After a rather poor start, our trip turned out to be very enjoyable. First of all, we were supposed to leave Halifax 6:40 a.m. on Jan. 19 and catch a connecting flight in Montreal, arriving in Miami around midday. Our Halifax to Montreal flight was cancelled and we were rerouted to Toronto at 12:30 p.m. and then on to Miami, arriving at our ship at about 7 p.m. Needless to say, we were rather nervous about getting to the ship on time. We were probably one of the last to board, so embarkation was very simple. Our luggage went immediately to our cabins and all of our papers were there waiting for us. No hassle whatsoever. The other couple travelling with us left a bag at the Miami airport, and Costa arranged to have it flown to Progresso on our first port day. There were other people from Halifax who were rerouted by way of Boston. They arrived at the ship around 3 p.m. without any luggage. Costa arranged to have all their luggage meet the ship in Jamaica (4 days into the trip). They supplied them with survival packs, which included T-shirts, skirts, shorts, toiletries, etc., as well as tuxedos and formal gowns and shoes for the Captain's gala night. We were really impressed with this, since the air wasn't arranged through Costa and they couldn't be held responsible for the lost luggage.
We found the ship to be very clean and well organized. The crew was exceptional, doing all they could to make everyone happy. The entertainment staff had boundless energy and kept everyone as busy as they could possibly want to be.
The cabins were quite small with ample storage space. Our beds were twin that could not be put together to make queen size.
The cruise was very European. The music and dancing was more ballroom style. Currency on board was Euros. We found everything to be overpriced. The daily drink special was $4.50 Euros (about $6.30 Canadian) and could be supersized for .25 Euros more. A beer was $3.25 E. for small and $4.25 E. for large. If you get a mixer (rum and soda for example), it cost $6.25 E. A 15% service charge is added to all drinks. As you can see, drinking can be very expensive. We found out on the first night that you could purchase duty free liquor and take it to your room. You should try to be discreet about drinking your own liquor outside your cabin. Pop can be purchased in port and carried on with no problem. All bags were X-rayed when going on board at each port, and we didn't see anyone questioned about their contents, even though many were bringing beer on board.
We arranged all of our own excursions by taxi after going ashore and they were at least half the price you pay on the ship. You can even get a taxi to take you to the Panama Canal to see ships going through the locks. The one excursion we did book through the ship was the Stingray City and Island Tour. Unfortunately, the seas were quite rough that day and all water tours in Grand Cayman were cancelled. Speaking of rough seas - we found the Allegra to be quite unstable. Two nights were particularly bad, so if you have a problem with seasickness, we would suggest you use a patch. The ship does supply dramamine for free. Our last night was very calm, so most likely the instability was a combination of ship size and ocean conditions.
There was no shortage of deck chairs and towels, even on sea days. The pool is very small, but on this cruise not many people used it. By the way, it is salt water. There are three hot tubs.
The passenger makeup of the ship was roughly 60% American, 40% Europeans and other nationalities. The average age was approximately 65. We heard that future cruises would be more Europeans than other nationalities.
The food was good, but not the quality of other cruises we have been on. We only gained about five pounds each. LOL
Overall, we were very pleased with the dollar value of the cruise. If you're looking for a 5 star cruise, then this isn't the one for you, but it is certainly worth the price being paid. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a budget priced cruise.