Costa Firenze Postcard #10 – Dubai & Disembarking

What an evening our last one onboard turned out to be, I received a comment on the blog saying the next 2 cruises were being reported as cancelled on a Facebook group. This puzzled us because they were still embarking passengers all afternoon so when we went for pre-dinner drinks we asked our barman if he had heard anything and he told us it was true but said it was confidential. 5 minutes after that 2 British ladies came and sat close by and said they had just boarded but were told the cruise was cancelled. It was too late to notify them earlier so Costa had taken them on board while other arrangements could be made to get them home.

The MDR was deserted, only a handful of tables were being used and it felt really odd. Halfway through our meal, there was an announcement over the address system confirming to all what we already knew.




Everyone would be disembarked on the 22nd with no potential start to cruising again until the 4th February. We finished our meal enjoying the full attention of our two waiters and at the end we had a photo taken with them but on their phone. That was a first for us as it’s normally the other way around.

After saying our goodbyes we went back to Bella Bar to have a nightcap and say goodbye to them too. Weirdly enough, they also took a photo of us all on their phone! Twice in one night. The ship was now very deserted so we made our way back to the cabin for a few hours sleep. Our alarm went off at 5:00am and we were dressed and packed by 5:45. We were self disembarking so carried our own cases off, using the lift for the first time to get to deck 0. Our transfer was outside the cruise terminal already and we left at 6:00 for the 30-minute drive to Dubai Airport T1 and our BA flight back to the UK.

I have to say, the Verifly app worked like a dream at DXB, check-in was swift without the need to show any documents.


That’s it from me on this trip and I hope you have enjoyed following us along on this latest adventure.

The latest drone show video is now been uploaded and is at the bottom of postcard #3

Costa Firenze Postcard #9 – Dubai, UAE

So we have reached our last full day onboard the ship, we delayed the packing first thing, not even getting the cases out from under the bed. We wanted to keep the cabin uncluttered for as long as possible and my chief packer insisted she could manage it in around 30 minutes. Who am I to argue.





It was very windy last night and we assume that because of that, there wasn’t a drone show or any fireworks. We had fingers crossed the winds would drop and we can see it on our last night but it has still been very windy again today, albeit with scattered clouds and a decent amount of sunshine.




After trying various locations around the ship we eventually found a couple of beds in one of the alcoves on the prom deck. It ticked all the boxes, out of the wind but in the sun. They are just like little beach houses and provide you with your own space. I am not sure if there is normally a fee for them but today there wasn’t and they were spot on for our needs.



I also managed to check-in for our flights which was a very tedious process. We were again encouraged to use the Verifly app which wanted pdf vaccination certificates along with a pdf PLF. I was backwards and forwards from apps to websites for well over an hour but in the end, I achieved my goal. I’m relatively savvy when it comes to things like this and just wonder how those older and less knowledgeable get by. Lunch today more or less followed yesterday’s routine with Nicole having a sushi lunchbox and me having something from the buffet. We investigated sunbeds on the upper decks but there was no shelter from the wind so we moved back down to the prom deck. If anything, I would say that the wind was actually stronger in the afternoon. By 4:00 it had turned decidedly chilly so we made for the atrium for a couple of drinks before going back to the cabin to pack. The winds have continued all day and are very chilly, even the large Ferris wheel hasn’t moved today so there is very little chance of seeing the drone show again.




Tonight we will eat in the MDR and bid farewell to our two servers and finish off in Bella Bar for a last nightcap (or two). Very early start in the morning as we are being picked up from the cruise terminal at 6:30.

Costa Firenze Postcard #8 – Dubai, UAE

First and foremost, we have arrived back in Dubai and our next 2 days will be spent onboard because we are not going to be taking any excursions. We intend to make full use of the ship’s amenities and hopefully there will be some sunshine to go with it. We found Carnival Spirit waiting for us at the port but not connected to the terminal by an air bridge so not back in service yet.



So, to last night and dinner at the speciality restaurant called Hot Pot. Each table has a heated 2 part pot in the centre. Each part is filled with a broth of your choice, there are 4 options to choose from, meat, fish, vegetable & Asian consommé. Nicole selected the vegetarian option while I chose the Asian. You then select what you want to cook in your broth, options are mixed meat platter, fish & seafood platter and mixed vegetable platter. Your broth is brought to your table in a hot flask and poured into your section of the pot which then has the heat turned on underneath. It is then up to you to cook your platter.


