Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...

16 December 2014

COSTA DIADEMA 1st November 2014 Part 4

1st November 2014

Our little group has decided that our favourite spot is aft on Deck 5, with its comfy seating and sea views. There is no background music, few people, and no bar service yet, but it is a delightful place to sit and enjoy being at sea. We could see the preparations for leaving Trieste and noticed that the port side aft ropes were all fixed to something invisible under the water. I tried to find out how that was done – well, we knew there wasn’t going to be a diver under water – and a helpful person in Reception actually rang the Bridge to try and get an explanation. I think the language barriers proved too much of a problem, so I thanked them and retired gracefully. I still don’t understand how all those ropes were fixed and then let go, so will welcome an explanation from anyone who can tell me.

We finally sailed away from the lovely Trieste, with lots of whistles and noise from around the bay, and headed off to our first port of call in Dubrovnik, after a day at sea tomorrow. This is a ‘shake-down’ cruise so we are not sure quite what to expect but hope to enjoy everything we can.

My Costa Card


Our Dining time was shown on our cabins cards as open seating in the Corona Blu Restaurant between 6.30 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. and so we headed there as soon as the ship had sailed away. We had to join a queue at the Restaurant Manager’s desk. We didn’t understand why we had not been allocated a dining table in one of the Restaurants, but subsequently were told by a member of staff that this was ‘because you have booked cheap tickets’. My goodness, that is no way to make passengers feel welcome and we felt very upset for the rest of the trip about this blunt remark.

We queued and were eventually shown to an empty table which could seat the five of us easily. We then had to wait for menus to be brought, and then a waiter to arrive to take our orders. So far this had all taken one hour from when we joined the queue. More time elapsed and eventually the food arrived and it was worth waiting for, but so far we are not impressed with the way things are being run.

Let’s hope that things will improve tomorrow.

Sunday 2nd November 2014
It was lovely to wake without an alarm call, and go up to Deck 10 for a Traditional Italian Breakfast, with sea air coming in through the open windows of the Lido. The Lido Magrodome roof was closed, but the light and space was good. The Bar staff in this Trattoria Lido Diana were cheerful, helpful and efficient and seemed happy to speak English.

Under the Magradome roof

The Daily Programme, also provided in English, told us that this evening was to be Formal, with a Gala Dinner, so we look forward to that.

I took more photos around the ship and began to realise how the company had economised with space on board. In the public rooms the deck height was lower than expected, and this was quite obvious when looking up in the Atrium. The actual space in the Atrium was smaller than expected although it was three decks high.

Atrium Bar

Looking down in the Atrium

Oooh, giant bubble wrap

Please, I want one of those door handles

Throughout the ship it was wonderful to see all the new items of art, furnishings and fittings; my cabin was comfortably furnished and the new bed linen was a delight but I could find only one electric socket. The television screens throughout the ship were interesting to use and locate others ships in the Costa fleet. The location of some of the rooms on board puzzled us. The Pizza parlour and cooking area was bisected by a walkway; the Champagne Bar Bollicine (and not Prosecco) was large and cold as it was situated with double doors behind it which were continuously opening and closing to allow access on to the promenade deck. There was no ‘porch’ on the outside to protect the room from the elements. It was not near the extra tariff Restaurant or the Samsara Restaurant, which seemed strange.

The Theatre looked spacious with good sight lines, and the seating upholstery had an interesting ‘cracked ice’ pattern to it. I noticed this also on much of the wallpaper throughout the ship and also on many of the light fittings.

Theatre stage

Cracked ice pattern

Cracked ice pattern on the wallpaper

Cracked ice pattern on the light fittings

Deck plan

In the Restaurants the cutlery, glass and linen were new and shown to advantage.

The sound engineer was often seen around the ship, adjusting the volume of the public entertainment rooms’ sound systems. He certainly started with a high volume as standard, until people started leaving the rooms and wincing or shouting to each other in conversation. When we once saw him coming out onto Deck 5 aft Teodora Bar and opening the sound control cupboard we had to ask him nicely to please leave it without music. The volume of the music from the Teodora Lounge inside was quite adequate for everyone sitting outside, we thought. He smiled and went away…

Deck 5 aft

Several decks below

It was a good day at sea, finishing with a Gala Dinner which was wonderful. Tomorrow we arrive in Dubrovnik.

Ships seen – none today.

To be continued....

08 December 2014

COSTA DIADEMA Maiden Voyage 1st November 2014 Part 3

Part 3

Saturday 1st November 2014
The sun was shining next morning as I stepped out on to my balcony. I’d made sure my balcony curtains were in place before going to bed the night before, so I didn’t become part of the COSTA DIADEMA’s “View from the Bridge”. One of my friends had apparently done so the previous morning after a shower, without realising that his clothing (or lack of it) was not quite suitable for the public gaze.

