Our main objective was to see certain ports/sites & this ship did that. We looked @ Costa as a floating hotel. For this reason we were satisfied. If I were choosing for just a 'cruise experience' I'd try another line/ship.
Embark, very easy. Cabin 6391 wonderful. Loads of storage. Triple rm (we had our teen daughter) cabin layout well thought out, veranda was really a plus, used it a lot- it was nice w/ a coffee and sweater & actually was warm in the sun. Ports of call/excursions all went smoothly. Used Costa for all 6 excursions and they all were very very good & none were cancelled! We even had luck on Good Friday & Easter Sunday w/ Costa's excursions & it was high holy week (Easter). Because we wanted to see these ports this was very important to us. The cruise was just a means to that end.
We had the all inclusive. It was worth it, we ordered drinks upon returning from tours, before, during, and after dinner. Liked the concept and it was a decent value. Our daughter had the under 21 card, as well. It does get old having to sign for each round, and they are slow at all the bars, which is frustrating. But still recommend. The entertainment team is hardworking, but in the end they're typical resort type shows and only so-so. The theatre they perform in is top notch in every aspect. The seating, lighting, & sound system are very professional. The restaurants/dining ranges from below average to slightly above. We had the 2nd seating/ table for 3 in 'My Way' the wait staff is average, food average, experience average. Nothing stood out as great or horrible. Rolls were very hard, portions average to small however you have several courses. Sometimes items out of the several courses never showed up? The beverage man was slow to refill wine, it all was average. Lunch was probably better. We only had one sit down lunch in 'New York' it was quite good. Pasta is very good on this ship. Most time we were away till about 3:30 so we'd just hit the bbq grill or pizza place for a late lunch. They were both above average. My biggest complaint w/ food on this ship is there is no option if you don't want to wait till 9 p.m. to eat dinner except for a small pizza area. That just doesn't seem right. I feel there should be a buffet for dinner if you don't want to do the sit down 2 hour dinner seating. Sometimes you just want a nice quick buffet (not just pizza). This should be addressed by Costa! We had rm service once it was limited, but good. I do believe we were supposed to be charged as we were only a B1 but we weren't.
Ease of disembark was good. We had a very early flight out of Barcelona @ 11:40 a.m. People on this board told me I was crazy to cut it so close, but we had no choice and in the end it was perfect. Went like clockwork. Docked @ 9 a.m. received our Passports @ 9:25 hopped into taxi @ 9:30 checked into the airport @ 10 a.m. with time to spare. I need to add we 'self debarked' and carried our own baggage. We travel extremely light and only do carry on and a tote each. After lots of travel we've learned to pack super strategically. We had an outfit each cleaned by Costa while on board. Much better than overpacking and being a pack mule!! I realize we were lucky and wouldn't want to do that again! Too stressful, but it was all good and we lucked out!
So, all in all it was a wonderful family European trip experience! We saw sites we'd read about all of our lives so it was much more than a cruise for us. The Costa experience was above average, the excursions very good, the price was right. Yes, Costa nickels and dimes you - i.e. we made the mistake of thinking the chocolate bar was part of our cruise after 3 bites we were told to sign for $4Euro?? Also, we were told our coffees were part of the extra all inclusive we purchased and sometimes they were and sometimes they charged (at which time we just said no). They have strange rules....No champagne only prosecco (sp?) at some bars, then Asti at others and vice versa. Lots of tricky rules we just rolled w/ it. But I can see where it would get under some peoples skin! We lucked out as there were enough English speaking peeps going on excursions. However sometimes they'd merge English w/ French and the guide spoke in both languages. This didn't bother us and added to the experience. Plus our daughter speaks some French. Most people on the ship in order we observed were, Italians, Germans, French, other Europeans, followed by English. We were the minority, but that too made it more unique.
I found the workers (mostly from Indonesia) to be hard workers, not very happy, and a little robotic. I made an effort to look any worker in the eye and greet them. It helps slightly. Moral is average. The Animation team is more happy - it's their job after all. Laura was wonderful as our English Advisor. She seems very happy in her position. The ship shops were disappointing. I forgot my bathing suit and they didn't sell them?? On a cruise ship? So then I decided to buy shorts and just use them as trunks and no shorts either?? Odd. I am still processing our experience, but will answer any questions. Try to make it to Italian night, the waiters put on a fun show! Don't miss seeing some of the little hidden rms, i.e. the chapel, library, sports bar, upper deck that you take the steps too, top deck overlooking the elevators. Just go w/ an open mind and you'll have fun!