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45 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
This was my third cruise with Costa. I have also cruised three times with Kristina Cruises. Normally I travel alone, but this time the trip was present from me to my mother. We came to Venice one day earlier. Transportation from the ... Read More
This was my third cruise with Costa. I have also cruised three times with Kristina Cruises. Normally I travel alone, but this time the trip was present from me to my mother. We came to Venice one day earlier. Transportation from the airport Marco Polo to Venice's bus station is very easy, fast and cheap. We lived hotel near to railway station. Location is perfect. There is Vaporetto station beside railway station. I love Venice and there is always something new to discover. Costa Cruises has organized free transportation from bus station to terminal. We left our hotel about eleven o'clock and arrived half hour later in the terminal 107. Because I have used Venice terminal earlier so it was easy to locate everything. About one o'clock they start to embark, which was nice because they do it one hour earlier which was informed us earlier. Costa Serena is nice and very clean ship. I have travelled also with Costa Concordia, so everything was familiar to me. First we went to buffet, which is located 9th deck. We also left our hand luggage to depository. After two o'clock was time to go and see how our cabin looks like. It was normal cabin, which has a balcony. On the bed were our key cards and a lot of other information. Because I belong to Costa Club, there was champagne waiting for us and fruits too. After we had unpacked our clothes, we went to use credit card registering machine. It was very easy procedure. Then we went to sit our balcony and watch when ship goes trough Venice. We ate in the first sitting in Vesta restaurant, which is located middle in the ship. We bought wine and water collection kit from the ship. It contains five wines and seven mineral waters. Every evening food was very good and our waiters were excellent. The second night we ate in the Bocca Restaurant. Night was very memorable. In the mornings we ate in the buffets and once we order breakfast to our cabin. There were always free places in the buffet if you noticed that there were tables also in the 10th floor. We never watch any shows, because they begin too late for us. But almost every evening we listened very talented live music in Cupido lounge. On the second day ship visited in Bari, but we didn't go anywhere. We enjoyed sun and warm (we have had very long and cold winter here in Finland). After we left from Bari, it was time to compulsory rescue drill. On the third day ship arrived Katakolon and we did go to Olympia with tour organized by Costa. You had very little time in Olympia, but we managed to see everything important. The tour included also local dancing performance and little snack. Fourth day we arrived to Izmir. From there we travelled to Ephesus. We had very good guide. It is place to visit once more in the future. On the fifth day we came to Istanbul. We take part tour called "Super Istanbul". Our English group contains only 6 people, so it was easy to move from place to place by small bus. Our guide was very good and helpful. I liked most the old water storage. We ate in the palace, which is now a luxury hotel. After lunch we take the boat trip to old city. We visited also in the great bazaar. After ten hour tour you feel that you need more days in Istanbul. The town was very beautiful. Tour was organized by Costa. On the sixth day in the afternoon we arrived to Dubrovnik. I have visited there earlier so we stayed on the ship and enjoyed great view. On last day we waited and watched in the grand bar when arrived in the Venice. After hour and half it was our time to disembark. I have bought transportation from the port to the airport from Costa. All went very well. In the airport was little chaos, because ash clouds affected by closing different airports. Luckily our flight was not cancelled and we got also upgrade to business class. It was the perfect end to our journey. Thank you very much Lufthansa. I like Costa Cruises atmosphere very much and have also reserved two news trips with Costa. I have always got very good service from Costa's staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Travel To Port of Embarkation * This was easy! We dropped off our car at the valet stand in Savona, got a ticket and paid in cash. They took our luggage right there. No hauling it around like we did in Venice :D One improvement here ... Read More
Travel To Port of Embarkation * This was easy! We dropped off our car at the valet stand in Savona, got a ticket and paid in cash. They took our luggage right there. No hauling it around like we did in Venice :D One improvement here would be to have some light refreshments gratuito in the waiting area. Hotel Info (if any) * No hotel used Stateroom * The room was small, cozy, and cleverly used the space it had. We were on deck 1 near the center of the ship, and there was not hardly any noise! It was so dreamy. My husband and I agreed that it was some of the best sleep we've had. We love the rocking motion of the ship and the complete darkness. Ship Info * The Serena is a grand ship! The interior is based on mythology, and it's vibrant if not a little bit over-the-top. But hey, you're cruising! It's an adventure! The layout was easy enough to get the hang of in a day. Dining * This was the big scary thing that the reviews had me worried about. A lot of English speakers had dinged Costa for the food. Well, we liked it a lot. It was very authentic Italian, and there were plenty of options each day. You could have a light breakfast delivered to your stateroom for free each morning, or hit up one of the buffets for more menu items, or go to a sit down breakfast for omelettes/etc made to order. What more could I ask for there? Lunch had buffet and sit down options as well. This was the only part where I felt that the buffet was kind of sad, but overall it was sufficient. Dinner was glorious. Our waiter, Brian D, was the best! And there was always something interesting on the menu that I was excited to try, or an old favourite. Co-ordinating our orders together, my husband and I were able to try everything we wanted to. Activities * Here's the part that maybe lacked the most for other English speakers, but we made the best of it! The staff all speak English and are willing to do their best to include you in any activity. I guess some people are shy to raise their hand and ask to be somehow specially included, but it was also a good chance to practice some new languages too! We did some trivia, some sports, and aquagym. There is a library with books of all languages to borrow, as well. We were never bored! - Children's Clubs * no children Service * Everyone was really happy to help however they could. Like I mentioned earlier, our waiter was amazing. The excursion desk lady (forgot her name!) was really kind as well. All of the support waiters and dining staff were nice. The only place this kind of went downhill was the sit-down breakfast. But it wasn't a big deal. Entertainment * The English language TV was kind of unruly. There were 2 channels, sometimes only 1, and it wasn't always the same channel, and that was the frustrating part. If they'd just leave BBC World on or something like that, consistently, it would have been better. As for the actual shows, they were hit or miss. The acrobats were pretty amazing, and the rest of it was quite cheesy, but that's all subjective of course. Port & Shore Excursions * Our biggest complaint about this cruise is something we should have realized before we booked it, if we were more experienced cruisers: 5 hour stops in a port are just too short. This was only our 2nd cruise, and we're used to independent travel. We thought we'd be fine, but we soon realized that the 5 hour ports were a hassle without an excursion from the ship. It's just too stressful to worry about "will I make it back in time?" with those short ones. Overall, the ports were amazing. Here is where we stopped: Barcelona, Spain (self) Casablanca, Morocco (self for morning, ship excursion afternoon) Lanzarote, Canary Islands (self for morning, ship excursion afternoon) Tenerife, Canary Islands (self) Madeira, Portugal (self) Malaga, Spain (ship excursion) Disembarkation *This went very smoothly. We turned in the ticket, got our car keys, found our car + luggage... then off we go! Summary * Overall this was a great itinerary, great value, great cruise! We made awesome new friends and will always have fantastic memories of the new places we visited! