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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
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was ... Read More
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was rather pricey (we don't drink so we had the kids mocktail and soft drinks) 49 euros for only 20 drinks. We have sailed with Princess before and the same package is for unlimited drinks. The next to hit us was the fact that we couldn't deduct the tips even though it said on our paper work that we could ( we pay tips but only to those that we feel have given us service). We found our cabin quickly and our luggage was already waiting for us. Our cabin steward was friendly and always said hello (Joevan). This is not the ship to be on if you are a none smoker like us.The main pool area is covered and not once during our cruise was it opened to let any air in so smoke just filled the whole area. The bar areas were the same one side of the room for smokers the other for none, but what happens the whole room becomes filled with smoke. Beware of Costa's hidden charges 15% on top of any drinks purchased, charges on the shuttle bus to get you from the port to the towns Anything from 6 to 7 euros each. If you like a drink of iced water with your evening meal, ask for a jug of water otherwise you get bottled water that you have to pay for. The meals on the buffet deck were very poor, especially at tea time, fine if you want pizza every day. We went to see several of the ships shows, the best ones were done by the ships own company. If you are wanting an English cruise this is not for you, out of 3700 guests only 120 were English speaking.But don't let this put you off, all the staff that we had dealings with spoke English. Don't bother taking anything too posh for the formal nights like we did,it just doesn't happen, which is a great shame - getting dressed up is what cruising is all about. Me and my hubby enjoy up to date music and so were looking forward to hitting the night club,this didn't happen because the music around the ship was rubbish and the club (disco Pan) was always full of young teenagers. There was no cut off point for teenagers to leave and let adults only in. Lots of children seemed to get into places where they shouldn't have - the gym under 16's are not allowed in - not the case, young children were not supposed to be in the Jacuzzis - not the case,Don't get me wrong we have 2 children and we know the importance of family holidays but we always kept an eye on our children not so on this ship with many parents. Disembarkation went smoothly, the only let down was the 2 hour transfer back to Nice, then just being dumped at the airport - wrong terminal and no rep to help,once we found the right terminal we had a 5 hour wait for our flight. All in all we had a good holiday, a holiday is what you make of it. But I don't think we shall use Costa again. Read Less
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Sail Date: September 2011
Had a week on the Costa Serena our first Cruise with Costa, although we have cruised many times before. The ship is beautiful and the facilities are good. Food very good and a wide choice. The destinations on this cruise where ... Read More
Had a week on the Costa Serena our first Cruise with Costa, although we have cruised many times before. The ship is beautiful and the facilities are good. Food very good and a wide choice. The destinations on this cruise where excellent and shore excursions well planed. Shows are poor until the last night of the cruise and that one was very good. On the down side they have introduced a 15% surcharge on everything from the bar so a small glass of beer is nearly 6 Euros and you still have to pay a compulsory gratuities payment on top of the surcharge. The Officers only talk to you if you are below 20 years of age and partly dressed, and talking of dress on the gala night I only counted 5 couples who dresses for dinner some of the Italian guests even wore T-Shirts. The crew had a attitude problem for example if you met one in a corridor you had to give way for fear of being knocked over.That attitude was all over the ship and the guests where even worse than the crew, try to get out of a lift they just push in before the lift empties. The examples of rudeness are as long as my arm, every English speaking person said they had the same problems that we experienced. If you are a none smoker forget it the guests are mainly Italian and they smoke everywhere even in the lifts. Children are not allowed in certain areas for example the large Jacuzzis but they treated them as there private swimming pools if you tried to get in you where jeered at and the security guard who's job it was to keep them out just laughed. One final note I have spent many happy holidays in Italy so I don't have a downer on Italians but this lot were just rude and in great numbers. One of the staff said when she approached a guest and said bon giorno if you replied back "hello" she felt as though the next 2 minutes the guest would be polite and courteous, but if they replied bon giorno she had a fight on her hands to say polite. I could go on but I think I've made my point. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Its our own fault. We had read reviews of Costa before we went and thought that as it was good value for money we would ignore the faults. How wrong we were. The first thing is the cabin is so small compared to other ships. We went to ask ... Read More
