We receive a promotion package from a road show and I must say, its really worth it!
Our embankment was simple, smooth and fast. When we enter the ship, we have to take a photo to identify ourselves. Next, we have to take a lift to our cabins. There is a map of the ship and the numbers that would help you to know where your cabins are. Food are already served when you board the ship. There was an announcement to tell you that you are encouraged to participate in the emergency drill. Go to your cabin and get your life jackets and give your drill card to the staff when you reach your designated area to disembarkation for emergencies. Of course, there are second drills which you could attend. I suggest that all passengers should attend such important and life saving activities, its for your safety and its only for a while.
Take your time to know your environment. You don't want to be lost when you are going to watch a performance, to have a meal, go to the bathroom or meet someone.
A copy of 'Today' will be given to you at the mailbox of your cabin. The newsletter are represented in several different languages like English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Greek and more. If you need extra copies, you could get it from the information counter. The information can be busy with confused passengers and limited staff. So, its good that you have your 'Today' with you, read as much as you can and ask only if no such information is on the newsletter. We head straight to the Tour office as early as we could to book tours, you don't have to pay for it yet, you will pay via your Costa card (you got to link to your credit card, or pay in USD the next day. Its good to know where and when to pay for it for your convenience. Read 'Today' to get information. Pay a little extra, and you will get your deposit back. Pay less, and you will have to pay extra on the last day. Remember to settle your bills on the last day if you are paying by cash). If you have not book any tour, fear not. There are private tour guides and drivers around the port areas where you can hire.
There are activities such as art and crafts (making paper flowers, making jewelries and more), cooking demonstrations, dance lessons and performance after dinner for your entertainment. They are all listed on the newsletter. TV programs are also quite new. I remember that we watched a live telecast of the Golden Horse awards on our first day. When the ship is on high seas, there could be movies (like Johnny English and more) repeated throughout the day. Channels in English, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and more and available. There are two performances after dinner, one of each shift (there are two shifts, 5.45pm and 8.00pm). The performance at night includes magic shows, singing and dancing shows, acrobatics and etc. I love the live music performance after that. Ever since my father asked if I would like to watch people dancing randomly on board, I have been following the live band's performance ever since. Its the only time where I could enjoy live music without breathing in smoke. You could order drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) in all theaters during performances. As the cruise ship focus on family fun, the Casino was meant to make winning hard and therefore there wasn't many people gambling at the gambling table. Children below 18 were asked to leave the casino. There is also a disco hall, which are more active at night, they open it in the morning for art and craft and other activities.
Kids can entertain and be taken care of by the staff at Squok club. I have not use that service, but I could see how children enjoy themselves when they were brought to the buffet area to have their lunch. I heard from one parent that her son doesn't like it because it feels like going back to school. Another parent told me that her son made a lot of friends there. You can leave your kids there and tour the ports of call without having to worry about them or having the hassle for bringing them along.
I would recommend you to bring an empty bottle with you for water. Costa do not provide bottled water or water in any form as you please (except for buffet area). You can refill water when you are in the buffet area. They charge 1 liter of mineral water at USD$2.75 per bottle and USD$2.70 for canned soft drinks. You could ask for a kettle if you don't find one in your cabin, boil some water in your cabin so that you have water to drink. Or else, you can always drink tea, coffee, tea and juices in the buffet area. Don't worry about bringing water to your trip. If you are going via a Costa planned trip, they will give you water. If you are going with a private tour guide, tell them to stop by somewhere you could get bottled drinks. You can't bring food and drinks away and to the ship (don't worry about being hungry or bringing food off the ship, because most likely you don't feel hungry after having buffets for a few days.), but you could empty bottles and bring them to the ship to store water.
There are a few areas where you could have your breakfast. Don't bother about having breakfast in cabin, there are so many food you can eat at the buffet area. There are omelette stations during breakfast and pasta stations during lunch. If you would like to have pizza, you could go to pizzera. In Pizzeria, they will serve desserts and whatever pizza they bake. At night, it serves instant noodles (soup are not instant noodle base) with either beef, chicken, pork, seafood or vegetables (choose one) and four pizzas of the say to choose from. There are two restaurants, you will know where your dinner is served when you enter your cabin by the first day, you should see a card on your writing desk. On the card, it will show your table number, the time for dinner and which restaurant is it. Dinner is usually Western, with appetizer, soup, pasta, main course and dessert. Get ice cream for desserts here, because you don't get ice cream when you are in the buffet area. If you had missed all the meals and buffets, a sandwich bar is served from 1am to 6am, usually buns (sliced into halves with egg fillings) than white breads, salads, tea and coffee are served. Buns are pretty hard, those with gastric problems should reduce your intake or stay away from it, get salads instead.
There is a salon, a spa, several shops selling items from international brands, and one shop selling snacks. Sometimes, there are mini fairs to sell items on promotion. Shops don't open throughout the day. Usually, they will open after you had your meals.
We observed that there are many staff who are doing more than one job. On our last day, we were told that they have to work on 8 months contact without breaks, receiving USD$800 per month. I say, its hard work on those staff. We appreciate it. Staff are friendly and polite. They made an effort to make you happy and we could remember some staff and on their cruise ship, I didn't have any impression at all.
Before your disembarkation, please attend a presentation about that and know what to do. You will be given a colored baggage tag and remember that color, they will call out your color for disembarkation. You don't have to tag to your bag, just remember your color. If you want to sit around and wait, you could wait in any common areas. Those with baggage (not hand carried) have to leave their baggage outside their cabin by 1am on night before your last day. I had seen people who left their baggage after 1am and I have no idea what happened to them. Remember to collect your passports, settle your bills before you leave the ship!