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31 Costa Serena Family Cruise Reviews

we choise the internal cabiin guaranteed gty and with our surprice costa give to us a samsara internal cabin but without the benefits of the samsara mean the access to the spa . the ship was clean but not organizated for all people. ... Read More
we choise the internal cabiin guaranteed gty and with our surprice costa give to us a samsara internal cabin but without the benefits of the samsara mean the access to the spa . the ship was clean but not organizated for all people. inifinite queque for eat. and some point of buffet are closed. the show are ok whit beautifull coreography. no servicer and no securyty on board. children in adult pool and no one that say something.. port are good itinerary with ibiza palma de mallorca and genova and rome. the not accreditate point on costa club, no response by the company. and the costa member on help desk are so unpleasant. the good of the ibiza excurtion are that you can rebnt a scooter and go to all the beaches i do no invite you to choice costa excurtion on ibiza its only lost very very very mnoney Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My family had a great time, we really did, but we probably won't do this ship again. My kids are 8 and 6 and they loved it. This particular trip was organized by a local tourist company based out of Nanjing. Originally it was to ... Read More
My family had a great time, we really did, but we probably won't do this ship again. My kids are 8 and 6 and they loved it. This particular trip was organized by a local tourist company based out of Nanjing. Originally it was to go to Korea, but after MERS and the river cruise boat flipping, they've had to change courses. It's our first time with Costa, previously we have done Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney. Just trying to board the ship was a different experience. Very crowded. I've never experienced this before. Lines yes, but crowded lines, not really. Seems like they could have done a better job managing the flow of people. In the past we have always gotten our stateroom keys and paired our credit cards before heading on board. This was the first time where we had to go to our rooms first to get our stateroom keys. Our luggages were already there. Then we had to go to one of the few portals and pair our credit cards to our cards. There was something wrong with the machines. You have to leave a digital signature and we tried multiple times and it wouldn't go through. Finally we signed in Chinese instead of English and it was fine. Forgive me if my memory is wrong, but I believe in the past all drinks on cruises except for alcoholic drinks are basically free. Like your basic milk, juices, and cokes. Well not on Costa. They sell multiple drink packages. There's a drink package where you can have a limit of 10 drinks per day. Or unlimited beer per day. Then they sell this "unlimited" package, or that's how it's labeled. The kicker is everybody in the same room has to pay for the same package (it's a little cheaper for the kiddos). Which is fine, my husband and I don't like feeling restricted so we opted for that. Except apparently the staff didn't really know how to get it done. First one staff member tried really hard to convince us we didn't want this package and tried selling us another package. Then we were told we can do this at any bar, which we went to a bar on the 5th floor and the guy was obviously confused. Taking his time, calling for help. Once it worked and we tested it, we still ran into problems. At dinner for example, our waiter said he could not get it to work. Finally my husband went to guest services and were told we need new cards, and they would print our stateroom cards with the word "extra" on the back. This was also fine, except guest services was so incredibly rude. The lady at first refused to be helpful at all. My husband had to ask for the manager to come. And even the manager had to do some convincing for the lady to print four cards. So it's finally working and we find out, really it's not an "all-inclusive" or "un-limited" drink package at all. For example I can only have original margarita, can't have the blue or pink margarita. And they have this drink of the day deal, also not included. I remember all the other cruises had soft-serve ice-cream at the buffet. This one has a vending machine for ice-cream. The staterooms are decent. I don't remember which cruise I was on that provided on-board mobile phones, easy for staying in contact with other family members. This cruise does not have this. My kids had a bunk bed. We slept well in general. The TV was a nice flat screen. The bathrooms - they do not stock shampoo or conditioner like the other cruises. I had to go to the spa to buy some (but it was not expensive). The shower floods. Basically if more than one person needs to shower in a row, your bathroom well flood and it takes a while to drain. They use shower curtains. In general the staff members were great. Some spoke Chinese, most spoke English. We had a few more run-ins with guest services and always really really rude. Literally my husband got to the guest services desk and the guy at the counter just said "what?". There was no "how can I help you" kind of attitude at all. At the end of the trip they ask for everyone to fill out a survey, and they had it in Chinese only. Another thing that made us feel nickled and dimed was when we found our room service costed money. All the other cruise ships - it is definitely included. My kids tried out the children club and didn't like it. Said the staff was really cold and not nice at all. They wouldn't go back. Okay to the positives. Dining service was beyond compare. Of all the cruises this was the best dining service in terms of family fun. The servers put on a small show every night and it was always very funny. The food was excellent as well. The shows were fun. The casino is a good decent size, but the lowest bet is 25USD. The arcade is well done. Very well done. It was easy to play games by swiping your stateroom card. And the card keeps the points. Then there's a machine where you can pick our toys based on your points. This is my first time on a cruise where almost everyone is Chinese. It was fun. The dance floors were always full. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Where do I start? After reading many terrible reviews of the Costa Serena after I had booked this cruise I should've learnt my lesson & cancelled it! Several times I tried to contact Costa by email prior to departing with some ... Read More
Where do I start? After reading many terrible reviews of the Costa Serena after I had booked this cruise I should've learnt my lesson & cancelled it! Several times I tried to contact Costa by email prior to departing with some requests but to no avail, they don't seem to acknowledge any sort of email enquiry. So why was I suprised that when I tried to call them they didn't answer the phone either? To my better judgement we decided to go ahead with the cruise, as we particularly wanted to see this side of the world & with only Costa available to this area we had no choice. We spent 3 wonderful days in Dubai staying in a lovely hotel before boarding the Costa Serena. (Wish we had stayed in Dubai now!) we wanted to board the ship during the day but all the information we had told us we could only board after 8pm. What utter rubbish!! We decided to go to the port early & try to get on board. Evidently people had been boarding since about 1pm, we got there about 4pm. My first impression was at the port, there was one girl doing the check in with a face like a fish and no courtesy what so ever. On other ships we had to leave a deposit on either on a card or cash, nothing was requested here? On arrival into the main atrium I found it dowdy and gloomy with not much light. The decor was appalling!! Then I noticed what sounded like drilling and chipping noises, LOUD!! When I looked up on the next deck there were maintenance men working on what would've been the shops? I just assumed that perhaps it was something they done when in port? How wrong was I, the work was continuous the whole duration of our cruise. The noise limits were endless. You couldn't sit to relax with a drink you couldn't hear the music being played for the horrendous sounds coming from the workforce above. We then ventured to other parts of the ship to find some areas divided where some areas were not accessible, workmen were walking around the ship carrying huge boards of plasterboards over guests heads?? What have we come to I asked myself?? As our cabin was not available until 8pm & we couldn't access our bags as all the doors to the cabins on each deck were not only shut but locked?? We had no choice but to arrive in the dining for our evening meal in the clothes we had travelled in.lucky for us we had a table of 6 & we were all English ( not many on board) the waiters were very attentive but we did seem to wait a while between each course. The choice was not very large (compared to other cruise ships) & the food was not very variable and tasteless. We were on the all inclusive drinks package & it was worth every penny as the drinks on board were expensive. Only trouble was you were not allowed a bottle of water it had to be a glass! The dining room was fine for the evening meal we ate in Vesta restaurant, but forget having breakfast or lunch there, it was a nightmare! We went twice to each then forgot it. The service was appalling & so was the food. Once I waited 20 minutes for a coffee?? So we went to the self service restaurant on deck 9. Although it was the same choice every day, breakfast was continental, cereals, fruit, pastries,anything that was suppose to be hot clearly was not & the waiters made no attempt to clear the tables until you walked away & had finished. At lunchtime there was pasta, carvery, salad, bread, soup & desserts of fruit, cakes of some description. It was not horrendous but the only trouble is after getting your food there were no tables available so by the time you found a table your food was cold!! The bar staff that continually parade around the restaurant conveniently chose to ignore the British guests unless you were lucky enough to grab one & ask them to serve you. The entertainment team were very amateurish & the shows were the worst I've ever witnessed. The first was a magician, we walked out half way through it was unbelievable! Most of the staff had a couldn't give a damn attitude & it became very stressful! The noise & dust from the continuous Maintenance going on around the ship really ruined our cruise along with the attitude of the staff, the dim gloomy cabins and dreadful decor on board, together with the awful entertainment and plain unimaginable food made this our worst cruise ever! The jacuzzi turned my new swimsuit brown (far too much chlorine in the water) when I complained to the guests services they were not interested & told me to claim on my insurance?! After a lengthy argument with them I demanded to see the Captain, who obviously doesn't deal with such trivialities!! I was told it will be dealt with & a letter will be with you within a few hours with a decision as to what can be done. After 8 hours I had heard nothing so returning to see them I demanded to see someone of higher authority. When speaking to her I was told nothing can be done on board & it has to be dealt with when I get home. With my previous experience of trying to contact Costa I don't hold out much hope?? There attitude was unbelievable & they really couldn't care less. The queue was so long when we had finished our meeting with her & everyone was complaining about one thing or another. There were several pools on board, we decided to use the "Adult Pool" at the Aft of the ship on deck 9. Unfortunately though this was not adhered to as plenty of European kids decided they would use it "bomb" every guest using it! The pool attendant asked them to use but as in the case of many situations they decided to ignore it!! The pool slide was out of action the whole duration due to maintenance but actually no work was seen to be done? The 4D Cinema was not in English & had no sound!!! Unfortunately for everyone on board on Thursday we experienced a sandstorm which meant that we couldn't really get off the ship back in Dubai. This meant it was another day we had to endure the ship! There was no additional entertainment to enjoy and soon the ship became very full with lots of disgruntled guests hanging around. im not convinced that the ports of call in Oman were of any interest, in particular Khasab! We thought as many guests did that they should forget Khasab and have 2 days in Abu Dhabi where there was so much more to see & do & not enough time for only having 1 day. Probably though knowing all the savings Costa was trying to make this was just another? So to sum it all up, would I do another Costa cruise? NO WAY NOT IF THEY PAID ME!!! Someone recently wrote saying this was the Ryanair of cruise ships, this is an understatement!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Now where do I start.  Having done dozens of cruises with the likes of Princess,  P&O, NCL, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean I have learnt that apart from small differences in presentation,  the typical fair of different ships and ... Read More
