This was my first cruise and I always wanted to see the Greek Isles.
We booked our own flights to get good times and connections. This allowed a day in Venice a day before the cruise. Getting around Venice proved easy as long as you remember Vaporetti (water bus)lines 1 or 2 travel the canal allowing for great views without paying exhorbitant water taxi charges. The stations are well marked unlike other reviews I've read. Cost was 13 euros round trip.
The embarkation was a breeze, and while waiting for our boarding time to be called, we decided to purchase a beverage package. We opted for the "special" wine/water package which includes 5 bottles of better wine (red and white), a bottle of proseco and 10 liter bottles of water. The savings is over 40 euros by buying this way. You can always buy wine or water from Costa via their internet site or when you are on ship. We did this for the last night with an upscale Italian red wine. FYI, as you board they will offer the same beverage options in case you want to wait.
We attended several of the theater shows and they were good. The piano bar (Rosso) and the atrium bar were nice settings for an after dinner drink or cappuccino. Our tablemates preferred the very quiet cigar bar (no music)and we joined them a couple of times.
Don't waste your time at the captain's gala. It was mainly a PR event for Costa Cruises including the captain's canned speech. If you go to the midnight buffet gala during the week, don't rush to get there early. Wait and take time to photograph the ice sculptures and other decorations before making your way through the kitchen to pick-up some italian pasties (yum). We found out more often it pays to be patient and let the crowds subside when there are special events. The exception would be the theater where it pays to go early to get a good seat.
Be sure to stop at the customer service desk a couple of times to get a pre-bill. You may find, like we did, a couple of errors. Better to take care of it right away as the last day will be crazy with others having issues with their bill. Disembarkation upon return was a snap. You wait in the Rex theater for your bag tag color to be called. Once you're off wade through the mass of bags with your color tags...this part is a bit chaotic. Remember you're in Europe so go with the flow!