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Embarkation This was a breeze as we missed our flight and with it the original embarkation point at Savona. We eventually joined the ship at 2nd port of call at Barcelona. 10 mins after we produced our tickets at the security desk at the ... Read More
Embarkation This was a breeze as we missed our flight and with it the original embarkation point at Savona. We eventually joined the ship at 2nd port of call at Barcelona. 10 mins after we produced our tickets at the security desk at the port we were in our stateroom. The bags arrived 10 mins later. Only thing to add to this that is relevent to the review is that after we missed our flight we contacted Costa who were very helpful and understanding, and arranged for us to join the ship at Barcelona where they were expecting us when we arrived. First impression WOW! Ship is absolutely beautiful and spotlessly clean. The dEcor may be a bit over the top for some but we thought it was fantastic. Stateroom Again WOW! About what you would expect from a 5* hotel but a little more compact making very good use of the available space. Spotlessly clean and enough room for our party of 2 adults and 2 children. Good size flat screen TV with 1 English station plus BBC news. AV input but I could not get this to work. Small mini bar, large comfortable double bed and bunks for the kids. Small but welcome balcony. Room made up at least twice a day but sometimes 3 or 4. Food Breakfast Sit down at the Ceres restaurant, help yourself at the Prometeo buffet, late breakfast at Lido Urano pool area (all times very but the late breakfast in the Urano pool area started and finished around an hour or so later). We always used the buffet which was the same every day but plenty of choice for us to have something different every day. Hot selection included bacon, peperoni style sausages, hash browns, type of beans with added peperoni style sausage, grilled tomato, scrambled & boiled eggs although you could have freshly fried egg or an excellent omelet from the omelet station. Also there were pancakes and waffles with maple syrup, and also what I would call bolognese! Cold selection was typical continental stuff such as 3 or 4 different cheeses, ham, salami etc, yoghurt, jams, fruit, cakes, croissants and 5 or 6 different serial etc. Selection of different teas, coffee, hot choc, fresh squeezed orange or pineapple juice plus machine grapefruit and orange juice. I really likeed the breakfast. Lunch Ceres or Vesta restaurant (open sitting for around 1 and a half hours, times vary), Samsara restaurant (times vary and reserved for Samsara guests only), Prometeo buffet restaurant (self service for around 2 and a half hours and times vary). There were also the grill buffets in the Lido Sole and Lido Urano pool areas with the latter opening and closing around an hour or so later than the other (times vary). We did not use the sit down in the Ceres or Vesta restaurant as the buffet was fine for us. The grill had what you would expect and there was always a very good choice on the main buffet. Also available were specials of the day that had a different theme each day. A lot of nice deserts on offer too. Again, we really liked the buffet lunch. Tea Time We did not use this so don't know what was available (times vary around 16:00 - 17:00) Dinner We chose the 1st sitting at 18:15 with the 2nd at 20:45. We were allocated a more private 4 seat cubical table in the Ceres Restaurant which was perfect for us. The other restaurant being the Vesta. We did not use the Samsara (open sitting 18:30 - 21:00) or the Club Bacco (open sitting 19:00 - 21:30). At first we were very impressed but as the cruise went on were getting a bit fed up of the itallian and seafood dishes and the quality (which was for the most part very good) seemed to drop towards the end of the cruise. If you like Italian food and seafood you will love it but it got a bit much for our personal tastes. We would have liked a wider choice of international food and/or food based on the port of call. If you could not make your chosen sitting you could inform the Maitre D' who would try and get you in the alternative sitting. Our waitress Ria was simply excellent in the Ceres restaurant. And everything we ate was properly cooked and served at the correct temperature. I have a sample menu for a Gala dinner and if anyone would like to see you can send my a message. Midnight Snack We did not use this so don't know what was available (From 23:30). Snacking Pizza, pasta in sauce, and lovely deserts always seemed to be available when the buffet was closed. I used this once and found all to be very good. Drinking We purchased the X1 package before departure and it's a good job we did. A small glass of Carlsberg beer came in at 5.18 euro inc tax for a 40cl glass. The X1 worked very well for us as we don't go for spirits or cocktails and as a result we don't know the price of them. With the X1 you can have unlimited beer, wine, soda, and bottled mineral water at meal times. The beer was fine and the house wine was just about OK but not great. The X1 could be used in the Ceres and Vesta restaurants for the duration of the sitting, and at either Lido Sole or Lido Urano pool areas as long as the buffet was open. There was a two for one happy hour which at first was 20:30 - 21:30 but then half way through the cruise changed without warning to 16:00 - 17:00! Smoking Smoking was allowed only in designated areas and this was totally respected. We did not have a problem with this. There was also a pipe/cigar room. Staff All the staff that we came across just fantastic, extremely hard working and always had a smile. This included the front desk staff. Special mention goes to our dinner waitress Ria and our stateroom attendant Ive who were both outstanding. Entertainment There was as you would expect a whole day if different activities and entertainment planned but we didn't use any of it apart from the evening shows in the theatre. We were very impressed with the theatre. Very grand affair on two floors with stalls and baloney and had very professional sound and lighting. The only down side were the shows themselves. We enjoyed them and went to every one and the kids loved it but it was a bit too cheesy for it's surroundings. English was the predominant language after Italian and we had no problem knowing what was going on. Resident singers and dancers and a good variety of acts and lasted for about an hour. 1st show 19:15 & 2nd show 21:15. The bars and the music in them were very good and very popular, and