We picked Costa having read tons of reviews ranging from horrible, would never go back experiences to rave reviews, so we went on the Costa Romantica with really no expectations and were pleasantly surprised. First of all, the Romantica was only 1/2 booked, which if you've cruise before that was a huge perk. There were no lines, no wait times and plenty of seats for everything. Our cabin (4049) was an ocean view and was really nice. I was surprised it had as much room as it did and a very large ocean view window. We usually book balcony rooms, but the Romantica only offers maybe 10-20 suites with balconies and with prices to match their limited selection, so we opted for an ocean view room and were not disappointed.
The staff was fantastic and cannot say enough enough about their service. Keep in mind, this is an Italian cruise line and English is the last language they speak. French, Spanish and even German were more popular than English which means the staff members who do speak English aren't fluent. Most of the staff members who do speak English are servers and are from the Philippines as English is taught through their schooling. The guest services reps don't speak English well and I would definitely opt for the 1 hour daily Q&A session with the English speaking rep for any help you may need. The food was very good, especially the pasta, but Costa was lacking with the grand meals to accompany the Gala evenings like Royal does, so that was a little disappointing.
The mixed drinks are terrible! Be forewarned, stick with beer , wine, or straight liquors drinks. The mixed drinks are nothing but mix and have very little alcohol despite their 6.75 euro price tag.
The ship excursions were run very well and a Costa cruise member travelled with each excursion to ensure it went well. See my port reviews for more details on ports. Avoid the Jeep Excursion in Mykonos!
Overall very pleased with the Costa Romantica and would sail Costa again. I understand they are remodeling the ship and adding more floors, 4x the number of balconies and activities like rock climbing walls which was definitely needed. My husband and I are under 30 and we struggled to entertain ourselves since the activities on the ship were really focused for a much older crowd, but Costa seems to know that and is working to remedy that on the ship.