This past week I was lucky enough to be one of the first passengers to sail from Istanbul on board Costa Venezia. Costa Venezia’s new cruises to Turkey & Greece launched on the 1st May as part of a brand-new flight + cruise package from Costa Cruises and Turkish Airlines and the itineraries are absolutely perfect if you love exploring both bold historic cities and laidback whitewashed villages, like me.
Disclosure: I travelled as a guest of Costa Cruises but all opinions are my own.
After a comfortable flight with Turkish Airlines from London Heathrow (a generous meal and in-flight entertainment is included) I boarded Costa Venezia to discover Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Mykonos and Athens, a route which is 1 of 2 brand new 7-day itineraries dedicated to Turkey and Greece.
I take you through in detail what I enjoyed about this itinerary and the best things to do in each port in this post, but first I want to tell you a bit more about the ship and why it was wonderful to sail the Med on Costa Venezia.
What it’s like on board Costa Venezia
Built in 2019 with the Chinese market in mind, Costa Venezia is a 135,000-ton ship with 969 balcony cabins. Inspired by the city of Venice, you’ll find murals in the guest cabins, life-size gondolas in the Gondola Bar and Grand Canal Restaurant, and Carnival themed live entertainment at Teatro Rosso, a 900-seat grand theatre that is modelled after Venice’s opera house.
And while the Venetian theme is rather obvious, I found the décor quite elegant. I particularly loved the glittering Murano chandeliers dotted around the lounges and all the greenery and pergolas in the Giardino Veniziano, an outdoor oasis at the front of the ship.
The ship’s social hub, Piazza San Marco, is an ornate atrium surrounded by marble columns and dotted with luxury Italian retail stores. During the day, rich velvet seats provide the perfect place to meet for coffee before disembarking at port. Then at night the Piazza comes alive with live music and the shaking of cocktails. It was my favourite place to stop for a Hugo Spritz before heading to the Theatre.
Check out this reel to see what a typical day on board Costa Venezia looks like!
The cabins on Costa Venezia
I stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 9, which was generously sized and immaculately clean. A huge mural of Venice forms a modern feature wall behind the bed, while ornate gold mirrors and turquoise brocade carpets add a touch of classic Venetian styling.
I was really impressed with the amount of storage space, both in the wardrobes and bathroom, and the water pressure in the shower was perfect. My favourite spot was, of course, on the balcony where deck chairs and a coffee table invite you to watch the ever-changing scenery float by.
The bed was also super comfortable, but that could be because I wasn’t sharing it with my husband and 3-year-old child!
There was no fridge or tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin (this could be a Covid safety thing?) but bottled drinking water was provided daily.
Food on board Costa Venezia
With 13 different restaurants and 7 bars and lounges, the gastronomic offer on board Costa Venezia is among the widest in the Costa fleet. The speciality restaurants include sushi, steak, teppanyaki and BBQ but for a British passenger who loves Italian food it was the real Italian pizza, freshly made focaccia and traditional Sicilian lemon Cannoli that made me very happy.
As you would expect from an Italian company, the Italian dishes on board Costa Venezia were really quite special – I don’t think there was a pasta dish I didn’t like. The menus have been specifically created for Costa by three world-renowned chefs, Bruno Barbieri, Hélène Darroze and Ángel León, and each day there would be a destination dish from one of them that allowed you to enjoy Turkish and Greek flavours with an Italian twist.
The continental breakfast, either at the buffet or a la carte restaurant, was my go-to everyday, along with a proper barista coffee from any of the bars and lounges. (Costa use Caffe Vergnano beans, which we fell in love with in Puglia earlier this month.)
If you’re sailing onboard Costa Venezia soon, I’d definitely recommend you book into the Pizzeria for 1 night or 2. (Don’t miss the Tiramisu for dessert there.) Pick up a cannolo whenever you see one (they often appear on the buffet at breakfast, lunch and dinner and it’s hard to resist once you’ve tried one!) and if you miss lunch due to an excursion head to the Lido buffet restaurant between 4 and 5pm for afternoon tea. (The mini ham and cheese sandwiches on focaccia bread are just what you need to keep going until dinner!)
Finally, treat yourself to breakfast in your cabin at least once while on the ship. You simply scan the room service QR code found in your cabin and select what breakfast treats you’d like bought to you between 7 and 10am in the morning. I went for eggs benedict and loved slowly enjoying them on the balcony.
What to do on the ship
Costa Venezia has 2 pools and 2 Jacuzzis on board. 1 of the pools is indoors, meaning you can take a dip whatever the weather, and the other small pool and 2 Jacuzzis are on the back of the ship, offering great views when sailing.
There is an epic Aqua Park for children, with 3 waterslides, a body bowl and a splash pad that will suit a broad range of ages. There’s also a really cool high-rope course* that teenagers will love, along with a teenage lounge where they can play games and have a bit of space to themselves. Other amenities include a kid’s club, spa, outdoor gym and mini golf.
*additional charges apply for Rope Garden Adventure Park
When not in port, the extensive retail options on the ship are available. Spanning 2 decks you can shop for luxury bags, watches and fashion from the likes of Cartier, Bvlgari or Marni. It’s easy to stock up on make-up and perfume too with over 2,500 sq. foot of retail space dedicated to beauty, the largest on any ship in the world.
The Giardino Veneziano I mentioned earlier is where you’ll find the Aperol Spritz Bar and is one of my favourite parts of the ship. There’s a solarium with shower and sun loungers as well as chairs and tables under stylish orange and white striped umbrellas. The unlimited Aperol cocktails (with MyDrinks package) is a big bonus too!
But mostly while on board I liked to read from one of the quiet hidden seating areas on deck 5, watching the Turkish coastline sail by while sipping a cappuccino. Then later in the day, Lounge Della Stelle with its cosy egg chairs, herringbone blankets, live music and sophisticated bar was THE place to go for adults-only sundowners and sail away parties.
Entertainment on board the ship
I’m the type of cruise passenger who likes to spend as much time as possible in port either on an excursion or exploring independently. Costa Venezia often calls in port for longer than 10 hours so I didn’t actually spend that much time on the ship during the day. I did, however, make the most of the evening entertainment, enjoying 3 live shows at the theatre and numerous live performances across the different bars and lounges.
The theatre shows were quite different to anything I’ve seen on a cruise before. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a light and dance show you shouldn’t miss and another show that brings Venice Carnival to the stage with all its feathers and flamboyance, which was really enjoyable.
Our cruise included a White Night where everyone donned white for dinner and partied at a White Party disco into the early hours. Another night there was a Silent Disco and I feel like such a bore saying I missed both, but a cup of tea and an early night suited me better after all the sightseeing in Turkey and Greece!
Costa Venezia is the most memorable cruise ship I’ve ever sailed on because of its truly Italian personality. If you’re a foodie, I think you’ll love the wide range of cuisine on board – 13 restaurants is more than enough for a different venue every evening. The Italian coffee, pizza, cannoli and cocktails were absolute highlights of my cruising experience. And I absolutely loved this itinerary for a taste of Greece and Turkey. Stay tuned to find out more about what I did in each destination.
Discover more about the Comfort Plus cruising package, plus the best-selling itinerary I experienced via the Costa Cruises website.
Check out my Instagram for lots of stories shared live from the ship.