Costa Romantic Boasts a Sleek Italian Style
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After an intensive three year introduction of two brand new and fully reconstructed vessels on existing hulls, Costa finally seems to have gotten the knack of things with its newest, the 1,350 passenger CostaRomantica, which made its debut in the Caribbean in late November.
The Romantica is sister ship to the CostaClassica. The Classica came out in 1992 to a “thumbs down” reaction from many louis vuitton large alma early passengers, hampered by a massive advertising campaign touting a new “EuroLuxe” style instead of Costa’s longtime “Cruising Italian Style” theme, corny but successful in North America for its flirtatious Italian waiters, toga parties, strolling musicians and lots of pizza and pasta.
So repeat passengers boarded the Classica and searched in vain for familiar Italian waiters, many of whom had been replaced by stewards of various nationalities in a cost cutting move. (On the Romantica, only 120 crew members out of 650 are Italians, “but they are all Italians at heart,” says Costa Cruises president Dino Schibuola.)
Meanwhile, first time passengers who read “EuroLuxe” to mean cushy and enveloping luxury in the style of Royal Viking or Crystal Harmony, expressed dismay at the ship’s austere design and acres of louis vuitton hampstead pm damier bare marble floors in the dining room and public areas.
But the Romantica, while nearly identical to its sister ship, comes across as chic and understated rather than pretentious, as the Classica seemed with its white plaster statues surrounded by potted palms.
“Italian Style by Design” is the line’s newest slogan, emphasizing the architecture and decor of the ships.
While the dining room floor on the Romantic is still bare marble, the clatter has been louis vuitton leather wallets cut down somewhat by a new ceiling design, and the staff seems to drop fewer dishes than before. The ship’s chief steward praised the sanitary quality of marble as compared to carpeting.
Oversized portholes, which are used instead of windows in the cabins and on board shops, add a stylish note, while several large but light kinetic sculptures bring in the requisite touch of modern art.
For spa and beauty fans, the Caracalla Spa is lavishly designed, with massage and treatment rooms with windows open to the sea, steam baths, two saunas and full beauty services.
The pool deck is beautiful, with pale blue and white striped cushions on the lounge chairs, natural teak decking, sidewalk cafe chairs of cream wicker and chrome under umbrellas, and “cocoon” cabana chairs of wicker lined with striped cushions great for reading or quiet tete a tetes. There’s also a jogging track on the top deck.
The Diva Disco doubles as a daytime observation lounge high atop the ship, and there’s a second pool on the stern with terraced galleries of sunbathing spots and four Jacuzzis.
Separate smoking and nonsmoking reading rooms/libraries and card/game rooms are also on board, along with spacious meeting rooms for groups.
The Renaissance style show lounge offers good sight lines from most areas (except behind support posts) and is completely nonsmoking, a boon, we would think, to both audience and performers. Smoking and nonsmoking areas throughout the ship are well marked. At the buffet on boarding day, iced tea was an unknown commodity, which perplexed passengers on a sweltering Florida afternoon.
As on the Classica, the executive chef is Austrian rather than Italian, and the pizza back by popular demand is more Pillsbury than Pisa. Other dishes are more successful, especially some of the vegetarian dishes and the breads.
The service staff is nicely uniformed and eager to please, although English as a second language classes could be recommended for many of them. Room service orders in particular tended to get confused on the inaugural sailing.
But these are all matters that can be corrected. The important things about the Romantica are its handsome cabins and beautiful public rooms, and its clean, stylish look that is a wonderful antidote to today’s glitzy mega liners.