Now where do I start.  Having done dozens of cruises with the likes of Princess,  P&O, NCL, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean I have learnt that apart from small differences in presentation,  the typical fair of different ships and lines is pretty much the same.  Happy friendly crew,  excellent food from the buffet from breakfast to last thing at night,  pool side burger bars,  elegant dining rooms with silver service with the best food available,  specialty restaurants, lots of great bars,  to show and entertainment everywhere. This is NOT what you get on COSTA!!! Having just returned from a weeks cruise on the Costa Serena I can honestly say it has been the worst cruise I have ever been on (after completing 15). Ok the ship is clean and much to the best efforts of the staff (who look shattered due to the long long shirfts Costa make them work), things just don't flow like a good cruise should.  I'll go through the points that will show how poor Costa now is:  *Grumpy shattered staff - Talk to staff on any ship you understand how they work for lengthy contracts without any days off, but at least they get decent down time and breaks, the odd half day and rewarded for service by tips and staff competitions. On Costa staff have two shifts and one being 11 hours long and they even get diddled out of their automatic tips by the company. Even with their best efforts you can understand why they are how they are.  *Closed, closed, closed - If you like taking your watch off when on holiday and eating/drinking at your leisure forget Costa.  During the day the buffet is your main option,  but only for short time slots for the serving of hot food. Open for breakfast, 1030 closed. Then open at lunchtime, but be quick as two hours later is closed again,  and the Dessert will always be fruit salad! They do rolls around 4ish, but again they are not great. Other than that, the buffet is closed. No evening meal option. The poolside burger bar, only open for an hour or so at lunchtime,  but don't worry, as you wouldn't eat from here anyway with its grey meat.  The beef and chicken burgers look and taste the same. The best description being cheap meat.  *Food - The food on board is limited, after the cheap bland delights of the day time buffet,  you have the option of your evening meal in the main restaurant.  Poor service,  no banter with the waiters as they have too many tables to serve, and the food.... Bland bland bland.Specialty restaurants (where you have to pay extra) consist of pizza, the same that was free during the day,  or an Italian. No snack bar,  no cafe in the atrium, but there is room service,  if you pay.  *Drinks packages - The all inclusive package should be called the 'some included' drinks package. It costs the same as other lines but virtually everything is excluded from the deal.  *Water - Costa will serve you alcohol all day and all night,  but you can only get a glass of water if you pay.  Even with your dinner no iced water.  And just to make sure they can get some more money out of you, they turn the water fountains off in the buffet when it closes after lunch. Captains drink reception - Nope there wasn't one. Bridge updates - No announcements from the captain giving you an update on your voyage.  *"Just for Crew" "Just for Crew" - Crew safety drills being piped in full volume lasting for hours into passenger cabins. *TV - Cabin TV film channels not operating,  instead showing safety drills on loop. *The ship - It is clean,  very clean.  But good is it ghastly.  It's decor looks like the inside odd a sea-side amusement arcade with dark blue walls and ceilings broken up by red or blue lightsvand neon coloured tin metal strips. In the atrium they have these strange mannequins bolted to the ceiling. Apart from that,  it's not too bad.  So much potential just poorly run.  *Other customers - It would be rude of me to count this against Costa, but the majority of customers are rude,  they just push in everywhere.  The only people queuing will be the brits. *Entertainment - there was certainly plenty of singers and bands on board,  but after a day or two you got this de ja vu feeling as the next repeated the same sets night after night.  It wasn't all bad, but so much was it did takeaway from the glamour of cruising.  The best advice I would give to anyone thinking of going on a Costa cruise would be to go onto another cruise line.  Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Overall very good experience, tasty food, a-la-carte portions were small, but very tasty. We purchased all inclusive drinks package, which was good value for money. Very good entertainment, piano bar- fab! I personally have been sawn into ... Read More
Overall very good experience, tasty food, a-la-carte portions were small, but very tasty. We purchased all inclusive drinks package, which was good value for money. Very good entertainment, piano bar- fab! I personally have been sawn into pieces on the stage by the Italian magician ! Portrait photos were very good quality and prices have been reduced from our last cruise with Costa 3 years ago. My daughter enjoyed kinds club, I used spa, which was a bit overpriced and the state of the art gym. I wish we purchased cruise and stay as 1,5 days were not enough to explore Dubai. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Overall very good experience, tasty food, a-la-carte portions were small, but very tasty. We purchased all inclusive drinks package, which was good value for money. Very good entertainment, piano bar- fab! I personally have been sawn into ... Read More
Overall very good experience, tasty food, a-la-carte portions were small, but very tasty. We purchased all inclusive drinks package, which was good value for money. Very good entertainment, piano bar- fab! I personally have been sawn into pieces on the stage by the Italian magician ! Portrait photos were very good quality and prices have been reduced from our last cruise with Costa 3 years ago. My daughter enjoyed kinds club, I used spa, which was a bit overpriced and the state of the art gym. I wish we purchased cruise and stay as 1,5 days were not enough to explore Dubai. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
The worst Cruise Ship I have ever experienced and will never trust this Company again. My Cabin was 2412. Fine in itself but nobody should have to endure the level of noise that I experienced coming from Deck 3 above which was obviously ... Read More
The worst Cruise Ship I have ever experienced and will never trust this Company again. My Cabin was 2412. Fine in itself but nobody should have to endure the level of noise that I experienced coming from Deck 3 above which was obviously the Restaurant/Galley clearing up after the 2nd dining sitting. The noise I had to endure was those responsible for clearing up seemed to be dragging containers/bins across a steel floor from 11pm until 2pm and then starting again at 5am for the breakfast sitting. When complaining to Reception nothing was done. No complaint forms available on board and the Reception Staff need retraining in Customer Relations. We pay your wages!!! The Air conditioning in this Cabin somehow contained cigarette smoke. Costa cruises have been given ample time to address these issues but they have not bothered or are simply not interested. They say the matter was logged which is unacceptable. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We have just been on the Costa Serena from Dubai to Oman ect. We arrived at the port at 8/30 am to be told we cannot board the ship till 8/o'clock in the evening great after an over night flight. Later they done us all a big favour ... Read More
We have just been on the Costa Serena from Dubai to Oman ect. We arrived at the port at 8/30 am to be told we cannot board the ship till 8/o'clock in the evening great after an over night flight. Later they done us all a big favour and let us on board at 3oclock in the afternoon but still could not get a shower or change of cloths until 8 o/clock that night. Bad start but did not improve that much, the following night was there first Gala dinner we sat at the table at 9 0/clock and by 9/45 still had not had a drink or menu. We gave up and went to bed, but the service did improve after that. They do have ice cream machine but none of them was working, often the Orange drink machine also wasn't working and all the tea and coffee machines were closed by 90/clock in the evening. Luckily this was not our first cruise so it has not put us off, as we have experienced fantastic meals on all the other ones,we were surprised to find they could not cook fish tried three times all well over cooked and gave up. Just to say I do not enjoy having to write this but feel that people should be aware of this cruise line, and just in case you think we will try them again you are wrong. Costa do not cut your service to cut your prices David and Brenda   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We took the Christmas cruise from Dubai on the Costa Serena in a premium balcony room on deck 8. The room was quiet and well positioned although seemed smaller than the 20sq.m that Costa claim. Room was made up appropriately each day. The ... Read More
We took the Christmas cruise from Dubai on the Costa Serena in a premium balcony room on deck 8. The room was quiet and well positioned although seemed smaller than the 20sq.m that Costa claim. Room was made up appropriately each day. The itinerary was good. (Dubai, AbuDhabi, Muscat and Kasabh) I'd echo other people's concerns about cutbacks. Most of these are simple things but they leave you disappointed. For example, Ice cream machines that never served ice cream, switching off the water machines to force you to buy drinks, no jug water available at dinner, no buffet option available in the evening and none the usual little cruise touches like towel animals. It kinda felt like a budget airline approach. It showed up in other ways too – Our room wasn't particularly clean with stains and smears on low down and high surfaces in the room. Maintenance of things like the water slide was also lacking- The slide was one of the reason for selecting this particular boat and it didn't operate at all during that cruise. Breakfast and lunches were fine but evening meals were disappointing as they lacked variety and quality. Nothing really tasted fresh, it was all frozen re-heats; The menus didn't excite or inspire; I had difficulty picking one item rather than difficulty choosing between two. The main issue is the staff. At time of booking, I had been promised a late departure. There was a different story on the boat. Guest relations did little to resolve my concern, failed to communicate with me and at times were just plain rude. Their management didn't seem to work – perhaps they were off for Christmas or just couldn't be bothered? The “International host” was never available and gave contradictory messages to those of the guest relations team. Even check-in staff and left luggage team were very rude. It's almost as if there is a malaise across the entire crew.... I only read the other reviews after I came home. It seems that I'm not alone in my disappointment. I've been on Costa boats before and loved them – but not this one. If this is indicative of where Costa is taking their business, I won't be booking any more. My advice to anyone considering the Serena is only buy if it;s cheap and then think of it as budget cruise. Don't waste money on premium rooms and the like. Consider it like a B&B in a sunny climate... Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As a 70 year old grandfather, I flew Emirates alone from Birmingham on the overnight flight to Dubai. Emirates have great food and a generous baggage allowance and I was well within the 30kg limit, even including all of the Christmas ... Read More
As a 70 year old grandfather, I flew Emirates alone from Birmingham on the overnight flight to Dubai. Emirates have great food and a generous baggage allowance and I was well within the 30kg limit, even including all of the Christmas presents which I was taking. Flying overnight and the 4 hour time difference meant I wouldn't require a hotel. The flight route, which you can reassuringly monitor on your own screen,carefully avoids the troubled areas (Ukraine,Syria and Iraq) with the final leg over increasingly friendly Iran. The early morning arrival at Dubai was delayed by a half hour whilst we circled over the Arabian Gulf, waiting for the airport to re-open, after being closed due to the morning fog. On the landing approach, the magnificent sight of the Costa Serena could be seen at berth in the port. Dubai is a massive hub airport. After an internal train ride, I joined the immigration queue. Allow a good half hour for this if you need the 30 day visitor visa stamp. I was to meet up with the rest of the family party arriving at midday so there was no rush. Our party totaled 6, 3 adults and 3 children. After lunch, we looked for transport to the ship. We made the initial error of dealing with a taxi tout at the exit. It became clear that we were going to cover a very large distance on foot to his vehicles. We then retraced our steps back to the white taxis in the official taxi rank. We realized that with 6 of us and all of the luggage, we would need 2 taxis. To our surprise, both our taxi drivers were ladies. They are not allowed to drive all male passengers, but because we had two females in our party, the convoy could depart, after negotiating a very reasonable fee for the trip. At the port, an army of porters unloaded our luggage and took it into the embarkation hall for us. With hindsight, arriving at 3.30pm was a bit early. I would think 4.30 would be better but there is significant traffic at rush hour in Dubai. There were many people there already and the check in process was very slow to gather pace. Basic refreshments were on sale in the embarkation hall. Toilets are available but you had to re-enter via security again. Security was good; equal to airport standards. The labels which Costa pre-supplied were attached to the luggage which duly appeared later outside our cabins at 8.00pm. You may prefer to keep your carry-on bag with you as cabins are not available until 8.00pm. Access to the ship using the Costa Card initially required a photograph to be taken at the gang-plank. This is then stored and associated with your bar-code each time you leave and enter. Your carry-on baggage is then X-rayed and you are metal detected. This is a very reassuring level of security, although one cynic suggested they were looking for smuggled-on booze. Once aboard you are relieved of your passport. This is duly labelled and stored until the eve of dis-embarkation when they are returned. A receipt was issued for each passport. On board your Costa card serves many purposes. It is used as a payment cash card, cabin key, and identity card. You need to back it up with either cash or a bank card within 48 hours otherwise you get a reminder letter delivered to your cabin. Once on board, you are free to explore. Buffet food was available for free in the buffet areas. We used the deck 9 Ristorante Buffet Prometeo with lovely views from the window tables and subsequently we always breakfasted there and had lunch when aboard. Bar staff will approach you to sell the many drinks packages. We settled for a wine and water package which gave us 6 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of water. This worked out well for 3 adults with the 6 restaurant meals we would have during the week. We couldn't justify the all-in drinks package costs because we are only moderate drinkers. When you use your drinks package, you sign a receipt and retain a copy. On this receipt is printed exactly what you have remaining of your package. It is a good system, and you know exactly where you stand. The crew consisted of mainly Philipinos and some Italians. The Engineers and navigational and administrative crew were mainly Italian with a handful of other nationals The catering and cleaning crew were mainly Phlipino. The level of English spoken was very good. Although Italian was officially the first language, English was widely understood. There were many nationalities amongst the passengers Italian, French,Spanish Dutch, British,Philipino, South African, German,,Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and we got to know some of them. A good chance to try out my restricted foreign languages.All very friendly and lots of smiles The amount of traffic on the tannoy system was reasonable. English was usually 4th in line. The accommodation areas were quiet after