The Emerald Theater spanning Decks 3, 4 and 5 is done in orange and blue with chrome pillars, which block sightlines in some balcony seats. The main floor is flat, with bench-style seating and small drinks tables. The two upper floors form a steep balcony with high-backed seats. The theater fills quickly. Arrive 15 to 20 minutes early if you want a good seat or have a large group. In order to appeal to multiple languages, shows are largely visual ones, such as the acrobatic performance, "Come Fly with Me." A music and dance performance showcases the best of Italy, including an impressive operatic number. There are two shows a night at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Costa Diadema's Mediterranean itineraries are port intensive. Daytime entertainment is minimal, and no informative port talks are given. You may find a group quiz or dance class in the Grand Bar Orlov or a lifestyle talk happening in the Samsara Spa.
Other options (for a fee) include the 4D Cinema on Deck 5. You wear 3D glasses while enjoying special video effects and sitting in one of 24 vibrating seats. The minimum age is 6 years. Star Laser on Deck 10 is a video arcade for all ages. The star attraction is the new laser maze, where you attempt to twist and turn your way to the finish without touching a laser beam. A Grand Prix race car-driving simulator is located in its own enclosed room on Deck 12. Wear sneakers when you go for a high-speed spin; flip-flops or sandals could get stuck in the pedals. A Ping-Pong table is located in a covered space next to the simulator.
Country Rock Club on Deck 5 gets our vote for best alternative entertainment. The bar is new to Costa Cruises and kicks off each evening with live country or rock music. Walls are faux brick, the carpet has a record motif and the ceiling, back of the bar and tabletops sport photos of guitars. Chairs are chrome. Neon signs complete the look of a 1950's bar. The dance floor may be in use by couples, families and even toddlers because the Italians onboard bring their kids with them everywhere, day and night.
Pietra di Luna Disco spans two decks (11 and 12) near the ship's stern. The dance floor and bar are on the lower level where you can slip outside to a covered smoking area with love seats. Upstairs is a balcony with chairs and tables. On a given night (it opens after midnight), the crowd may be European teens or a mixed group, though still on the younger side.
Golden Jubilee Casino at the back of Deck 5 has an array of slot machines and gaming tables. As it's closed during the many port days, it sees less action than most ship casinos.
Two nights each cruise, the ship puts on theme parties -- White Night when you wear white clothing and a Carnival-like masquerade where you arrive disguised by a fancy mask. Many passengers go all out dressing for the masked event. The entertainment -- read, loud music -- carries on until 2 a.m. or later. Parties take place by the pool under the magrodome roof.
Costa Diadema offers a bar for every taste, from chic and calm to loud and lively. Some, in fact most, offer live music in the evening as well as a dance floor. The drinks menu is the same throughout with the exception of a few specialty venues. And each bar has a machine to brew your favorite coffee drink.
Eliodoro Bar (Deck 3): Eliodoro Atrium, one of three atriums, spans eight decks adorned with bright blue lights and four glass-fronted elevators. Think of this as a grand hotel lobby bar, and you get the picture. It's a great place to grab a coffee in the morning. At night, it's a relatively quiet place with piano music for dancing.
Grand Bar Orlov (Deck 4): This bar is at the heart of the ship, literally and in terms of action. By day, it's a spot for quiz shows and dance lessons. By night, it's packed and jumping. When passengers aren't on the dance floor, the ship's professional dancers are putting on a show. This is one of the largest bars, extending the width of the ship with a stage at the back end. Chairs and sofas are cushioned and comfy.
Vinoteca Gran Duca di Toscana (Decks 4 and 5): Call it the wine bar for short and choose among 80 labels from over 50 Italian wineries, each to be paired with cheeses and salami served as hors d'oeuvres. A novelty here is the self-service wine machine. Just insert your key card for a glass of your choice. The upper level is for tasting. The lower level is a gourmet food shop. As there's no live entertainment, the wine bar is a good choice for a quiet place to chat. You may even have the whole room to yourself.
