This was our second cruise, the first being Carnival Paradise last fall, so bear that in mind as you read our review. We love the overall experience and method of travel. We were with a group of 20 family and friends, from 3 to 79 y/o, some first-time and some "super" cruisers. Everyone in our group had a very enjoyable vacation and would travel again on Costa. All in our group received an upgraded cabin; ours a Wellness Balcony cabin. The cabins were all nice, but in most the air conditioning was barely adequate. The ship was quite a pleasing visual experience. Owing to the fact Costa is the largest European cruise line, probably half of the guests were from Europe, creating a different atmosphere, which is great by us. I'll try to say this diplomatically - some Americans are overly "politically correct", or "snobs", boorish when it comes to associating with persons from other cultures, or are "offended" by smokers. If this is you, do everyone a favor and skip Costa. The food was very good and always available. The wine was wonderful, since I'm partial to Italian wine. We enjoyed the savings of one of the wine packages. The service was great. We dined one evening in the premium restaurant, Club Atlantica, which we highly recommend. There were many participative activities at one of the pools daily, including games, exercise, dance lessons, and a diving contest. There was also a "Mr Pizza" contest onboard, which unbeknownst to the participants ahead of time, began with a mock strip tease. (Congrats to our son-in-law, he won first prize.) All were great fun. I enjoyed a one hour full-body massage, which seemed to only take 10 minutes! One evening we were invited to an Anniversary/Honeymoon cocktail event where we renewed our marriage vows with the captain. This was interesting, as we were mistakenly called up with the French couples (because of our surname). Told my wife it didn't count, since I didn't understand what was said. The shows were for the most part excellent.
Overall, a very active cruise with never a dull moment. The only disappointments were we missed Festa Italiana and Toga Night. We were expecting these to be all-day or all-evening events. Instead, they were abbreviated into a couple hours with inconvenient timing. The daycare didn't work out real well for our two 3 y/o guests. One of them was very unhappy and inconsolable away from her mom, so on two occasions they were returned to their families during the evening meal.
We flew to Ft Lauderdale two days prior to embarkation and enjoyed touring the area immensely. Highly recommend CarrieB Water Tours and the Water Taxi.
Embarkation for us was quick and easy, though we were among the last of our group to board, due to the slowness of our hotel shuttle service. In their defense, there were about seven ships embarking this day, two being the two largest in the world, so the task was huge. Regardless, next time we will take a taxi, since the port is so close to hotels and the airport. Disembarking was a breeze too. Arrivederci, Costa, we'll be back!
First stop was Key West. We tendered with the life boats, which was not the best experience for many, and a thrill for others. The seas were rough with wait time both ways. No one took any excursions here, and for the many did not have a great time. This was due to lack of preparation and planning on our part.
Grand Cayman was next. We tendered here with port operated shuttles, which were much quicker. The problem arose re-boarding the ship, as once again the seas were roiling. Some in our group went horseback riding on the beach, others took an island tour, and some went to Stingray City. The riding and rays received rave reviews, the island tour not so much. Roatan was the third stop, and we disembarked at a very nice pier area. A great time was had by all here. Most of our group went zip-lining (including our 79 y/o lady in the group), which was a blast. Others took a very pleasurable island tour or enjoyed the beach adjacent to the pier.
Cozumel was the final stop, again at a pier. This island was also a great experience. Most went on a private tour of the island, visiting Mayan ruins, El Mirador (a beautiful beach on the east side of the island), a tequila factory, and stopped downtown for shopping and a fabulous meal at Tiki Tok. All but one of our outings was arranged through an independent operator, which we highly recommended. One couple took a Costa excursion and also had a fabulous time. Photos available at: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3948482&id=166655687540#!/pages/Freedom-Travel-LLC/166655687540?v=photos&sb=0