Updated: Feb 23, 2022
This month marks the 10th anniversary of that day. I remember receiving a call from my grandmother to tell me: "It has sunk, turn on the TV! The Costa Concordia has sunk!" I could not believe it. I thought it had to be a mistake. It was not possible that such a large and majestic ship had been swallowed by the sea, but it happened.
I was 9 years old and had never been on a cruise ship. Days before, my cousins told me that it was going to be the most fantastic trip of my life and I didn't understand why. How could I be fascinated by something more than having been to Disneyland Paris? It was impossible!
We embarked on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007 in Barcelona. Costa named the itinerary "Magic Cruise". For a week, we would visit the following Mediterranean ports: Palma de Mallorca, Tunis, La Valletta (Malta), Palermo, Civitavecchia, and Savona, later returning to Barcelona again.
Arriving at the port, we couldn't believe how massive the ship was. There are bigger ones, but the first time you see a cruise ship is always breathtaking. And the surprise continued on the inside. The atrium of the Costa Concordia is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, especially because of the huge multicolored lamps that hung from the ceiling with shapes similar to anemones, surrounded by an emerald green environment. I felt what I think those who entered the Titanic and described it as "the ship of dreams" must have felt. Everywhere at every time, all was luxury, lounges, live music, food... A paradise. Nothing very different from what you can find on other cruise ships, but that first time and being 9 years old... It was outstanding.
Like all the most classic Costa cruise ships, there was a concept behind it that gave the name to each venue and even the ship itself. In the case of Concordia, the concept was harmony between European countries, a tribute to the old continent. Thus, each deck was named after European cities such as Greece, Spagna or Portogallo (we were on the France one), and the lounges and restaurants received names such as the Grand Bar Berlin, the Sport Bar Stockholm or the Caffetteria Helsinki. It seems that they set up their own Money Heist cast! All these places were around the Atrio Europa that we were talking about, which was the center and heart of the ship.
Here we have some pictures of my journey:
Back then, every day on board was a big event, especially in the evenings. Festive ambient in the restaurants, buffets at midnight with ice figures and cakes of all kinds, or free pizza and ice cream 24/7 are now a thing of the past. Now they only seem to calculate how many free meters are left to add more specialty restaurants at extra charge! I like to think though, that today cruising has become somewhat more accessible. And the gastronomic and entertainment proposals have been changing.
For many reasons, traveling on the Concordia made me fall in love with this way of getting to know new cities through the sea. Its fancy design that seemed to be trapped in time, its immensity, and the magic in every corner, were my first contact with a world I had not known until then.
Returning to the tragic incident, we all know what happened and it is not necessary to add much more detail. In a certain way, I think that as a result of the Concordia sinking, my interest in learning more about the subject and recovering those memories of what it had been like to be on board began to return to me. Although at first glance people often think "how can a ship float?", after having lived what it was like to be on board I thought just the opposite: "how could she have sunk?".
Fortunately, I didn't experience that tragedy, but in part, I felt it especially thinking it was the only ship I had been to. It was hard for me to accept that I could never go back there. I know there are thousands of similar and probably much better options, but I was especially excited to think that I could go back to my first cruise and that would no longer be possible.
Leaving the nostalgia behind, 10 years after the incident and 15 years after my first cruise, I am left with the beautiful memories of that trip with my parents and grandparents. I see the photos and it makes me happy to have been able to live so many memories and anecdotes of ours during that week.
As a curiosity, during my Mediterranean cruise aboard the Costa Diadema in 2019, our waiter during dinner was the same one we had met on the Concordia 12 years before! I don't know if it was coincidence or fate, but it was certainly quite incredible to think that so many years later, with as many ships and as many restaurants and crew members as there were, we would be again with him, with Apolonio, a great professional and wonderful person.
For now, I am looking forward to returning to one of the remaining Concordia class ships in Costa's fleet. It won't be the same and I won't be able to recover the same memories or company, but it will certainly be the closest I'll ever get to what my first cruise was. That cruise aboard the Costa Concordia.