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Sail Date: November 2011
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and ... Read More
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and lights. We did not even bother to go to the front office as it was crowded. The staff spoke very poor English so we managed to get around due to our previous cruise experience. The entertainment was cheap and too fussy, only the light show in the main theatre was great. The SAMSARA SPA was nice (the interior), a bit crowded, but really liked it. But the pools were just awful. It was cold so they were all closed on the ceiling. The entire interior was yellow and green, full of plastic and linoleum and awfully plastic flowers. Even I am a smoker, I found it really strange you could smoke in a closed pool area. Also there was food served in the area (as well as prepared somewhere close by) so the smell of chloral, grilled food and smoking was not a great pool experience. The outside area of the top decks was as if you were on a ferry - empty blue steel all around and some chairs bucked up. Nothing special and really not appealing to spend your time there. The rooms were great, we had a balcony one and was really happy with it. The food in the main dining room was mediocre, the service was good. I really like trying out new food but there were often moments when I just did not even want to taste what was given on the plate. Not to mention the food in the self service restaurant -- was just like a company cafeteria. As I cruised the Royal Caribbean before, I expected to have a variety of food throughout the day but this was not the case -- you had it at specific hours and if you could not make it, you were to order room service or wait for the next meal. Also, there were no free soft drinks on the boat -- except water, and you could not find it in a lot of places -- guess they are trying to increase the beverage consumption on board. We spoke to some of the bar staff -- they were not happy campers, all coming from third world countries and some of them earning less than 1000 USD per month including tips for all the hard work they do! The ports we visited were ok -- our choice, but would definitely move Bari out of the list. The place we liked the most, in Greece, we stayed really short, only for a couple of hours. All in all, a pretty average cruise experience and if I have not cruised on other companies before, I would be pretty disappointed with cruising and would probably not do it so soon again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
We chose this cruise as it was leaving from Venice and I had a wish to see Venice again, so we thought we would combine the trip with the cruise, even though we had been disappointed with various aspects of Costa before we hoped with the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was leaving from Venice and I had a wish to see Venice again, so we thought we would combine the trip with the cruise, even though we had been disappointed with various aspects of Costa before we hoped with the Serena being a fairly new ship things might be better, how wrong can you be? We were 2 couples travelling together FOOD. Very poor quality! I enjoy my food as do all our party but really struggled to find something to eat let alone enjoy. As mentioned in other reviews the Italians are very pushy and don't believe in forming an orderly queue so beware if there is a gap in front of you, also at the buffet at all meal times they were very slow at replacing food as it run out, we had to ask the staff behind the counter more than once to replace the missing food. These staff seemed to be trainee waiting staff as they seemed unsure how to lay out and arrange the food. The meals in the Vesta Restuarant for a so called luxury ship and considering the amount we paid for the trip was absolutly dreadful, from the time it took to serve it (2.5 hours) we were leaving the the restuarant after 11pm still hungry. On the Gala night! we went to a lot of trouble to dress for the occasion at dinner we were offered the gala menu my sister in law and I could not find anything suitable to order, I asked the waiter to bring the (always available) alternative menu she informed me it was not available on Gala night, so I asked if we could just have grilled steaks with some veg she said she would have to ask the mai'trde to come over to speak to me, next thing I was presented with a menu 'he says you can choose from that' said the waiter it was the very obvi children menu anyway I ordered the chicken malelese with french fries when it arrived it was just an insult the dry chicken was very rubbery, inedible as if it had been reheated in a microwave and the frozen chips were undercooked, needless to say I told the waiter to take it away and asked to see the mai'trde the waiter returned to say we could have the grilled steaks this was such a poor show just not worth dressing up for. After this debacle we decided to use the buffet for dinner, even though we were there in plenty of time there was were little food left to choose from. Tea was always luke warm and the coffee was like dish water my sister in law drinks coffee and she had to buy it from the bars at a very inflated price. Another reviewer mentioned the rule about not bringing drinks on board they say something about health and safety, rubbish it is just so you are trapped into paying Costas riduculous prices for