We have been on Carnival, RCI, Holland America, Princess and Celebrity. We have liked all of our cruises though none were perfect. I had the most fun yet on this one. I participated in 5 of their fun activities so that may be part of the reason. We began by flying down to Ft.Lauderdale the day before to avoid any stress in getting to the ship on time. We stayed at a Comfort Inn in Hollywood, Florida. They have courtesy pick up at the airport as well as to the pier and a free breakfast. We left Saturday from the hotel about 12:20pm. Travel time to the pier from the hotel took about 20 minutes. Check in at Pier 19 went quickly as there were not very many checking in at that time. We had to fill out a quick medical questionnaire, then proceeded to the check in counters. We needed our passports and cruise boarding form. The boarding form we completed off the Internet. The baggage tags were also printed from the Internet. These we placed on the baggage shortly before leaving the hotel. I brought a small stapler and stapled them on, or one could have used tape. I also made extra copies of the tags and placed them inside the bags. We had our picture taken 2 times before entering the ship. One was taken by the photo department, the 2nd was taken for security purposes. We did not receive our room key at the check in counter, so one needs to remember your cabin number. Our cabin was not ready so we proceeded to deck 9 for the lunch buffet. We went to the cabin at about 4pm. Sail away was around 7pm. We met our room steward Arwan, and had him unlock the refrigerator. The room was pretty much a standard inside room. There were 3 long closets and 6 small drawers. I stored the 3 suitcases under the bed. The only items in the bathroom that were provided in terms of toiletries were a bar of soap and a soap dispenser in the shower. We brought our own shampoo and body lotion. There was an electrical outlet in the bathroom and one in the room itself. I could never get the wake up call to work using the wake up button on the phone. I would press the button and I could hear a ring but never any answer so I had to call the reception desk each evening and request a wake-up call with them which worked out OK. We found the room key, and proceeded to deck 2 to initiate the credit card usage as our form of payment. There was a Costa person at the kiosk and she helped. We needed the room key and the credit card. The process went very quickly. There were a number of these kiosks around the deck. As to the beds, they were fairly supportive. I didn't like that there was no separate sheet, just a combined sheet/blanket. I tended to get a little sweaty with so much on through the night. The A/C worked well, but I don't care for it to be very cool in the room at night.
FOOD: We ate breakfast in the buffet dining area and some lunches. We ate evening meals at the 1st seating each evening at 6pm.. Breakfast buffet was the same for the most part each morning. I didn't eat the pancakes or waffles as I like mine quite warm which these were not. One could order omelets at the omelet stations which I did a few times. I was impressed that fresh papaya was available 3 times during the breakfast buffet -something I've not seen for quite some time on cruise ships. The passion fruit juice was my favorite during the morning. Orange juice was also available. I usually take on a trip such as this an insulated cup and fill it with juice and drink it later in the day as it is not available after breakfast. Lunch buffet varied day to day. Usually the foods were good. Fish was not always good. Sometimes it was too hard or dry. Desserts during lunch were on the light side. I am a real dessert freak and really look forward to rich desserts. I didn't find any during lunch; however, the choices were better in the evening. Pizza just didn't cut it for me. Crust too thin, sometimes too hard, and sparse toppings. I tried it 3 times, only to find 1 that was reasonable. I did not try the pizza in the evening. Soft serve ice cream was available from machines, both chocolate and vanilla. I prefer the real stuff which was available in the evening, either ice cream or sorbet. I found both to be good. We elected early seating at 6pm. We were seated at a table of 8 but were the only 2 seated there the 1st night. From the second night onward, there were either 6 or 8 which made it much more enjoyable. Evening Meals were for the most part good. Shrimp Cocktail was available as an appetizer 2 times during the cruise. Escargot was available only once. It was the best I'd ever eaten. I would have ordered it every night had it been available. It had like a thin crust on it. One lady at our table had never eaten it. Her husband said she would never eat it if she ordered it. We convinced to try it and she was sold. Unfortunately, it was never offered again. Rolls were mostly the same each evening, they were hard outer crust with soft on the inside. Bread sticks were always on the table. One night they had colored bread for Italian Night (red, white and green). One night baked Alaska was served. However, it didn't have the usual ice cream in it, but more of a cream type filling. I was disappointed in the Tiramisu. I've had it here in the states and some were outstanding. The one served on Costa just didn't do anything for me. I found the soups for the most part good, both the hot and the cold soups. However, the cold potato soup was just liquid with no other additions. Pasta dishes were always available each evening in addition to the main entrees. These were good but could be rather filling, especially if you also ordered an entree. Service during the evening dinner was good throughout the cruise. We had 2 different birthdays celebrated at our table. Apparently, if you let the maitre d know ahead of time, a cake will be made and happy birthday sung. Our 2 cakes were very good On one night, we were served an Asti with our meal at no extra charge. My only real disappointment was that no lobster was ever available at any of the meals during the cruise. A few times, the table stewards would do some type of activity, during our evening meal, whether singing or dancing with the passengers or parading in with the baked Alaska. The crew were friendly overall. The individuals in charge of contests and other activities were very energetic and friendly. It was amazing how they would breeze through announcements in 5 languages. I participated in 5 contests during the cruise. My wife never laughed so hard on a cruise before while watching some of my antics as well as those of the other participants.
