It’s a ‘Buon viaggio’ on the Costa Firenze maiden voyage
The newest Costa Vista class ship to visit Malta from July 29.
Costa Cruises’ latest floating masterpiece, the Costa Firenze, departed on her maiden voyage from Savona, Italy on July 4. Styled on the classic architecture and beauty of the Tuscan capital of Florence, the newest member of the Costa fleet is currently sailing the West Mediterranean, visiting Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, Catania, Palermo and Cagliari before returning to her home port in Savona. In the last week of July, she will change her course to visit Malta instead of Catania.
With open spaces and imposing architecture, golden statues and rising columns, the ship is as beautiful as a leisurely stroll through a Florentine square. And as with any Italian experience, when the stroll helps you work up an appetite, there is a variety of dining options – from Mediterranean to exotic and various chapters in between – served at the ship’s 13 restaurants and seven bars.
At 323 metres in length, the Costa Firenze sprawls in a luxury of indoor and outdoor leisure space, with the major part of its upper five decks dedicated to keeping you exploring and experiencing Costa’s dedication to family-friendly entertainment. The on-board theatre is brimming with talent, the children’s areas and teen zones will keep the younger guests active throughout your seven-day trip – and if that doesn’t keep you busy, the two swimming pools, an indoor and outdoor gym, five-a-side football pitch and the rope garden adventure park certainly will.
We had the pleasure of boarding the Costa Firenze on her maiden voyage, and the dedication to safety was imminent from the start. At booking stage, we were informed by our amazing tour operators at SMSMondial that all amenities on board the ship have been made contactless, and are accessed through the Costa mobile app. As we arrived at the port, after a temperature check, we proceeded to the rapid testing area, where all guests embarking the ship underwent a complimentary PCR test. The staff were very welcoming, maintained all necessary social distancing measures, and in true Costa all-inclusive fashion, water and soft drinks were offered while we waited for our results.
Within 15 minutes, our results were in and we were escorted onto the ship to begin our trip – and the five-star hospitality began. From the amazing and welcoming Piazza della Signoria Bar with its imposing architecture to taking a walk down the Galleria shops towards our room, the immersion into the Italian Renaissance was immediate.
We had a balcony room at the aft of the ship which offered spectacular panoramic views of the ports as well as the wake left behind, which was perfect for morning coffee room service out on the terrace. The bathrooms feature marble features and ample amenities, and the room also has a sofa, a large TV, a safe and wardrobe – pretty much everything you would need on a week-long trip.
When it comes to restaurants, the selection is, excuse the pun, mouth-watering. One of the main restaurants, Ristorante Dei Medici, is where dinner service is held. Every night the menu features a variety of both international and typical Italian dishes, and also proposes a Destination menu created exclusively for Costa by Bruno Barbieri, a successful seven-star chef, for each port of call that the ship would be visiting the next day, presented as a four-course meal that tastes as great as it looks. The service is also impeccable, with the staff well trained, able to speak multiple languages and extremely courteous. Throughout the day, 12 other restaurants are open, serving a la carte and buffet meals, a teppanyaki restaurant, a steak house, street food and in true Italian fashion, a Neapolitan pizza among others.
When you manage to tear yourself away from the dining tables, you can enjoy the seven bars that serve a mixture of drinks and specialities. Our favourite on the trip were Tuscany Lounge which offers outdoor seating with smoking areas on its extensive terrace, and the Giardino Delle Rose at the fore of the ship with its floral set up, swinging chairs and most enticing Aperol Spritz lounge.
We remained on the ship when visiting Civitavecchia to get to explore the ship, but when we docked in Naples, it was time to leave the ship and explore Pompeii. One of the restrictions due to COVID-19 is that to leave the ship, you must take an excursion offered by Costa. This is done to ensure all guests remain within the same bubble. You can prebook the excursions through mycosta.com, book these excursions directly from the mobile app while on board, or by using the phone in your room. Right after placing the booking, our on-board international host called us to explain all the measures in place, and what we would need for our excursion.
As we travelled to Pompeii, our guide again explained the safe excursion protocols Costa have in place, including only being able to visit certain bars and shops that have been deemed safe by Costa’s standard. As a free-spirited traveller, this was slightly disappointing as I would have loved to dive into some local shops and eateries, but the focus on having a safe journey was clear from the start.
Throughout our stay on the Costa Firenze we were asked to take our temperature daily using digital scanners spread across the ship, sanitise our hands on a regular basis, and it was very easy to follow proper social distancing with ample signage in English indicated that masks should be worn when walking around the ship, where you should wait, and how many people can be present in a certain area. In most bars and restaurants, you would need to be seated to be served, with exception to the bars by the pools that allow you to order the drinks at the bar, and then move to two-metres away to pick up your drinks.
I must admit that there was always a concern at the back of my mind about travelling, but thanks to SMSMondial, and Costa, we were made to feel safe, right at home and most importantly be in a relaxed environment. Definitely recommended to both couples and families.
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