Smoking on the ship is allowed in many public areas, and in the cabins, these public areas are in the centre of the ship on the fifth deck, (with a open space all the way up to the tenth floor) on the starboard side of the ship, next to the pools, dining areas and the casino. Unfortunately, as one knows, smoke dissipates though out all areas and therefore all the corridors smell of stale tobacco smoke.
Thankfully there is no smoking in the restaurants and on the starboard side the ship.
The food quality is very poor, most, if not all, the food is frozen as is to be expected. (it is marked with an asterix on the menu which is very admirable). From the menu descriptions the food sounds wonderful, but honestly it is not. The food temperature is never above tepid, and more times than not, microwaved.
Service in the restaurant at dinnertime is very good. The waiters remembered we liked lemon for our water and cheese at room temperature to start, and these were already placed on our table every evening.
From the self service buffets, I would advise that people avoid the frozen salads, (yes, even the salads are frozen, and placed out for self service, still half frozen) another good one to avoid are the hairy pizzas. (i.e. pizza with human hair in it)
Breakfast in the restaurant is basically a buffet even in the main dining room, you serve yourself, the waiter only pours your coffee.
Saying that if you ask nicely, the waiter will bring you some things from the buffet so you do not have to get up yourself.
You get placed on a table that suits the waiter. I prefer a table for two, but you are placed on a table of 8 to 10 people.
Room service for breakfast, consists only of dry cereals, yoghurt, dried bread rolls, juice and coffee. Do not expect the room service delivery to come at the time you requested, it will always arrive early, up to an hour before especially on port days.
The 'Club Concordia' restaurant has a surcharge of €20 per person, this is their premium restaurant, the food quality is better, although I would have honestly expected this quality of food to be the norm for the main dining rooms with this restaurant one or two notches above. There were a couple of faults in this restaurant.
The waiter did not know the basics of how to set up a table and my cutlery was placed on the wrong side, i.e. the fork was on right hand side, not a huge deal at all, but remember, this is supposed to be the premium restaurant with a higher sense of service and quality. Another mistake was that the waiter poured water into my half filled glass of wine, which meant the wine had to be thrown away. No offer of a replacement was made.
There are no quiet areas on the ship to sit and have a drink. In fact there are NO quiet areas anywhere on the ship, where you can just read or relax during the daytime, all the bars have loud, live music of some sort. You are also being constantly hassled by the staff offering you 'Bar service' due to being commission based.
The library is open to take out books for only two hours a day, one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.
The rest of the time all of the books are all locked up.
The entertainment is pretty poor; the theatre shows take place for the late sitting diners before dinner, at 19:15 while the early sitters show is at 21:15.
After the late night dinner, there is not much to do but watch the interactive entertainment. There are a lot of 'interactive entertainment' people doing line dances, and then the male staff running around with fluorescent wigs dressed as, 'oh such funny women'. (Remember the days of Benny Hill?).
Bingo of course is available in 7 languages.
Internet packages are very reasonable, €23 for three hours, but they do add a €3 'connection charge' so the real cost is €26. You access this yourself anywhere on the ship and the connection is very good, fast and reliable.
The drinks package on the ship is pretty good value. The cost for 6 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of water is €99, this included the 'service' charge of 15%. The average price for a bottle of wine from the wine list is around €21 PLUS the 15% service charge.
The majority of wine sold on Costa is from €19 to €22 a bottle.
At every opportunity there are the ship's photographers waiting to snap a picture of you, you could be walking down the stairs, there would be a photographer, walking up the stairs, there would be a photographer, eating dinner, one would appear, walking down the corridor, walking off the gangplank, be warned, they are everywhere!
Perhaps we picked the wrong time of the year to go on a Costa cruise, (the end of January), but the boat had many children running around screaming and running up and down in the corridors, and we were perhaps unlucky to have the herd of elephants in the cabin above ours.
I would not like to think about cruising during the school holidays and summer period.
Would I cruise Costa again? IF you are able to get a great price like we did, then you have to accept that this cruise line is just above basic and you get what you pay for, but not everyone is able to get a special price, and then I do not believe you get value.
I must end by saying overall the staff were fantastic, most working really hard, and most very helpful.
The cabins very clean and comfortable, and it must be said for the ship, all very clean and well maintained.