We are a senior couple with 22 cruises under our belt on most of the American main-stream lines, and this was our first time on Costa, but it definitely won't be our last. The main reason we liked it so much was the entertainment and the opportunities for dancing late into the night. I'll try to give a recap of our experience: We live in Central Gulf-Coast Florida, so we drove down in our van with another couple who live in our community, splitting the costs. I booked 2 rooms for all of us on Priceline and got the Courtyard by Marriott Cypress Creek for only $39.00 per room, which was quite a deal. We picked up another single lady who lived in Ft. Lauderdale Beach area and made our way down A1A to Port Everglades.
We arrived at the port at 1:30 and DH let all of us off with the luggage and parked at the Mid-port garage. We were on the ship in less than 15 minutes tops. We dropped our carry-ons off in the room and met up at the Botticelli Buffet for a late lunch. Our first impression of the food was pretty good, especially the fresh-made pasta and Greek salad fixings. DH and I then proceeded down to our cabin to put away our clothes. We were upgraded from a regular inside to an obstructed ocean view on the 4th deck, which meant we could open the full glass doors to the outside, but had a view of a lifeboat. This was fine with us, as we are content with an inside, and anything above that is a bonus. It was great to be able to open the doors and feel the fresh air and get a glimpse of the water. The cabin was quite roomy with plenty of storage areas. The bed was somewhat firm, but our request for extra pillows was granted with a smile. Our stateroom attendant Marti also kept our little canvas cooler iced down for the duration of the cruise.
Let me cover the dining: This was our first time on Costa and I had read all of the reviews and pretty much expected not to be blown away by the food, and I was right. However, it certainly was adequate and we never went hungry. My personal opinion is that it did not measure up to Carnival, RCI, Princess, Norwegian, or Holland America, but it wasn't really bad, either; just not memorable. However, the couple sailing with us thought it was terrible. DH and I do not go on a cruise strictly for the food, so we were more than happy with all the other wonderful aspects of the cruise. We did have a great serving team at our table, and they made the dining enjoyable. We found the always-available items better than some of the featured menu items. For instance, we preferred the Caesar salad to any of the other featured salads, and the Fettucini Alfredo was very good also, so we ended up ordering those for our salad and pasta course every night. I had ordered the X-1 package for myself alone, as DH is diabetic and does not drink wine. I ended up having 2 glasses of beer every day for lunch in the dining room. At night they would bring me 1 or 2 full bottles of their white wine every evening. I kept asking them to cork it and let me have it the next night, but they said I should take it back to the room and get a new bottle the next evening. All in all, I really got my money's worth with the X-1 and would highly recommend it.
Entertainment: In our opinion this is where Costa really shines. We've been on all the lines mentioned previously and we both feel Costa surpassed them. The singers and dancers were some of the best I've ever seen. The lighting and special effects were wonderful. The Italian tenor was outstanding, as was the acrobatic act from Hungary. We really liked Andrea, the male cruise director. All the announcements in 5 languages didn't bother us at all. I love to hear all the diff. languages spoken, and the ones not in English were very brief. The performers "Duo Sunrise" who sang right outside the entrance to the bottom floor of the dining room, were superb, plus they were VERY, VERY nice. What we really loved most of all was all the opportunities to dance all over the ship which lasted until 1 a.m. every night. Never before have we experienced as many options for evening entertainment, not even on Carnival!! We danced our feetsies off!!
Regarding the ports, we did all our off-ship activities on our own, as we have been to all the ports several times. I did purchase my 5 litres of alcohol in St.Thomas. We docked at Crown Bay, so I just walked around in the nearby shops. The alcohol prices in St.Thomas were better than on the ship or in any other port, plus the allowance per person was better. Disembarkation was just as smooth as getting on the ship, and we were off and on our way to the Turnpike by 10 a.m. DH and I will definitely sail Costa again because of the entertainment and dancing. Food is not our primary concern. It was a wonderful cruise for the money. Our next cruise will be in the fall, and we are looking at another Med cruise or a transatlantic. We will definitely consider Costa again or MSC.