Cruising, Italian Style

Spending a day at sea is never wasted on me and sailing between Palma de Mallorca and Messina, Sicily on the Costa Smeralda provides the perfect opportunity for a ‘me/we’ day.

Let’s be upfront. I proudly declare that I am a spa addict. I’m not ashamed and with no intention of being cured I’m starting my day at sea with a visit to the onboard SOLEMIO Spa, operated by One Spa World, the leader in spas at sea.

Effective COVID-19 protocols have been implemented and by taking advantage of capacity restrictions it’s now possible to schedule and reserve the entire thermal suite exclusively for you and yours. Soak in the mineral enriched waters of the bubbling hydro pool, bask in the warmth of the sauna, chill out in the snow room and traverse a course of soothing shower treatments. Cap off the intimate seventy five minutes with inner reflection on a heated lounger.  

Costa Smeralda

Photo: Steve Leland

Nothing defines ‘Cruising Italian Style’ better than a morning coffee, so temporarily tearing ourselves away from the spa we head for Cafe Vergnano, surrounded by the centerpiece multi-deck Colosseo theater. A long list of specialty coffees are available but true to the mission of authenticity we opt for high voltage caffeination with an espresso (actually two). With a slightly guilt ridden conscience we oblige the freshly baked pastries that are screaming for attention and go with a sugar coated Nutella bomba and flaky croissant.

The shops and casino are open and sea day social activities are everywhere but this day is a ‘me/we’ day. Mitigating the pastry intake (or so I tell myself) a 1 1/2 mile walk around the outdoor track plus 30 minutes in the gym on the elliptical absolves any hint of guilt. But striking back at willpower weakness, it’s lunchtime and Pummid’Oro is the venue du jour for a delicious Calabrese pizza and a mid day glass of Chianti.

On the return to the spa we explore The CODE Museum. I know what you’re thinking. “Wait…didn’t you say this was a day at sea?”  The CODE Museum is the first museum onboard a ship to grasp the infectious spirit of Italian design and fashion and displays a plethora of objects, furnishings and engineering accomplishments of noted Italians.

Back in the palace of pampering, SOLEMIO, I’m anxious to experience new avenues of indulgence. On previous cruises, I’ve been wrapped in seaweed, basted with mud masques and kneaded from top to bottom but this time I’ve scheduled an intriguing heated quartz bed massage treatment.

Laying it All On The Table

The massage table contains a six inch layer of heated quartz granules containing 84 minerals. Laying face down, semi-cocooned in the warm granules, my back is basted with hot oil and ‘my’ technician gently rolls a bamboo rod over the tight muscles of shoulders and back. It’s 20 minutes of ooh’s and ahh’s followed by rolling over and a repeat on the flip side. Seventy five minutes later I’m relaxed, refreshed and invigorated for the night ahead.

With daylight waning, a stop by the Campari Bar for an aperitif is deemed authentically appropriate. (It’s Cruising, Italian Style remember?) One of the 19 themed bars onboard, this classic bar overlooks the Colosseo theater. While the trend on new ships tends to focus on grandiose multi-deck atriums serving as a bar/gathering place, the Colosseo blends that aspect along with an in-the-round showroom featuring ongoing music and cabaret style acts.

Costa Smeralda

Photo: Steve Leland

Considering the decidedly international profile of Costa and assorted languages spoken onboard, entertainment focuses on visual presentations. Nightly shows in the San Remo theater are high energy and expertly choreographed programs. The Jazz Club Lounge features a trio of jazz musicians and an energized show band provides opportunities for dancing the night away in the

Of course visiting intriguing ports of call is an important part of cruising, but a day at sea is a great way to reflect on things that are important, namely yourself!

As a former Cruise Director, Steve has been cruising the world for the past forty years. Bringing a new dimension to cruise journalism, he continues to spin the globe searching for off the grid cruise adventures and unplugged destinations to share with Porthole Cruise Magazine readers.