Even though we were aware that the Costa Classica does not have a good reputation, we had no problem with the ship itself. I didn't like the pool deck and the theater, but since there were hardly any decent shows at the theater it didn't matter.
What turned me off about Costa in general was the lazy Italian attitude that seemed to be an ongoing specialty on the cruise. I saw the cruise director for about 2 minutes after a show in the theater and that was it. During that time he made announcements in 6 different languages that I couldn't understand anyway. Also the cruise director's staff must have been sleeping during the day and during the port days, but maybe they were on a holiday, who knows.
I have never been on a ship where I was actually bored. The food in the dining room was not what I expected from Italians. I thought the menu would be filled with Italian specialties and tasty deserts, not the case. Boring bland food and no way to escape to the buffet during dinner time, since the dining room was the only option. Dining staff was great, as all Indonesian and Philippians are. I don't know who the head waiter and the Maitre d' was; I assume they were taking a nap.
Nickel and Timing for ice water is unnecessary, it just turns away repeat cruisers. The only "excellent" grade was given to the cabin steward and the waiters. Entertainment was poor, except for the opera singer; a very talented pool attendant, a cabin steward and a security man made the "crew talent show" great. The production shows were well below average mostly because they had only one singer and no orchestra. Because I felt like I am not a valued customer I made sure I wouldn't spend any extra money on Costa. In the end it was "mandatory" tips only. I had a great time finding my own way to all the great sights and made sure we contribute to the local economies generously. It was a bargain and bunch of fun to team up with others cruisers and arrange our own tours.
In all, I would love to cruise in SE Asia again, but never again with Costa.