REVIEW: Costa Luminosa lights the way to Adriatic gems: The big, bright, bold decor of the 2,800-passenger Costa Luminosa contributes to the upbeat,
lively and fun atmosphere on this ship. Almost every nautical inch features vivid colours from the bright yellow funnel, awnings, hot tubs and waterslide on the top decks, to purple, orange, red, gold and blue hues in restaurants and bars below. There’s also a special focus on lighting since “luminosa” means “bright” in Italian.
From the moment you step on board this cruise ship into the central atrium you’re surrounded by a sea of orange and caramel tones and presented with whimsical black and white leather chairs — as well as an enormous 910 kg black sculpture of a voluptuous naked woman lying on her stomach. Created by the famous Spanish artist Fernando Botera, the reclining lady is the subject of many of the artist’s sculptures around the world.
The 11 bars, lounges and restaurants, as well as casino, are equally vivacious in style and tone. Cruise passengers are fully engaged in singing and dancing whenever music plays — from morning line-dancing by the pool, until the wee hours at a pool party. In the restaurants, the waiters sing, dance and lead a parade of passengers throughout the dining room on special occasions such as formal night.
It’s important to point out that Costa is an Italian cruise line that caters specifically to this culture. Other Europeans and North Americans are welcomed to adapt, accept and join the fun. Announcements are made in Italian, German and French, and only occasionally in English — unless it’s important. However, the staff can speak English and your daily newsletter keeps you informed of the activities.
Other interesting features include a Grand Prix race car simulator so you can unleash your inner Andretti and try various world-renown tracks. There’s also an 18-hole championship golf simulator and 4D cinema playing movies such “Dino Safari” that’s a virtual thrill ride.
The shows on board this cruise ship are excellent with top-quality singers and dancers, amazing acrobats, fascinating magicians, and befitting of the Luminosa and its name — impressive laser light shows enhanced by exciting music. Even the talent show performed by the ship’s crew is so good it received a standing ovation.
The Samsara Spa and gym is about 23,000 square feet with a wide range of equipment, an enormous thalassotherapy pool, hot tub, heated mosaic chairs, treatment rooms, saunas, two Turkish baths and more.
As for dining, the menus are lacking in meat and fish options and those that are offered may come cold, overcooked or bland. There is a special section on the menu listing higher-quality beef, veal, ham and lobster, but they cost an extra 7 to 25 Euro each. Instead, the best meals are the pasta dishes, but you’ll need to enjoy carbs.
There are a few specialty restaurants on board that provide better meals for a fee. The Luminosa Club offers steak and seafood and the Samsara Restaurant offers a range of light, healthy choices related to the nearby spa. Both cost 25 Euro per person (unless you have a Samsara cabin for free access to that restaurant). Even hamburger fare, and surprisingly pizza, have their own special place and cost an extra 9 Euro per person. The Amarillo Gelateria serves sweets for an extra charge as well.
Service is generally slow by North American standards throughout the cruise ship. In fact, there are no waiters wandering around the pools offering drinks. You have to get drinks yourself from the bars, so expect to wait your turn getting the very busy bartenders’ attention. Free coffee and tea are available at the buffet but only during breakfast and lunch, so you’ll have to get coffee at the bar too at any other time. Many cabins have espresso machines.
In the restaurants waiters are attentive and friendly, but since they look after so many passengers, your patience is also required.
There’s a charge for room service meals, unless you book a premium cabin that includes it. Options are basic such as a Continental breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads.
After a day or two of eating on board, you might find that eating off the ship in the interesting ports is a better idea — and enhances your cruising experience of the destinations as well.
Balancing out less than stellar food and service, the Luminosa’s affordable price and terrific itineraries still make it a popular cruise choice. For example, the roundtrip voyage from Venice stops at unforgettable hidden gems such Bari, Italy, Kotor, Montenegro and Split, Croatia, as well as ever-popular Athens and Katakalon (Olympia) in Greece.
Since the cruise ship is beautifully maintained and spotlessly clean, many passengers simply appreciate where the ship sails. Just be mindful of purchasing shore excursions on board since there’s a tendency to up-sell when asking for advice.
Being immersed in the Luminosa’s cruising style is different than a typical North American cruise, but when see how much fun the Italians around you are having, you realize you’re not only seeing great ports, but you’re experiencing a floating piece of Italy as well.
For more information visit www.costacruise.com.