drinks soft and alcohol ones, there is a way round this but if Costa read this review they would soon put a stop to it! Another review talks about the adults only pool that children were allowed to use uncorrected we don't have a problem with children on holiday we all have kids and grandchildren ourselves, but considering there was 4 pools on board we don't think it's asking to much to enforce the adults only rule. The children were very boisterous around the pools just as you would expect,so it would have been nice to relax around a pool and have a swim to cool off instead of being banished to the dry decks. To Finish The other trips we had on Costa had very similer problems the first one we booked was at short notice my daughter and I took my Mother for her first and only cruise.The second one it was the only cruise line going to Dubai and the Emerites and as I said earlier I hoped things might have been better on the Serena. It was awful from the surly waiters to the dreadful food and vastly overpriced drinks, also if you were not Italian you were not quoted even at the muster when English was the last language to give instructions the Italians started to break rank and chatter loudly we could not hear the announcement. As we have found on other cruises the cabin attendents do the best job our room was always spotless and we received everything we requested. Finally we think the problem with poor service is the practice of compulsary paying gratuities which means staff do not have to work for tips. We will never be on a Costa ship again. Read Less
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Sail Date: September 2008
Having just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Costa Serena I felt that I should pass on a few words of warning to fellow cruisers. This was my first (and last) cruise with Costa and I have cruised with Celebrity, Princess and Royal ... Read More
Having just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Costa Serena I felt that I should pass on a few words of warning to fellow cruisers. This was my first (and last) cruise with Costa and I have cruised with Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean several times. This is the first time I have returned from a cruise feeling disappointed with the product I received. There were 700 British passengers on the ship and those we met during the course of the cruise and on the flight home had similar complaints to those I have set out below. Embarkation: We used the free shuttle bus to get to the port. Once we arrived at the dock side there were no porters or Costa reps to assist with luggage or to point us in the right direction. This resulted in us (and many other passengers) walking into the embarkation hall to discover that we had to double back on ourselves down to the ground floor and past the bus to drop off our luggage. The whole embarkation process is a farce with some people waiting around for their number to be called for 3 hours. Costa seem to have created an disorganized and ineffective embarkation procedure which has resulted in passengers queuing to embark the ship, then having to queue again to register a credit card. They do not operate a system which links your photo to your cruise card which means you have to carry your passport around with you when you are in port in order for you to get back on the ship! The Serena: This was far from the best ship we have been on. The layout doesn't seem to work, with Deck 5 being the only deck which you can walk from one end of the ship to the other. We've never felt so disorientated on a ship - you have to walk up and down stairs to get to where you want to go. The facilities on board are only just adequate for the number of passengers on board and we often felt that the ship wasn't really big enough for everybody on board. That said it is a clean and bright ship. Cabin: The cabins are clean and of a good size. We were in a Cat 5 inside and it was comparable to other cabins we have stayed in previously. Considering the ship is only a year old the cabins are a slightly older style to what we have experienced on other ships. Food: Food is usually the highlight of a cruise but not with Costa. The selection available for breakfast is unsatisfactory. On the first morning we visited the Ceres Restaurant for table service to discover that it was only the very limited choice of hot food which was served to the table with a buffet of cereals, breads etc in the centre of the restaurant. We ordered some items from the menu, only to wait for over an hour for them to arrive. The buffet is repetitive and doesn't cope well with the number of people passing through. There were often plates left on tables and empty spaces on the serving sections waiting to be filled. The menu for dinner was average and the food was hit and miss. We didn't have an evening where each course was of a good standard but some of the courses, though tasty, were nothing special. Overall the quality of the food was not comparable to what we have had on other cruise lines and was more comparable to an average 3* hotel. One thing they do get right however is the pizza, but then you can't live on pizza for a week! Service: The standard of service is mixed. We got the impression that the staff aren't as well looked after as they are perhaps on other cruise lines and maybe this shows in the level of service they deliver. The cabin steward, waiters, and bar staff did an