Sailing on Costa Luminosa in the Mediterranean this week, we’re finding a lot of the cruise experience to be much the same as when sailing anywhere else in the world. Just two days into the itinerary, it has been lots of fun, a unbeatable value and an easy way to travel. Still, some things are uniquely different and knowing about them in advance is helpful. We start with a few tips.
English is the official language on board Costa Luminosa but those who speak it as their primary language are a small minority. This is not a problem or reason for concern. On an elevator full of other passengers, none of which appear to speak English, it is still OK for you too to smile at the cute baby everyone like everyone else is. Some things are universal. Three 7’s on a slot machine draw comments that need no interpreter to know they mean ‘Nice hit!’
Here, Euro is the currency used on board and it is easy to work with. The conversion rate is something one needs to keep in mind for the actual cost to them on the credit card bill upon returning back home. Think one Euro is about one and a half dollars and you’ll do better than fine.
Getting on the ship could best be described as ‘different’ and that’s about it. While on a North American sailing everything is done at the check-in desk before boarding the ship, on Costa Luminosa we gave up our passports for the ship to hold until the end of the journey, registered a credit card after boarding and were given boarding group cards at curbside.
There’s plenty of it, around the clock, just like a North American sailing and it is included in the price. There are a few upgrade/alternative options. Much of what we are experiencing is remarkably similar to other ships from other lines such as Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. Still, there is ‘food’ and there is ‘cuisine’.
There are a few unique gems, like pretty much anything with pasta and any coffee drink other than what is called here “American Coffee”, perhaps with a bit of a tone of disapproval. The up side is that there are some marvelous opportunities to see how coffee beverages should be made and learn from the experience. Yet another nail in Starbucks coffin for me that began on our Viking River Cruise last summer where, from Budapest to Amsterdam we found unique café’s that knew how to do it well.
I’ll have more sailing in the Mediterranean on an Italian cruise line Wednesday when we explore the notion of joining a ship on an itinerary in progress at any one of a number of ports of call.