Best For People Who Want
An Italian carnival atmosphere; Plenty of deck parties, loud music and a wide range of attractions including a miniature golf course, 3-d movie theater, roller skating.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Tranquility; to be in a place where English is the first language
Costa Deliziosa belongs to the same class as Carnival Spirit, coming in at 92,000 tons and a capacity of 2,826 passengers -- a surprisingly intuitive, modern design with all the ship's public rooms on the lowest passenger decks, leaving plenty of room for the 772 veranda cabins on the upper decks.
Yet another Costa ship designed by Carnival designer Joe Farcus, this time he says he chose to tone down Deliziosa, getting away from what he calls entertainment decor and more into traditional mood decor to fit the purpose of the room.
Though Costa assures prospective passengers that they will be "cruising Italian style," beyond the decor, less than ten percent of the actual crew are truly Italian, with most of the Italians in the navigation, deck and engine departments. The majority of the crew are now asian or eastern European.
Though the interior design is impressively logical and easy to navigate, Deliziosa's signage does not measure up, as the public thoroughfares lack the "You Are Here" deck maps with rooms names. Get used to carrying the deck plan you find in your stateroom with you for the first few days.
Deliziosa is designed to be Costa's top-of-the-line premium vessel for its most discriminating customers. It will be the first Costa ship to sail a world cruise since the line was acquired by U.S.-based Carnival Corp. about a decade ago. The ship will venture onto some more exotic itineraries, including the Persian Gulf. Costa says it expects most of the Deliziosa's sailings to be filled with Italians, Germans and British. She is home porting is Dubai and is the first western cruise ship ever to be christianed there or in any Arab capital. This does not mean the ship will be overrun with Arab-speaking people, however. The Persian Gulf is a popular tourist spot for Europeans already.
Expect announcements in several languages, cigarette smoking allowed oboard, and port stays generally shorter than visiting Americans on their first-time to Europe should prefer. When operating in Europe, the ship is overrun by Italian, French, German and Spanish passengers. The crew does speak English-speaking and there are English-speaking shore excursions, but many North Americans and even Brits might feel like poor relations on these voyages. Note that when Costa does send a ship to the Caribbean, native English speakers are the large majority and English becomes the ship's first language, but Delizosa is not currently scheduled to come west.
Joe Farcus has designed several Costa ships and it does appear that he now uses Costa as a reason to get away from the zaniness of some Carnival ships. This ship has many bright colors but it is still toned down and tasteful for a Costa ship with sweeping staircases, Carrara marble granite counters.
The "must-see" of the ship is the 3-D movie theater which offers four different movies in five different languages. They use the same 3-D method (Polarization) as the movie Avatar and the movies, although short and expensive ( eight Euros per person) are worth seeing. The theater also has motion active chairs to accompany the action of the movie, wind effects and even something like "smellovision" to give the proper odors to accompany the scene on screen.
Farcus was especially proud of what he referred to as the "Venetian Stucco" appliqué that graces the ceilings of the central atrium. All of it had to be hand-trowelled onto the surface with a spatula. Every piece of tile, glass, chrome and brass had to be hand-measured and cut before it was put into place.
The décor by Farcus works around an extensive art collection brought together by the Milanese firm of Casagrande & Recalcati. The collection, worth several million dollars, includes pieces by international artists, the majority of them Italian. All the ship's artwork is available for purchase through the onboard art gallery.
The layout of Costa Deliziosa makes the vessel user-friendly and easy to navigate. Starting at the top -- on the Fuxia Deck 11 -- are the kids pool and the roller skating track (for the unique Skorpion Quadline skates the ship rents out. These four-wheel roller skates are exceptionally wide for added stability, the opposite of inline roller skates, kind of like Humvees for your feet.)
Magnolia Deck 10 has a Grand Prix race car simulator, golf simulator and nine-hole putting green. The Club Deliziosa Supper Club is at the top of the atrium on this deck, but there is no glass staircase over the atrium as on other ships of this class. The teen club and upper floor of the extensive Samsara Spa are here as well.
