The forward end of the ship is occupied by the Teatro Giove, which is just stunning, a "real" theatre with sharply raked seating and superb sightlines. Black and brown marble, pin spots, a marble table at each seat and shiny steel railings give the theatre are really luxurious feel. The shows were a mixture of comedy, magic and dance; despite the mainly Italian audience, they seem to be aimed at all nationalities, with most of the songs in English at the production show I saw. This moved at a rather hectic pace with only a few lines of each song being sung.
Other than this, the passengers tend to make their own entertainment, dancing in all the bars until late.
At the aft end of the ship is the Salone Luna, a big entertainment lounge adorned with green moons and stars, and windows on three sides. We wanted to try this, but it tended to be used for private functions most nights.
Just outside the lounge is the Sala de Ballo Cupido, with a Cupid theme (big sofas shaped like lips) and a no-smoking policy, which meant that on this cruise it was completely empty. On the starboard side is the Piano Bar Minerva, where we had pre-dinner drinks most evenings. The ceiling is adorned with huge green tentacles, which takes a bit of getting used to, but the seating is comfortable and the ventilation such that I could sit with my smoking companion and not be bothered. There's a good atmosphere in this bar: decent martinis, generous helpings of peanuts, a classical pianist and a cornily romantic Hungarian piano/violin duo.
The casino, forward of here, spans the whole width of the ship, but is broken up by the disco in the middle, a witty design around the theme of the god Pan, with a flashing dance floor and cute stools around the bar supported by Pan's goat-legs, with red, glittery tops. The casino itself is dedicated to the two-faced god Janus and is embellished with acres of shiny red and black. Minimum bet on the tables is 5 or 10 euros.
The Bar Sport Victoria was packed on my cruise, as the European football championship was taking place. There's a small dance floor and a lot of green marble, the ceiling adorned with giant silver laurel wreaths (which I thought were crab claws at first glance). Stools shaped like black and white footballs add an amusing contrast to the lashings of gold and silver decor.
The secondary show lounge has an enormous dance floor and was always busy, with people shimmying and jiving under the pink and red lights, little flames looking like miniature stalactites.
Costa is very proud of the Formula One simulators on Serena and its sister, Concordia, which come with their own black and white chequered bar, Bar Scuderia, and a range of packages from 10 euros for a rookie drive to 30 euros for a championship experience. Strangely, the simulator was empty every time I walked past; people on this cruise seemed reluctant to part with money for anything.
Italians are fervent sunbathers and all the action in the daytime takes place around the Lido pool, which is dominated by a huge screen. There are game shows, aerobics, even yoga in front of hundreds of sunbathers. On my cruise, during the Euro 2008 football tournament, the whole area was converted into a giant sports bar at night and the atmosphere was fantastic. Evening entertainment includes a range of game shows and theme nights, from togas to flower power. The standard was pretty low-brow most days, including the popular "Superrrrr-Bingo" and "Macho Costa Serena" (a male beauty pageant).