I normally cruise with a friend on an 'adult orientated' ship, however my niece turned 18 and I accompanied my sister in law on this cruise as her birthday gift. I had read reviews on Costa and was not looking forward to this trip that much. However, after the initial shock to the senses, noise, smoking areas, I settled down and ended up really having fun. Fun is what Costa is all about, and they certainly go all out to make every day as good an experience as you can have.
Now, smoking.....I am almost militant about non smoking, and I was prepared for the fact that smoking is allowed throughout the ship, but unlike the previous reviewer I did not find the whole ship to be 'filled with smoke'. It is allowed on one side of the ship, both inside and out, and throughout the Casino. I found that people did stick to this most of the time, and never found it an issue to find somewhere smoke-free. The idea that it would give you sinus problems is frankly ridiculous, and if you have problems with your sinuses, perhaps it is better to travel on another line. In Europe the anti-smoking lobby is far smaller than in the UK, or USA, and Costa would go broke if they banned smoking altogether. Surely this is what the member reviews are for, and if you take the trouble to write one, surely you must have read some! That's all about that.
The ship is decorated in a style which is not to my taste, full of bright colours and I found the cafeteria restaurant to be quite dark away from the windows, not helped by the paint used. The food at breakfast was varied, and although the food was not of a luxury standard, it was well cooked and fresh. The lunchtime buffets, were dotted around the decks, and each day was a different nationality buffet, Spanish, German, Italian, and the seafood was really lovely, there was calamari, mussels and large prawns on more than one occasion. In fact, we almost enjoyed the lunches above dinner. Dinner service was not of the standard of Celebrity, but we had a waiter and a bus boy who were pleasant, and helpful, and remembered our drinks order. We personally could never have eaten the 7 courses, and normally a starter, main and possibly an ice cream was enough. My niece generally had the pasta starter as a main, and there was no problem with this, in fact they were always accommodating, even though they were run off their feet.
Several evenings they had a 'party' type night, and the poor waiters had to either stand with torches, and our waitress even took part in some dancing on the balcony! Although my niece is 18, she is slightly special needs, and as we took the drinks deal, they also allowed her to just have the children's one, saving my sis in law about 70.00. I looked all over for a comparison to see if the drink deal was good value and couldn't find one, so I'm giving some examples here. Cocktails are 6.95, spirits 5.30, cappuccino 2.50, soft drinks (glass) 2.95, beer 4.90. All these are in euros, and plus 15% service. It doesn't take much adding up to see that 19.50 euros per day including the 15%, is an amazing deal. We're not big drinkers, but with a couple of coffees, and 3 or 4 drinks per day, we saved hugely!
The shows were amazing, and not all in Italian at all, as good as West End, and although I don't usually attend on other lines, I found myself looking forward to them! In all, the crew and staff were really friendly, the officers much in view, and everyone went to so much trouble for you to have a good time. In the end, you get what you pay for, and you need to check on smoking, as they say, you pay your money and you take your choice. If you want value for money, great service, and lots of fun...give them a try! Go Costa!