1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Costa Cruises
  4. Costa Serena Review
  5. Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

146 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

Background: We are a family of five traveling together on this cruise; mom, dad, three boys, 17, 19 and 21. Our son's girlfriend, 21, joined us. We have cruised many, many times with Princess and RCI, usually mini suites or baloneys, ... Read More
Background: We are a family of five traveling together on this cruise; mom, dad, three boys, 17, 19 and 21. Our son's girlfriend, 21, joined us. We have cruised many, many times with Princess and RCI, usually mini suites or baloneys, depending on price. In addition to cruising we are a well traveled family. I mention this only so that it may give you an idea of how to judge our review in reflection of our/your experiences and expectations. Our oldest son was studying abroad in Pristina, Kosovo and we took this opportunity to meet him in Venice for a summer holiday before sending him and his brother - soon to be a college freshman - off to school in mid August. We had a very specific time frame to vacation because our son didn't finish classes until early August and we had to be back in the states by Aug 12. Knowing this, and the weakness of the dollar abroad, we decided our best and most affordable opportunity was to cruise from Venice. So the research began. It didn't take long to settle on the Costa Serena. 7 day cruise from Venice with great port stops at an unbelievable bargain. I came back to Costa again and again and ultimately settled on that trip. And decided on three inside cabins because it was such a darn good deal. I have never sailed on an inside, although we always put the boys across the hall in one. Then I began reading the boards. And boy was I worried. But again, how bad can it be? Telling the boys not to expect a Princess experience, and hoping I could adhere to that advice as well, we left the states in great spirits, anxious to meet our son in Venice and begin a family vacation. Friday, July 31, Overnight Cleveland / Venice with a layover in Paris. After a very long day of traveling, the layover allowing us to see Notre Dame and The Eiffel Tower - yes, LEAVE the airport, it's totally doable - we arrived in Venice without three bags. Mine and one of the boys. Honestly, who cares about his luggage? He has two brothers almost the same size. Missing mine was sending me into a quiet panic that I managed to ignore the first day. After several phone calls to Air France and Continental they assured me it would be on the ship when we boarded on Sunday. Not having a lot of confidence in that plan we proceeded to the port. After turning a corner, in the middle of a frenzied group attempting to check in luggage, there sat our three bags on a sidewalk as though they'd been thrown from a truck. Happily, I grabbed them. Embarkation: Good, not great. Long wait in the terminal. Either get there first, or wait until late in the day. We arrived in the middle and probably sat for 90 or more minutes. No big deal for us, although we started getting anxious to board. Once our number was called, we were on the ship within minutes. The ship is lovely. Yes, it's done in lots of red and golds. But it's lovely. Clean, clean, clean. Our cabins were wonderful and the shower was larger than any other bathroom we've had on RCI or Princess. And how did I like the inside cabin? I've never slept so well in my life!! Would I do an inside again? On this particular cruise, yes, because of the value. The next category up was more than double what we paid. But I'm looking forward to my next balcony! Dinner: We bought the x1 cards for my 21 year old and myself. My husband is more of a mixed drink guy. I was really the only wine drinker in the group, so I thought this would be fine for me. So thankful that we did this. Buy the boys and girls card for others in your party. Again, great value. The very first night our waiters brought us a bottle of wine, after asking if we'd prefer white or red, and never stopped bringing beers to our table for anyone drinking them. This x1 pays for itself many times over as long as you're happy with Carlsburg beer (what 21 year old isn't) and house wine. We never tried to have drinks at lunchtime, mostly because we weren't on ship, so I can't comment on how well the x1 works outside the dining room. I might mention here that the drinks on board are really expensive. With the weak dollar most cocktails are in the $10 range, almost twice as much as we're used to on other ships. Drink menus are in Euros so if the dollar was even, it'd be no big deal. We had a wonderful table by the window and were always one of the first to arrive and last to leave. We really enjoyed the dinners. Was the food the best we've ever had? No. But is WAS good. Sometimes even great. I'm the foodie in the group. Everyone else would probably give higher grades than me. The presentation lacked, but many times the flavor was there. My husband tipped our wait staff the fist night, and in addition to beer and wine waiting at our table each night, we were treated to bruschetta, and various other Italian goodies every single night piled high on platters in the middle of our table. An extremely pleasant experience and one of the best overall dining experiences on a cruise ship, but not necessarily because of the food. Announcements, Languages and Americans: From what I could tell, we were six of maybe 50 Americans (at most) on board. Fine with us. Maybe that's why we were treated so nicely. Having a pattern after dinner of stopping at the piano bar, then playing a little black jack in the casino, the bar and casino staff came to recognize us. They called us 'the family'!!!! We were always greeted with smiles by name, (obviously read our cruise cards when we paid for our drinks) and by the third night, the bar staff knew our order. This was by far the friendliest cruise staff we've encountered. The boys befriended some teenagers from a Spanish family and Tom and I found a group of three English couples that we enjoyed spending time with each evening after dinner. The pit boss would even open a black jack table for us so that we could all play together. Yes, they made announcements in many languages. But honestly, why is that such a big deal? If you don't listen for it, you may miss it. And isn't it kinda cool to try and recognize words from another language that you hear again and again. I mean we are the only country that educates in one language. The Buffets: Here's the biggest negative on the trip. Hated the breakfast, and even more so, the lunchtime buffets. Unorganized, chaotic, and crowded. Crazy hours; I swear from 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm nothing is open! It took us a while to figure out the buffet areas and we found that the buffet outside by the aft pool had the best overall situation. Different types of pizza type bread with toppings and some other unusual, but tasty, lunchtime food. Salad selections were not good. Or at least I didn't find any. The Italian yogurt was excellent by the way. The itinerary on the ship didn't have us on board many days at lunch which actually was a good thing. Ports: We never did get off the ship in Bari. The best laid plans......Too much fun the night before prevented us from even feeling like getting off the ship. Olympia: We hired George; I found out abouthim on these boards, and he met us right off the ship. We had a wonderful day viewing the Olympic ruins and the small town of Olympia. George even took us back to his home to meet his family. Very knowledgeable and friendly I would highly recommend him to anyone inclined to arrange their own excursion. TIP: The duty free shop right outside the ship has a very large 6 pack of water for 1.50E -if you're a water drinker don't pass this up. Izmir: Because I had trouble arranging our own excursion at this port, on board we booked with Costa for the Ephesus and House of the Virgin Mary tour. This was probably our favorite stop. It's a sleeper!!!! The ruins are incredible and more than anything point out existence of an ancient civilization that's very easy to imagine given the magnitude of the ruins. This isn't rocks poking out of the ground. Let's just leave it at that. Don't want to ruin the awe of it for anyone planning to visit this ancient wonder. Istanbul: Again, hired a private tour agency recommended from these boards and had a wonderful day touring Istanbul. It's an amazing place and we found the Turks to be so gentle and kind. The grand bazaar was grand! And fun, and loud and crazy!!! I expected it to be like the markets in Bangkok but it wasn't even close. Much crazier!!! But we loved it! Dubrovnik: By the time we arrived in Dubrovnik, we wanted a restful day. After walking around the city a bit, we found a wonderful cafe set on the edge of the rocks where we sat for hours sipping local beer while the boys jumped off the cliffs into the Adriatic. Oh, and by the way. I was concerned not having a Costa excursion booked for this port we'd be delayed getting off ship which would severely cut into our already short dock in Dubrovnik. We took the elevator down to the tender floor and walked off the ship shortly after docking. No questions asked. Try it. Leaving the Ship was easy. We took the Costa bus back to Piazza Roma and headed to our hotel for one last night. We left Venice very early the next morning with memories of a fantastic trip. Summary: We had a great experience with Costa. What made it great was the value. Had I paid for a suite on this trip I think I would have been more prone to disappointment with other aspects of the ship. Maybe we would have expected better dinners, or less crowded buffets, or better entertainment. But so many things about this ship were right on. And several experiences that hands down were better than Princess or RCI. But we went in with the right attitude and it paid off. Would we cruise Costa again? Under the right circumstances I think we would. I would probably not sail Costa in the Caribbean. We are booked on the Emerald at Easter time for 10 days and I do prefer Princess or RCI over Costa in the Caribbean. But having said that, give Costa a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
After booking my cruise, I then found this site. To say the least, I was nervous about this cruise after reading the reviews. I kept an open mind while boarding even when we had problems with our luggage tags...we weren't off the a ... Read More
After booking my cruise, I then found this site. To say the least, I was nervous about this cruise after reading the reviews. I kept an open mind while boarding even when we had problems with our luggage tags...we weren't off the a good start, so I became even more worried. We got on the ship, everything ran smooth. The ship was beautiful, very big though...almost too big. We found our cabin, it was nice and roomy wasn't at all the small cabins like I have been in before, plenty of room. The staff was spectacular throughout the entire cruise, I can not say enough about them! The programs and shows were great and highly recommended, whenever anyone spoke it was at a minimum of 5 different languages...this did however, make the Captains Cocktail party a tad long, but still nice. Recommendations: If you are an American and have not experienced European "ways of life" I would not recommend this cruise or even this cruise line to you. I am sad to say and even embarrassed by other fellow Americans that have left the bad reviews about Costa. They are the true meaning of what the europeans feel about us, which is "Spoiled Americans" I know this, because I used to be one. I currently live in Europe with the military and realize the european ways and found this cruise to be spectacular! I would highly recommend this cruise and any other cruise on Costa to all "non-spoiled American's". Downfalls: I did not like the chaos that was caused with the lines. Most of the passengers were not patient and lines were not their forte' they would push and cut in front of you...although, that again is normal for Europe, they cutting in front of you...I will have to say the only time I've experienced the actual physical pushing has been in Italy everytime I've been. So that is something to be aware of. However, if you just sit back and let them "fight it out" to the front and wait 15 to 20 minutes you can walk right up to where your going and what you want to do without any problems. Excursions: I felt them to be highly expensive, I cancelled one the first day and went on my own and saved 100+ euro and went out on my own for the rest of the time...always going the same places the tour buses went, just half the price. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Jun21 - Arrived at Venice Marco Polo airport and took ATVO bus to Piazzale Roma (bus terminal) in Venice. (Their ticket booth is just outside the baggage claim area, to the left.) We booked a night in the Ca Doge Hotel, which is located ... Read More
