Part 9 (the final one)
Friday 7th November 2014
Today is ship Christening Day, and here we are early in Genoa ready for the festivities later today.
The sky is blue again, the sun is shining and the ship seems to have been cleaned thoroughly yet again ready for the dignitaries due on board soon. We managed to extract a programme of the day’s events from the reluctant hand of a female member of reception staff, and could see that we needed to be in what I like to call ‘posh frock’ etc. by 3 p.m. this afternoon. Now we can plan our morning.
We were berthed at Genoa’s historic Maritime Station so it was an easy walk along to the Porto Antico to see what we could see. We visited the Maritime Museum for a short while, a favourite bookshop nearby, and then walked along to take photos of COSTA DIADEMA across the water in the cool sunshine.
We stopped for coffee in a small quayside café which was noted for its ‘pizza and chips’. Then the charms of Eataly called loudly so two of us ascended to the top floor restaurant/shop, to enjoy the views and the food. There were Panettones by the hundred and probably seventy sorts of pasta all on sale – it was fascinating, but resistible.
Back on the quayside there was time to take photographs of ship and self and the shiny new rat-catchers on the ropes, before embarking to prepare for the Costa Cruises official Naming Ceremony of their new flagship.
Newly embarked passengers were attending lifeboat drill as we progressed to our seating place in the Orlov Lounge. To me and many others in the UK the name Orlov always raises a smile because it is the name of the Meerkat family used to advertise a marketing comparison website. It has gained extraordinary fame through Aleksandr Orlov and his descendants.
We had front-row seats around the dance floor in front of one of the many large screens in all the public rooms on board, and then the sparkling wine and canapés were served. The screens showed the Costa dignitaries and guests arriving for the Naming Ceremony in the Theatre, and soon we saw the COSTA DIADEMA Captain Massimo Garbarino, together with the Godmother of the ship, travel agent Carolina Miceli, accompanied by her Maids of Honour from Germany, France, Spain and China, form the start of a parade.
All this was filmed and shown on all the public room screens as they progressed throughout the whole ship. I thought this was such a lovely idea and it was exciting when they arrived in the Orlov Bar and Lounge; cameras flashed, people cheered as they circled the room and I think everyone felt pleased to be present on such an occasion. They returned to the Emerald Theatre for the actual Naming Ceremony.
The Costa Chief Executive made a short speech, as did a Fincantiere shipyard person, and then local and area Italian representatives, and finally came the moment when the bottle of Champagne was hurled (electronically) and smashed again the hull of the ship. The ship was then blessed by the Cardinal of Genoa Angelo Bagnasco.
Finally in the Theatre on stage there was a short presentation of the ship’s bell to the Captain. This was unexpected, to me, but I thought that was a lovely touch and an ideal completion of this part of the festivities. The wine kept flowing throughout all this.
There was then a slight rush to get warm clothing ready for the fireworks and Diadema Sky Lights display at 6.30 somewhere out in the Harbour. The decks were packed with onlookers and we all enjoyed the wonderful display. The sounds echoed round the hills of the city and were joined by whistles from other vessels in the harbour so it was very exciting to be there.
Another highlight after this was the COSTA DIADEMA, Genova, 7th November 2014, Menu di Gala. This was designed by Costa’s Michelin-Star Acclaimed Chef Fabio Cucchelli and was much acclaimed by my knowledgeable companions. I know I particularly enjoyed the Controfiletto di Wagyu, crème di formaggio Montasio e topinambur, which translates as Wagyu strip Loin, Montasio cheese cream and Jerusalem artichoke. The service and wines were first-class and much enjoyed.
The evening progressed with music and a Masquerade Party up on Deck 10’s Lido Diana, and I finally went home rather late and swinging a very elegant black face mask from one finger. Phew, what a day, and what a celebration!
Ships seen: Grand Holiday, Moby Drea, Moby Otta, Dionea, Excelsior, Majestic, Moby Baby, Moby Ale, Nordic Stockholm, Deira and Costa Diadema.
