My friend and I (21 & 25 male) decided that for spring break we would book a cruise. We found Costa to be the most economic value so we booked it without really reading into it too much. Once I actually started reading reviews I got a little scared. I read about children in the adult areas, being crazy and obnoxious and about smoke everywhere. We were both a little apprehensive but in the end we had a wonderful time with very few problems.
Embarkation was a breeze. We got to the port (barcelona) right when they were starting to let people on to the boat so there were no lines or anything. We did have a small problem at the immigration desk- I have a US passport but am a EU resident and I didn't have my French Resident card so the immigration officer just had to take another ID I had which proved my residency. In all it took about 5 minuets and was a total breeze. It was much faster than when I was in the US taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean from Florida.
When we got on the boat we found our room which was great! It was big (we had a ocean view room) with a double bed and a lot of closet space.
The dining was fine- It wasn't incredible but it was good. The buffet was a little too crowded during lunch time for my taste so I generally ate in a restaurant. The diversity of the food was a little sub-par. They had generally Italian food only which I grew bored of after a while. But somehow my friend and I were seated at dinner next to some wonderful English speaking people at dinner. One of the couples we were with were Indian nationals living in France, somehow the wife became friends with a chef and was able to convince him to make our table a traditional Indian dish for dinner one night. It was a really nice break from the Italian food and gave us a spicy change. The whole table really enjoyed it and we were amazed that Costa was willing to do it.
As for the smoking and children being obnoxious- we never had a problem with it. Neither my friend and I smoke and we really cant stand the smell, but we never really noticed it much. Smoking was allowed in some bars and the casino and outside. Outside we never smelled smoke and inside we generally just avoided the bars where people were smoking.
The absolute most amazing/incredible part of the cruise was the All Inclusive Drink Package! It was the best! For less than 20euro a day we got all the drinks we could possibly want. I would have a coffee and juice in the morning, then grab a water before heading out to a port. Then after boarding the boat we would have a drink by the pool, and then drinks with dinner, drinks after dinner, drinks watching the show, drinks at the club (which actually did have far too many children... one even begging me to get him a drink >.<). If we saved hundreds (literally) of euros by buying this package and it really made our trip a lot of fun.
Not everything was perfect though- I did have two complaints. First the staff- They are really beautiful kind people but you can tell that many of them are WAY overworked. We would see them working all day, hardly having a break, and it seemed their mood was suffering.
Second, the final day of the cruise we were expected to vacate the room by 10:30 even though the boat didn't arrive at the terminal port until 4 hours later. So for four hours we lounged by the pool with our hand luggage which was inconvenient but not a terribly big deal. the bigger problem was how unorganized it was trying to get off the boat. We had to pick up our passports from 'Guest Services' where there was a huge line, and there were people everywhere, none of the staff seemed to know what to do. it was just really unorganized...
In the end we really had a great cruise, and I would definitely cruise Costa again. The price was good and the drinks package was amazing. Although we did have a few minor complaints everything was FAR better than we expected. I would probably choose Costa again just for the drinks package tbh.
We really enjoyed it.