We saw 9 countries in ten days and the sites were fabulous! The price for the 4 of us including taxes and port fees was $2170. The ship was clean and heavily decorated in a tacky manner. This is our 3rd cruise with Costa so we knew what we were getting and what we would never get with them. The only reason we travel with them is because they drop their price so dramatically in the US market when the ship isn't filled within a month of departure. We met at least 6 other American families all of whom booked last minute when the price dropped. Most of these families were in the military stationed in Germany.
We embarked at 4:45 for a 7:00 PM departure. We were handed a flyer explaining that we had missed the life boat drill and would need to attend the 6:40 PM life boat drill which was problematic as we had the 1st dinner seating at 6:00 PM. (There is an as you wish time dining but you have to book a suite to be entitled to that.) We arrived at the dinner before they opened the doors in hopes that we could place our order and leave to attend the life boat drill. We had to carry our life vest to dinner. There is no alternative free (ha ha) dining opportunity with Costa other than pizza. If you miss dinner than you are eating pizza or paying to eat at their gourmet restaurant. There is no gentile guidance to your table. It is a free for all to fine your table once the doors are open. Our drink order was promptly taken. We were informed that no water would be served at the table unless we purchased it, and that we could be served hot tea but not iced tea unless we paid for it. After getting approval from someone the waiter agreed to bring us ice to put in the hot tea. Of course, we do not get the tea until approximately 30 minutes later and the ice comes long after that, but most disturbing is that our food order is not taken until 6:40 the same time our life boat drill is to take place.
As a result, we miss the first 5 minutes of the life boat drill so we are told we must come back early from the port the next day to attend the drill. I ask if they can allow us to watch it later that night and I am informed, "no, I must come back the next day". We get the first course sometime after 7:00 PM. At 7:55 we are served desert and the Maitre De comes by at 8:00 PM asking us to leave. We finish desert by 8:05 and in an effort to accommodate the Maitre De we ask to take the hot tea with us to finish it away from the dining room. The waiter says that is not allowed. I ask him to get the Maitre De. The Maitre De comes and accuses me of being later for dinner because he has seen me walk through the restaurant carrying the vest. When I try to explain to him what he saw he refuses to listen to me and accuses me of lying to him.
I can't believe that this man has accused me of lying to him so I go down to customer service to complain. They take down the information, but I have to go back to get his name. This Maitre De sees me and covers his name tag. When he asks what he could do for me, I explain that I would like to know his name. He refuses to give it to me. I go back to customer service and repeat all of this. Customer service promises to get back with me the next day. I wait until about 10:00 PM the next day and inquire why they have not gotten back with me. They say that another Maitre De should have talked with me at dinner that night. They promise to check up on it. The next night I get another assistant Maitre De explaining that the other assistant had had a bad day, and they gave me a bottle of wine. I never see the Maitre De in charge. This kind of treatment would never occur at their sister Holland America.
They leave only one ice machine on in the buffet when they have pizza service. If that machine is out of ice which occurs frequently, the wait staff will tell you that there is no other way to get ice until you demand that they get it for you. The meat and seafood are very low quality, and they try to conceal this by drenching it in olive oil. Breakfast is also heavy on the oil.
They apparently do not wash the duvet during your cruise as my 14 year old son was frequently bringing back food and spilling it on the duvet and the duvet was flipped and altered to show less spills, but it was never washed.
Having said all of this, my biggest aggravation with Costa is their misinformation and lack of information about the ports of call. The English speaking representative did not post hours of availability until the cruise was half over. Costa had a shuttle at each of the ports with the exception of St. Petersburg. The shuttle was always more expensive than a taxis for a party of 4 and often more expense than a taxis for a party of 2. I was told by customer service that there was no train service at the Gdynia port. Thanks to Cruise Critic I knew otherwise. I can't begin to count the number of times that I was told by Costa that if I didn't take their excursion that Russia would not let me exist the ship since I had no Russian Visa. Again, thanks to Cruise Critic I knew this was not the case. You will receive no information at all from Costa about any of the ports of call other than their excursion advertisements.
Again, to save money the hot tub is cool and the pool is cold. I have an 8 year old and there were many other children on this cruise. Costa refuses to allow children in the hot tub with their parents. The pool is so cold that parents and many kids do not want to go in it so pool time is not pleasant if you have children.
If you are expecting this to be a lovely cruising experience than you will be greatly disappointed. If you wait until one month or less out and you see that the price has plummeted and you are only looking for this cruise to be transportation and a floating hotel albeit with bad food then it is a worthwhile experience. Come fully knowledgeable about your ports of call and a low expectation of service and food.