We travelled as a party of 4 adults, a couple, sister and cousin age range from 40 to 56. Of the the group 3 have cruise before with Thompson, but was a bit worried about the reviews.
Arriving at Marco Polo airport Venice we found our transfer with ease, the problem was when we went to board the Costa Serena, that was our thought we did not listen that you had to wait for your number to be called, but it would help if they had a bigger sign with the number on and also give you printed information before your departure, so that you know what to expect.
Once going through the boarding stage there were still more wall to wall of people. Once on board welcome, we asked where do you go to the cabin, yes and pointed to the lifts. We knew our deck and cabin number, but had to ask if the cabins were open. After that we found our cabins. The Cabins had plenty of space for clothes and a nice double bed, singles in the other cabin, much more room than on Thompson destiny.
The cabin we found out did have a lot of virbration, we at the back of the ship, But we found sent us off to sleep.
The cabin was spotless and our cabin steward very helpful.
The ship overall was lovely, not as bright as we had seen in the photos. We found is quite easy to get around, yes we did go the wrong way at times.
On our first day we been to the cabin, we went to bar in reception, still busy with people, drinks are expensive. I had house white wine which was 4.50 euros , but between 4 and 6 its buy one get free, larger was more expensive as it just bigger than half a pint. Spirts and soft drink was about 10 euros.
We decided not to go to put money on your account, as it stated you could do this within 48 hours, then just go to reception. Warning they only take credit cards, not debit.
Then we went to dinner, I check with my sister before hand we were all book for the the first sitting, but we had the first, they had the second. So another long wait sorting this out, eventually given a table for four.
The food was small portions, but lovely, none of us complained.
The Buffet on the other hand was like a cattle market at breakfast and lunch, if you could find a table, then you had to clear it yourself. By the time one of your party had some food, the other had eaten, they were no sauces to go with food, just a nightmare.
We ended up ordering room service for breakfast for a service charge of 2 euros, well worth, then you can go up to the late sleepers buffet, not much choice, but at least you had something to eat.
Entertainment, well Strictly Come Dancing, which was great to watch and join in once. If you love dancing like this which I wish I could do, learn some dances before you go on board and you will love it.
They did have the Italian version of Butlins, but what cruises do not do that now days. Need to have more mordern music on board, disco only for teens.
Bingo cost 20 Euros pp, need to lower the Jackpot and price of tickets more people would have a go, im not a bingo person. Casino, min bet too expensive.
Bar and waiting staff quite good. Kids everywhere, but did not bother us.
Would I recommed this ship, in certain ways yes, for the difference, we enjoyed ourselves, but never met any English speaking guess.
As for the ports, going back on the ship at Bari was a nightmare, and by the way they did take the bottle of whisky I brought in the port. At all ports do you own thing, there are plenty of taxis, we only went on one excursion in Istanbul to the Blue Mosque cost 52 euros for 4 hours.. We ended up not going back to the bus for the ship, did a detour had lunch and a lot of walking, but saw a differnt peaceful side of Istanbul.
The Spa was lovely paid 39 Euros for the day, it gave you access to the baths, steam rooms, tea and tanning room and relaxation area. Towels and robes were provided.
Only one other niggle when it was the sea day the Ceres sit down buffet was closed, so yet again another nightmare at the buffet on deck 9.
Hope you found this helpful