We intentionally arrived at the port after 1:00pm hoping that many would have already embarked. Unfortunately, embarkation did not even begin until after we had arrived so we had to wait for one hour and 45 minutes before getting on the ship. The embarkation area was clean, as were the restrooms and they offered water to the passengers. Italians don't understand the meaning of a line, so when they call your number, just elbow your way in or you'll keep getting pushed to the back of the crowd.
The ship's decor is very gaudy and there is definitely a party atmosphere. If you are looking for a sophisticated, easy going cruise, this is not the place for you. Like I mentioned above, I have never experienced how the Italians don't understand the concept of waiting their turn. Many times at the buffet, guest services desk, shore excursion desk, and boutique they would just get right in front of you. You really have to elbow your way in and stand wide to keep them from going around you. It was really unbelievable and so rude.
In the cabin: They never could got the air conditioning right. We had them come 3 times and they never got the temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This was really unbearable for my husband. There is only one TV channel for English speaking passengers - BBC news. If you are anywhere near the back of the ship be advised that the Teen Zone starts every night between 11:00pm and 12:00am. For at least 2 hours there will be loud music, chairs scooting and a loud DJ. This was not stated anywhere on Costa's website. We had to ask the people in the cabins on both sides of us to please stop letting their balcony doors slam. Another Italian thing I guess.
There is no dinner buffet on this ship; only pizza in the evening. The service in the dining room was just okay. Not on par with Celebrity, Princess, Oceania. The food was okay, but not as good as many other ships I've been on. The food is Italian for the most part; don't expect a lot of steak and baked potatoes.
Be advised that few shore excursions make for English speaking passengers. I was very displeased about this and let them know it. The main reason I booked this itinerary was for the ports along with the excursions I could choose. If I had know that half of the excursions I had purchased would not make, I would have chosen a different cruise line altogether. Each day all of the Italian speaking excursions would make, but only 3 to 4 in English and ever then, there would be another language spoken on your tour. I did not have a problem with that.
There is no craps table in the casino even though they teach how to play it on one of the TV channels in the cabin. I thought that was strange. Why show it on TV if you aren't going to offer it. The pit boss said Italians don't like craps as it's too hard to understand.
Compared to Princess, RCCL, NCL, etc. the photo area is very disorganized. You just have to wade through picture after picture until your find yours, as they only put a few up on the walls.
There is a daily hotel service charge of $14.00 added to your bill. We questioned guest services about this twice asking if it was for tips for our room steward, waiter, etc. They were very vague, but did end up saying no. We verified this by asking multiple bartenders, a person in the salon, and our room steward. They do not see any of this money, nor do they receive the surcharge that is on every bar tab. If you want any of them to receive a tip, you need to write it in on your bill and give it separately to your room steward, waiter, etc. We got them to remove the daily service charge from our bill.
Also, I know it cannot be helped, but be advised that they take your passport twice while you are on this cruise.
All in all, the ports were nice and the excursions we ended up going on were good, but I will never book another Costa cruise.