Jun21 - Arrived at Venice Marco Polo airport and took ATVO bus to Piazzale Roma (bus terminal) in Venice. (Their ticket booth is just outside the baggage claim area, to the left.) We booked a night in the Ca Doge Hotel, which is located just beside the Autopark, found at the perimeter of the Piazzale Roma. (no need to go up and down bridges to get to your hotel.) The Ca Doge Hotel was a wonderful choice and I have posted a review of it on Trip Advisor. Spent the day in Venice and needed lots more time to enjoy the city. Jun22 - Caught a free Costa shuttle from the Piazzale Roma to the Port. (Take the shuttle, otherwise you can take the half-hour walk but it's a pain with luggage.) Off the bus, we spotted a Costa rep who told us to drop off our luggage before we went into the terminal building. Unfortunately, with her limited English, we couldn't figure out where to actually drop off the luggage. We eventually followed a bunch of people behind the building to a mountain of luggage, found a Costa-looking worker lifting some baggage and dropped off our luggage with him. (No English, again) We then followed the Costa check-in signs to the main door of the terminal building. Up the escalator and turned left. (MSC Cruise lines shares the building and they are on the right.) Again, mass chaos!! No instructions, no signage, nothing!! After waiting in 4 separate lines, we found out that a 5th line was handing out numbered tickets and that a person at a 6th line was calling them out sequentially. Made our way, with our ticket, to that 6th line and waiting 45 minutes for our number to be called. Once our number was called, we ducked under a couple of rope barriers to get to the counter. (We were severely scolded, in broken English, by one of the Costa reps for ducking under the ropes. Great start to a cruise!!) Check-in took about 10 minutes then we were whisked through security, then straight onto the ship. For those of you who manage to make it onto the ship before 1:30pm, just go straight to the buffet. Your room key won't be available until after 1:30pm when you will find it on your cabin bed. Also the ship doesn't leave until 6:00pm so you've got plenty of time to catch the free Costa shuttle back to Venice for some last minute sight-seeing. Jun23 - What a waste of a port stop! Disembarkation at Bari begins at 11:45 and we had to be back on the ship by 1:45pm. Would have been better to have a sea day... As well, once we get off the ship, there was absolutely no signage directing us to the old city of Bari. And with Costa not providing us with a map of the city, it was pretty difficult to navigate. Still, we managed to make our way through many of the narrow alleyways of the town before we had to be back on the ship. Jun24 - Again, another short day on land. Try to get off the ship as soon as you can since the ship is only here from 8:00am to 1:00pm (which means you, effectively have from 8:30pm to 12:30pm for touring). I know you'll want to spend as much time as possible in Olympia, but you've got to give yourself at least 45 minute to shop in Katakalon, which proved to be the best souvenir shopping port on the cruise. Since time is of the essence, hustle and take the 5 minute walk straight into town and go right to the only car rental place. We were charged $80 Euro's for the day for an 8-seater van (only $45 Euro's for a regular car) and offered the option of an extra $10 Euro's for a tank of gas. (Don't take the $10 Euro gas option! Cheaper to stop in at a gas station on the way to Olympia. Gas was $1.30 Euro/litre and you'll only need about 3litres to cover the 76km round trip to Olympia and back. Once you arrive in Olympia, make sure you purchase the 9 Euro combo ticket which covers entrance into the museum, as well as into the ruins of Olympia. Unfortunately, Olympia does not offer any local tour guides so you are pretty much on our own. (We managed to find an English speaking tour already in the park, so we just paid him a few dollars and some of us joined on.) The signage is very good, however, so you'll have no problem navigating through using the Olympia provided map. Re washroom facilities, there are only 2 stalls in the Women's so be prepared to wait! (There were other available facilities in the museum but they were ALL out of commission when we were there.) Jun25 - Izmir is a lovely port, but once again, you've got very little time. You are able to get off the ship by 9:00am and make sure that you keep track of the disembarkation card that is handed to you by the staff. You'll need it when you return by 2:30pm. It was over 90°F so some of us passed on the tour to Ephesus. Those of us who braved the heat to make it out there were overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the ruins. So the lesson learned here is, do take a tour to Ephesus. Cheapest is to grab a taxi at the port (and share with another couple, if possible) rather than use the ship's tour. For those of us who couldn't handle the heat, we took the 30 minute walk over to the Izmir Bazaar. Not quite as big as the one in Istanbul, but the vendors were a lot more eager to bargain with us. By checking a local map, we discovered the existence of a two century old synagogue, tucked behind the Bazaar on Havra Sokak street. All the vendors seemed to know about it so if you get lost, like we did, just ask the locals for directions. Jun26 - Istanbul is the highlight of this cruise. Get off the ship as soon as possible because you'll want to spend your morning touring and your afternoon shopping, before the ship sails at 6:00pm. Make your way out of the terminal area to the main street. There you will find lots of taxis that would be happy to take you, for 10 Turkish Lira or less, to the Sultanahmet Square. Once there, quickly head over to the Topkapi Palace and Harem rooms where the entrance fee will set you back 10 Turkish Lira for each. After that, make your way over to the Blue Mosque. Admission is free but be prepared that you will be asked for a donation at the end of your visit. If you have time and the line-ups aren't too long, try and squeeze in a visit to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. If not, catch a cab back to the ship and catch a quick lunch before you head out to the Bazaar. The Bazaar is 6km away, perhaps a 45 minute walk mostly uphill, but time is of the essence, so grab a cab on the main street, for 10 Turkish Lira, and get over to the Great Bazaar. I must confess that I was overwhelmed with the expanse of the Bazaar, and with barely 4 hours to shop, I came away with few purchases. Also found that the vendors would not bargain "properly" with us. They seemed content to lose a sale rather than negotiate with us. (Again, Izmir proved to be a far better "bargain".) And don't despair if you just can't find that perfect souvenir at the Bazaar. When you return to the port, there are street vendors galore, with prices cheaper than the BazaarJun27 - In our previous cruises, we usually look forward to our day at sea to rest and enjoy the facilities of the ship. But, once again, Costa proved a great disappointment. Nothing to do!! Aside from sitting in sun and staring up to the sky, there are no activities whatsoever, unless you call a 10 question multilingual trivia session an activity. Boring, boring, boring…… Jun28 - Dubrovnik was our only tendered port so try and give yourself plenty of time to go back and forth. You've got a good ½ a day here so if you keep up a good pace, you can see a couple of the major sights and still have an hour or two left to shop. Walking the length of the walled city was a highlight for part of your group and it only takes ½ hour, but a special caveat that the only drink vendor on the wall will take advantage of you by up-charging his merchandise threefold. Beware and buy your drinks before you go up. It was over 90°F when we were there and you desperately need to have some liquid refreshment while you are walking the wall. Another warning that the shop keepers in this town that we met were unscrupulous, constantly shortchanging us with every purchase. Remember to count your money at all times!! Also, there's no need to convert your currency into Croatian money. Everyone takes Euros. Jun29 – Back in Venice and supreme chaos reigns as we go through the disembarkation process. Despite what the Costa website says, the ship actually arrives in Venice at 9:00am, with the expectation that movement of passengers off the ship begins at 9:45am. We had to catch a 12:45pm flight back to Toronto so we begged the staff to let us off in the first round. The whole process is “managed”, like most cruise ships, with the issuance of coloured tickets and each colour represents a different disembarkation time. In our case, the ship actually docked later than expected, so rather than inform the passengers of the delay, they allowed hundreds of people, with all sorts of coloured tickets, to cram into the Theatre to await the announcement of their colour. Surprise, surprise that when the first colour (our colour) was called, everyone headed straight for the exit. And by the way, that announcement was made only in Italian, but we didn’t wait, we moved with the herd. No checking of the ticket colours, just a mass stampede!! We followed the crowd and somehow ended up in the baggage claim area, where it was every man for himself. Luggage was flung everyone, complete and utter chaos!! After climbing over the belonging of fellow passengers, and perhaps the passengers themselves, we retrieved our bags and made a mad dash for the line of taxis in front of the terminal building. No time to negotiate the price to the airport, we got inside the first one and told him to step on it. Needless to say, we made it to the airport on time. Never again!!!! General Ship Comments: I’ll start with the few good points about the ship. The staff, although completely clueless about most things, were friendly enough. They tried, within their limited ability to help, but it was a complete and frustrating waste of time. The cabin rooms were lovely and were kept immaculately clean. And my husband, who is an amateur magician, thought that Magic Martin, one of the evening’s entertainers, was especially talented. The bad points, and there were many of them, focused on the details that you take back with you as you remember the cruise. Firstly, that this is the first cruise ship that I remember where ice tea is NOT FREE. It is considered part of the Drinks Package and you must pay for it. Only water is free and I expect that to disappear as Costa continues to nickel and dime its repeat customers. (Oh, did I mention that this was our 2nd Costa cruise? What were we thinking…) Remember to bring your own shampoo with you. Again, this is the first cruise ship where the shampoo was so horrible that we resorted to using the bar of soap instead to wash our hair. And if you think you will gain lots of weight by stuffing your face at the buffets, forget it. The food is so bland that a couple of us actually lost weight during the week. Don’t waste your time with the Kids or Teen club. We were traveling with a 5 year old and a 15 year old. They both tried the clubs and it was a complete waste of time. The counselors didn’t speak English and the facilities were practically non-existent. So the kids spent a lot of time by the pool which would explain why the pools were always filthy. One of our group, who simply wanted to spend some time in the room, watching the available TV programs was in for a rude awakening. The only English speaking programs aired were Euronews and BBC News. Very entertaining!! We were glad to get home. Bitterly disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
April 30, 2008-04-30 We just returned from a cruise on the Eastern Mediterranean aboard the Costa Serena. The cruise lasted one week (April 20-27, 2008). We are basically very independent people, not in favor of large crowds, and generally ... Read More
April 30, 2008-04-30 We just returned from a cruise on the Eastern Mediterranean aboard the Costa Serena. The cruise lasted one week (April 20-27, 2008). We are basically very independent people, not in favor of large crowds, and generally travel on our own. Reading reviews and commentaries by others before departure allowed us to adjust our expectations. I wish to thank all the people who wrote about their experiences on cruise lines. Their comments were of great help to us. . The result was a very enjoyable experience. We found the cabins very comfortable: we had a good bed with a solid mattress, enough storage space, a nice bathroom, and a neat balcony. The windows were washed in one port only, but, since we had decent weather, they remained clear throughout the trip. The cabin was cleaned twice daily. We were generally impressed with the overall cleanliness of the ship. The decorations are really not our style, but the ship is not my home. So.... FOOD If you wanted to, you could eat all day. Breakfast was very complete: eggs, bacon, cold cuts, cheeses, fresh fruits, yogurt, preserves, and an array of breads. True, the breads, although fresh every morning, are not the greatest. But, in my experience, Italians are not good bakers. On the other hand, their pastas and gelatos are superb. I found the meals always quite acceptable. After all, you cannot expect gourmet meals from a chef who feeds 3500 customers three times a day. We had also purchased Costa's X-1 wine, beer and water package for each of us and found that to be a good deal. DRINKS Anything at the bar as well as drinks in the restaurant if you do not buy a package ahead of time is very expensive. SERVICE My word, how those people work! Seven days a week, virtually no free time. And always with a smile. The people serving our table were outstanding, and our cabin steward excellent. EXCURSIONS Because we found the price of the excursions very high, we did not book any excursions ahead of time. We did our homework before departure and went exploring on our own and thoroughly enjoyed it. In Bari, Izmir and Istanbul the ship was anchored along the quai. In Bari you can easily walk into town. In Istanbul good walkers can do it on foot: one hour walking from the ship to Agia Sophia. There are also taxis waiting upon arrival, and there is a tramway. In Izmir we had booked the Costa excursion to Ephesus, because we had been unable to find adequate information on transportation available in the port. Upon arrival we found also there taxis waiting along the quay, advertising the ride back and forth for €90. Quite a difference with the 4x€65 for the Costa excursion. I must say, however, that the guide was excellent. She was knowledgeable about Ephesus, offered a lot of information on Turkey during the bus ride there (one hour) and often solicited questions from the audience. Both Katakolon and Dubrovnik are tender ports. If you wish to visit Olympia: a taxi ride back and forth from Katakolon to Olympia with one hour waiting time for the driver cost €90 for the four of us. Spiro, the driver, was very friendly, but thought he was flying an airplane. "I very good driver". Yes, he was, but we were happy to make it back to the ship safe and sound. Where Costa really needs to change its ways, according to us, is in the organization of getting passengers off the boat in the ports visited. That the people who have booked an excursion always get to leave the ship first is frustrating and a bit unfair towards the other guests. Queuing is unheard of by Costa. Pushing and shoving are almost a daily experience. Costa must learn to impose discipline. Costa Staff I was impressed with the cabin and restaurant crew. Not so with the Costa staff. During Credit card registration pushing and shoving were the rule: you had to take a number and presumable wait until your number was called. The order showed up on a screen, but the attendants served whoever was first at the counter. That was an absolutely disgraceful experience. The people at the excursions desk were poorly informed about the content of the excursions. At customer service, there were always lines.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Overall, Costa is not RCCL or Princess - it is a budget European product. Unfortunately Americans (like my husband and I) presently pay more for the product than normal since the sagging dollar - as such - you would get better VALUE for ... Read More
