Overview of Costa Victoria Cruise Experience (with Phuket and Langkawi Stopovers)25 December, 2014
We love to do cruises – once onboard, you need not bother with luggage transfers and immigration procedures when you arrive at each cruise stop and you need not worry about keeping yourself occupied onboard the cruise ship as there is so much food you can try onboard and the nightly theatre performances you can enjoy.
Sometimes there are themed cruises which makes the entire cruise experience unique and fun – one such themed cruise is that of Costa Cruises with its Carnival of Venice at Sea theme for guests sailing on Costa Victoria from Singapore between November 8, 2014 and January 6, 2015. Venice is one of my favorite destinations and I was curious to see how they replicate the whole Venice Carnival experience onboard the cruise ship. Just some background info – the Carnival of Venice is an annual festival held in Venice where there are celebrations filled with musicians, acrobats, clowns, magicians, puppeteers, beautiful masks, elaborate costumes and parades.
Our cruise itinerary onboard Costa Victoria was as follows:
10pm Costa Victoria departs from Harborfront Cruise Terminal for Phuket
Full day at Sea (Gala Dinner in the evening)
9am Arrival at Phuket (disembarkation by tender boats to Kalim Beach – a 15-20 minute walk to Patong Beach)
7pm Costa Victoria departs from Phuket to Langkawi (Carnival Venetian Dinner in the evening)
7am Arrival at Langkawi (disembarkation by the port beside Resorts World Langkawi)
1pm Costa Victoria departs from Langkawi to Singapore (Tropical Italian Dinner in the evening)
2pm Arrival at Singapore Harborfront Cruise Terminal
Although Costa Victoria is an 18-year old cruise ship (since 1996), it did not feel that way – likely because of a significant ship refurbishment in 2004. As you can see from our cabin – Balcony Classic Stateroom onboard Costa Victoria, the interiors are of modern contemporary decor with a veranda (balcony) to enjoy views of the ocean. The queen-sized bed comprises 2 single beds tied together.
Enjoying views of the sunset and sunrise from our veranda – there are 2 porch chairs and a small table to chill out by the sea (perhaps more during the evenings – as it can get quite hot under the midday sun).
Carnival of Venice – Venetian Dinner at Fantasia Restaurant (Ala Carte Dining)
You have a choice of ala carte or buffet dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For dinners, I suggest going for the ala carte dining. The dress code is formal (by right) but it is ok to dress down e.g. Tshirts, jeans. Although they explicitly stated “In the Restaurant, we kindly ask that you do not wear shorts or bermudas” in the daily programme sheet, I have not seen them turn away anyone dressed in shorts/bermudas – I had wore bermudas to dinner at Fanatsia Restaurant (ala carte dining) on Day 4.
The picture below shows our Venetian dinner feast – Venetian style bean soup, pan fried meat and vegetable dumplings, Linguini pasta with Alfredo sauce, braised beef ragout “Venetian-style” etc. The food was ok – an opportunity to try Venetian food; the service was great too as the waiters will try to accommodate dietary requests as much as possible. What I like especially is the flexibility in dining options – even if Italian/Venetian food is not what you like, there are other options on the menu that will likely meet most palates e.g. steamed rice, grilled Halibut fish fillet served with french fries, sambal chili sauce.
This was the Gala Night dinner (again – ala carte dining at Fantasia Restaurant) – Italian risotto and oven baked lobster!
Carnival of Venice Party at Main Deck
Upon boarding the Costa Victoria, you will be welcomed by festivities and celebrations in the spirit of Venice’s festivities. This will culminate into a Carnival of Venice Party on Day 3 (the evening when we departed from Phuket for Langkawi).
Each guest is provided with a complimentary Venetian mask (quite a nice one and pretty sturdy too!) in their room together with a preview of the Venetian dinner menu and a foldout photo frame to hold their memories of the night. We also received a folded towel dog in our room after we return from our day out in Phuket.
I have no pictures of the Carnival of Venice Party here but I can say it is very happening as guests and staff wore their Venetian masks (some even brought their own unique masks in preparation for the cruise) and some were even dressed in distinct Venetian costumes! There were lots of dancing and music and fun facilitated by the Costa Victoria live band and Animation Team.
Michael Jackson Tribute show by Michael Jackson Impersonator – ICE from Las Vegas at Festival Theatre
There were unique performances for each night of the cruise – we caught them all from the “Rich and Famous” musical to acrobat performances. My favorite is the “Michael Jackson Tribute” performance – excellent work by Ice – a famous Michael Jackson impersonator from Las Vegas. Very good dance moves, realistic costumes and singing – almost as if you are at a Michael Jackson concert. He even conducted a short dance course showcasing Michael Jackson’s dance moves the next day!
Sounds like lots to do, see and eat onboard Costa Victoria? Actually there are a lot more depending on how chillax you want it to be – you can choose to soak in the jacuzzi tubs by the central swimming pools on Deck 11 Rigoletto…
… or relax with a book at the Deck 12 Butterfly library – there are also computer terminals in the library which you can surf the net from (Internet connection is chargeable – not cheap; cheapest option is US$24 for 3 hours). In-room Wi-Fi is also available (at the same rate I mentioned above – no cheaper daily rate available).
Maybe it is the nerd in me but I enjoyed participating in Costa Victoria Quiz – there are quite a number of quizzes held throughout the cruise duration and each quiz revolves around a theme e.g. Movie, Music and General Knowledge. The top scorers (not limited to one winner) for each quiz will win Costa souvenir – I won a notebook (not the laptop – the paper one), reusable shopping bag, lanyard from a few quizzes onboard!
I also did a Bamboo Massage at the onboard Pompei Spa – look out for promotions in the daily programme sheet – I saw a 50% discount for Bamboo Massage on Day 3 so I immediately booked an appointment with Pompei Spa upon returning from my day trip in Phuket. The masseur used heated bamboo sticks to perform deep tissue massage which was supposed to reduce tension (after a long day shopping and eating in Phuket) and improve blood circulation – it was quite effective and relaxing. The Bamboo Massage treatment (50 minutes) usually cost US$160 – with the 50% discount, it was just US$80.
Shopping onboard Costa Victoria – lots of tax free shopping options – I find the cosmetic products, watches and jewelry quite competitively priced – there are bazaars held on certain days where more discounts are given for various products.
I will share more about our day trip experience at Phuket in a later post. We had a great time shopping and eating in Phuket – lots of local produce to buy and Thai food to try!
Langkawi was a short stopover – we took the Costa Victoria shuttle bus (US$8 per person for round trip to Pantai Cenang tax-free shopping area and Pantai Cenang beach). If you have a group of 4 or more, probably more economical to take a taxi from the port where you disembark – there are a lot of taxis around the port.
Costa Victoria cruise journeys vary from three to five nights travelling from Singapore to popular destinations such as Phuket in Thailand as well as Malacca, Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia.
Cruise fares of these voyages start at SGD 259 per person. There are sometimes early bird discounts, including free upgrades from Inside cabins to Oceanview cabins starting at SGD 338 per person e.g. a 4-to-go special offer for booking Inside cabins on 3-night sailings starting SGD 259 per person; and a 50 per cent off offer for booking Balcony cabins on selected 3-night sailings starting at SGD 429 per person. Kids under 13 years old will also be able to enjoy a “kids cruise free” offer.
Bookings can be made through Costa Cruises Preferred Sales Agents in Singapore – Citystate Cruises, Chan Brothers Travel, Commonwealth Travel, HongThai Travel Services, JP International Travel, SingExpress Travel and Stamford Discovery Cruise Center. For more information on Costa Cruises, see: http://www.costacruisesasia.com/