This was our first cruise with Costa, and while we enjoyed many aspects of the Costa experience, will probably be our last.
First, the positives:
1. The itinerary was fabulous - every port was worth the stop and every excursion we booked through Costa was outstanding and worth the Euros. The port stays, except for Rhodes were short, so taking an excursion is, IMHO, the best way to experience the port. You don't need a tour in Dubrovnik as this is a beautiful, walkable city as well as Mykonos - no tour offered anyway as we were there at night.
2. The stateroom was great - a very spacious and comfortable balcony room. No complaints with the room steward, etc. Wished they had more options on English speaking TV - but who cares about TV when you are cruising?!
3. Costa did a great job in accommodating the 5 different languages on the ship. I thought that the entertainment, announcements, excursions, etc. were all cleverly handled to make everyone happy. The ship had about 3,100 passengers - probably 1/3 Italian; 1/4 German; and the rest evenly split between French, English speaking and Japanese. The English speakers had our own host, excursions, certain activities and were also grouped together in the dining room, etc.
4. The interiors of the ship were great - especially the atrium area and the ceiling with the models of all the Costa ships hanging upside down (Poseidon Adventure?). The ship was clean and well kept.
5. Embarkation in Venice was good - not great but not as bad as what we had read about in other reviews. About 1 hour from time of arrival at port (2:30) to being in our stateroom (3:30).
6. And last but not least, the value of what we got for what we paid was outstanding.
Now the negatives:
1. The food. I am definitely not a picky eater, but the variety of food offered as well as its quality and tastiness was lacking. I don't know if it was my "American taste buds" that didn't like European food or if it was just the food but I would compare the quality to a chain restaurant in the US. The pizza in the buffet was good, but most of the time this was the only thing being served there, so we learned it is possible to have too much of a good thing. We also like cold soups and spicy dishes but found none of these the entire 7 days.
2. In two ports, Dubrovnik and Mykonos, we were forced to dock at the commercial ports rather than anchor in the bay and tender in. Costa said that this was due to weather. Well, the days we were there the sea was glass, no wind and no rain, etc. Since they had to go to the commercial port we were forced to pay 6 Euro each to get bus transportation into the city. I have never had to pay for bus transport from the port to the city. This whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth - we felt like we were being nickled and dimed to death. Costa, please don't charge this fee - it's a cheap way to build customer loyalty and goodwill.
3. The entertainment. While they did a great job accommodating all the languages and making it work, the quality and caliber of the entertainment was lacking. For instance, the acts and singers in the main showroom performed to canned music rather than a live show band. Some of the performers were sub-par.
4. Our fellow passengers. We spent a week in Italy prior to sailing so we grew accustomed to the pushing, line cutting, smoking, etc. but still were flabbergasted at our fellow shipmates. We went with an open mind and knowing that we needed to adjust to different cultures and ways of doing things. In fact, this is one reason we booked the cruise - to broaden our experience and interact with those outside our "comfort zone". Still, we couldn't get over the rudeness and complete lack of consideration for others that many of the passengers exhibited. Examples: moving nonsmoking signs off of tables to adjacent tables and smoking at that table; slamming of balcony doors and LOUD talking at all hours of night/day; cutting in front of you in line waiting to embark/debark/eat at buffet, etc. etc.; pushing you from behind even when carrying food, etc.; talking at the top of their voice in the hallway outside your stateroom for long periods of time; knocking at your stateroom door and running away; kids swimming in the adult only pool and jacuzzis with parents' encouragement. I could go on, but you get the picture.
5. Disembarkation. Having to vacate your room and wait in a predetermined lounge is a pain especially after having experienced NCL's system of being able to stay in your stateroom.
Summary: A mixed bag. The bottom line is if you can tolerate the negatives, then the positives, especially the itinerary and the value may make this a cruise you should consider taking.