It did not start well - an overnight flight from the UK which was very squashed and uncomfortable (Emirates. VERY disappointing) and then we were in the embarkation area by 9.30am and told we would not have a cabin until 20.00. We were appalled.
Luckily we managed to get a good armchair each and catch up on some sleep.
Then there was a mad surge forward around 3pm and it was utter chaos. We began to panic thinking we had come on the 'Ryanair' of cruises.
However, somehow our chairs were near the front and we slipped into the queue and the embarkation was then painless and quite efficient although I would not have been able to stand for several hours as the people at the back must have done.
We went on board and ate on Deck 9 at the lido grill and all was well. I went off to locate our cabin and was told we could not have it until 20.00 (it was 16.00 then and I had a dreadful headache and this seemed totally unreasonable)
I spoke to the steward and explained I felt unwell and needed to lie down and amazingly he said we could have the cabin at 18.00 and sure enough we did.
After that it was pretty much perfect. We had balcony cabin 8439 at the back of the ship and it was fine. The air conditioning was a little noisy but the main problem was a 'squeaky wardrobe' when the ship was in motion overnight. This really was irritating.
Cabin steward Joe anticipated our every need and was faultless, absolutely SUPERB.
We ate on the early sitting in the Michelangelo restaurant for 6 nights and at the buffet on deck 9 for one.
We didn't care for the pushing and shoving in the self service and greedy people in shorts and singlets piling it high.
We didn't go to any of the entertainment as not our thing - we sat on our balcony and read. Bliss. We retired early as all the trips started early.
The trips were superb, really enjoyed them all, excellent guides.
We did Niswa and Jabrin Castle, Mystical Muscat (LOVED Muscat) Khasab and surroundings, Abu Dhabi and Dubai city tours. All brilliant.
We thought the ship was great, we have no complaints about the decor and I especially liked the rear sundeck on deck 9 and the adults only pool which I mostly had to myself every day for half an hour or so.
We have confidently recommended Costa cruises to our friends (and everyone sneered when we were going because of what happened to the Concordia) and we will certainly travel with them again if they go where we wish to travel.