From embarkation in Beijing to disembarkation there, the whole cruise can best be described as amateurish. Costa obviously haven't used any of their experience from their Western operations when Costa Asia was set up. The staff on board were the best part of the cruise, as they were always helpful and jovial however, any encounter with administration met with incompetence or apathy. Entertainment was pathetic at best, dire at worst although the entertainment staff were enthusiastic in their efforts.
This ship was built 1969 as the freighter "Annie Johnson" that was sympathetically converted in 1992, but it will never be comparable to the post 1990 cruise ship. The cabins were basic and small and the outside cabins all had small portholes instead of windows making it dark. The cabin tap water is not potable or fit for consumption, but there is nothing to warn of this. A number of passengers, including myself, were ill after cleaning teeth with it. Most cruise ships make much of their profits though on-board sales, but everything is geared to making unreasonable profit. From highly priced drinks to excessive shore excursions charges that mysteriously increase between booking pre-cruise and boarding, Costa is an appropriate name.
With this relatively new cruise Asian operation catering for the newly wealthy Chinese tourist, you can expect that a large majority of the passengers are Chinese families with Europeans in the tiny minority. They bring many generations along as a family group and like to go shopping on port days. All shore excursions include an hour or two of shopping time whether you want it or not and are multilingual, as are announcements on board. Expect them to be in Italian, Chinese, English and German. Food is a Chinese and Western mix but monotonous with little choice and of mediocre quality. The 'pizza restaurant' was a counter off a lounge that was only open for a few hours between meals and also charged for the 'pleasure'.
If you want to experience a cruise company learning how to do cruising and a ferry trying to be a cruise ship making excessive profits then you will probably enjoy this ship. Give me P&O, Cunard, Swan Hellenic, even Princess any day.