My husband and I have cruised many times before (on 5 different cruise lines) and wanted to introduce our friends to this type of vacation. It was the first time we had gone with Costa and we chose it based on price. We had read all the negative comments but went on the cruise with an open mind.
The embarkation was probably the easiest we have ever experienced. The cruise card and credit card validation were not done at check in and this speeded up the whole thing. Our luggage arrived at our stateroom soon after we boarded. Last cruise in December, it was almost dinnertime before my husband's case arrived.
The food reviews we had read were not good, however, we found the quality and choice of food excellent. The waiters were very friendly and helpful. After the first day we ate all of our meals in the dining room as we did find the layout of the buffet on deck nine a little chaotic. Our friends chose to have breakfast and lunch on deck nine and thought it was fine.
Our balcony stateroom was very comfortable and spotless. It was nearly always cleaned while we ate breakfast. Allen our cabin steward was very thorough and always smiling. I must comment on the pillows though, as they were very hard and could be doing with being replaced.
We did find it confusing that on some of the public decks you could not walk from one place to another without going up or down. The lack of a wrap around promenade deck was also disappointing as we love to walk 2 miles every day. There is a jogging track but it got very busy and was small enough to give you the feeling that you were going round in small circles!
The quality of the entertainment was above average for a cruise ship and many of the shows were spectacular with laser lighting and extravagant costumes.
The ports of call were the usual for the western Caribbean and we did not go on any tours. The time in each port did seem a little short and most days we set sail shortly after 2pm.
Although I have outline some negative points, all in all, we all thought it was excellent value for money. All the other lines we have sailed with have their positive and negative points as well. Our friend said they really felt they were in Italy some of the time. Would we all repeat the experience? Yes