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146 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

The cabins and cabin service was excellent except that my veranda had no lounge chair, two dirty patio chairs and was showered daily by coal soot from the chimney. The Food in formal restaurant was pretty mediocre, overcooked fish, ... Read More
The cabins and cabin service was excellent except that my veranda had no lounge chair, two dirty patio chairs and was showered daily by coal soot from the chimney. The Food in formal restaurant was pretty mediocre, overcooked fish, undercooked pasta, blend chewy poultry, tastless tomatoes (For June in Italy) and horrible lettuce, although they tried for grandiose 6 course dinners. Wines are expensive. The informal restaurant was like a school cafeteria at best , all plastic plates, glasses, cups. Food very poor, choices very very repetitive. Menus rather unhealthy, big lines. Breakfast was the worst. Never went hungry but never enjoyed the food either. The shows were of low quality, one was just a video where there were less than 20 people in attendance, that says it all on a ship with thousands to entertain. The pools are totally overcrowded and taken over by children, they get murky quickly and they are so small that 3 strokes and you are at the other end. The free sport classes are only 25 min long and so beginner level. They are given in a place where smokers are allowed and kids scream. On the ship in general, smoking is on all decks and lots of lounges. You cant sunbathe without a smoker nearby, except my own cabin where I got sprayed with Chimney soot!!! nice alternative. Spa staff was rude, contrary to others that were extremely nice and attentive. The clientele is rather low end Europeans, mostly Germans that push and shove to get to the top of the line. The free seminars were a in fact a sales pitch to get you to buy a fitness assessment. The excursion are run in-house with inexperienced guides and buses crammed with 4 languages. Cost for a return 2 km ride to downtown by bus without guide was 9 euros in Ibiza. Internet was slow, and a rip-off, they make you pay for time to do the mandatory registration, so checking email 5 minutes came to 11 euros... This week was a big mistake that did not come cheap at about $1600 + mandatory gratuity of 49 Euros for one week. Could have book a week for a delightful stay at Club Med instead with great food. Stay away from Costa, I have way more bad stuff to report but you probably get the drift by now.But the funniest was the closing session host telling us that in the satisfaction survey we must fill everything with excellent because it we thought it was fair, the Americans from Carnival who own Costa expected a "excellent" rating. Something's lost in translation, Fair is Excellent on Costa! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Worst cruise ever!!! I have been on over 20 cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Premier (got to be old to remember that one). I booked the Costa Serena for 8 of us, 2 families with adult children, mostly due to the ... Read More
Worst cruise ever!!! I have been on over 20 cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Premier (got to be old to remember that one). I booked the Costa Serena for 8 of us, 2 families with adult children, mostly due to the itinerary. We embarked in Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome). Most people had embarked in Savona, so embarkation was very quick. Strange thing, they insisted on taking our passports stating that Italian Customs required they keep them in a safe. The passports would be reviewed by authorities prior to disembarkation and returned to us. What if we had an issue in port?? Also in the past 2 years I was on a cruise from Venice and another from Stockholm and was able to keep my passport. Muster drill was done in English for the few of us English speaking guests onboard. We met in a lounge then up to life boats. Paul, the English speaking host was very informative and stated that the ship would sail at only 50% capacity for this week. Wow, things don't look good for Costa. Considering the low occupancy rate, I thought it was funny that we were not given any upgrades. I paid full price for 3 cabins back in November and watched the price go down to $299 pp prior to sailing, after final payment. I called my travel agent and Costa to try to get an upgrade or any other type of compensation but they would not budge. You would think that an upgrade that costs them nothing would be good customer service, especially after all the bad press! Then negatives... -5 Euro charge for breakfast in your cabin -2 Euro charge for room service -10.50 Euro for a vodka and OJ, charge separately for each -no lido deck buffet for dinner, dining room ONLY for dinner -dinner menu with very few choices, 2 soups, 2 appetizers, 2 pasta, 4 main -no steak, fillet or lobster -breakfast in the dining room was a buffet? Same as lido deck. - midnight buffet with all the carvings, but no food. Waiters walked around with trays of cookies?? -setting up onboard charges with a machine that didn't work, purser's desk would not help, yes I did it online prior to boarding -very poor service from onboard staff, purser's desk The only excursion I booked with Costa was from Savona to Monoco which I paid for in March. Three days into the cruise I noticed a very small note in the "Today", daily paper that the excursion had been cancelled. I went down to the shore excursion desk and was told that it was cancelled because it was too close to the grand prix. They stated that I would not be reimbursed with my original form of payment but they would give me an onboard credit to cover all my expenses and tips!! Since I had to pay for tips and onboard charges I figured it would all work out. I was wrong, the last day when the final bill arrived I was not given the credit and had multiple charges?? After talking to the shore excursion desk and the purser's desk no one was willing to help. I was told to dispute the charge with my credit company. When I came home I emailed Costa and a Costa representative called me. She said that in the fine print of the cruise contract it states that shore excursions cancelled after sailing will be reimbursed as an onboard credit. She went on to say that onboard credits do not include reimbursements for tips and that no cash refund is given. After much discussion Costa agreed to send me a check. Just Crazy!! Upon disembarkation, the ship cleared customs and passengers were getting off but we had to wait for our passports. The passports sat behind the desk but we had to wait almost an hour because the desk didn't open until 8am!!! In over 20 cruises I have never had a bad cruise. This is actually my first cruise review, but I felt it necessary to let others know just how bad it was. I think the only positive reviews are from first timers. While I realize cruising has changed in 30 years I still find it a wonderful way to travel! Just not with Costa, never again!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We booked this cruise at the last minute (2 days before sailing) as it was only a 5 hour drive to the departure port. We got one of the last outside staterooms available and found ourselves on deck 1 about 5 cabins from the front of the ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (2 days before sailing) as it was only a 5 hour drive to the departure port. We got one of the last outside staterooms available and found ourselves on deck 1 about 5 cabins from the front of the ship. It was a great cabin (1218) and we'd take it again. There was no through traffic from other passengers so the hall was very quiet. Even though the ship is going on about 7 years, I saw no difference in quality to the very new Favolosa. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth! We were off the ship, had our luggage and retrieved our car in about 30 minutes. This was true at the ports as well - on and off with no trouble. Even when the ship was diverted towards Sardinia for a medical emergency, we still made our next port on time. The food at meal time was excellent....only let down by our rather dour waiter! Housekeeping was superb as were all the staff at the Squouk Club. It was quite a full cruise and my only complaint is that the public areas can be extremely crowded between meal times. However, I think this would be true on any large ship. We will happily go on another Costa cruise in future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We loved our itinerary and ports of call. We had private excursions arranged by a travel agency so I can't speak to excursions made through the ship. For the most part, the crew was very helpful and friendly. I had a suitcase ... Read More
We loved our itinerary and ports of call. We had private excursions arranged by a travel agency so I can't speak to excursions made through the ship. For the most part, the crew was very helpful and friendly. I had a suitcase not make it to Rome with with me and it didn't catch up to me for 5 days. The ship kept me notified of where the suitcase was and when I could receive it. We were very impressed with how multi-lingual the crew was. Multiple languages was sometimes a problem because, by the time they got to the English version, we weren't listening or didn't recognize it as English until they were two sentences into the announcement. It helped that we were traveling in a group of 78 so we had others to speak English with. We met a couple from Canada who were seated at a table for dinner with no one else who spoke English. Surely the cruise line could seat people by language so they could communicate! This ship had TWO safety drills--I'm sure because of the Costa Concordia disaster--but it was obvious they still didn't know what they were doing. The second one was run a little better than the first. Unlike reviews of the Western Med cruises, we didn't have people embarking and disembarking at every port so we weren't dealing with a lot of luggage in the halls. I guess we had a smaller number get on with us in Rome, so it was very easy getting on and off there. This is the largest cruise ship we have been on and it didn't seem any more crowded than the smaller ones. We didn't encounter any more long lines than on other cruises. Breakfast was the only meal we really enjoyed on the ship because we could have them make omelets the way we wanted them. We have loved the food on the Celebrity ships we have been on and the food on the Norwegian ships have been quite good. We found little at the lunch buffet or on the dinner menu that appealed to us. It was obviously geared toward European taste. For the most part, the passengers were friendly--unless you were in front of someone from a certain country in the buffet line. I had to elbow people from pushing me or reaching over my shoulder. They don't believe in standing in line a lot, and would walk down the outside of the buffet line and then cut in front of you when they see something they want. The dinner staff seemed very competent so we don't relate to the comments by other reviewers. We enjoyed everything about the dinners except most of what was on the menu. The buffet is not open during dinner, which is different from our experience on other ships. We had a veranda stateroom and I think this is the largest one we have had. It was very adequate for our 11 nights there. I did miss the towel animals other cruise lines put on your beds at night. I think we only stayed all the way through two of the shows at night. Overall it was a pleasant experience and very multi-cultural. I found that people of all nationalities responded to a smile and hello. I was surprised at how few shops they had for such a large ship. Shopping was VERY limited. Their fitness room was large and well equipped. We always went early and had no problem getting the machines and weights. The daily information sheet was not as informative as other cruise lines. Really, our only disappointment was the food. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
