We arrived about half an hour after the allotted time and found no queues. Staff were friendly and helpful. Bags were delivered to our cabin in a few minutes. Others we spoke to who arrived too early had not had a pleasant experience as they were not allowed to board, although there was a baggage drop area.
This is a new ship and as you would expect is in excellent condition. Some areas were roped off for varnishing and painting on some days but it did not cause a problem. From the outside it is not a pretty ship but the interior is very different. Full of 'over the top' Italian styling with chrome, glass, mirrors, chandeliers and original artwork everywhere. All a bit garish for more conservative British tastes but nevertheless quite spectacular.
We booked an outside cabin with balcony. When our tickets arrived we had been supposedly "upgraded" to a Samsara cabin. I could not see any difference between this and the regular B2 balcony cabin excepting it was on the Samsara deck, one higher. In truth, this was a downgrade as we experienced quite a lot of noise from the Lido deck directly above. Otherwise it was clean and comfortable with plenty of storage. Check your minibar is stocked with what is on the list. Ours had discrepancies.
These are many and varied, ranging from the usual poolside stuff to golf, table tennis, F1 simulator, dance classes, etc. etc. If you want to partake, there is something to suit everyone at almost any time of day. Or, like us, you can just read a book or wander round the huge decks or have a coffee in one of the many bars. There is an excellent, under used gym with state of the art equipment.
Our fist dinner was in the buffet as we were too late for the more formal main dining rooms. It was typical buffet food. Luke warm and overcooked but edible. We gave it a miss for most of the week except for the occasional breakfast which was fine if a bit noisy and crowded. If you enjoy a drink with your meals then order the X1 drinks package which gives you unlimited wine by the glass, beer and water in any of the dining rooms, but not the bars. In practice, if you order a glass they bring you the bottle to help yourself. Our evening meals were top notch. Excellent food, perfectly cooked and presented. If you want a more personal dining experience try the Samsara or Club restaurants. We found the extra cost to be worth it.
All the waiters, bar staff and our steward were excellent. Always cheerful and efficient. We tipped our steward and dining room waiter because we felt they had given excellent service but on the Costa web site (very confusing incidentally), it says tipping is not expected or necessary. A service charge is added daily to your onboard account for the cabin and for any bar drinks or services you buy using your Costa card.
There is a nightly show in a state of the art theatre. Not always to our tastes but surprisingly good. Two shows depending upon which dining sitting you are allocated. We also enjoyed the 4D cinema. There is a huge casino if you like that sort of thing and also at least 5 bars with live music plus a disco.
We did two city tours. Quite expensive but interesting and informative if you get a good guide. The rest of the time we used the free shuttle buses to get from the ship to the port perimeters and did our own thing. Muscat was our favourite place to wander around.
Costa use a coloured luggage label system depending on what time you want to leave the ship (you choose the time). Guests do not have to vacate their cabins until 16.30 and can leave the ship later still if required. No problems at all, with our luggage on shore at the time we asked for.
This was our first cruise and after reading a lot of reviews on the Costa Deliziosa, ranging from "never again" to "wonderful" I have to say we were not expecting too much at the price we paid but we were pleasantly surprised. We spoke to others who found things to moan about but I don't really know what they were expecting on what was a budget package. The ship caters for first class if you want to enjoy the comforts and exclusivity of the Samsara Spa and suites but you have to pay for it.