Its our own fault. We had read reviews of Costa before we went and thought that as it was good value for money we would ignore the faults. How wrong we were. The first thing is the cabin is so small compared to other ships. We went to ask to upgrade only to be told by a very rude person that she must e mail HQ first, but will only do this if we 100% wanted to upgrade. We said no problem, but we wanted to see a similar cabin that she was now asking a further £1,000 for. No she cant do that !!! So £1,000 for what then ? we were met with a look that made us think we in the wrong. Ok we said lets do it thinking if we dont like it they could whistle for their money. Needless to say 3 days later when we enquired what happened the staff at the desk knew nothing about our request !!!! Costa Serena's guests are 85% Italian 10% French and an assortment of others who dont know better. The guests seem to hunt in packs of 8 plus children. None of them can say the following. Please, Thank you, or Excuse me. Getting out of a lift you take your life in your hands. The onward rush nearly consigns you to a life stuck between decks. Now lets do the food. This is served by waiters who have the look on their face that they would rather be elsewhere. We put this down to the fact that the tipping is already done, so why be pleasant? The entertainment would be first class at my granchildrens birthday party, but for adults, forget it. So to sum up for good value it is ok, But my suggestion is pay a touch more and use another cruise line if you are English. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were shown to our cabin, its its a very large ship,although every stage of the cruise was very well organised,from the time we arrived to the time we departed.The cruise was good value for money, although comparing this to previous cruises 3700 people on board was at meal times with dinner shows and change overs a little like butlins!Evening entertainment was very good,particularly the main evening show which was very professional and very entertaining considering there were a lot of Italian and French, most of the songs were in English.Food- although the choice was varied, catering for this number of people does reflect on the quality in the Ceres restaurant,some of the dinners were disappointing,and we decided to use the self service restaurant, where the food was more of a wider choice, although pizza was on the menu every day!There was the option of paying another 20 euro to visit the Samara restaurant.Service was efficient. We did speak to one of the bar staff who work 12-14 hrs every day and well deserve the 15% service charge added to everything that you purchase! Drinks we felt were expensive, although we did purchase the wine and beer package which we were told we could access up to the point we disembarked at the end of the cruise. We left the ship to explore the last port,and returned to the ship for lunch and a beer, but as we had left the ship the Costa charge card was now closed so were not able to access remaining drinks, even though we had paid for them!Overall a good weeks cruise-would we go again? yes if the price was right as it was good value for the money, and now knowing that its a family orientated ship, we know where to go on board to avoid the hustle and bustle. Read Less
Sail Date: April 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: November 2010
This review covers three trips totaling 19 days, Adriatic/Aegean, November, but the experience was similar on all three trips. These were end-of-season trips, with a large number of new staff joining, before repositioning to South America. ... Read More
This review covers three trips totaling 19 days, Adriatic/Aegean, November, but the experience was similar on all three trips. These were end-of-season trips, with a large number of new staff joining, before repositioning to South America. The ship holds about 3500 people, with only 5-10% being English-speakers. The English hostess said 25% is normal for high season. I've only included detail on the items I particularly noticed. SMOKING AND HEALTH FACILITIES: There was a remarkable lack of smoking except in the casino, perhaps 100 hardcore smokers. It was rare to see more than a couple of people smoking at any one time. There was also a remarkable lack of grossly fat people, most people seemed to be quite health conscious. I was told at one point, there was a queue out the gym door to use the fitness equipment. My informant was astounded, neither he nor I had seen this before on any ship. The ship was very clean and well maintained. DINING: If your priority is wanton gluttony, then Costa is not a good choice, but generally the food was quite good, certainly for the price I paid. There were a few duds on the menu, but also some very nice dishes. Breakfast and lunch buffets were perhaps not lavish, but quite decent. There were breaks in opening hours, so it was necessary to read the daily program. The buffet area was no more crowded than other large ships (I always avoid peak times, on any ship). I found the main dining room to be comparable to at least a mid-level restaurant on land. I would expect to have paid at least 30 Euros for a comparable set menu meal. Service was not unduly slow by European standards, although