about 10pm so the children could get to sleep. The level of service was very good. All of the crew were very pleasant and polite. The dining staff in particular were brilliant with the children. They would quickly serve dishes outside of the main menu, nothing was too much trouble. The whole ship was kept sparkling clean by a crew which happily took pride in the ship. For the trips ashore at Muscat, you are issued with a local entry and visa card by the immigration officials who come aboard. We later found that our passports had been stamped by them each time we had dis-embarked and embarked. The guided tour of Muscat was good with a really excellent local guide. We visited the Grand Mosque, the Sultan's Palace, the Omani Museum and the Souk. This is the biggest souk in the Middle East and we liked it so much that we went back on foot to get lost there the next morning. Muscat is highly recommended, so beautiful and the people so friendly. We were on the top deck when we left the port of Muscat. Playing loudly on the deck p.a. System was It’s time to say goodbye (Con te partirò) sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman Con te partirò ( I’ll go with you su navi per mari ( on ships across seas che, io lo so, ( which, I know, no, no, non esistono più. ( no, no, exist no longer. It’s time to say goodbye… I never realised before how poignant those words were. With the ship's siren blasting away, there were few dry eyes on deck that evening. We were too late in booking excursions at Khasab, they were all fully booked. We took the free shuttle bus into town. It is quite small and did not take long to explore. You really need to book an excursion in time. So after a lazy lunch on the ship we tried out The F1 Racing Simulator. At 12 euros for 7 minutes, great fun and reasonable value. There were also some dance lessons available. A different dance each day with instruction in italian, In Abu Dhabi we traveled using our Costa Cards as I.D and took the Big Red Bus Tour..This is good value. There is an earpiece (which you keep) commentary in many different languages. It is Hop on-Hop off so you can structure your own trip and spend as long as you wish at each location, so long as you don't miss the last bus back. In most of ports you are not permitted to walk to the gate; you have to be in a vehicle. In Dubai, we again traveled using our Costa Cards as I.D. and took the Big Red Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour with commentary. Tickets are valid for two routes and for 24 hours. This includes a free trip one way on the water bus across the Dubai Creek. This is on the red route. The blue route takes you down the Palm Jumeirah and passes the Burj Al Arab. The return route passes the famous palatial shopping mall and the Burj Khalifa which is the world's tallest building. There is also a metro and a monorail system which we didn't have time to explore. Useful maps are available on the bus. So there is a great deal to see here. One day is definitely not enough. Unfortunately my return flight was early next day, so I wished I had booked a hotel for an extra day or two. For dining, we had a large table on the upper deck (4) of the Ceres Restuarante for the early sitting at 6.30pm. This was exactly as requested. We dined there every evening and the earlier sitting meant that we could take the children to the shows or discos before bedtime. The meals were always superb. Served with Italian style, always five courses plus a side salad.The waiters were really pleasant and efficient. They were really great with the children's food and were really attentive. There were two gala evenings during the week when we did get dressed up. There were some entertainments from the waiters including singing and napkin waiving and a conger dance.There was also a glass of proseco from the Captain. We made use of the squok club for the younger children. This was well run with good security that also scrupulously verified collection of the child. The 6 year old enjoyed it so much that she stayed all day and had two meals whilst the rest of us went on a shore excursion. The elder boy (15) used the teen club on several occasions and enjoyed playing wee games there. The theatre shows by the resident entertainers involved very professional dancing and singing. Most of the songs were in English with a few french and iIalian songs also, with audience participation. I mean everybody knew volare, cantare oh oh oh oh. A drinks service in the theatre is provided by very agile bar staff, so you do not need to leave your seats. There is no interval as the shows last for just over an hour.One evening there was a kind of talent show which involved varied acts by crew members such as waiters, chefs and engineers etc. This was surprisingly good and very entertaining. An other evening in the theatre was a meet the Captain and officers multilingual affair with free proseco for a toast. I spent part of a pleasant warm evening watching the Andrea Bocelli Christmas Show on the large screen outdoor video screen in the sheltered area on deck 9; more for the oldies though. There was always live music at various parts of the ship and also discos. The daily newsletter (Oggi, Today) which arrived in every cabin each evening, was a useful list of all of the next day's activities. Disembarkation was well organised with presentations in various languages. These presentations were also available on the video channels. Basically there were two windows for departure either before or after 0730 and two times for collection of luggage from outside each cabin. The luggage would be labelled with colour coded tags for the various different tours and duly delivered to collection points in the embarkation hall. Passports were reclaimed on a per cabin basis. Boat drill muster took place early on the first day and is compulsory for all passengers. As a first time cruiser and also as this ship was the sister of the Concordia, I took particular attention. We pre-walked the route specified on the back of our cabin door in advance of the actual drill. This route involved using stairways which were nominally 'crew only.' On the actual drill we were shepherded by crew along a different route using the standard stairways. I am sure a knowledge of these secret routes could prove vital in a real emergency. I believe this was done as a time saving measure; but I would say familiarise yourself with all of the safety instructions. Possibly as as a precaution, and maybe as a result of intelligence received, a letter was sent to all cabins regarding dangerous waters through which we would be sailing. This detailed the alarms that would be given in the event of possible attack at sea by pirates, terrorists etc. In the event of an alarm, passengers were not to use balconies, flash photography over the side would be banned. Certain areas high above the water line such as deck 9 were designated as muster points. I guess the Gulf of Hormuz was perhaps seen as a danger point. However the Serena had just completed a 3 week voyage from Savona, the last week of which took her down the Red Sea,non-stop past Sudan,Eritraer,Djibouti, Somalia and through the Gulf of Aden and then past the Yemen. It was reassuring that Costa had done the risk analysis and produced a plan to deal with such an emergency, however unlikely. The level of hygiene on the ship was good. We all remained well and were not aware of any gastric type illnesses on board. We were always very careful to wash hands thoroughly before eating and avoided touching surfaces by using elbows, knees and feet to open doors etc.Hand gel dispensers were fitted in the in the buffet areas and most passengers used the individual serving tongs correctly. As non-smokers we were pleased that the ship's smoking rules were well observed. We were never troubled by people smoking. In summary, we really enjoyed this cruise and would definitely sail again with Costa. The Serena is a well run happy ship and the food is excellent. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I booked this about a month before going and instantly regretted it after reading the reviews BUT... We had a great time. Two adults and one child age 9 from Scotland. We spent three days in Barcelona before boarding, we walked down to the ... Read More
I booked this about a month before going and instantly regretted it after reading the reviews BUT... We had a great time. Two adults and one child age 9 from Scotland. We spent three days in Barcelona before boarding, we walked down to the port from our hotel midway up the Ramblas, there's a port bus just at the port gates takes you to the ship for a couple of euros, I didn't do the web check in but they done it at the port for us, booking in was quick and painless, we had to wait until 2pm to board the ship but the waiting area was comfortable and there was a snack bar. We were pleasantly surprised to be given an outside cabin with window as I booked the 'take what's available' option, the room was a good sized, the beds were comfortable, the room was spotless and cleaned twice a day, towels changed, etc. the ship itself is a bit loud but I like bright colours so it didn't bother me, the only thing I didn't like was the statues in the main area, they looked like shop dummies and cheapened the otherwise nice furnishings. The food was a mix of good and bad, the breakfast wasn't great but I didn't see anyone not eating, I'm a fussy eater so I'm happy with cereal, cup of tea, fruit and a croissant, but you had the usual people piling their plate up and not eating it, only had lunch twice and it was good, plenty of choice, dinner was in the restaurant and we couldn't fault it, the service was quick and the waiters remembered what you had to drink and it was there for you every night, there was singing and dancing a few times in the restaurant and I think almost everyone joined in. There was a separate kids menu, ours had spaghetti bolognese every night! Best he'd ever tasted! Our table guests asked for Indian food one night so we all had curry made especially for us. We didn't use the kids club. We went to most of the evening shows and they were all good, better than the ones Royal Caribbean had put on, mix of languages used but didn't detract from it. We didn't hang around the ship we always got off when we docked, there was only one day at sea and that was our last so were were glad of the rest. The port excursions were ok, wish we had done a bit more homework beforehand so we new where to go and what to. Disembarking was fine, you are given a time slot and just have to wait on being called. Pros- price, we paid a quarter of what we paid the Royal Caribbean. Room was excellent Port times were longer No great push for you to buy photos, gifts etc on the ship Downside - Breakfast could be better Soft drinks (squash) should be provided and I didn't see any water dispensers anywhere? We had to buy the all inclusive drinks package even though it was a waste of money as I can't drink alcohol due to medication though it's probably a good deal for most people. Buffet could be better organised so there not so many people wandering around trying to find seats with food in their hands and they should definitely crack down on the kids running around the restaurant before someone is seriously injured. Port information should be updated on their daily newsletter - eg, took us an hour to get to the Trevere Fountain in Rome only to find it had scaffolding around it and had been drained, we could have used this time to visit something else. Ships plumbing could be doing with an overhaul, seen a couple of floods in public toilets and our drain didn't drain very quick and had a slight smell about it. Biggest downside, other holidaymakers don't smile :((   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The destinations were great, the crew were not overly friendly or accomodating, the excursion that we went on was good. The other passengers on the ship were not very courteous especially in lines. The dress code is casual, but some ... Read More
The destinations were great, the crew were not overly friendly or accomodating, the excursion that we went on was good. The other passengers on the ship were not very courteous especially in lines. The dress code is casual, but some passengers attended dinners really sloppily (t-shirts, etc). The food in the buffet was really mediocre, not much variety with low quality (served prawns which were tasteless and over-cooked, not much variety of hot breakfasts (porridge, cream of wheat etc), The dinners weren't very good quality food except the soups were excellent. The entertainment was ho-hum. The guitar player only did karaoke guitar, he couldn't sing so he just mumbled, and his playing was very simple. The guitar duo was really excellent. The couple in the main lounge/atrium were ok, but the girl was terrible, once again only doing karaoke style. The pianist was quite good however. There was really no "piano bar" which is where i usually spend my time.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
To celebrate my 40-year-old birthday and my husband’s 50-year-old birthday, we decided to book a suite for our son and us. We have tried a cruise with Royal Caribbean before, so we hoped that the experience would be at least just as ... Read More
