Costa Deliziosa Cruise Review: Sunglasses & Short Skirts, A Full Italian Immersion

Costa's Massimo Masso, master of five languages and ready to serve you.

On board Costa Deliziosa en route to Naples, Italy.

After 24 hours on Costa’s brand new Deliziosa, two things become apparent:

  1. Deliziosa feels like a Carnival Corporation ship, which, of course, it is. Those who have cruised Carnival Corp.’s other brands, particularly Carnival Cruise Lines or Princess Cruises, will feel at home on Deliziosa.
  2. There are about 1,000 people, or a little more than half of the population on this preview cruise, who look as though they’ve just stepped off a Milanese catwalk and onto the ship — and perhaps they have.

That’s because Deliziosa (is it just me or does the name sound like a cocktail or an entree at Olive Garden?) is an Italian ship through and through. On board, it’s not unusual to see people wearing sunglasses, indoors and in winter, mind you; or skirts so short, and with so little material, that it makes one wonder if the seamstress was fired before finishing her job.

There is a style and finesse that is indisputably Italian and all the things that Italy represents to the rest of the world, concisely characterized perhaps in the phrase, la dolce vita. With some imagination, Deliziosa, in fact, could well be just another small town in Italy.

“With Costa, there is a natural continuity between being on the water and being on land,” says Costa President and CEO Maurice Zarmati, explaining that Costa’s on board experience is similar to the experience guests might have if they were touring Italy.

Yes, there is the pizza and the pasta, the busy coffee shop, an appropriately ornate chapel, and the language. Filipino crew members greet guests with Bon Giorno! Presented in six languages, the muster drill is agonizingly long but handy if you’re attempting to master various European languages.

Customer service staff wear pins with flags depicting the languages they speak. I saw no one behind the desk with fewer than five flags, and one staff member proudly waved six from his lapel.

For the North American market, Costa may just be the least appreciated cruise line sailing Europe. We North Americans simply don’t think of Costa. The concept of “Cruising, Italian Style” never quite caught on, despite years of marketing to us. Does Costa deserve a second look for Americans considering cruising in Europe?

In answer to that, Zarmati asks rhetorically, “Is it better to sell an American on an American ship to a European destination, or could it be more attractive to sell an American on a European ship to a European destination?” Obviously, he believes Americans are better served by fully immersing themselves in European culture by cruising on a ship where they don’t represent the majority. Pack your sunglasses and short skirts and explore Europe the European way.

Now, it’s your turn to join the conversation. What do you think?

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  • I cannot answer re Cosa but recently took a MSC Med Cruise as the
    ports were very interesting.

    I am a very seasoned European traveler by air & can speak some
    French & understand some Italian & was looking forward to being
    submersed in the Italian culture.

    Unfortunately, MSC who has been heavily advertising to the US/Canadian
    audience did not hold up their end of the bargain. Front desk
    personnel were not pleasant, the activities were totally in Italian
    & no effort made for the single traveler (I paid double as such).

    Ironically, when they bring their ships to Ft. Lauderdale to sail the
    Caribbean they alter many of the dictums to cater to the Americans.
    Why not incorporate that to those flying over to Europe & retain
    these folks as future cruisers?

    Since MSC directly competes w/Costa I wonder what your findings are.

    • I have cruised with MSC as a single many many times and would not want their European cruises changed to suit Americans as
      most of their guests are European. They obviously kept their word if most of their activites were in Italian so you could’ submerse your
      self in Italian culture’ as you say but which you complain about I do admit I preferred it better when all the staff were Italian and not recruited from the Far East in order to pay workers less. But that goes for all the cruise lines unfortunately. Gone are the days when the French Line, United States Lines, Italian Line etc. employed their own citizens.

  • Costa does a better job then. My experience is courteous and helpful staff who speak not only English well but up to five other languages. Activities and menus are printed in English as is much of the signage. As an American I feel very much welcome and at home on Costa.

  • I took a cruise on Costa Fortuna 3 years ago (Mediterranean) and it was fantastic – wonderful ports, excellent food and service in the dining room, buffet missing veggies but acceptable, excursions and overall organisation good to very good. Then went to the Eastern Med on MSC – cabins comfortable but service and food absolutely disgraceful (see Cruisecritic for details). Am going to Scandinavia on Costa Deliziosa in July – ship looks terribly gaudy and tasteless, not at all Italian, but am hoping that the food, service and organisation will be as good as my first Costa cruise. I think you have to remember that most of Costa’s passengers are Europeans and they are therefore focusing on what Europeans are used to and want – and from the comments I read, this is not what Americans are used to and want. If you owned Costa, who would you cater for? Would you try keep your European clients (already in a vast majority, I gather) satisfied or would you change tactics to attract more Americans at the risk of losing the Europeans you already have? Costa seems to be very popular in Europe and the cruises seem to be booked up pretty well in advance so… perhaps Americans coming to Europe should adapt to European standards rather than the other way around.


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