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Monday,  July 15, 2024 7:28 AM 

On Location: PAX cruises Italian style on board Costa Cruises' new Toscana

On Location: PAX cruises Italian style on board Costa Cruises' new Toscana
PAX's Diane Tierney experiences the new Costa Toscana. (Diane Tierney)
Diane Tierney

Step aboard Costa Cruises new 6,500-passenger Costa Toscana and your clients will instantly notice the Italian vibe – from features such as a Colosseum-style theatre, to bars with names like Ferrari and Campari.

Costa is an Italian cruise line owned by Carnival Corporation and has continued to grow international appeal for its ships that sail worldwide.

On European voyages you’ll hear many different languages that add to the exciting immersion. 

PAX was on board the ship for the June 18, 2022 christening and voyage from Italy to Spain and France.

All aboard Costa Cruises' new 6,500-passenger Costa Toscana. (Diane Tierney)

“The exploration of Italy starts with being on the ship and the culinary experience. It’s complemented by visiting handsome destinations with tours escorted by experts such as photographers of National Geographic,” said Mario Zanetti, president of Costa.

Some port stops are now 11 hours long, allowing one to take a deep dive into destinations. There are also Costa shuttles into town that run about 10 Euros per person.

Executives and guests gather for Costa Toscana's christening on June 18. (Diane Tierney)

The line continues to interest North Americans for its large fleet, exceptional value and award-winning European itineraries.

In some regions the line also offers a unique ferry-type schedule. Your clients can choose which port to get on the ship.

Practical tips 

Toscana has 19 bars and lounges, 11 restaurants and eateries, four pools six hot tubs, theatres, waterslides, spa, children’s centres, arcade, casino, sports court and more to please families.

At 185,000 GTs, the LNG-powered ship has 2,663 staterooms across 13 categories, including new terrace suites that feature a sitting room between the bedroom and balcony.

The LNG-powered ship has 2,663 staterooms across 13 categories. (Diane Tierney)

Be sure to inform your clients that there are no North American electrical outlets in the staterooms.

They’ll need to bring their own electrical converters and plugs and the ship doesn’t supply or sell them (but you can buy them at ports). However, there are USB plugs and hairdryers in the desks.

There are plenty of shelves in closets, but only two drawers in a desk, so make the suggestion to your clients to use packing cubes to keep items organized on shelves. Many cabins also don’t have bar fridges.

Toscana premium cabin with balcony. (Diane Tierney)

Inside a Toscana suite. (Diane Tierney)

Waterfall walls & spiral waterslides

Two of the four pools have lovely waterfall walls. 

There’s also a mid-ship pool that’s flanked by stylish cabanas and although not an adults-only pool, it’s quieter. 

Another large pool is indoors, protected by a retractable dome and the space is air conditioned.

La Spaggia indoor pool. (Diane Tierney)

The Splash Aqua Park has spiral waterslides, one that’s four storeys high, and spins you into a donut-like bowl. There are six hot tubs and infinity-style ones at the aft offer fabulous wake views.

The Splash Aqua Park has spiral waterslides. (Diane Tierney)

Toscana Aft infinity hot tub. (Diane Tierney)

Toscana Versilio pool with cabanas. (Diane Tierney)

The Volare Skywalk is a U-shaped ramp that takes you 20 decks high to a viewing platform. You can look down on the aquapark and sports court or enjoy panoramic views of the sea. 

There are also great views from the glass-floored Infinity Walk.

View of courts from the The Volare Skywalk. (Diane Tierney)

Views from the glass-floored Infinity Walk. (Diane Tierney)

At the aft there’s an open-air, amphitheatre called Piazza del Campo with a giant TV and plenty of space for dance lessons and large parties.

A variety of seating at this popular area ranges from benches and slingback chairs, to hanging wicker chairs and traditional loungers.

At the bow, your clients will find a quiet, shady area with loungers and hammocks, as well as a panoramic view.

Piazza del Campo. (Diane Tierney)

Loungers and hammocks at the bow. (Diane Tierney)

“Toscana really comes alive at night”

The Colosseo is a unique theatre because it’s open concept with stadium seating three decks deep.

You can come and go as you please during the show and also find seats near a bar and eatery to enjoy while watching the performers.

The Poltrona Frau Arena is a traditional theatre that seats 915 guests on two decks. The area also serves as a disco.

Showtime at The Colosseo. (Diane Tierney)

Toscana really comes alive at night. There’s live entertainment almost everywhere in including musicians, singers, dancers and acrobats.

Shows are designed to be internationally understood with less emphasis on language and more on world renown music such as Michael Jackson and Madonna.

The White Party and karaoke are fan favourites.

Themed bars

There are 19 bars and lounges and you can help your clients choose the right Drinks Package because it’s almost essential – especially if they drink a lot of tea, coffee, pop, juice and water.

These offerings are far more limited, and rarely complimentary, than on ships for the North American market.

There are also several themed bars due to partnerships such as the Caffee Vergnano, Campari Bar, Heineken Star Club and Bistro, Ferrari wine bar, Kartell Café and Aperol Spirits bar.

The Campari Bar. (Diane Tierney)

Heineken Star Club and Bistro. (Diane Tierney)

Versilia bar. (Diane Tierney)

Pass the pasta  

The meal options at the buffet are adequate, but not extensive, and there’s an emphasis on pasta dishes.

Many guests go to their assigned main dining room instead. The food has improved considerably from years ago. However, portion sizes remain relatively small, so simply order more.

Costa, like several cruise lines, are trying to reduce food waste.

Archipelago specialty restaurant. (Diane Tierney)

Dining times vary by ship and itinerary and on European voyages are generally later at 7:30 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. to allow for longer port stays.

Specialty fee-based restaurants include Archipelago that provides a unique culinary experience with three set menus of five courses each, with wine pairings.

Toscana's main dining room. (Diane Tierney)

They are created by Michelin-starred chefs Bruno Barbieri, Ángel León and Hélène Darroze.

Portion sizes are small but offerings are tasty and the launch sets the tone for how much food has improved on board.

Sushi at Costa is dedicated to Japanese cuisine and offers excellent sushi and sashimi all day. Teppanyaki serves Japanese fish, meat and vegetable dishes.

Fabulous pizza is offered at the Pizzeria Pummid’Oro and Gelateria Amarillo has Italian ice cream.

Pizzeria Pummid’Oro. (Diane Tierney)

To eat outdoors there’s Kiki Poke, inspired by traditional Hawaiian cuisine; the Green Healthy Food for wraps; Salty Beach street food for fabulous burgers and the Nutella eatery satisfies a sweet tooth.

Families will enjoy the Squok Restaurant and Lab Restaurant where guests can learn to cook.

Outdoor dining at the Green Healthy Food. (Diane Tierney)

Also encourage your clients to join the free Costa C Club discount program as savings can be as much as 50 per cent on products and services and include other perks such as laundry service.

Costa’s customer service has greatly improved over the years and crew are more attentive than ever (they all speak English).

And while this Italian-style cruising has a relaxed pace during the day, it revs up by evening – which suits the time difference if you’re jet-lagged and wide awake at midnight anyway.

Diane Tierney is former cruise columnist for the Toronto Star and has been on 79 cruises (including four Costa cruises) to 47 countries. She has 80,000 followers on Instagram @cruiseguru

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