we selected this ship because of the ports and the price. you definitely get what you pay for. as with any cruise, you have good and you have bad. the embarkation process was quite smooth. then you board the ship and the decor is an assault on your eyes. they started decorating and couldn't stop! yikes. and everything cost extra. we knew the dollar was bad against the euro, that was not the issue. it was just the nickle and diming of every little thing. the 2 dining rooms were extremely noisy and the tables very close together. our table was actually at the foot of the stairs and the waiters had trouble getting around to serve. speaking of the waiters, there was no friendly conversation such as "how was your day?", "did you go on an excursion?". we got the impression that they were very understaffed and it showed. also, there is no alternative dining option. if you don't eat at 1st or 2nd sitting, your only other option is a sandwich from room service or pizza. fortunately, the pizza is good. if you're a non-smoker, don't go on this ship -- there are a lot of smokers on board. our only respite from the noise and smoke was in the spa. we splurged on a spa package and spent a good part of each evening in the peace and quiet of the winter garden and the various steam/sauna rooms. the staff there were friendly and welcoming. our cabin was roomy, comfortable and kept immaculate by our room steward. our only other hide-out on the ship was the helsinki bar where we retreated for coffee every night. the staff in there were wonderful and we really enjoyed listening to the entertainers. good place to people watch, also. and of course, the ports of call were wonderful. we had a good time in each port. still, i would not cruise costa again. next time i'll pay a little more and go on princess or celebrity.