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29 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

April 30, 2008-04-30 We just returned from a cruise on the Eastern Mediterranean aboard the Costa Serena. The cruise lasted one week (April 20-27, 2008). We are basically very independent people, not in favor of large crowds, and generally ... Read More
April 30, 2008-04-30 We just returned from a cruise on the Eastern Mediterranean aboard the Costa Serena. The cruise lasted one week (April 20-27, 2008). We are basically very independent people, not in favor of large crowds, and generally travel on our own. Reading reviews and commentaries by others before departure allowed us to adjust our expectations. I wish to thank all the people who wrote about their experiences on cruise lines. Their comments were of great help to us. . The result was a very enjoyable experience. We found the cabins very comfortable: we had a good bed with a solid mattress, enough storage space, a nice bathroom, and a neat balcony. The windows were washed in one port only, but, since we had decent weather, they remained clear throughout the trip. The cabin was cleaned twice daily. We were generally impressed with the overall cleanliness of the ship. The decorations are really not our style, but the ship is not my home. So.... FOOD If you wanted to, you could eat all day. Breakfast was very complete: eggs, bacon, cold cuts, cheeses, fresh fruits, yogurt, preserves, and an array of breads. True, the breads, although fresh every morning, are not the greatest. But, in my experience, Italians are not good bakers. On the other hand, their pastas and gelatos are superb. I found the meals always quite acceptable. After all, you cannot expect gourmet meals from a chef who feeds 3500 customers three times a day. We had also purchased Costa's X-1 wine, beer and water package for each of us and found that to be a good deal. DRINKS Anything at the bar as well as drinks in the restaurant if you do not buy a package ahead of time is very expensive. SERVICE My word, how those people work! Seven days a week, virtually no free time. And always with a smile. The people serving our table were outstanding, and our cabin steward excellent. EXCURSIONS Because we found the price of the excursions very high, we did not book any excursions ahead of time. We did our homework before departure and went exploring on our own and thoroughly enjoyed it. In Bari, Izmir and Istanbul the ship was anchored along the quai. In Bari you can easily walk into town. In Istanbul good walkers can do it on foot: one hour walking from the ship to Agia Sophia. There are also taxis waiting upon arrival, and there is a tramway. In Izmir we had booked the Costa excursion to Ephesus, because we had been unable to find adequate information on transportation available in the port. Upon arrival we found also there taxis waiting along the quay, advertising the ride back and forth for €90. Quite a difference with the 4x€65 for the Costa excursion. I must say, however, that the guide was excellent. She was knowledgeable about Ephesus, offered a lot of information on Turkey during the bus ride there (one hour) and often solicited questions from the audience. Both Katakolon and Dubrovnik are tender ports. If you wish to visit Olympia: a taxi ride back and forth from Katakolon to Olympia with one hour waiting time for the driver cost €90 for the four of us. Spiro, the driver, was very friendly, but thought he was flying an airplane. "I very good driver". Yes, he was, but we were happy to make it back to the ship safe and sound. Where Costa really needs to change its ways, according to us, is in the organization of getting passengers off the boat in the ports visited. That the people who have booked an excursion always get to leave the ship first is frustrating and a bit unfair towards the other guests. Queuing is unheard of by Costa. Pushing and shoving are almost a daily experience. Costa must learn to impose discipline. Costa Staff I was impressed with the cabin and restaurant crew. Not so with the Costa staff. During Credit card registration pushing and shoving were the rule: you had to take a number and presumable wait until your number was called. The order showed up on a screen, but the attendants served whoever was first at the counter. That was an absolutely disgraceful experience. The people at the excursions desk were poorly informed about the content of the excursions. At customer service, there were always lines.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
My wife and I, along with our 14 year old daughter, decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had done another Med cruise on Costa in 2004, on the Costa Victoria, and in 2006 we did a Celebrity Cruise ... Read More