Recommended cooking times were 4 minutes for meat and 3 minutes for vegetables. When cooked you take them out of the pot and can either put them in a bowl as a soup using the broth as well or onto the plate and add some hot sauces and toppings. It was very tasty and a fun thing to do and Nicole enjoyed hers immensely.


We also discovered a birthday cake when we got back to the cabin, a nice surprise and great if had been dairy-free. Nicole sliced it up and has shared it with our crew family.

Back to today, after a leisurely breakfast in the MDR (it’s the best place for Nicole’s vegan options), we sat on our balcony and watched some of the passengers disembarking along with a continuous stream of the crew coming and going from ship to terminal which we thought was for booster jabs but it turned out to be one of their 3 day PCR tests.


The ship felt much quieter this morning, because of dress codes ashore, we couldn’t make out if people were going to the airport or taking an excursion. The weather has been overcast all day but still lovely and warm so we have sat out up on deck relaxing in between eating and drinking and a game of crazy golf.


We did sit and watch Carnival Spirit leave port heading off for where ever. So sad to see her without any passengers. Last full day onboard tomorrow so starting to think about the dreaded packing.



Having checked the weather forecast, it doesn’t look as if it is going to be much better than today. Saturday is supposed to be good but we won’t be here to see it.

Costa Firenze Postcard #7 – Sir Bani Yas Island (originally Muscat, Oman)

We were roused from our sleep at 5:00 this morning by the sound of a helicopter doing an emergency evacuation, not the sort of birthday start Nicole had envisaged. After managing to doze back off again we were awake again at 7:30 to watch us pull alongside at the pier at Sir Bani Yas Island.


Breakfast in the MDR, back to the cabin then it was off to the beach in the hope that the weather would improve and provide at least some sunshine. After suffering from car park fever we eventually selected a couple of beds close to the water’s edge with a view of the ship right in front of us.


The weather in the morning was a real mixed bag, most of the time it was cloudy, with occasional sunny spells which probably accounted for about 20% of the time. Every now and again you would get spots of rain. The afternoon turned out to be much better than the morning. After 1:00 it was about 85% sunshine and warm enough to take a dip in the sea so that was Nicole’s birthday wish accomplished. Sir Bani Yas Beach is a contained area and you are not able to leave unless you take a ships tour.





We took a walk as far as you could go just to get some steps in and at the same time get some photos of the ship. All aboard was 4:30 but we made our way back at 3:30 because hunger got the better of us. A quick bite to eat in the buffet, followed by watching our sail away from Sir Bani Yas Island.

Tonight because it’s Nicole’s birthday, we are eating in one of the speciality restaurants call Hot Pot. It’s basically a Chinese Fondue where you cook your own food. It’s a bit of a first for us as we have never come across an onboard speciality restaurant that will cater for vegans. Find out how we got on in tomorrow’s post.

Costa Firenze Postcard #6 – Abu Dhabi & At Sea (originally Sea Day)


This morning we awoke to find that we had been joined by MSC Virtuosa, and it got me wondering how far they would be going with their Covid protocols and if their passengers would be free to get off on their own. Over the last couple of days, we have become very accustomed to Costa’s rules and they are being policed well too so everyone is abiding. We always use the stairs between decks and have a no lift policy, we don’t really see many other passengers doing the same so it is my guess most of the other passengers won’t be aware that deck 6 has been closed off and is being used as Costa Firenze’s Covid area.


We first noticed it the day after we embarked so started asking the crew the reason. From what we have been told, if anyone has tested positive, they are straight off the ship, anyone who has been deemed in close proximity to a positive case will go into isolation for a period of time. I am not sure if this is 5 or 7 days and also whether it also applies to passengers too as there are no official guidelines that we have been made aware of. The crew also have a PCR test every 3 days so Costa seems to be really on top of proceedings. To me, it is as safe as it can be.



Today was originally a full sea day but with all the itinerary changes it became another half day in Abu Dhabi. Our departure was listed as being 2:00 but in true Costa style, we left 2 hours earlier than that. Maybe because everyone was on board it was a simple enough thing to do? The outside decks have been very busy today, with the weather being back to normal it seemed the majority wanted to be outside. I must confess I was getting a little fed up with our views of the area where we were tied up. Apart from the cruise terminal, there was a Covid testing station for the locals with a constant stream of vehicles coming and going. Also, we were able to see a drive-through street food market which was extremely popular, frustrating for us because we couldn’t get off to go and take a look around it.


