How to explore the world the Italian way

Jun 1, 2023

Costa Cruises is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year—you read that right, 75 years. And the line’s pre-passenger roots (it started as a cargo company) reach back even further, to the mid-19th century. Yet despite its status as one of the world’s longest-running cruise lines, many Americans don’t know much about it.

There is a reason for that. Reaching back to its Genoa, Italy origins, Costa Cruises has long been a favorite of European travelers — and even today, you’ll find an international mix on its decks that’s much more diverse than what you’d encounter on the familiar U.S.-based cruise lines.

But Americans are catching on to Costa Cruises for its unique value as a cruise line that’s fully immersive in the areas it sails. Whether in Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Emirates, South America or its number-one region, the Mediterranean, the international experience doesn’t stop when the ship pulls away from port. This is what makes the line a top choice for culturally curious travelers who are excited to meet people from around the globe, taste foods from the destinations they’re visiting, spend extra-long days in port and completely break out of the tourist bubble during their cruise vacations.

Read on to get to know more about Costa Cruises and what sets it apart.

Mediterranean experts

An intercultural experience from the start

Costa's expertise in the Mediterranean region stems from its roots there. As early as 1854, founder Giacomo Costa began shipping locally produced olive oil and textiles on cargo ships from Genoa. The line was passed down to Costa's next of kin, and its passenger services began in 1948. Over its many decades in operation, Costa Cruises has continued to nurture relationships with local food producers and destination experts, and Costa cruisers benefit from this deep connection to the region on every sailing. 

Every part of Costa Cruises' Mediterranean journeys seems authentic, because it is. It starts with meeting fellow passengers, many of whom hail from Italy and other European countries. As a result, you're not rushing to cram in cultural experiences while you're in port; the cross-cultural exchange is ongoing from embark to debark. 

A "la dolce vita" approach to travel

Savoring the view in Venice

And by the way, "rushing" in port is not a thing on Costa Cruises. The cruise line demonstrates its emphasis on cultural immersion by allowing extraordinarily long times in port—up to 9 and a half hours in some cities. These long, lingering days are in line with the cruise line's "la dolce vita" approach to traveling. 

The excursions offered in each destination are special, too. From Rome on Western Mediterranean sailings, travelers can experience Civita di Bagnoregio, a stunning Medieval hilltop village that's being slowly erased by erosion. Nicknamed "Italy's dying town," it has only 11 remaining residents. An exclusive Costa guide will relay the history of this fleeting place and escort you to a lunch that's typical in the area.

Palma Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca

On an excursion in Palma de Mallorca in Spain's Balearic Islands, a local guide will take you on a sustainable cycling tour to see the city's vast and stunning Gothic cathedral, squares, town hall and more essential sites.

On Eastern Mediterranean itineraries, one tour takes you to no fewer than three of Santorini's wineries, where you'll taste the fruits of thousands of years of traditional wine-making. Visit a working Greek farm in Katakolo, taste its wares and partake in a traditional Sirtaki dancing lesson before saying "αντίο." (That's "goodbye" in Greek.)

Santorini, Greece

Or experience "the dark charm of Venice" with a tour that takes you through secret passageways and mysterious spots, all while your guide conveys stories of love and terror that are part of Serenissima's dramatic lore. 

Destination-specific ingredients and dishes

The night before arrival at each new port, Costa passengers will get a sort of "amuse-bouche" for the place they're about to see via meals specially crafted to reflect the upcoming culture and cuisine, and using ingredients sourced from the region.

These are each created by one of Costa Cruises' three world-renowned chefs: Bruno Barbieri of Italy, Hélène Darroze of France and Ángel León of Spain—who have collectively earned 16 Michelin stars throughout the courses of their careers. More delicious tidbits on them shortly. 

Guides for global exploration

World Tour 2024

Costa Cruises takes this "global citizen," culturally immersive approach to all the destinations it sails: the Baltics, the Middle East, South America and beyond. And for those eager to see as much of the globe as possible, the line's 2024-25 World Tour itinerary is one to consider.

Spanning five continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia/Oceania) and visiting 48 destinations over 131 days, cruisers who sign on for this ultimate voyage will soak in an immense amount in a short span of time.

The mysterious Moai statues of Easter Island, the colorful historical city center of Dubrovnik, Croatia, the wild savannahs of South Africa's Kruger National Park, unreal Iguazú Falls in Argentina, the glaciers of Patagonia, the massive sand dunes of Namibia and the Sydney Opera House are just a smattering of the bucket-list experiences and UNESCO World Heritage Sites on deck. 

Sydney, Australia

And it's worth mentioning that the itinerary will find you anchoring off the coast of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro just in time for the city's New Year's fireworks show. Talk about a crescendo! Another point to consider if a world cruise is something you're set on doing "one day:" You can get on board starting at about $115 per day. 

Ports less traveled

But if you haven't yet saved up the vacation days to take a multi-month trip, Costa can still escort you to off-the-beaten-path ports. Find yourself trekking on horseback through Gran Caria's volcanic regions in the Canary Islands, marveling at the ruins of history-steeped religious sites in Izmir, Turkey; or tasting tongue-tingling spices in Tangier, Morocco with Costa Cruises' 7- to 22-night sailings.

Tangier, Morocco

A world of experiences on board

Amenities that draw guests out

The cosmopolitan vibe extends onto Costa's inviting, updated ships, where amenities like Turkish baths, expansive spas, multi-level theaters, lounges, night clubs and casinos keep guests alternately relaxed, entertained and engaged depending on where the day takes them.

Expect engaging shows in Costa Cruises' theaters

Silent discos, theme parties and other evening soirees also allow guests from the world over to connect over music and Prosecco-infused Rossini cocktails. 

White Night parties are popular events on Costa Cruises' ships

World-class dining options

Speaking of delicious things, outstanding dining also sets the Costa Cruises experience apart. Besides the main and specialty dining options you'll find onboard (serving everything from Italian steak to teppanyaki to pizza and sushi) the cruise line's three aforementioned world-renowned chefs have created a "choose your own adventure" style restaurant experience.

At limited-seating, fine-dining restaurant Archipelago, guests can choose from three gourmet menus that sync flawlessly with the itinerary, each created by one of the celebrated chefs. The "interpretation" of the destination a guest decides on will determine not just the five courses served, but also the style of tableware the diner will receive and the narration, or "story" the server will supply to enrich the experience.

One of the chefs' courses at Archipelago

Guests at the same table may choose different gastronomic journeys, adding layers of enjoyment to the multi-sensory meal.

Commitment to conservation

A good foundation

Costa Cruises gets the importance of protecting the seas that are at the center of everything they do, and they've made operating sustainably and responsibly a priority. In fact, the line launched its own foundation (the Costa Crociere Foundation) in 2014, carrying out projects like "Guardians of the Coast," which educates and mobilizes Italian students to monitor and protect vulnerable stretches of the Italian coastline from environmental perils. The project has resulted in the "adoption" of 1,600 miles of coastline to date.

Costa Crociere Foundation's Guardians of the Coast program

The foundation also supports research and development into the farming of Zostera marina, a common "sea cereal" chef Ángel León identified in 2017 as having the potential to help solve the problem of human hunger in an environmentally beneficial way. 

The Costa Crociere Foundation supports research into Zostera marina, a "sea cereal" that could help alleviate human hunger

Going green all over

Tying it all together, the cruise line's restaurants focus on sustainable and local ingredients—and they've recently overhauled more than 500 recipes to reduce waste and increase focus on seasonality.

The line donates hundreds of thousands of meals to local food banks, uses driftwood collected during the foundation's beach cleanup initiatives in its Archipelago restaurant's decor and donates 5 Euro for every meal purchased at Archipelago to fund the foundation's projects.

Archipelago restaurant

On top of all this, it's implementing new LNG propulsion engines on their ships, which reduce emissions and fuel consumption while increasing efficiency.

In other words, Costa goes beyond enabling passengers to become citizens of the world—it sets guests up to become stewards of it.

Ready to go? Check out Costa Cruises Mediterranean Sale offers and start your culturally immersive journey.

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