Vroom! Grand Prix On The Diadema


ON THE COSTA DIADEMA — Several years ago, we spent almost three weeks driving around Italy. From Tuscany to Turin and back. From Tuscany to Naples to Venice and back to Rome. About 3,000 kilometers in 19 days. By the time it ended, Bob had turned into Roberto. If you’ve ever driven a car in Italy, you know why.

So when we boarded the Costa Diadema in Naples a few days ago, somebody’s eyes lit up at the thought of climbing into the Grand Prix simulator. Maybe another name change — Grand Prix-1Mario, perhaps — was imminent. 

The simulator is one of the fun aspects of cruising on the Diadema, or on any of six other Costa ships. It was one of the cruise line’s innovations that was added to the list of excellent entertainment amenities on this, the 4,850-passenger newest ship for Italy’s (and Europe’s) best-known cruise line.

Rides start at four euros. That’s for three minutes on a choice of international tracks, as they're displayed on three screens just above the cockpit. Step one on the road to Monaco for a real Grand Prix, just like on that poster above, right? In the simulator, thrills and crashes are included. You can go as fast (or slow) as you like and while helmets aren’t required, seat belts are. Nobody wants to be ejected from a Grand Prix car, even a simulator.

North Americans would surely find this a heart-stopping experience. Okay, at least palpitations. For Europeans, just a shrug. Just another day on the Autostrade, where seat-belt laws are observed and speed laws are not (just ask Roberto).

Grand Prix-2Such was our frenetic schedule on the Diadema that we decided to save the best for last. The Grand Prix experience would be on our final night, at the 11th hour. Closing time was 10 p.m. We arrived eight minutes before the hour. Alas, with no line-ups, the operator who locks drivers in the enclosure where a bright-yellow Grand Prix car awaits had also locked the door and shut off the “ignition.” A seat in the cockpit, yes, but no keys. There would be no ride on this night…on this cruise.

Mario would have to wait.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Pearl
5 nights
May 2, 2015
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Victoria, Vancouver
Inside: $269
Cost per day: $53

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