Five Star Italian Style Cruising: Costa Luminosa Cruise Review by Fred&Lily

Costa Luminosa 5

Overall Member Rating

Five Star Italian Style Cruising

Sail Date: February 2014
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami

Judging by some of the Luminosa reviews posted on Cruise Critic prior to boarding our ten-day cruise February 5, this was going to be the cruise from hell. Well, it was the exact opposite and our small group of ten had a very enjoyable time. This ship is probably the cleanest I've been on. The musical entertainment was first rate with two good dance lounges, poolside parties, nice well run bars, excellent dining room service and a cheerful crew from India, Philippines, Peru and dozens of other countries. We expected smoking in parts the ship, but rarely did we smell any smoke, even when walking through the casino.

Don't compare this Costa ship in the Caribbean winter season to other cruise ships. It's European and of the Americans and Canadians on board, probably about 500 of the passengers, my guess is they were mostly from New Jersey and Toronto Italian communities.

There were two dinner More seating times in the dining room: 6:30 and 9:15 pm with the usual six course fare of appetizers, a couple of soup selections, pasta, main courses, salad or cheese and desserts. The dining room service was excellent and our wine glasses always topped up. We had the all-inclusive beverage package which cost $519 US (for two of us) and covered all drinks, mineral or natural water, specialty coffees and hot chocolate, cocktails, liqueurs and wine. They even offer wine at lunch on the Deck 9 Lido buffet along with lattes and cappuccinos anytime. We spoke with passengers who just came off of Carnival Liberty at Miami who told us they paid twice as much for their beverage package and got less choices than we had.

Our bar receipts showed 202 beverages which included bottled waters, coffees and full glasses of wine which comes to around $2.57 per bar drink for the10 days.

(All Inclusive Adult Beverage Packages: Offers guests a selection of alcoholic (including draft beer and wine - your choice of three Italian reds and three Italian whites) and soft drinks and fruit juices by the glass and specialty coffees and hot chocolate flavoured drinks, with the exception of Mini Bar products and premium brands. Price: $26.09 per day.)

Other than the beverage package which we had had never used on previous cruises, our only trip costs were the usual $22 daily tipping charge per cabin, $40 in photographs and two loads of laundry with next evening return, costing $36.

Evening entertainment was excellent if you enjoy dancing and music. The staff of activators who get the party started each night were all multi-lingual and gregarious, though some of the games were a bit crude and low-brow. Or maybe it's just Italian humour, such as the "Election of the Ideal Couple" game in the Grand Bar Elettra, deck 2 at 10:45 pm of day five where balloons were being stuffed inside partners' pants.

If you enjoy Latin and Ballroom dancing, this ship will keep you on your toes from about 6 p.m. until around 1:30 am. The disco had a decent floor, but the music didn't start until midnight. There were also fun dance lessons with Eduardo and Giusy one or two times each day either in the Grand Bar Elettra or at the Pool deck. Afternoon Trivia and Quiz's were fun and a good language lesson when you hear everything repeated in five languages. (Sometimes Portuguese was the sixth language used on-board.) Italian lessons were also offered on this ship.

The dance floor alternated two good dance bands: Duo Contatto and Trio Tringali so there were never any breaks in the music. In the Piano Bar Antares on deck 3, there was a smaller dance floor and a group of five playing as the Sharade Band doing mostly swing numbers. Up on deck 3 at the Bar Virgo, which was really a rather busy high-traffic area closer to the dining room was a piano and violin duo named Summer Duo playing very complicated pieces, including tango numbers we requested.

In the forward Phoenix Theatre the shows were at 7:45 for the late seating diners and at 9:15 pm for first seating. Here the singers and dancers of the Afro Arimba Production danced and sang a couple of very high quality shows. The only dud in the theatre productions was day eight where they presented the voices and faces of Michael Kelley - vocal impressionist. Most of his impressions sounded like a bad Elvis and his Michael Jackson number was somewhat offensive. But day eight was also Italian night where everybody is encouraged to dress up in red, white and green which I think replaces the old toga nights which Costa Mediterranea used to do on their Caribbean runs a few years back. Day 7 evening theme was White Night and Day 3 was Tropical Party Night.

We did not use the gym or the spa area. Spa packages could be had at a reasonable price, which would be nice when the weather is poor. Fortunately, we had extremely beautiful weather with no rain. All the beaches visited were excellent, with the exception of the public beach at Ochos Rios, Jamaica which was silted and murky, but otherwise pleasant enough. Every port had easy access to taxi and bus stands and usually four or six of us would share a ride so booking excursions on the ship isn't necessary. We also like to carry a couple of pool noodles to the beach so we can find our friends and each other if there's a crowd.

Our inside cabin 1224 was just below the Grand Bar Elettra, exactly 39 paces back from the forward staircase. No noise, no children heard, no engine vibrations and plenty of extra space because it was a family cabin with pull-out couch and upper berth that could fold down over the sofa bed. Our friends in cabins 6391, 4274, 7282 and 8354 all said they had wonderful stewards and good locations so my guess is there can't be many bad cabin locations on this ship.

We booked this cruise during the US November Black Friday Sales when prices were rock bottom. Usually we like to cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico for our winter vacation, but this 10 day cruise was less than half the price of similar 10 day itineraries offered on Emerald Princess and HAL's Noordam, both departing from Ft. Lauderdale the same week as Costa's Luminosa from Miami.

Try to avoid Miami airport on busy cruise weekends. Fly in one or two days early and explore the South Beach area. Saturday morning disembarkation was slow off the ship - not because of anything Costa did, but because the US Customs get so bogged down dealing with aliens in transit who can't seem to fill out the declarations properly. The TSA searches at Miami airport were slow - half an hour in line and total chaos which is so ironic in view of the many Americans who complain in the Cruise Critic Forums about slow embarkation and disembarkation procedures when in fact it's mostly government bureaucracy and not cruise line procedures causing all the delays.

If you do book a cruise on Costa, bring your friends and family. Italian cruises seem to be very much about eating dinner with friends and very family oriented. Grandpa and kids and all the aunts and uncles seem to join up on this type of cruise. If you are a less gregarious English speaking Canadian or American and don't enjoy dancing and music, then book on Carnival or NCL, not on Costa or MSC which is the other Italian line.

Most hygienic cruise lines - as reported in the WSJ in January. These cruise lines haven’t failed a CDC sanitation inspection in the past 10 years.

Cruise line Number of inspections Inspections with perfect score

Costa 30 37%

Norwegian 143 28%

Oceania 26 27%

Disney 48 21%

Crystal 31 16%

Seabourn 38 5%

The cleaning of the ship was always meticulous. Rinse buckets were different colour than the wash buckets and they were always set down on paper mats. The reviews that complain about how the buffet stations on the Lido Deck always seemed to be closed don't mention how thoroughly the closed food stations were being cleaned and re-cleaned all the time. If you paid attention to the Today (the daily programme) it was always listed as to what time the last station would be open until. ie: Forward left side station open for breakfast until 11 am.

I rate this ship five stars in all categories. Less

Published 02/24/14

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