Trieste - Is it possible to return to travel carefree without worries about the world health situation? The answer is yes, thanks to the new models of protected cruises that aim to create a "security bubble" on board. We tried this experience aboard "Costa Deliziosa" during her second voyage after the resumption of operations. Costa Cruises has allowed us to test its all-Italian itinerary with embarkation-disembarkation in Trieste and stopovers in the ports of Bari, Brindisi, Corigliano-Rossano, Syracuse, Catania, reserved exclusively for guests residing in Italy. To make the ship a protected bubble, the Genoese company has developed a health and safety protocol that includes anti-coronavirus tests with swabs for all guests and crew, temperature control, visits to destinations with protected excursions, physical distancing also thanks to the reduction in the number of passengers, new ways of using on-board services, strengthening of sanitation and medical services.
So let's come to our impressions: the first thing to analyze is boarding with the new procedures. Everything is done very quickly, including the dreaded antigenic pad. The operation is really minimally invasive and can be resolved in a couple of minutes. The only stressful moment is waiting for the outcome that can exceed even the hour and therefore obviously there is a bit of fear for the result. Once this obstacle has been overcome, the moment of lightheartedness arrives, in fact knowing that you are on board with only people who tested negative allows you to forget for a week the media hammering on the pandemic in progress. There is no vacation in its current state that allows you to experience this sensation, so this aspect is the main one to highlight.
And how is life on board? The first impression you get is that you have the whole ship to yourself, in fact we were about 400 passengers on board out of a maximum capacity of 2,826 people. So an impressive ratio compared to the crew on board which is more than double, we are talking about numbers that not even the luxury companies have. So the care of the single passenger is obsessive and recalls that of 20 years ago when the standardization of cruises did not yet exist. In contrast, it makes us think that in the long run this business with such small capacities will not be economically sustainable. On board, all the precautions were taken to ensure social distancing, masks are mandatory indoors while not on open decks.The buffet has become a restaurant with table service, very pleasant for lunch where we have noticed an increase in the quality of the dishes served. These new trips are certainly very appreciable for those who love the "slow" cruise of premium ships, less so for those looking for unbridled fun. In fact, all gatherings are avoided and therefore the disco is not active, the entertainment is reduced to a minimum and the poolside parties for which Costa was famous are no longer organized. The theater shows are there, but they are mainly focused on single performances, of excellent quality during our experience. However, the excessive digitization of the product should be noted with the disappearance of menus and todays that can only be viewed via smartphone (where surely those over 60 will have some difficulties).
A final mention should be made for the truly original itinerary with lesser-known stopovers that offer truly captivating excursions. We tried Matera and Lecce in Puglia, while in Sicily we went to discover the Baroque art of Syracuse and Catania. The excursions are also designed to bring the "bubble" to the ground, in fact you move in small groups and you always have to wear a mask. However, it is forbidden to go off independently, but the excursion package for the five ports was really competitive and therefore the experience of discovering the destinations for paying guests is always excellent.