To celebrate my 40-year-old birthday and my husband’s 50-year-old birthday, we decided to book a suite for our son and us. We have tried a cruise with Royal Caribbean before, so we hoped that the experience would be at least just as pleasant and where looking forward to some luxury with a butler and other nice stuff being pampered a little when we finally have the yearly vacation together. Our expectations were not met at all. We experienced a ship filled with people not happy to work there and therefore the service was not nearly as good as it should be. When talking to another couple at dinner, who had tried other Costa ships, they said, that they had never tried a mood so bad before. They told us that the staff are usually happy and ready to give you a good time, but that is not what we saw at the Costa Serena at all. We decided to buy an all-inclusive drink package that should be easy to manage. Order and drink. It was not easy at all. In the leaflet, Costa had written, that at dinnertime we could choose between 3 different wines and that a wine list specially made for the all-inclusive drink guests would be presented, so we were looking forward to that. At dinnertime, the waiter looked at us strangely when we pointed that out and would only serve 1 wine which I did not like at all. That next day we went to the information desk to find out what was going on and after talking to different people, the lady assured us that it would be taking care of that night, but unfortunately it was not. We were only served that same bad wine. The next day we complained to the Maitre D in the restaurant at dinner, and for some strange reason, the man had never heard or seen that the all-inclusive guests should have a wine list and different wines to choose from so I handed him the leaflet with the information. After consulting again with his boss he told us, that they would create a wine menu and that it would come in 15 minutes time as written in the all-inclusive drink leaflet. When I asked him if we were the only people ever buying the all-inclusive drinks and why they had not such a menu already as they should have, he just gave us attitude and said angry to me, if I thought it was easy to make such a menu. We did not ask for anything other than stated in the drink package! This experience was just unnecessary and did not make our experience pleasant at all. On a cruise, you are supposed to relax and be pampered and instead we experienced one thing after the other being annoying and not very pleasant. Our headwaiter told us the last day that he had been working on the ship for 9 months and he was VERY tired. He was looking forward to get off in the same port as us. No wonder a lot of the crew members were no fun at all if that is how they work. But again, that just took away from the experience we had hoped for and as a customer paying a lot of money for an experience, this ship was a total disappointment. Setting aside the very bad food and the horrific lunch time where you literally have to fight yourself through thousands of other guests because there are only 1 place to eat lunch, a couple of bad shows where people just looked at each other not bothering to clap, there was also the strange “entertaining” trio in the Grand Bar with a big dance floor, where the “singer” only sang to every fifth song and otherwise just stood and held the microphone. The “saxophone player” started every song by a mouse click on a computer and otherwise stood there holding his saxophone and not playing as the computer did that for them. This was extremely weird to look at and as they were there every day we got to know their routine, and Costa could have spent just a little more and found somebody willing to perform and not just stand on a stage holding a microphone and a saxophone. On the fifth day, I ordered a drink and a limoncello as I had done the other days and was now told that I could only order one thing at a time. The all-inclusive leaflet did not mention anything about that and it was first 2 days before leaving we were told this. Then we had to visit the information desk again and was this time met by a very aggressive lady who definitely not had the personal resource at that time to take care of our problem. She called somebody who could tell her that this is “company policy” so that people do not get drunk to easy. This was not mentioned anywhere, it had not been this way the first 5 days, this was both alcoholic drinks, warm beverage and cold beverage and did not make any sense. I could not order a beer and a bottle of water to take to my room, because I could be drunk to fast? It looked like that Costa and the crew members uses the term “company policy” when they want to make a rule up not mentioned anywhere, as they had done this a couple of times. The worst thing about the cruise was that our troubles did not end when leaving the ship. As you are to give a credit card number when entering the ship so that Costa can later withdraw the money that you have spent on board, we of course expected them to take the amount we had spent and that would be it, but that is not how it went. When they had withdrawn the right amount, we found out that our credit card suddenly could not be used anymore, as there were no money available on the card. There should be money on the card, so we called our bank that could tell us that Costa had reserved nearly 2000 Euro MORE on our card, so they could not do anything and we could not use the card. When calling Costa Cruises we were just told that we could not call their bookkeeping department as you can only send them a mail. Very unsatisfying when something like this happens. When my husband wrote the bookkeeping department, we did not hear anything from them. Not a mail saying that they had received our mail or anything. The next couple of days strange amounts was released on our credit card in different portions so that we now again can use our credit card. We have still not heard anything from Costa. Not an explanation or anything else. Very strange behavior. Another thing that is very odd and frankly not OK at all is the way they handle the tips. When I have had a bad experience on board, I do not feel like mandatorily giving a huge amount in tips as I have to with Costa. I would like to choose to give a tip to the people who have made my vacation better and a pleasant trip. This is what we did when using Royal Caribbean and that gave the crewmembers incentive to treat the passengers as good as possible. If they do not then they do not get many tips. One positive thing can be said about this cruise and that is the boarding and leaving procedures when paying a little extra to get a suite. We were supposed to be “VIP” guests, what ever that means, so we had gotten these red things to put on our luggage. When we loaded the luggage on board in Savona, the lady asked us, if we were VIP and we pointed to the red things on our luggage and she said that we had not and gave us a number for the boarding queue as everyone else. After waiting in the very warm hall with everybody else, I could see from the progress on the queue that it would take a while for us to board so I told my husband that it is strange, that everybody should be in the same line, if we were so-called “VIP”, so he went to the information desk and the nice lady there told us, that of course we should not be in the same queue as everybody else. Thanks luggage-loading-lady for the wait in the hot waiting area! We got another number for the red-carpet line and got on board very quick. This of course would not have happened if we had not went to the information desk to check again. We are not use to luxury like this but when we for once spend the extra money on something just a little more “over the top”, then give us all you got! Not a butler we only saw about 5 times doing the cruise not helping much with anything without us asking for it. Not a cleaning lady not giving us 1 single pillow sculpture. Not a suite with a balcony where we could not sit or open the door because both neighbor-suites smoked. Not a staff so tired and certainly not happy to work there or make my family’s cruise something to remember. Not a ship lacking in most areas. Bad and very small swimming pools and very bad quality of food can also be mentioned and not helping the experience at all. My family and I will definitely not be using Costa Cruises again as there are so many other companies that will take our money and hopefully make our future vacations something to remember…..in a positive way.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Background information, family of 4 with children from 1993, and 1998 (This year 20 and 16, first time travelled when they were 13 and 17) All Cruises in Mediterranian first one Venice, Split, Athens, Turkey, Dubrovnik - Venice and two ... Read More
Background information, family of 4 with children from 1993, and 1998 (This year 20 and 16, first time travelled when they were 13 and 17) All Cruises in Mediterranian first one Venice, Split, Athens, Turkey, Dubrovnik - Venice and two days at see, second time Venice, 4 greek places, Venice and two days at see. Third time with Costa Savona, Rome, Naples, Sea, Palma De Mallorca, Barcelona, Marseille and Savona. We drove all three times, the first two trips was inclusive a week on a campsite in a mobile home. WONDERFUL DEAL that unfortunately do not exist anymore. Ship information.. can be found on Costas home page. Not so many activities that we used except the shows, and they were poor compared to NCL. Service in the restaurant was good. The two waiters were smiling and happy, and I am sure if they could have, and were allowed to, I could have gotten my coffee after dinner. Port and shore excutions - seemed equal to other cruiselines, when I look around. Travel to embarkation, we drive from Denmark, and we had a week this time in Nice first, so this was not bought from Costa. Cabin was OK, but the housekeeper, wasn't that excellent. He was not bad, but he was not good. I think perhaps, he just didn't know better. Dining - The food was OK, but it was not splendid. Childrens Club - we did not use. Entertainment, the shows were poor compared to NCL, but OK, not brilliant, or overwelming, just a little below average. Disembarkation. Was a surpricing experience, we couldn't choose ourselves, when to disembark, FORTUNATELY we were given an early disembarkation time (9 AM), which is good, as the drive to home is long. So we were in the car 9:45 packed and ready, and arrived in DK at 4:30 the next morning. It was OK. Summary: (conclusion is, I will not choose Costa again, I don't dare, Prefer to be sure to have a perfect vacation) Good things with Costa compared to NCL: - fast embarkation in Savona, Both with luggage and personal. We had checked in from home, so it took just a few minutes, once we were called in. - My husband says the shower was bigger. I think it is because at Costa it was a curtain, on Norweigian it is a glass door. So with his shoulders he had some place problems. - Advantage to be able to embark and disembark in many ports. I think (but I don't know) if this is the reason for the fast embarkation. Some might dislike it because the drill excercise then had to be performed more often, which meant that the drilling bell rang the signal several days, instead of only one. - A fixed table, in the restaurant, with the same two waiters all week. Both friendly, smiling and open. - There seemed to be more sun beds (or we are better at understanding the system now). Good things on NCL compared to Costa: - Plenty of clean 'public toilets' all over the ship. None were ever dirty, or broken. - Welcome/Goodbuy by the director and the captain (small thing, but it made it personal) - Can't remember it it was once or twice a day, but a bucket of ice + water in the cabin. - Water, juice, icecubes, tea and coffee available all day all decks any time. - Buffets and several others open all day (meaning if you were late, it wasn't a problem, or if you went ashore, there would still be food for you. - In the all inclusive restaurants : One side in the menu is the same every day. One of the meals was a steak (every day). The other side of the menu changed depending on the port destination. - You could order food from buffet, if you had a picky child, that wanted just that. - Water all the time also during dinner,. - Free movies in all languages during the day/night. - Shows SO much higher quality - Presentation in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. Fast -but presented. - many good lounges - Free popcorn (important for the children) - Free Softice (though we in the family have a rule only to eat one ice or one cake a day) - In the Fitness club it was possible to use the big room for personal excercises when unused. - So much better Fitness facilities. - Strict rules around smoking and the personal was not afraid to make smokers aware of it. - Rules in the pool were not to be negociated! (no babies without diper pants, and no children under 16 in the adult pool) - Many restaurants to pay extra for (not that we do, but we would have if it was possible at Costa) - Food so much better prepared. - Much more vegetables and fruit available - Hygiene much higher - Sprayed hands going in or out on the ship. - When going ashore and coming back there was always a 'tent' with cold water, cold washing cloths, and white dressed waiters serving the cloths. So after a hot day in e.g. Santorini - while waiting to come on board (e.g. on the tender boat) one could drink water, and fresh the face, and hands. - Small thing, but So appreciated. - Possible to order coffee in the restaurant...! (For me a BIG minus on Costa that I couldn't) - Possible to have a bottle of wine, and not drink it all, and have it brought from restaurant to buffet or vice versa (not a problem on NCL) - Getting of the ship was easy, there were ALWAYS personal directing people to the right level, and the right side and end, and the signs were ALWAYS correct.! - Clean bathroom in the cabin.... - The menu on the all inclusive restaurants was known and visible on the day, so one could decide to eat in the buffet, if it wasn't what one wanted, or at an 'extra payment restaurant'. General comments: The biggest problem with Costa was, that despite the fact it was all inclusive. Water was not available all day- only during breakfast, and lunch. That is not all inclusive I think. Personally I will not pick Costa again, unless some things change. We picked it because on a ranking list(which I can't find right now) Costa was higher up than NCL, so it should - on paper - be better. Unfortunately I don't think so, and I do believe the director on Costa Serena did a poor job. Shows were presented in the loud speakers. She wasn't very visible. (Compared to the director on NCL He is a chapter for himself we think) Bad things compared to NCL: In General we experienced smiling and happy personal, Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My age 59, travelling with my 88 year old Dad. We have been on many cruises with different cruise lines, but this has to be my favourite. We booked a very last minute cruise after being sent a great deal by our favourite cruise agents - ... Read More
