I recently returned home from a Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Venezia. This was my first experience with Costa Cruises and after my 8-day experience traveling through Turkey and Greece, I felt inspired to share my experience with my fellow North Americans.

The Costa Venezia docked in Bodrum, Turkey
The Costa Venezia docked in Bodrum, Turkey

Below you will find 5 things I think Americans should know before cruising with Costa Cruises. If you would rather watch my video instead of reading about my experience, scroll to the end of this article to watch my YouTube video.

1. English Speakers Are in the Minority

Costa Cruises is an Italian cruise line, so don’t expect predominantly English speakers. In fact, you shouldn’t assume any one of the guests speaks English. If you’ve traveled to Europe before then this shouldn’t be anything new to you. I would equate my experience on Costa Cruises no different than when I visit another country, such as Italy, Spain, or Paris. Of course, you will meet friendly people that speak English, but never assume that someone next to you will know what you’re saying if you just rattle off a few sentences.

Why Does This Matter?

It didn’t bother me, but it may bother you, anon. Allow me to explain a scenario where this is vastly different when sailing with an American cruise line. Imagine you sit at a bar where other patrons are drinking. On an American cruise line, such as Royal Caribbean or Carnival, almost always conversation is sparked between bar patrons. Sometimes I’ll initiate, while other times I’m approached with friendly banter. On Costa Cruises, however, guests traditionally keep to themselves. My assumption isn’t that guests are unfriendly, but that there are so many languages on board and there’s a good chance you won’t understand one another. Just something to think about if you’re the kind of person that likes to chat everyone up.

2. Are Costa Cruises Safe?

Believe it or not, Cruising is quite safe. Not only are you required to be vaccinated and receive a negative Covid-19 antigen test 48 hours before boarding the ship, but there are also countless hand sanitizer stations and still a fair amount of social distancing.

Costa Cruises has dropped its mandatory mask policy for guests cruising, though there were still quite a few cruisers that wore theirs throughout the sailing. I wore mine off and on depending on how I felt in various situations: excursion buses, crowded dining areas, etc. Costa does ask guests to wear a mask when in more closed-off areas, such as while you’re taking in a show in the theater. I would say at least 90% took the advice and masked up, which I thought was impressive seeing as though most like to rebel whenever it comes to mask rules.

Why Does This Matter?

I think cruising gets a bad rap when it comes to safety. Before the pandemic, you would hear horror stories about guests getting sick and spreading germs, so naturally, with Covid-19 and its severity, you can understand skeptics. I’m here to tell you I’ve sailed on four cruises since travel opened up and have never felt safer. Between the mandatory vaccinations, Covid testing before boarding, and the required testing post-cruise, you’re in pretty safe hands. I wouldn’t let it stop you from enjoying a vacation. When in doubt, just mask up as often as possible.

3. Less Food at Your Disposal

Unlike American cruise lines, Costa Cruises doesn’t have various food options 24/7, and it’s honestly for the best. One of the things that has always put me off when it comes to cruising is the amount of food waste. Costa not only reminds customers to not over consume, they even donate food to those in need through their partners at local ports.

Why Does This Matter?

If you’ve cruised before on an American cruise line, such as Carnival or Royal Caribbean, there’s a very good chance you’re used to eating non-stop. I figured it was worth mentioning since it might come as a surprise when you have less opportunities at your disposal.

4. Entertainment is Different

You won’t find comedians on a Costa Cruise, or any shows with speaking roles, for that matter. Assuming you read through answer #1 above, then you likely understand why. Due to the vast amount of different languages sailing on a Costa Cruise, it would be unfair to have one language featured on a show.

What Does This Matter?

As someone who loves seeing all the shows on a cruise, it was a bit offputting at first. I’m so used to seeing late-night comedy shows and performances with dialogue. I’m happy to report I was able to catch the majority of the shows on Costa Venezia and loved them all.

5. There Isn’t a Costa Cruise App for North America

If you’ve ever cruised before then you know how valuable the cruise line’s app is. It will show you show times, allow you to book dinner reservations, spa appointments, and excursions, and some even show you the ship’s current position and the current temperature outside. Needless to say, they are extremely useful on your cruise vacation.

Unfortunately for North American cruisers, their app isn’t available yet. I was told by their sales team that the app is in the process of being approved, so there is a very good chance it will be available soon.

Why Does This Matter?

I felt pretty lost without an app. This may not be relatable for everyone, but whenever I’m on a cruise I rely on the app multiple times a day. Costa Cruises does provide a daily pamphlet featuring the day’s activities, but I always lost mine or forgot to bring it with me when I left the room. Because of this, I missed multiple shows and activities. I admit I could have been better prepared with planning out my day, so maybe I was just a bit too disorganized. Even so, an app would have been a game-changer for my first experience with Costa Cruises.

Wrapping Up

There were a lot of great things to experience on Costa Cruises and their new itinerary out of Istanbul. I created this post solely on the fact that it was my first sailing on an Italian cruise line and wanted to share what I noticed differed from my other cruise experiences in the past. I think any North American that is either well-traveled or open-minded will enjoy a Costa Cruises vacation. But don’t take my word for it, head over to their site and take a look at their itineraries.