excellent job and worked really hard. However, the staff at the Customer Services desk were not particularly courteous as well as some of the other general staff you see around the ship. The personal touch was somehow lacking with no 'good mornings' etc. Entertainment: There's not much to say about the entertainment as there wasn't much entertaining on board. The best entertainment was the waiters singing and dancing during dinner service in the restaurant. Some of the entertainment was only delivered in Italian and was not inclusive of the other nationalities on board. The piano and keyboard players in one of the bars played the same set every night and not much seemed to happen in the lounges. Smoking and behavior on board: There does not appear to be an enforced smoking policy which means that smoking seems to be allowed anywhere on board. Not good if you are non-smokers like us. There were groups of teenagers on the ship who would run around with no challenges from staff. This was sometimes dangerous in the buffet for example where people were walking around with hot drinks. Advice: If you haven't cruised before I wouldn't recommend Costa as it will give you the wrong impression of what cruising is about. Equally, if you have cruised with any other cruise line before you will likely be disappointed with Costa. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Overview: We just returned from the Costa Serena's West Med/Canary Island 11 nightmare cruise and conclude that Costa is not interested in a long-term relationship. Although the ship was beautiful and new and the itinerary was good, ... Read More
Overview: We just returned from the Costa Serena's West Med/Canary Island 11 nightmare cruise and conclude that Costa is not interested in a long-term relationship. Although the ship was beautiful and new and the itinerary was good, it was an absolutely abominable cruise - by far the worst of the 13 I've been on and our entire table of eight Americans (well over 100 cruises total) agreed on one thing -we'll never go on Costa again. Rooms were good and roomy enough and stewards did a great job but no chocolate on pillow and no towel animals - just basics. Itinerary - Casablanca was dirty and polluted but if you go, for safety's sake take a tour, Canary Islands were only "OK" - just some volcanic islands, pretty but nothing spectacular. Best stops were Barcelona and Malaga but only had a few hours in Malaga. If Costa gave us a cruise, we would turn it down - life is too short and there are better things to do! Food and service - read on! Embarkation: Embarkation was dreadful - upon arriving at the ship, crowds of guests were in large tents with no seating available and Costa told us to get a shuttle bus to town and shop or go to a restaurant for lunch and return in two hours for our number to be called. After boarding they confiscated all non-European Union (including all American) passports and gave us a receipt and these were not returned until the morning of the last day as we left the ship. Also, after boarding you have to wait in another line to register your credit card with your sign and sail card as this is not done yet. This cruise is not for English speakers - no English programs on TV (except BBC/Euro News) and the English language announcements and programs were not always clear and at times inaccurate. For example, our table missed one show because the time put in the announcement was an hour later than the show start time. One person complained and was told the staff already knew about the error but consciously did not make an attempt to notify the English speaking guests. This seemed typical. If you aren't Italian, you are left out and they don't seem to care. Ship had so many smokers that secondary smoke seemed to be present everywhere - my wife's eyes were irritated the entire cruise. Children are free so there were lots and they ran all over with little supervision. Food and Dining: Food in the self service restaurant - it was cold to barely warm, dripping of grease and oil, at times touched by other passengers' hands and the same at all food stations. Breakfast was identical everyday- bacon/ham/corn beef hash floating in oil, cold scrambled eggs and no omelet station to have it your way. There seemed to be plenty of icing covered pastries and white bread rolls. Juice had lots of added sugar and the coffee was the worst I've ever tasted. Dining room entrees for dinner were frozen and heated on site per the menu notes. Quality of dining room food was acceptable but serving sizes were small. Dining staff got our table's orders wrong every night in one way or the other. For example, one night I ordered fish and got beef; two others ordered duck and got pork, etc. This was a nightly occurrence. Forget that great chef- he doesn't exist on Costa. No Eggs Benedict, lobster, escargot, Beef Wellington or Steamship Round. Also, with the exception of breakfast in the dining room, there is an extra charge for Espresso or Cappuccino, that is if there is enough time at the end of the meal for coffee. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Costa Serena. A brand new ship. Absolutely chaotic. Costa has not been able to implement many of their processes in the ship when it comes to customer service. We could see the staff struggling when you went to them with questions or ... Read More
