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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

COSTA ALLEGRA 27th November 2011 Part 1


COSTA ALLEGRA
Sunday 27th November 2011

Saturday 26th November 2011
How exciting, to be flying off to Genoa in Italy. It became even more exciting, if that is the word, as we approached the airport and the British Airways pilot made an announcement. It seems that the flight before ours had just landed and reported what felt like a small hole or indentation in the runway tarmac, so the whole airport had been closed whilst investigations were made.

I looked at the young lady sitting near me and we puzzled over the likely outcomes, ranging from a man with a pot of mix putting it in the hole and flattening it down, circling the airport for goodness knows how long or while fuel lasted, or going to another airport about an hour or two away. We flew around over the sea for about 20 minutes, during which the pilot told us it was still closed, and then suddenly he told us that it had re-opened. Hooray, the man with the pot of something useful must have done a good job and we were going to be the first aircraft in.

I was able to take some photographs as we landed, and had lovely views of the ferries in the port in the winter sunshine. Genoa is certainly fun for trying to do this, and it takes one’s mind off the strong wind gusting off the mountains and affecting the landing aircraft.

Flying in (1)

Flying in (2)

Flying in (3)

Flying in (4)

Also on the flight was one of my travelling companions so we made our way out of the terminal and onto the airport bus to the city. The temperature was an amazing 19º Centigrade. From the usual drop-off point outside the railway station we could walk the short distance to the hotel where several of us were staying. I’d stayed there before so was happy with its location, and we soon checked in and headed out to the harbour. It was too late for one of the few winter-time harbour tours so we enjoyed walking around and visiting the bookshop in the Maritime Museum.

I was waiting outside when an Italian policeman started talking to me, obviously wanting to practise his English. I then realised that now there were lots of police, police cars, motor bikes, outriders and other vehicles outside the Museum and the young man hurriedly told me that they were waiting for the Prime Minister (unelected…) and he had to go back to his duties. I did wonder where the Prime Minister was but we couldn’t see and couldn’t begin to guess. Well, that will remain one of life’s little mysteries.

XIN Pu Dong

A stroll around the Porto Antico gave us some views of the ferries opposite, and of a tall ship berthed near an ice-cream shop, so all could be seen and enjoyed as the light faded from the sky.

Visitors up the mast on Pogoria

Splendid and Excellent

Carthage of Tunisia ferries

La Suprema backing into her berth

Two other friends arrived so we all met up for dinner in a local restaurant and talked about ships. We are all to sail on COSTA ALLEGRA from Savona for four nights in the western Mediterranean, calling at Ajaccio, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.

Ships seen from the aircraft: Pacific, Moby Ale, Moby Fantasy, Corsica Marina Seconda, Janus, La Superba, Splendid and Excellent

Ships seen from the airport bus to the city: Riviera, still under construction

Ships not seen but known to be here (!): Seabourn Odyssey, Costa NeoRomantica

Ships seen in fact: La Suprema, Splendid, Excellent, Carthage, Janus, China Shipping Lines XIN Pu Dong, Pogoria (the tall-masted sailing vessel) which can be seen in my picture 'Flying In (3)'

Sunday 27th November 2011
The day started with breakfast and then a short cabin cavalcade, as we all had rooms in different parts of the hotel. Outside the heat had dropped to 13º but it was still comfortably warm; there was a rail strike today so we took a large taxi along the coast to Savona, the home port of Costa Cruises. The four of us soon checked in and went on board - my cabin 7015 is an inside twin for single use – and were able to take photographs around the ship.

