We just returned from a seven-day cruise on the Costa Serena followed by another twelve-day one on another cruise line. Our overall experience was not so bad considering that we did not have any great expectations and we kept our minds open to different cultures. We chose the Serena mainly because of its itinerary and we wanted to try a more European ambiance.
The ship is quite nice and we liked our cabin. The decoration is not exactly classy and you definitely recognize the Carnival style...but to each his own! We enjoyed the music on board which included an amazing trio from Paraguay. Most shows were quite enjoyable but we felt sorry for the singers and dancers on the production shows, they were doing a good job but the public did not seem to appreciate. Considering the amount of work and money spent on these shows, perhaps the cruise line should reconsider its entertainment and offer one which would be more adapted to the clientele.
Considering the reduced personnel in the dining room, bars, etc. we found that our waiters did an amazing job. Again, we must take into consideration that the Italians, Spanish and French do not drink much liquor, they drink wine and coffee, the cruise line must make money somehow and they cut on personnel. The food was fine, obviously, if you like big steaks and lobster tails, this won't be the cruise for you but we had lovely fish, veal and of course, pasta.
Our fellow passengers were mostly Italians, Spanish and French. The Italians and Spanish had their children with them and the age group was fairly young. They mostly traveled in groups of six to eight people. We have to accept the fact that they are not very disciplined, will cut in lines, totally ignore the rules regarding smoking, adult only pools, etc. You will hear them talk loudly, let the children run in the halls in front of your cabin at one in the morning, etc. As the buffet dining room is not open for dinner, except for the pizzeria, the families bring their young children to the dining (with strollers and all). If you happen to be at a table beside a group of adults with children, don't expect a nice quiet dinner. We enjoyed the theme nights in the dining room they were really fun.
We had read that if you spoke English, people at the service desk did not treat you properly. We don't agree. We speak a bit of Italian but not enough to keep a conversation and every time we went to the Service desk, we spoke English or French and there was always someone who could help us in our chosen language.
In conclusion, if you are ready for trying something different, sail with Costa.