My wife and I, along with our 14 year old daughter, decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had done another Med cruise on Costa in 2004, on the Costa Victoria, and in 2006 we did a Celebrity Cruise to the Baltics. We enjoyed the Costa cruise more so we chose Costa again this time. We left Savona on Dec 27 - we had a suite, which allowed us priority boarding, so the embarkation process wasn't too bad. The terminal was very crowded however - the Concordia (another large ship) was boarding at the same time and it looked like people from the previous cruises (from both ships) were still in the process of leaving. They had problems getting everyone onboard on time, so we were a couple of hours late and had to wait until about 7PM to do the lifeboat drill. The ship was full, with well over 3000 passengers. I'm not sure what the breakdown by nationalities was but there were only about 200 English speaking people. Many were American ex-pats; didn't see any other Canadians on board except for the English-speaking hostess (Audrey) was coincidentally was from a town just a few hundred kilometers from where we live. I've heard others on this forum complain about having to hear announcements in 5 different languages - I didn't find that too bad as it was fairly easy to tune them out. But the 5 language lifeboat drill was a bit much. We had a balcony suite on the 7th deck near the front. It was very clean and our butler and attendant gave us very good service. I was thinking that we wouldn't be able to make much use of the balcony in December, but it was actually quite pleasant. The room was fairly quiet except for a few youth who liked to congregate in and/or run up and down the halls. Our first stop was Barcelona, where we did the Gaudi tour which we quite enjoyed. Barcelona is a really beautiful city, much different from what I expected. Leaving Barcelona we passed Gibraltar (after an at sea day) at about 11 PM but we could make it out quite clearly even in the dark. Next stop was Morocco where did the Casablanca - Hassan II - Rabat tour. Next was another at sea day and we arrived in Madeira late evening on New Year's Eve. We pulled into the harbor and were treated to a truly amazing fireworks show. Apparently in 2006-2007 it set the world record for fireworks display. The next morning we got up and did an extensive tour of Madeira. It is a beautiful island with many narrow twisting (one lane) roads. Several times the bus had to back up in order to let a car going the other way pass. After Madeira it was Tenerife where we drove from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (which reminded me a lot of Honolulu) to Puerto de la Cruz (which reminded me a lot of Waikiki. Next was Lanzarote where we did the "Grand Tour of Lanzarote" which included a camel ride and lots of touring around the island, which is many areas resembles a moonscape. The last stop was Malaga, another beautiful city. The ship had some decor that took a lot to get used to. I felt like the decor had been chosen by a committee of designers who had just returned from a failed team building session in Las Vegas. In one 20 square foot area in the buffet, for example, we counted 20 different (unmatching) patterns on the floor, ceiling, walls, and upholstery. The ship was quite crowded and it was sometimes difficult to find a spot in the buffet area. We had dinner in the second seating (9:30 PM). The food was quite good, as was the service (except on a couple of nights when it was a bit slow). We had the usual baked Alaska show on the second-to-last night, and a very nice dancing and singing show put on by the waiters during the final evening. (There is a thread currently on the Costa portion of this site putting down dancing waiters, etc. but I really found this quite special. True, I wouldn't have liked to see it every night, but once was good.) Comparing our cruise experiences, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as our first Costa cruise. I think this was due to the ship being a lot bigger than the Victoria, and a lot more crowded. I liked the food better than on Celebrity, which I found too rich. On Celebrity I found that the servers seemed much more like servants than equals - that made we feel quite uncomfortable. So I think I'll do Costa again, but on a smaller ship. I've posted some photos of our trip on my flikr site - see http://www.flickr.com/photos/msdwilkie/sets/72157603815769327/show/ Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We did the christmas cruise on the Costa Serena in December 2007. Summarizing, we had a very nice trip, enjoyed most of the ports and the new ship. There are some BUT's I would like you to observe, if you don't mind them, you ... Read More
We did the christmas cruise on the Costa Serena in December 2007. Summarizing, we had a very nice trip, enjoyed most of the ports and the new ship. There are some BUT's I would like you to observe, if you don't mind them, you will have a nice cruise. Overall, until now we did cruises only on american ships, on NCL and Royal Caribbean, so we tended to compare Costa with them. First of all, we travelled with my parents, booking two balcony cabins 8383 and 8385. Cabins are perfect (no wonder, the ship is nearly new) and spacious, enough space. I really advise to book balcony cabins. Some people say its a waste of money, we don't want to miss the balcony, its perfect top sleep with open doors and enjoy sunset on the balcony early morning. Ports: We loved Funchal (its the best), Barcelona, Malaga and Tenerife. Casablanca is a waste of time, its dirty and ugly. We only booked the Casablanca city tour since we did not want to tour there by ourselves (skip it, stay on the ship) and Malaga (since its a huge city its a waste of time to run around by yourself). In the other ports we walked around by ourselves and loved it. Now I compare