there was a late night disco but we were never around late enough to see it in action! For the kids There looked to be a well run kids club but our two didn't want to try it prefering to stay with us. There was plenty for us all to see and do but we liked to be in and around the pools when at sea. Dress code and etiquette Casual throughout the ship with I would say 10% in tux, 10% smart casual, 5% casual and the rest in smart shirt and tie for the gala dinners. It was during school term time but there were still a good number of children on board. There was no sign of kids rampaging around the ship, in fact they were more courteous than some of their parents! The only problem we saw (although it didn't affect us) was children being allowed and even escorted into the juccuzzi by their parents even though there were signs at the entrance steps clearly stating in 4 languages that children were not permited. When ever a member of staff saw this they delt with it and got the children out but they could not police it all the time. I say the guests were made up mostly of Italian, German and French and perhaps 15% British. We found there to be some very rude and ignorant Italian, German, and French but we are used to this and we were prepared for it having seen it many times at land based resorts where british are a minority. Queuing is unheard of and at the buffet etc it's everyone for themselves! We accept that this is their way and it wasn't a major problem for us. Tours We found the price of the ships excursions to be extremely expensive for the four of us to the extent that if we had taken one at every port it would have spent almost as much as what the cruise cost. We therefore did everything independently and so can't comment on the tours. Barcelona As we missed our embarkation point at Savona we joined the ship here so didn't have much time. We had a walk up and down Las Ramblas and around the sea front. Total cost £0 Casablanca Having read bad reports about Casablanca our aim was to visit the mosque and then go to Rabat. At the port exit there was a mob of 30 or so taxi drivers waiting to pounce. As we required a taxi we had to talk to some of them. They were very pushy and would not take no for an answer. We eventually got the price down from £30 to £10 for a taxi to the mosque and back to Casa Port train station including an hour wait at the mosque. We were also offered tours of the city for around £30 and a tour to Rabat for £80. At the train station we got two adult and one child return tickets to Rabat Ville and with the under 5 travelling free this came to £19 for the four of us. The ticket seller spoke English and directed us to the train. Trains run every half hour and take an hour each way. Outside the station there was a large gang of taxi drivers and everyone else but inside everyone was courteous and friendly. The train was efficient, clean, and modern apart from the toilet. On arrival at Rabat Ville station we got a taxi to the Kasbah (£5) walked around here and had a mint tea and fantastic cake in the cafe. We then walked across the road and through the medina. Out of the other side we at first got a little lost but then found our way along Avenue Hassan 2 and then along the shops of the new town on Avenue Mohamed V which lead back to the station. Back in Casa it was a 10 - 20 minute walk back to the ship. The only time we felt uneasy was when we first encountered the mob of taxi drivers at the port exit. We felt very safe on the trains and around Rabat and we were never hassled once in the amazing medina or anywhere else. Oh, and (because of the kids!) we had a McDonald's just opposite Rabat station! Total travel cost £34. Arrecife Approx 100m from the ship on the dock side we hired a car from the kiosk (£35 for the day, inc). 10 minutes from leaving the ship we were driving out of the port. From here we drove to Timanfaya National Park, had a look around the visitor centre and went on the camel ride (can't remember price but around £20 for two camels!). On our way back to the port we called in at Puerto del Carmen and spent an hour or so on the beach. Just before the port we had to fill the car with petrol (£6). Total travel cost £41. Santa Cruz Here we caught the free shuttle to the port entrance. From here we walked along the main shopping St and around the old town and down to the "Africa Market". A further walk then to the auditorio and back along the seafront to the ship. Total travel cost £0 Funchal We walked from the ship to the port entrance and turned right along the seafront and through the beautiful park/gardens on the hill opposite. Continued then along the seafront to the cable cars (£25 single for the four of us). We had a look around Mont before descending back down via the basket toboggans (£37 for large family one!). We then walked the last 1K down to the lovely old town for lunch and a bit of shopping. Total travel cost £62 although the modes of transport were attractions themselves. Malaga Caught the shuttle bus from the ship to the port entrance (£6 per adult) and then walked up to and around the fort and then back into the old town for shopping and some churos. Total travel cost £0 as the bus drivers let us on for free, fort entrance around £7 if I remember right. Overall This was our 1st ever cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. For us the Costa Serena is a magical ship and Costa as a company were great. The staff were fantastic and we liked most of the food even though I'm not a big fan of Itallian or seafood. It was OK but we wouldn't say it was great. We liked the pool areas and the buzz around them. We didn't have a problem with English being a minority but we like being part of a multinational hotel and we can speak a enough German, French, & Spanish for us to at least exchange a few words in passing. We did come across some very rude and ignorant Europeans but we have found this at most hotels and this is not the fault of Costa. We found the price of drinks and anything else that we had to pay for to be extremely expensive when compared with the price of the cruise. All in all we had a terrific time and we are already looking for our next cruise. Costa will definitely be included in our search but we will look at the whole price including on board spending for the next one. I have prices for tours and for treaments at the Samsara Spa, and also a menu from a gala dinner that I can forward to anyone who wants to see them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Joined the Costa Serena in Savona, Northern Italy in Costa's very efficient cruise terminal. Boarding was painless and the ship spotless. The crew were excellent in every respect as was the food on board. However, if you did not want ... Read More
Joined the Costa Serena in Savona, Northern Italy in Costa's very efficient cruise terminal. Boarding was painless and the ship spotless. The crew were excellent in every respect as was the food on board. However, if you did not want to eat in the main restaurant in the evening, the only other option was the pizza buffet. The only drawback from a British point of view was the on-board daytime entertainment which was a little weak for British tastes. Although as over 80% of the clientele were Italian and who appeared to thoroughly enjoy this type of entertainment, there is little chance of it ever being changed to appeal to British tastes. The drinks on board are expensive and I would recommend you taking one of the drinks packages which are cheaper to book directly with Costa. For the money we paid for this relaxing pre-Christmas cruise, it was excellent and would recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