there did seem to be a larger number of new staff than usual. However, if you did not want a full restaurant meal in the evening, the only alternative was pizza. I was able to sample the Samsara restaurant, which is a premium, open seating alternative to the main dining room (note that Costa uses the term "Samsara for several different things). A separate menu was offered, mostly superior to the restaurant, although there were fewer choices, notably salads. The main menu was available. Service and noise levels were difficult to assess as the area was almost empty. CABIN: I was booked in the smaller, upper/lower berth inside cabins. They are ample for one person. Europeans tend to prefer firmer mattresses than Americans, but otherwise, everything was entirely comparable to other ships I have been on. ENTERTAINMENT: I travel with Costa because of the nightlife, and was not disappointed. There are as many as 6 live music venues, with lots of choice of music. Some theme nights started as late as midnight, and the dance floor was packed. The Apollo lounge, the main lounge, has continuous music from 6 PM to 1 AM, except for bingo and (very popular) half-hour cruise staff games and entertainment. I don't like bachatta and can live without mazurka and Viennese waltz, but they were very popular. Although "ballroom dancing" when it was listed in the program just meant no theme, the groups, especially Duo Venus, were willing to play very nice dance music on request during quieter periods. The quartet did have the fault common to live groups of playing far too long- six minutes for a Viennese Waltz. The rear lounge, Luna, has a much improved layout from the earlier Fortuna design, and offered various theme nights. The lobby bar is the equal of the main lounge on most ships. There are two additional lounges with live music, plus a keyboard player near the "Chocolate Bar" (it has a chocolate fountain). I did not particularly like the string trio, but their contract may finish soon. The disco was not very popular. The DJ played the usual six-minute "dance mix" music, very boring and repetitious. Given the small number of smokers on board, the designated smoking areas were far larger than required. I did not go to any of the shows, but the comments I heard were generally positive. POOLS The Serena has a retractable roof over the midships pool, unlike the earlier ships, which meant the area was quite tolerable even on cool days. The hot tubs were not really hot. As nearly as I could discover, the temperature measured is that of the inflow water, not that of the water in the tub. They also closed quite early. PORTS Costa tends to have shorter port stops than most cruise lines, but I've never been able to understand how an extra couple of hours makes much difference, visiting a city like Istanbul or Valetta. If I'm seriously interested in visiting some place, I'll go for several days. VALUE: Value was outstanding. Even using budget hotels and restaurants, I had a hard time meeting Costa's per-day cost on my land travels between trips. I believe I got the best value for my money I could have gotten, visiting this part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
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: July 2010
We booked this cruise a week before sailing mainly due to price; we were originally going to sharm el sheik!! We completed the booking and rushed round the low cost airlines for flights, booked a hotel and we were done. We flew in the ... Read More
We booked this cruise a week before sailing mainly due to price; we were originally going to sharm el sheik!! We completed the booking and rushed round the low cost airlines for flights, booked a hotel and we were done. We flew in the night before the cruise on Ryan air (should be called riot air - but more on that later). We took the bus to plaza roma then walked for about 10 mins past the train station to our hotel for the night, the Locanda di Orsaria.A nice little hotel, rooms a bit on the small side but aren't all mid rage hotel rooms in Venice. After a good continental breakfast - the cappuccinos are wonderful we explored Venice for the morning. We returned to the hotel to collect our cases and walked back to the plaza de roma. We took the free Costa bus and within minutes we were at the port terminal. Dropping off our cases was a bit of a scrum (4 big ships including ours embarking) and we collected a number and sat patiently in the waiting area for our number to be called. Free cold drinks and a paid for bar were available if you so wished. When the number prior to ours was called we made our way towards the desks and when our number was called we were at the front of the queue, 2 minutes and we were on the ship. Here we encountered our 1st little gripe with Costa. Your picture is taken as you stand on the boardwalk just after the gangway. Not a good idea when it's 90 deg and you're queuing for 10 mins, this should have been done in the nice air con building below. First impressions were good; we liked the bold design features of the impressive atrium. Even though it was only 2pm we thought we'd see if our room was ready. We found the cabin and our key cards were on the bed waiting for us. Others that boarded from 3pm onwards complained of large queues to get on the ship so we'd made the right decision getting on early. Went to the main pool area for lunch and