Deck 9, Orchidea, has the Lido Acqua Regina open-dining buffet area as well as the Pizzeria. Midship on this deck is the largest indoor pool I have seen on any ship, entirely covered by a retractable magrodome. The roof remained closed and the room was heated for the entire cruise, so we never had to walk outside to reach the Lido dining room as is common on most ships. The forward portion of this deck comprises the lower portion of the Samsara Spa.
This spa is one of the most extensive we have seen, especially in terms of our personal favorite feature, the thermal suite. This includes a large thalassotherapy pool; an extremely hot, dry sauna; an aromatic steam room; and two separate rooms for heated ceramic beds that bathe your entire body with penetrating heat. Finally, there is a separate relaxation room with covered chaise loungers.
We'll say it plainly: on a Costa ship you are an American in Europe. The company is expanding rapidly (undergoing a cruising renaissance in Europe similar to what the U.S. experienced years ago), so the staff can be surprisingly slow, and sometimes seemingly impolite, including the cabin stewards. You can always count on the bar staff to cheer you up, though.
The newer of two Spirit-class vessels in the fleet, the ship is small and modern, best of the fleet.
Overall, Costa Deliziosa lives up to its name. It is meant to connote everything delicious in life, including but not limited to food. It provides passengers with delicious experiences, memories and sensations. The entertainment was uniformly good. The food was much better than I expected after seeing some of the reader reviews we received at CruiseMates, and service was uniformly professional, with an abundance of Asians working as room stewards but mostly Italians serving as waiters in the restaurant. The only place where service was slow was in the buffet area, where I had to ask waiters seemingly doing nothing to fetch coffee for me every morning.
The cuisine in the Albatross Restaurant was enticing and tasty. Pasta is the specialty, but the meats and desserts were well prepared and served hot. The meats lean toward lamb and veal, and one night my appetizer was a rabbit confit. You can opt for more traditional food, however. The pizza at the pizzeria was thin-crusted and hot, not the Neapolitan thick-crust pies with barely melted cheese often seen on other European cruise ships.
Toward the stern is the fourth dining venue on the ship, the Samsara Restaurant -- said to be the counterpart to the Samsara Spa. We expected to find spa-appropriate cuisine there, but were surprised to see a menu that included just typical European cuisine including pork and deep-fried foods. We asked why it was called a spa restaurant, and were told it is because all the ingredients are "organic." That may be true, but in terms of nutritional content it does not seem to be the kind of health food one would expect from a spa restaurant.
In The Supper Club, the alternative restaurant at the top of the atrium, the waiters and maitre d' will act as if serving you is the highlight of their lives, and there's a proper sommelier to keep your wine glass full. Before dinner, the room doubles as a bar, with complimentary gourmet appetizers from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. There's live music during dinner. After dinner it becomes a cigar bar.
It should be noted that, in the Mediterranean, the first dinner seating does not begin until 7:00 p.m., and late sitting does not start until 9:15 p.m., in keeping with European custom.
$8.50 per day is charged to everybody's shipboard account, (including children, for dining room and stateroom personnel. Passengers can have the amount adjusted by visiting the Guest Relations Desk.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all bar tabs. Spa staff and room service staff may be tipped as service is received.
Expect neither lectures by former ambassadors nor first-run movies in the Mediterranean. Brace yourself for such politically incorrect games still common in Europe as actual "beauty contests" where young women of all nationalities vie for attention. Where you might expect one trivia game per day, Deliziosa has as many as five or six, even on port days.
The pool areas are used during the afternoon for various games. The misanthropic can stand one deck above at the railing and glare down at the activities below. Daytime activities, mostly geared towards a younger, more active crowd, range from ping-pong tournaments to salsa dance classes to learning how to mix cocktails.
