We are a young couple and this was our first cruise visiting Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallin, Riga, Klaipedia, Gydnia and Warnemunder (Bornholm cancelled).
Overall we had very good impressions of the cruise. We mainly used the ship as a floating hotel and made the most of our days in our ports of call. We did hear people complain about the quality of the ship and service with Costa, however these were always people that had been on several cruises previously. We had nothing to compare Costa with so we loved it.
Here are our top tips:
-Don't bother with excursions. If you are young (or even not so young) and fit, there is no need to book excursions. The exception is St Petersburg where you need a visa, so it is much easier to book a cruise excursion and go on their group visa than organise and pay for your own seperately. The other ports of call were all close enough to the city to walk (all less than a 30-minute walk). We really like this!
- Get the drinks package. It only costs around 19euros a day if you book in advance and it is worth every penny. You have access to plenty of drinks on the menu (including cocktails, but only Carlsberg for beer). The prices on the menu were really expensive (7 euros a cocktail minimum, 6 euros a pint, 5 euros for wine, 4 euros for soft drinks) so you quickly make up for the price of the package.
-Make the most of Klaipedia! It is a really small village/town and you can do that very quickly in the morning, however it is worth getting the ferry (almost next to the ship) to a little island. You then walk through this forest and there is a really beautiful beach at the end. I would recommend doing this than going back to the ship like everyone else!
-Breakfast is much better at the buffet than the restaurant. It took us a few days to figure this out because you would think the opposite! You can only find the pancakes at the buffet.
-The maitre d' in the New York restaurant was such an arrogant pig. Someone on our table complained because their beef looked awfully like pork. The maitre d' was SO rude to her it was just embarrassing.
-The average age on the ship at this time of year was around 75 and the large majority of people on the ship were German. The next biggest nationality was French then there were only 16 British people (plus a few Americans). If you don't speak any other languages you don't have loads of people to talk to.
-The buffet was not very good quality and they only ever had 1 type of pizza (a bit ironic considering they always vent about being an Italian company...)
-The tea was vile. Lipton is just awful. Bring your own teabags!!!
The good points far outweigh the bad points for us. We would recommend the cruise to other first time cruisers but be prepared for a downgrade if you are an experienced cruiser (afterall, you get what you pay for).