As a soon to be retired married man we have traveled extensively in Europe/Scandinavia and even Russia, but I have never been on a cruise. My retired brother and his wife are old cruisers and convinced us to try a cruise. Flying has become ... Read More
As a soon to be retired married man we have traveled extensively in Europe/Scandinavia and even Russia, but I have never been on a cruise. My retired brother and his wife are old cruisers and convinced us to try a cruise. Flying has become such a hassle we decided to drive to Florida and make a side trip to see Mickey at Disney World. Then we met my brother in Ft Lauderdale at the Renaissance hotel for two nights before going to the embarkation point on the 13th. They had built a brand new terminal and had a very good check in system in place to handle the large volume of people that were going to be embarking and disembarking as the ship arrived at 7 that morning and was scheduled to start embarking at 2 that afternoon. The loading went quite well with very little crowding as they only allowed a limited amount of people on the gang plank at a time with no jam ups. (Trust me when I say they had a good system for you would not believe the jam ups I've been in at airports,bus terminal, and train stations.) There was a short wait to get to our cabins as this was a repositioning cruise and the ship had to go through customs and that slowed everything down. So we went and had a late lunch while we waited and in a short while our cabins were ready. So as not to belabor all of the things we did on this cruise I will take one point at a time. Our room stewards were exceptional they catered to our every need with only 1 hiccup which was not their fault. The cabin was more then I expected and I wish I could have gotten that bed in my suitcase. I've never slept so comfortably as in that bed. The bathroom was compact, the shower was quite roomy. The little perks that went with paying a little bit more were well worth the extra cost. (Hint) If you go cheap you get what you pay for and if you get a upgrade count your blessings We ate dinner in three of the specialty restaurants, and the rest of the time we ate in the main dining room. All of the specialty restaurants had fabulous food and were well worth the extra cost. The main dining room was more formal and the food was exceptional except for the Lobster. The Ocean View Cafe was awesome the food variety was exceptional,and plentiful. the food was well prepared and very well presented. The whole cafe was kept spotlessly clean and everywhere you looked they were cleaning. The spa was very well run the staff was courteous, professional and well trained. We used their services and the spa like everything else was kept spotlessly clean. There were numerous activities and entertainment opportunities everyday if you were so inclined. Or you could just lay around one of three pools and eat eat eat. Or drink drink drink. We took tours in San Juan and St Martin. They were fun and informative so next time I can skip them and just do a little shopping and laying around in the sun. The on board shopping opportunities were numerous , Just ask my wife. She bought me something to. :) I think the days at sea were the most enjoyable, most people try to crowd everything into to little time and they lose the enjoyment of the moment. I have found that having worked almost every day for most of my adult life that these vacation moments are to be enjoyed,cherished to the fullest. So saying it simply what do I want to do on vacation, nothing, Lay in the sun read a book and do nothing. We took the early disembarking and it worked out well.To wrap it all up as I first mentioned I have traveled abroad a lot. I've flown in every size plane and even jumped out of some. Rode trains at 100mph and on trains that had wooden benches. Tour buses that had no air conditioning or died every time It had to stop.But I have never been so well treated or fed or pampered as I have on this cruise and I blame you people in the cruise industry, you have done such a good job doing what you do that everyone expects everything to be perfect. You are not perfect but you are very very close. We are going to Dustin Florida in spring, Spain in the summer and we have booked our next cruise on the Celebrity ship Equinox in the late fall. HAPPY CRUISEING Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We were a family of 6 - granny aged 80, myself and my husband, plus 3 teenagers (17, 15, 13). We chose this cruise ship because it catered for us all and we were not disappointed. Having read some of the previous reviews I went ... Read More
We were a family of 6 - granny aged 80, myself and my husband, plus 3 teenagers (17, 15, 13). We chose this cruise ship because it catered for us all and we were not disappointed. Having read some of the previous reviews I went expecting lots of negatives but these were totally unfounded. From arrival to departure everything was well organised and the comfort of the passengers was always of primary importance - at least it felt that way. On arrival the terminal in Venice we were handed some numbers and our bags taken from us. We waited about an hour to board but there were drinks available and we were given the opportunity to decide which drinks packages to have - we had tried to buy the X1 card but had left it too late! These cards need to be bought 14 days before the cruise. As soon as we stepped on the ship we were approached by someone who heard us speak English to explain that there would be a meeting to explain things to us and who gave us the time and place and then directed us to our cabins. The cabins were immaculate and well laid out. We had booked relatively late and we had inside cabins but they were fine. As a previous reviewer stated we all slept exceptionally well. Being on the 9th level turned out to be a real bonus for granny as the buffet was on this level for breakfast and lunch. The food was great and plentiful. The Italians were quite pushy - no queuing in their culture obviously - but it wasn't a problem. They piled their plates high but there was never a shortage of anything for the rest of us. We ate lunch once in the restaurant but then discovered it spoilt our appetite for dinner so we didn't do it again. We discovered late in the week that there was different foods in different parts of the buffet, but again the kids were happy with the pizza and the rest of us were happy with the pasta of the day and salad. There was always plenty of fresh fruit available. The English speaking hostess was really informative and available each day for any problems. She hosted a drinks party for English speaking clients on the 2nd night, sadly not many of us turned up but the few that did were very friendly and it was nice to have nodding acquaintances. We chose a mixture of ship and self organised excursions. Starting in Bari we took the ship's cycle tour. This was quite a giggle but not much cycling and frustrating having to listen to the guide give the explanations once in English and again in Italian. Bari itself was beautiful and could easily be walked around with the map provided by the ship. In Katakalon we used George Letsios who was fantastic (www.taxikatakolon.gr). He could only take 4 in his taxi so granny and I stayed in the town but my husband and the kids went off to Olympia and said this was the best trip they did all week. They arrived ahead of the tour buses and really enjoyed the site and visit to the museum. George then took them to a beach and for a cold drink - real ***** service. In Katakolon we wandered round the town and