Having never been on a cruise before, the decision to take Costa Deliziosa was based more on its itinerary than on the ship itself. However, the travel agent told us the ship was new, so our expectations about the ship and the places we were about to see were quite high.
We have travelled to the port of embarkation - Savona - by car and managed to find it reasonably easy, considering that the Italian motorways seem to think it is not necessary to mark Savona (which is still a bit of mystery to me). However, once we found the port the process of embarkation was well organised and did not take too long. The luggage was taken from us at the car and delivered to our cabin. The price for parking the car at the port was 110 EUR for 11 nights.
Once on the ship, the lobby and other areas have a distinct kitschy feeling to them - a lot of red, gold and similar. Tasteful it was not. Since the ship has many lifts, getting to the 8th floor was not a problem. The cabin was spacious and as described, with a good size balcony. The cabin steward appeared almost immediately and inquired if we were OK; indeed, he was one of the bright sides of the journey. Always able to help, cheerful and courteous. The lunch in the self-service restaurants was a taste of the things to come: crowded to the point where sometimes it was difficult to find a table. No drinks were included at lunch, which meant we had to pay for every bottle of water or coffee.
We have chosen the second sitting at dinner, meaning we started at 9.15 and would usually not finish before 11. The choice at dinner was good, and the service courteous if not always the quickest. However, it is definitely not the gastronomic experience they advertised. The entertainment sometimes provided at dinner had a distinctly Italian flavour to it, and after a while it is a bit much.
We have chosen an excursion provided by Costa at every port. This turned out to be rather pricey and not always good value. The quality of guides varied significantly and, having chosen the English speaking option, we were always put together with some other group which meant the guide has less time to explain the things in language you understand. In some ports, language abilities of tour guides were not great; sometimes, the tour guide gave disappointingly little information in general (I am looking at you, yes, the guide in Malaga!). However, compared with the option of doing it alone, we felt it was better this way. Our feeling was confirmed in Tenerife, where we (according to the ship gossip) left some passengers because they did not turn up on time.
The entertainment on the ship was very much geared toward Italians - reasonable since they represented about 80% of the guests. Imagine a RaiDue show with 80 year olds participating. Nice for Italians, funny for others to see. Did I want to join in? Definitely NOT.
However, some services were below expectations. Most importantly, the cruise cost us about 30% more than expected due to rather expensive beverages on board (no package was offered to us when we paid for the cruise). To all beverages, additional 15% service charge is added. The internet on the ship is a JOKE and waste of money. 10 EUR (plus the always present 15% service charge - for what exactly?)for an hour's worth. Newspaper service was sometimes late - I paid 17 EUR for a weeks' newspapers, but it was sometimes delivered at 5 p.m. Was not impressed. The same goes for host for the English speakers, Paul, who was socially awkward and really did not understand that some people are not native English speakers. The information on disembarkation for the English speaking was the case in point: speaking quickly ("just to get it over with"), some people did not understand all the instructions. Having seen the Italian and German presentation later on, the difference was drastic. Information where we would get out luggage was confusing: different in Italian and English.
Finally, on the last day "at sea", we were given extensive feedback questionnaires. While giving the disembarkation instructions, the English host pointed out how we are supposed to give out the highest marks because the personnel bonuses depended on it. I mean, WHAT? I found this deeply inappropriate and offensive - both as a guest and as someone working in service industry. I also felt that there was not enough space in the questionnaire to write in your own words what you really thought of the cruise.
All in all, it was not too bad for our first cruise experience. However, we will not choose Costa for our future cruises. We have paid a discounted rate for this cruise and would be really really dissatisfied if we paid the full price.