Overall, Costa is not RCCL or Princess - it is a budget European product. Unfortunately Americans (like my husband and I) presently pay more for the product than normal since the sagging dollar - as such - you would get better VALUE for your money somewhere else. IF you are considering sailing Costa Cruise Lines - and this ship - I strongly encourage you to speak to as many people as possible who have experienced their product. We found our overall experience well below expectations and are providing this input to hopefully assist those who are considering investing their money and, subsequently, hard earned vacation time. We just returned from An 11 day Costa Cruise aboard the Serena from Savona Italy to the Mediterranean (Canary Islands) and wanted to share, what we feel is important information for those considering a cruise with Costa, and aboard this ship. First allow me to preface by saying this was my seventh cruise, and first with Costa. I have sailed the Med and Baltic Sea before so not unaccustomed to 'European' cruising. One of the first things we noted with Costa onboard the Serena is the tolerance of smoking everywhere - neither myself or husband smoke, and we found this prevalence distasteful in bars, restaurants and common areas (including poolside). Also, we noted the abundance of children on-board and the lack of adequate programs to keep the children engaged. Although it is more common for Europeans to travel with their children than Americans, we found unattended children significantly detracted from our ability to fully relax and enjoy peace and quiet. Service was another area we found disappointing. Yet, another example of the constant nickel and dimming is charging for room service, this is the first cruise we have ever been charged for room service! One of the reasons we enjoy cruising so much is the service we receive. On Costa - service is provided at a flat fee - meaning, at the end of your cruise you are charged a flat rate for the services provided while aboard. Essentially this removes the incentive for staff to provide service to guests, and often - as a result - we found completely disengaged staff - who simply shrugged when requests were made of them. This includes the customer service folks at the front desk - many of whom disengaged when we asked specific questions FOOD: Aside from the service, and general peace and quiet - we also enjoy cruising for the excellent variety and quality of food. We found this element with Costa - incredibly disappointing. Breakfast and dinner wasn't too bad - typical eggs, bacon, fruit for breakfast and dinner 5 course meals. Lunch and the midnight 'snack' another story altogether. Lunch; hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries all buffet style - stale rolls and some off fruit. Food lines were well beyond what you would you would see on an American ship. The buffet also consisted of PIZZA constantly - Many complaints were overheard about the amount of money spent for such poor quality and choice - not impressive overall. Cleanliness was an issue. Our cabin was - very comfortable and well appointed and cleaned twice daily (our Cabin Steward was EXCELLENT). However the common areas were often in disarray and dirty. Poolside tables were left unclean for long periods, hallways often cluttered with debris. In our cabin we had a balcony, a portion of which was glass. This went unclean for 8 of the 11 days while onboard and as a result we couldn't see out of it. In our opinion this was a waste of a purchase of a 'balcony' due to the obstructed view. We asked for it to be cleaned and was told exterior cleaning of the windows would only be facilitated at a certain port (which was correct) unfortunately that port was not reached until the latter portion of our trip. ONSHORE EXCURSIONS: BE CAREFUL with Costa!! We researched each of our ports to find alternative activities by going on the internet and to the local tourist information sites. Several identical excursions offered by Costa were available at the ports sometimes at half the cost!! When we raised this issue to the excursion desk we were informed "it's a business and we have to get our cut to". We did do two excursions with Costa - the trip to FEZ in Morocco and horseback riding. Neither was We wished we had had some of this information before making our decision. Also it is important to note there is a remarkable "sell" mentality onboard which, again, not commonly found among the American lines. From the moment you board we found the constant "push" for you to purchase extra's incredibly tacky and distasteful. People walk around at dinner trying to sell you appetizers on trays, extra desserts or drinks - unreal. Also, there are drink "packages" available to purchase to include, soft drinks, wine and water (yes bottled water). We purchased the bottle water drink package 29.99 euros for 13 bottles - equivalent is almost $50 (USD) for 13 bottles!! (and we only used 8 of our allotted tickets - no refunds) you would do better to purchase the water as you disembark for port days. Also, you should know Costa charges 10 euros (almost 17 USD per person) for a shuttle bus at the various ports you arrive to take you to the town! First time we ever paid to get from the ship to town. Just another illustration of the constant nickel and diming we found tacky and uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
A review of our trip on Costa Serena to the Canaries, which was our second with Costa. We flew BA from Heathrow (no sign of a Costa rep) to Milan (where we met a Costa Rep) and then had a two and a half hour coach trip to the port to ... Read More
A review of our trip on Costa Serena to the Canaries, which was our second with Costa. We flew BA from Heathrow (no sign of a Costa rep) to Milan (where we met a Costa Rep) and then had a two and a half hour coach trip to the port to join the ship...longer than the actual flight from Heathrow! There were a total of 30 English speaking people on the coach, off several flights from UK some via Amsterdam and Paris. We felt the embarkation process was fairly disorganized ....but did eventually find our way on board...there was no one to greet us or tell us whether we could go to our cabins or indeed where the cabins were. I had to find someone to ask and then she just pointed to the lift!! So we found our own way to our cabin where we met our steward Arwin who was very pleasant and informative. It took a while to find our way around this ship...there are some decks midships which don't allow you to pass from front to back and vice versa...you have to go up a deck or two and then walk forwards or backwards....confusing at first. The cabin was on Deck 6 aft and was spacious with a nice en suite shower room. We had a balcony big enough for sun loungers and a table with room to spare but we only had small non reclining chairs (quite badly stained) and a table, which was a slight disappointment. The front 'wall' of the balcony was glass which gave a good view when it wasn't covered in salt from the spray! We could lie in the bed (huge and comfortable) and look at the sea! Plenty of storage space and a settee (which made into third bed) and table. The dEcor in the cabin was quite pleasant as opposed to the rest of this ship which (in my opinion) was hideous, gaudy and brash...way over the top with ten or more differing patterns/colors in each area. The cabin was kept clean by our steward who changed the towels daily and the sheets 3 or 4 times over the 11 days. The public areas were generally clean but the higher levels of the window frames (eye level) in the lido/buffet area were very dusty and the windows in that area were often smeared on the inside. Outside windows were cleaned regularly...our cabin windows were cleaned twice by hoses during the 11 days. The only lifeboat drill was on that first day so the passengers embarking on our day 2 at Barcelona did not have a drill until the day before they left the ship...it was carried out efficiently. The drinks prices are expensive on this ship so we didn't have any!!! The bottled water is 2.76 euros (inc 15 percent service charge) for a 1 liter bottle. At the Duty Free shop in Barcelona we bought 6 x 1.5 liter bottles for 8 euros and then in Madeira we bought another 4 x 1.5 liter bottles for 3 euros from the shop on the pier!!! The shop prices on the ship are also very expensive...for example a Murano glass heart pendant the same as I bought in Venice for 3 euros was on sale here for 32 euros!!!.the cheapest cigarettes we saw were in Lanzarote 18.95 euros for 200 Marlboro. On board 31 euros!!! There is no cinema on board although apparently one could buy films on the TV. There is a large screen in the lido where perhaps films could be shown as on Sea Princess. The evening shows were only OK apart from the crew show which of course highlighted the wonderful voices of some of the Filipino crew members. Language is quite a problem I think..apart from the tediousness of hearing all the announcements in a variety of languages...the English announcements were not always very clear....at reception although the young lady there spoke the English language she did not comprehend very well and when we had a query about whether our bill would be converted to sterling by Costa or by our credit card company she just couldn't understand what we were saying so we gave up and will just wait and see !! We went to the meeting place to see our 'English speaking hostess' on two occasions when she was supposed to be there but she didn't show up at all...in fact the first time we saw her was the day before we left the ship at the disembarkation talk. We had continental breakfast in our cabin each morning which is not charged for...we were left a menu each evening to leave on our door before we retired...we lunched in the lido buffet each day....this was very noisy and not really satisfactory for us but there was more choice than in the restaurant. Usually long queues especially on sea days, and people pushing and shoving in front rather than wait their turn! We mostly had pizzas or pasta and a vegetable (there was only ever one choice apart from salad) and I had melon for pudding. We invariably had to clear a table of its dirty dishes before we could sit down and then go on a hunt for cutlery. There is not 24 hour tea and coffee available in the buffet (we took our own kettle and tea bags!) Dinner we had in the Ceres restaurant which was OK but only OK...Service was slow... we struggled to find three courses we liked...again there was only ever one cooked vegetable .... one night it was artichoke and I asked for an alternative and was told there wasn't one!!! So I just had my quarter tomato garnish and small spoon of mash!!! Another night we chose steak which was nice but it came with half a small jacket potato 2 x 3inch strips of courgette and the quarter tomato garnish !!! However I did gain four pounds but it was probably all the pasta I ate to fill myself up!!! Our waitress Rosa from the Dominican Republic gave excellent service and really worked hard serving 21 guests each evening with her assistant. The dining room did seem overcrowded with the tables fairly close together and we were seated around the perimeter which had a low ceiling...the center tables had a much higher ceiling. We all had a red rose on St Valentines Night and there was an Italian evening where the dress code was red, white and green but not many people participated. On formal nights the dress was very informal and I didn't see any men at all in evening dress....a few women in long dresses ...one or two women even in jeans and t shirts and trainers eating in the main restaurant...there were three Gala/formal nights and it was the same very casual dress at all of them. There was the traditional Baked Alaska Parade on the next to last night. There were no antiseptic hand cleansers as you enter the dining room, buffet or as you board the ship which we found most surprising. We passed Thomson Destiny on the quayside at one of our stops and they had one at the gangway with a member of the crew ensuring that it was used. The ships photographers are forever pushing their cameras in front of you...and if you say 'no thank you' you get sarcastic comments... On reading the literature left in our cabin there are rules about photos/videos not being allowed in the theatre, no children under 18 allowed in the casino, children in the swimming pools to be supervised by parents, No children in the lifts unless accompanied by an adult , etc. None of these rules are enforced...many people took flash photos during the shows..one man even filmed the whole show on his cam corder...we saw children on the machines in the casino on more than one occasion and also young children doing hand stands in the Jacuzzi....there are no pool attendants in evidence. There appeared to be plenty of sunloungers but we missed the traditional promenade deck wrapping around the ship. The ship always felt very crowded especially on sea days when the weather was not good.....it was also very noisy...we usually returned to our cabin for some peace and quiet. There is a compulsory 'service charge' of 4.50 euros per person per day on this cruise as well as the 15 percent on bar services. We also gave our waitress Rosa and our cabin steward Arwin an extra amount as we felt they gave excellent service ... To sum up I felt that the negatives outweighed the positives and we will not be cruising Costa again... it felt as if perhaps they could not manage the amount of passengers they had to deal with. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My wife and I went on a 11 day cruise on the Costa Serena February 9-20, 2008. Our Itinerary was departing from Savona, Italy, to Barcelona, Casa Blanca, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Madeira, Malaga, and returning to Savona. We had planned on ... Read More
