I know this trip report has been a little bit different from what you’re used to me writing, and today’s concluding chapter will be in that same vein. The thing is, most Cruise Radio readers are probably never going to actually experience this ship.
Well, unless they eventually bring Toscana to North America, which Carnival will be doing with Costa Venezia and Costa Firenze in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
So this report, as you’ve noticed by now, is a little… looser. Rambling, if you will. But I’m focusing on things that really stood out to me, whether because it’s something I’ve never done before or a cool feature of this particular ship.
Let It Snow
Regular readers know I’m a big fan of thermal suites. For the uninitiated, that’s the area of the spa that usually features things like heated chaise loungers, hot tubs, saunas, and the like. On this ship, they had a snow room. By no means is Costa the first or only cruise line to have something like this, but I’ve never had a chance to experience one… until now.
Heading to the spa on deck 16, I asked how much a thermal suite pass would cost for the week, and it was right around $199. However, they had a special — when it comes to cruise ship spas, there’s always a special — whereby if you picked a treatment, you were able to buy the week-long spa pass for $50. Quicker than you can say, “Sign me up,” that was the route I went, picking the Fire & Ice pedicure. I’m no mathematician, but with the regular pass costing $199 and me getting both the pass and treatment for a total of $130, I’d say I got a great deal.
Something to always keep in mind when heading to the spa: Don’t be afraid to ask if there are discounts or specials available. Remember that spa employees are on board to provide services and a lot of the services are based on upsells and products. There is almost always a little wiggle room.
The thermal suite was spacious and clean. Inside there was a thermal pool with big loungers on the outer edges in ankle-deep water, heated tile loungers with privacy curtains between each lounger (which is the first time I’ve seen that, and it’s a nice touch), steam and sauna rooms, rainfall showers, and the snow room — which was what had lured me here in the first place.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the snow room is cold. Not chilly, but cold. The temperature is just below freezing, with the theory being that you should use this room to bring your body temperature back down after spending time in the heat of the sauna. I just sort of chilled out — literally — in the snow room, but maybe I was doing it wrong, because I saw other people rubbing snow on their faces and meditating.
I’m not exactly sure what you’re supposed to do there, but it was an awesome experience. I visited the snow room most days of the cruise, and it was a great way to decompress after being outside in the heat.
When it came to the thermal suite, I spent my time bouncing between the heated lounger, the chairs by the pool, and the snow room. The location was ideal as it’s on the upper decks of the ship and has floor-to-ceiling windows. You can face the window and watch the world pass by.
Cruise Line Excursion
When it comes to exploring ports, I’ve always tended to do my own thing as opposed to cruise line-sanctioned excursions. But since the industry restarted last June, I’ve tried to make it a point to do at least one shore excursion offered by the cruise line per sailing in order to see what protocols are in place and how each particular line is handling things.
In this case, I picked the shore excursion in Savona, Italy, which was a guided tour of Finalborgo and Noli. I’d never heard of either before, so I figured that if I was going to do an excursion, it might as well be to someplace I knew nothing about.
It was a four-hour trip, with about an hour and a half in each city before returning to the ship. The only notable difference with the excursions, as I mentioned yesterday, is that both guests and guides must wear a mask the entire time they are on the bus.
One of the towns was a coastal community, and one was a typical Italian city with a lot of squares lined with coffee shops and bakeries. I’m sure both towns had a lot of great things about them, but because the tour guide was wearing a mask and was difficult to hear, we broke off and did both cities on our own. Sometimes that is the best way to explore a city, as long as you have your bearings straight or at least have GPS on your phone.
Looking back, I’m glad I picked this excursion. It was a friendly town with lots of good eats. Pizza and coffee have been the theme of the week.
Pools, Pools, Everywhere
One thing this ship doesn’t lack is pools. I counted five, and there may have been some I missed. There are also over a dozen hot tubs around the ship, some of them infinity-style with the clear plexiglass over the side. The hot tubs seemed to be more popular than the pools.
If you didn’t want to hang out by one of the main pools, there were a couple of hot tubs on the infinity deck. This was a fantastic space at the back of the ship with areas for those who wanted to lay in the sun and other areas that were nicely shaded. In my book, anytime you can find an area that has comfortable seating, an incredible view, and the sound of the wake, you’ve got a winning location. That’s definitely what this was.
Walking on Air
It’s kind of hard to believe there was a time that when you got on a cruise ship, staring at the ocean and napping in a lounge chair were pretty much the main events. Now, most ships have to have bells and whistles, whether it’s a ropes course or a zip line, an IMAX theater or a roller coaster.
The closest thing Costa Toscana really has to that kind of “attraction” may not seem like much, but it’s way cooler than you think it’s going to be: The Skywalk. It’s an elevated path that takes you high above the ship (level with the exhaust system) to give you a bird’s eye view of the waterpark and any passing vistas.
On the aft upper deck, there are also large sections of clear walkway, allowing you to see things from a dizzying perspective. (It’s worth noting that if you’re in one of the large, lovely balconies beneath the Skywalk, people will definitely be able to watch you at all times of day and night!) This is also a killer place to head for sail away.
When it came time to disembark the ship in Rome, the process couldn’t have been easier. Since Toscana operates a ferry schedule with multiple embarkation ports, there weren’t a ton of people getting off in Rome. In fact, it seemed like Savona and Naples were the largest embarkation and disembarkation ports of the cruise.
On the morning we were leaving, we had to be out of the room by eight and could walk off the ship once the vessel cleared customs. Nothing out of the norm for leaving a cruise ship.
Guests who checked their luggage the previous night had to wait until their zone was called. I just rolled my bag off, scanned my sail card at the security check, and headed to my transfer bus into Rome’s city center.
Since we were traveling within the EU, we did not have to do any type of customs declaration before debarking the ship. That would come later when landing at JFK in New York City.
Is Costa Right For You?
Whenever I try and answer this question, I really avoid giving a “yes” or “no” answer, because it’s obviously going to be subjective and depend on a few factors… including what kind of traveler you are. It helps to do a little research and know what to expect before you walk on board.
My buddy Tommy at the Always Be Booked Podcast likes to say “manage your expectations.”
In the case of Toscana, if you’re well-traveled and have an open mind, this is absolutely worth experiencing. The food (especially pizza!) is wonderful and exceeded my expectations, albeit different in some locations.
But whereas ships sailing out of North America typically offer numerous restaurants that are included with the cruise fare, the main dining room and buffet are pretty much your only “free” meals here. From an entertainment standpoint, the music and shows were top-notch and plentiful.
Although it is an Italian line, I never had any issues with English being spoken or understood. The staff was out-of-this-world friendly, and — like the best cruise crews around the world — provided excellent service. Each morning when I sat down in the café, they would ask if I wanted a cappuccino and a bottle of water, without fail, because by day two, you’re essentially a regular to them.
It’s little things like that, which happened throughout the sailing, that made me feel right at home — even though in reality I was 5,000 miles away from Florida.
Catch up on my first two Costa Toscana trip reports: