Costa Smerelda her final cruise before Lockdown pt 3

And so we begin our sedate tour  of the west coast of Italy. Over 4 relaxing days the captain keeps us close to the coast at a constant 5knts so that we can take in the scenery of the Cinque Terre. Fortunately for ourselves we have visited all the ports before on previous trips. It does help immensely that there is plenty of space and plenty of things to see and do on this vast ship which is slowly emptying day by day although not noticeably.

As Daria from  La Belle Notte jazz bar points out, the captain is taking some rather amusing  routes to  pass the time overnight & we only stay in port long enough to disembark those passengers who are due to be leaving. As the numbers slowly thin we  meet one other English couple one night in the Jazz bar; rather unfortunately for them  this is not only the very first cruise they have embarked upon but they have never visited any of the counties we were supposed to be seeing either - now that is bad timing.

Buried in the aft of the ship is the 'Costa design Museum' dedicated to Italian design and style  - be it Vespa bikes, fashion, furniture, Campari bottles or art. When I heard of this I initially thought that's a  a waste of space, rather like those silly art gallery fake auctions   that many American lines always have tucked away.

But actually on the Smeralda this really works well as you will recognize items from the ships public areas or which have contributed to aspects of the ships interior design.  For instance the original 60s Starke chair in the museum is replicated and used in many of the bar areas.

Speaking of cleanliness the public bathrooms have been spotless though I think they must have had Cam (Modern family) in his Fizbo the clown mode in charge of the design.. Everything is non touch including the door openers which also cater for the Nora Dursts (from TVs Fargo) among us who can never activate the damn things.. they even have kick ones at floor level.

Cabins are simply designed (perhaps slightly thinner than the norm) with all the latest fittings you would expect. The  USB sockets if you cant find them they are hidden behind the art wall which houses the TV. Sockets are the usual mix of European and US.

There are some nice design touches in all the rooms (several of which have now been opened up for anyone to walk around as if it was press launch day)

Here we have a veranda  room that comes with a sunroom before the large balcony. Its a nice idea but I'm not quite sure if it would get that much use and I think the space would be more valuable in the actual cabin. Then again if someones a snorer its the perfect place to put them to bed at night.  If the rooms have one weakness its wardrobe space which is a little tight no matter what level of cabin.

Day six arrives and we slowly pull away from the coast of Savona after shedding more passengers (in fact probably the majority as Savona is the home port for Costa). 

We head up for lunch as usual and are just settling down to another fine meal when the captain comes on the PA with an important announcement. Spain has now officially closed the port of Barcelona and will be entering a stage of lockdown. Everybody will therefore be disembarking in Marseilles. It wasn't altogether unexpected but it does raise the slight worry of how do we actually get home - as we have made all our arrangements  (flights, transfers etc) independently from Costa. 

The Captain then goes on to explain that if Barcelona is your final destination coaches will be arranged to get you there from  Marseilles. An instant thought is that we would be better off trying to get flights back to Manchester from Marseilles, rather than having to drive to Barcelona (some 6 or 7 hours) and spend a night in a hotel. 
We are instructed to make our way later in the day to one of the (now unused) main dining rooms where Costas staff will be available to take the remaining passengers details and find a way to get you home.

We visit later in the day after relaxing around the decks; it's as simple as telling the crew your final home destination and leaving the rest to them. That evening a letter is left in the cabin; we have tickets and instructions to take a transfer and then an Air France flight from Marseilles via Paris and home to the UK tomorrow afternoon. I have to admit I was extremely impressed with how smoothly this was organised by Costa at no cost to us and how quickly we were compensated for missed ports etc.

We leave after saying goodbye to all the wonderful staff who have looked after us in the Panorama restaurant and Jazz club this past week. Then its a quick and smooth disembarkation into the port of Marseilles where an endless line of buses awaits to move people onward to their homes. It occurs to me that this si the first time we have seen the outside of the ships since Palma.

Full marks to Costa, they organised everything smoothly and fairly. Credit for all the missed ports etc arrived back in our bank account a couple of weeks later. Onboard I felt safe and have never seen a cleaner ship with more innovative hygiene facilities especially around the restaurants - in fact that's one reason I would not hesitate to sail her again in the future.

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