We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we stepped on board we thought it was all worthwhile. The ship is about four years old and very smart. We found our cabin quickly and our luggage arrived not many minutes later. No tea/coffee making facilities but free room service for breakfast. Cabin kept immaculate and very comfortable and equipped with safe/hairdryer. Bathroom as you would expect. Only one bar of soap and shampoo in dispenser on the wall but not a problem.
We had expected to be in the minority as English speakers on an Italian ship and that was certainly the case but we had no problems with the French, Italians, Germans and Spanish on board. Staff all spoke fluently in loads of languages - felt rather ashamed of my lack of language skills.
Ate in the Vesta restaurant and serving staff were all pleasant and helpful. Food was on the whole excellent - yes it was Italian but what do you expect on an Italian ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch had fresh pasta, pizza, a grill with chicken, burgers, fish etc plus the general buffet with salads, cold meats, casseroles, more fish etc etc. The problem was knowing which to choose and when to stop!
We had purchased the drinks package before sailing that gave us free glasses of beer, wine or soft drinks in the buffet at lunch or main dining room at night and cost about Â£160 but we had no problem getting as many drinks as we wanted and without the additional 15% tax on everything so felt this worked out well for us.
There are loads of decks on which to catch the sun as well as by the main pool or the quiet pool (not always as quiet as I would have liked!) Other comments have been made about children being allowed in the jacuzzis and this was the case for us also. However, we usually just hid away on one of the upper decks with our books and enjoyed the November sunshine.
We will certainly look out for Costa cruises in the future as we enjoyed the mix of nationalities rather than being totally British. I would recommend that you look for one of the newer ships as we saw the Costa Allegra in one port and it looked a bit old and weary but don't be put off Costa by the adverse reviews - go with an open mind and enjoy meeting new friends of all nationalities!