My wife and I went on a 11 day cruise on the Costa Serena February 9-20, 2008. Our Itinerary was departing from Savona, Italy, to Barcelona, Casa Blanca, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Madeira, Malaga, and returning to Savona. We had planned on taking a safari in Kenya in February but that got cancelled due to the civil unrest there. We decided to take this cruise last minute because we were needing a vacation in February and the price was good. We are Americans living in The Netherlands, so planning the cruise last minute was pretty easy due to our close proximity to Italy. We flew Ryan Air to Pisa, Italy for a very cheap rate. From Pisa we took a 3 hour train ride to Savona. From the Savona train station it was a 15 Euro, 15 minute cab ride to the port. Savona was a good port and had a nice cruise ship terminal but a little complicated to get to, regardless if you are coming from Europe or the US. Genoa is the closest airport but still an hour train ride away. My wife and I are very comfortable using European trains but this may be an issue for North Americans not familiar with Europe train travel. Costa does offer a shuttle from Genoa airport but I am sure space is limited and the price is probably inflated. Once we arrived at the terminal we checked our baggage in and received a number to board. We had to wait about an hour to board, this was no problem, the terminal was nice and seats were available. We had a little lunch in the terminal and boarded the ship. I have heard many people complain about turning in passports but this did not really bother me, and is pretty standard in Europe from what I have seen on other cruises. It was pretty hectic getting it back the last day but not too much of a problem. Once onboard we found our room, the door was cracked open for us, our key cards on the bed. Our luggage was delivered shortly after. The room was very nice as was the service we received from our steward. While my wife took a rest I went up to register my credit card and change my dinning time to the early diner at 1815. There was a huge wait to meet with the Maitre d' to change your dining time. We ended up sitting at a 4 top with two other Americans and next to a 2 top that also had 2 Americans in the Ceres dining room at the aft of the ship. The food in the restaurant was typical Italian 5 course. The food and choices were good some nights and not so good other nights. Same goes for the service in the restaurant, some nights it was good, some nights it stunk. One disappointment for me is there was not a buffet dinner option every night. We are casual people and don't always feel like dealing with eating in the nicer restaurant every night, especially for 11 days. The only option was the pizza and snacks they had available in the buffet area. After a few nights that got kind of got old, I would have definitely liked to see more options for those who did not want to dine in the restaurant. Lunch was available at the buffet and restaurant but we always ate lunch at the buffet. Each day had a lunch theme along with the usual Italian food. We never made it to the restaurant for lunch but I do know it was a menu style lunch. Breakfast was the same as lunch, offered in the restaurant and buffet. The options for lunch and breakfast were hit or miss, kind of like the dinner. Because of the size of the ship it was very chaotic at lunch and breakfast. Long lines with people shoving and cutting, not always a lot of tables available. There is also a upscale dinner restaurant that you could pay extra to eat ala carte, but we never ate there. The bars on the ship were nice, although I felt drinks were extremely expensive. 14 Euros for 2 cocktails or 5.75 Euros for 2 cokes. Entertainment on board did not suit us very well, the events during the day were not really for us, the shows at night were OK some nights and pretty bad other nights. The pool areas were nice but the hot tubs were not hot at all, I thought that was weird and defeated the purpose of a hot tub. Other activities included the casino which I thought was nice. The gym was real nice as well, but a bit crowded and did not have the greatest hours. They offered spinning, yoga, etc. at a charge of 9 Euros, which I think is ridiculous that you have to pay. There is also the celebrated Samsara spa located next to the gym. We took a tour of the spa our first day, it was great. We both had facial treatments on one of our days at sea. This is where my opinion of the spa changed. I got the men's facial and shave for a rip off price of 71 euro. It appeared the mach 3 type razor the guy used was not changed or sanitized from the gentleman before me. After the shave I got a mask and a bit of massage, then he tried very hard to get me to buy the overpriced face products. When I got back to the room I noticed patches of facial hair that he missed! Seemed like a major rip off to me, I was extremely disappointed with my facial. My wife got a facial for 91 Euro, although she has never had one to be able to compare, she did not seem to impressed for paying 91 euro. I cancelled my other spa treatments after the disappointing experience. The shore excursions were OK, we went on two the entire trip, most ports we did our own thing, that is how we like to do it. Our tour in Barcelona was cancelled and we did not find out until we were about to depart, we took the same tour in French. Not a huge deal, especially given the small number of English speaking passengers, I just would have like more notice. Barcelona was nice, we had already been there. Casa Blanca was fun, I have heard many people complain that it is not nice and feels unsafe. I think that is ridiculous. It is comparable to any other large Arab city like Cairo, Istanbul, etc. Some people expect Disney World and are unhappy to see the reality. I agree it is not the nicest city, but I did not expect it to be. We saw the Mosque, went to a Hammam (spa), and my wife got Henna. It was adventurous and exciting to take in the city and its culture regardless of how nice the city was. Both Canary islands, and Madeira were great. We really enjoyed the beautiful and unique scenery of all the islands, especially their national parks. Malaga was probably my least favorite port call. Although the weather was bad, the city itself was kind of boring, not many great things to see or do. One other topic to touch on was the English speaking hostess, Deborah. I personally thought she was horrible at her job. Any time I saw her doing presentations her public speaking was horrible and presentations poorly put together. She seemed too busy trying to be a comedian. I caught some of the other presentations by the other language hosts, they seemed much better and much more informative. The thing that bothered me most about Deborah was this little speech she gave at the end of her last presentation. She was going on about not expecting too much out of life and there are children dying and wars going on, not rally what I want to hear on my holiday. I feel like she was doing Costa a disservice about her little blurb on not expecting much. When I'm cruising I expect a lot from the ship and its staff, that is what I paid for. I don't want to hear some lecture from a cruise host about life lessons, it really bugged me for some reason. The Costa Serena is a new ship that still needs to work out a few problems. Overall I think the Serena is a very nice brand new ship with some questionable décor. The overall service was not horrible but had much room for improvement. The food was so-so, drinks and bars too expensive. The worst part about this cruise was the other guests. They were extremely rude and annoying, mostly being European. Living in Europe for the last 3 years, I tend to think I have a higher tolerance to the cultural differences in Europe. In general people tend to be more rude than in the US, but after 3 years it is something I have learned to manage and live with. Being on this ship for 11 days even got to me, which is a lot to say. I see most North Americans getting frustrated very quickly with this ships rude guests. We paid $800 pp for and 11 day cruise(minus onboard expenses), which is less than $100 a day. Even with the things I did not like about this cruise, I fell it was worth it for that price. Some good information from our cruise: Daily "Today" programs listing activities, dining and bar info, port info, etc: http://www.mediafire.com/?dyn99dbmmct Shore Excursion info and prices: http://www.mediafire.com/?j7jvdcdmshc Samsara Spa info and prices: http://www.mediafire.com/?xuyjoqbhamz Sample menus from 2 gala nights: http://www.mediafire.com/?cm1vnmr1lp9 Basic drink menu with prices: http://www.mediafire.com/?jseb1mjxyyd Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My wife and I, along with our 14 year old daughter, decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had done another Med cruise on Costa in 2004, on the Costa Victoria, and in 2006 we did a Celebrity Cruise ... Read More
My wife and I, along with our 14 year old daughter, decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had done another Med cruise on Costa in 2004, on the Costa Victoria, and in 2006 we did a Celebrity Cruise to the Baltics. We enjoyed the Costa cruise more so we chose Costa again this time. We left Savona on Dec 27 - we had a suite, which allowed us priority boarding, so the embarkation process wasn't too bad. The terminal was very crowded however - the Concordia (another large ship) was boarding at the same time and it looked like people from the previous cruises (from both ships) were still in the process of leaving. They had problems getting everyone onboard on time, so we were a couple of hours late and had to wait until about 7PM to do the lifeboat drill. The ship was full, with well over 3000 passengers. I'm not sure what the breakdown by nationalities was but there were only about 200 English speaking people. Many were American ex-pats; didn't see any other Canadians on board except for the English-speaking hostess (Audrey) was coincidentally was from a town just a few hundred kilometers from where we live. I've heard others on this forum complain about having to hear announcements in 5 different languages - I didn't find that too bad as it was fairly easy to tune them out. But the 5 language lifeboat drill was a bit much. We had a balcony suite on the 7th deck near the front. It was very clean and our butler and attendant gave us very good service. I was thinking that we wouldn't be able to make much use of the balcony in December, but it was actually quite pleasant. The room was fairly quiet except for a few youth who liked to congregate in and/or run up and down the halls. Our first stop was Barcelona, where we did the Gaudi tour which we quite enjoyed. Barcelona is a really beautiful city, much different from what I expected. Leaving Barcelona we passed Gibraltar (after an at sea day) at about 11 PM but we could make it out quite clearly even in the dark. Next stop was Morocco where did the Casablanca - Hassan II - Rabat tour. Next was another at sea day and we arrived in Madeira late evening on New Year's Eve. We pulled into the harbor and were treated to a truly amazing fireworks show. Apparently in 2006-2007 it set the world record for fireworks display. The next morning we got up and did an extensive tour of Madeira. It is a beautiful island with many narrow twisting (one lane) roads. Several times the bus had to back up in order to let a car going the other way pass. After Madeira it was Tenerife where we drove from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (which reminded me a lot of Honolulu) to Puerto de la Cruz (which reminded me a lot of Waikiki. Next was Lanzarote where we did the "Grand Tour of Lanzarote" which included a camel ride and lots of touring around the island, which is many areas resembles a moonscape. The last stop was Malaga, another beautiful city. The ship had some decor that took a lot to get used to. I felt like the decor had been chosen by a committee of designers who had just returned from a failed team building session in Las Vegas. In one 20 square foot area in the buffet, for example, we counted 20 different (unmatching) patterns on the floor, ceiling, walls, and upholstery. The ship was quite crowded and it was sometimes difficult to find a spot in the buffet area. We had dinner in the second seating (9:30 PM). The food was quite good, as was the service (except on a couple of nights when it was a bit slow). We had the usual baked Alaska show on the second-to-last night, and a very nice dancing and singing show put on by the waiters during the final evening. (There is a thread currently on the Costa portion of this site putting down dancing waiters, etc. but I really found this quite special. True, I wouldn't have liked to see it every night, but once was good.) Comparing our cruise experiences, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as our first Costa cruise. I think this was due to the ship being a lot bigger than the Victoria, and a lot more crowded. I liked the food better than on Celebrity, which I found too rich. On Celebrity I found that the servers seemed much more like servants than equals - that made we feel quite uncomfortable. So I think I'll do Costa again, but on a smaller ship. I've posted some photos of our trip on my flikr site - see http://www.flickr.com/photos/msdwilkie/sets/72157603815769327/show/ Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We did the christmas cruise on the Costa Serena in December 2007. Summarizing, we had a very nice trip, enjoyed most of the ports and the new ship. There are some BUT's I would like you to observe, if you don't mind them, you ... Read More
