We just returned from a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Serena. As some other contributors have mentioned, we were very apprehensive after reading all the negative reviews of the ship on this site. We really wonder what ship these other passengers were on, as we saw none of the activities mentioned by those negative reviewers.
First of all, it is true that only about 10% of the passengers speak English, but every member of the crew speaks English well enough to converse with you satisfactorily. Also, there are very few Americans on the ship, but it is an Italian ship - that is to be expected. We knew we were not sailing on an American ship!
The ship looks like a floating Las Vegas. Yes, it is brightly decorated, and it could be considered a bit "over the top". But, every place on the ship is perfectly clean and excellently maintained. There were some children on the ship, and they were very well-behaved or quickly disciplined by their parents. Also, we saw some smokers, but only when we happened to venture outside to the decks where smoking was permitted. There were many French, Italians, and Spaniards having a wonderful holiday and making merry on the ship, but they were never anywhere near our cabin. We only experienced peace and quiet when we went to our cabin for the evening.
We had a balcony, which we loved. Our cabin was very nice, the bathroom very clean, the bed was very comfortable, and our cabin steward was outstanding. The dining room is very nice, as are the buffets and the burger and pizza bars. The food is not up to 5-start restaurant quality, but it is very good, and the waiters are very attentive. At the buffets or burger and pizza bars, we had to stand in line a few minutes, but there are so many lines, that there were never more than 5 or so people ahead of us. Also, we saw absolutely no one pushing and shoving. We saw mostly smiles and "hellos" from our fellow passengers.
We enjoyed the excursions immensely, and all the trips and tour leaders were very organized and quite efficient (with the exception of our Tunisian guide). Also, Madeline, the English speaking hostess is excellent.
We understand that the Costa Serena is not the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, but we very much enjoyed it and feel strongly that we needed to comment about what a delightful experience we had in light of all the negativity others have published about this ship. Please sail on the Costa Serena with confidence. You will have a wonderful vacation!