Birrera Dresden Green (Decks 4 and 5): Opposite the wine bar is a two-deck German-style beer hall complete with wooden tables, benches and beamed ceiling. Ceramic beer steins are perched on shelves above the doorways. Wooden barrels and a copper kettle are for show. You can enjoy your favorite lager or bitter (or an Italian brew) inside on Decks 4 and 5 or outside in the promenade's semi-enclosed cabana. Though there's live oompah music, the beer garden is one of the less lively bars and is often nearly empty after dinner.
Cigar Lounge (Deck 5): This is the only place you're allowed to smoke indoors, so there's always a crowd.
Bollicine Bar (Deck 5): Located one level above the Grand Bar Orlov's atrium, Bar Bollicine gets its live music from the Orlov's entertainers, usually dance music pre-dinner. The bar features a menu of Italian aperitifs -- Prosecco, Spumante (Italian sparkling wine) and spritzes. Hors d'oeuvres may be olives, cheese or cold pasta salad. Faux green hedges as room dividers give the room a garden feel.
Principe Nero Piano Bar (Deck 5): A piano player who takes song requests and a dance floor are the hallmarks of the popular piano bar. Neon tube lighting that changes color sets the mood.
Teodora Lounge and Bar (Deck 5): Teodora is a large lounge done in tans and blues with leather chairs, polished wood tables and lots of brass. At the back of the room, a bank of bench seating forms a semi-circle facing the stage and dance floor. The room is used for private group meetings some days. Before dinner there's usually a singer. Later on, it's karaoke time. The lounge opens onto the deck where a second bar (one is in the lounge) overlooks the aft wake.
Diana Deck Pool Bar (Deck 10): Between the midship pool and the buffet entrance, this small bar serves the self-service lunch and pool crowd.
Stella del Sud Bar (Deck 11): The open-air bar overlooks the aft pool with its massaging waterfall.
The ship has two pools, both on Deck 10. The midship pool has a retractable roof (magrodome), giant movie screen and a stage for late-night theme party bands. Sofas and chairs for lounging are permanently set in the pool's shallow water. The deck space has yellow mesh and metal lounge chairs (the same loungers are on all sun decks) as well as orange plastic chairs and stone-topped tables for seating the overflow from the buffet. The area is always packed. The aft Stella del Sud pool is smaller, but has a waterfall for massaging away shoulder and neck tension. It has the same loungers and tables for buffet dining outside.
As a change of pace, the hot tubs are not located next to the pools, but are a deck above and accessed by stairs. Each pool has two semi-protected Jacuzzi tubs on Deck 11 where they extend out over the port and starboard sides of the ship. Deck 12 has two open-air hot tubs on the sun deck, each with an adjacent shower. Two additional hot tubs are found near the front of the ship on Deck 5's encircling promenade. According to ship rules, children under 16 are forbidden to use Jacuzzis. However, we saw kids in the hot tubs every day. The Samsara Spa has a Jacuzzi strictly for spa-goers on the Deck 15 sun deck.
The kiddie pool on Deck 14, part of the Squok Club, is filled with colorful animal figures.
Deck 14 has a sports court behind the funnel for basketball and volleyball.
Sun decks not adjacent to the pools are found near the hot tubs on Deck 11 and Deck 12. More sunning is found at the rear of Decks 12 and 14. All have the same yellow mesh and metal loungers. Towels are provided in your cabin. There's an even more expansive sun deck space between the cabanas on the Deck 5 promenade encircling the ship.
The customer services desk on Deck 3 is always busy. Remember to take a number for your turn. You may be able to avoid lines by using touch screens found in various public areas. Totems (small pillars) are handy for registering your credit card. The shore excursion desk is on Deck 4, just off the main Eliodoro Atrium and opposite the photo gallery. Moving from the atrium toward the stern on Deck 4, you pass shops selling perfume, watches, jewelry, purses, sunglasses, clothing and logo items. Beyond the shops are the Desiree and Tiara meeting rooms, followed by Portobello Market selling yet more watches.