Saturday 8th November 2014
We arrived back in Savona in darkness, but the five of us enjoyed a final breakfast together as the sun came up. Soon the ship was cleared by the authorities and we were able to disembark and head homewards to our various countries.
Ships seen: Costa Diadema, Costa Classica, Azamara Journey, and 5 laid-up Corsica Ferries seen as we went west towards Nice Airport,
I had enjoyed my time on board COSTA DIADEMA because of the good company of my travelling companions and the chance to attend a Ship Christening for the very first time. This was my sixth Costa ship sailing so I did notice the oddities of the ship itself, such as the lack of restaurant seating for all on board when offering free-style dining, the unexpected location of bars and speciality restaurants and the unusual design and layout of the ship inside. I do like the Italian Costa experience and I’m very glad to have experienced Costa’s new flagship COSTA DIADEMA on her Maiden Voyage.
Thursday 6th November 2014
Today is my first-ever birthday at sea. I opened my cards from loved ones at home (I had special dispensation to be away…), my cabin steward made a funny hanging towel animal with a little note once he had seen my cabin, and prepared to enjoy the half day here in Naples, Italy. I could see lots of ships of all kinds, so today’s list should be lengthy despite the early morning damp air as we berthed. Vesuvius loomed over the bay with the usual ash cloud over it.
After a short walk to a nearby ferry terminal, we watched a few arrivals there.
We then returned to COSTA DIADEMA for coffee in the Chocolate House. The Chocolate Fountain in the glass case seemed not to be working still, and maybe the white-overalled engineers standing around it with screwdrivers yesterday had found a little problem. Ah well, the staff were able to provide fruit portions dipped in delicious chocolate and the most yummy and squishy macaroons in various colours so the coffee break was very satisfactory.
The black-hulled ship laid up by the CROAZIA JET is the CAPRI. She was built in 1962 as the passenger and cargo ship BASILUZZO for the Eolian islands. She went to Greece as the CITY OF ANDROS with her sister VULCANELLO which became the CITY OF POROS. The CITY OF ANDROS eventually returned to Italy as the small cruise ship CITALIA, then CAPRI, registered in Madeira.
Photos, lunch and a quiet time on deck prepared us for departure from Naples at 2.40 (late) under a navy-blue coloured sky. We raced away from the port at 21.8 knots, listing slightly with the swell and watching the mist become closer and cold, as we headed for Genoa.
By 6.00 p.m. our pre-dinner drinks on our favourite Deck 5 aft Bar were accompanied by a dramatic thunderstorm. There was sheet lightning all around the ship and the most torrential rain which bounced up from the deck and poured down from overhead gutters. The outside lights flickered and went out a few times and when we could no longer hear ourselves talk we retreated inside. That was all rather dramatic we thought.
A meal in the Pizza Bar was enjoyable, especially with gifts of Champagne, and a specially designed print of the COSTA DIADEMA by Roberto Bixio, issued for her Maiden Season 2014, and the company of good friends.
I returned late to my cabin to find a birthday card signed by the Captain, and a birthday cake with candle on the dressing table. What a kind thought from Costa, although too late to share with my companions.
Ships seen: Rhapsody (the ex-Napoleon Bonaparte), Raffaele Rubattino, SNAV Sardegna of GNV, Norwegian Spirit, Ala next to Patrizia (old and laid up), Rosa d’Abundo (the ex-Angelina Lauro of 1981), Marmorica (old, laid up, of Toremar), Teseo in dry dock, Aida Vita in dry dock, Dimonios of Tirrenia, Trinacria of TTT Lines, Macaiva of Gestur laid up, Fauno of Caremar, Sindaco Malvito V, Ievoli sky next to Teseo, ARV 2 (ex-Diana 2, ex Meloodia), Agata of Medmar an ex-Tallink ship, Isola de Capri of Medmar, Adiona something of Toremar, Myriam laid up, Croazia Jet and various unidentified others
To be concluded...