Linking in with food, for lunch today Nicole had a lunch box from one of the speciality restaurants called Sushino, the name itself should give you a clue.


For €10 you can get a 12 piece box of assorted sushi (Nicole’s being a vegan selection) and if I was to say it didn’t touch the sides you will understand how well it went down.


We spent the early part of the afternoon up on deck 12 away from the masses and enjoyed the warm sunshine, after all, it was one of the reasons we came in the first place.


It clouded over just before 3:30 so we made our way inside to find a bar for a couple of drinks. After a bit of retail therapy, we went back outside and walked 12 laps of the running track. The weather was not only cloudy but now windy too but it was great conditions for doing laps of the ship.


Tomorrow we are at Sir Bani Yas Island so I hope that the weather improves.

Costa Firenze Postcard #5 – Abu Dhabi, UAE (originally Doha, Qatar)

It was an early start for us this morning so we took our breakfast in the buffet. The rendezvous point for our excursion to Al Maya (described as an exclusive beach Island) was in Teatro Rosso at 8:15. We were really unsure of what to expect but were optimistic it could potentially be a good thing to do. However, as events unfolded it became a stark reminder of why we don’t take ships excursions. On this cruise, it’s the only way to get off the ship so it’s a case of needs must. We arrived at the theatre at 8:00 and the requested documents were checked, we had everything noted on the app plus tickets. Yes, we had our Costacard, yes we had proof of vaccination. What we didn’t have was the results of the PCR test we took on arrival at Dubai last Thursday morning!!! But it’s okay though because you have the sticker on the back of your passport!! All this does is prove that we took a test at the airport and doesn’t provide the result. It seemed to satisfy the Costa lady so we carried on our merry way, disembarking the ship and then passing through the very impressive Abu Dhabi cruise terminal to one of 5 waiting coaches.



We were the first on our coach but then proceeded to wait for 35 minutes until the last couple finally arrived to make our coach total 30. 8:15 had then become 9:00 and we were still at the cruise terminal. Another headcount, then the only other instruction from a Costa rep – be back on the boat for the return journey at 2:15. A 15-minute coach trip through Abu Dhabi to the boat which would then take us to the island. This is where were we then asked for printed proof of a negative PCR test???? Lots of arguing and puzzled looks before the security man relented and let us all through. Two coach loads made up a total of about 60 people that were then distributed across 3 boats to the island.


This bit was actually quite enjoyable taking about 15 minutes to ferry across and arriving at 9:30. Paradise it certainly wasn’t but it was still a very nice beach and complex.


Apart from the journey to get here, the day was actually really peaceful and relaxing, plus it got us off the ship for a few hours. A little bit of clearer instructions would have made the whole process a lot smoother. The journey back was a little less eventful and took around 50 minutes.




Getting back on board the ship again was very much like we were used to with the only exception being the mask-wearing. We spent the remainder of the afternoon just wandering around the ship trying to find a good place for sunbeds that would suit us tomorrow interspersed with a few bar stops.


Tonight we are back in the MDR at 9:00 for dinner and will see how lively the ship is after that.

Costa Firenze Postcard #4 – Abu Dhabi, UAE

I was awake early again this morning so set about trying to review last night’s events. Once we had unpacked our cases it was about 8:20 pm and with dinner at 9:00, we had lost any chance of seeing more of the ship at that time. So, we went in search of a bar for a quick pre-dinner drink. We found somewhere on deck 5 outside the speciality restaurants called Bella Bar and were quickly served. It was only a short walk from there to our dining room at the aft of the ship and is called Ristorante dei Medici, it is the larger of two MDR’s onboard with the other not open on this cruise. Social distancing is very obvious with the seating arrangements and our table for this cruise is 431 on the upper level. Our two waiters Bryan and Melvin are from the Philippines, both very engaging and attentive. The food was excellent and as expected, Nicole also had her own vegan menu to choose from. The centre area of the dining room is quite stunning as you will see from the photos below



After we had finished our meal we made our way to the atrium which is called the Piazza Della Signoria and ended the evening there with a few drinks. At one point before the theatre kicked out, there were 14 bar staff with only 13 passengers to serve.


There is no issue at all getting served so far that’s for sure.

