Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Costa NeoRomantica: Jewels of the Far East Cruise

The largest European cruise operator with 14 ships sailing around the world, Costa Cruises has been our top choice for our cruise vacations ever since we had the chance to board Costa Victoria in Singapore back in 2016. I've been in touch with Lester of Travel People, Costa's preferred sales agent in the Philippines, for exciting deals and promos offered to the local market. One great deal we did not want to miss was a 5-day cruise across Japan that set sail last August 2018.

Our five-day Jewels of the Far East Cruise aboard the Costa NeoRomantica originated in Fukuoka's Cruise Center and traveled to 3 more cities in Japan (Maizuru, Kanazawa, and Sakaiminato) then in Pusan, South Korea before going back to Fukuoka for de-boarding.

Public buses saved us tons of money because taking a cab in Japan is quite pricey.

Just like in airports, cruise check-in is required before boarding to make sure all passengers (especially foreign tourists) have the required documentation and are all accounted for.

Completed in 1993 and refurbished in 2011 to increase its capacity, Costa NeoRomantica's decks are named after popular cities in Europe such as Monte Carlo, Madrid, Vienna, Verona, Paris, London, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. Aside from the usual entertainment on-board, the ship boasts of a full luxury spa called Samsara featuring a vast 4,400 floor area that houses a gym, spa, thalossotherapy pools, treatment rooms, sauna, Turkish bath, UVA solarium, cabins, and suites.

Lido Bar Saint-Tropez

Grand Bar Piazza Italia

Cabaret Vienna

Tango Disco

One of the 789 cabins in Costa NeoRomantica, ours was an ocean view stateroom with a queen bed (or more like 2 single merged into one). Much to our dismay, all staterooms with a private balcony were full so I had to convince CS really hard to take what's available. Apart from balcony, the room had everything we need - a comfortable bed with side tables, television, open closet, and toilet and bath. Basic bath essentials are provided but its always better to bring your own brands.

The daily program, individual Costa cards, a welcome letter, tour order forms, and FAQ sheet were available in each room to get the guests accustomed to the activities in-store aboard the ship.

If you love food as much as we do, then you'd be excited to know that most cruises offer buffet meals throughout the day. In Costa NeoRomantica, guests are treated to several dining options - an all-inclusive sit down restaurant and a buffet dining area offering international cuisine, and paying restaurants and bar if you fancy exclusivity and gourmet dishes. An 8-course steak meal sounds nice but paying $150/head does not, so we always find ourselves lining up in the buffet area or booking a table at the sit-down restaurant. You can order as much as you can because there's no limit here! Just make sure to order/get enough food you can consume to avoid wastage.

Tip: To save money, take heavy breakfast before leaving the ship for shore excursions; you can also dine at Costa when you return from your day tour at the all-day buffet restaurant.

Photo taken on the first day of the cruise and at 4 kilos lighter - my belly and chubby cheeks took the heavy hit after a week of relaxing and pampering aboard the Costa NeoRomantica!

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