had a drink, bought some postcards and took pictures. The cafes on the front all had wifi (but I had left my computer behind on board although it was only 5 minutes by foot from the ship to the town I decided not to bother as I was on holiday!). There was a small beach on the left hand side of the port area with showers and shade. Also, car hire and moto hire available just at the entrance to the port. For Izmir and Istanbul we organised trips using Burak Sansal as recommended on this site. These were very expensive - it would have been cheaper to take the ship tours - but we felt that the flexibility with granny made the expense worth it. Sadly neither of these excursions lived up to expectations. The guides were very nice but when we said we didn't want to go shopping we felt a definite change in their demeanour towards us. The first guide stated from the outset that she expected a tip - we always tip and don't really need to be asked! The first port of call in Istanbul was to the spice market and when we explained that we would rather look at sites in the cool of the day and do any shopping later we were made to feel that we were clearly out of order. We lost (!) our transport in Istanbul resulting in granny having to walk quite some distance which was a bit of a strain for her. We'd asked to look at some rugs and were taken to a rug shop where the prices started at over £1000 which was way way over our price range. My husband was furious. I don't mean this to sound petty but we are really experienced independent travellers and we left Turkey feeling that we hadn't seen the best of it. In Dubrovnik we took the ship's tour to the beach. This was a bit of a faff as we had to take the tender from the ship to the town and then another boat back to the beach which was a short distance from where the ship was tendered. It was so close in fact that my kids reckoned they could swim to it! This was not worth the money (58 euros each). It included a light lunch which consisted of 4 mussels a scoop of salad and a slice of bread. The Italians had arrived with sandwiches they made at breakfast to supplement this meagre offering!! Dubrovnik looked beautiful and I wish I had heeded the advise to look around the town but I thought the kids had had enough culture by now. Leaving Dubrovnik was amazing as you sail right past the old town and cliffs. When we got to Venice the disembarkation was well organised and we dumped our bags and took the water bus down to St Marks square. This was the icing on the cake according to granny! Suzanne, our English hostess, gave lots of information on those wanting to leave their bags at left luggage and how to get to town. This was our first ever cruise and all in all was an enormous success. The kids said it was the best holiday ever. Hubby had enough going on to keep him interested. Granny was delighted that at her age she was still able to visit new places and enjoy time with her family. I was happy to have ticked off some places I'd never visited before and, of course, that everyone else was happy. The ship was huge but never felt overcrowded - the only bottlenecks were around the central areas in the evenings - there were plenty of sunbeds. The shows were varied and on the whole quite entertaining. The drinks prices were not unreasonable. We bought the soft drinks vouchers for the kids, a water and wine package for the adults, and there was always water available from a machine. My husband used the spa and a few of us used the gym - there was an age limit but both my sons used the facilities without any problem. The kids loved the slide and the pools. Granny and I found lots of shady areas to sunbathe and read our books. The staff were fantastic - really friendly and accommodating - and the ship was immaculate. We would definitely consider another holiday with Costa Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I have read many reviews on this web site about this ship and this literary, many complaining, I am now able to write my own experiences and I have no idea what ship the moaners were on.   Costa Serena is a smashing ship it has a ... Read More
I have read many reviews on this web site about this ship and this literary, many complaining, I am now able to write my own experiences and I have no idea what ship the moaners were on.   Costa Serena is a smashing ship it has a great atmosphere and amazing staff, they all seemed to speak English we did not feel that customer services or any other department had a problem with English; there is even an English speaking host on the ship although we had no need for her in any way.   Venice terminal is not like Southampton , its in Italy and our foreign friends do things differently to us , but we had no problems it was smooth and well organized, but it was not Southampton,   The ship was spotless and we had no problems with food, the buffet, long queues rude Italians or anything else. Look do your self a favor if you a typical  p and o cruiser who like to tut a lot and hates Johnny foreigner then don't go , but if your someone who likes to feel they have left dear old blighty for their holidays, then kill to get on board. If you want fun then get on board. There were loads of kids on board and they were fine we had no problems with excessive noise or kids running riot. All the moaners who have written other reviews must have lost the plot. There we places on board where you could find silence, we stuck to the main pool down by the buffet, yes it was busy, but there was loads going on, you could watch all the folks learning the latest euro dances, you could do stretch exercises or work outs and the buffet was a few steps away as well as a real nice bar.   Most days we had breakfast up here and lunch but every evening we had dinner in the main restaurant and our waiters Joel and Brian could not have been better. The gala night was fun and the Italian night even better I wont spoil if for you.  The shows were really good, and we even had a treat of a magician who was outstanding, the crew show was also really good.   We spent most nights in the grand bar where there was some sort of madness every night; the animation team were brilliant and made the whole trip such fun. .   Costa represents great value for money and there were guests from all over the world , I hated leaving the ship and if I could go again tomorrow I would , I would recommend this ship to anyone one without reserve, unless you a  tutter or someone who wants English beer and Sharon shouting oi Tracey to all her mates. I did not see one drunk, I did not hear anyone calling to their mates, and I had the time of my life.   The ports of call were stunning and everything worked like clockwork, this is one slick operation and Costa deserves to get some recognition of the great product they provide.   I could go on here for another 10 pages explaining it all but I am sure that would be boring, I have been on several cruise ships and I am so very pleased I picked Costa for this year's holiday it was just perfect. Please ignore the other moaners, its not pizza in the buffet, it's a wide mix of food; the afternoon tea is great with all the beautiful cakes. I wish they would have had baked beans for breakfast but that's it.   I don't see how you can not go on this ship, it's simply the best. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
In November 2008 my wife & I made our own way to Venice to join the Costa Serena for a cruise visiting Bari, Katakolon [for Olympia], Izmir [for Ephesus], Istanbul & Dubrovnik. At Marco Polo airport the Costa staff were high ... Read More