My age 59, travelling with my 88 year old Dad. We have been on many cruises with different cruise lines, but this has to be my favourite. We booked a very last minute cruise after being sent a great deal by our favourite cruise agents - too good to miss, even though previous reviews of the ship and line have been mixed. Although I booked an outside cabin with no number, I was delighted to find that we had been upgraded to a balcony. Our first experience, but definitely not the last. We set off for Barcelona - an easy well-timed flight down from the UK to arrive there at 1.30 pm, and went straight to the cruise terminal. I was surprised to find very few passengers there, and we walked through to the embarkation desk where all they needed were our tickets and passports, and where we were issued with the usual ship cards. I found out later that on this cruise the ship had passengers boarding and leaving at almost every port, a bit like a ferry, but it meant that we had a long time in each port. Up onto the ship where security zapped our cards and took security photos with a hand held device. Onboard there are numerous terminals where it is possible to register your credit card yourself by swiping your ship`s card, then your credit card - no waiting at customer services. Our cabin 9210 port side, right at the bow of the ship, was gorgeous. Note - the beds were next to the window which meant we could lie in bed at night and watch the coastal lights. Having since looked at other balcony cabins on other ships, I think this is quite unusual - the beds are usually away from the windows. Plenty of storage and a neat little bathroom with a great big mirror. Everything was spotlessly clean. Dining - we always like to use the buffet dining room, and were very pleased with the quantity and quality of food at breakfast and lunchtime. It was always very busy, and the type of food is not the same at each station - for example, pancakes are on one side of the ship, eggs are on the other. When we did have to wait for a table, it was only a few minutes. Great service from all the waiters and chefs who couldn`t do enough to help. We had a problem in the evenings though - I had read that it was just pizzas in the buffet after 6pm, but I didn`t realise it was just 2 types of pizza - margherita and plain cheese. A few salads, and no desserts at all, not even ice cream. I believe that after 9.30 pm, the pizzeria becomes waiter service with a greater choice of pizzas, but we prefer to eat at 7 p.m. I would also like to say that it was the first ship we`ve been on where the girls on the reception desks were so helpful and polite, they really couldn`t do enough to help. Decor - what can I say? It was a bit OTT, but maybe Italians like it that way! There was pattern and colour on everything, which gave me a headache for the first few days ;) The theme of the ship was Roman gods. One of the big bonuses was 10 lifts together at the central area = no waiting. There were 4 swimming pools, 2 of them with sliding glass roofs over the whole of the pool area. The overall age group seemed to be 30s to 40s, with a great many children, but it was Easter. I felt this lent a really young feel to the ship, although it seemed to be very noisy compared to our other cruises. This applied to the evening shows in the Glove theatre - they were just too noisy for us. The glove theatre had a fantastic wrap-round design, with no obscured views. One of the highlights of the ship was the 4D cinema, which showed short 15 min animations, buy one get one free for 8 euros. The first film we saw was haunted house, which was a fab experience with 3D glasses, moving seats, smells, and puffs of wind. Ports and excursions: Marseille, cancelled because it was too windy to get into port, and replaced with Toulon: Savona; La Spezia, where we took the opportunity to walk to the train station and took the train to Monterosso, one of the Cinque Terre villages; Civitavecchia - we`d booked a trip to Cornetto, but it was cancelled; Naples - we booked a trip down the catacombs, but this was again cancelled, so we took the trip to Sorrento and Amalfi. Tip: sit on the right side of the bus to get the views, and don`t go if you suffer from travel sickness! A days cruising back to Barcelona, then an easy flight home. Summary: Pros: Lovely ship, spotlessly clean Great food Great service from the girls on customer services and the excursion desk Really interesting ports, especially Savona and La Spezia The 4D cinema Long time in each port Cons: No selection at the buffet pizzeria between 6 and 9.30 p.m. It also had the atmosphere of a children`s playground. Would we go with Costa again? definitely. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Let me starts to explain that my wife and I have travelled to and in many countries and we usually would stay in 4 star or higher hotels. As I would become 65 years of age on the 11th. of February my wife and I decided to do something ... Read More
Let me starts to explain that my wife and I have travelled to and in many countries and we usually would stay in 4 star or higher hotels. As I would become 65 years of age on the 11th. of February my wife and I decided to do something special this year and book a cruise on the Mediterranean on the Costa Serena (Savona, Naples, Palermo,Tunis, Barcelona, Marseille, Savona) . As every traveler should do, prior to our booking we looked at the various reactions made by previous travelers on this trip. The first evening and night (as soon after the ship departed from Savona), my wife got seasick, in a way that she had to skip dinner altogether. The next evening departing from Naples the same happened, but taking sea-sickness tablets (provided on the ship) , my wife endured the dinner. After that she didn't have seasickness again. The meals on the ship were considered by both of us to be perfect!! I can not imagine that anybody would complain about this as the selection of food was fabulous!! Everything on board seemed to be well organized (maybe except for the lengthy time the life-boat instruction lasted) . The booked excursions all worked out fine.The only thing to improve on is to my opinion the fact that you need to pay for the use of WIFI. That seems to me to be a bit out of fashion. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was a family cruise with eight family members, and we had a great time because our goal was to spend time together, and it was very enjoyable. But as far as the ship... 1. Our cabin was spacious, we had a private balcony,and we ... Read More
This was a family cruise with eight family members, and we had a great time because our goal was to spend time together, and it was very enjoyable. But as far as the ship... 1. Our cabin was spacious, we had a private balcony,and we were surprised with the amount of storage space. It was clean and comfortable. Housekeepers kept it very clean and neat. They don't provide wash cloths or facial tissue (Kleenex) 2. Decorations were not to my taste, art and colors were not attractive at all. Full of naked mythology men and half naked women. They had some mannequins hanging in the clouds at the atrium... really awful. All the doors had the same side view of a roman man that to me looked like Osama Bin Laden. Paintings were in loud colors, horrible. 3. There was smoking everywhere, in the casino, decks, it was hard to be outside and not be annoyed by somebody smoking next to you. No respect for laws that were published. 4. This ship is not equipped to handle the amount of passengers it carries. It was crowded wherever you went. There were three pools and Jacuzzis, I never went because of the crowds and smoking. 5. Food. I was pleased that for dinner at Vesta restaurant I always had several vegetarian options for my meals. Their pasta is great. The rest is mediocre. Crowds and long lines for meals, for juice or coffee (by the way, I would call it "brown water") Several times after standing in line for juice, when you got to the machine it was out of juice and it would take forever for the staff to replace it. At the Buffet, it was hard to find a place to sit at peak hours. The waiters were very slow to clear the tables most of the time. The plates would pile up and sometimes we had to remove them. There were long lines for pizza also. My husband stood in line for 15 minutes one day, and he was still 8th in line, so we gave up. I never found a salt shaker that had running salt, all of them had moist salt. 6. Customer "no" service. I had no hot water in my cabin one night. I called to report, but nobody would pick up the phone. The next night again there was no hot water. This time I stayed until somebody picked up the phone and they took note of it. The next morning I went personally to Customer service to ask if something had been done, I did not want to take a cold shower again. The man asked me "Do you have hot water now?" and I said yes. "Then you have to call us when you don't have hot water so we can see what the problem is" He never apologized. I also mentioned to him that after midnight, there were loud announcements of sales in the halls. He said that I must be wrong, there were no announcements. But several other persons had heard them also. 7. Ports of call were Rio, Angra dos Reis and Punta del Este. They were nice stops, we did not take any ship tours. At Angra the time was so short, only 4 hours. By the time you got your turn to get off the ship, you had to return. 8. Lastly... on the last informational debarkation meeting, our cruise director gave us a talk into giving them good reviews in the evaluation forms. Most of the passengers were Argentinian, and I guess they don't have anything to compare. But having cruised with other cruise lines, I place Costa at the bottom, bottom of the list. Sorry. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Worst cruise ever!!! I have been on over 20 cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Premier (got to be old to remember that one). I booked the Costa Serena for 8 of us, 2 families with adult children, mostly due to the ... Read More
Worst cruise ever!!! I have been on over 20 cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Premier (got to be old to remember that one). I booked the Costa Serena for 8 of us, 2 families with adult children, mostly due to the itinerary. We embarked in Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome). Most people had embarked in Savona, so embarkation was very quick. Strange thing, they insisted on taking our passports stating that Italian Customs required they keep them in a safe. The passports would be reviewed by authorities prior to disembarkation and returned to us. What if we had an issue in port?? Also in the past 2 years I was on a cruise from Venice and another from Stockholm and was able to keep my passport. Muster drill was done in English for the few of us English speaking guests onboard. We met in a lounge then up to life boats. Paul, the English speaking host was very informative and stated that the ship would sail at only 50% capacity for this week. Wow, things don't look good for Costa. Considering the low occupancy rate, I thought it was funny that we were not given any upgrades. I paid full price for 3 cabins back in November and watched the price go down to $299 pp prior to sailing, after final payment. I called my travel agent and Costa to try to get an upgrade or any other type of compensation but they would not budge. You would think that an upgrade that costs them nothing would be good customer service, especially after all the bad press! Then negatives... -5 Euro charge for breakfast in your cabin -2 Euro charge for room service -10.50 Euro for a vodka and OJ, charge separately for each -no lido deck buffet for dinner, dining room ONLY for dinner -dinner menu with very few choices, 2 soups, 2 appetizers, 2 pasta, 4 main -no steak, fillet or lobster -breakfast in the dining room was a buffet? Same as lido deck. - midnight buffet with all the carvings, but no food. Waiters walked around with trays of cookies?? -setting up onboard charges with a machine that didn't work, purser's desk would not help, yes I did it online prior to boarding -very poor service from onboard staff, purser's desk The only excursion I booked with Costa was from Savona to Monoco which I paid for in March. Three days into the cruise I noticed a very small note in the "Today", daily paper that the excursion had been cancelled. I went down to the shore excursion desk and was told that it was cancelled because it was too close to the grand prix. They stated that I would not be reimbursed with my original form of payment but they would give me an onboard credit to cover all my expenses and tips!! Since I had to pay for tips and onboard charges I figured it would all work out. I was wrong, the last day when the final bill arrived I was not given the credit and had multiple charges?? After talking to the shore excursion desk and the purser's desk no one was willing to help. I was told to dispute the charge with my credit company. When I came home I emailed Costa and a Costa representative called me. She said that in the fine print of the cruise contract it states that shore excursions cancelled after sailing will be reimbursed as an onboard credit. She went on to say that onboard credits do not include reimbursements for tips and that no cash refund is given. After much discussion Costa agreed to send me a check. Just Crazy!! Upon disembarkation, the ship cleared customs and passengers were getting off but we had to wait for our passports. The passports sat behind the desk but we had to wait almost an hour because the desk didn't open until 8am!!! In over 20 cruises I have never had a bad cruise. This is actually my first cruise review, but I felt it necessary to let others know just how bad it was. I think the only positive reviews are from first timers. While I realize cruising has changed in 30 years I still find it a wonderful way to travel! Just not with Costa, never again!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We booked this cruise at the last minute (2 days before sailing) as it was only a 5 hour drive to the departure port. We got one of the last outside staterooms available and found ourselves on deck 1 about 5 cabins from the front of the ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (2 days before sailing) as it was only a 5 hour drive to the departure port. We got one of the last outside staterooms available and found ourselves on deck 1 about 5 cabins from the front of the ship. It was a great cabin (1218) and we'd take it again. There was no through traffic from other passengers so the hall was very quiet. Even though the ship is going on about 7 years, I saw no difference in quality to the very new Favolosa. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth! We were off the ship, had our luggage and retrieved our car in about 30 minutes. This was true at the ports as well - on and off with no trouble. Even when the ship was diverted towards Sardinia for a medical emergency, we still made our next port on time. The food at meal time was excellent....only let down by our rather dour waiter! Housekeeping was superb as were all the staff at the Squouk Club. It was quite a full cruise and my only complaint is that the public areas can be extremely crowded between meal times. However, I think this would be true on any large ship. We will happily go on another Costa cruise in future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I ... Read More