To get off the ship in Abu Dhabi, you have to take an official excursion so we decided not to bother today, however, we are getting off tomorrow and going to Al Maya which is described as an exclusive beach Island just minutes from Abu Dhabi. We had to book this using the Costa app as the excursions office is closed under the Covid restrictions onboard. It’s the same with Guest Services as well, all communication with them is to be done over the phone. Another area that is closed is the gym which was a bit of a disappointment for Nicole. Another thing we have not seen with any of the other cruise lines we have been on since Covid is Costa have a mandatory temperature check to be done daily before 3:00pm and there are machines dotted around the ship at various locations to enable you to do this. Talking of machines, they also have other points around the ship where you can register your credit card for the final payment of your onboard account.


The weather wasn’t the best first thing today, it started off overcast and windy and never really improved that much until around 2:30 when the clouds cleared to provide some welcome sunshine. The morning did however give us a great opportunity to explore the ship and get a feel for it. We started on the upper decks and worked our way down, checking every possible area available. It’s an absolutely beautiful ship, it still has the Costa feel but a lot more refined than others we have been on.


One thing evident to us was the number of places to sit, there are options available everywhere. After lunch in the buffet, we made our way to an outside area of the Lounge Della Moda at the aft on deck 5, whereas I mentioned earlier, the sun started to break through around 2:30 and it was really nice to sit outside. Today we have completely relaxed and after the run-up to boarding now feel totally chilled.


The rain returned around 5:00 so being as dinner wasn’t until 9:00 we went to the buffet to grab a couple of sandwiches. So, that’s it from me today, hopefully, I can find time tomorrow to bring you up-to-date with how our island excursion went.

Costa Firenze Postcard #3 – Dubai & Embarkation

Embarkation day tends to be very busy but I will endeavour to provide as much waffle as I can today.  Another excellent nights sleep but awake at 5:30 so spent the time adding the video of the Drone Show to yesterday’s post.  After breakfast, we took a long walk along Jumeirah Beach almost right to the end and back. We got very close to the ship and could just about make out our cabin. With the weather slightly overcast and with a nice breeze it was actually really enjoyable plus a great way to kill some time. We had to check out from the hotel at midday but had an embarkation slot of 2:30 so sat out by the pool until it was time to go. The cruise terminal was only a 10-minute drive from the hotel so we didn’t have far to go.  What happened when we reached the cruise terminal beggars belief.


No cars, nothing other than 2 other passengers stood outside the terminal building. To say it was deserted is an understatement. We were met by a young lady who checked we had all the correct paperwork then ushered us up to the next level to check-in. This next area was also deserted so we walked straight up to the desk and within 7 or 8 minutes had completed check-in. All this time we had not seen another passenger getting on.



We had a 10-minute wait while the air bridge was adjusted but after that, we were soon on board.  What a totally unique boarding experience!!!




Once onboard, the first thing we needed to do was to locate our cabin and pick up our Costa cruise cards. Our cabin is compact and very functional and will make a great home for the next 7 nights. For the first time, a proper shower cubicle and no clingy curtain.




After attending the English speaking welcome meeting we made our way back to the cabin to see if the luggage had arrived which unfortunately it hadn’t.  It is very obvious that Costa is taking Covid very seriously with lots of additional measures on board. We have also been informed that passenger capacity is 4232 – 5078 but on this cruise, there are around 1000 or so we should have plenty of space.  One thing I will need to get to grips with is the WiFi, it is looking like I can only use one device so transferring photos may become an issue. I can write on my phone but most of my photos are on the camera and tablet. I will find a way!! Muster was at 5:30 and conducted in your muster station and wearing your life jackets.  At least this is now conducted inside and not out on the prom deck lined up in rows with the shortest at the front. However, in true Costa style, we had this in 6 languages and it took an incredible 45 minutes. In 7 previous Costa cruises, I have never known it take as long as this before.  We eventually made it back to the cabin at 6:20 to find our cases still not there. They eventually arrived just after 7:00.


Being so close to the Drone Show start we decided to hang around in the cabin. Once again we have not had an opportunity to explore the ship on day one.  We are on second sitting for dinner tonight so I will catch up with how that went in my next post. 

Costa Firenze Postcard #2 – Dubai Pre Cruise

We stayed up until around 9:45pm to try and help our body clocks get synchronised with the local time. We both slept really well, I awoke around 6:15 while Nicole said she was roused after hearing the call to prayer from the nearby mosque. After breakfast we went out for another walk and headed towards Jumeirah Beach, we spotted a huge ferris wheel last night through the skyscrapers so thought we would investigate. When are reached the beach we not only spotted the wheel but Costa Firenze too.