There is a wide variety of evening activities in at least four different venues. One lounge offers dancing every night, first with a thre--piece 50s rock trio a la Stray Cats, and then follwed up by a Spanish Salsa-flavored duo. The huge, three-story Teatro Duse showroom features a different show or production every night, with everything from magic to flamenco dancers. The large, two-deck disco is packed until late every night, probably in substantial part because it is fantastically atmospheric; descending the spiral staircase really does feel like entering The Inferno. The casino is the most smoke-clogged spot on the ship.
Dancers will be delighted to know at least one sea-going tradition is still alive and well; every lounge aboard has both a stage and a large dance floor; even the main entry lobby has a wood-inlaid one at its center!
Next comes the Piano Bar Excite, which appears to be more of a conference room than a piano bar with its glassed-in soundproof walls. Next door is the Cafeterria Sugar, which has nothing to do with the way most Americans define that word. Serving nothing but chocolates and coffee, this is one of the most irresistible rooms on the ship. The chef creates fresh, fancy chocolates, in the style of Ghirardelli, and places them on a tray for anyone to come along and sample at any time. There are boxes of chocolates that one assumes would sell for $30 or more, but these are not for sale, only for display. The chocolates are free and they are delicious.
The cabins' caramel-color wood tones and warm autumn-hued fabrics are easy on the eye, and 70 percent have balconies. With the standard inside and outside cabins, you pay for location. Since there is virtually no difference in cabin size - 160 sq.ft. - it is wise to simply book the lowest outside or inside cabin categories and not pay extra just to be one deck higher. (The exception to the rule: Deck 4's outside cabins' views are obstruced.) All cabins have safes and mini bars and two lower beds that can be converted into a queen bed. Outside cabins with verandah are 210 sq.ft. and suites range from 360 sq.ft. to 580 sq.ft.
Some cabins are plagued by noise from the lounges, including the 10 cabins farthest forward on Deck 1 Cabins forward on Deck 5 also are noisy from the main lounge one deck below, and the occupants of cabins on Deck 8 deck amidships can all too easily hear the jubilation on the pool deck above them. Note also that the ship's exterior undulates, protruding in places and retracting in others. If possible, book a balcony where the ship bulges out.
Special suite amenities include whirlpool tubs, terry cloth robes and slippers, additional toiletries, sparkling wine and cold canapes on embarkation day, daily fruit baskets, an additional Captain's cocktail party, complimentary dinner at ClubDeliziosa, and personalized butler service. Do note that your butler may be very much on a par with your server in the restaurant, which is to say distracted borderline organized. Be sure to double-check requests and take nothing for granted.
There are no self-service launderettes or ironing rooms.
The very large fitness center and spa run by Steiner's of London are on multi-level upper-forward decks, giving exercisers wonderful views. A wide selection of weights, treadmills, bikes, rowing machines and other sophisticated training equipment is available, as well as a popular large indoor Jacuzzi situated underneath a skylight. All the machines are by Technogym Italy, and are part of a self-guided circuit training system, kind of a personal cyber-trainer.
A small jogging track on top of the fitness decks circles the mast. The Promenade deck on Deck 3 does not go all the way around, however, creating a large U shaped path that tends to be virtually empty during many hours of the day. There are three pools on deck with whirlpools, none heated. The large water slide, beloved of kids, is open only one hour a day.
"Cruising Italian Style" carries over to the Costa Kids Club, which offers extensive programs for youngsters -- and guarantees relaxation for their harried parents. Though the Pinocchio Children's Room doesn't compare to those of such family-friendly cruise lines as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the large children's "animation staff," comprising from four to seven kids' cruise directors, more than compensates. The special children's dinner menu offers with pasta, soup, fish, chicken, hot dogs and burgers, pizza, sandwiches and desserts.
On the two 'gala' nights, a casual jacket and tie are standard, while many men wear an actual suit. In the European style, ties are optional, especially on younger men. In the Caribbean, there is also a theme night on which many passengers wrap themselves in sheets and call them togas. Europeans tend to dress fancier for daytime activities than Americans, so don't expect not to feel underdressed in cutoffs and a T-shirt on European sailings.