The boarding experience was poor, nearer to chaos than an organised system. The first check-in person we met could not speak proper English, French or German and my Italian is poor. They insisted 'No drinks on board' on the pretence that passengers might bring some unspecified disease with them - in reality so they could charge, charge and charge again. In the cabin (they called it a suite) they provided a coffee machine AND CHARGED ONE EURO for each coffee capsule. At lunch unless you were quick, they fixed 'being cleaned' notices to all the coffee machines, so you had to go and buy a cup from their expensive bar. No wine was served included in the price, even in the premium restaurants. In the allocated one, the food reminded me so much of my military service; in other words, you could live on it, but you would rather not as it was of such low quality. The wine list was poor, but you did have a small choice, but most of the wines were also very low quality, but at Premiere cru prices. On their 'show-off' night, all the waiters were lined up with sparklers- a bit less stupidity like this and better food would have pleased us. The staff, from all over the world were mainly pleasant and tried to be helpful, but they were fighting the CMM (Costa Management Mafia).
Decor is of course subjective, one man's bling is another's luxury, but in general it was so vulgar and 'in your face' that I am only glad there was nobody I knew on board. Italians are renowned for style, but on this boat, they had no style left, so made it vulgar instead. In the 'luxury' restaurant, the ceiling was made of some plastic disks; it looked seriously stupid - was it designed by an illiterate child?
It was our 5th cruise and all-in-all, it was a horrible experience; the other four were all good, including one from the same overall group. It is a pity to complain about Costa after the Italian tragedy, but how they can justify such rapacious greed is beyond me. Do they not think how it puts people off them?
At ports where you could not wander off by yourself and you did not go on their tours, they mainly charged for a coach to get you to the nearest town. We went on two tours and they were VERY expensive and really bad. One tour guide spent most of the time explaining how badly he was paid and how he needed tips to live. Even if true, it is not what I want to hear. He also got many of his facts totally wrong, so it was not worth the cost. On the other, they had a guide who spent most time speaking Spanish - not English as advertised.
Is it worth re-naming the boats Costa Capone 1, Costa Capone 2 etc.? If you are going to "stick it" to the customers let them know in advance.
I cannot think of any redeeming feature on the cruise - except we got back alive. We hated it!!!