Costa Serena. A brand new ship. Absolutely chaotic. Costa has not been able to implement many of their processes in the ship when it comes to customer service. We could see the staff struggling when you went to them with questions or queries. Must admit, the ship herself was beautiful, latest equipment and great interiors and decor. Loved it. Had bad experience in the following matters: 1. Embarkation was a mess. No clear priority was demonstrated for Suite class passengers 2. Very bad communication through the Indian Travel agent. We never received any information package after we booked the cruise except for one cruise confirmation ticket. NOTHING ELSE. Therefore we had to end up doing lots of paper work when we reached the ship. 3. Some of their staff in the ship were racist and clearly demonstrated hatred towards an Indian family (that we are one). 4. Asian vegetarian food was tough to find. In India, costa had advertised that they will provide Indian food on board. But we did not find it. I had to fight and ask, post which they gave me some basic indian vegetarian food everyday. 5. Activities for Children was an absolute let down. Our nine year old didn't have any good activities to participate. 6. The customer service centre in the ship always had very Loooonnnggg queues. 7. Not very friendly for english speaking passengers. Italian and Spanish were clearly the main preferred language. English took a back seat and all announcements made in English lacked clarity and lacked appropriate pronunciation. 8. Destinations like Bari, Italy and Dubrovnik in Croatia are absolute waste of time. 9. Shore excursion was fairly okay but for at Dubrovnik, Croatia. We had a nightmarish experience with a shore guide called Mr Mario who was hired by Costa for a guided tour. He was an arrogant, loud mouthed dictator. He did not allowed us to board the tour bus because we were eating ice-creams. He shut the door of the bus and made us stand in the street. Finally he allowed us to board after we threw the icecreams in the dust bin. He did not allow an elderly woman do take a toilet break. She abandoned the guided tour because of that. Costa did not demonstrate careful screening and selection of tour guides. 10. Costa may not be friendly for elderly people to travel given the way they select tour guides. What was good about the cruise? 1. Great ship. Brand new. Looks lovely. New gadgets 2. friendly staff in room service Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
After four cruises with four different cruise lines, all in the Caribbean (Norwegian, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity) I guess I had a reasonable idea of what to expect in a cruise. How wrong was I... this is nothing like the usual ... Read More
After four cruises with four different cruise lines, all in the Caribbean (Norwegian, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity) I guess I had a reasonable idea of what to expect in a cruise. How wrong was I... this is nothing like the usual US-based cruise in terms of efficiency, quality and customer service. You could have a nice time, and many passengers did, as long you forget what a really efficient and well organized quality cruise should be like. The cruise left from Venice, a wonderful point of departure, and the terminal is practically within walking distance of the old city (assuming you are not lugging six months' worth of clothes with you, as so many people seem to...). There was an efficient bus transfer from Piazza Roma to the terminal, a mere 5 minutes away. Once we left the bus, we kind of said good-by to civilization. There were no signs indicating how to approach the embarkation point, three different Costa uniformed employees who spoke barely any English gave wrong or conflicting information, and people were ambling in every direction trying to find their way. Once in the departure hall, again there was no proper signage explaining where to go and what to do, and the entire embarkation process was a complete shambles compared to what happens in ports like Miami, Fort Lauderdale or San Juan. Passengers needed to get a numbered card indicating their order of embarkation, but the cards were not always handed out in order of arrival. People arriving more than an hour later got cards entitling them to earlier embarkation. There were only a couple of clerks dealing with the embarkation process, so waiting up to a couple of hours was common. Once on the boat, the interior is something of a shock if you expect anything stylish or elegant. The boat, although relatively new (2007) is decorated in a style that is liable to induce severe headaches in the more faint hearted. It is a style hard to describe, something of a mixture of a tacky second-rate Las Vegas casino where no amount of gold or red is too much, a gipsy boudoir, and the psychedelic dream of an aging hippy. Red, purple, silver and gold dominate, and instead of understated elegance, or indeed any elegance at all, the dominant impression is one of a down-market side show alley. How anyone could have paid good money for such awful design is entirely incomprehensible. The cabins are spacious and well equipped, similar in size and amenity to Carnival's more recent ships (indeed, the ship was almost identical to, although much cheaper looking if possible, than Carnival Triumph on which we sailed before). As Carnival owns Costa, this is hardly surprising. The cabin staff (mostly Filipinos and Indonesians) were extremely efficient and helpful, and if possible, even more