We did the christmas cruise on the Costa Serena in December 2007. Summarizing, we had a very nice trip, enjoyed most of the ports and the new ship. There are some BUT's I would like you to observe, if you don't mind them, you will have a nice cruise. Overall, until now we did cruises only on american ships, on NCL and Royal Caribbean, so we tended to compare Costa with them. First of all, we travelled with my parents, booking two balcony cabins 8383 and 8385. Cabins are perfect (no wonder, the ship is nearly new) and spacious, enough space. I really advise to book balcony cabins. Some people say its a waste of money, we don't want to miss the balcony, its perfect top sleep with open doors and enjoy sunset on the balcony early morning. Ports: We loved Funchal (its the best), Barcelona, Malaga and Tenerife. Casablanca is a waste of time, its dirty and ugly. We only booked the Casablanca city tour since we did not want to tour there by ourselves (skip it, stay on the ship) and Malaga (since its a huge city its a waste of time to run around by yourself). In the other ports we walked around by ourselves and loved it. Now I compare the Costa ship with NCL and RCCL: - Buffets are really Italian style, very basic, lots of Pasta and Pizza. Breakfast is really VERY basic. we decided to eat in the restaurant where you at least can order different eggs. - Lunch buffet is little better but we preferred having lunch in the restaurant. Very good choices - Evening buffet was a waste of time, again, very basic. We had dinner in the main restaurant every night and really enjoyed it. Overall, service is not bad but 99 % of the staff miss "the last step". On US we are used to be greeted, smiling people everywhere. On Costa we met some of those nice people, but most of them seemed to us "doing their job". Don't expect towel animals in the Cabin, Costa does not do it. Passengers were mainly Italians. Yes, there is little bit less discipline, Europeans and especially Italian are not used to wait in lines, so waiting for something can be fun ! Yes, Italians smoke more, but it was OK, bit more smoke than on US ships but still enough space for non-smokers. Embarkation was done by numbers, we had to wait about 20 minutes, but then were on the ship very fast. You can go directly to the Cabin where you find the Cabin Cards. Within the next 5 days you can have your Credit Card registered. Disembarkation was also by colors, you wait in the lunge until your color is announced. That went very smooth. All public areas on the ship are very nice. We loved the Ships Samsara Spa, although its very pricey we had great massage at the portuguese masseur Henrique, he was perfect. we did not use the other facilities of the fitness center but it looked nice. Summarizing, on our next Cruise we would prefer NCL or RCCL again, we would take Copsta again only for a special super deal. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Overview: We just returned from the Costa Serena's West Med/Canary Island 11 nightmare cruise and conclude that Costa is not interested in a long-term relationship. Although the ship was beautiful and new and the itinerary was good, ... Read More
Overview: We just returned from the Costa Serena's West Med/Canary Island 11 nightmare cruise and conclude that Costa is not interested in a long-term relationship. Although the ship was beautiful and new and the itinerary was good, it was an absolutely abominable cruise - by far the worst of the 13 I've been on and our entire table of eight Americans (well over 100 cruises total) agreed on one thing -we'll never go on Costa again. Rooms were good and roomy enough and stewards did a great job but no chocolate on pillow and no towel animals - just basics. Itinerary - Casablanca was dirty and polluted but if you go, for safety's sake take a tour, Canary Islands were only "OK" - just some volcanic islands, pretty but nothing spectacular. Best stops were Barcelona and Malaga but only had a few hours in Malaga. If Costa gave us a cruise, we would turn it down - life is too short and there are better things to do! Food and service - read on! Embarkation: Embarkation was dreadful - upon arriving at the ship, crowds of guests were in large tents with no seating available and Costa told us to get a shuttle bus to town and shop or go to a restaurant for lunch and return in two hours for our number to be called. After boarding they confiscated all non-European Union (including all American) passports and gave us a receipt and these were not returned until the morning of the last day as we left the ship. Also, after boarding you have to wait in another line to register your credit card with your sign and sail card as this is not done yet. This cruise is not for English speakers - no English programs on TV (except BBC/Euro News) and the English language announcements and programs were not always clear and at times inaccurate. For example, our table missed one show because the time put in the announcement was an hour later than the show start time. One person complained and was told the staff already knew about the error but consciously did not make an attempt to notify the English speaking guests. This seemed typical. If you aren't Italian, you are left out and they don't seem to care. Ship had so many smokers that secondary smoke seemed to be present everywhere - my wife's eyes were irritated the entire cruise. Children are free so there were lots and they ran all over with little supervision. Food and Dining: Food in the self service restaurant - it was cold to barely warm, dripping of grease and oil, at times touched by other passengers' hands and the same at all food stations. Breakfast was identical everyday- bacon/ham/corn beef hash floating in oil, cold scrambled eggs and no omelet station to have it your way. There seemed to be plenty of icing covered pastries and white bread rolls. Juice had lots of added sugar and the coffee was the worst I've ever tasted. Dining room entrees for dinner were frozen and heated on site per the menu notes. Quality of dining room food was acceptable but serving sizes were small. Dining staff got our table's orders wrong every night in one way or the other. For example, one night I ordered fish and got beef; two others ordered duck and got pork, etc. This was a nightly occurrence. Forget that great chef- he doesn't exist on Costa. No Eggs Benedict, lobster, escargot, Beef Wellington or Steamship Round. Also, with the exception of breakfast in the dining room, there is an extra charge for Espresso or Cappuccino, that is if there is enough time at the end of the meal for coffee. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
It is a new ship in good condition. The suite and the butler were wonderful....had breakfast in the room to avoid the huge rude crowds. The food in the restaurant was gourmet for Italians and much worse than Denny's by American ... Read More
It is a new ship in good condition. The suite and the butler were wonderful....had breakfast in the room to avoid the huge rude crowds. The food in the restaurant was gourmet for Italians and much worse than Denny's by American standards. The norm was luke warm soup, horse leather beef, Pizza's with almost nothing ...not even sauce or cheese on them. The holy mass was held in a bar with paintings nude women touching each other. Children running around in the casino after midnight was normal. Drawings on the walls all around the ship were of Romans or Greeks in their birthday suits. We along with many others on the ship developed a stomach virus and sore throat. This resulted in days of non eating and diarrhea. We believe that it may be the result of the treated sea water that is used for making ice and in food preparation. If you are allergic to sulfur BEWARE. I developed a skin rash. Since they charge 50 Euro for seeing their doctor and then about the same for the gallon of bottled water he prescribes....illness must be a profit center. The internet service service is in booths that are in a hall way where children play. You may not use, or connect your own computer and must use their extra slow machine which costs 1/2 euro a minute. When we boarded they took our U.S. passports and told us they would be returned after a copy was made. Another lie, they gave us the copy. Imagine being stopped by police in Morocco or trying to leave the country for medical reasons with a photo copy of your passport. Fortunately a cruise line association attorney was on board and he advised me as to how to pressure the staff to see to it that when I am on land I have a real passport. If this is your first cruise, you have low expectations and you have very little money to spend on a cruise, you may enjoy it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We chose this cruise because of the exotic destination of Casablanca. The ship sailed out of the port in Savona. If you hadn't previously booked your hotels and transfers through Costa it was a challenge to get to this port. Also ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the exotic destination of Casablanca. The ship sailed out of the port in Savona. If you hadn't previously booked your hotels and transfers through Costa it was a challenge to get to this port. Also flights in and out of Genoa which is the nearest airport only fly on certain days which makes it complicated. We opted to fly in and out of Milan. We took a bus into Milan to the train station and boarded a train to Genoa where we would spend the night. When we got to Genoa there were about 30 stairs to haul baggage down and then up to the exit. No elevators that were working or an elevator. Don't know how handicapped people would do this. We had booked a hotel around the corner from the train station - The Galata Hotel. Lovely people and very helpful. They tried to get us on a bus transfer with Costa, but no seats were available. I refused to climb those stairs again and we ended up taking a taxi for 90 Euro to the ship. Getting on the ship was mass confusion. Costa isn't very well organized and even though they gave out boarding card numbers we discovered if you fought your way through the crowds and gave the card to the Costa employee there was a good chance that you could exchange it for an earlier boarding. After two hours of waiting we finally boarded. Our passports were taken away for some unknown reason and not returned until the end of the trip. Noone ever told us we had to go and activate our on board account, but found another massive line and figured out what needed to be done. Our cabin which was an inside cabin was very nice and had plenty of space. The TV worked occasionally but it didn't matter since we only had BBC Europe and who wants to watch TV anyway. Went up to the buffet for a late lunch. Most of the food during the cruise was usually not kept warm. Cold dry pancakes or waffles, half cooked bacon, powdered eggs, and bad coffee for breakfast. One day there was a Mexican buffet which was probably the best meal. The dining room for breakfast is also a buffet, but there is a menu where you can order a few things. No chance for Eggs Benedict on this cruise (my husbands favorite). Americans don't expect to find iced tea at the buffet! Though we had requested early dining, we were assigned late dining at around 9:15pm. The wait staff is very limited and at times it was 11:15pm and we were still not finished with dinner. The entrees were usually OK. My husband didn't think they were too well seasoned. They had only two salads available every night and this came after the main course. Between the appetizer and soup they had a pasta course. Deserts which are usually so very exciting were dismal and ice cream was usually the best. One night there was a parfait which was something square on the plate with no flavor whatsoever. Butter is very difficult to obtain. We did get a pitcher of iced tea with dinner, but never were offered coffee at the end of the meal. We had booked our shore excursions on-line prior to departure. This meant nothing. The excursions were cancelled without notice at 2 ports. We were only in Barcelona for 4 hours and wanted to go to the park with the Gaudi art which is rather far from the port. This was the tour that they canceled because of lack of English speaking people. There was a shuttle bus that just took us to another side of the port where we were able to obtain a taxi, but this was a very close trip to make with time restrictions. Several other tours were canceled. People at our dining table had a tour to Fez cancelled. Can you imagine going all the way to Morocco and then not being able to see the area? We went to Marrakech on a tour with Spanish speaking people which was fine. At least we experienced it. This was so exciting and I recommend seeing it! It is so exotic and like a trip back in time. We also enjoyed our tour in Lanzarote and rode camels which was so much fun. They cancelled Tenerife and we just walked around. This was so frustrating as you can imagine. Funchai, Malaga and Madiera were were nice and the tours were fine. We visited Mijas on Malaga and it was such a charming little place. The activities on board were mostly conducted in Italian. Hard to play Trivia when you don't understand the question. The musicians were horrible and there is no orchestra to accompany the shows. They mostly had musical shows or acrobats. One night there was a ventriloquist. Very difficult to include 4 or 5 languages. One show was performed by the crew. Seems like Costa likes to cut corners where they can. We were able to get a bus through Costa to the Milan airport which was the best way to go. We had train tickets which we threw away. It was nearly impossible to get any information prior to departure. Disembarkation wasn't as bad but we had to recover our passports which happened just about as we were ready to depart. It was tense!!!! Loved the ports, but would not consider another Costa Cruise. They can't handle English speaking people and don't seem to care. For Americans it's not the best dollar value because they charge you in Euros but if something had been $1.00 you will pay 1 Euro ($1.47). Tips were included without question but they didn't have envelopes for special servers. Don't know if this is good or bad. Might reflect on the service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