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I met the ship in Barcelona without much of a problem. The crew was extremely friendly, but a little scatterbrained at times trying to figure the logistics out for my late boarding. A few of them remembered me from that and yelled my name every time they saw me. It was hilarious. I know that my family had to wait about 3 hours during embarkation when they boarded in Rome. They weren't thrilled about that, so I'm glad I missed it. This cruise was immediately (a week or so) after the unfortunate Costa accident, so I anticipated the crew and travelers to be a little on edge, but that was not the case. The crew were amazing and lighthearted, extremely pleasant and accommodating. The negative reviews I had read were focused on the food, the fellow travelers and the ship's appearance. The reviewers who say that this is a different type of cruise that Americans may not be used to are absolutely correct. The ship was opulent, but in a very Italian way. This isn't a mini-Vegas, but it is a beautiful ship. Our interior room was bigger than I had expected. The bathroom was pretty and spacious. My parents' interior room was laid out differently, larger sleeping area but smaller bathroom. Both rooms were larger than I had anticipated. The food was delicious, but in a European way. No burgers or huge portions, but the quality was excellent. Again, this is a European cruise, not an American cruise. The late night pizza was fantastic. The breakfast buffet was enormous and delicious. The nightly dining room was so good that we never considered dining anywhere else. Our server Jerry was amazing! The passengers were....well, Italian. Having lived in Italy myself, I understand that social customs are slightly different than what people in the US might be used to. There is a bit of pushiness or less defined personal space rules and they speak a little louder, which may come across as rude if you aren't used to it. It's nothing extreme, just subtle differences that might confuse someone who is sensitive to that sort of thing. The most glaring issue was the lack of English. I speak Italian, but my family does not, so I had to do a fair bit of translating during the trip. The staff does speak English, but most of the passengers don't speak it very well, so it's a little isolating if you are English-speaking and are expecting to meet people. The ports were awesome. We had so much fun in each one of them. It was very easy to find transportation (like free buses) between the port and the downtown area. I missed the Savona port stop, so Barcelona was my first one. Barcelona is a great city. I have been several times (though never through a cruise) and have enjoyed it immensely. The port is located pretty far away from the city, you definitely need a bus/cab from where the ship docks. I tried walking from the city to the port and was defeated. As I was embarking from Barcelona, I have no idea what shore excursions were offered. The cruise initially embarked from Rome (Civitavecchia), so I'm sure there were some excursions that I was not privy to. I have but one complaint about the Barcelona stop - it was too short. About 4 hours. Barcelona is a HUGE city, and it would be very tough to get a feel for it in such little time. Casablanca was next, it was the stop I was most looking forward to, but most hesitant about. The reviews made it sound like a dump, but that was not the case. It was a bit of a hike from the port to the city, but worth it. There is a very authentic feel to this city, which I adore. I personally do not like very touristy areas, I'd prefer to go off the beaten path a bit. Casablanca allowed us to do so. There is a main market that you should stay away from, however. It did not feel safe and we were pushed around a bit. We mostly stayed to main roads and sites, and we had a great time. There is an excursion to Marrakech for the day, which we opted out of. The people who went seemed to have a nice time, though it was a lot of traveling for a short stay. I think that if you are comfortable finding your own things to do and see in Casablanca and aren't afraid of haggling in stores or dining in local eateries, you'll be fine staying in the city. If not, maybe the Marrakech excursion is a better option. Next up were the Canary Islands, Arrecife and Tenerife. Holy crap, Arrecife/Lanzarote is awesome! I HIGHLY recommend the Timanfaya park/camel ride excursion. It was unbelievable. I have about 500 photos from that excursion alone. It was the best port on the trip, hands down. The volcanos are stunning. Most of the island is volcanic, it's really fascinating. The camels are so much fun to ride. We learned a lot about the islands and it was so much fun! The tour ended with a wine tasting at the island's winery. Go on this excursion, you will not regret it! We did not go on any excursions on Tenerife, we just did some shopping and enjoyed the scenery. It was a little bit of a snooze town, but nice to be in. A little expensive. The last stop was Malaga, Spain. It was a nice town, again very pretty. We had a great time wandering, shopping, eating and just enjoying our last couple of days on the cruise together. Not sure I'd go back to Malaga, but they definitely had great shopping. Overall, I would recommend this cruise. It was a lot of fun, and the port stops were pretty great. I would absolutely cruise with Costa again, I'm looking into a Nordic cruise for next year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I can't understand why there should be a daily service charge €7 per day over and above your initial payments when it's a compulsory expense !!! and to then be charged 15% on all extra's seems a little underhand to me. ... Read More
I can't understand why there should be a daily service charge €7 per day over and above your initial payments when it's a compulsory expense !!! and to then be charged 15% on all extra's seems a little underhand to me. Other services on the boat such as sauna and massage are alo expensively wrapped up in packages and day rates (€33 I think) when you may only want an hour or a brief escape. Internet access was also expensive at €26 for 3 hours.....even McDonalds give this free. You should also be aware of port to city transfer cost particularly in Marseille I can't fault the restaurants and bar staff, they were all very poite and efficient....not their fault that they are forced to serve the food (which was good)at such a fast rate. The customer service desk is almost always too busy and when you do speak to them they were not empowered to actually make a decison (classic cost avoidance ploy) if it was anything more than advice. The decor was not to my liking a bit too dark and just totally over done but each to his own here. The general atmosphere was bit claustophobic but better weather and more outdoor access would have helped, and perhaps less naff piped music. The description of the swimming pools is overstated....4 stokes end to end. This boat is dominated by Italians...great people but you may feel a little overpowered.....although Volare is always fun. This is the first critique I've ever written....sorry that I was not motivated to be more positive. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After booking the cruise on Costa Serena i read the reviews and wished i had not booked.I have worked as a holiday rep for the most famous British holiday company for the over 50s and also worked front of house in some great restaurants ... Read More
After booking the cruise on Costa Serena i read the reviews and wished i had not booked.I have worked as a holiday rep for the most famous British holiday company for the over 50s and also worked front of house in some great restaurants serving the likes of Michael Caine,Bob Hoskins and Mel Gibson. Once our holiday started,i looked for faults but there were none except for our flights and Naples.My daughter and i flew with KLM from Bristol to Barcelona via Amsterdam.The flights were booked through Costa as were our transfers in Barcelona.A direct flight would have been better but we accepted it.Finally arriving in Barcelona,we were met by a taxi driver in a brand new black Mercedes and driven to the port.Our luggage was then taken to the ship and we went and checked in and had a drink.30 minutes later at 2pm, boarding was announced and we had card number 2.We boarded straight away and went to our cabin.We were in 6201 outside window at the front of the ship with amazing views.Large cabin,lots of space and very clean.After unpacking we explored the ship and were amazed.It is clean,modern and not over the top as many people have said.On returning to our cabin to get ready for dinner we were met by Neri the chambermaid who greeted me and knew my name even though we had not reached our cabin yet.She did an excellent job throughout our stay as did P.Kumar and Dexter in the Lido Sole bar and Raquel in the Vesta restaurant. We then had a great week meeting lots of lovely people ,especially the people on our table.There were probably only 150 English speakers on board but we all felt happy and mixed well with all the other nationalities.The announcements in 5 languages were short and sweet and only occurred 3 or 4 times a day and there was no pushing and shoving in the lifts or buffet by anyone as i had been led to expect by other reviewers.The ship was full with over 3800 people on board. The food was excellent,the staff were excellent and the ports of call were excellent except for Naples(very dirty and dangerous when crossing roads).The ship never felt crowded as it is so big and with 13 bars to choose from there was always great entertainment.The theatre was a bit of a let down as it is beautiful and large but the acts were average.This did not matter as there was a lot going on elsewhere. After a fantastic week we were sad to say goodbye to all our new friends and the ship.Once again a lovely transfer to the airport only to find that our flight to Amsterdam was delayed and we missed our connection to Bristol.No problem,we were put on a flight 5 hours later and given phone vouchers,food vouchers and 100 euros off future flights with KLM.Hopefully direct flights when we book our next holiday with Costa which we will do and soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We had a fantastic cruise and could not be happier. I admit that we went with pretty low expectations having read all the criticism on the forums based in the US and UK. I would like to set the record straight as we feel that Costa gets a ... Read More
We had a fantastic cruise and could not be happier. I admit that we went with pretty low expectations having read all the criticism on the forums based in the US and UK. I would like to set the record straight as we feel that Costa gets a lot of bad press which from our experience is completely unfounded. I have previously cruised with Princess and Royal Caribbean and Costa is certainly in the same league and should not be under-estimated. 1.Food and Drink • Breakfast - room service is only free for breakfast and includes cappuccino / expresso coffee which has a charge in the restaurant. So we ordered free cappuccinos plus juice from room service at 7am and then went to the restaurant for breakfast. There is a menu or buffet in the Ceres restaurant on deck 3 plus the extended buffet on deck 9. Breakfast is also available at the Urano grill for late risers. In the Ceres restaurant there are huge windows at the back which provide a superb view of the ship's wake as you are tucking into your breakfast. The waiters don't expect you to order off the menu in the restaurant as most diners prefer the buffet set up in the middle but we ordered items not in the restaurant buffet which included corned beef hash, Lyonnais potatoes, smoked salmon, omelettes and smoked haddock. • Lunch - There are several lunch options from waiter service in the restaurant (Ceres deck 3), to an extensive buffet in the Prometeo buffet, with additional grill choices at both the indoor pools (deck 9). We tended to eat in the buffet at lunch and were really impressed how they changed the hours to ensure passengers could still eat on board when port stops hit the lunch hour. In Dubrovnik we arrived at 12.15pm, so the full buffet was available from 11am. Similarly in Izmir our port visit was the morning so the restaurant service was from 1pm - 2.30pm so passengers didn't miss out. • Afternoon tea - served 4-5 in the Prometeo buffet, little sandwiches and cakes. One afternoon they also offered a selection of Chinese teas (I recommend the cinnamon and the ginger) as well as the herbal teas, regular tea, coffee and iced water which are always available. • Evening meal - We had a table for four at 6.15pm (first sitting) in the Ceres restaurant situated at the back of the ship. There was always a basket of freshly baked bread rolls and bread sticks on the table when we arrived. The menus were in English with the Italian name above it if you wanted to order in Italian instead. The evening menu consisted of 6 courses, starter, soup, pasta / risotto, main course, cheese and dessert. There was a good choice and the food was consistently very good. Take your waiter's advice if he recommends something, more than once he suggested a course that I wouldn't have ordered and I was delighted that I did. The children were given a children's menu eat night with some items such as burgers, spaghetti bolognaise and fish fingers always available and others such as pork escalope, lamb chop, beef escalope changed daily. In addition, children are able to order from the main menu and our two both did during the week. We had a jug of iced water every evening with our meal and decided not to opt for the various drinks packages. Several evenings the waiters put on a show before the dessert course, singing, dancing and creating a real party atmosphere with diners swirling their napkins above their heads and clapping. Waiters were helpful and professional throughout and nothing was too much trouble. Alternatively the pizzeria offers waiter service from 9pm - 1am, with buffet pizza available early evening. • Midnight buffet - There were several midnight buffets during the cruise but we were usually tucked in bed by then. I did make it to one with the vegetable and fruit carvings and the ice sculptures were phenomenal. That night the midnight buffet was pineapple flambE and ice cream plus there were waiters walking round with trays of food. I had a doughnut ball from one waiter which was delicious and the flambE was tasty. 