We got to the ship at 1 pm and didn't wait in line at all. They don't hand out your room keys at check in or take your picture, so you proceed directly to your stateroom and your room key is waiting for you on your bed. It is your responsibility to get your credit card on file for all your expenses while on board.
The beds were low to the ground and rock hard. I asked our room steward for an egg crate mattress to soften it up and he actually delivered another mattress to lay over the one on the bed. It was a pillow topper mattress and it made the mattress really soft and nice. The topper raised the height of the bed by about 5 inches so this was nice too. He gave us extra pillows and blankets. However, they don't wash the blankets in between passengers. You just get whatever is available from a closet or drawer in another room.
I booked my shore excursions online months before the cruise and had no problems with their website. I even called their 800 # to verify that everything went through and talked to some nice people about my reservation.
Costa does not make announcements in their hallways like other cruise lines, which is very nice. They won't wake you up in the morning with announcements about the day's activities or for crew training exercises. This was somewhat strange on debarkation day. They don't announce color tags and tell you when it is time to leave the ship. We just went down the elevator and left the ship at 8 am to make our 10:40 am flight back from Fort Lauderdale. You leave when you want and no one seems to care. If you want to carry your own bags off the ship, they let you do this at 7:30am.
This ship does not promote hand sanitizing. In fact, if you want to use some it is not even easy to find the machine. My husband did get sick because of the lack thereof.
Breakfast was eggs made to order with olive oil. However, I didn't prefer the taste of olive oil over butter in my omelet so only tried it once. Toasted bagels and bread are hard to find on the buffet at breakfast. You need to look for wrapped napkins and they are hiding inside.
Buffet breakfast was cheese, lox, bagels, cream cheese, jams, scrambled eggs, bacon, has browns, fresh fruit, and corn beef hash. Great assortment and always tasty. Also will find all kinds of rolls and croissants. Drinks available are orange juice and grapefruit juice and coffee.
Lunch was made to order sandwiches on french bread, burgers, very flat-crusted pizza with little sauce on it and a slight amount of cheese (not the kind of pizza you would find on the other cruise lines - almost tasteless), pasta made to order, and hot buffet food, which I always try to stay away from. Doesn't smell good to me.
Dinner included appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, main course, and then limited desserts. Our waiters were awful. Both from India. They made us order dessert right while we were ordering our dinner. Never refilled our water glasses or replaced our bread sticks. I literally lived on breadsticks for dinner since I really didn't care for their food items. Our waiters didn't bring the courses together so there was always someone in our family eating their salad alone or pasta alone. I don't understand why they can't let someone eat their salad while someone else is eating their soup. It just didn't make sense to me. The food recipes were just a little off and didn't taste right to our American tastes.
There are no soda cards on this ship. They do offer ice tea at meals for free. Cappuccinos are also available for a fee at dinner. Free at breakfast if you order from room service.
Tea time was excellent. They served small sandwiches and different types of pastries. However, this is the first cruise line I have been on that the desserts really weren't tasty. They must have had a European flair to them that I just didn't care for.
Soft serve ice cream was available all the time and most of the machines were working all the time. My favorite is ice cream in my coffee. But it is impossible to find the ice cream at breakfast time. In the evenings until about midnight, they have tablecloths on the tables in the buffet and you can order single size pizza with whatever toppings you like and they take your order and deliver it to your table. However, it is still this cardboard crust pizza that will be delivered.
The best dessert foods are only presented at the Gala Midnight Buffet. This is when we finally found the really good cakes, cheesecakes, chocolate covered strawberries and canolis. At no other time during the week were really good desserts available. Not even at dinner. Dinner desserts were mostly different flavors of ice cream and a few other types of cakes, which weren't really very good.
The way Costa cuts costs is by not putting a chocolate candy on your pillow each night before bed, and by never making towel animals. There are not movies playing continuously on your TV. If you want to watch a movie, you have to pay $9.00. However, something really nice, which I have never seen before, is that regular TV shows were playing on the TV in the room between 8 and 10 pm. So if you wanted to keep up with your shows from home you could go back to the room and watch them right there for a couple hours. They also allowed you to check your balance on your account from your stateroom, this was nice. There were no pressures to buy pictures in the photo gallery. All the pictures are locked in glass cases and your have to ask for them to be unlocked to view them.
We found the gym to be crowded whenever we went to exercise and never got equipment when we wanted to. The promenade does not go all the way around the ship so you have to go inside to walk the promenade and the doors are really heavy and hard to open to enter.
The cruise director Stephano was Italian with a heavy Italian accent. He never made a joke the entire week, but was full of energy. He had to repeat everything he said in four different languages and it was funny to watch him rush through all the different languages at the beginning of each show. The shows they had were strange at best. They said they repeat the same shows every week through the winter months. So if you were to go on the same ship again a few months later you would have to watch the same entertainers and shows over again. They never had a comedian on stage the entire week. We and many others walked out on many of the shows. The last night of the cruise was guest talent show and this was quite amusing. All of us were wearing our togas and the people on the stage were wearing togas too. It was a funny show, which was ad libbed as they went along.
It was fun listening to people speak in the elevators. Lots of people speaking in Italian, French and Spanish on our cruise. Many of the people did not even speak English at all which was pretty amazing.
The ship was decorated to look like Italy and Rome. Kind of gaudy looking with the same flair as Carnival, since the same ship builder builds both ships. This ship has the same exact layout as the Carnival Legend. There was no smoking allowed all over the ship. It was only allowed in selected areas and was not a problem the entire week.
During many dinners, they had tall red candles, in silver candlesticks, lit on the tables. I have never seen a ship have lighted candles, not in a glass holder, on the tables in the dining rooms. During the Baked Alaska parade, the waiters lit sparklers.
How would I rate this cruise. Well, it was a week of vacation and that was great, but I would fit it just one notch above HAL, which I didn't care for very much. If the price was right and the ports were great, I would probably try Costa again. However, I think I will probably stick to Princess, NCL and Carnival in the future.