Deck 5 has a card room. A small chapel and library are on Deck 11 next to the Star Laser game room. Strangely, the library has no books. Everything is on e-book readers, which you get free of charge from the photo shop for use onboard. The library serves as the Internet center with computers available for a fee. The room is always open, but there is no one there to help you. If you brought your own device, Wi-Fi works in cabins and public rooms. Fees for Internet access and Wi-Fi throughout the ship are one hour for 20 euros, three hours for 48 euros or by the minute at 0.50 euros, plus a one-time set-up fee of 3 euros.
There is no self-service laundry onboard.
The Samsara Spa, housed on three levels, is the largest in Costa's fleet. The decor follows an Asian theme with lights resembling stalks of bamboo and a tiled floor suggesting a bridge over a tranquil pond. On Deck 12 you'll find the reception area for making appointments and the Venus Beauty Salon for hair and nail care, teeth whitening and facials. Deck 14 (there is no Deck 13) houses a barber shop, 15 treatment rooms, two large couple's rooms with private Jacuzzis, an aroma steam bath, warm thermal bath or tepidarium, dry sauna and a rock sauna which, due to hot rocks, is the hotter sauna. The thalassotherapy pool has jets to massage your body from head to toe. The Winter Garden relaxation area offers herbal and Ayurvedic teas. Massage treatments come in various forms such as hot stone (154 euros for 50 minutes), bamboo (196 euros for 75 minutes) or four hands (330 euros for 50 minutes). Deck 15 is a private sun and relaxation deck with an open-air Jacuzzi reserved for spa patrons.
If you're not staying in a Samsara spa cabin with free access to the spa pools and lounge, you can buy a package to use these facilities for 105 euros per person for a seven-night cruise. A day pass costs 35 euros. Spa hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Steiner operates the spa.
The gym is on Deck 14, next to the spa and overlooking the midship pool. Treadmills, stationary bikes and exercise machines are free to use. Extra-fee classes (12 euros for 45 minutes) include yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling on a virtual Tour de France course. Men and women have separate shower and changing rooms, but no saunas.
A jogging track on Deck 14 encircles the kids' pool, ship funnel and sports deck where you'll find basketball and volleyball courts.
Costa Diadema is extremely family friendly with most cabins able to accommodate three or four cruisers. Special family cabins with two bathrooms sleep up to five. Connecting cabins are available in several categories and service levels.
The minimum age to sail is 6 months. Parents with children may request priority boarding, a crib, highchair, baby bath, pureed baby food and bottle warmer. Baby food and diapers are not sold onboard.
Costa's children's program, known as the Squok Club, is divided by age into different clubs and is always bustling. (Squok is the name of Costa's half-shark, half dolphin mascot.) For small tots, there's Mini from 3 to 6 years and Maxi from 7 to 11. Kids must be potty-trained to be dropped off at the club. Children under the age of 3 are only allowed to use the club during less busy times and must be accompanied by an adult. Be aware these kid's programs are held in a number of languages, not just English, and children are not grouped by language. The good news is counselors speak multiple languages, and kids play games to learn to count in different languages.
Aboard Costa Diadema, the Squok Club play area for Minis and Maxis on Decks 11 and 12 features a fairytale castle and pirate ship for kids to climb on. A kiddie pool (Deck 14) is populated by cute elephants, penguins and seahorses. Activities include crafts, pirate treasure hunts, face painting, ice cream socials and Italian language lessons.
The Squok Club is open daily (including port days) from 9 a.m. to noon; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. with no charge. This allows parents to go ashore without their kids. Even better, special kids dinners are offered two nights a cruise so parents can dine on their own. Group babysitting (book a day in advance) is held for Minis and Maxis from 11:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. at no charge. However, there's no nighttime babysitting for children under the age of 3 years.
The teen clubs are Teen Junior from 12 to 14 and Teen from 15 to 17. TeenZone, adjacent to the Squok Club, offers such teen-oriented fun as hip-hop dancing, body and T-shirt painting, water polo and video games, which take up most of the room. Older teens also have use of Club Allnatt (next to the disco), which is primarily a video arcade. In fact, early evening games and dances may be held in the disco. Hours are the same as the Squok Club. There are no specific shore excursions just for teens, but families are accommodated on many shore activities.
* May require additional fees