Tag-Archive for » Costa Diadema «

Friday File: Favorite Cruise Ships

We’ve often been asked: “What’s your favorite cruise ship?” It’s a question often asked of anybody who cruises a lot by people who cruise a little, or less. Our answer, one we borrowed from the late John Maxtone-Graham, is always the same: “The one we’re on.” That’s pretty much how we feel. When you love cruising, you rarely go on a cruise that you don’t enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Pollyannas, to us cruises are just varying degrees of good. Having said that, over the last six years, these are the six cruise ships we enjoyed the most, for a variety of reasons…


Norwegian Epic: Critics always trash it, but in two cruises we’ve found the complaints mostly trivial.


Allure of the Seas: It’s hard to believe anybody who is objective could find fault with this ship-that-has-it-all.


Coral Princess: In our world, she’s the queen of Alaska, with a feel we call “comfortable in every way.”


Costa Diadema: When you like all things Italian, as we do, you like the flagship of Italy’s main cruise line.


Celebrity Eclipse: When you spend six days at sea, you either love or hate a ship — we loved the Eclipse.


Norwegian Sun: This has everything to do with our longest cruise, 19 days, on a ship that became “home.”

In the news…

• Carrie Underwood joins Carnival Live!  in November to raise funds for vets
• Upcoming SS United States Conservancy announcement to save the ship
• Fog in Tampa once again causes chaos for Carnival Paradise, AidaVita

Today at portsandbows.com: What’s next for Princess Cruises

Carnival Fantasy
4 nights
April 25, 2016
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $239
Cost per day: $59

Cruising Robots And Fruit Flies

Signs of the cruise apocalypse…or just interesting anecdotes about cruising:

The r2d2 effect

In case you thought you would only see this on the big screens playing the record-breaking latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, guess again. If next year you’re on a Costa ship, as we were fortunate to be this year, there’s a good chance you’ll be talking to a robot. And the robot will be talking to you.

Costa Cruises will begin placing “emotional robots” on its ships after New Year’s, starting with the Diadema and the AIDAprima, a Costa brand. The robot’s name is Pepper and he, Diademashe or it will greet passengers as they board and help them find their way to restaurants and entertainment.

Pepper is apparently the world’s first robot capable of recognizing major human emotions and responding accurately in real time. So we are officially in the “talk with a robot” age.

The people who will be most nervous about hearing this news?

Walmart greeters.

21st century X-rays

A few years ago, we met a scientist who was commissioned to dissect the brain of a fruit fly, so we know that with fruit flies anything is possible.

Even X-rays.

That’s what is happening at four New Zealand cruise ports. A mobile X-ray machine is X-raymachinebeing installed to keep destructive pests from infesting the country…not rats or bats or snakes, but the dreaded Queensland fruit fly.

Areas near Auckland have been under strict restrictions to prevent the Australian pest from disembarking. To that end, the “biosecurity” machines will X-ray the bags of 260,000 or so cruise passengers next year to make certain there is no fruit inside that could be carrying the fruit fly to shore. Presumably, passengers will be warned about putting apples and oranges in their pockets and purses before leaving the ship.

The object is to make New Zealand “fruit fly free.”

In the news…

• Empress of the Seas returning to Royal Caribbean after 8-year absence
• Costa back in Port Everglades for winter season with the Deliziosa
• New 62-passenger Crystal Esprit christened in the Seychelles

Today at portsandbows.comOceania kicks off Wave Season

Vision of the Seas
7 nights
April 9, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $560
Cost per day: $80

Friday File: Carnival Live 2016

It would be nice to tell you that after we wondered aloud two weeks ago when Carnival was going to announce its Carnival Live performers for next year that the cruise line promptly reacted and made the announcement this week. It would also be presumptuous, to say the least. Nonetheless, four entertainers have signed up for what’s believed to be a popular addition to Carnival entertainment — concerts on ships in ports. However, this is the third year for Carnival Live and the number of acts has gone from nine to seven to four. So, are these to be the final four of Carnival Live?…

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight (no Pips): February 1-2-3 on the Carnival Liberty, Valor and Splendor, in St. Thomas.