It is a new ship in good condition. The suite and the butler were wonderful....had breakfast in the room to avoid the huge rude crowds. The food in the restaurant was gourmet for Italians and much worse than Denny's by American ... Read More
It is a new ship in good condition. The suite and the butler were wonderful....had breakfast in the room to avoid the huge rude crowds. The food in the restaurant was gourmet for Italians and much worse than Denny's by American standards. The norm was luke warm soup, horse leather beef, Pizza's with almost nothing ...not even sauce or cheese on them. The holy mass was held in a bar with paintings nude women touching each other. Children running around in the casino after midnight was normal. If you like to hear children screaming, this will be a treat. Drawings on the walls all around the ship were of Romans or Greeks in their birthday suits. We along with many others on the ship developed a stomach virus and sore throat. This resulted in days of non eating and diarrhea. We believe that it may be the result of the treated sea water that is used for making ice and in food preparation. If you are allergic to sulfur BEWARE. I developed a skin rash. Since they charge 50 Euro for seeing their doctor and then about the same for the gallon of bottled water he prescribes....illness must be a profit center. Otherwise they can give medical care for ship illnesses for free. The internet service service is in booths that are in a hall way where children play. You may not use, or connect your own computer and must use their extra slow machine which costs 1/2 euro a minute. When we boarded they took our U.S. passports and told us they would be returned after a copy was made. Another lie, they gave us the copy. Imagine being stopped by police in Morocco or trying to leave a country for medical reasons with a photo copy of your passport. Fortunately a cruise line association attorney was on board and he advised me as to how to pressure the staff to see to it that when I am on land I have a real passport. If this is your first cruise, you have low expectations and you have very little money to spend on a cruise, you may enjoy it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Suggestion would be to come in one night before the cruise so as to not be so tired. Embarkation went fairly smoothly as we arrived past the influx of passengers. Caught the bus from Piazza Roma and then had to lug our suitcases to the ... Read More
Suggestion would be to come in one night before the cruise so as to not be so tired. Embarkation went fairly smoothly as we arrived past the influx of passengers. Caught the bus from Piazza Roma and then had to lug our suitcases to the baggage area. In turn had to walk back to the place where we were dropped off and preceded to the cruise terminal. Cabin was very nice. Everything still looked new and fresh. My cabin was at the stern of the boat which was great for departing the port of calls and the balcony was a good size. Sometimes a little noisy from the engines/vibrations etc. The cabin space was a little narrower than other cabins on the same deck (7402) but their balcony was much smaller. Staff/Food: Room steward was fantastic and did a great job. We had early seating and Hugo and Roy were great for remembering little extras. The food was pretty good in that you did have some choices which often included a European flair (rabbit, quail etc). I have had better cruise food on the Princess but it was horrible. Pizza was good and so were the chicken cutlets. Since I am not a huge desert fan can't really much about it except the ice cream was yummy in the dinning room. Buffet was alright but not a huge buffet fan anyhow. Shows: Not super impressed mainly because English was the second language and I don't speak much Italian. Out of 3000 passengers there were about 400-500 English speaking passengers. We went on the cruise for the Italian flavor and it was a little different. Ports: Bari could be left off. Olympia was a nice port and we took a Costa excursion to the sight of the first Olympics. Nice bus ride but time was cut short due to other tardy and inconsiderate passengers. Constantine our guide was very knowledgeable and quite good. Izmir and Istanbul were wonderful. We ended up taking a private tour from Ekol Travel and had two fantastic guides, Yelda and Omer (Istanbul). For the little bit extra it cost, it was so worth the amount we paid. Three of us with a guide through Ephesus and next day in Istanbul where we had a guide for 6-7 hours was the way to go. It was so personal and much more relaxing versus having to wait for other people to catch up etc. Croatia: Beautiful city with the marbled streets. We didn't do a tour but just walked around and enjoyed the sights. Tendering off the ship wasn't bad and for the most part they were organized. If you had an excursion you got off the ship quicker. Disembarkation was actually smooth. In fact it was one of the quickest I have ever been on. Guess it helped to have a red label which got us off the ship in the 2nd grouping. We had a transfer to the airport for 15 Euros and well worth it as we needed to get back to the airport to rent a car for few days. Overall it was good cruise. I don't think I would take a Costa cruise again as I feel that there are better lines for my needs. There wasn't anything bad about the cruise but for me it will probably be the last one. Service was good, food not bad, ports were great (except Bari) and cabin was nice. Be warned the smokey cigarette smell gets a little old. They need better air cleaners in the 12 bars on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We sailed the Eastern Med from Sep. 9-17 on the Costa Serena. We had a wonderful time.We were picked up promptly at the airport by Costa representatives, boarded a bus and arrived at the port. Embarkation was slow, however, we waited 2 ... Read More
We sailed the Eastern Med from Sep. 9-17 on the Costa Serena. We had a wonderful time.We were picked up promptly at the airport by Costa representatives, boarded a bus and arrived at the port. Embarkation was slow, however, we waited 2 hours to board. Our balcony stateroom on the 8 level was great. It had a queen size bed, couch, and had more storage room than we could use. The ship was very quiet at night. Our cabin steward, Oscar, was always available. Dinner in the Ceres dining room was wonderful. We were seated with 3 other couples, two from the states, and one from Ireland. We enjoyed their company as well as the food very much. Our servers couldn't have been better ( or more fun ) Albert and Reynosa were very professional, as well as fun. One night we all danced to Italian songs, had a Conga line around the dining room, and servers had their own lip-synced acts that were hilarious. We enjoyed the shows, they weren't maybe first rate all the time, but entertaining nonetheless. The ship's decor was a little over the top, like Vegas, but the ship itself had an intimate feel for being so large. The personnel everywhere on board were very kind and helpful. We didn't take any ship excursions, did private ones, but I heard that they were very good. Disembarkation was a breeze. We would recommend a cruise on the Costa Serena. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Costa Serena. A brand new ship. Absolutely chaotic. Costa has not been able to implement many of their processes in the ship when it comes to customer service. We could see the staff struggling when you went to them with questions or ... Read More
Costa Serena. A brand new ship. Absolutely chaotic. Costa has not been able to implement many of their processes in the ship when it comes to customer service. We could see the staff struggling when you went to them with questions or queries. Must admit, the ship herself was beautiful, latest equipment and great interiors and decor. Loved it. Had bad experience in the following matters: 1. Embarkation was a mess. No clear priority was demonstrated for Suite class passengers 2. Very bad communication through the Indian Travel agent. We never received any information package after we booked the cruise except for one cruise confirmation ticket. NOTHING ELSE. Therefore we had to end up doing lots of paper work when we reached the ship. 3. Some of their staff in the ship were racist and clearly demonstrated hatred towards an Indian family (that we are one). 4. Asian vegetarian food was tough to find. In India, costa had advertised that they will provide Indian food on board. But we did not find it. I had to fight and ask, post which they gave me some basic indian vegetarian food everyday. 5. Activities for Children was an absolute let down. Our nine year old didn't have any good activities to participate. 6. The customer service centre in the ship always had very Loooonnnggg queues. 7. Not very friendly for english speaking passengers. Italian and Spanish were clearly the main preferred language. English took a back seat and all announcements made in English lacked clarity and lacked appropriate pronunciation. 8. Destinations like Bari, Italy and Dubrovnik in Croatia are absolute waste of time. 9. Shore excursion was fairly okay but for at Dubrovnik, Croatia. We had a nightmarish experience with a shore guide called Mr Mario who was hired by Costa for a guided tour. He was an arrogant, loud mouthed dictator. He did not allowed us to board the tour bus because we were eating ice-creams. He shut the door of the bus and made us stand in the street. Finally he allowed us to board after we threw the icecreams in the dust bin. He did not allow an elderly woman do take a toilet break. She abandoned the guided tour because of that. Costa did not demonstrate careful screening and selection of tour guides. 10. Costa may not be friendly for elderly people to travel given the way they select tour guides. What was good about the cruise? 1. Great ship. Brand new. Looks lovely. New gadgets 2. friendly staff in room service Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Me and my partner are aged 20 and 21 and this is the first cruise we have both ever been on, I will write about things that we wanted to know about before we left but were unable to find out about, as well as the general experience. When ... Read More
