We are a family who went on a family vacation. We have been 4 other cruises with four other cruise lines. We are in our 40's with teenagers who are looking to find other teenagers to hang out with on the ship (to get away from their lame parents). Us, adults, are causal drinkers and are looking for some fun shows to watch, dance a little, get involved in some on board organized games/fun and maybe play a hand or two of blackjack and call it good. Our kids want to mesh with other teenagers and walk the ship looking bored (it's the thing!), dance with their teenage friends, play ping pong, play video games, swim and sit in the hot tub and talk about whom is "cute" on the ship AND at all cost avoid THEIR PARENTS!
The Good: Beautiful Ship! The water slide was fun. Fun Activities (Toga night and talent show was FUN!!!!) Great deals on pictures - got all the digital negatives and ALL THE PRINTS for $150 at the end of the cruise. We probably had over 30+ pictures we took over 2 formal nights and New Years Eve Night. Great Drink Packages! I prepaid for the X1 packages for adults (includes alcohol) and kids (non-alcohol) for a little over $300 ... and we all drank enough carbonated drinks and, we adults, drank enough wine and beer to surpass the price we prepaid. Dining room service was IMPECCABLE and probably the best I have ever had on any of my cruises. The food presentation and wait staff presentation was extraordinary. On Italian night, in the main dining room, the wait staff danced down the steps and sang in Italian while everyone clapped. During NYE the wait staff danced around and lit off sparklers as they came down the steps. On the last night, Toga Night, they danced down the steps in Roman Get Up and said "All Hail Caesar!" ... it was FUN, very well planned and really entertaining. The shows on board were family appropriate without being so clean it was boring. The shows were everything from curse free comedians, Elton John impersonation show, and Broadway tunes show to a musical review of decades of music. We never encountered rude staff ANYWHERE on board this ship. Everyone was courtesy and very helpful. NYE was the best party we have ever been too ... will defiantly do NYC on a cruise ship again.
The Bad: The ships pools were TOO SMALL. I wrote this in my comment card. We have been on 4 other cruise lines and ships. The pools on this mid range ship pale in comparison to ships of equal size we have been on. Additionally their pools were SMALLER then ships we have been on that don't even equal their gross tonnage. This is just bad design and they need more people to give this feedback so they can consider expanding their pool sizes in future ship designs. It's not fun when the pool so small that you aren't swimming but bumping elbows. The food was tasteless and just plain weird (tacos without cheese, lettuce or tomato ...What? ...that is their TexMex). It makes me feel guilty to say their food sucked because the food presentation and fun in the dining room almost made up for the lack of tasteless food. But hey I came back with absolutely no weight gain (I was HAPPY!!! ... so much I had to weight twice because I didn't believe it) and how many people can say that after a 2 week vacation? Anyway I had fun with everything else so in the end they DID me a favor with their bad food ... it's like I went to fat camp and had fun.
Lowdown: I went to be with my family and have fun. Costa accomplished both of this for me. I had little to no problems with the cruise line. I wasn't at the customer service desk day and night with issues so this, of course, made for stress free time that I spent with the family. I didn't go to excessively eat or get drunk every day. I seen some great shows and found enough edible food to stay alive and enjoyed all the amenities and planned activities on board. We enjoyed our ports of call. Getting off and on the ship was easy and hassle free. I would go on anther Costa Cruise again ... you beat ... it's a good price for a newer ship and it was fun.
Word to the Wise: PREPLAN! Seriously you need to preplan if you are going on this cruise. You can NOT buy X1 packages on board the ship. They will not sell them to you on board. You have to call Costa customer service and organized this BEFORE your cruise. A great tip here is to load up on the unlimited beverages and put them in your refrigerator. We came home with soda. We got our money back.
READ your "Today" on board every day. By reading the "Today" we found out that you can buy your digital negatives for $75 on CD and print them yourself at home or send out for prints and enlarges (not copyrighted ... they will give you the digital negatives for $75). You do have to go down every now and then and pick up your pictures and have them place it in a folder for you. We did this every time we walked through the main atrium area (grand piano bar) which was every day. I will pick my own pictures if they give me the negatives ... then I can make my own prints through Clark photo's of formal photos and give to family ... all good. By having this information up front we took MORE pictures because we figured there was opportunity here to get some great photos for a really good price. We found out on the last day of the cruise when we went to pick up our CD of negatives we could buy all the photos we took too for an additional $75 ... which made it a $150.00. We took over 30+ photos so we bought it. When is the last time you got formal pictures AND the negatives (for future prints) for $150. It was a good deal.
Shore excursions are always expensive on any cruise ship line. The cruise ship line MAKE $ off you taking their "provided" excursions because they are offering a service. If you do research on ports you go to you can take your own shore excursions for more than half the price. Remember all these ports of call have taxi's lined up and ready. Most beaches in the Caribbean are usually free. Walking around in Atlantis in the Bahamas is free and the taxi ride is a set rate $4 per person as set by the Bahamian government and posted at the pier. Puerto Rico is an American Territory along with St. Thomas VI. They all speak English and use American money. You can RENT a car on American soil (and it is) and go to the rain forest yourself for half the price with car rental, gas and entrance fee included. We don't do many shore excursions through cruise lines because of two factors ... TOO EXPENSIVE and TOO LITTLE TIME ... 20 minutes to stop and look and get back on the bus is not enough time at $65 a person. You can also use external shore excursion sites found through Google. Remember it's YOUR MONEY and with a little time and research you can do your own shore excursions for less money.