People smoking everywhere. Eatable food but not the Italian experience we were expecting. I had better food at the train station in Rome. Crew and staff very disorganized. It was very hard get to our Muster station and once there the ... Read More
People smoking everywhere. Eatable food but not the Italian experience we were expecting. I had better food at the train station in Rome. Crew and staff very disorganized. It was very hard get to our Muster station and once there the safety exercise took almost 2 hours.which we took in Savona, one full day after our departure. Two months after the Concordia disaster! Safety is not an issue with Costa. Crew did not have time for questions, even a simple one. We were always directed to the exceedingly long line at customer service desk. Italian, German, Spanish, Russian take precedence over English. The decoration was a crazy to our taste. Seems like the owner had a son studying art with a Major in Psychedelic 60's and he just let the boy design and decorate the interior of the boat. Disappointing if you have seen Rome/Venice architectural heritage. Itineraries are great, but very disorganized. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Four days after the Concordia drama, the fully booked Serena departed for a 12 day cruise to the Canary islands, but it was a very disapointing cruise for several reasons. -Safety: the safety exercice was reduced to standing in front ... Read More
Four days after the Concordia drama, the fully booked Serena departed for a 12 day cruise to the Canary islands, but it was a very disapointing cruise for several reasons. -Safety: the safety exercice was reduced to standing in front of the lifeboats for 30' with a short aviation-style explanation how to inflate the life jacket(4 days after Concordia disaster!) -The ship: too big (3800 pax)overcrowded with mostly italians from who you wander how they can afford such a trip (low price vacation offered to workers by company?): large "very popular"families with babies and badly educated children, noisy,no dress codes at all, eating huge amounts of food all day long and occupying all the spaces on board (reminder: we have done two other cruise with Costa with "normal" people....) -Design: where has gone the famous italian taste? Not a sinle inch is left without fancy-fair style decoration, crazy colours and figures all over. -Cabins: the only pluspoint (we had booked a balcony): soft design, very comfortable, excellent bedding, functionnal bathroom, lots of stowing space. -Restaurants: 2 classic restaurants (3800 pax!)but many "bad" tables:no view, against wall, close to kitchen entries and service islands = extremely noisy. No possibility at all to change. -Food: ok except poor choice at lunch in the classical restaurant and very repeatative in the overcrowded self-service (dirty tables due to too many crowds) -Staff: the non-europeans (asians a.s.o)are still very friendly and smiling, but demotivated since their (poor) wages were turned from € to $ (same amount!)for working 13h a day for 6-8 months without a single day off. The european staff is mostly ignoring the clients (especially if you are not italian) -Stops: on this trip , the Serena was mostly docked in the industrial parts of the harbours, very far away from the cities (shuttle tickets sold on board) -Entertainment: in the theater, 2/3 good shows, but all day long very loud games presented by screaming presentators all over deck 5 -Prices: have gone up a lot: 5€ per person for cabin breakfastservice(free untill last month), classic drink package at 119€, and even a guided ship visit at 75€ per person! Drinks in the bars also quite expensive (+15%service) CONCLUSION: if you are looking for a "serene" winterbreak in company of normal educated fellow travellers, avoid this noisy lower class fancy-fair. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I ... Read More
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I met the ship in Barcelona without much of a problem. The crew was extremely friendly, but a little scatterbrained at times trying to figure the logistics out for my late boarding. A few of them remembered me from that and yelled my name every time they saw me. It was hilarious. I know that my family had to wait about 3 hours during embarkation when they boarded in Rome. They weren't thrilled about that, so I'm glad I missed it. This cruise was immediately (a week or so) after the unfortunate Costa accident, so I anticipated the crew and travelers to be a little on edge, but that was not the case. The crew were amazing and lighthearted, extremely pleasant and accommodating. The negative reviews I had read were focused on the food, the fellow travelers and the ship's appearance. The reviewers who say that this is a different type of cruise that Americans may not be used to are absolutely correct. The ship was opulent, but in a very Italian way. This isn't a mini-Vegas, but it is a beautiful ship. Our interior room was bigger than I had expected. The bathroom was pretty and spacious. My parents' interior room was laid out differently, larger sleeping area but smaller bathroom. Both rooms were larger than I had anticipated. The food was delicious, but in a European way. No burgers or huge portions, but the quality was excellent. Again, this is a European cruise, not an American cruise. The late night pizza was fantastic. The breakfast buffet was enormous and delicious. The nightly dining room was so good that we never considered dining anywhere else. Our server Jerry was amazing! The passengers were....well, Italian. Having lived in Italy myself, I understand that social customs are slightly different than what people in the US might be used to. There is a bit of pushiness or less defined personal space rules and they speak a little louder, which may come across as rude if you aren't used to it. It's nothing extreme, just subtle differences that might confuse someone who is sensitive to that sort of thing. The most glaring issue was the lack of English. I speak Italian, but my family does not, so I had to do a fair bit of translating during the trip. The staff does speak English, but most of the passengers don't speak it very well, so it's a little isolating if you are English-speaking and are expecting to meet people. The ports were awesome. We had so much fun in each one of them. It was very easy to find transportation (like free buses) between the port and the downtown area. I missed the Savona port stop, so Barcelona was my first one. Barcelona is a great city. I have been several times (though never through a cruise) and have enjoyed it immensely. The port is located pretty far away from the city, you definitely need a bus/cab from where the ship docks. I tried walking from the city to the port and was defeated. As I was embarking from Barcelona, I have no idea what shore excursions were offered. The cruise initially embarked from Rome (Civitavecchia), so I'm sure there were some excursions that I was not privy to. I have but one complaint about the Barcelona stop - it was too short. About 4 hours. Barcelona is a HUGE city, and it would be very tough to get a feel for it in such little time. Casablanca was next, it was the stop I was most looking forward to, but most hesitant about. The reviews made it sound like a dump, but that was not the case. It was a bit of a hike from the port to the city, but worth it. There is a very authentic feel to this city, which I adore. I personally do not like very touristy areas, I'd prefer to go off the beaten path a bit. Casablanca allowed us to do so. There is a main market that you should stay away from, however. It did not feel safe and we were pushed around a bit. We mostly stayed to main roads and sites, and we had a great time. There is an excursion to Marrakech for the day, which we opted out of. The people who went seemed to have a nice time, though it was a lot of traveling for a short stay. I think that if you are comfortable finding your own things to do and see in Casablanca and aren't afraid of haggling in stores or dining in local eateries, you'll be fine staying in the city. If not, maybe the Marrakech excursion is a better option. Next up were the Canary Islands, Arrecife and Tenerife. Holy crap, Arrecife/Lanzarote is awesome! I HIGHLY recommend the Timanfaya park/camel ride excursion. It was unbelievable. I have about 500 photos from that excursion alone. It was the best port on the trip, hands down. The volcanos are stunning. Most of the island is volcanic, it's really fascinating. The camels are so much fun to ride. We learned a lot about the islands and it was so much fun! The tour ended with a wine tasting at the island's winery. Go on this excursion, you will not regret it! We did not go on any excursions on Tenerife, we just did some shopping and enjoyed the scenery. It was a little bit of a snooze town, but nice to be in. A little expensive. The last stop was Malaga, Spain. It was a nice town, again very pretty. We had a great time wandering, shopping, eating and just enjoying our last couple of days on the cruise together. Not sure I'd go back to Malaga, but they definitely had great shopping. Overall, I would recommend this cruise. It was a lot of fun, and the port stops were pretty great. I would absolutely cruise with Costa again, I'm looking into a Nordic cruise for next year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
After having a great initial cruise experience to Norway on Costa, we had a cruise from Hell the last time we went on this line. We swore we would never set foot on Costa again, however, the itinerary -- Greece, Turkey and Israel-- and the ... Read More
