Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst is aboard the Costa Diadema for Costa Cruises' annual "Protagonisti del mare," or "Champions of the sea" gala event to honor the line's travel agent partners. His second dispatch follows. Click to read Tom's first dispatch.
Costa Cruises' new flagship, Costa Diadema, has a couple of features that I hadn't seen on other cruise ships that help make the passenger experience a little bit more pleasant.
In the ship's buffet restaurants, there is a caddy for utensils on each table. The caddy has a series of hooks, from which hang forks, knives and spoons, each from a small hole in the handle.
The caddies can hold enough tableware to serve half a dozen diners or more. Waiters come by periodically to refresh the supply of utensils.
I liked this innovation because often I only use one of the three utensils in the course of a meal. I may only need a spoon at breakfast for cereal. On a typical cruise line, I would unbundle a knife, fork and spoon set wrapped in a napkin, and use the spoon. The rest of the set would be considered used and would have to go back to be cleaned and rebundled.
Sometimes the buffets run out of utensil sets, resulting in a delay while a waiter scrounges some up. The same delay occurs if utensils get dropped on the floor during a meal.
Another welcome wrinkle was the thermos of coffee at every table during the morning breakfast service. On many other ships, coffee is either self-serve, which requires getting up from the table every time I need a refill, or flagging down a waiter.
Again, I liked the convenience of having three or four cups of coffee at my fingertips, and to be able to pour a half cup that won't get cold before I get to the bottom of it.
The Diadema had another feature new to the Costa fleet that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling: the Birreira Dresden Green. It is a bar equipped with tap space for eight draft beers. There are long trestle-style tables like those found in a beer garden, along with a two-person band and barmaids costumed like those seen at an Oktoberfest celebration.
The first night of the cruise there was a special tasting of a craft beer. The rest of the cruise, I could choose from among eight selections from Germany and Belgium, two of Europe's most prolific beer producers.
The chance to sample so many European beers on draft was a heavenly treat for the Americans on the cruise. My colleagues and I visited several times and still didn't try every selection on the menu.