This was the second Canada New England cruise we took this year on the same ship with the same itinerary. That tells you how much we like it. We cruise a fair bit, averaging 3-5 times a year and we have been on Princess the most, then RCCL, HAL, Celebrity, Norwegian, Cunard, and Star Cruises in Asia. We also did the river cruise in Europe and in China's Three Gorges. There is no one cruise line is perfect, what we found is each cruise line has its well run areas but also not so well run area.
Back to Costa, its an Italian ship, it caters towards European passengers, so multiple language spoken on all occasion, we have to accept it. Just be patient and it will be through in no time. Some passengers from Europe are really not educated about not to smoke in non-smoking areas, and not to jump the queue. But this is not Costa's fault, most passengers are very courteous and polite and friendly. We don't speak a word of Italian, but several Italian passengers did try very hard to communicate with us.
Onboard entertainment staff are wonderful, they talk to passengers, smiling all the time (sorry Princess, your staff is not as friendly). We felt very much at ease even we are non-European.
The ship is beautiful, its very clean, staff are so courteous, we had no complain.
Musicians on this ship are the best, at least three hardwood floors (and they are large compared to other ships even its not as big as QM2)and non stop music to entertain the passengers. Their musicians are very knowledgeable about different types of music, including European flavor as well as international flavor. We have a group of 10 and everyone agreed with us their music is the best. For people who likes dancing, this ship is a heaven, we did not even have time to try the disco.
Food, OK, its not the best, but its comparable to some of the most expensive restaurants in my home town and the service is great. Only set back is there is no real meal served at the buffet at supper time, if you are not feeling well and do not want to eat in the dining room, there is only pizza available at the buffet. I recalled several years ago when I took the Magica to Caribbean there was lobsters served at the buffet on a gala night. But I think this is an industry trend that all cruiseline is cutting cost. There was no more mid night buffet, thank god, we do not need more food. Their coffee is much better than the coffee on the Princess, and guess what, Cappuccino, Espresso, are free if you take your breakfast in the dining room (and its free if you order it as room service for the morning). Which other cruise line has that? Yes they use plastic cups at the buffet, but so as Princess.
There was a wonderful art teacher onboard, Lavia, she had classed (free) everyday, I just could not attend all of them even I wanted to as I was usually still at the port. I did go to one (corsage making) and it was very nice that I not only wore it on the formal night (so as many other passengers), I brought it hoem with me. Our freind took other classes (paining ceramic, t shirt painting, making jewellery, other corsages, etc) told me she was wonderful. We met her on the Classica in March when we sailed to Asia and she also help in some costume making for a party that evening. I have not seen that level of art classes on other cruise lines.
The itinerary is wonderful, every port you can go on your own. Their excursions are expensive, but they are perhaps needed for Europeans who do not speak English well.
Their happy hour is every night from 6 pm to 9:30 pm and drinks are buy one get the same free. Our friends were even able to get these (2 glasses wines for the price or 1) sitting in the dining room and have the bar waitress to come over to take orders. If you know the tricks, they are quite affordable. Regular price drinks are expensive, no doubt. But the cruise price is relatively inexpensive, we paid US 599 for 11 days (we were upgraded to an obstructed view cabin from an inside) ..... If you think about that we had one overnight at Quebec City, and one overnight at Manhattan, these two nights of hotel would easily cost you USD 300 and above. And gratuity was 6 Euro per day, you do the math, it beats all other cruiselines. I heard they charge USD when they do Caribbean, but at least on these two Canada New England cruises this year, that was what we paid (6 Euro daily).
We will definitely go back with Costa again.
All ports are walkable, you can also hire a taxi if you have a group of 2-6 people, very reasonable rate. Quebec is a very nice city to walk around. Saguenay you can take a hop on hop off for Can $10 which will take you to Chicoutomi and La Bae. Charlottetown you can walk downtown, or rent a car, take a cab to see the Anne of Green Gable, Conferderation Bridge, Cavadish. Haifax easily walkable. Sydney is a tiny town, walking is good after we eat all those food. Bar Harbor has trolley car, and public bus, but I would opt for walking. Have a lobster lunch, beer is very cheap there. Boston is the same, ship charges 14 Euro for a 10 min ride to QUincy Market, you can take a public bus ($2) or walk for 20 minutes. Or a few can share a cab. There is hop on hop off trolley tour right at the pier too. If you have a group and if you arrive at the trolley station when no one is there, you can bargain the price. Newport is famous for mansions. You can take a public bus ($2 each way), or you can walk too.