Prior to booking this cruise, I had read many negative stories about this ship and Costa Cruises in general. I chose this line and this cruise because it fit our schedule and the ports of call were interesting. I felt that many of the bad reviews were overstated but was still a little worried. To my delight, I didn't find any of the problems I had read about.
One of the biggest complaints was that smoking was allowed all over and the ship smelled of cigarette smoke. Smokers, in fact, were restricted very severely (as a non-smoker I even felt a little sorry for them), and although smoking was permitted in the staterooms, I never smelled any smoke (my husband mentioned it one night).
The food wasn't 5 star gourmet, but it was excellent as far as I was concerned, and I cook very well and eat out a lot. Maybe the desserts weren't as spectacular as they are on other ships, but since I don't do dessert I can't comment on that.
Another huge complaint I heard pre-cruise was that all announcements were made in Italian and other languages and not English. In fact they were made first in Italian (not a surprise since this is the home language of the line) and then second in English, even though the English speaking passengers were by far in the minority.
We didn't do any of the excursions but felt that Costa did not pressure passengers, nor did they make it difficult to explore the port on your own. The entertainment was pretty weak, but they certainly tried hard!
All in all for the money and the itinerary I would travel with Costa again.