KC Sunshine Band

KC & The Sunshine Band: March 22-23-24 on the Carnival Paradise, Fantasy and Breeze, in Cozumel


Journey: Encore performances on May 5-6 on the Carnival Pride and Victory, in Nassau

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins: July 6-7-8 on the Freedom, Dream and Conquest, in Nassau

In the news…

• Costa signs healthy food, less garbage, food sustainability protocol
• Fire on Ponant’s Le Boreal evacuates all passengers in Antarctica

Today at portsandbows.comMore from Viking river cruise in France

Costa Diadema
7 nights
January 16, 2016
Savona (return): Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Rome, La Spezia
Inside: $495
Cost per day: $70

Friday File: All Cruisers On Deck

In case you think a pool deck is a pool deck is a pool deck…well, it’s not true. Cruise aficionados who spend a lot of time soaking up the rays or jumping into pools large and small — or both — believe part of the appeal of a cruise ship is its pool deck. While we’re neither sun worshippers nor avid swimmers, we always take pictures of the pool deck because, well, we never know when we’ll need them for a day like today…


This was when Allure of the Seas was showing its pool deck to North Americans for the first time, in Fort Lauderdale.


You’d probably never use “Italian” to describe this rather modest pool area, but it’s the Costa Diadema and very Italian.

Epic pool

“Unique” has always applied to the Norwegian Epic, and you won’t likely see this kind of artwork in another cruise deck pool.

AmaDara pool deck

On river ships, the pool area is usually secondary and frequently unpopulated, as it usually is on AmaWaterways’ new AmaDara.


“Busy” is always a good descriptor for a Carnival ship’s pool deck, and that was certainly the case on the Carnival Ecstasy.


A “peaceful” area on the Celebrity Reflection enhanced by huge artwork on the walls of a ship know for its artistic impressions.

On the Oceania Riviera, the upper deck is tasteful and understated, with a pool meant for dipping more than swimming.

In the news…

• Mobile, Alabama negotiating to be Carnival homeport for first time since 2011
• Amber Cove port on schedule to open October 6 in Dominican Republic
• Danube, Elbe low water levels still a challenge for river cruisers in Europe

Today at portsandbows.com: Bermuda more popular with Carnival

Carnival Sensation
4 nights
November 1, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57

Alaska: A Land Of The Midnight Sun

Midnight SunALASKA — Yesterday was the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Alaska, it was longer…or at least it looked that way.

When the cliche “the sun never sets on…” is bandied about, nowhere is it more valid…nowhere does it have more authenticity than in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Whatever time is on the clock or watch or smartphone, bedtime comes with sunshine. To deal with it, Alaskans put foil on the windows so they can fall asleep.

Visitors like us pull the blinds as tightly as possible and hope that slit of light will not be the root of insomnia.

The picture above was taken 13 minutes before midnight from the Denali Princess Lodge, as close as this load of Star Princess cruise passengers came to the Arctic Circle, a couple of nights before Summer Solstice. The sun really does never set further north, where it’s the brightest all night long on the 21st of this month. That’s one of the things that makes an Alaska cruise so unique in June.

In the 49th state — and other places this far north — long daylight is one of the things that makes life unique. Helicopters take tourists on rides over the mountains until 8:30, stopping then only because the pilots aren’t allowed to log any more hours. Young children are able to sleep in daylight, perhaps, because that’s the only summer they’ve ever known. Maybe Alaskans welcome illuminated nights as the trade-off that comes with the dark days Tom Seaverof winter when they rarely see the sun for long.

In the Alaska Baseball League, since 1960 there has been a Midnight Sun Game played on June 21 in Fairbanks, home of the Alaska Goldpanners. Last night’s game started at 10:30. One of the game’s alumni is Tom Seaver, who went on to pitch his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“You can explain it forever,” Seaver recently told Alaska historians. “Until you experience it, you just don't believe it.”

Seaver was right.

In the news…

• Harmony of the Seas on the water for tests in readiness for 2016 launch

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways, Viking a creative pair

Costa Diadema
7 nights
December 12, 2015
Savona (return): Marseille, Barcelona, Palma De Mallorca, Rome, La Spezia
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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