our group... 2 adults and 3 kids (16,16 and 11) costa magica embarkation. Smooth as it can be during spring break. No problems. I was afraid of "the crowds" before we went (ship was fully booked) but was never overwhelmed by too many people being in line or so. Lounge chairs on deck. Yes we "reserved" them too by putting our stuff on them, but if you don't mind sitting on the quieter top decks there were always enough lounge chairs. Anyway...back to the beginning. Our luggage arrived 2/3 hours after we boarded the ship. We ordered extra mattress pads in advance and they were not there but our cabin steward had them in our room that same night. He (raffi) was great the rest of the week. Cabin was clean and roomy enough. We went to the buffet while waiting for our luggage and did the munster drill and walked around the ship to get familiar with things and watched leaving the port. Our roomkeys/passes were in the room when we first arrived.
We signed up for the x1 card in advance and saved ourselves a lot of money that way. You can order soda's and beer, wine etc. during lunch and dinnertime in the restaurants and buffet room. If you're very picky with wine and beer brands then don't do this. It will give you Carlsberg beer and a decent red wine and white wine, nothing special. Although I have to say that the 2nd evening we got a different bottle of red wine and this was very good, I asked for this wine the rest of the cruise. Our older teens drank wine too even though not really allowed. They made no problem out of this and we could order as much wine as we wanted.
Food. Food was good and plenty. Keep in mind that it's not a $3000 cruise. If you do this you will be very happy with what they serve. Good breakfast buffet, every day a different themed lunch buffet and every night nice dinners. All afternoon there is a good hamburger/fries/sandwich grill open and pizza is available all day. The same for fruit, icecream, icetea. Also there are sometimes other good sandwiches offered.
we also bought soda passes for our 3 kids, because we didn't realize that we could order soda's for them on our x1 passes and that there was icetea and water available all day. We had to order a lot of drinks (soda's and frozen virgin drinks) the last couple of days to use them up. one 20 drinks soda pass would have been enough.
Entertainment. it was ok, some nights better then other. Again I keep in mind that we paid $700 per person and was happy that everynight there was something to do for all. Ever night there was also a different theme, tropical night, Mediterranean night, Italian night. etc. There was a disco. Our 16 (thinking they are 20) year old boys LOVED it. The age group in the disco was from 16 to 50 and all seem to have a great time. Italian night was the most fun in the restaurant, dancing waiters and passengers. FUN! Toga night was not great, we all dressed up expecting to dance again during dinner but nothing happened. It was just dressing in a toga, no further "action" oh well the boys thought it was great fun to walk around in a toga all night.
Ports. We liked them all (except maybe La Romana). San Juan. Short. We did the bioluminescent tour which the kids enjoyed. St. Thomas. We rented a jeep and drove around the island. If your brave enough to drive on the left side then this is the cheapest way to see the island. We drove for about an hour and then went to Sapphire beach where we snorkeled and enjoyed the beach. La Romana. We didn't do anything there, maybe we should have. We walked to town but there was not a lot to see. The kids didn't even bother. I heard from some people that they enjoyed the tour to the private island and the old village(can't remember the name) Grand Turk. We LOVED it. If you don't like the beach you may not enjoy this. We didn't do a tour. We walked of the ship, got (free) beach chairs and enjoyed some "Margaritaville" entertainment.
The passengers on board was a mixture of Europeans and Americans. Which for me was fun because I liked that. It gave me the feel of being in a foreign country.One of the advantages of booking an Italian cruise.
So...we enjoyed this cruise very much and would feel comfortable recommending it to others. The quality you get for the money you pay is definitely a good deal.