My wife and I recently cruised on Costa Serena departing Savona on October 7th 2012, returning to Savona on October 14th and calling at Civitavecchia, Palermo, La Palma, Valentia and Marseilles. We flew from Gatwick to Malpensa, Milan and were disappointed that we were not met at arrivals but had to make our own way from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1. The meeting point we were given at Terminal 1 was also lacking Costa staff and we had to enquire where we could find the Costa coach. Eventually we met a Costa rep and duly set off for the ship.
Embarkation at Savona was also not without incident because by the time we got off the coach (having filled in the obligatory health questionaire) the baggage handlers had already spirited away all our cases including our hand luggage which contained our tickets and all our other documents apart from our passports. The moral of this story is don't label your hand luggage unless you want it to be delivered directly to your cabin. However the customer service staff in the embarkation lounge could not have been more helpful and, in fact, they fast tracked our embarkation.
We had an inside cabin on deck 10 which also contained the Lido Pool and the buffet restaurant - a perfect location. The cabin itself was quite spacious and reasonably well appointed. Our cabin staff member was pleasant and helpful.
The ship itself is on the large size even by cruise ship standards and the decor was rather garish by northern European standards with its spectacular six storey atrium and its mythological figures at the height of poor taste.
We chose second sitting dining and despite our request to be seated at a 6 or 8 person table we were given a table for two. Upon querying this later we were told that because of our age and language our request could not be accommodated. I found the age restriction odd as at least three quarters of the passengers were OAPs like us but I can understand the language problem as there were no more than a few dozen English speakers among the over 3000 passengers. In the end we really enjoyed our dining experience because our table was sited beside an 8 person table occupied by a very lively extended Spanish family and an equally lively table of young Italian friends both of which tables included us in their revelries. The food was fair to medium and though the service was pleasant it was often slow. The first course took longest to serve and subsequent courses came in a rush.
Food in the self service buffet was rather basic and lacking in choice except for the pasta which was freshly cooked on the spot. Another disappointing area was the library which had very few books and was open for very short periods of time. The evening entertainment was surprisingly good despite the multi-lingual audience. The crew's own show was enjoyable, the highlight of which was the singing of our English language rep, Holly, who incidentally was excellent throughout the cruise.
The ports of call were fine, the only gripe being the 9 euro per person charge for the "courtesy" coaches in the non-Italian ports. Deck space was good with plenty of loungers to relax on. The spa facilities were good but my wife felt that the pressure to avail of further treatments and to purchase expensive lotions bordered on unacceptable hard-sell techniques.
All in all we found the cruise very relaxing and enjoyable and despite the miner gripes mentioned above we would certainly recommend Costa cruises and we will certainly be cruising with them again.