Pool Deck: I tried the water slide one time. I had to pull myself down the entire slide. It just was not slippery. The pools on board are salt water. One pool in back of the ship is for adults only as is the whirlpool there. There are quite a number of chairs around the decks. Those by the pool filled quickly. There were 2 pools mid-ship and 2 whirlpools. There was also a whirlpool inside where the spa was located. I never made it there
CASINO: The casino lacked a craps table which is the only gambling I prefer to do, so little time was spent in the casino. All of the other usual types of gambling were prevalent. Lounges: Both my wife and I like to dance and there were 2 or 3 lounges where music was played and dancing was available frequently. There were other lounges as well. Happy Hour: There was a happy hour daily from 11-12, and 4-5, where you could get 2 drinks for the price of 1 at the bars.
Toga Night: The Toga dress up was fun. It was moved from the last night to earlier in the week. We obtained sheets from a designated area on the ship around 4pm and wore them the entire evening. Participation was not mandatory. Probably about 20 - 30 % of the passengers participated. That same evening, I participated in the Mr. Pizza contest not knowing ahead of time the expectations. Part of the activity involved a "strip" act. Not easy to do in a toga. The 2nd part had to do with pizza dough. You probably wouldn't eat pizza after seeing what we did with the dough. Again, many laughs for the audience. Also that night was the talent show. I usually don't go to the "talent" night, but did so this evening since we were dressed in togas. The cast made a grand entrance with a chariot drawn by 2 lions(staff dressed as lions) and a cast of cruise staff dressed in Roman attire along with those performing in the talent show. If the crowd didn't like your talent performance, you were sent to the lions. Unfortunately, 2 of the contestants were sent to the lions that night. If you were on excursions, you needed to read the daily news sheet that was given to each cabin the night before as it told where and when to meet for the excursion.
Evening Shows: 2 of the evening entertainment acts were really good. One was an impersonator- singer- musician. At times, you would swear he was Jerry Lewis. The other outstanding act was a Hungarian couple that did the most fascinating body contortions and acrobats imaginable. Other evenings there were the Costa Cast during singing and dancing performances which my wife enjoys more than I do. Sometimes during the late evening, around midnight, various tables were set up in various spots of the ship offering foods. These tables were not necessarily in the buffet area but out on other floors. One night they had some good desserts. We were not always up that late so I don't know if this occurred every night.
Disembarkation: For the most part went smoothly. We ate breakfast, exited the room at 8:30am, and went to a meeting area to await our departure. We departed at 9:15 am. We claimed our bags and proceeded through customs. We wanted to catch a taxi to the airport. It was frustrating as there were no taxis around. there was a line where we could wait for a taxi. I'll bet we waited about 20-25 minutes for a taxi. Occasionally a taxi would arrive as it was delivering passengers for the next cruise. Finally about 5 taxi's arrived and we were able to leave; however, there was still a long line of people waiting for a taxi. Not sure why there was a lack of taxi's. It may have been because about 5 ships were in port at the time. Would I do a Costa Cruise again? Yes I would.
Excursions: ROATAN: We did the ship excursion to Tabyana Beach. First of all, the day was sunny, blue sky and warm. We did the Tabyana beach excursion. Took about 35 minutes to get there. It did give us a chance to see the countryside and the city. The beach was nice and sandy, access was very easy, and fish were seen while snorkeling. Water was clear and calm.
COZUMEL: We did the Play Mia Beach excursion. It took about 15 minutes to get there from the pier. The price included a buffet and drinks. The beach was nice. I just couldn't get into the water. There was about a 10 foot wide stretch of rocks one had to traverse from the shore to get into the water. I just couldn't manage it. What was nice for me was that there was a small fresh water pool there where I was able to swim. The buffet food was OK. Drinks included water, soda, beer and mixed drinks. We tried a paddle boat but it was more work than we cared for.
GRAND CAYMAN: We were able to get ashore but the excursions were all cancelled due to somewhat bad weather. We took the tenders to shore. Loading them took awhile due to the choppy sea.l By the time we got ashore, there was no rain, but no sun. We spent the time shopping