After having a great initial cruise experience to Norway on Costa, we had a cruise from Hell the last time we went on this line. We swore we would never set foot on Costa again, however, the itinerary -- Greece, Turkey and Israel-- and the time of year made us consider this cruise line again. If you read my previous post, we were put-off with the incompetence of the staff and the rudeness of the the fellow passengers. This time, we decided to try to control our experience with these variables by getting a suite, We figured that a larger room would serve to isolate us from the frenzied masses, and that a butler would help navigate our problems with incompetent and uncaring staff. By and large, this strategy helped. While I know that a suite option is not possible for all cruisers, being in the larger room enabled us to comfortably dine in privacy and avoid being assaulted in the buffet lines (truth be told, however, that we we did try the buffet at times, and there were fewer assaults this time!) When we did have problems that needed staff attention, our butler helped at times, and on other occasions, the staff appeared to give us better service. Not sure whether this was due to better training, or because they recognized us as suite passengers. We did try the main and speciality dining rooms, and the food as usual was pathetic, and the servers this time were the worst ever. We have low expectations of cruise line food. And the Serena lived up to our expectations. The ship appeared clean and modern. The cabin was subdued and not garish like some we have been in. The entertainment was awful, but this is a cruise line, yes? We took several Costa excursions, and they actually went out with English-speaking guides! However, we really enjoyed the other excursions we arranged with private guides. Our basic needs were met: We got the ports we desired safely. We did not contract Norovirus. Embarkation and disembarking were orderly in Rome (unlike our previous experiences). We enjoyed ourselves, so the experience was great. Costa is not a first-class line, so you get what you pay for. Our experience improved since our last try with them, and I hope that if you go on Costa, these tips will help you too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The ship is new and big, but the design is no grand as other mainstreem cruise ships that we have been too. Common areas are very small and crowded. Pools and hot tubs looked small & crowded so we never used them. The foods were ... Read More
The ship is new and big, but the design is no grand as other mainstreem cruise ships that we have been too. Common areas are very small and crowded. Pools and hot tubs looked small & crowded so we never used them. The foods were bad on the first day but after that foods were very good. A variety of choices for buffet breakfast, luchn or tea. There were pizza throughout the day. Coffee was bad and there were no juice for lunch, only water and coffee. Dinners in dinning room were very good. There were special nights such as Italian, Gala nights with special performances by dinning room staff. The atmostphere was very lively and fun. the shows in general were very nice and entertaining, especially the show where regular staff (such as waiters or stewards) performed. It was execellent. A variety of entertainment at the lounges/bars with dancing (ballroom, rock & roll or Italian style of dancing) Most cruisers are Italian or non English speaking. So we were assigned at dinner table where people did not speak English. We had to request the change to luckily English speaking people. From then on, dinners were enjoyable. Overall, Costa provided excellent values for your money. THe ports were very good and easy to explore. I would recommend Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and ... Read More
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and lights. We did not even bother to go to the front office as it was crowded. The staff spoke very poor English so we managed to get around due to our previous cruise experience. The entertainment was cheap and too fussy, only the light show in the main theatre was great. The SAMSARA SPA was nice (the interior), a bit crowded, but really liked it. But the pools were just awful. It was cold so they were all closed on the ceiling. The entire interior was yellow and green, full of plastic and linoleum and awfully plastic flowers. Even I am a smoker, I found it really strange you could smoke in a closed pool area. Also there was food served in the area (as well as prepared somewhere close by) so the smell of chloral, grilled food and smoking was not a great pool experience. The outside area of the top decks was as if you were on a ferry - empty blue steel all around and some chairs bucked up. Nothing special and really not appealing to spend your time there. The rooms were great, we had a balcony one and was really happy with it. The food in the main dining room was mediocre, the service was good. I really like trying out new food but there were often moments when I just did not even want to taste what was given on the plate. Not to mention the food in the self service restaurant -- was just like a company cafeteria. As I cruised the Royal Caribbean before, I expected to have a variety of food throughout the day but this was not the case -- you had it at specific hours and if you could not make it, you were to order room service or wait for the next meal. Also, there were no free soft drinks on the boat -- except water, and you could not find it in a lot of places -- guess they are trying to increase the beverage consumption on board. We spoke to some of the bar staff -- they were not happy campers, all coming from third world countries and some of them earning less than 1000 USD per month including tips for all the hard work they do! The ports we visited were ok -- our choice, but would definitely move Bari out of the list. The place we liked the most, in Greece, we stayed really short, only for a couple of hours. All in all, a pretty average cruise experience and if I have not cruised on other companies before, I would be pretty disappointed with cruising and would probably not do it so soon again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we ... Read More
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we stepped on board we thought it was all worthwhile. The ship is about four years old and very smart. We found our cabin quickly and our luggage arrived not many minutes later. No tea/coffee making facilities but free room service for breakfast. Cabin kept immaculate and very comfortable and equipped with safe/hairdryer. Bathroom as you would expect. Only one bar of soap and shampoo in dispenser on the wall but not a problem. We had expected to be in the minority as English speakers on an Italian ship and that was certainly the case but we had no problems with the French, Italians, Germans and Spanish on board. Staff all spoke fluently in loads of languages - felt rather ashamed of my lack of language skills. Ate in the Vesta restaurant and serving staff were all pleasant and helpful. Food was on the whole excellent - yes it was Italian but what do you expect on an Italian ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch had fresh pasta, pizza, a grill with chicken, burgers, fish etc plus the general buffet with salads, cold meats, casseroles, more fish etc etc. The problem was knowing which to choose and when to stop! We had purchased the drinks package before sailing that gave us free glasses of beer, wine or soft drinks in the buffet at lunch or main dining room at night and cost about £160 but we had no problem getting as many drinks as we wanted and without the additional 15% tax on everything so felt this worked out well for us. There are loads of decks on which to catch the sun as well as by the main pool or the quiet pool (not always as quiet as I would have liked!) Other comments have been made about children being allowed in the jacuzzis and this was the case for us also. However, we usually just hid away on one of the upper decks with our books and enjoyed the November sunshine. We will certainly look out for Costa cruises in the future as we enjoyed the mix of nationalities rather than being totally British. I would recommend that you look for one of the newer ships as we saw the Costa Allegra in one port and it looked a bit old and weary but don't be put off Costa by the adverse reviews - go with an open mind and enjoy meeting new friends of all nationalities! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We were excited with this departure and the ports that were offered as well as an opportunity to practice our language skills with the various European guests. The ship is lovely and our stateroom verandah was wonderful. It was well ... Read More
We were excited with this departure and the ports that were offered as well as an opportunity to practice our language skills with the various European guests. The ship is lovely and our stateroom verandah was wonderful. It was well designed and our exceptional steward kept it immaculate. We met a French couple our first evening and were surprised to learn that they were departing the next day in Marseille. We eventually learned that guests embark and disembark at each port. We never were able to gain a ship synergy as when all the guests embark simultaneously, however, it was quite interesting seeing the different European groups coming and going. The food was very well prepared, fresh and offered a decent variety. The restaurant staff did an admirable job given the numerous languages they are required to work in. We normally avoid buffets but the breakfast buffet was expansive and we had the opportunity to have personalized omelets made as we watched...a very short wait. Our only complaint was the tour excursions. We had pre-confirmed tours and our first tour was cancelled. It took a lot of energy on our part to secure a substitute that was adquate. Our tour in Catania (Sicilty)combined French and English speaking guests. The guide had to translate back and forth and we often missed some of the sites during the translation. More time spent having coffee and shopping than touring...a waste of money. However, the tour to Pompeii was exceptional with Professor Romano guiding us back in time...AMAZING! We had a pre-paid transfer as we had to catch an international flight. We were booked on the latest departure in error and were treated rudely by the excursion staff. Their resolution: take a taxi (at our own expense). They have refused to refund the price of the transfer. Taxis are plentiful and significantly less money and the most direct way to get to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Well you know, we really were not looking to go on another cruise, but Costa made it tempting, by giving us vouchers, because our previous cruise, in April on the Costa Pacifica, had itinerary changes, with Egypt and Israel. We figured if ... Read More