Me and my partner are aged 20 and 21 and this is the first cruise we have both ever been on, I will write about things that we wanted to know about before we left but were unable to find out about, as well as the general experience. When we arrived at the airport on date of departure a Costa Representative met us at check-in where we were ticked off on a list so that the ship were able to be notified of who had boarded the plane. We were not told about a Representative being at the airport whom we were meant to approach it was just by luck that we saw her, so make sure if you see a costa Representative holding a costa sign you go to see them. When we arrived in Venice we collected our luggage and headed out the terminal. As we had booked a transfer from the airport to the port another costa Representative holding a costa sign took us all to a point to wait for everyone else with a transfer, we were all then taken to a coach and then taken to the port. Im not to sure of the procedure if your making your own way to the ship however there were lots of taxis waiting outside. When we arrived at the port we collected our luggage from the bus and passed the luggage to the staff where we had stopped, which was the last time we saw our luggage till we boarded the ship. We were all given a number (ours was 14) and were told to wait in the port lobby until our number was called to embark the ship. We did not have to fill out any other forms other than what we had received in our costa booklet. The lobby area looked extremely busy and we thought we were going to be waiting for hours (specially as everyone stands waiting right at the entrance where everyone needs to go!)however when the numbers were called it was a quick process, it took an hour from stepping foot off the coach to stepping on the ship. When we got onto the ship we were all sent to the buffet area on deck 9 where we were all able to get some food and a drink. Although we hadn't had our ship card any drinks purchased were charged by giving your cabin number. We were told we could go to our cabin about 2:30 - 3:00pm (cant remember exactly) where our suitcases were there ready outside our doors and our cabin key in the door so we could let ourselves in. At the time we entered the cabin our cabin steward greeted us straight away. We had a cabin with a balcony, and the size was generous, the bathroom was small but adequate to shower in, we had a single wardrobe each and a separate wardrobe with shelving which had a full length mirror in it! The bed was huge so perfect for anyone really, and the balcony had two seats and a table perfect for sitting outside however not for sunbathing! We also had a minibar priced the same as at any of the bars on the ship and a safe which locked and unlocked using your costa card,a hairdryer was in the top drawer to use however I still used mine as it wasn't quite powerful enough. We then decided to explore the ship and the decoration was absolutely amazing, every possible detail you could think of was somewhere on the ship, everything was lights and neons. We were first sitting at dinner and were told this would be at 7:30 when it was actually at 7:00 and the second sitting was at 9:30. Dinner every night was absolutely gorgeous in our opinion plenty to choose from consisting of picking a meal from each of the following courses, appetizers, soup, pasta, main, salad, cheese and biscuits and a dessert. Service was fantastic and the staff were very friendly, a kids menu was available and coloring books were given to the children. We chose to pay for the x1 package costing £49 for the week which meant we could have softdrinks, water, wine and beer during lunch and dinner. This was a fantastic offer and would recommend it. Orange juice, Grapefruit juice, water, coffee and tea is available to everyone for free at breakfast, however at lunch we were able to use x1 where we had fanta, beers, coke and wine and however many you wanted there was no limit. At dinner the x1 packages meant beer (which was carlsberg) was given in half pint glasses and red or white wine was given by the bottle which was left with you at the table and opened fresh every night by the waiter. The wine given with the package was either the house red or the house white wine. We also had a bottle of water free which we ordered each night with the wine as well as being able to have the usual soft drinks with the package. On more than one of the nights we had 2 bottles of wine without having to pay any extra with dinner there are no limits with the package which we ordered through our travel agent. Breakfast was from 7:00 till 10:30 offered everything from yoghurts, cereal to sausage and bacon. Lunch was from 12:00 till 5:30 where you had the choice of meats pasta and a grill bar including chips. Pizza was served from 12:00pm till 1:30am, and the buffet stayed open during your main dinner as well if you should decide you should not want to go one night. There a different cocktail of the day everyday costing 4.75 euros for a small and 5 euros for a large + 15% service charge (which is charged on everything you buy from bars,your minibar and restaurants, you do not pay this on photos or from shops or anything free!) these are gorgeous and definitely worth trying if you like cocktails. A standard 6 euros is charged per person per day for your waiter service and steward therefore for the duration of our stay it was 42 euros each, but from my understanding we were with people who had young children and this could be altered on queering this at reception. All day there was activities to go to which were listed in our today magazine which was left for us on our bed about 9:00 each evening. These consisted of quizzes, aquagym activities e.g waterareobics, dance lesson by the poolside, tournaments, spa seminars as well as evening listings regarding the theatre, the grand bar activities singers in each bar etc. The theatre is well worth attending the shows were very good it did not feel as though we were in a theatre on a ship with the standard, and the technology was very good however it all depends on your opinion to what you like when it comes to seeing a show. As I said earlier we went with people who had children, and the children did complain that the kids club was not very good for english speakers as they did not hold the clubs in english, so they never actually knew what was happening. I have read reviews that english felt they were a last thought when it came to announcements, but what we have to remember is this is an italian ship however not all announcements were said in english. But the staff were very good with the english language. I had read italians do not queue and will just 'push' as such, this is very true it is very much every man for themselves! Only a minority of holiday makers were english on our trip. We did not book any excursions as we had read ourselves that a lot of the trips could be done ourselves, but we were to told to book to go Ephos at Izmir if we were to go any but unfortunately there were no places left. When we went on to land there were taxis waiting which did offer to take you on round trips, the same as those offered by the ship which we did on more than one occasion and this did work out cheaper and the driver even told us information about the places whilst driving. We paid at the end of the journey, therefore the driver waited for us at every stop. We got off at Bari as soon as we were told we could being 11:00am and this was mad there was no order everybody just headed for the door, we then learnt that if we waited for about half an hour to an hour getting off the ship was much more relaxed and easier. Getting back on to the ship was very quick and easy. We were unable to stop off at Olympia due to fires, however the ship were very good at arranging a stop off at Mykonos which was very well organized with coaches waiting to take us to the town. On disembarking the ship we had to leave our cases outside our door by 1:00am Sunday morning which had the color stickers attached that had been left in our cabin on the saturday. Due to booking a transfer we received a letter on saturday afternoon telling what time our pick up was. We had to leave our cabin by 8:30am however I was up at 6:00am due to having to pay my balance on my costa card as I paid cash (Balance on cash payments had to be paid between 6:00 -8:00am)We left the ship according to which color tags we were given so we could collect a luggage from the port area and leave at the drop off area which was free for us due to booking a transfer of 4 euros per luggage for those who haven't. A free shuttle bus took us in to venice so we could enjoy the day till we had to go get our transfer. This was the only bad part of our holiday as our pick up was at 5:30pm and our flight wasn't till 10:30pm which meant we were at the airport for 5 hours, which made us feel like we were just left and that was it. Yet again a costa representative met us at the airport which ticked us off the list again to ensure we had arrived. One other thing pools are very small from what I've heard they are smaller than that on other cruises,specially when lots of kids are jumping in and out all day, so if you want to do lengths go early! I hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
A little personal background. I am a early 50's male traveling with a female. I live in Canada, but born in Europe. I speak several languages. I have cruised with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity (4), Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Now ... Read More
A little personal background. I am a early 50's male traveling with a female. I live in Canada, but born in Europe. I speak several languages. I have cruised with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity (4), Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Now Costa. The lowest ranking Costa by far. I will try to explain why. It is a very nice ship, reminded me of the Carnival Pride. Fair size cabin and balcony. Now someone had a great idea, allow cellphones to work on the ship in port and at sea. The ship was full to the max. I think 3750 and 1008 crew. Phones were ringing non-stop including dinner. Many of the crew were standing around and sending test messages. Don't bring fancy dresses and tuxes. I saw 2 tuxes, you will stand out. Shirt and a jacket will do. It was my first cruise where I felt the food was poor. Mostly starches and salty meats. Very few veggies. I should have practiced my Italian before the cruise. 80% of the announcements are Italian only, you kind of feel left out. The itinerary has one to many ports. We were running late leaving Venice ( no fault of Costa ) but it was catch-up the rest of the way. The entertainment just plan poor. We did an excursion in every port. Bari is an old city and most of the old town is very close to where the ship docks. Save your money here, walk into town or take the little train at the end of the dock. I am still not sure why Costa has this as a stop. Katakolon we did the olympia tour, great tour. The only draw back is the very short time to do some shopping in town less that 30 minutes. We managed to purchase a few things. Izmir, we did the 'Homer' tour, again a very good tour, would have love more time in the town. We were very impressed by Turkey. Istanbul, we did a 9.5 hour tour, by far the best. Great lunch included. No doubt that Istanbul is the highlight of the cruise. Dubrovnik, save your money. Take the tender into town and treat you selves to a nice lunch in one of the small streets in town. We had a family group of 11 people. I did look at the wine packages, but found that it was kind of clear out the closet. Wine range from 17 euros and up, the low priced wine are very good. A pint of beer will cost you 4.5 euros. The big surprise to me was the service charges, 6 euros per adult per day total. This is very low :-). Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
7 Nt Eastern Med on the brand new Costa Serena (8 th Cruise). Embarkation in Venice was hectic and unorganized like on any Costa Cruise, as the just don't tell passengers that there simply is NO need to check in - the form delivered ... Read More
7 Nt Eastern Med on the brand new Costa Serena (8 th Cruise). Embarkation in Venice was hectic and unorganized like on any Costa Cruise, as the just don't tell passengers that there simply is NO need to check in - the form delivered with the travel docs needs to be filled in an go aboard, thats it... Venice harbour was closed due to a holiday so the ship was parked at Maghera and all 3800 pax were tendered to the Serena - surprisingly the bags were there when we arrived Cabin - quite large, very good stowage, unusually large bathroom and shower with curtain The ship... 3800 pax (ship was absolutely full) on a 112000 ton ship feels sometimes quite cramped, especially in the Buffet restaurant. 3 pools filled with saltwater but only 3.5 ft deep, one pool is adults only - thats the one with only kids in it (nobody cares) and they do nothing else but dive into the pool 10 times a minute... Sufficient deckspace and deckchairs - so never a problem to get one and sufficient towels as well. Ship was kept very clean all the time except for some rust in the pool where the color was just falling off (after only 8 weeks in service !). The decks are just plain steel covered with blue paint, which gets really hot (no wood). The interior - either you like it or you don't... the theme is mythology which means really nice decor in the hallways but quite dark in the atrium and other public rooms. Almost all of the public rooms are lighted by blue-green-red lights which are lighted in intervals to change the color all the time (just like on any newer Carnival ship). The atrium is 7 decks high, has 3 glass elevators, the top is like a sky with clouds having characters sitting on it - nice touch. Aircondition - On our cruise it was much too hot in the cabin and in public rooms. After complaining several times (Absolutely no answer if you just call Guest Services) it was a little better but it wasn't possible to get the temp in the cabin below 75 Fahrenheit... in the public rooms it was at some spots freezing cold and a few feet further boiling hot. By the way its allowed to smoke everywhere except in the dining rooms. The food - thats the very very very weak point of the story... the chef has obviously never heard about salt, sugar or any kind of seasoning. No lobster, no steak. Breakfast in the Self Service Restaurant: 1 sort of roll, butter, jam, 2 different cheeses, salami, pancakes, 2 different danish, hard boiled eggs, salmon, Fruit: greengage, plum and sometimes pineapple, terrible coffee, orange or grapefruit juice (thin with very chemical taste)... NO other eggs, NO omelettes. There are 8 Stations which all serve the same thing (6 Inside, 2 Outside) Lunch in the Self service Restaurant (only from 12 to 2pm): 2 large plates with pizza, 6 different salads, 6 different sides, one day prime rib the other day veal shank (alternating), 2 different desserts, usually jelly or very dry muffin shaped cake or ice cream (made of water) -- NOT more thats it... Coffee and water are free (only from 12 to 2 pm, thereafter they cover the machines). A small beer (8 oz) is USD 5,40 (thats the cheapest drink)... Dinner in the Restaurant, Service was absolutely top notch, food