The Costa Serena is an attractive and contemporary ship. It's style might best be described as an American designers impression of Italian classical culture - 'plastic Italian glitz.'
The transfer (from the airport) and embarkation procedures were excellent - the easiest and fastest of all our cruise experiences.
The cabin (B5) and the very aft of the ship was fantastic. Spacious, contemporary and with a balcony that could sit four. There was the occasional mild vibration from the engines as the ship was approaching its berth but nothing to really complain about.
The life-boat drill, in six languages, was irksome. Those who had already heard their instructions proceeded to talk through other languages. Costa should seriously consider an alternative.
The entertainment in the theatre, considering they were coping with multiple languages was surprisingly good. Musical entertainment around the ship was mainly Italian.
The ports visited were well chosen and the excursions, though as usual expensive, were well organised.
On the debit side the smoking of cigarettes almost everywhere inside (not restaurants) was very uncomfortable. The food in the restaurants and buffet whilst acceptable lacked imagination and variety. Presentation was reasonable but we did not look forward to meals at all. The food was at best warm and frequently cold - oh dear! Indeed we were glad that the cruise was only for seven days. We paid extra to eat in a specialist restaurant, Bacco - don't waste your 25 euros - a disappointment. Every other cruise line does it better and for less. What came as a surprise was that they only offer one menu - it does not change at all over the entire cruise! No wonder booking a table was easy - Bacco was almost empty.
Service was passable but clearly leadership does not come from the top. The Restaurant Manager only visited Italian guests in the restuarant. Here again every other cruise line does it better. The cabin steward was friendly and efficient.
The inclusive drinks package is however, very good value and the choice much wider than advertised on the Costa website. But be advised, even if you have pre-purchased this service your on board card must be registered and a new one issued at the Reception desk - no one told us.
Would I sail with Costa again? If the price and destinations were right then I might consider it otherwise no - everyone else, even budget cruise lines do it better.