Well you know, we really were not looking to go on another cruise, but Costa made it tempting, by giving us vouchers, because our previous cruise, in April on the Costa Pacifica, had itinerary changes, with Egypt and Israel. We figured if we were to take advantage of the vouchers, use them immediately or forget it. Although we had till October 2012 to use them, when looking at the prices for next year, would have cost us double then what the vouchers were worth. We so glad we took the cruse when we did... Why wait an extra year & pay $800 more, to get disappointed. Do not get us wrong, when looking to purchase the cruise, We did look for the most inexpensive one Costa was offering. With our discounts on the cruise with the vouchers and the fact we had enough points to receive an addition savings from our booking agent and to receive a room with a balcony on the 8th deck..Plus we wanted to stay in Barcelona(the port we embarked on) so we payed for all 5 nights at our hotel through air miles, in all made for an inexpensive trip.. The passengers you get on an inexpensive cruise, will reflect on the type of clientele. Being NorthAmerican of Italian background, made it easier to understand the European mentality... No wonder the people at customer service & tour organizers smiled at us when we needed assistance.... Guess what we are saying is, between the rudeness of the Italians and the arrogance of the French, everyone else that was left on the trip were pleasant...Over all we look at this outing as time off.. The ports were nice, the weather could have been better(That is not Costa's fault) and our stay in Barcelona, was a great experience... All in all, the reason we took advantage of the offer was because we really enjoyed the first cruise on the Costa Pacifica.... Although the staff on board, by the time the week was over, were very good to us....But.....You Get What You Pay For Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I can't understand why there should be a daily service charge €7 per day over and above your initial payments when it's a compulsory expense !!! and to then be charged 15% on all extra's seems a little underhand to me. ... Read More
I can't understand why there should be a daily service charge €7 per day over and above your initial payments when it's a compulsory expense !!! and to then be charged 15% on all extra's seems a little underhand to me. Other services on the boat such as sauna and massage are alo expensively wrapped up in packages and day rates (€33 I think) when you may only want an hour or a brief escape. Internet access was also expensive at €26 for 3 hours.....even McDonalds give this free. You should also be aware of port to city transfer cost particularly in Marseille I can't fault the restaurants and bar staff, they were all very poite and efficient....not their fault that they are forced to serve the food (which was good)at such a fast rate. The customer service desk is almost always too busy and when you do speak to them they were not empowered to actually make a decison (classic cost avoidance ploy) if it was anything more than advice. The decor was not to my liking a bit too dark and just totally over done but each to his own here. The general atmosphere was bit claustophobic but better weather and more outdoor access would have helped, and perhaps less naff piped music. The description of the swimming pools is overstated....4 stokes end to end. This boat is dominated by Italians...great people but you may feel a little overpowered.....although Volare is always fun. This is the first critique I've ever written....sorry that I was not motivated to be more positive. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Just got back from our first cruise on the Costa Serena . There was eight of us in our party and we travelled on the first week in October. Some things were excellent and some were poor . Fist the good bits . The ship was excellent very ... Read More
Just got back from our first cruise on the Costa Serena . There was eight of us in our party and we travelled on the first week in October. Some things were excellent and some were poor . Fist the good bits . The ship was excellent very big and very clean . The staff which were mostly from the Pillopeans were again excellent ,and so was the food . THE disappointing bits . There was only 12 English passengers on board and we only spoke to one English crew member . So out of a ship full about 3000 passengers you felt a bit out of it . There was only one draft beer which was Carlsberg Lager at 5.18 Euros for a 400ml glass . The entertainment was very low key and nothing for the English . Out of the ports of call . Barcelona was very good ,and we enjoyed Palma (mainly because it was pretty English).The other places we visited were average to poor .Our main grumble was the 15% service charge that was on everything you purchased on board plus the 49 euros you each had to pay at the end of your trip . So out of a total spend of 500 euros between the two of us . 200 euros of that was service charges . As we never dream of tipping some one 200 euros we thought it was a bit much . Overall we all enjoyed the cruise and thought it was not bad value for the 539 each that we had payed for it . But having said that , if we did another one , we would only go on an English Ship Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After booking the cruise on Costa Serena i read the reviews and wished i had not booked.I have worked as a holiday rep for the most famous British holiday company for the over 50s and also worked front of house in some great restaurants ... Read More
After booking the cruise on Costa Serena i read the reviews and wished i had not booked.I have worked as a holiday rep for the most famous British holiday company for the over 50s and also worked front of house in some great restaurants serving the likes of Michael Caine,Bob Hoskins and Mel Gibson. Once our holiday started,i looked for faults but there were none except for our flights and Naples.My daughter and i flew with KLM from Bristol to Barcelona via Amsterdam.The flights were booked through Costa as were our transfers in Barcelona.A direct flight would have been better but we accepted it.Finally arriving in Barcelona,we were met by a taxi driver in a brand new black Mercedes and driven to the port.Our luggage was then taken to the ship and we went and checked in and had a drink.30 minutes later at 2pm, boarding was announced and we had card number 2.We boarded straight away and went to our cabin.We were in 6201 outside window at the front of the ship with amazing views.Large cabin,lots of space and very clean.After unpacking we explored the ship and were amazed.It is clean,modern and not over the top as many people have said.On returning to our cabin to get ready for dinner we were met by Neri the chambermaid who greeted me and knew my name even though we had not reached our cabin yet.She did an excellent job throughout our stay as did P.Kumar and Dexter in the Lido Sole bar and Raquel in the Vesta restaurant. We then had a great week meeting lots of lovely people ,especially the people on our table.There were probably only 150 English speakers on board but we all felt happy and mixed well with all the other nationalities.The announcements in 5 languages were short and sweet and only occurred 3 or 4 times a day and there was no pushing and shoving in the lifts or buffet by anyone as i had been led to expect by other reviewers.The ship was full with over 3800 people on board. The food was excellent,the staff were excellent and the ports of call were excellent except for Naples(very dirty and dangerous when crossing roads).The ship never felt crowded as it is so big and with 13 bars to choose from there was always great entertainment.The theatre was a bit of a let down as it is beautiful and large but the acts were average.This did not matter as there was a lot going on elsewhere. After a fantastic week we were sad to say goodbye to all our new friends and the ship.Once again a lovely transfer to the airport only to find that our flight to Amsterdam was delayed and we missed our connection to Bristol.No problem,we were put on a flight 5 hours later and given phone vouchers,food vouchers and 100 euros off future flights with KLM.Hopefully direct flights when we book our next holiday with Costa which we will do and soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was ... Read More
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was rather pricey (we don't drink so we had the kids mocktail and soft drinks) 49 euros for only 20 drinks. We have sailed with Princess before and the same package is for unlimited drinks. The next to hit us was the fact that we couldn't deduct the tips even though it said on our paper work that we could ( we pay tips but only to those that we feel have given us service). We found our cabin quickly and our luggage was already waiting for us. Our cabin steward was friendly and always said hello (Joevan). This is not the ship to be on if you are a none smoker like us.The main pool area is covered and not once during our cruise was it opened to let any air in so smoke just filled the whole area. The bar areas were the same one side of the room for smokers the other for none, but what happens the whole room becomes filled with smoke. Beware of Costa's hidden charges 15% on top of any drinks purchased, charges on the shuttle bus to get you from the port to the towns Anything from 6 to 7 euros each. If you like a drink of iced water with your evening meal, ask for a jug of water otherwise you get bottled water that you have to pay for. The meals on the buffet deck were very poor, especially at tea time, fine if you want pizza every day. We went to see several of the ships shows, the best ones were done by the ships own company. If you are wanting an English cruise this is not for you, out of 3700 guests only 120 were English speaking.But don't let this put you off, all the staff that we had dealings with spoke English. Don't bother taking anything too posh for the formal nights like we did,it just doesn't happen, which is a great shame - getting dressed up is what cruising is all about. Me and my hubby enjoy up to date music and so were looking forward to hitting the night club,this didn't happen because the music around the ship was rubbish and the club (disco Pan) was always full of young teenagers. There was no cut off point for teenagers to leave and let adults only in. Lots of children seemed to get into places where they shouldn't have - the gym under 16's are not allowed in - not the case, young children were not supposed to be in the Jacuzzis - not the case,Don't get me wrong we have 2 children and we know the importance of family holidays but we always kept an eye on our children not so on this ship with many parents. Disembarkation went smoothly, the only let down was the 2 hour transfer back to Nice, then just being dumped at the airport - wrong terminal and no rep to help,once we found the right terminal we had a 5 hour wait for our flight. All in all we had a good holiday, a holiday is what you make of it. But I don't think we shall use Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Had a week on the Costa Serena our first Cruise with Costa, although we have cruised many times before. The ship is beautiful and the facilities are good. Food very good and a wide choice. The destinations on this cruise where ... Read More