again terrible e.g. pasta just cooked in water without salt, sauce on top not seasoned at all, just tomatoes... fish was bland, desserts not sweet (felt like biting on cardboard). However they use very good ingredients but the preparation lacks... Pasta was always cooked too long, fish sometimes raw, meat always well done Midnight Buffet (3 times a week) - but always the same thing: 1 large plate with meat products, one with cheese and one with shrimp (no sauce of course) and some desserts (all tasteless). On the 3rd evening the buffet was made up in the kitchen, nice to see but quite smelly. Destinations: Bari - nice to see little south Italian town Katakolon - if you don't go to Olympia (Air Temp was 100 F) there are some nice Restaurants and Cafes on the shore Izmir - either visit Ephesos or take a walk and visit the Bazar Istanbul - lots to do... stay is almost too short Dubrovnik - always nice but Tendering with Costa is a pain (they ask all people who have not booked an excursion to be at a longer at a certain time to pick up tender tickets and then you must wait at the lounge until they call your Number - no announcement via the pa); No tender ticket - no tender... Entertainment - First of all the Cruise Director is the most useless person aboard this ship as he did absolutely nothing, no "Welcome Aboard" no "Goodbye" no "Welcome Aboard show" no "Farewell show", nothing.... At the Captains Gala Cocktail the Prosecco had to be paid at USD 7,80 per glass... what a shame The Shows we saw were very good, 2 production shows, ventriloquist, however the magician was absolutely nonsense. There is not much entertainment for people in the mid age except one pool party from 11 to 12 pm and the Sixties show at the same time. Strangely enough the last drink order at the Bars is at 1am as they close at 1:30 am; Compared to that the teen program was from 9 pm to 3 am... And if you wanted to dance classic (like Waltz etc) which was used the some elderly passengers there were 3 spots; However - no music or band at any of the pools or in the dining room However in general it was a cruise on an almost new ship, very good crew, nice destinations and horrible food. Would I recommend the route ? Yes - definitely Would I recommend the ship ? Yes - if you have to loose weight Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
After spending 5 weeks with relatives in Sicily we certainly needed the peace and quiet of the cruise. Boarding in Venice the queue was quite long at the dock. The 3700 passengers were processed very quickly once we got the method sorted ... Read More
After spending 5 weeks with relatives in Sicily we certainly needed the peace and quiet of the cruise. Boarding in Venice the queue was quite long at the dock. The 3700 passengers were processed very quickly once we got the method sorted out. There was Tea and coffee and wine and water in the docking lounge with not quite adequate seating but very well organized. The photo with the staff on boarding was a surprise. The Ship was on its 3rd cruise out and very new. Everything was beautifully clean and the dining and public areas were spotless. They were continually cleaning everything. Every time we went to the cabin to shower and change the towels were replaced. The Meals were very well presented and the waiters very friendly They even had our favorite drinks on the table at the time we arrived for our dinner. The themed suppers were excellent my only complaint with that was the waiter on the door recognized me and noted the absence of my husband. I explained he was tired and had stayed in the room. She promptly sent me with a full tray of his favorite Italian deserts ( Canoli ) so that he would not miss out. She directed me to have a private party on our balcony to keep him company. This I thought was a lovely touch. The Towns of Bari (which although we have traveled in Italy extensively we had never seen) and Dubrovnik which was a major reason for the choice of cruise were amazing. We passed very close to the Island of Kithera which has family connections and was wonderful to see.At Izmir the bus broke down on the city tour but it was nothing that the operator had any control over and the replacement bus was quickly supplied. After waiting till 2am to see the ANZAC Cove Memorial which was amazing even from the boat at night. Istanbul was wonderful and wandering in the Bazzar amazing. The museum and the Blue Mosque were really worth the cost of the tour. To stand in such a place where people have worshiped for centuries is wonderful. On the whole the experience was nothing short of amazing. That is why we have decided to take the 14 day Cruise on the Costa Allegra in Asia in a few weeks time. It is distressing to read such reports of previous cruises on the Allegra. I hope our cruise experience is not as bad. I was hoping next year to go on the Classica on her 14 day cruise to Japan but it will really depend on our experience with the Allegra. I think the Serena has spoiled us for the other ships. I thought that the standard would be consistent through out the Costa Line and we enjoyed the Italian Experience. The fact that the ship is ECO friendly and disposes of all of its waste as fertilizer to the Islands of Greece was a real plus for us.Out of 10 I would give 10+ without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
After four cruises with four different cruise lines, all in the Caribbean (Norwegian, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity) I guess I had a reasonable idea of what to expect in a cruise. How wrong was I... this is nothing like the usual ... Read More
After four cruises with four different cruise lines, all in the Caribbean (Norwegian, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity) I guess I had a reasonable idea of what to expect in a cruise. How wrong was I... this is nothing like the usual US-based cruise in terms of efficiency, quality and customer service. You could have a nice time, and many passengers did, as long you forget what a really efficient and well organized quality cruise should be like. The cruise left from Venice, a wonderful point of departure, and the terminal is practically within walking distance of the old city (assuming you are not lugging six months' worth of clothes with you, as so many people seem to...). There was an efficient bus transfer from Piazza Roma to the terminal, a mere 5 minutes away. Once we left the bus, we kind of said good-by to civilization. There were no signs indicating how to approach the embarkation point, three different Costa uniformed employees who spoke barely any English gave wrong or conflicting information, and people were ambling in every direction trying to find their way. Once in the departure hall, again there was no proper signage explaining where to go and what to do, and the entire embarkation process was a complete shambles compared to what happens in ports like Miami, Fort Lauderdale or San Juan. Passengers needed to get a numbered card indicating their order of embarkation, but the cards were not always handed out in order of arrival. People arriving more than an hour later got cards entitling them to earlier embarkation. There were only a couple of clerks dealing with the embarkation process, so waiting up to a couple of hours was common. Once on the boat, the interior is something of a shock if you expect anything stylish or elegant. The boat, although relatively new (2007) is decorated in a style that is liable to induce severe headaches in the more faint hearted. It is a style hard to describe, something of a mixture of a tacky second-rate Las Vegas casino where no amount of gold or red is too much, a gipsy boudoir, and the psychedelic dream of an aging hippy. Red, purple, silver and gold dominate, and instead of understated elegance, or indeed any elegance at all, the dominant impression is one of a down-market side show alley. How anyone could have paid good money for such awful design is entirely incomprehensible. The cabins are spacious and well equipped, similar in size and amenity to Carnival's more recent ships (indeed, the ship was almost identical to, although much cheaper looking if possible, than Carnival Triumph on which we sailed before). As Carnival owns Costa, this is hardly surprising. The cabin staff (mostly Filipinos and Indonesians) were extremely efficient and helpful, and if possible, even more hardworking than on the US ships. The public areas were similar in size and efficiency to Carnival ships, and there was some crowding at peak times in the buffet and the restaurant. One huge difference to US based cruises was the clientele (mostly Italians). On the other hand, unlike on US cruises, there were lots of incredibly badly behaved and barely controlled, noisy and obnoxious children and teenagers. As a result, relaxation was often impossible near the pools, spas and in many of the public areas. Although one of the pool areas were nominally reserved for adults only, in fact this was never monitored, and essentially there was no place on the ship where peace and quite could be obtained. This is a simple matter of getting security personnel to enforce this rule, but they seemed to be absent or looked on in amusement as teenagers were waterbombing the adults-only spas while adults were scampering to escape. Unless Costa urgently does something to keep some areas of the ship free from gangs of uncontrolled children and teenagers, anyone hoping for any peace or quite on their cruise should avoid selecting this ship. Food was generally boring and predictable, ranging in quality from bad to tolerable, and nowhere near the standard one expects on US based ships, including on Carnival. No attempt was ever made to offer anything interesting or out of the ordinary. There was the usual unlimited quantity, but almost no real quality. The evening menus never featured any of the more unusual choices one finds on any carnival ship. Meat was often dry and overcooked, vegetables watery, the seafood rubbery and tasteless. In one word, very disappointing. The buffet functioned well enough in handing out copious quantities of food, but again, the menu was almost the same every day - lots of pastas, stews, pizza, salad but nothing really interesting and unusual. The food on my last cruise, on Norwegian Pearl, was incomparably better, and even Carnival Triumph was head and shoulders above Costa Concordia. The entertainment was reasonable. The shows were of high quality, with good dancers (mostly russians) and the now standard russian aerial acrobats (one really wonders why circus artists and acrobats are still trained in such numbers in Russia - maybe this is an art from that was especially appreciated in times of dictatorship!?). However, any entertainment relying on language (eg comedians) was absent, as there was no common language all guests could understand. Most announcements were made in five languages, which can get tiring. Unlike on other cruises where the cruise director is everywhere, the cruise director on Concordia (a somewhat lumpy Italian woman) only ever appeared to announce and finish the shows, and could not be seen at any other time. The rest of the entertainment crew did a creditable job organizing activities and feigning enjoyment while dancing in the various venues at night. There were a number of music venues at night, of variable quality. There were several venues with Latin music, which I personally find rather boring and repetitive, but it is a matter of taste of course. Unfortunately, there was not one place where one could dance to good old classic rock and roll, except in the central lobby, which is not a place made for dancing or indeed any kind of intimacy. So, despite the notion that Europeans are keen dancers, this ship was not different from a similar Carnival ship. The itinerary was a mixed bag, and the stops were far too short in some places to properly see anything. The first stop was Bari, barely three hours, only enough to have a quick walk around before it was time to leave. The next stop, Katakolon in Greece, is really a one-street village, and it was impossible to get to nearby Olympia by any means other than an overpriced tour. Izmir was an interesting city, but again, one could only really get to Ephesus on a pre-booked, and extortionately priced tour. The city was interesting enough, with a nice old town, wonderful old mosques and an interesting bazaar. Istanbul, the next stop was of course everything one expects, and this time there was enough time to have a reasonable walk around, visit the Top Kapi palace, the Blue Mosque, the Agia Sophia and get lost in the bazaar, which we all did. Finally, Dubrovnik of course is a gem, and we were fortunate that we were taken right into the heart of the old city by tender boat. Dubrovnik is just the right size to see and experience in the few hours we had, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, evocative and interesting old seaside cities anywhere, despite the thousands of tourists (of whom I was, of course, one...). Disembarkation in Venice was reasonable fast. Overall we had a good holiday, saw some wonderful places, but it would have helped not to have the kind of expectations we had based on US cruises. Many of the problems could have been ironed out if only the ship had better management who paid more attention tod details. If you don't expect good food, elegant environments, peace and quiet, but are resigned to participate in a mass holiday experience which this undoubtedly is, you will have a nice enough time. The best way to describe Costa Concordia, this is like a Carnival cruise, with far worse decor and design, much worse food, much less efficiency... enjoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
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

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click