2. Cabin Wi-fi was available on all decks. We had a four berth outside cabin on deck two. We had a double bed (twin beds put together), a sofa bed plus one bunk above the sofa bed. There was ample storage space, in fact we had more storage space than in our mini-suite on Princess or balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean as there were two huge drawers below my daughter's bed. Suitcases fit comfortably under the bed. The safe opens and locks with any magnetic strip card so we used my husband's cabin card. We brought a four bar plug socket with us which proved very handy to recharge everything. There was only one European socket and one US socket which were so close together it is doubtful whether you would be able to use them both. The bathroom had a shower with shower gel and soap provided. Towels were changed throughout the day if required and our cabin steward made a variety of towel animals during our stay. 3. Daily programme I was really impressed with the daily programme on Costa as there were always things to do (the only problem was trying to decide what to do when things were on at the same time!) The Sole Poolside on deck 9 below the big screen was a main area for activities such as tournaments, games, dance classes (I did the cha cha cha class), stretching classes and dancing. They also celebrated the Oktoberfest here. The Pan Disco on deck 5 was the main location for the Art and Craft sessions which were offered am and pm. During the week I designed a t-shirt, made jewellery, decorated a fan and painted a ceramic pot which all made great keepsakes from the cruise. Aqua aerobics was in the Urano pool. I also went to an Italian class and one of the seminars on health and beauty in the Samsara spa which resulted in me getting a free facial as I happily volunteered. There was a chocolate demonstration, ice sculptures by the pool and seminars in English about the ports and the ship. 4. Pools There were two main indoor pools on deck 9 each with 2 Jacuzzis (for 16 years and above). The indoor pools had a retractable roof. There is also an outside pool and a swirly slide. The Samsara Spa has an adult only pool. 5. Evening entertainment The Giove Theatre is on decks 3, 4 and 5 at the front of the ship. The invited entertainment was very impressive and the acts were all worthy of being on the television they were so professional. On the first night Dennis Bullock an American singer / saxophonist blew us away. The second night we were entertained by Duo Deltai, who did a balancing and acrobatic act which couldn't have been easy as that night we had high winds. Adam Medini did a show called Voyage one night and seemed to be able to do everything (juggling, playing the xylophone with a ping-pong ball using his mouth, tumbling from ribbons suspended from the ceiling, hand shadow puppets, handstands with one hand holding his body horizontal to the floor!) and in the middle of the week we saw Connie Boyd a female magician who has won awards in the USA for her act and we could see why. The dance troupe and singers did the show a couple of nights, the male lead singer was excellent and the black male dancer was superb. In addition, every bar and lounge had musicians and singers entertaining everyone, including easy listening in the piano bar, ballroom music in the Apollo Bar and disco music in the Pan Disco. With eight venues for musical entertainment in the evening there was certainly something for everyone. 6. Children's club Our children were in the Mini (3-6 years) and Maxi (7-12 years) Squok club and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They met the captain, visited the kitchens, went on a Treasure Hunt, took part in a pirate parade and had a variety of games, craft and free game time. The children earned Squok money during the sessions for winning competitions or sitting and listening nicely and then at the end of the cruise they swapped their Squok money for prizes. The children both got a Squok baseball cap, a bag and a sticker with their money. Squok club have two themed evening dinners that coincide with the formal nights. In addition, they can have lunch at Squok (they just need to be signed in by 10am that day). We enjoyed eating as a family but let the children have one Squok lunch and dinner during the cruise. The club hours are 9am -11.30pm and if you have an excursion with Costa that leaves early, club will open 15 minutes before your excursion. We never used this service but especially on the day we went to Izmir many children stayed in club while their parents visited Ephesus. At 4.30pm they have snack time which is not a biscuit but slices of pizza upstairs in the buffet! Goodness knows how my two were hungry for dinner but they were. 7. Languages and Costa This was one area that I thought Costa really excelled. Perhaps they have taken heed of previous criticism because our experience was extremely positive. There were 3100 passengers onboard from all over the world. 342 were English speakers and a surprising 1700 passengers were French including a French group of 700 from the Lorraine region. We had a Welcome on board talk on the first day with the English Hostess Helen. The talk was entirely in English and Helen explained useful information about the ship such as which decks run from the front to the back of the ship. For example, if you are on deck 3 at the front and eating in the Ceres restaurant on 3 you need to go up to 5 and down again. Deck 5 and 9 are the main walk through decks. Helen was available every day and the times were always posted in the Today information delivered to your cabin. She was also available at the excursions meeting point to answer any questions. We attended a port lecture also delivered entirely in English with the port Lecturer Marco which was very informative about what to do and visit if you are not on a pre-booked excursion. He obviously delivered the same talk at different times in other languages so everyone was equally informed. Helen also gave a disembarkation talk on the sea day. The talks were recorded and then available to watch on the television in your cabin later if you preferred. There were occasions when you had all languages spoken one after the other and the only time it was long winded was the fire drill and let's face it there is no way they can get round that! The cruise director was hilarious and always did a closing couple of sentences in every language after the show, but because he put in a little curtsy or funny noise in each time it was really funny waiting for repetition in each language. He made the multiple languages entertaining, not irritating and made everyone laugh. English did seem quite a dominant language on the ship even though the ship is Italian. The bar and restaurant staff were mostly from the Philippines and therefore spoke English. The Art and Craft lady was from China and explained the activities in English (which I then translated into French for the francophones) 8. Excursions The excursions are organised according to your language so your guide will only speak English if you are on an English tour and likewise for other languages. We only did one Costa excursion and did the rest of the ports independently. Our excursion to Olympia was excellent. The guide was enthusiastic and spoke from the moment we boarded the coach giving us information about Greece and the local area before we got to the archaeological site. We also had much longer because we were on a tour. Boarding time was 12.15 and our coach didn't get back until 12.40. Let's just say we were glad we were on an official tour! 9. Embarkation and disembarkation We dropped off our suitcases in the morning at 10am at the port and collected a boarding number. We were then free to go off and explore Venice. When we returned in the afternoon we were able to board immediately and walk passengers who had been waiting for two hours! Fruit juice was available for free in the terminal building and there were representatives from the bars selling packages and Squok so you could find out information before boarding which was good. We organised an early disembarkation and were told to be in the theatre for 9.30am. At 9.30 we were able to disembark and find our suitcases in the luggage area of the terminal building. Both embarkation and disembarkation were hassle free for us but I understand that with only 3 or 4 Costa staff checking in passengers the wait for some may have been quite frustrating. 10. Final impressions The Costa Serena is a beautiful ship that is extremely stable. We had high winds and rough seas a couple of days and you would hardly know as it felt so smooth. It is decorated with a Greek mythology theme and the main hall has glass lifts that zoom up to the top decks past all the decorative gods which our children loved. It was very easy to find your bearings on the ship and a free cup of tea, coffee or iced water was never far away if you were on deck 9. We found the cabin corridors very wide and spacious and although the ship was full it never seemed over-crowded. The staff were all polite and friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be working for Costa. Costa clearly values all its crew and make sure that you know how important all the people behind the scenes are which was good to see. It is also a very green ship and recycles most of its waste on board. I am pleased to say that I would highly recommend Costa Serena to anyone who enjoys crusing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I am writing this review to give you our experience of the Costa Serena. If you like to travel with well mannered British passengers and speak English all the time then I suggest you read no further and travel on a British ship from the ... Read More
I am writing this review to give you our experience of the Costa Serena. If you like to travel with well mannered British passengers and speak English all the time then I suggest you read no further and travel on a British ship from the UK. However if you want a more European style fun ship and an amazing itinerary then this might be the ship for you! We have travelled with Costa before and booked this trip at fairly short notice. If you fly to Marco Polo (Main Venice airport) then you can get an ACTV bus to Piazzale de Roma, Venice and then Costa run a regular shuttle to the ship. As we arrived around noon there were still passengers disembarking but we were able to board immediately with minimal fuss. In less than half an hour from arriving in Venice we were on deck having lunch and looking down over the city. Luggage was in the cabin by 1pm and my aunt had her swim suit on and beat the Italians to the Jacuzzi! SHIP Costa Serena is a large modern ship which is easy to negotiate and has pleasant dEcor. The theme of the ship is ancient mythology so apart from the atrium the colour schemes were pleasant to the eye. Despite the sailing being full there was still plenty of space inside the ship although the outside decks were busy on sea days. The Dining room was very good and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a lovely table for 4 and very good service there. The quality of the food was very good with nice sized portions, good variety and 7 courses every night if you can eat that much. There were 2 formal nights but there were not black tie. My Dad just wore a shirt & tie but we girls were still able to dress up. In Europe anything goes. The buffet on Lido deck was open most of the day. I preferred Room Service for breakfast but the early risers in the group were up at 7am for their full English. The lunchtime buffet caters for Italians/Europeans so there was loads of fresh sea food, pizza, amazing pasta and grilled meat/burgers & chips at the outside grill. Although there's greater variety on the American ships we all managed nice meals every day. There was afternoon tea with sandwiches from 4-5pm. We ate in the Dining room every night although buffet was open and then Pizzeria open from 9pm-1am. There were at least 2 big outdoor gala buffets at midnight and they also served snacks around midnight in the lounges. As Costa club members we also got a basket of fruit, champagne and chocolates in the cabin plus free photo and reception with the captain. Drinks are quite expensive and the packages are probably best. The ship is Italian so all announcements will be made in Italian then in around 6 languages. All literature we received was in English and we had a daily newspaper. The guests were mostly Italian, Spanish and French but there were groups from Russia, USA, Japan and Turkey so Costa did a good job in catering for everyone. It is different to being with mainly British or American tourists so you just have to get your elbows out, join in with the crowd and have a laugh. Although there were 350 English speaking guests on our sailing we rarely bumped into them! However there is a hostess, called Helen, for English speaking guests who was very friendly and really helpful. Although we didn't need to ask her much she frequently came to our dinner table to check if we were OK and went out of her way to chat to us all. The shows in the theatre were not great and after a few we stopped going. In the evenings we loved to people watch and join in some of the activities in the lounges. Lots of dancing, music and catering for holiday makers from 2-102. The entertainment staff (Animators) were very lively and we joined in on a lot of activities. Dad loved the daily quiz and even though it was multilingual he still won a few prizes. He also tried out the formula one simulator which he really enjoyed. On sea days Mum & I tried out the Arts and crafts which was fun and Mum even tried the Brazilian line dancing. In general we didn't have time to try most activities and I didn't even get to open the novel I bought at the airport! From the cabin attendant to the captain we experienced friendly efficient service from all the staff on the ship. PORTS OF CALL This was a fabulous chance to experience some historical sites in the eastern Mediterranean from the comfort of a European ship. We travelled 2500 nautical miles past amazing coastlines and across 2 continents. I am an intrepid explorer and just love the challenge of finding my own way so we used public transport or explored on foot in most ports. Costa have a good range of tours ranging from 50euros VENICE Words can not describe the view you will see from the ship as she goes through the Guidiccea canal and you look down on Venice. Be sure to reserve a spot on the left hand side of the ship and you will not be disappointed as you glide past St Mark's square. We cracked open some bubbly and congratulated ourselves for choosing this itinerary. BARI This is a small town in Puglia right at the heel of Italy. As you walk off the ship you can jump on a local tour bus. My mum & aunt took that 2 hour trip for 10 euros whilst Dad and I walked the same itinerary: Norman fort, main piazza, opera house, city walls, Basilica of St Nicholas and the beach. It's a compact little town with friendly locals so you can't get lost. KATAKALON (Olympia) There was a group decision not to visit Olympia as our time in port was limited and the beach seemed more attractive. As you walk out of the port turn left and there is a small beach with umbrellas, chairs and a beach bar. It is pebbly like many beaches in Greece but you can't beat the location. There is also a sandy beach about 20 mins walk on the other side of town. The ship provided us with beach towels so we had a great relaxing morning at the beach with a nice swim. The town in small, but some nice souvenir shops and lovely tavernas overlooking the harbour. We just wished we had longer in port IZMIR This is a large industrial harbour but the dock is only 5 mins walk from the city. Our group split here with 2 hitting the shops and 2 of us taking an organised tour to Ephesus and Virgin Mary's house. If you like Greek history and archaeology then this is the place for you. It takes about an hour's drive through beautiful countryside to reach Ephesus. Our bus was only for English speaking guests and the guide was very knowledgeable about the local history. Ephesus is HOT but well worth the visit and the journey up to Selcuk to the site of early Christianity and Mary's house was very peaceful and interesting. On returning to the ship the shopaholics had bartered with their euros and filled the cabin with shoes, handbags and sunglasses and also had a fab day. ISTANBUL The journey through the Dardenelles and sea of Marmara is wonderful and as you see the minarets in the skyline it does feel as though you are approaching a new continent. After some research I opted for public transport. There is a tram stop close to the port but you need Turkish Lira to buy tokens. It takes 5 stops to the Blue Mosque (Sultanamhet). Get off here and you can enjoy the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Hippodrome with beautiful gardens and views over the Bosphorus. 2 tram stops further is the Grand Bazzar but we just walked there. It's truly amazing to visit these sites and the day just flew by. After a day's walking and weary legs we enjoyed the view leaving Istanbul from the Jacuzzi on deck with Bocelli playing-magical. DUBROVNIK After a full day at sea we were refreshed and ready to go again. The ship anchors at sea so you have to be tendered in. I was expecting caos but we only waited about 10 mins in one of the lounges to be escorted in an orderly fashion to the tender. The views of Dubrovnik harbour and the old city from the sea were picture postcard. You can explore this city on foot very easily and mingle with the locals and other tourists. IN SUMMARY We will definitely travel with Costa again and would even do the same itinerary on their new ship. This cruise gave us a chance to see places we might not visit independently from the luxury of our big white ship. We felt Costa gave us excellent service and very good value for money. As a family of different age groups we like cruising Italian style. However if you want 5 star luxury or British etiquette then it's probably not for you. Look at the price, the itinerary and it's a great deal. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Embarkation This was a breeze as we missed our flight and with it the original embarkation point at Savona. We eventually joined the ship at 2nd port of call at Barcelona. 10 mins after we produced our tickets at the security desk at the ... Read More