Had a week on the Costa Serena our first Cruise with Costa, although we have cruised many times before. The ship is beautiful and the facilities are good. Food very good and a wide choice. The destinations on this cruise where excellent and shore excursions well planed. Shows are poor until the last night of the cruise and that one was very good. On the down side they have introduced a 15% surcharge on everything from the bar so a small glass of beer is nearly 6 Euros and you still have to pay a compulsory gratuities payment on top of the surcharge. The Officers only talk to you if you are below 20 years of age and partly dressed, and talking of dress on the gala night I only counted 5 couples who dresses for dinner some of the Italian guests even wore T-Shirts. The crew had a attitude problem for example if you met one in a corridor you had to give way for fear of being knocked over.That attitude was all over the ship and the guests where even worse than the crew, try to get out of a lift they just push in before the lift empties. The examples of rudeness are as long as my arm, every English speaking person said they had the same problems that we experienced. If you are a none smoker forget it the guests are mainly Italian and they smoke everywhere even in the lifts. Children are not allowed in certain areas for example the large Jacuzzis but they treated them as there private swimming pools if you tried to get in you where jeered at and the security guard who's job it was to keep them out just laughed. One final note I have spent many happy holidays in Italy so I don't have a downer on Italians but this lot were just rude and in great numbers. One of the staff said when she approached a guest and said bon giorno if you replied back "hello" she felt as though the next 2 minutes the guest would be polite and courteous, but if they replied bon giorno she had a fight on her hands to say polite. I could go on but I think I've made my point. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Its our own fault. We had read reviews of Costa before we went and thought that as it was good value for money we would ignore the faults. How wrong we were. The first thing is the cabin is so small compared to other ships. We went to ask ... Read More
Its our own fault. We had read reviews of Costa before we went and thought that as it was good value for money we would ignore the faults. How wrong we were. The first thing is the cabin is so small compared to other ships. We went to ask to upgrade only to be told by a very rude person that she must e mail HQ first, but will only do this if we 100% wanted to upgrade. We said no problem, but we wanted to see a similar cabin that she was now asking a further £1,000 for. No she cant do that !!! So £1,000 for what then ? we were met with a look that made us think we in the wrong. Ok we said lets do it thinking if we dont like it they could whistle for their money. Needless to say 3 days later when we enquired what happened the staff at the desk knew nothing about our request !!!! Costa Serena's guests are 85% Italian 10% French and an assortment of others who dont know better. The guests seem to hunt in packs of 8 plus children. None of them can say the following. Please, Thank you, or Excuse me. Getting out of a lift you take your life in your hands. The onward rush nearly consigns you to a life stuck between decks. Now lets do the food. This is served by waiters who have the look on their face that they would rather be elsewhere. We put this down to the fact that the tipping is already done, so why be pleasant? The entertainment would be first class at my granchildrens birthday party, but for adults, forget it. So to sum up for good value it is ok, But my suggestion is pay a touch more and use another cruise line if you are English. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were shown to our cabin, its its a very large ship,although every stage of the cruise was very well organised,from the time we arrived to the time we departed.The cruise was good value for money, although comparing this to previous cruises 3700 people on board was at meal times with dinner shows and change overs a little like butlins!Evening entertainment was very good,particularly the main evening show which was very professional and very entertaining considering there were a lot of Italian and French, most of the songs were in English.Food- although the choice was varied, catering for this number of people does reflect on the quality in the Ceres restaurant,some of the dinners were disappointing,and we decided to use the self service restaurant, where the food was more of a wider choice, although pizza was on the menu every day!There was the option of paying another 20 euro to visit the Samara restaurant.Service was efficient. We did speak to one of the bar staff who work 12-14 hrs every day and well deserve the 15% service charge added to everything that you purchase! Drinks we felt were expensive, although we did purchase the wine and beer package which we were told we could access up to the point we disembarked at the end of the cruise. We left the ship to explore the last port,and returned to the ship for lunch and a beer, but as we had left the ship the Costa charge card was now closed so were not able to access remaining drinks, even though we had paid for them!Overall a good weeks cruise-would we go again? yes if the price was right as it was good value for the money, and now knowing that its a family orientated ship, we know where to go on board to avoid the hustle and bustle. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We had heard nothing but glowing reports from other family members who had taken several cruises with other companies. We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were quite happy with her recommendations. We arrived at the ship in ... Read More
We had heard nothing but glowing reports from other family members who had taken several cruises with other companies. We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were quite happy with her recommendations. We arrived at the ship in good time and after finding our room with some difficulty deposited our belongings and began to explore. We sampled some food on deck 9 and had to use plastic plates and pyrex type beakers. Not what you would expect from a cruise ship! Away we went to explore further and soon I became sick. Spent the rest of the evening in bed while hubby went to dinner on his own. Not a great start to our holiday but we persevered with what was fast becoming a shuttle ship experience or Butlins boat type holiday. We said very little about our feelings of disappointment until we met Jackie and she soon let us know that this ship was certainly not the best she had encountered. Far from it! Then we met a French couple who seemed to have much the same reservations as ourselves and we were amazed to learn that they had boarded the ship at Marseilles. Far too much embarking and disembarking. Obviously its more lucrative for Costa to operate this way but I would prefer to embark with the same people and cruise with them before disembarking with them. That way maybe there would be a chance of meeting more people. Food - We got rather fed up with the self-service buffet type meals. Very basic food for the most part. Dinner was a little better if you like 5 or 6 courses and enjoy your pasta. We felt the charges for excursions were almost extortionate. We were afraid to miss out by not going but this was not the case. We had to take 2 tours in French since there were insufficient numbers for an English tour. Fine for me but boring for hubby! Sorrento was the no.1 tour for me but it was cancelled because of lack of interest. Service charges - We certainly didnt expect to pay 14euros per day for 7days! We embarked mid-afternoon on the 1st day and left just after 9am on our last day. Costa are fair reaping it in there since the previous guests in our room will have paid it too (their last day and our first day) and the next guests after us pay (our last day and their first day). To put it more simply - Costa reap double payment of service fees for 5 out of 7 days. I didnt really get that much service since nearly all of the cruise was self-service. Nearly everyone we spoke to had similar feelings of discontent and one only had to behold the queues waiting at reception to know that a lot of changes need to be implemented soon to improve overall customer satisfaction. We would certainly be in no hurry to book another Costa cruise. It was an expensive experience and the end result - try to manage another birthday treat for hubby! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This review covers three trips totaling 19 days, Adriatic/Aegean, November, but the experience was similar on all three trips. These were end-of-season trips, with a large number of new staff joining, before repositioning to South America. ... Read More
This review covers three trips totaling 19 days, Adriatic/Aegean, November, but the experience was similar on all three trips. These were end-of-season trips, with a large number of new staff joining, before repositioning to South America. The ship holds about 3500 people, with only 5-10% being English-speakers. The English hostess said 25% is normal for high season. I've only included detail on the items I particularly noticed. SMOKING AND HEALTH FACILITIES: There was a remarkable lack of smoking except in the casino, perhaps 100 hardcore smokers. It was rare to see more than a couple of people smoking at any one time. There was also a remarkable lack of grossly fat people, most people seemed to be quite health conscious. I was told at one point, there was a queue out the gym door to use the fitness equipment. My informant was astounded, neither he nor I had seen this before on any ship. The ship was very clean and well maintained. DINING: If your priority is wanton gluttony, then Costa is not a good choice, but generally the food was quite good, certainly for the price I paid. There were a few duds on the menu, but also some very nice dishes. Breakfast and lunch buffets were perhaps not lavish, but quite decent. There were breaks in opening hours, so it was necessary to read the daily program. The buffet area was no more crowded than other large ships (I always avoid peak times, on any ship). I found the main dining room to be comparable to at least a mid-level restaurant on land. I would expect to have paid at least 30 Euros for a comparable set menu meal. Service was not unduly slow by European standards, although there did seem to be a larger number of new staff than usual. However, if you did not want a full restaurant meal in the evening, the only alternative was pizza. I was able to sample the Samsara restaurant, which is a premium, open seating alternative to the main