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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Arrived at the port at 3pm after a late check out from our hotel. Embarkation was a breeze. Purchased drinks package prior to sailing and was able to use it immediately. Ok, our cabin wasn't ready till 8pm, but we knew that prior to ... Read More
Arrived at the port at 3pm after a late check out from our hotel. Embarkation was a breeze. Purchased drinks package prior to sailing and was able to use it immediately. Ok, our cabin wasn't ready till 8pm, but we knew that prior to sailing so we were prepared. Food was surprisingly good, pasta dishes were great. We had lovely fillet mignon, delicious king prawns and tasty fish. Our waiters were great and our glasses never empty of wine. Entertainment in all the bars was good. Never had a problem with grumpy staff. All the staff we encountered were lovely and very accommodating, even the reception staff. For what we paid, it was great value. Ship was spotlessly clean and cabin was very comfortable. Would we cruise with Costa again? In a heartbeat if the price was right! Great winter sun vacation! Go with an open mind and you won't be disappointed. We did meet people who moaned about everything but we honestly had a lovely cruise. We have cruised RCI,NCL, Celebrity, P&O, Princess, and our favourite, Azamara. For what we paid it was great value. The only complaint I would have is that the buffet was only open 2 nights out of 7, but again, I knew this from cruise critic. Room service was sufficient and tasty and available until 11pm. Go with an open mind and relaxed attitude and you won't be disappointed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015

Cruised the Dubai Emirates on 13/03/2015 Costa Serena

GOOD POINTS:

Lovely weather

Large clean ship

Entertainment group worked hard and shows were good

Most staff were really friendly.....but there ... Read More

Cruised the Dubai Emirates on 13/03/2015 Costa Serena

GOOD POINTS:

Lovely weather

Large clean ship

Entertainment group worked hard and shows were good

Most staff were really friendly.....but there were a few who were not (as if they could not be bothered to make an effort)

Had an inside cabin for two people which was a really good size (pleasantly surprised).

Went to the port at approx 5.30pm for embarkation and it was pretty straight forward.

Disembarkation was pretty straight forward as well.

If you drink it is advisable to take the drinks package (25 euros per person per day) Please see below for more info.

NOT SO GOOD POINTS:

Could not access cabin till 8pm on the first night of the cruise (I had read previous reviews which had highlighted this, so when booking our cruise we opted to fly out a day earlier and book into a hotel which gave us a late check out till 4pm. We could then make our way to the port at our leisure nice and fresh. Would advise doing this.

Food on the ship was not the best (you wont starve but it is not on comparison with NCL or ROYAL CARRIBEAN). I found that when it was a red meat dish, it was usually as tough as old leather.

Buffet selection was quiet repetitive.

Some drinks that were on the drinks package we purchased were not available (Tia Maria) and on another occasion they ran out of Drambuie and the only beer we could get on this package was Carlsberg on draft.

Free water and orange juice machines at the buffet stations. (orange juice was cheap nasty diluted stuff...glad I had the drinks package to be able to order other drinks)

Big water slide at the pool that never opened for the entire cruise.

No working ice cream machines that were advertised.

Some sort of refurbishment going on in the ship....did not really impact on the holiday.

TOP TIPS:

FOR 2 x people it cost us 470 euros in total for the drinks package and gratuities for the week long cruise which we paid on board.

Dubai currency is dirhams....Khasab and Muscat are omani rials but accept dirhams

Taxi from airport to hotel which was up at the Dubai Marina Jumeriah Beach area was 100 dirhams (approx £20)

Taxi from Port Rashid to Airport was 70 dirhams (approx £14)

If you take the drinks package remember they have some funny rules: ie

If you ask for an irish coffee they say that it is not included in the package and you have to pay extra for it, but if you ask for a coffee with a whiskey on the side and mix it yourself ..well that is ok and included in the package ???? Bit weird. Few things like that.

Majority of the holiday makers were European (Italian, French, German, Spanish...very small percentage were Scottish/Irish/Welsh/English).

On the whole had a good time would go back on this ship if the price was right.....nice bit of winter sunshine.

 

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Sail Date: March 2015

Having read some of the previous comments we went on this cruise expecting the worst, however things turned out much much better than expected & our advice to anybody due to travel is go with an open mind & enjoy yourselves, ... Read More

Having read some of the previous comments we went on this cruise expecting the worst, however things turned out much much better than expected & our advice to anybody due to travel is go with an open mind & enjoy yourselves, also if you enjoy the odd tipple make sure you sign up for the all inclusive drinks package as its got to be one of the best at 25.5 euros p/p p/day of any cruise line.

Food on on board is a bit limited & chaotic during the buffet feeding times but the evening dining was excellent & made all the better by the waiting staff & our fellow diners ( Roy,Lorraine, Stewart & Lorraine). The ship is kept spotless as the staff are always busy cleaning though the Greek decor is a bit gaudy & dark. George our cabin steward done a great job & nothing was too much trouble for him. Entertainment was a bit hit & miss as we never got to see some of the shows however the the team do a great job in the Luna bar later on & on a couple of nights we had a great laugh watching the Italian compare playing games with some of the guests. Ports & Tours, we made our own way in each port & found a free shuttle bus in each though this wasn't always made known, the shops & tower blocks are a bit too much at times & our fav bit was hiring a couple of bikes in Abu Dhabi and riding the full length (8k) along the Corniche next to the deserted beaches. Disembarking was easy with taxi's on the key side that cost about 60 dirham = £12 to the airport but beware the drivers think they are all F1 racers. In summary we had a great time for what we paid & wouldn't hesitate to travel on Costa again.