I had no idea the cruise terminal had been relocated because the last time we boarded here it was right up the other end of Dubai.

Mask wearing is mandatory here both inside and outside, the only exception is if you are sat to eat and drink. I would say most people are abiding by the rules with about 10% ignoring the rules. After we returned to the hotel we received emails with our negative PCR results which means we are now clear to embark tomorrow. It has been a much more relaxed day and one we have spent much of out by the hotel pool. As soon as the sun had passed by the end of our hotel bringing shade to the pool area we went for an early evening meal with the intention of walking more in the evening.

With dusk falling, we set off for the beach again. This time to see how different it looked in the evening.




What we didn’t expect to see was a drone show followed by fireworks. It apparently happens every night until the end of January. It really is something quite remarkable and fascinating to watch. I have found time to add my phone video to YouTube so you can see more of the show.



When it had finished we carried on walking to the Bluewaters Island where the big wheel is but stopped short of doing anything more because of how busy it was. Something to come back for another day. Every now and again it is very easy to forget Covid is still with us and twice today we have forgotten to put our masks back on.


We eventually made our way back to the hotel after what has been a very enjoyable evening. Embarkation day tomorrow so we should see the drone show from a completely different angle tomorrow night.

Just an observation, we have not seen a policeman, a dog or a cat since we arrived here. There is no graffiti and everyone just seems to get on with life.


Costa Firenze Postcard #1 – The Journey to Dubai & Pre Cruise

Having done as much preparation as we could possibly do, we set off for Heathrow’s T5 for our British Airways flight to Dubai. It was a very strange feeling being back inside an airport and I don’t know if it was the time of day or whether it’s just like that all the time at the moment but it seemed eerily quiet for such a large terminal. Security was deserted and a breeze to navigate and airside wasn’t that much busier. It felt like something was missing which I suppose is people really. Checking in at home proved to be a waste of time and effort, British Airways encouraged the use of a third-party app called Verifly, I followed all the instructions including the uploading of the PCR test results. They were approved by someone at Verifly but when I tried to check in, BA kept telling me that I wasn’t ready to check in and that certain documents were missing. Everything was rectified at the check in desk but in my opinion just another case of phone technology not fit for purpose. 


Our plane, an Airbus A380 had everyone onboard very quickly which was mainly due to the lack of fellow passengers and we found ourselves in a cabin only about 10% full. People were soon jostling for better seats with more room to stretch out.  Our scheduled departure time was 8:40pm and we were in the air not too far off that, no queuing or waiting at the end of the runway, just taxi to the end and then straight up in the air.  It was this part of the trip that I was least looking forward to, being in a plane, in close proximity to lots of others but in the end, it worked out really well for us. I got talking to one of the stewards just before we got off and he said the plane had flown at just under 50% capacity.  We were really quick getting off the plane in Dubai too, the first thing we needed to show was our pre-departure PCR test results. From there it was testing time again,  another PCR which was managed really well. The whole process took under 15 minutes and that included the walk to the testing area. Immigration was also swiftly dealt with and once we had collected our luggage we located our transfer to the hotel. We landed at 7:40 and were checking in at the hotel at 9:45 so not bad going.


The only downside to all this was once we had entered our room, we had to stay there until our PCR results came through. They did say that we could go and get breakfast before going up which we did.

We are staying at the Wyndham Dubai Marina and have a room on the 29th floor overlooking the marina itself. It’s quite a view from up there.  And because it’s a certain person’s birthday this week, we have been upgraded to a Club Room which is located on the top 4 floors of the hotel. Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, the Club Lounge on the 31st floor is closed so it won’t be making a big difference to a normal room albeit a bit higher.

At just after 1:30pm we received the results from our entry PCR which were both negative, a bit of a horrible wait but at least could then go out and explore the area a bit.




We ended up walking around the waterfront at the marina so nothing too energetic.  We also booked the PCR test to get us on the ship, the hotel recommended a local company who will come to your room to take the test then email the results back within 24 hours. The guy was about 40 minutes later than scheduled but super-efficient and done in under 10 minutes. That’s 2 PCR’s in one day!!!

Tonight we took another walk around the marina to take in the spectacular evening views with the buildings illuminated.