Why You Owe It To Yourself To Sail on A Foreign Cruise Line
Photo courtesy of Costa Cuises
One of the benefits of cruise travel is the opportunity to visit exotic lands while having a familiar home base in the domestic ship itself to return to each day. But for those looking for even more regional immersion, foreign cruise lines are an alternative option, locally or abroad.
In fact, several U.S.-based cruise corporations own foreign brands in which to consider. Carnival Corporation has AIDA Cruises (German), Costa Cruises (Italian) and P&O Cruises (British); and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited has stakes in CDF Croisieres de France (French), Pullmantur Cruises (Spanish) and TUI Cruises (German).
Now to be sure, these cruise lines cater to their own source markets, and everything from the primary languages spoken to the cuisine reflects that objective. Think of the experience as visiting a foreign country where you wouldn’t expect English to dominate nor the local customs to mirror your own.
With that said, for anyone who has already taken a cruise, the experience will certainly be recognizable. Costa Cruises, for instance, is very similar to Carnival Cruise Line right down to the interior design from Joe Farcus. But as an authentic Italian version, you can expect better pizza and, perhaps the only negative, more smoking onboard. Also, robot enthusiasts will enjoy the new Pepper automaton for guest interactions in fluent Italian or English.
Plus, the line now features Costa Cruise Tours in collaboration with Central Holidays specifically for North Americans to experience pre-cruise extensions for cultural immersion opportunities before departing from Barcelona, Marseille, Civitavecchia and Savona.
“Our shared goal in Costa Cruise Tours is to create the go-to option for European cruise and land packages that inspires prospective cruisers to make the most of their vacations by combining a Costa Cruises sailing with air and pre-cruise land arrangements — including accommodations, sightseeing tours, special experiential activities, and other unique offerings for the ultimate in packaged travel by land and sea,” said Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays.
Similarly, but closer to home, Costa Cruises will even feature holiday Caribbean sailings from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this winter. Italian Christmas traditions will be featured including a special seven-course Christmas Eve dinner with pan d’oro "golden cake" and a midnight mass. For little cruisers, there will additionally be holiday-themed arts and crafts, carol singing and letter writing to Santa before an appearance from Saint Nicholas onboard.
Privately owned MSC Cruises has taken things a step farther by bringing European culture to the Americas year-round, departing from Miami, Florida on its current MSC Divina and future MSC Seaside. Its ships offer a true Mediterranean experience uniquely available in the Caribbean. Cultural tastes onboard the Divina include the Eataly steakhouse, genuine gelato, Italian operas, “The Smurfs” kids facility and central Venetian piazza.
The flip side of this are domestic cruise lines that are beginning to cater to the China market, and something tells me that once Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Joy comes out in that region, there will be plenty of U.S. citizens, yours truly included, who will want to try it out for its incredible on-deck go-kart racetrack alone. But regardless of where you decide to cruise to, you can do so with fellow Americans or international citizens to your cultural heart’s content.
More by Jason Leppert
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