We booked this cruise about 2 weeks prior to sailing for a great price. Since we live in Florida we drove to Miami. Embarkation was done by number in groups of about 50. We were aboard and in the buffet by 1PM. Rooms were ready about 2PM and luggage received promptly and then off to explore the ship. The ship is ornately decorated but fun to view. In some areas it had a museum feel and even the walls on the decks had murals/wallpaper. Visually stimulating to say the least! Our stateroom was immaculately cleaned and the cabin steward phenomenal.
We did not take any shore excursions but got off at each port to walk around. We docked in 3 ports and tendered to the other ports. We think Costa has a safety issue getting on and off ship. The stairs were wobbly and it would be easy to slip and fall. Also, getting back on you had to duck your head to enter the ship. We did not experience this on any other cruise.
We found the food acceptable. Our expectations are never that great when the food is prepared banquet style. No matter what cruise line we have been on it is hit or miss. As a vegetarian, I give Costa the edge because you could have a meal not filled with just cheese. The pasta was always served al-dente & grilled vegetables were offered at dinner. I had to ask but it was never a problem. We ate in the buffet for lunch a few times and found it OK. The service in the dining room was disappointing & we expected more. Another safety issue here was that they lit candles - real fire - on 2 occasions. Frightening because we were in the rear of the dining room. The tables were also too close together.
We enjoyed the entertainment and went to all of the shows.
Smoking was allowed in certain areas of the bars & on the pool deck the smokers were in the forward pool area and in the aft pool area one side was for smoking. We did not smell smoke in the hallways or in our cabin on the balcony.
We are experienced travelers and loved the international flavor of Costa. There were many Europeans and we met people from France, Germany and Italy. It was a great last minute getaway.