dining room (note that Costa uses the term "Samsara for several different things). A separate menu was offered, mostly superior to the restaurant, although there were fewer choices, notably salads. The main menu was available. Service and noise levels were difficult to assess as the area was almost empty. CABIN: I was booked in the smaller, upper/lower berth inside cabins. They are ample for one person. Europeans tend to prefer firmer mattresses than Americans, but otherwise, everything was entirely comparable to other ships I have been on. ENTERTAINMENT: I travel with Costa because of the nightlife, and was not disappointed. There are as many as 6 live music venues, with lots of choice of music. Some theme nights started as late as midnight, and the dance floor was packed. The Apollo lounge, the main lounge, has continuous music from 6 PM to 1 AM, except for bingo and (very popular) half-hour cruise staff games and entertainment. I don't like bachatta and can live without mazurka and Viennese waltz, but they were very popular. Although "ballroom dancing" when it was listed in the program just meant no theme, the groups, especially Duo Venus, were willing to play very nice dance music on request during quieter periods. The quartet did have the fault common to live groups of playing far too long- six minutes for a Viennese Waltz. The rear lounge, Luna, has a much improved layout from the earlier Fortuna design, and offered various theme nights. The lobby bar is the equal of the main lounge on most ships. There are two additional lounges with live music, plus a keyboard player near the "Chocolate Bar" (it has a chocolate fountain). I did not particularly like the string trio, but their contract may finish soon. The disco was not very popular. The DJ played the usual six-minute "dance mix" music, very boring and repetitious. Given the small number of smokers on board, the designated smoking areas were far larger than required. I did not go to any of the shows, but the comments I heard were generally positive. POOLS The Serena has a retractable roof over the midships pool, unlike the earlier ships, which meant the area was quite tolerable even on cool days. The hot tubs were not really hot. As nearly as I could discover, the temperature measured is that of the inflow water, not that of the water in the tub. They also closed quite early. PORTS Costa tends to have shorter port stops than most cruise lines, but I've never been able to understand how an extra couple of hours makes much difference, visiting a city like Istanbul or Valetta. If I'm seriously interested in visiting some place, I'll go for several days. VALUE: Value was outstanding. Even using budget hotels and restaurants, I had a hard time meeting Costa's per-day cost on my land travels between trips. I believe I got the best value for my money I could have gotten, visiting this part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We had a fantastic cruise and could not be happier. I admit that we went with pretty low expectations having read all the criticism on the forums based in the US and UK. I would like to set the record straight as we feel that Costa gets a ... Read More
We had a fantastic cruise and could not be happier. I admit that we went with pretty low expectations having read all the criticism on the forums based in the US and UK. I would like to set the record straight as we feel that Costa gets a lot of bad press which from our experience is completely unfounded. I have previously cruised with Princess and Royal Caribbean and Costa is certainly in the same league and should not be under-estimated. 1.Food and Drink • Breakfast - room service is only free for breakfast and includes cappuccino / expresso coffee which has a charge in the restaurant. So we ordered free cappuccinos plus juice from room service at 7am and then went to the restaurant for breakfast. There is a menu or buffet in the Ceres restaurant on deck 3 plus the extended buffet on deck 9. Breakfast is also available at the Urano grill for late risers. In the Ceres restaurant there are huge windows at the back which provide a superb view of the ship's wake as you are tucking into your breakfast. The waiters don't expect you to order off the menu in the restaurant as most diners prefer the buffet set up in the middle but we ordered items not in the restaurant buffet which included corned beef hash, Lyonnais potatoes, smoked salmon, omelettes and smoked haddock. • Lunch - There are several lunch options from waiter service in the restaurant (Ceres deck 3), to an extensive buffet in the Prometeo buffet, with additional grill choices at both the indoor pools (deck 9). We tended to eat in the buffet at lunch and were really impressed how they changed the hours to ensure passengers could still eat on board when port stops hit the lunch hour. In Dubrovnik we arrived at 12.15pm, so the full buffet was available from 11am. Similarly in Izmir our port visit was the morning so the restaurant service was from 1pm - 2.30pm so passengers didn't miss out. • Afternoon tea - served 4-5 in the Prometeo buffet, little sandwiches and cakes. One afternoon they also offered a selection of Chinese teas (I recommend the cinnamon and the ginger) as well as the herbal teas, regular tea, coffee and iced water which are always available. • Evening meal - We had a table for four at 6.15pm (first sitting) in the Ceres restaurant situated at the back of the ship. There was always a basket of freshly baked bread rolls and bread sticks on the table when we arrived. The menus were in English with the Italian name above it if you wanted to order in Italian instead. The evening menu consisted of 6 courses, starter, soup, pasta / risotto, main course, cheese and dessert. There was a good choice and the food was consistently very good. Take your waiter's advice if he recommends something, more than once he suggested a course that I wouldn't have ordered and I was delighted that I did. The children were given a children's menu eat night with some items such as burgers, spaghetti bolognaise and fish fingers always available and others such as pork escalope, lamb chop, beef escalope changed daily. In addition, children are able to order from the main menu and our two both did during the week. We had a jug of iced water every evening with our meal and decided not to opt for the various drinks packages. Several evenings the waiters put on a show before the dessert course, singing, dancing and creating a real party atmosphere with diners swirling their napkins above their heads and clapping. Waiters were helpful and professional throughout and nothing was too much trouble. Alternatively the pizzeria offers waiter service from 9pm - 1am, with buffet pizza available early evening. • Midnight buffet - There were several midnight buffets during the cruise but we were usually tucked in bed by then. I did make it to one with the vegetable and fruit carvings and the ice sculptures were phenomenal. That night the midnight buffet was pineapple flambE and ice cream plus there were waiters walking round with trays of food. I had a doughnut ball from one waiter which was delicious and the flambE was tasty. 2. Cabin Wi-fi was available on all decks. We had a four berth outside cabin on deck two. We had a double bed (twin beds put together), a sofa bed plus one bunk above the sofa bed. There was ample storage space, in fact we had more storage space than in our mini-suite on Princess or balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean as there were two huge drawers below my daughter's bed. Suitcases fit comfortably under the bed. The safe opens and locks with any magnetic strip card so we used my husband's cabin card. We brought a four bar plug socket with us which proved very handy to recharge everything. There was only one European socket and one US socket which were so close together it is doubtful whether you would be able to use them both. The bathroom had a shower with shower gel and soap provided. Towels were changed throughout the day if required and our cabin steward made a variety of towel animals during our stay. 3. Daily programme I was really impressed with the daily programme on Costa as there were always things to do (the only problem was trying to decide what to do when things were on at the same time!) The Sole Poolside on deck 9 below the big screen was a main area for activities such as tournaments, games, dance classes (I did the cha cha cha class), stretching classes and dancing. They also celebrated the Oktoberfest here. The Pan Disco on deck 5 was the main location for the Art and Craft sessions which were offered am and pm. During the week I designed a t-shirt, made jewellery, decorated a fan and painted a ceramic pot which all made great keepsakes from the cruise. Aqua aerobics was in the Urano pool. I also went to an Italian class and one of the seminars on health and beauty in the Samsara spa which resulted in me getting a free facial as I happily volunteered. There was a chocolate demonstration, ice sculptures by the pool and seminars in English about the ports and the ship. 4. Pools There were two main indoor pools on deck 9 each with 2 Jacuzzis (for 16 years and above). The indoor pools had a retractable roof. There is also an outside pool and a swirly slide. The Samsara Spa has an adult only pool. 5. Evening entertainment The Giove Theatre is on decks 3, 4 and 5 at the front of the ship. The invited entertainment was very impressive and the acts were all worthy of being on the television they were so professional. On the first night Dennis Bullock an American singer / saxophonist blew us away. The second night we were entertained by Duo Deltai, who did a balancing and acrobatic act which couldn't have been easy as that night we had high winds. Adam Medini did a show called Voyage one night and seemed to be able to do everything (juggling, playing the xylophone with a ping-pong ball using his mouth, tumbling from ribbons suspended from the ceiling, hand shadow puppets, handstands with one hand holding his body horizontal to the floor!) and in the middle of the week we saw Connie Boyd a female magician who has won awards in the USA for her act and we could see why. The dance troupe and singers did the show a couple of nights, the male lead singer was excellent and the black male dancer was superb. In addition, every bar and lounge had musicians and singers entertaining everyone, including easy listening in the piano bar, ballroom music in the Apollo Bar and disco music in the Pan Disco. With eight venues for musical entertainment in the evening there was certainly something for everyone. 