Wednesday, 3 December 2014
COSTA DIADEMA Maiden Voyage 1st November 2014
Would I like to sail on a new Costa ship? Would I like a very low single cabin price? Would I like an itinerary that seemed to change several times after booking? Would I like an itinerary that was finally the same one offered to all of us in the proposed travelling group? Would I like to pay just a little more for an extra night on board and attend the Christening of the brand-new Costa ship? I answered YES to all of those questions as they cropped up over the months.
31st October 2014
I flew from London Gatwick to Venice in Italy, ready to sail on Costa’s Queen of the Mediterranean, the COSTA DIADEMA. As my flight prepared to land in Venice I could see the QUEEN ELIZABETH down in the cruise terminal and the lady in the seat next to me said she was joining the ship. I waited for my small suitcase at Venice Airport and was amused by the cardboard cut-out of what could only be a Costa ship above the baggage carousel.
I met one of my friends out in the terminal hall and we made our way outside to get a bus to the city’s main railway station at Mestre; there we could buy train tickets to Trieste, for our two-hour journey south-east along the Italian coast. The sky was blue, the weather hot, and the views were wonderful, especially as we started to travel alongside the sea.
A local taxi dropped us right outside the Savoia Excelsior Palace Hotel on the waterside and we could see our ship just yards across the road. That was fun. Another travelling companion was already at the hotel so we could soon check in, discover we had all been upgraded to sea-facing rooms with a balcony and enjoy the gifts that had been left for each of us, including a card showing the Hotel and a ship from another age in the port. Our delightful balcony rooms reminded me of what one of my dear friends had told me about the opening scene of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”, which takes place on two adjoining balconies. Two people in evening dress emerge and are shocked to encounter each other – they were once married but were divorced and are now on honeymoon with their new spouses, by accident in the same hotel!
We set off with cameras to record what we could before sunset. What a delightful city this seems to be, although this is my very first visit. I’m so glad that COSTA DIADEMA’s itinerary started here, after leaving the shipyard and sea trials.
The celebrated maritime author Maurizio Eliseo met us in the hotel at 7 p.m. as arranged and that was the start of a very convivial evening. I returned home with a long-stemmed red rose and good memories of a local restaurant. There was to be a fireworks display for the newest Costa ship just before midnight, and that was a wonderful ending to my first day in Trieste.
Ships seen: Queen Elizabeth in port in Venice as I flew in, Britannia under construction in the distant shipyard as we approached Trieste, Eurocargo Istanbul, and Costa Diadema in port.
To be continued....