TV makes life on board Costa Serena look far from serene

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According to cruise director Federica Giammarioli – in five different languages – Costa Serena is one of the most beautiful ships in the world.
According to the narrator of a new TV series, it’s one of the world’s most spectacular cruise ships.
And if you can stand the tension over the next six weeks it will be the most watched cruise ship in the world, as the star of Cruise Ship Diaries – in glorious HD (that’s high drama as well as high definition).
The series promises to take us behind the scenes among the 1,000 crew who look after 3,800 passengers each week as the ship sails between Venice and Istanbul.
They are no ordinary crew. Captain Guiseppe Russo, seen steering the ship through the Guidecca Canal, is “known as the best manoeuverer in the world.” Of course he is . . . he’s Italian.
Federica is “one of the most sought-after cruise directors in the business, well-known for her even temperament and expert communication skills.”
She’s certainly impressive, but I’m not sure her assistant CD, Paula Olivera, is convinced:
“Federica is the one in charge of the whole entertainment department; she’s the one who takes the decisions . . . and I’m the one who puts them into practice, ha ha,” she snorts at the camera.
There are plenty of facts and figures – for example the 230,000 kg of food loaded each week, including 1,600 kg of pasta and 2,500 kg of fresh tomatoes, and the fuel bill of 500,000 euros.
The cameras linger on a different kind of figure – the ship’s dancers, who include 22-year-old Heather Gould from England, at sea for the first time in her life.
Choreographer Gerald van Vuuren, on board for a week to scream at the performers until they get it right, says he likes his female dancers thin and with long legs, but not too thin. And he’s worried.
“It’s very important for a girl to watch her diet. We are working for an Italian ship, so we’re gonna have a lot of starch – lot of bread, lot of pasta. After four months, six months on a ship, a lot of girls do roll off the gangway, you know”
Gerald’s not the only one who is worried about how things are going on the ship. Life is constantly being lived against the clock – but then it almost always is in this sort of documentary.
There has to be tension at every turn. So the routine task of loading 1,200 tonnes of fuel, which probably passes off without incident every single week of the year, is made to sound like a crisis-packed procedure fraught with danger.
And Irish hotel manager Ann Ryan, about to leave the ship and go on holiday, is almost apopleptic about a crew member whose jacket was unbuttoned.
The fact that there are 580 honeymooners on board instead of the expected 420 sends everyone into a spin, although to be fair, Gerald and leader of the entertainment team Beppe are excitable chaps at the best of times. Little wonder two male dancers were thrown off the ship for fighting.
Thankfully, Captain Guiseppe remains calm throughout, whether he is leading a theatre full of couples renewing their wedding vows, or donning a curly wig to amuse the kids’ club.
The first episode of Cruise Ship Diaries will be broadcast on National Geographic (Sky channel 526, and in HD on 543) on Sunday.
In the coming weeks, tension mounts as safety inspectors come on board to inspect the ship during a spell of bad weather, and a sudden death on the ship adds to the stress for the crew.
Funny how it all looks so calm and peaceful among the fluffy clouds of designer Joe Farcus’s fantasy nine-deck atrium, where the most hectic activity is passengers videoing their surroundings and each other.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:33+00:00 5 February 2010|Cruise Entertainment, Cruise Gossip, Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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