6. Children's club Our children were in the Mini (3-6 years) and Maxi (7-12 years) Squok club and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They met the captain, visited the kitchens, went on a Treasure Hunt, took part in a pirate parade and had a variety of games, craft and free game time. The children earned Squok money during the sessions for winning competitions or sitting and listening nicely and then at the end of the cruise they swapped their Squok money for prizes. The children both got a Squok baseball cap, a bag and a sticker with their money. Squok club have two themed evening dinners that coincide with the formal nights. In addition, they can have lunch at Squok (they just need to be signed in by 10am that day). We enjoyed eating as a family but let the children have one Squok lunch and dinner during the cruise. The club hours are 9am -11.30pm and if you have an excursion with Costa that leaves early, club will open 15 minutes before your excursion. We never used this service but especially on the day we went to Izmir many children stayed in club while their parents visited Ephesus. At 4.30pm they have snack time which is not a biscuit but slices of pizza upstairs in the buffet! Goodness knows how my two were hungry for dinner but they were. 7. Languages and Costa This was one area that I thought Costa really excelled. Perhaps they have taken heed of previous criticism because our experience was extremely positive. There were 3100 passengers onboard from all over the world. 342 were English speakers and a surprising 1700 passengers were French including a French group of 700 from the Lorraine region. We had a Welcome on board talk on the first day with the English Hostess Helen. The talk was entirely in English and Helen explained useful information about the ship such as which decks run from the front to the back of the ship. For example, if you are on deck 3 at the front and eating in the Ceres restaurant on 3 you need to go up to 5 and down again. Deck 5 and 9 are the main walk through decks. Helen was available every day and the times were always posted in the Today information delivered to your cabin. She was also available at the excursions meeting point to answer any questions. We attended a port lecture also delivered entirely in English with the port Lecturer Marco which was very informative about what to do and visit if you are not on a pre-booked excursion. He obviously delivered the same talk at different times in other languages so everyone was equally informed. Helen also gave a disembarkation talk on the sea day. The talks were recorded and then available to watch on the television in your cabin later if you preferred. There were occasions when you had all languages spoken one after the other and the only time it was long winded was the fire drill and let's face it there is no way they can get round that! The cruise director was hilarious and always did a closing couple of sentences in every language after the show, but because he put in a little curtsy or funny noise in each time it was really funny waiting for repetition in each language. He made the multiple languages entertaining, not irritating and made everyone laugh. English did seem quite a dominant language on the ship even though the ship is Italian. The bar and restaurant staff were mostly from the Philippines and therefore spoke English. The Art and Craft lady was from China and explained the activities in English (which I then translated into French for the francophones) 8. Excursions The excursions are organised according to your language so your guide will only speak English if you are on an English tour and likewise for other languages. We only did one Costa excursion and did the rest of the ports independently. Our excursion to Olympia was excellent. The guide was enthusiastic and spoke from the moment we boarded the coach giving us information about Greece and the local area before we got to the archaeological site. We also had much longer because we were on a tour. Boarding time was 12.15 and our coach didn't get back until 12.40. Let's just say we were glad we were on an official tour! 9. Embarkation and disembarkation We dropped off our suitcases in the morning at 10am at the port and collected a boarding number. We were then free to go off and explore Venice. When we returned in the afternoon we were able to board immediately and walk passengers who had been waiting for two hours! Fruit juice was available for free in the terminal building and there were representatives from the bars selling packages and Squok so you could find out information before boarding which was good. We organised an early disembarkation and were told to be in the theatre for 9.30am. At 9.30 we were able to disembark and find our suitcases in the luggage area of the terminal building. Both embarkation and disembarkation were hassle free for us but I understand that with only 3 or 4 Costa staff checking in passengers the wait for some may have been quite frustrating. 10. Final impressions The Costa Serena is a beautiful ship that is extremely stable. We had high winds and rough seas a couple of days and you would hardly know as it felt so smooth. It is decorated with a Greek mythology theme and the main hall has glass lifts that zoom up to the top decks past all the decorative gods which our children loved. It was very easy to find your bearings on the ship and a free cup of tea, coffee or iced water was never far away if you were on deck 9. We found the cabin corridors very wide and spacious and although the ship was full it never seemed over-crowded. The staff were all polite and friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be working for Costa. Costa clearly values all its crew and make sure that you know how important all the people behind the scenes are which was good to see. It is also a very green ship and recycles most of its waste on board. I am pleased to say that I would highly recommend Costa Serena to anyone who enjoys crusing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We booked this cruise a week before sailing mainly due to price; we were originally going to sharm el sheik!! We completed the booking and rushed round the low cost airlines for flights, booked a hotel and we were done. We flew in the ... Read More
We booked this cruise a week before sailing mainly due to price; we were originally going to sharm el sheik!! We completed the booking and rushed round the low cost airlines for flights, booked a hotel and we were done. We flew in the night before the cruise on Ryan air (should be called riot air - but more on that later). We took the bus to plaza roma then walked for about 10 mins past the train station to our hotel for the night, the Locanda di Orsaria.A nice little hotel, rooms a bit on the small side but aren't all mid rage hotel rooms in Venice. After a good continental breakfast - the cappuccinos are wonderful we explored Venice for the morning. We returned to the hotel to collect our cases and walked back to the plaza de roma. We took the free Costa bus and within minutes we were at the port terminal. Dropping off our cases was a bit of a scrum (4 big ships including ours embarking) and we collected a number and sat patiently in the waiting area for our number to be called. Free cold drinks and a paid for bar were available if you so wished. When the number prior to ours was called we made our way towards the desks and when our number was called we were at the front of the queue, 2 minutes and we were on the ship. Here we encountered our 1st little gripe with Costa. Your picture is taken as you stand on the boardwalk just after the gangway. Not a good idea when it's 90 deg and you're queuing for 10 mins, this should have been done in the nice air con building below. First impressions were good; we liked the bold design features of the impressive atrium. Even though it was only 2pm we thought we'd see if our room was ready. We found the cabin and our key cards were on the bed waiting for us. Others that boarded from 3pm onwards complained of large queues to get on the ship so we'd made the right decision getting on early. Went to the main pool area for lunch and sat and enjoyed a bit of sun. FOOD: Food is a very subjective subject but in the main we ate in the buffet/pool area at lunch and the MDR for dinner. At lunch you have the usual fare, burgers, chicken fries and pizza along with stations offering a different choice every day.Octopus, shrimp and mussels as well as always available pasta. In the MDR the food was good on the whole with a choice of fish, meat or veggie the sweets on the other hand were poor and underwhelming. The Gala nights offering seemed no different or special than normal nights. Food was on the whole above average but not to the standard of Holland America. SHOWS: These were in the main poor. First night was a colored gentleman from the states, with dreadlocks playing the saxophone and singing jazz. A bit of an acquired taste no doubt. He also tried singing Elvis and frank Sinatra for good measure!! 2nd night the best of the week. A male gymnastic duo that were very good. Be warned there was a 10 minute interlude in the middle using the impressive theatre lasers. No warning on the program so I hope they're ok for people with epilepsy!! 3rd night a female magician who was obviously known to the Italian audience. Not a bad show but not very inspiring. 4th night usual big band show, if you've seen one you'll know what I mean. 5th night a mythical theatre show from the singers and dancers, not very good. 6th night. Where do I start? A small gentleman again obviously known to the Italian audience. Started off juggling, dropped his juggled items at least 5 times in the 1st couple of minutes. The crowd for reasons only apparent to them continued to applaud loudly? He then broke into a bit of marso marso case pushing. Then did a bit of trapeze that was in the whole not bad. Finally as we were walking out he started juggling a cuboid shape under fluorescent lights whilst wearing a loin cloth. Final night was the crew show. On Holland America this was a bit of culture from the countries of the crew. On Costa it was the paid dancing cast and singing staff in the main highlighting how good they and Costa were. A bit of dancing for 5 minutes from India and that was it. The animators work very hard around the ship be it around the pools or in the main bars.Most of the none theatre entertainment was in the main bar.get there early or it will be standing room only, If you think butlins meets Benny hill your not far wrong,slapstick and funny noises and games popping ballons. The Italians seem very self effacing and take the Michael out of stereo types be they large woman with small husbands or Koreans who don't speak any English.They also don't take themselves too seriously, You have been warned. The italians also like to get up and dance whenever theres music playing be it in the pool or the bars.encouranged by the animators there were usually 150 + up linine dancing,I think they must all practice at home because the all knew every dance!! Bar prices were steep and I would recommend the x1 package to lighten the blow. 20 euros for a bottle of asti. We didn't use any Costa tours as we always do our own thing.50 euros for a bus to the beach on one of the stops did seem a bit steep though. We on the whole enjoyed this cruise immensely. We always take the rough with the smooth and don't let anything spoil our holiday. The aft grand balcony we slept in was heaven on earth and we had to dragged out of it at the end of our holiday kicking and screaming!! Only 300 English speakers out of 3800 passengers can be challenging but you have to allow for that fact and enjoy what was a wonderful itinerary and a beautiful ship. We departed the ship late, collected our luggage easily and took the free bus to plaza de roma. Took the water taxi to our hotel for 2 nights the best western ala. Very good hotel and well worth the extra for a superior room over our 1st night's hotel. A lot of people complained about the accessibility of the free wi fi. the hotel organised a free motor launch to take us to murano and back.We had this to ourselves,we sat at the back,weaving our way down the grand canal before cutting through the narrow canals at the centre,we could just imagine ourselves in a james bond movie.Murano is worth a visit for the day not just to see a glass works. At the end of our stay we took the waterbus back to Marco polo. The staff of Ryan air vociferously attempted to earn their bonuses by catching anyone with an oversize or over weight cabin bag.