sat and enjoyed a bit of sun. FOOD: Food is a very subjective subject but in the main we ate in the buffet/pool area at lunch and the MDR for dinner. At lunch you have the usual fare, burgers, chicken fries and pizza along with stations offering a different choice every day.Octopus, shrimp and mussels as well as always available pasta. In the MDR the food was good on the whole with a choice of fish, meat or veggie the sweets on the other hand were poor and underwhelming. The Gala nights offering seemed no different or special than normal nights. Food was on the whole above average but not to the standard of Holland America. SHOWS: These were in the main poor. First night was a colored gentleman from the states, with dreadlocks playing the saxophone and singing jazz. A bit of an acquired taste no doubt. He also tried singing Elvis and frank Sinatra for good measure!! 2nd night the best of the week. A male gymnastic duo that were very good. Be warned there was a 10 minute interlude in the middle using the impressive theatre lasers. No warning on the program so I hope they're ok for people with epilepsy!! 3rd night a female magician who was obviously known to the Italian audience. Not a bad show but not very inspiring. 4th night usual big band show, if you've seen one you'll know what I mean. 5th night a mythical theatre show from the singers and dancers, not very good. 6th night. Where do I start? A small gentleman again obviously known to the Italian audience. Started off juggling, dropped his juggled items at least 5 times in the 1st couple of minutes. The crowd for reasons only apparent to them continued to applaud loudly? He then broke into a bit of marso marso case pushing. Then did a bit of trapeze that was in the whole not bad. Finally as we were walking out he started juggling a cuboid shape under fluorescent lights whilst wearing a loin cloth. Final night was the crew show. On Holland America this was a bit of culture from the countries of the crew. On Costa it was the paid dancing cast and singing staff in the main highlighting how good they and Costa were. A bit of dancing for 5 minutes from India and that was it. The animators work very hard around the ship be it around the pools or in the main bars.Most of the none theatre entertainment was in the main bar.get there early or it will be standing room only, If you think butlins meets Benny hill your not far wrong,slapstick and funny noises and games popping ballons. The Italians seem very self effacing and take the Michael out of stereo types be they large woman with small husbands or Koreans who don't speak any English.They also don't take themselves too seriously, You have been warned. The italians also like to get up and dance whenever theres music playing be it in the pool or the bars.encouranged by the animators there were usually 150 + up linine dancing,I think they must all practice at home because the all knew every dance!! Bar prices were steep and I would recommend the x1 package to lighten the blow. 20 euros for a bottle of asti. We didn't use any Costa tours as we always do our own thing.50 euros for a bus to the beach on one of the stops did seem a bit steep though. We on the whole enjoyed this cruise immensely. We always take the rough with the smooth and don't let anything spoil our holiday. The aft grand balcony we slept in was heaven on earth and we had to dragged out of it at the end of our holiday kicking and screaming!! Only 300 English speakers out of 3800 passengers can be challenging but you have to allow for that fact and enjoy what was a wonderful itinerary and a beautiful ship. We departed the ship late, collected our luggage easily and took the free bus to plaza de roma. Took the water taxi to our hotel for 2 nights the best western ala. Very good hotel and well worth the extra for a superior room over our 1st night's hotel. A lot of people complained about the accessibility of the free wi fi. the hotel organised a free motor launch to take us to murano and back.We had this to ourselves,we sat at the back,weaving our way down the grand canal before cutting through the narrow canals at the centre,we could just imagine ourselves in a james bond movie.Murano is worth a visit for the day not just to see a glass works. At the end of our stay we took the waterbus back to Marco polo. The staff of Ryan air vociferously attempted to earn their bonuses by catching anyone with an oversize or over weight cabin bag.(for those who believe I'm being a bit cynical they caught loads and checked mine 5 times without success) We queued at the gate patiently about 5th person back. The throngs rose from their seats as the cabin staff arrived thinking that walking to the front of the queue was the correct procedure. I made it quite clear to those around me that none shall pass and as the gate opened we passed quickly through. Those that paid for priority must have been miffed as the gates opened together because they were late. I sprinted across the tarmac to and headed up the steps just as my dear wife appearing out of the terminal. Suggestion: get your bag in the overhead locker quickly as there aren't enough to go round. Uneventful flight home and our holiday was done. Read Less
Sail Date: July 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
Costa Serena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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