Embarkation This was a breeze as we missed our flight and with it the original embarkation point at Savona. We eventually joined the ship at 2nd port of call at Barcelona. 10 mins after we produced our tickets at the security desk at the port we were in our stateroom. The bags arrived 10 mins later. Only thing to add to this that is relevent to the review is that after we missed our flight we contacted Costa who were very helpful and understanding, and arranged for us to join the ship at Barcelona where they were expecting us when we arrived. First impression WOW! Ship is absolutely beautiful and spotlessly clean. The dEcor may be a bit over the top for some but we thought it was fantastic. Stateroom Again WOW! About what you would expect from a 5* hotel but a little more compact making very good use of the available space. Spotlessly clean and enough room for our party of 2 adults and 2 children. Good size flat screen TV with 1 English station plus BBC news. AV input but I could not get this to work. Small mini bar, large comfortable double bed and bunks for the kids. Small but welcome balcony. Room made up at least twice a day but sometimes 3 or 4. Food Breakfast Sit down at the Ceres restaurant, help yourself at the Prometeo buffet, late breakfast at Lido Urano pool area (all times very but the late breakfast in the Urano pool area started and finished around an hour or so later). We always used the buffet which was the same every day but plenty of choice for us to have something different every day. Hot selection included bacon, peperoni style sausages, hash browns, type of beans with added peperoni style sausage, grilled tomato, scrambled & boiled eggs although you could have freshly fried egg or an excellent omelet from the omelet station. Also there were pancakes and waffles with maple syrup, and also what I would call bolognese! Cold selection was typical continental stuff such as 3 or 4 different cheeses, ham, salami etc, yoghurt, jams, fruit, cakes, croissants and 5 or 6 different serial etc. Selection of different teas, coffee, hot choc, fresh squeezed orange or pineapple juice plus machine grapefruit and orange juice. I really likeed the breakfast. Lunch Ceres or Vesta restaurant (open sitting for around 1 and a half hours, times vary), Samsara restaurant (times vary and reserved for Samsara guests only), Prometeo buffet restaurant (self service for around 2 and a half hours and times vary). There were also the grill buffets in the Lido Sole and Lido Urano pool areas with the latter opening and closing around an hour or so later than the other (times vary). We did not use the sit down in the Ceres or Vesta restaurant as the buffet was fine for us. The grill had what you would expect and there was always a very good choice on the main buffet. Also available were specials of the day that had a different theme each day. A lot of nice deserts on offer too. Again, we really liked the buffet lunch. Tea Time We did not use this so don't know what was available (times vary around 16:00 - 17:00) Dinner We chose the 1st sitting at 18:15 with the 2nd at 20:45. We were allocated a more private 4 seat cubical table in the Ceres Restaurant which was perfect for us. The other restaurant being the Vesta. We did not use the Samsara (open sitting 18:30 - 21:00) or the Club Bacco (open sitting 19:00 - 21:30). At first we were very impressed but as the cruise went on were getting a bit fed up of the itallian and seafood dishes and the quality (which was for the most part very good) seemed to drop towards the end of the cruise. If you like Italian food and seafood you will love it but it got a bit much for our personal tastes. We would have liked a wider choice of international food and/or food based on the port of call. If you could not make your chosen sitting you could inform the Maitre D' who would try and get you in the alternative sitting. Our waitress Ria was simply excellent in the Ceres restaurant. And everything we ate was properly cooked and served at the correct temperature. I have a sample menu for a Gala dinner and if anyone would like to see you can send my a message. Midnight Snack We did not use this so don't know what was available (From 23:30). Snacking Pizza, pasta in sauce, and lovely deserts always seemed to be available when the buffet was closed. I used this once and found all to be very good. Drinking We purchased the X1 package before departure and it's a good job we did. A small glass of Carlsberg beer came in at 5.18 euro inc tax for a 40cl glass. The X1 worked very well for us as we don't go for spirits or cocktails and as a result we don't know the price of them. With the X1 you can have unlimited beer, wine, soda, and bottled mineral water at meal times. The beer was fine and the house wine was just about OK but not great. The X1 could be used in the Ceres and Vesta restaurants for the duration of the sitting, and at either Lido Sole or Lido Urano pool areas as long as the buffet was open. There was a two for one happy hour which at first was 20:30 - 21:30 but then half way through the cruise changed without warning to 16:00 - 17:00! Smoking Smoking was allowed only in designated areas and this was totally respected. We did not have a problem with this. There was also a pipe/cigar room. Staff All the staff that we came across just fantastic, extremely hard working and always had a smile. This included the front desk staff. Special mention goes to our dinner waitress Ria and our stateroom attendant Ive who were both outstanding. Entertainment There was as you would expect a whole day if different activities and entertainment planned but we didn't use any of it apart from the evening shows in the theatre. We were very impressed with the theatre. Very grand affair on two floors with stalls and baloney and had very professional sound and lighting. The only down side were the shows themselves. We enjoyed them and went to every one and the kids loved it but it was a bit too cheesy for it's surroundings. English was the predominant language after Italian and we had no problem knowing what was going on. Resident singers and dancers and a good variety of acts and lasted for about an hour. 1st show 19:15 & 2nd show 21:15. The bars and the music in them were very good and very popular, and there was a late night disco but we were never around late enough to see it in action! For the kids There looked to be a well run kids club but our two didn't want to try it prefering to stay with us. There was plenty for us all to see and do but we liked to be in and around the pools when at sea. Dress code and etiquette Casual throughout the ship with I would say 10% in tux, 10% smart casual, 5% casual and the rest in smart shirt and tie for the gala dinners. It was during school term time but there were still a good number of children on board. There was no sign of kids rampaging around the ship, in fact they were more courteous than some of their parents! The only problem we saw (although it didn't affect us) was children being allowed and even escorted into the juccuzzi by their parents even though there were signs at the entrance steps clearly stating in 4 languages that children were not permited. When ever a member of staff saw this they delt with it and got the children out but they could not police it all the time. I say the guests were made up mostly of Italian, German and French and perhaps 15% British. We found there to be some very rude and ignorant Italian, German, and French but we are used to this and we were prepared for it having seen it many times at land based resorts where british are a minority. Queuing is unheard of and at the buffet etc it's everyone for themselves! We accept that this is their way and it wasn't a major problem for us. Tours We found the price of the ships excursions to be extremely expensive for the four of us to the extent that if we had taken one at every port it would have spent almost as much as what the cruise cost. We therefore did everything independently and so can't comment on the tours. Barcelona As we missed our embarkation point at Savona we joined the ship here so didn't have much time. We had a walk up and down Las Ramblas and around the sea front. Total cost £0 Casablanca Having read bad reports about Casablanca our aim was to visit the mosque and then go to Rabat. At the port exit there was a mob of 30 or so taxi drivers waiting to pounce. As we required a taxi we had to talk to some of them. They were very pushy and would not take no for an answer. We eventually got the price down from £30 to £10 for a taxi to the mosque and back to Casa Port train station including an hour wait at the mosque. We were also offered tours of the city for around £30 and a tour to Rabat for £80. At the train station we got two adult and one child return tickets to Rabat Ville and with the under 5 travelling free this came to £19 for the four of us. The ticket seller spoke English and directed us to the train. Trains run every half hour and take an hour each way. Outside the station there was a large gang of taxi drivers and everyone else but inside everyone was courteous and friendly. The train was efficient, clean, and modern apart from the toilet. On arrival at Rabat Ville station we got a taxi to the Kasbah (£5) walked around here and had a mint tea and fantastic cake in the cafe. We then walked across the road and through the medina. Out of the other side we at first got a little lost but then found our way along Avenue Hassan 2 and then along the shops of the new town on Avenue Mohamed V which lead back to the station. Back in Casa it was a 10 - 20 minute walk back to the ship. The only time we felt uneasy was when we first encountered the mob of taxi drivers at the port exit. We felt very safe on the trains and around Rabat and we were never hassled once in the amazing medina or anywhere else. Oh, and (because of the kids!) we had a McDonald's just opposite Rabat station! Total travel cost £34. Arrecife Approx 100m from the ship on the dock side we hired a car from the kiosk (£35 for the day, inc). 10 minutes from leaving the ship we were driving out of the port. From here we drove to Timanfaya National Park, had a look around the visitor centre and went on the camel ride (can't remember price but around £20 for two camels!). On our way back to the port we called in at Puerto del Carmen and spent an hour or so on the beach. Just before the port we had to fill the car with petrol (£6). Total travel cost £41. Santa Cruz Here we caught the free shuttle to the port entrance. From here we walked along the main shopping St and around the old town and down to the "Africa Market". A further walk then to the auditorio and back along the seafront to the ship. Total travel cost £0 Funchal We walked from the ship to the port entrance and turned right along the seafront and through the beautiful park/gardens on the hill opposite. Continued then along the seafront to the cable cars (£25 single for the four of us). We had a look around Mont before descending back down via the basket toboggans (£37 for large family one!). We then walked the last 1K down to the lovely old town for lunch and a bit of shopping. Total travel cost £62 although the modes of transport were attractions themselves. Malaga Caught the shuttle bus from the ship to the port entrance (£6 per adult) and then walked up to and around the fort and then back into the old town for shopping and some churos. Total travel cost £0 as the bus drivers let us on for free, fort entrance around £7 if I remember right. Overall This was our 1st ever cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. For us the Costa Serena is a magical ship and Costa as a company were great. The staff were fantastic and we liked most of the food even though I'm not a big fan of Itallian or seafood. It was OK but we wouldn't say it was great. We liked the pool areas and the buzz around them. We didn't have a problem with English being a minority but we like being part of a multinational hotel and we can speak a enough German, French, & Spanish for us to at least exchange a few words in passing. We did come across some very rude and ignorant Europeans but we have found this at most hotels and this is not the fault of Costa. We found the price of drinks and anything else that we had to pay for to be extremely expensive when compared with the price of the cruise. All in all we had a terrific time and we are already looking for our next cruise. Costa will definitely be included in our search but we will look at the whole price including on board spending for the next one. I have prices for tours and for treaments at the Samsara Spa, and also a menu from a gala dinner that I can forward to anyone who wants to see them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Costa Serena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 2.0 3.1
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 3.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.6

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