Updated: Feb 23, 2022
A couple of years ago, when this ship was presented, I was excited about living the Renaissance on the sea. However, Costa Firenze was designed to operate exclusively in the Asian market. Despite that, like many other things, the pandemic changed her plans. That was how a few months ago the ship made its debut in the Mediterranean, in which she will make cruises during 2021 and 2022, with an intermediate season in Dubai.
In our case, we booked the cruise for early November 2021. The embarking process was fast and organized, following the new COVID protocols, and soon we could start enjoying this fantastic ship.
Just like its sister ship, Costa Venezia, it was not only designed to travel through Asia but completely thought with a different market in mind. This implies a fairly large vessel, similar in size to Costa Diadema, but with differences inside. My first impression was that both the lounges and cabins felt a bit smaller than usual. She is not a ship with as many bars as others, and in fact, she does not have anything like a disco. The store area is larger than usual and certain elements change, such as the absence of automatic doors or a different elevator system in which you select the deck you want to go to from the outside.
Costa Firenze was designed to bring Italian style (especially the Florence Renaissance) to any other part of the world. All its venues are inspired by Florentine streets, such as the main atrium, known as Piazza della Signoria. The essence of the entire region of Tuscany is also present in places like the Tuscany Lounge with its Frescobaldi wine corner, and you will find sculptures, paintings, images, and architectural details typical of Florence everywhere. In general terms, we could say that Firenze is halfway between the flashy style of the classic Costa ships and the more contemporary and luminous style of newer ships like the Costa Smeralda. In a future post, we will review in more detail about each corner of the ship. Let's talk about the experience.
If there is one thing we spend time on a cruise, it is undoubtedly enjoying food and drinks. In Firenze, as in the rest of the fleet, we find the main restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner; and the buffet that serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. We usually opt for the menu service, and they assigned us the Ristorante dei Medici, deck 4.
The breakfast offer is the same as the buffet, but served at the table. It is a calmer option although I do not recommend it if you have an excursion in the morning and you go short of time, since it is a much slower service than the buffet. For lunch, they offered every day a different selection of starters, main courses and desserts. As usual in Costa, we find mostly Italian proposals such as different pasta dishes, mozzarella or typical desserts from certain regions. What we will never find is pizza or ice cream, but we will talk about this later. For a snack, you can enjoy fruits, focaccia and sweets, including churros.
Dinners are usually something more special, as part of the menu is inspired by the next port of call. As we have already seen among the new Costa proposals, this time the destination dishes are designed by Bruno Barbieri, Hélène Darroze and Ángel León; they alternate. My recommendation is that you try them all. I still remember some spaghetti with seafood from Darroze and a fish soup from Ángel that were an absolute delight. Here are some photos of the dishes aboard Firenze:
If you want to live a high-level gastronomic experience and taste the cuisine of these three distinguished chefs, you cannot miss Ristorante Casanova. For me, a highly recommended experience that deserves a future post dedicated just to talk about it. We tried the Barbieri menu and the León menu, the one I recommend most of all. Crazy. Here are some photos of the experience:
Casanova is part of the specialty restaurant proposal (paid options), with a price of €44 per person. Other options are Asian restaurants such as the Hot Pot, Sushino or the classic Teppanyaki. We tried the Hot Pot, but it was not something remarkable if you have already tried this experience on land. The must for me are the Pizzeria Pummid’oro and the Gelateria Amarillo, with affordable prices and exceptional quality.
Finally, if we talk about drinks, we will find everything from coffees, chocolates and soft drinks to cocktails of all kinds, wines, beers and liquors. As always, depending on the beverage package we have, more or fewer options are available. Something special aboard Firenze is some exclusive cocktails, especially in the Lounge della Moda, where they prepare drinks inspired by stars such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Michael Jackson or Elton John.
Currently, Costa only allows land visits by getting one of their excursions. That is why we decided to enjoy the ship since we already knew the destinations. The only excursion we took was to visit Pompeii.
I'm not going to talk about how wonderful Pompeii is, because again it deserves a separate post. Instead, we will focus on the excursion experience with Costa. Overall I must say that I was positively surprised by this tour. Its price was €75, a bit high, but compared to other excursions it felt much more complete. We left in the morning and we toured the streets and buildings with our guide, who was very detailed on the explanations.
On previous cruises, excursions had been too fast, with odd schedules or with too much travel time. This was not the case, although I still recommend enjoying the cruise ship during this season as much as you can. You can book a couple of excursions or, otherwise, the best option would be to purchase an excursion package to save some money.
Entertainment and activities
Probably the most I can talk about this time is life onboard. As always, we find the cruise journal with all the activities of the day, organized by various categories such as sports, entertainment or gastronomic events. Among them, we can find wellness seminars, sports classes, quizzes, crafts, games with the animation team and musical performances. My favorites are animation games, in which you can meet more people and win some prizes, as well as live music.
The theatre shows are diverse, alternating singers who perform tributes to artists such as Tina Turner or Queen; acrobatic shows or dance performances. All shows are guided by music, so language is not an issue at all if you come from abroad.
In the absence of a disco, the nightlife is based on music in the lounges and some parties that finally returned after a long time like the white party or the extravagant night. These usually take place on the pool deck. For the rest of the days, we had a casual dress code and a formal day, although this will gradually change with more diversity in the following months.
The ship only has two pools, one outside and one inside with a retractable roof. They are quite small, as is the spa, which is currently reserved for private use (€70 per cabin per session). The sun deck (gorgeous) and the hot tubs are available to all passengers. In addition, the ship has a water park with slides.
As for the entertainment for kids and teenagers, like the rest of the fleet, Firenze has the Squok Club and the Teen Zone, with activities dedicated to each age. In addition, the ship has playgrounds for all ages such as minigolf (free, which we loved), the arcade machines or the rope garden adventure park (both for a fee).
Overall, the experience at Costa Firenze was very positive. I missed longer opening hours in the dining rooms, some more entertainment activities during the day and especially the absence of many privileges for members of the CostaClub that have been temporarily suspended. Even so, the cruise was very pleasant, surrounded by an attentive crew who could resolve any incident that we might have during the week.
It is a ship I especially recommend in low season since the size of the common areas at maximum occupancy can make it difficult to find a table in the bars and they can feel a bit crowded. Undoubtedly, what I liked the most about the ship has been its unique style, its mixture of Italian-Asian flavors and the presence of outdoor areas such as the promenade on deck 5 or the flower garden on deck 15 that push the sea experience even further.
Costa Firenze is a great opportunity to enjoy a different ship before it stops operating in Europe. It is the perfect option for those who love classic cozy ships but looking for a more refined style.