hardworking than on the US ships. The public areas were similar in size and efficiency to Carnival ships, and there was some crowding at peak times in the buffet and the restaurant. One huge difference to US based cruises was the clientele (mostly Italians). On the other hand, unlike on US cruises, there were lots of incredibly badly behaved and barely controlled, noisy and obnoxious children and teenagers. As a result, relaxation was often impossible near the pools, spas and in many of the public areas. Although one of the pool areas were nominally reserved for adults only, in fact this was never monitored, and essentially there was no place on the ship where peace and quite could be obtained. This is a simple matter of getting security personnel to enforce this rule, but they seemed to be absent or looked on in amusement as teenagers were waterbombing the adults-only spas while adults were scampering to escape. Unless Costa urgently does something to keep some areas of the ship free from gangs of uncontrolled children and teenagers, anyone hoping for any peace or quite on their cruise should avoid selecting this ship. Food was generally boring and predictable, ranging in quality from bad to tolerable, and nowhere near the standard one expects on US based ships, including on Carnival. No attempt was ever made to offer anything interesting or out of the ordinary. There was the usual unlimited quantity, but almost no real quality. The evening menus never featured any of the more unusual choices one finds on any carnival ship. Meat was often dry and overcooked, vegetables watery, the seafood rubbery and tasteless. In one word, very disappointing. The buffet functioned well enough in handing out copious quantities of food, but again, the menu was almost the same every day - lots of pastas, stews, pizza, salad but nothing really interesting and unusual. The food on my last cruise, on Norwegian Pearl, was incomparably better, and even Carnival Triumph was head and shoulders above Costa Concordia. The entertainment was reasonable. The shows were of high quality, with good dancers (mostly russians) and the now standard russian aerial acrobats (one really wonders why circus artists and acrobats are still trained in such numbers in Russia - maybe this is an art from that was especially appreciated in times of dictatorship!?). However, any entertainment relying on language (eg comedians) was absent, as there was no common language all guests could understand. Most announcements were made in five languages, which can get tiring. Unlike on other cruises where the cruise director is everywhere, the cruise director on Concordia (a somewhat lumpy Italian woman) only ever appeared to announce and finish the shows, and could not be seen at any other time. The rest of the entertainment crew did a creditable job organizing activities and feigning enjoyment while dancing in the various venues at night. There were a number of music venues at night, of variable quality. There were several venues with Latin music, which I personally find rather boring and repetitive, but it is a matter of taste of course. Unfortunately, there was not one place where one could dance to good old classic rock and roll, except in the central lobby, which is not a place made for dancing or indeed any kind of intimacy. So, despite the notion that Europeans are keen dancers, this ship was not different from a similar Carnival ship. The itinerary was a mixed bag, and the stops were far too short in some places to properly see anything. The first stop was Bari, barely three hours, only enough to have a quick walk around before it was time to leave. The next stop, Katakolon in Greece, is really a one-street village, and it was impossible to get to nearby Olympia by any means other than an overpriced tour. Izmir was an interesting city, but again, one could only really get to Ephesus on a pre-booked, and extortionately priced tour. The city was interesting enough, with a nice old town, wonderful old mosques and an interesting bazaar. Istanbul, the next stop was of course everything one expects, and this time there was enough time to have a reasonable walk around, visit the Top Kapi palace, the Blue Mosque, the Agia Sophia and get lost in the bazaar, which we all did. Finally, Dubrovnik of course is a gem, and we were fortunate that we were taken right into the heart of the old city by tender boat. Dubrovnik is just the right size to see and experience in the few hours we had, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, evocative and interesting old seaside cities anywhere, despite the thousands of tourists (of whom I was, of course, one...). Disembarkation in Venice was reasonable fast. Overall we had a good holiday, saw some wonderful places, but it would have helped not to have the kind of expectations we had based on US cruises. Many of the problems could have been ironed out if only the ship had better management who paid more attention tod details. If you don't expect good food, elegant environments, peace and quiet, but are resigned to participate in a mass holiday experience which this undoubtedly is, you will have a nice enough time. The best way to describe Costa Concordia, this is like a Carnival cruise, with far worse decor and design, much worse food, much less efficiency... enjoy!!! Read Less
Costa Serena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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