onboard the ship could be difficult for agents to explain to their clients, and some American cruisers might even worry about being intimidated by the sophisticated Europeans sailing with them. But I think such concerns are unfounded. I found everyone, from the ship’s staff to my fellow passengers, to be as friendly as anyone I’ve encountered on any other cruise ship. And, after all, if passengers are going to Europe to truly experience the culture, it would only make sense to embrace the experience of meeting Europeans.

This is not to say that the ship is made entirely of Europeans. Costa points out that they have a large following of English speakers (from North America and the United Kingdom) and that that segment is growing rapidly, too. English is spoken everywhere onboard and there will be no problem at all for American passengers.

As for the ship itself, Maurice Zarmati, president and CEO of Costa, explained to me that the concept behind Deliziosa is to create a sensual experience. Whether that experience is through the sense of taste, such as at the ship’s popular coffee and chocolate bar; through thrilling entertainment, as at the 4-D movie theater and Grand Prix racing simulator; or from the sheer pleasure that can be found at what the cruise line is billing as the best wellness spa anywhere at sea, the Deliziosa was literally built to spoil its passengers.

My sailing was largely made up of industry executives, travel agents and international media, so everyone onboard was intent on testing out every aspect of the ship. The agents in particular — as well they should — seemed to make sure to push every button and test every feature in order to thoroughly vet the experience for their clients.

I had dinner one night with agents Jackie Friedman, of Nexion, and Pam Miller, of Magellan Concierge Services, based in Newport Beach, Calif. They assured me that they were doing their due diligence to test out the ship’s features — especially the chocolate bar!

I think we would all agree: The Deliziosa lives up to its name.