I have taken six cruises before and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. These were on the Carnival and Princess lines beginning in 1994. We chose Costa because of its ports of call, price, and reputation. It had its good points, but over all, was a disappointment.
The ship itself was kept clean and well maintained. It is a beautiful ship with many statues and pictures and proceeded through the water with minimum motion.
Our cabin seemed to be a replica of Carnival. I expected more. Our cabin steward was perfect. Martin met our every need, even anticipating some. He always had a smile and greeting for us. Dining staff seemed overworked but did their best to serve us. However, there was not the usual personal attention that we had experienced on other ships. There was an overabundance of bar staff but they were unobtrusive.
Every excursion that we took was wonderful and the prices were very reasonable.
I always look forward to a cruise to enjoy wonderful cuisine. It was extremely poor. I could and do prepare better meals at home. The food was mostly bland except for some instances of being too salty. The pasta was undercooked. I like firm spaghetti but expect to be able to twirl it on my fork. Even rice was hard in the center. Being an Italian ship, I expected very tasty sauces. They must have forgotten garlic and, perhaps, olive oil. Most meats were tough and dry. One dish was so poor, I presented it to the maitre'de. The main dining room was the only food service in the evening. There was no buffet or other food except inedible pizza. An ice cream bar would have been so welcome. Our seating request wasn't even honored. Perhaps Costa is cutting back costs at the expense of its passengers.
Service in the buffet was poor. They did not always open on time but closed on the second. Food ran out and took a long time to replenish. There was a chaotic scrambling for food with people moving in every which way. Keep to the food side seemed to be the going rule. There was not enough seating available. The newsletter suggested obtaining a table before entering the food line.
Language was another problem. With a majority of Europeans on board, announcements were made in six languages including muster drill. This made the drill intolerably long. We gave up conversing with fellow passengers after the first day. A gruff Italian greeting from one and "no speak English" from another made us realize that it was useless.
Even though the ship itself was nice and the excursions fun, the dining situations and crowded conditions made the cruise very poor.