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6 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean

This was our first cruise so we didn't have anything to compare other than we have stayed in good class hotels all over the world and Costa Serena certainly exceeded my expectations, she is a beautiful ship. Our embarkation was in ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we didn't have anything to compare other than we have stayed in good class hotels all over the world and Costa Serena certainly exceeded my expectations, she is a beautiful ship. Our embarkation was in Barcelona and this was very good, when we arrived at our beautiful balcony cabin at the aft of the ship on 8 deck our cases where already waiting for us. Our cabin attendant was excellent and nothing was a trouble for him. The bars and restaurants were fabulously decorated and all had lovely furniture. Costa Serena is a blingy but tastefull ship and being a blingy sort of girl, I just loved it. The bar and restaurant staff were courteous and friendly and nothing was a trouble for them The food was very good with a wide choice of menus for all meals served in either the main dining room our the buffett restaurant. Room service was also available and this we did use for breakfast on the days we had excursions and because we had a Premium Balcony cabin there was no added service charge. We purchased the drinks package which proved excellent value for money and there was always a choice of wine at dinner. We were a bit sceptical about the wine at dinner only being served by the glass and envisaged we would have to re-order and produce our card each time we needed a top up, but this certainly was not the caseand our glasses were regularly topped up by our waiter Mario who was very attentive, friendly and did an excellent job of looking after us. We only booked one excursion through the ship and this was from the port of Savona to Monaco, which was a big disappointment. The travelling time to Manaco was almost 2 hrs and when we arrived around 11am we were told by our guide that we would be leaving at 2pm to return to the ship, so 4hrs travelling time for 3hrs sightseeing was not good. La Spezia was the next port where took the local train and visited Cinque Tere. Our next port was Civitaveccia where we took a train to Rome and cost less than 10 euros return, in Naples there were plenty of taxis in the port, so we took a taxi to Pompei at a cost of €15 per person return. We had a wonderful time on Costa Serena and were sad when it was time to leave, hopefully we will have the opportunity to sail on her again in the very near future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
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 heard nothing but glowing reports from other family members who had taken several cruises with other companies. We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were quite happy with her recommendations. We arrived at the ship in ... Read More
We had heard nothing but glowing reports from other family members who had taken several cruises with other companies. We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were quite happy with her recommendations. We arrived at the ship in good time and after finding our room with some difficulty deposited our belongings and began to explore. We sampled some food on deck 9 and had to use plastic plates and pyrex type beakers. Not what you would expect from a cruise ship! Away we went to explore further and soon I became sick. Spent the rest of the evening in bed while hubby went to dinner on his own. Not a great start to our holiday but we persevered with what was fast becoming a shuttle ship experience or Butlins boat type holiday. We said very little about our feelings of disappointment until we met Jackie and she soon let us know that this ship was certainly not the best she had encountered. Far from it! Then we met a French couple who seemed to have much the same reservations as ourselves and we were amazed to learn that they had boarded the ship at Marseilles. Far too much embarking and disembarking. Obviously its more lucrative for Costa to operate this way but I would prefer to embark with the same people and cruise with them before disembarking with them. That way maybe there would be a chance of meeting more people. Food - We got rather fed up with the self-service buffet type meals. Very basic food for the most part. Dinner was a little better if you like 5 or 6 courses and enjoy your pasta. We felt the charges for excursions were almost extortionate. We were afraid to miss out by not going but this was not the case. We had to take 2 tours in French since there were insufficient numbers for an English tour. Fine for me but boring for hubby! Sorrento was the no.1 tour for me but it was cancelled because of lack of interest. Service charges - We certainly didnt expect to pay 14euros per day for 7days! We embarked mid-afternoon on the 1st day and left just after 9am on our last day. Costa are fair reaping it in there since the previous guests in our room will have paid it too (their last day and our first day) and the next guests after us pay (our last day and their first day). To put it more simply - Costa reap double payment of service fees for 5 out of 7 days. I didnt really get that much service since nearly all of the cruise was self-service. Nearly everyone we spoke to had similar feelings of discontent and one only had to behold the queues waiting at reception to know that a lot of changes need to be implemented soon to improve overall customer satisfaction. We would certainly be in no hurry to book another Costa cruise. It was an expensive experience and the end result - try to manage another birthday treat for hubby! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
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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