(for those who believe I'm being a bit cynical they caught loads and checked mine 5 times without success) We queued at the gate patiently about 5th person back. The throngs rose from their seats as the cabin staff arrived thinking that walking to the front of the queue was the correct procedure. I made it quite clear to those around me that none shall pass and as the gate opened we passed quickly through. Those that paid for priority must have been miffed as the gates opened together because they were late. I sprinted across the tarmac to and headed up the steps just as my dear wife appearing out of the terminal. Suggestion: get your bag in the overhead locker quickly as there aren't enough to go round. Uneventful flight home and our holiday was done. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
I am writing this review to give you our experience of the Costa Serena. If you like to travel with well mannered British passengers and speak English all the time then I suggest you read no further and travel on a British ship from the ... Read More
I am writing this review to give you our experience of the Costa Serena. If you like to travel with well mannered British passengers and speak English all the time then I suggest you read no further and travel on a British ship from the UK. However if you want a more European style fun ship and an amazing itinerary then this might be the ship for you! We have travelled with Costa before and booked this trip at fairly short notice. If you fly to Marco Polo (Main Venice airport) then you can get an ACTV bus to Piazzale de Roma, Venice and then Costa run a regular shuttle to the ship. As we arrived around noon there were still passengers disembarking but we were able to board immediately with minimal fuss. In less than half an hour from arriving in Venice we were on deck having lunch and looking down over the city. Luggage was in the cabin by 1pm and my aunt had her swim suit on and beat the Italians to the Jacuzzi! SHIP Costa Serena is a large modern ship which is easy to negotiate and has pleasant dEcor. The theme of the ship is ancient mythology so apart from the atrium the colour schemes were pleasant to the eye. Despite the sailing being full there was still plenty of space inside the ship although the outside decks were busy on sea days. The Dining room was very good and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a lovely table for 4 and very good service there. The quality of the food was very good with nice sized portions, good variety and 7 courses every night if you can eat that much. There were 2 formal nights but there were not black tie. My Dad just wore a shirt & tie but we girls were still able to dress up. In Europe anything goes. The buffet on Lido deck was open most of the day. I preferred Room Service for breakfast but the early risers in the group were up at 7am for their full English. The lunchtime buffet caters for Italians/Europeans so there was loads of fresh sea food, pizza, amazing pasta and grilled meat/burgers & chips at the outside grill. Although there's greater variety on the American ships we all managed nice meals every day. There was afternoon tea with sandwiches from 4-5pm. We ate in the Dining room every night although buffet was open and then Pizzeria open from 9pm-1am. There were at least 2 big outdoor gala buffets at midnight and they also served snacks around midnight in the lounges. As Costa club members we also got a basket of fruit, champagne and chocolates in the cabin plus free photo and reception with the captain. Drinks are quite expensive and the packages are probably best. The ship is Italian so all announcements will be made in Italian then in around 6 languages. All literature we received was in English and we had a daily newspaper. The guests were mostly Italian, Spanish and French but there were groups from Russia, USA, Japan and Turkey so Costa did a good job in catering for everyone. It is different to being with mainly British or American tourists so you just have to get your elbows out, join in with the crowd and have a laugh. Although there were 350 English speaking guests on our sailing we rarely bumped into them! However there is a hostess, called Helen, for English speaking guests who was very friendly and really helpful. Although we didn't need to ask her much she frequently came to our dinner table to check if we were OK and went out of her way to chat to us all. The shows in the theatre were not great and after a few we stopped going. In the evenings we loved to people watch and join in some of the activities in the lounges. Lots of dancing, music and catering for holiday makers from 2-102. The entertainment staff (Animators) were very lively and we joined in on a lot of activities. Dad loved the daily quiz and even though it was multilingual he still won a few prizes. He also tried out the formula one simulator which he really enjoyed. On sea days Mum & I tried out the Arts and crafts which was fun and Mum even tried the Brazilian line dancing. In general we didn't have time to try most activities and I didn't even get to open the novel I bought at the airport! From the cabin attendant to the captain we experienced friendly efficient service from all the staff on the ship. PORTS OF CALL This was a fabulous chance to experience some historical sites in the eastern Mediterranean from the comfort of a European ship. We travelled 2500 nautical miles past amazing coastlines and across 2 continents. I am an intrepid explorer and just love the challenge of finding my own way so we used public transport or explored on foot in most ports. Costa have a good range of tours ranging from 50euros VENICE Words can not describe the view you will see from the ship as she goes through the Guidiccea canal and you look down on Venice. Be sure to reserve a spot on the left hand side of the ship and you will not be disappointed as you glide past St Mark's square. We cracked open some bubbly and congratulated ourselves for choosing this itinerary. BARI This is a small town in Puglia right at the heel of Italy. As you walk off the ship you can jump on a local tour bus. My mum & aunt took that 2 hour trip for 10 euros whilst Dad and I walked the same itinerary: Norman fort, main piazza, opera house, city walls, Basilica of St Nicholas and the beach. It's a compact little town with friendly locals so you can't get lost. KATAKALON (Olympia) There was a group decision not to visit Olympia as our time in port was limited and the beach seemed more attractive. As you walk out of the port turn left and there is a small beach with umbrellas, chairs and a beach bar. It is pebbly like many beaches in Greece but you can't beat the location. There is also a sandy beach about 20 mins walk on the other side of town. The ship provided us with beach towels so we had a great relaxing morning at the beach with a nice swim. The town in small, but some nice souvenir shops and lovely tavernas overlooking the harbour. We just wished we had longer in port IZMIR This is a large industrial harbour but the dock is only 5 mins walk from the city. Our group split here with 2 hitting the shops and 2 of us taking an organised tour to Ephesus and Virgin Mary's house. If you like Greek history and archaeology then this is the place for you. It takes about an hour's drive through beautiful countryside to reach Ephesus. Our bus was only for English speaking guests and the guide was very knowledgeable about the local history. Ephesus is HOT but well worth the visit and the journey up to Selcuk to the site of early Christianity and Mary's house was very peaceful and interesting. On returning to the ship the shopaholics had bartered with their euros and filled the cabin with shoes, handbags and sunglasses and also had a fab day. ISTANBUL The journey through the Dardenelles and sea of Marmara is wonderful and as you see the minarets in the skyline it does feel as though you are approaching a new continent. After some research I opted for public transport. There is a tram stop close to the port but you need Turkish Lira to buy tokens. It takes 5 stops to the Blue Mosque (Sultanamhet). Get off here and you can enjoy the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Hippodrome with beautiful gardens and views over the Bosphorus. 2 tram stops further is the Grand Bazzar but we just walked there. It's truly amazing to visit these sites and the day just flew by. After a day's walking and weary legs we enjoyed the view leaving Istanbul from the Jacuzzi on deck with Bocelli playing-magical. DUBROVNIK After a full day at sea we were refreshed and ready to go again. The ship anchors at sea so you have to be tendered in. I was expecting caos but we only waited about 10 mins in one of the lounges to be escorted in an orderly fashion to the tender. The views of Dubrovnik harbour and the old city from the sea were picture postcard. You can explore this city on foot very easily and mingle with the locals and other tourists. IN SUMMARY We will definitely travel with Costa again and would even do the same itinerary on their new ship. This cruise gave us a chance to see places we might not visit independently from the luxury of our big white ship. We felt Costa gave us excellent service and very good value for money. As a family of different age groups we like cruising Italian style. However if you want 5 star luxury or British etiquette then it's probably not for you. Look at the price, the itinerary and it's a great deal. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Costa Serena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 2.0 3.1
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 3.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.6

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