In November 2008 my wife & I made our own way to Venice to join the Costa Serena for a cruise visiting Bari, Katakolon [for Olympia], Izmir [for Ephesus], Istanbul & Dubrovnik. At Marco Polo airport the Costa staff were high profile & extremely helpful even though we were not using their transport. They assisted relabeling our luggage for getting it to our cabin & told us where to catch the bus to Piazza Roma & where we would find the shuttle bus that would take us to the ship. For a couple of euros the public bus delivered us to Piazza Roma right at the link with the Costa shuttle bus. It takes around half an hour from the airport. The shuttle bus then delivered us to the port where it was a bit confusing as the signage was not particularly clear as to where to deposit the luggage. Costa staff again were helpful & once we located the spot to deliver our luggage it was effectively dealt with leaving us the rest of the day to explore Venice. We were told it would be better to embark later as when the embarkation starts there tends to be a rush. We returned around 4pm [the ship sailed at 6pm] & embarked without any hassle. The large hall had various stands offering opportunities to purchase various packages....... wine, water, excursions, etc. We purchased a wine package on the assurance that we could swap the red wines for white as my wife is unable to drink red wine. However, we were not informed that at the table you can purchase carafes of white or red wine for around 8 euros. Still the wine & water deal was not a bad one, equating to what I would have paid at a restaurant in London. The Costa brochure, & notices displayed in the hall pointed out that no food or drink could be taken aboard but this was enforced haphazardly as the couple ahead of us went aboard with the see-through plastic carrier laden with spirits, whilst later during the cruise other passengers had their Turkish Delight impounded & returned at the end of the trip! We were left to find our own way to our cabin which we did find after a few false starts! There were lots of staff around but nobody actually took you to your cabin as has been the case on other cruise companies. A good buffet lunch was available on embarkation day! The cabin [inside on deck 7] was perfect. Spotlessly clean, fairly spacious and more than enough cupboard space. Our stewardess, Jannet [yes it did have two "n"s] was a gem and kept our cabin marvellously clean. Towels, sheets, etc were crisp & each night she laid out a different pattern on our bed! The only downer in regard to the cabin was the TV which had quite a few channels but really only the BBC World News in English. I'm sure that this could be improved! The ship itself was also kept spotlessly clean but the decor, especially the huge figurines were tasteless! They must have cost a bomb but they really do the ship no service. Rip them out, please! There were enough lifts & we never had to wait long. The layout of the decks prevented you walking from end to end on all decks but using the maps provided you soon got the hang of it. The daily news letter gave full details of activities & events & was delivered to out cabin nightly. All the public areas well extremely well maintained & hosted by very friendly staff. However, the absence of Officer staff was noticeable. Entertainment was very good........knocked spots off the previous company I had cruised with. The theatre was large and we never had to struggle for a seat. Watching the daytime activities.......dancing lessons, exercises, etc did bring a smile to one's face! The bar were attractive but the prices, especially the 15% service charge did not go down well! Whilst the prices were not different from a London restaurant-bar I'm sure that a price reduction would secure increased purchases! Likewise the minimum bets in the casino for blackjack was high [5 euro minimum] & there was nobody around to give prospective punters a learning lesson. For roulette yes but for blackjack no! Lower the minimum bet......it is more expensive than Las Vegas! The pool areas needed some attention as the staff did not enforce rules preventing young children from using some pools & the jacuzzis. Also, the temperature really needed to be turned up for the jacuzzis as they were quite cool! There were more than enough beds & towels to go around. An added feature on the open deck were blankets that one could wrap up in to keep warm when it got chilly. We were allocated the Ceres Restaurant & we could not fault the staff at our late dinner sitting. Costa arranged it so our table of 8 were all English speakers & we all got on very well. If you wanted an extra dessert you just had to ask & you got it! The service & food was A1.........the only thing missing was a lobster dinner which seemed to have been a tradition on other cruises. The portions were not large but they didn't need to be when you are having 6 or 7 courses! They certainly were very tasty! Instead of purchasing bottle water do ask for a jug which is equally as good and free! The buffet on Deck 9 restaurant was also very good with themed days [Mexican, Greek, etc] & there always seemed to be pizza & pasta available at all times! Free coffee & tea was also available at the buffet restaurant & it was amusing to watch people filling up flasks to take back to their cabins! Occasionally there was a slow clear-rate of soiled crockery but it was liveable! My gripe would be with breakfast & lunch. For both we chose the restaurant to avoid a buffet scenario. For both we were not able to choose where we wanted to sit but were directed by staff to fill up tables. Service was invariably slow & the staff not as friendly as the dedicated staff at dinner! Breakfast was a mix of waiter service & buffet & very noisy. It was disappointing as had we wanted buffet we could have used the buffet restaurant on Deck 9. All the orders were served at once so I got porridge, eggs, kippers, etc all at the same time. The waiters seemed not to want to do table service and encouraged / expected you to use the buffet! Whoever is in charge here needs to address this problem as it lets the ship down! We had people going hither & thither all around us which did not do for a relaxing breakfast! Lunch was waiter service but slow & with no choice of seating. This certainly could be improved! We tolerated the photographers who appeared at dinner with various contraptions taking pictures which were not easily located in the mass of photos displayed in the photo shop & which were not cheap! The Captain's Reception in the theatre was bit boring but the lavish distribution of free glasses of sparkling wine or fruit juice more than made up for it! We did not purchase any of the excursions as we did them ourselves. Bari, Dubrovnik & Istanbul are easy to do by yourself. The towns are easily accessible from the dock & unless you want a speedy guided tour skip the organised excursion. At Dubrovnik the ship docked rather than the tender as per brochure, & you need to spent the 6 euros for the bus to get into the city, it is too far to walk. At Istanbul there is a tram stop fairly close to the dock which drops you right by the Blue Mosque. In Turkey you will need Turkish currency as most shops, tourist sites, cafes, etc will not accept euros or credit cards! We used an ATM to draw out Turkish lira. For the trip the fare was very cheap & the entrance token can be purchased at the tram stop but you need lira! For Olympia & Ephesus we disembarked as early as possible & got a taxi. At both places it cost 100 euros which equated to the excursion price but it did mean that we were able to stop off as & when we pleased, were one step ahead of the large ship parties, and could spend