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7 Costa Serena Family Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
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
We travelled as a party of 4 adults, a couple, sister and cousin age range from 40 to 56. Of the the group 3 have cruise before with Thompson, but was a bit worried about the reviews. Arriving at Marco Polo airport Venice we found ... Read More
We travelled as a party of 4 adults, a couple, sister and cousin age range from 40 to 56. Of the the group 3 have cruise before with Thompson, but was a bit worried about the reviews. Arriving at Marco Polo airport Venice we found our transfer with ease, the problem was when we went to board the Costa Serena, that was our thought we did not listen that you had to wait for your number to be called, but it would help if they had a bigger sign with the number on and also give you printed information before your departure, so that you know what to expect. Once going through the boarding stage there were still more wall to wall of people. Once on board welcome, we asked where do you go to the cabin, yes and pointed to the lifts. We knew our deck and cabin number, but had to ask if the cabins were open. After that we found our cabins. The Cabins had plenty of space for clothes and a nice double bed, singles in the other cabin, much more room than on Thompson destiny. The cabin we found out did have a lot of virbration, we at the back of the ship, But we found sent us off to sleep. The cabin was spotless and our cabin steward very helpful. The ship overall was lovely, not as bright as we had seen in the photos. We found is quite easy to get around, yes we did go the wrong way at times. On our first day we been to the cabin, we went to bar in reception, still busy with people, drinks are expensive. I had house white wine which was 4.50 euros , but between 4 and 6 its buy one get free, larger was more expensive as it just bigger than half a pint. Spirts and soft drink was about 10 euros. We decided not to go to put money on your account, as it stated you could do this within 48 hours, then just go to reception. Warning they only take credit cards, not debit. Then we went to dinner, I check with my sister before hand we were all book for the the first sitting, but we had the first, they had the second. So another long wait sorting this out, eventually given a table for four. The food was small portions, but lovely, none of us complained. The Buffet on the other hand was like a cattle market at breakfast and lunch, if you could find a table, then you had to clear it yourself. By the time one of your party had some food, the other had eaten, they were no sauces to go with food, just a nightmare. We ended up ordering room service for breakfast for a service charge of 2 euros, well worth, then you can go up to the late sleepers buffet, not much choice, but at least you had something to eat. Entertainment, well Strictly Come Dancing, which was great to watch and join in once. If you love dancing like this which I wish I could do, learn some dances before you go on board and you will love it. They did have the Italian version of Butlins, but what cruises do not do that now days. Need to have more mordern music on board, disco only for teens. Bingo cost 20 Euros pp, need to lower the Jackpot and price of tickets more people would have a go, im not a bingo person. Casino, min bet too expensive. Bar and waiting staff quite good. Kids everywhere, but did not bother us. Would I recommed this ship, in certain ways yes, for the difference, we enjoyed ourselves, but never met any English speaking guess. As for the ports, going back on the ship at Bari was a nightmare, and by the way they did take the bottle of whisky I brought in the port. At all ports do you own thing, there are plenty of taxis, we only went on one excursion in Istanbul to the Blue Mosque cost 52 euros for 4 hours.. We ended up not going back to the bus for the ship, did a detour had lunch and a lot of walking, but saw a differnt peaceful side of Istanbul. The Spa was lovely paid 39 Euros for the day, it gave you access to the baths, steam rooms, tea and tanning room and relaxation area. Towels and robes were provided. Only one other niggle when it was the sea day the Ceres sit down buffet was closed, so yet again another nightmare at the buffet on deck 9. Hope you found this helpful Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Just finished my first cruise with Costa. Have a lot of impressions to share. First, the best thing about Costa is the price. Because my wife and I have 3 kids, we have to book two rooms. This seems to be standard across the industry (no ... Read More
Just finished my first cruise with Costa. Have a lot of impressions to share. First, the best thing about Costa is the price. Because my wife and I have 3 kids, we have to book two rooms. This seems to be standard across the industry (no more than 4 to a room). So with Costa, we could afford to book two rooms for the family. We were 5 of the 48 Americans on Board (out of 3500 total on board) and we never met another one during the 8 days. So if you're going with the expectation of meeting people or socializing, get cozy with the cabin stewards (who speak English well), or learn Italian. No attempt was made to introduce us to any of the other English speakers. If you've traveled around Spain, France, and Italy, you know that people don't "queue" like they do in the UK and the US. Generally, people crowd around a counter and let "survival of the fittest" rule. Not a complaint, just the way it is. You have to decide for yourself if you want to be on a ship with 2000 passengers who don't like to wait in line. Also, leave your sense of personal space behind. I move through a buffet line pretty quickly, but I still had people close enough to be sharing my clothes and breathing down my neck. My advice is to get to the buffet at least 30 minutes before the crowd hits, and everyone seems to behave themselves. I wouldn't wish noon at the buffet on anyone. Dinner is more relaxing, with decent food served lukewarm. I'm not sure how long in advance the food was prepared. Main courses were generally competent, but the appetizers were hit or miss generally miss. Pasta courses are excellent. Desserts were definitely phoned-in. Their idea of a "sundae" is a scoop of ice cream with a cracker in it. I give them full marks for being able to recycle the same ingredients night after night with different descriptions. Which is the real problem with the food You just get sick of eating the same things after a few days. Smoke is everywhere, but you get used to it. Then again if smoke is a problem, don't vacation in Europe. Costa tries to make back their money on beverages. They are constantly selling booklets of tickets for (a) water (b) coffee (c) non-alcoholic beverages (d) wine. Those are all separate booklets. The plan seems to be to get you to buy these booklets and hope that you (1) don't use them all, or (2) forget to have them on your person at all times. More than once, I had to run back to the room to get the tickets so my kids could get juice at dinner. Once, they gave out free soft drinks for 30 minutes, and listed it as an "event" on the daily calendar. You will also get your picture taken a lot on the cruise. They are hoping you will spend 15 euro to buy it after it is posted on the wall in the main lounge. For example, you will get your picture taken every time you leave the boat, during the lifeboat drill, just about every night at dinner, etc. Cabins are huge and comfortable. Great shower. Lots of room for clothes. Ugly, ugly, ugly decor. It amazes me that they built the ship in 2007 and chose the "Miami Vice" color scheme. Cabin Service is outstanding. Even when my kids trashed a room, they cleaned it up perfectly. Costa hires a lot of non-Europeans for the service work, and they are the stars of the show. The American and European staff is mediocre, and I generally had the feeling they'd rather be somewhere else. Embarkation took forever. Disembarking was a disorganized mess (but exciting: Will I get my passport back?). As for kids on the cruise, they loved it. This is an inexpensive family cruise line, and you should expect to see a lot of families and kids. If seeing kids bothers you (as it apparently does from reading the reviews), go on an expensive cruise somewhere else. My expectations were low going into this vacation, and they were met. The saving grace of the cruise is that my kids loved it. Basically, there are parts of a cruise even Costa can't mess up the excitement of being on a big ship, visiting exotic locations, and spending a lot of time with family. All in all, this is a *perfect* cruise for kids, and it is something you would do *for* your kids. In fact, the whole experience was like spending 8 days at Disneyland take that as you will. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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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