Costa Atlantica sails in Italian style from Tianjin, but stays in Asia
The Chinese like to cruise with their friends and families because it’s relaxing: You don’t have to pack and unpack, and rush to the next destination.
Summer is a great time for cruising. And being on the Costa Atlantica is like being hosted by an Italian family. Guests enjoy Italian culture, delicious food and the hospitality of the crew, who are passionate about their work.
Typically, the Costa Atlantica leaves Tianjin, its home port in China for South Korea and Japan, with a five- or six-day itinerary.
The Chinese like to cruise with their friends and families, especially with the elderly and children. It’s a relaxing vocation for them as you don’t have to pack and unpack, and rush to the next destination.
The cruise ship has an artistic air about it, reminiscent of ancient Venice. It also pays tribute to Italian film director and screenwriter Federico Fellini, with drawings inspired by his work displayed on its 12 decks.
Among the tributes, is the La Dolce Vita Atrium named after his classic film. Near the atrium is a bar decorated with black-and-white film stills, showcasing his work that is famous for its baroque images.
The passenger decks are also named after his movies.
When you take the elevators, they give you a bird’s-eye view of the spacious atrium and a wall decorated with copies of old paintings.
A favorite place to be is the Florian Cafe. Passengers enjoy afternoon tea here and take photos using the typical European-style decor as background.
A well-decorated gondola reminds you of the cafe’s origins.
The cafe is a replica of the historic Florian Cafe in Venice.
Opened in 1720, the landmark is believed to be one of the oldest coffeehouses in the world.
Its customers have included the poet Lord Byron and the writer Charles Dickens.
Several years ago in Venice, while sipping a cappucino in the Florian cafe, I enjoyed the music of an orchestra and a viewof the beautiful St Mark’s Square. But now, in the ship’s Florian Cafe, I watch the blue sea outside through a porthole instead.
At night, the cafe turns into a bar, and I order a coffee cocktail while listening to an Italian opera solo accompanied by a pianist and a cellist.
The charm of cruising is that people of all ages have activities to enjoy. The cruise even offers karaoke and mahjong.
There are balls organized in the atrium every day. At a masquerade ball, two beautiful young women demonstrate their dance moves.
Several foreign crewmembers are also dressed in costumes and encourage Chinese guests to dance.
A grandmother is dancing happily with a pretty mask on her wrinkled face.
At the evening winds down, the music suddenly changes, A Chinese popular song, Little Apple, comes on. The catchy song, which has dance beats and repetitive lyrics, is the climax.
Passengers can also enjoy various kinds of live music in the bars, including the singing of popular Chinese songs.
The Caruso Theater offers excellent Western performances every night, ranging from dancing to magic shows.
When the Spanish magician manages to escape from the box he’s trapped in, everyone is surprised and wants to know how he managed it.
I later chance upon a “secret garden” near the theater— a long walkway with elegant chairs and tables, and round windows.
It’s great to find this secluded place on board.
The afternoon light makes it perfect to read a book, or to take photos.
The cruise ship, which is adorned with exquisite decor, is perfect for picture-taking.
My friends all dressed up pose for our photographer friend.
Shopping is another important activity on the ship.
The tax-free shops sell watches, jewelry, cosmetics and bags, and offer discounts from time to time.
For those who are traveling with children, they can leave their kids at the Squok Club where child care professionals look after them.
Children can either join the Captain for a Day or Princess for a Day programs.
In the captain program, kids get to wear a captain’s uniform and learn things such as nautical terms and how the weather affects the behavior of the sea.
Little princesses can have their hair, nails and makeup done.
At night, the kids are allowed to attend a party.
The cruise also has delicious food 24 hours a day, with authentic Italian and Chinese fare. It also has Japanese cuisine and Chinese hot pot, which cost extra.
My friends and I love the freshly made pizza and the Chinese noodles. But We are really worried about putting on weight.
Another thing to experience is climbing a glass staircase connecting the restaurants on the ninth and 10th deck. It is a breathtaking experience.
When the cruise ship docks at Jeju Island and then Fukuoka, we head onshore at both places and tour the two cities by bus.
Jeju Island’s Teddybear Safari showcases teddy’s and other stuffed toys including giraffes and elephants.
In Fukuoka, the Dazaifu Tenmangu is a shrine built over the grave of Michizane Sugawara.
The high-ranking government officer was worshipped as the God of literature or calligraphy after his death in 901 AD.
Near the shrine is a street lined with stores selling Japanese handicrafts and snacks such as plum cakes.
During our visit to Fukuoka, it so happens that it was Hakata Gion Yamakasa, an annual Japanese festival.
While in the bus on our way back to the ship, we see Japanese men in white coats and loincloths on beautifully-decorated floats.
One thing you must not miss on the cruise is the brilliant sunrises and sunsets.
I sit on a chair in my stateroom balcony and watch the sun slowly rising above the sea.
I am a bit upset one day when I miss sunset because of the rain.
But when I amon the deck later I see a large rainbow above the water.
Clockwise from top: Open deck on the 12th floor. afternoon tea break at Florian Cafe; a cook making dessert.