the Costa ship with NCL and RCCL: - Buffets are really Italian style, very basic, lots of Pasta and Pizza. Breakfast is really VERY basic. we decided to eat in the restaurant where you at least can order different eggs. - Lunch buffet is little better but we preferred having lunch in the restaurant. Very good choices - Evening buffet was a waste of time, again, very basic. We had dinner in the main restaurant every night and really enjoyed it. Overall, service is not bad but 99 % of the staff miss "the last step". On US we are used to be greeted, smiling people everywhere. On Costa we met some of those nice people, but most of them seemed to us "doing their job". Don't expect towel animals in the Cabin, Costa does not do it. Passengers were mainly Italians. Yes, there is little bit less discipline, Europeans and especially Italian are not used to wait in lines, so waiting for something can be fun ! Yes, Italians smoke more, but it was OK, bit more smoke than on US ships but still enough space for non-smokers. Embarkation was done by numbers, we had to wait about 20 minutes, but then were on the ship very fast. You can go directly to the Cabin where you find the Cabin Cards. Within the next 5 days you can have your Credit Card registered. Disembarkation was also by colors, you wait in the lunge until your color is announced. That went very smooth. All public areas on the ship are very nice. We loved the Ships Samsara Spa, although its very pricey we had great massage at the portuguese masseur Henrique, he was perfect. we did not use the other facilities of the fitness center but it looked nice. Summarizing, on our next Cruise we would prefer NCL or RCCL again, we would take Copsta again only for a special super deal. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Suggestion would be to come in one night before the cruise so as to not be so tired. Embarkation went fairly smoothly as we arrived past the influx of passengers. Caught the bus from Piazza Roma and then had to lug our suitcases to the ... Read More
Suggestion would be to come in one night before the cruise so as to not be so tired. Embarkation went fairly smoothly as we arrived past the influx of passengers. Caught the bus from Piazza Roma and then had to lug our suitcases to the baggage area. In turn had to walk back to the place where we were dropped off and preceded to the cruise terminal. Cabin was very nice. Everything still looked new and fresh. My cabin was at the stern of the boat which was great for departing the port of calls and the balcony was a good size. Sometimes a little noisy from the engines/vibrations etc. The cabin space was a little narrower than other cabins on the same deck (7402) but their balcony was much smaller. Staff/Food: Room steward was fantastic and did a great job. We had early seating and Hugo and Roy were great for remembering little extras. The food was pretty good in that you did have some choices which often included a European flair (rabbit, quail etc). I have had better cruise food on the Princess but it was horrible. Pizza was good and so were the chicken cutlets. Since I am not a huge desert fan can't really much about it except the ice cream was yummy in the dinning room. Buffet was alright but not a huge buffet fan anyhow. Shows: Not super impressed mainly because English was the second language and I don't speak much Italian. Out of 3000 passengers there were about 400-500 English speaking passengers. We went on the cruise for the Italian flavor and it was a little different. Ports: Bari could be left off. Olympia was a nice port and we took a Costa excursion to the sight of the first Olympics. Nice bus ride but time was cut short due to other tardy and inconsiderate passengers. Constantine our guide was very knowledgeable and quite good. Izmir and Istanbul were wonderful. We ended up taking a private tour from Ekol Travel and had two fantastic guides, Yelda and Omer (Istanbul). For the little bit extra it cost, it was so worth the amount we paid. Three of us with a guide through Ephesus and next day in Istanbul where we had a guide for 6-7 hours was the way to go. It was so personal and much more relaxing versus having to wait for other people to catch up etc. Croatia: Beautiful city with the marbled streets. We didn't do a tour but just walked around and enjoyed the sights. Tendering off the ship wasn't bad and for the most part they were organized. If you had an excursion you got off the ship quicker. Disembarkation was actually smooth. In fact it was one of the quickest I have ever been on. Guess it helped to have a red label which got us off the ship in the 2nd grouping. We had a transfer to the airport for 15 Euros and well worth it as we needed to get back to the airport to rent a car for few days. Overall it was good cruise. I don't think I would take a Costa cruise again as I feel that there are better lines for my needs. There wasn't anything bad about the cruise but for me it will probably be the last one. Service was good, food not bad, ports were great (except Bari) and cabin was nice. Be warned the smokey cigarette smell gets a little old. They need better air cleaners in the 12 bars on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
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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