This was our fifth cruise in the last 8 years, and our first one on Costa, although all of our other cruises have been on other ships in the Carnival Corporation network (Princess three times and once on Holland American). We picked this cruise for its itinerary, which was spectacular. The cruise itself was OK, but not up to the standards we have enjoyed on our other trips.
Embarkation was poor. Our bags were taken away expeditiously and were at our cabin when we arrived on board. Passengers were given group numbers and told to wait to be called: we then had to wait of more than two hours before we could complete the few minutes of paperwork and go on board. There were four clerks to handle the two thousand passengers. This was totally different from our previous experiences (all in the USA or Canada) where there was no waiting. Not a good way to start a vacation!
The interary and shore excursions were excellent. Only problem was in Athens, where there weren't enough people for a trip in English to the Acropolis. After a little bit of confusion, we booked on the Spanish-speaking trip (my wife is fluent...I tagged along). We walked around town on our own in Mykonos and Dubrovnik. Excursions in Ancona (Urbino), Corfu and Santorini (Ia) were great.
Food was generally very mediocre. While there is plenty of it (lunches and dinners included one or more appetizers/soup, a pasta course and a main dish plus desert), but the quality was generally fair at best. Lots of seafood (frozen fish and shrimp) and veal, very little beef. Quality and hours of the upstairs buffet were very limited. All dinners were in the main dining rooms or the extra-price premier location (we didn't try this); there was no dinner buffet. Like other ships, all drinks other than coffee and water were extra. Dinners have assigned seating. Our waiters were extremely nice, helpful and friendly.
Cabin steward spoke almost no English and was minimally helpful (we had great difficulty getting shampoo and extra towels). Pools were adequate but, despite crew requests not to, people claimed chaise lounges for many hours at a time. Entertainment ranged from cheezy dancing at the pool to mediocre magicians and singers after dinner. The shows had much less costuming, dancing and almost no scenery (very different from our Western Hemisphere cruises).
Overall, we loved the travel and thought that the vacation aspects were only OK.