Firstly I have to say I had a really nice time. I booked the cruise last minute, and read reviews afterwards. This made me nervous, but I actually enjoyed my experience a lot.
I have never been on a cruise before, and had no idea what to expect. I had a week off from work, and wanted to be somewhere it didn't snow and wasn't grey, but didn't have a lot of money to spend. Through last minute booking websites I found this cruise, and thought the ports were really interesting. There was no way i could have traveled to so many places organizing my own transport. Plus it was basically the same price as a last minute deal to Egypt or Turkey.
I booked a cabin (single supplement) for Â£373 which I think was really good value. I booked the flights myself, and had to organize the transfer going myself (coming back i used costa transfer which was great and much cheaper), but otherwise it took very little effort and was pretty idiot proof.
Food: I loved the food. I am gluten free, and I don't think I have ever eaten so well. You need to let them know when booking, and also reconfirm when you are on the ship but they can provide gluten free food. For breakfast and lunch you go to New York restaurant, and they have a special gluten free area. They are the same staff each day, so you get to know them quite well. At breakfast you get given gluten free bread and croissants, plus info about what was safe to eat from the buffet (i.e. eggs, specific yoghurts and also the meats/cheeses).
At lunch time you were given a gluten free menu with choices! so you could chose what you wanted.
At dinner everyone is given a specific table (not necessarily in New York - I was seated in My Way). Here you are given a gluten free menu, and again can chose what you wanted. The menus both had 7 courses, so there would definitely be something you wanted. The pastas were amazing, and generally overall i thought the food was really good. The only slight disappointment were the desserts - it was basically the same 3 cakes and fruit. But they had croissants at breakfast so I don't think I should complain about this at all! Also at dinner you had to order from the maitre'd which sometimes meant your food came at different times to others on the table. But I was a solo traveler so didn't find this too odd. And to be honest its better this than getting ill.
There were also various buffets on deck 9. they had no gluten free food here (and the staff weren't sure about ingredients), so they do tell you to avoid. I did try the grill (chips, and salmon and hotdogs were eaten with no ill effects), but they do say you should eat in the restaurants.
Entertainment: I went for a quite time really and didn't drink a lot. There were lots of bars, with different types of music and atmospheres. it was quite a party ship, and I think if you want lots of these kind of activities its a good chose for you.
I went to the shows in the theater each night and enjoyed them. it wasn't the west end, but all shows were fun enough to be enjoyed. The circus night was amazing, and not to be missed. Unless you are a huge Bee Gees fan, the tribute night is nothing special
Ports: the main reason I chose this holiday, was the interesting ports. I loved Barcelona, and Sardinia. In each port their are excursions, and also shuttle buses if you don't want to do an excursion. I just did the shuttle buses and at 9 euros return, I thought this was a very cheap option. The bus took you to the center of the town, so it was an idiot proof way to wonder round
Information sheets: Each night, you were given an information sheet in your room about the following day. this included info about temperature, when the ship arrives/left, details of the shuttle bus, and the entertainment activities for the day. it also gave timing for the restaurants. Beware, the restaurants aren't open exactly the same time each day - so check the sheet!!!!
Cabin: It was bigger than i expected. I had an inside cabin, and I understand why people say go for outside. The room was fine, but it was very confusing trying to work out the time of day with no outside light. There is only 1 plug, and it is European. So make sure you take an adapter (oddly they don't sell them on board which i thought was weird). Shower was great, and my cabin steward was fantastic. When i arrived on my first day, i found lunch and a big bow of fruit waiting for me (I think it was because i was gluten free and couldn't eat in the buffets)
Announcements: there were some in 5 languages, but not a lot. they were mostly the safety ones, which to be honest i would want everyone on-board to understand. It is a Costa rule that everyone in the staff had to speak English. So for the minority on board we were really lucky French were by far the majority of guests.
Children: there were children on board (which I am not a fan of) but they didn't bother me. they had children's clubs, and i stayed away from the pool (wehre they seemed to live).
What i didn't like: overall i thought information was extremely poor. i booked online, and received next to no information before my trip. The website was useless, and as a first time cruiser I had no idea what to expect. On the ship it was no different, and for example I dragged my suitcase through the embarkation process, not realizing (and not being told) they will take it off you and helpfully deliver it to your room. Also I didn't realize until booking that drinks aren't included. Whilst I understanding not having alcohol indued, I did think it was odd you didn't even get a soft drink with you meal. I have no experience of other ships, so perhaps this is standard. but it was a surprise to me. On this point i have seen discussion about whether the drinks inclusive rate is good value. i wasn't drinking much, and so i spent about 50 euros over the week. this included a soft drink each night, a couple of hot chocolates in the chocolate bar, and a couple of cocktails. if you are going to drink a lot of alcohol each night the drinks package is good value. if however you plan just to drink water (and the 'tap' water is free) and have the odd drink, don't bother.
Some of the staff in the restaurant seriously need some common sense help. Most of them were amazing, but my first lunch time experience actually made me want to cry. i walked into the restaurant and a staff member recognized me from the night before. She helpfully sat me in the gluten free section. Another waiter then came and told me I couldn't sit there and i should follow him. i did only to lose him, and asked another waiter where i should sit. he told me i couldn't sit where he was taking me because there was a step and the step would be a problem for me (?????????) and told me to sit somewhere else. i did this, asked for tea and the gluten free menu. the waiter said 'your gluten free?' and walked off. He then got a really helpful waitress (who it turned out was lovely, and in charge of the gluten free area). She took me back to where I was originally sitting. Bloody hell!!!!!!! That kind of thing drives me insane.
The Spa i thought was expensive, and I had an average manicure (nothing special, but nothing truly terrible)
My entire trip including transfers was around Â£650. For this money, I had a great time (and would recommend). if however i had paid full price (i think around Â£1300 for my cabin) I would be very disappointed. Its a good fun resort on a boat, but nothing luxurious or overly special. Nice week away but if i spent Â£1300 i would expect many more frills.