Cabin 7015

COSTA ALLEGRA is known as The Crystal Ship, and once we were on board we could see why – there is much use of glass (including decorative Murano glass) and mirrored surfaces. She was built in 1969 as a container ship from Stockholm and named ANNIE JOHNSON. In 1986 she was sold on to Regency Cruise Lines (as REGENT MOON) but was sent to lay up in Piraeus/Perama until sold on in 1988 (renamed ALEXANDRA), and then again sold on to Costa Cruises in 1990 when she began conversion to a cruise ship in Genoa. In November 1992 she was named COSTA ALLEGRA and began sailing at 28,340 gross tons to carry 1,066 passengers, with a home port of Genoa, and a cruising speed of 20.5 knots. We also knew that in 2006 she was sailing out of Singapore and Hong Kong as a gambling ship, and as we roamed around the ship we could see much evidence of this.






We were due to sail at 5.00 p.m. with lifeboat drill at 5.15 p.m. so after a buffet lunch we started to look around at the nine public decks on the ship; cabins start on the lowest deck 2, continue up on decks 3, 4 and 5 where the Ristorante Montmartre is situated at the stern.

Decks 2,3 and 4

Decks 5 and 6

On deck 6 the public rooms lead from the stern Casino Club Flamenco,

Flamenco Lounge and Bar

forward through walkways to the midships beautiful Murano Grand Bar which we loved until the noisy two piece band started playing each evening. The Bar seemed ideal for conversation during the day and some of the evening, but that all had to stop when the music started.

Grand Murano Bar

Murano Bar glass

That was when we moved on to the Piazzetta Allegra circular raised bar/seating area.

Piazzetta Allegra

Near this area was a wall showing film of previous Costa ships, and Le Cioccolateria bar which we usually managed to walk past without buying anything.

La Cioccolateria

Forward again was the Sala da Ballo Folies Bergeres (the theatre), which we noticed had no fixed seating whatsoever. We think this is because when the ship was doing the gambling cruises from Singapore, the space needed to be converted easily for the gaming passengers, with no need for other entertainment facilities.

Theatre, with no fixed seating

At the back of the room

Decks 7 and 8

On deck 7 is the stern Ristorante Amalfi and Disco, leading forward to the outdoor pools. Forward again are the Mini-Suites and then the Grand Suite. Above that on deck 8 is the jogging/walking track and double-height spa treatment rooms forward. Deck 9 has the solarium and forward deck 10 has a small passenger area.

Decks 9 and 10

We could see COSTA VICTORIA and COSTA SERENA in port nearby, and out at another berth we were pleased to see the HARMONY PRINCESS, which was the ex-COSTA MARINA. One of our number had spent a happy time on her a year or two ago. She had her new name on one side of the hull but not yet on the other, but was already looking very smart.

Costa Victoria and Costa Serena

Harmony Princess (ex Costa Marina)

Grande Mediterraneo sailing

Looking out to sea we noticed a large and tall spreading plume of black smoke, and wondered what that could be. We had already seen a car carrier and a Grimaldi vessel leave port, so we hoped that all was well with them. We never did find out the cause of what must have been a huge fire.

This looked like a bad fire

The Lifeboat Drill was held in the theatre on deck 6 forward and in spite of announcements in four languages (English, Italian, French and German), everyone listened quietly to all the instructions. After this ended we went on deck to watch our departure from Savona in darkness.

Welcome on board

Dinner was at 6.45 p.m. in the Montmartre Restaurant;

Montmartre Restaurant

we chose this sitting on the basis that 9.00 p.m. second sitting was too late, and even if we sat down at 6.45 p.m. the first course would probably not be in front of us until 7.15 p.m. which was fine. The food was disappointing, both the quality and quantity, despite several courses on offer.

Coffee after dinner

We then went to the Entertainment show in the theatre, which provoked several different reactions from the four of us. In complete contrast we then had a wonderful time in the Flamenco Lounge on Deck 6, where the 3 piece band and singer made us dance and sing until gone midnight! I did go hungry to bed, but I’d enjoyed the evening’s entertainment enormously.

Ships seen: Costa Allegra, Costa Serena, Costa Victoria, Grande Mediterraneo of Grimaldi, Arthara, La Suprema, Harmony Princess (the ex-Costa Marina)

To be concluded...

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