as much time as we wanted admiring any thing we wanted to. Had we organised it better we could have got another couple to share the taxi with us & then the cost would have halved for us. Still, it was enjoyable. A tip for disembarkation: get to the place early so you get off the ship ahead of the others. Regarding the large amount of passengers aboard the embarkation, etc processes went well. When embarking it's advisable to pack any food or drink purchases out of sight just in case the security guy impounds it to the end of the trip! And yes, in most ports you can buy water at a fraction of the price you pay on the ship! We bought ours & stored it in the mini bar so that it was nice & cold when we wanted a drink. I am sure that you could do the same with beers, juices, etc! Being an Italian liner the announcements were first in Italian. It was bit of a bore having to wait for the English version, which did seem much shorter, but then having cruised on another Italian line it didn't bother me too much! On the whole it was a good trip & I would recommend it to prospective travellers. Improvements in the areas suggested would make the ship ever better! Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This review is intended primarily for Americans and other English-speakers who are planning a Costa Cruise or perhaps another cruise departing from Venice. I will try to include information and tips that I found useful and other ... Read More
This review is intended primarily for Americans and other English-speakers who are planning a Costa Cruise or perhaps another cruise departing from Venice. I will try to include information and tips that I found useful and other information discovered through experience that I would have found useful. My wife Nancy and I are frequent European travelers and have taken a number of Mediterranean cruises (large ship) and river cruises (small ship). This was our first non-English speaking cruise but language was not a problem as all of the Serena crew (many of whom are Filipino) speak English. Since Costa is an Italian cruise line Italian was the primary language and the passenger distribution was mostly Italian who probably made up at least half of the approximately 3,800 passengers. English speakers accounted for about 350 passengers made up of Americans, British, and quite a few from Hong Kong. Most of the other passengers consisted of German, French, and Spanish speakers. We chose the Serena Eastern Med cruise because of the itinerary which included Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. We booked the cruise with an on-line cruise company which we have used before and who was able to secure us a small discount above the best price offered by on-line booking directly with the cruise line. We booked cruise only and booked our own flight arrangements from Washington Dulles to Venice Marco Polo. We departed on Thursday for a Sunday sailing from Venice because we wanted a couple days to explore Venice prior to departure and also to ensure that we didn't miss the sailing because of a flight mishap. This was our first visit to Venice and it was a treat (http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/ was a great help to me as was the Rick Steve's guide to Venice). We stayed at the Olympia Hotel right across a canal from the Piazzale Roma (if you drive from the mainland to island of Venice this is where you leave the car or bus and switch to water transportation). The Olympia was perfect for easy access to the cruise terminal for our departure. Hotels near the Piazzale Roma are easy to access from Marco Polo airport via the ATVO bus service and less expensive than hotels near the Piazza San Marco. The ATVO ticket counter is in the airport terminal after you clear passport control and you catch the bus on the traffic island in front of the terminal for a half-hour ride to Piazzale Roma. You can see the Hotel Olympia from the bus stop - about a hundred-yard walk across the canal. The location is also convenient to ATMs (you need Euros in Venice) and to the vaporetto stop (public waterbus - think London tube on the water or use a water taxi if you're more into limo-priced transportation). Buy a 24, 48, or 72-hour unlimited pass for the vaporetto, which you must swipe across a terminal each time you board. Our favorites in Venice were: Piazza San Marco (Basilica di San Marco, and Palazzo Ducale), Gallerie del'Accademia, Rialto bridge, Frari church, and wandering the back alleys, small canals, and squares. Costa provides a free shuttle bus from the Piazzale Roma on the afternoon of sailing. The bus takes you to the Maritime terminal beside the ship where you will go through some cattle-car crowds and lines to check your luggage, register and board the ship. Boarding started at 1:30 and ended at 5:00 for a 6:00pm embarkation; we boarded at about 3:30 and were able to miss a lot of the initial crush of boarding passengers. Get used to the fact that, culturally, Italians appear to have no concept of queuing in line or waiting in turn for service or entry. This was frustrating for the various Brits, Germans and Americans who do wait in line for their turn. The Costa staff, who are mostly Italian, also seem oblivious to passengers who are waiting their turn and serve first whoever crowds to the front. Just get used to it, ignore personal space issues, and crowd forward with everyone else and you'll save yourself some frustration. Expect the same routine in buffet lines, customer service desk and anywhere there's a crowd. The Serena is a huge ship and not always easy to navigate from fore to aft when searching for a specific location but if you go to one of the passenger decks or deck 5 you can actually get from the bow to the stern. Our cabin, 7441, was on the starboard (right side of the ship) side near the stern. It was a spacious cabin with queen-size bed (high enough to stow suitcases under bed), couch, table, bathroom with shower stall, plenty of closet space and balcony with two chairs and a table. Our experience was that cabin steward and wait staff in the dining room were very attentive and excelled at providing whatever was wanted. We opted for the X-1 prepaid drink package (unlimited wine, beer and mineral water by-the-glass at dinner and lunch) which is about $14/person/day and we thought it to be a good value. At the first dinner in the dining room I tipped the waiter and advised him that there would be another tip at the end of the cruise and every night there were two bottles of wine (red and white) and a bottle of mineral water waiting at our table. For lunches we picked out an area near the buffet lunch and a bar where befriending the bar tender resulted in similar service for as many drinks by-the-glass as we wanted. The only drawback to the X-1 package is that the prepaid package is good only during meals in the dining room and at bars near the buffet areas and you may miss out on bar hopping the many other bars where drinks are pricey. I learned of the X-1 package from other Cruise Critic reviews (it is not to be found on Cost's web site and appears not to be advertised) I had the cruise booking company arrange it with Costa. Meals were good consisting of the following courses: appetizer, soup, pasta, entrEe, salad, cheese, and dessert - each course has several choices and you order as many or few as you like. If you are disappointed with a dish your waiter will bring you a different choice. The meals are comparable to what you would find in real Italian restaurants and are not geared to American tastes although there are always substitute dishes available such as steak or seafood (this is probably