Welcome to the Savoia Palace Hotel

Hotel and ship quay

The Hotel’s Restaurant looked out over the water so we were soon keen to enjoy breakfast and then make our way to visit the Maritime Museum with our Trieste friend. I enjoyed seeing the items on show, particularly a display of items from Henry Milward & Sons Ltd. of Redditch, England,

Henry Milward & Sons

Henry Milward & Sons - detail

and a dug-out canoe made from a whole tree.

A dugout canoe

The display of old sextants was also of interest to me, as I still have my late husband’s sextant at home, from the days when he was a Deck Officer with Union-Castle Line.

Outside the Maritime Museum

There she is again

Outside the old Maritime Station

The sunshine ship

Then it was time to collect our luggage and head for the COSTA DIADEMA’s passenger terminal at the old maritime station. It was a scene of chaos and somewhat alarming to be amongst some people who desperately wanted to be straight onto the ship the moment they arrived at the luggage drop area. We still went aboard fairly quickly, having to show passports many times as we went. Eventually I arrived at my inside cabin number 1257, which was spacious and brightly lit,

My cabin 1257

before heading to the Corona Blue buffet lunch venue. We met two other friends and then there was time to unpack, take photos and walk around the ship.

Savoia Excelsior Hotel from the ship

I enjoyed this sight

COSTA DIADEMA is a Dream-Class cruise ship that was ordered in October 2012 and was delivered to Costa Crociere on 25th October 2014. It is the largest ship flying an Italian flag and the company’s flagship. Her gross tonnage is 132,500, and the company boasts that she has the longest promenade in the fleet, at 500 metres.

The Costa Cruises website states that ”the ship has been designed for the emotional impact it will have on its guests, making them feel as if they are in a dream world”. The architect Joseph Farcus designed the ship with this concept for the project.

I had an emotional moment, I must say, when I tried to put my passport and other documents away in the cabin safe. I found it in one of the wardrobes, up on the top shelf where I could hardly reach it. I stood inside the wardrobe, on the bottom level, and was able to set the code by stretching up, but at no time during my time on board was it possible to see inside the safe itself. It must have been designed and fitted by a 6’5” male – how absurd!

The wardrobe and drawer handles were tiny, I thought, and I can imagine them being changed at some point in the future.

Ah well, my cabin seemed comfortable and well-lit and I set off to explore more of the ship with great interest.

Looking down on the Atrium

Deck 5 landing

Looking down at the Orlov Lounge

The Pizza Parlour, which only opened in the evenings

Tavola Teppanyaki

Tucked away

One of the pagodas on the Promenade Deck

On Deck 5 aft at sunset

We are due to sail at 8.00 p.m. from Trieste.

To be continued...

03 December 2014

COSTA DIADEMA Maiden Voyage 1st November 2014

Part 2

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....

25 November 2014

COSTA DIADEMA Maiden Voyage 1st November 2014

Part 1
31st October 2014

An Italian ship-shaped Welcome to Venice Airport

After a train ride from Venice to Trieste, a taxi dropped me and one of my travelling companions right outside the Savoia Excelsior Palace Hotel, Trieste; just across the road was the COSTA DIADEMA!

I checked into my sea-facing room and this was the lovely sight from the balcony.

In the hotel's foyer was the wonderful model of the REX, all hand-made by the maritime author Maurizio Eliseo.

After the sun set we walked along the quay to enjoy the sight of COSTA DIADEMA, and her reflection in the water.

The Costa logo on the funnel


There was a wonderful fireworks display just before midnight, which our little group viewed from one of the hotel balconies. The sounds echoed round the hills of the little city of Trieste and provided a lovely ending to a happy day. Tomorrow we check in and board the COSTA DIADEMA for her maiden voyage from here in Trieste.

To be continued....

14 October 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London

A visit to the Tower of London to see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
16th September 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Seas of Red

Individual Poppies

Cascade from one of the towers

Continuing around the Moat - more poppies, and The Shard building in the background across the River Thames beside London Bridge station

Around again

Continuing around

On again

A fearsome entrance


Another cascade; in the background can be seen the building known as 'The Gherkin', at 30 St. Mary Axe, the former site of the Baltic Exchange. The other prominent white building to the right is the former Port of London Authority headquarters.

Tower Bridge was beside and then behind me as I continued walking around the moat

The last part of the moat as I completed my circuit of The Tower of London