Compared to Royal Caribbean: it looks like there is less personnel per passenger, personnel at Costa looking harried and less friendly.
7206 Handicapped accessible.
Food: buffet is bad, and pizza is awful. Enjoyed the (rare) olives and peppers. Fresh fruit: apples, melon, pineapple. How hard is to come by fresh fruit in the Mediterranean? And where is the gelato? The "desserts" at the buffet were horrible. I have no idea how they managed to make them so bad. My guess: not even good cooks can manage when the ingredients are bad quality.
Very comfortable cabin, slept very well. If you use a CPAP, remember to bring your own distilled water and extension.
Women travelling solo: be prepared to get squeezed in a table for 10 even if you requested a table for 1. As they said later at Customer Service, Costa takes requests as suggestions. As I was unprepared to eat in such a large table surrounded by unknown people, I had buffet every night , which was pizza Costa version (some fresh vegetables were available but no fruit ). After four failed attempts (always courteous, to several people), a customer service person finally took pity on me, and I was given a table just set for me on a corner for the last three nights. This made a huge difference, because the food at the restaurant was OK and that pizza was killing me. A nice feature: the restaurant always offers grilled salmon and spaghetti , so even if the rest of the menu is not tempting there is some nice, basic, food available. Soups are salty and bad.
Would I use Costa again? Only if the itinerary was great, like in this case. Venice, Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik, Venice.
The excursions: for Izmir and Istanbul, I would say there were 2 hours net of visits to special places (Ephesus in Izmir, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul), and the rest was "filler" with a planned visit to a carpet shop each day. You really have to be in a patient frame of mind to take so much rubbish, when this is the first time (and maybe last?) that you visited Turkey. It makes things easier to book excursions with Costa, but the quality of the excursions was not good, especially in Istanbul. It makes me wonder how much of the city I missed while listening to the salesman telling us that silk is the strongest natural fiber (the other salesman said it was spider web). These were paid excursions!
Internet: â‚¬24 for 3 hours. This may sound like a long time but the connection is slow. You can't use Skype, for example, or upload photos, even of low quality. Still, good enough for working if you need to work.
In short: I rested and, this time, the cost of the trip was low, so I got value for money. But I should have brought some cereal bars!
Cigarette smoke: less of a problem than I expected, probably the air conditioning is very good, because I could smell it strongly in the hallway, beside as couple of cabins, but nothing in mine. The evening that people were not allowed on the open decks (because of bad weather), the cigarette smoke was bad.
What was great: the very upper decks, 11 and up, quiet, breezy, with plenty of chairs to lie down and read books. Something amusing: there is an employee at the library that makes you fill and sign a form in duplicate to borrow books. Remember to reclaim your signed form; otherwise you can be charged 15 euros per book. The books are under lock and key. Royal Caribbean, with its honor system, was a pleasure.