not your Mom's cooking). Because this was a short cruise and there were port calls on six of the seven days, we didn't use the exercise facility, jogging track or participate in much of the activities/entertainment which are conducted primarily in Italian. Here are some personal thoughts on the ports of call: On our cruise the Serena docked at all ports but sometimes in Katakolon and Dubrovnik the ship anchors off shore and tenders ferry passengers ashore which could present a bottleneck. We booked Costa tours in Izmir and Istanbul, you may find less expensive alternatives but you will want to make sure you get back to the ship on time. BARI, ITALY - small town, skip the tours and walk it yourself to see the fort and Basilica St Nicolas. KATAKOLON, GREECE - another small town, enjoy the shopping on foot or take a tour to Olympia, site of the original Olympics. We walked the town and had a fine time. IZMIR, TURKEY - Turkey's third largest city, we took a tour of Izmir museums and the ancient agora ruins and skipped the tour to Ephesus. Don't bother exchanging currency, Euros or Dollars work fine in Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. ISTANBUL, TURKEY - Great city take a tour because there is too much to see on your own unless you already know what you want. Some highlights are: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia museum, grand bazaar, and Topkapi palace museum. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA - another small town, Costa provided shuttle bus service for a fee to the walled Old Town where you will want to go. Skip the tours and explore by foot, and don't miss walking the fortress wall which will provide some serious exercise as well as spectacular views. We found the Serena cruise to be a good value and enjoyable vacation that provided all that we expected, and our stay in Venice exceeded expectations. steve & nancy Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We were pleasantly surprised by our cruise on the Costa Serena - particularly after reading the reviews on this site. We found the cruise to be extremely relaxing, fun and Costa Serena's crew to be fantastic. We chose this cruise ... Read More
We were pleasantly surprised by our cruise on the Costa Serena - particularly after reading the reviews on this site. We found the cruise to be extremely relaxing, fun and Costa Serena's crew to be fantastic. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the cost, we believe that it was excellent value and a wonderful experience. The Costa Serena was launched in 2007, whilst being relatively new the decor in the ship was a little loud (think Las Vegas casino) however after a few days we got used to it. Serena is a huge ship. our cruise was at capacity so there were about 3700 guests and over 1100 crew on board but the ship was spacious and we could find quiet places on board. There were about 1000 native english speaking passengers on the cruise and to be honest, I felt that many of the people I spoke to were being overly critical of the cruise, in particular many of them complaining that nobody on the cruise spoke english and there were too many Italians (it is an Italian cruise ship and it embarks in Italy - I don't know what they were expecting). I speak Italian and did not hear Italians complaining about any aspect of the cruise. The positives of this cruise were: A new ship - well maintained and very spacious. Staff - all members of staff that I dealt with were multilingual and spoke english (and Italian) very well, the staff were willing and able to assist, they were enthusiastic and extremely polite. Itinerary - we visited some beautiful places including Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik and the Mediterranean itself was very calm. Value for money - we got this cruise at a huge discount so we found it to be great value for money - make sure you shop around for a great deal. Extremely relaxing - we were able to find quiet places in the ship to relax Nice cabin - we had an inner cabin and it was spacious enough and was always well maintained, the balcony rooms looked wonderful Good food - the food was italian in style, lots of pasta, pizza etc but there were other types of food available reflecting the food of the port of call, some dishes in the restaurant were not particularly good but overall it was of a high standard and lots of food was available. Entertainment - overall we thought the night time entertainment was of a high standard particularly the singers in the main theatre. Activities - there was always something to do on board, dance lessons, games to play etc. The activities were run well by enthusiastic staff. Drinks packages - good value drink packages (wine and water, soda, water, espresso coffee) were available to be purchased prior to departure (and apparently on board), we found these to be good value. Quality of shore excursions: We went on 2 shore excursions (Ephesus, Olympia) as these two locations were about 45 mins to 1 hour away from the port. We found the tour guides to be professional, informative and the locations of the shore excursions very interesting. Please note that the ports of all the cities were within walking distance of the city centre, therefore you do not need to go on a shore excursion if you just want to visit the city that the boat is docked in. Special price for laundry service: 2 days before the end of the cruise a special laundry offer was made 20 euros for 25 items of clothing, it was a great service and fantastic value. Low points of the cruise: 3 small pools: The pools were small and were often crowded General rules were not adhered to by all passengers: Many passengers would wear only their bathing suits into the buffet area even though this was not permitted, children would go into the adult pools, children would ride elevators without supervision etc. Staff did not enforce the rules which was somewhat annoying. Crowded buffet areas: To be expected with this many people on board but still frustrating. My recommendation is if the buffet is extremely busy go to the restaurant for breakfast or lunch. Scantily clad sunbathers: This is not something that we were used to but it seems to be a european thing (I don't just mean Italians, lots of British people did not cover up either), it was somewhat off putting. Expensive shore excursions: The shore excursions were quite expensive particularly the ones that toured the city that we docked in e.g. Istanbul, Izmir, Bari, Dubrovnik. Announcements were made in 5 languages this can get a bit frustrating. There is no getting around this and it does happen in public areas (you can escape from it in your room). Children: There are lots of families on this cruise with children of all ages. Some children do participate in Squak Club (children's club) activities during the day and others don't, there is no getting around this. I suggest that people chill out a bit and tune the children out because you can't do anything about it. Katakolon: The town of Katakolon is not very interesting, it is a small town which focuses on tourism. I really suggest that you take an excursion at this port (or be willing to pay at least 50 euros for a taxi to the beach, 100 euros to Olympia) and see something nearby. Overall this was a great cruise, we would love to go on the Costa Serena again. 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
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
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
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
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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