Black Friday Costa Sale|
I was surprised to receive in my email box an advance notice of a "Black Friday" sale being conducted by Costa Cruises. The line will be selling 7-day cruises for as low as $199 per person. Keep in mind, the sale only lasts for six hours and like most of these sales, you are expected to wake up early. The online sale starts at 4:00 a.m. and lasts until 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Friday Only. They are calling it the "Moonlight Amore Sale."
$199 is the same price you pay for a 3-day cruise on an almost identical Carnival ship. Why do I say almost identical? Because Carnival Corp. owns Costa as their primary European brand, and the ships of both fleets -- cut from the same cloth -- are virtually identical.
Of course, that only applies to the superstructure. Costa Mediterranea, for example, is the exact same floorplan, top to bottom, as the Carnival Spirit and was built at the same time. Costa Concordia is a carbon copy of the Carnival Splendor, and both were built in 2006.
The difference, of course, is in the interior decor and the food. The cabins are virtually identical. Last year I went from the Carnival Splendor to the Costa Fortuna and my stateroom was a mirror image, it even had the same wall sconces. I truly could not tell one cabin from the other - and there's nothing wrong with that! Carnival and Costa have some of the biggest and best cabins in the cruise business, on average about 15% larger than other cruise lines.
Costa is marketed to Europeans, primarily, but since there are not that many places for ships to cruise in Europe during the winter months some Costa ships are relocated to the Caribbean and South America. They change the primary language of the crew from Italian first to English, but there are still a fair number of Europeans on board.
Truth be told, most Americans do not rate Costa as a top cruise experience in the Caribbean, mostly because the service people are not as well-versed in English as Carnival or the other lines we are used to; and the cuisine still has a distinct European flair that most Americans find a bit disconcerting. You get baked beans and Italian sausage with breakfast, for example.
Still, you just can't beat these prices! Costa does practically the same itineraries in the Caribbean as Carnival, but for purposes of this sale I see the Fortuna, one of my favorite Costa ships, is sailing six different Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. If you can grab one of these 7-day cruises for $199 I guarantee that you will enjoy it.
See our Cruisemates Costa Fortuna review. The ship was built in 2003 and includes two split-level restaurants, a self-service buffet, a specialty restaurant, pizzeria, a theater extending over three decks, a two-story disco, 11 bars, an Internet cafe, casino, a health and beauty center, four swimming pools (including a children's splash pool) and no fewer than six Jacuzzis.
Now, Costa does many other itineraries, including South America. The others are more geographically ideal for Europeans, including the Canary Islands, The Mediterranean and roundtrip from Dubai. You can take a 14-night voyage to Viet Nam, China, the Phillipines, Malaysai and Brunei for under $1500 today. The sale price has not even been revealed yet.
Keep in mind, outside of the Caribbean, English is not the first or even second language on board. It is usually more like the fourth as announcements and programs are all done in the European multi-lingual style. This is one common complant we hear from Americans about Costa. The truth is some service people may be a little slow when dealing with English speaking people, they may not understand it that well, plus everything is on "Italian Time" on board.
The other common complaint we hear is that the food is not up to the par of Carnival or other U.S.-based cruise lines. Why? Eating out is a different experience in Europe, slower and more social. The Europeans don't have the same expectations in restaurants that we tend to have.
You will be able to book tours conducted in English, if you choose to take any, but when you get a cruise at rates like this part of the fun is seeing how little you actually spend during the cruise.
Of course, that is up to you. Some people see it the other way, that with a low cruise fare they have plenty of room for added fun like tours, fine wine, specialty dining and spa treatments.
Either way, Fortuna is a high quality ship with great entertainment, very comfortable cabins, enticing itineraries and all the sun and fun the Caribbean has to offer. Starting at $199 for a 7-day cruise; $25/day, It is hard to resist.
View the actual Black Friday Sale Web Page Here. The discounted prices won't be available here unless you visit during the sale hours: 4:00 to 10:00 am on Friday, Nov. 28.
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