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Sail Date: February 2015

Having read the 2 previous reviews, I find it hard to believe that we were on the same ship. I too have been on dozens of cruises with Cunard, P &O, royal carribean ets and having read some previous reviews! I booked this cruise ... Read More

Having read the 2 previous reviews, I find it hard to believe that we were on the same ship. I too have been on dozens of cruises with Cunard, P &O, royal carribean ets and having read some previous reviews! I booked this cruise with some trepidation. I took the view that given the price paid, I was not going to get 5 star service. How wrong I was!

Embarkation was fine. having arrived in dubai the previous evening, we booked a hotel a and spent the day in dubai, arriving at the ship around 6pm. We embarked the ship straight away and we're told that cabins would not be available until 8.30pm. We checked around 7pm and found our cabin ready and our luggage waiting for us. The cabin was very clean and larger that we have had on other ships. Service from our cabin steward was excellent. Food in the restaurant was first class with plenty of choice, far better that we had on a recent cruise with Holland America! our waiters attended to every little detail and made sure our wine glasses were always topped up! And yes, water was served to all at both lunch and dinner.No it was not iced water, but does that really matter! We at lunch twice in the buffet. Plenty of choice but very busy but then isn't that the case on every cruise ship. Bar service in both the buffet and on deck was prompt nod efficient. There were 500 Brits on board with the remainder European. Yes some were a little exuberant but we saw no real bad manners. Overall a great cruise which I would recommend to anyone.

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015

A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not ... Read More

A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not being able to access your cabin until 8pm which was really hard as many passengers had travelled on overnight flights from Europe and all over the ship you could hear mini-meltdowns happening from really tired people. With hindsight I should have just checked in the luggage and taken one of the free shuttle buses from the port to Dubai Mall and kept myself busy instead of killing 5 hours trudging around the ship with my carry-on waiting to get into my cabin.

Having this extra "Zombie" time it gave me the chance to sit and study what was on offer. I did the comparing the bar prices with the all inclusive package and the 25 Euro daily charge was a deal for me as this included most of my favourite tipples. Eventually the call came over the PA system at 8.30pm saying the cabins were now ready. This was the first time I've ever experienced a late, late check-in and could only put this down to the previous guests vacating the cabins late. The inside cabin I was given on deck 7 surprised me with its size. The bathroom seemed to be larger than usual and the extra storage space was real treat more than enough room for clothes and luggage storage.

The ship stayed overnight in Dubai and feeling as tired as I did it was wasted on me. I wasn't too impressed with the buffet provided but I appreciate when you are tired everything is worse so an earlier than normal night for bed it was for me. At the start of day 2 I approached the a bar manager and offered to buy the all inclusive package but insisted they only charge me for 6 days instead of the usual 7 as day one was just a write off in my opinion and he agreed to do this. On a positive note on disembarkation day back in Dubai the latest you can leave the ship is 3pm and the all inclusive package is still usable on this day also so the Irish coffee's were welcomed as I waited for my transfer. (Tip Number 1. If you decide to get a taxi at the port in Dubai, tell the driver not to start the meter until you leave the port gates. It takes forever to get out of the port and the extra 20/25 UAE Dirham's surcharge for a port pick-up is a joke).

The sail-away from Dubai was a wonderful treat. The ship played "Time to say goodbye" over the PA system followed by "Over the rainbow" by the larger than life Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and catching sight of the QE2 as we pasted through the harbour I beamed from ear to ear thinking this is going to be a good one and of course, the sun was shining on the righteous lol...

After the 10.30am sail-away on Day 2 this was a great time to start working on a suntan. Of course this same idea was had by 2000 other passengers so next time note to self. Get your beach towel from your wardrobe in your cabin and to save you spending half an hour looking for the towel station. Once you have your towel find a nice sun-bed on the lido deck and then watch then enjoy the sail-away before you continue to look rather snug as you have a sun-bed and now you have a perfect position to watch the hundreds of meltdowns and looting happening right in-front of you.

The food in the main dining room was nicely presented and cooked to a very high quality. Being a regular Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruiser I would go as far to say the food on this cruise left Royal Caribbean in the shade and could possibly give Celebrity a run for its money. I just have one gripe about the evening dining set-up. Your choices are to eat in the main dining room or room service, and that's your lot! I found it strange no evening buffet was provided but I had to keep reminding myself "well this is how these do it so stop comparing".

Muscat was our first port of call. Just bite the bullet and get a taxi to take you to the Sultan's Palace and old Muscat if you don't fancy being a sheep on one of the excursions. If you want a beach like I did after my bout of cultural intake head for the Crowne Plaza. Cost me 10 Euros each way from the Port and well worth it. The beach is stunning and I was lucky to pick-up free wifi. In all of my travels the sunset I saw that evening will stay with me forever.

The second Port in Oman is to a place I'm still trying to work out some two weeks later. The small enclave of Khasab is in my opinion a one horse town and the day I visited the horse had bolted. If you want a beach walk out of the port, turn right and walk ten minutes and once around the corner the beach will be in-front of you. Don't go expecting something stunning because you'll be disappointed but if you need to be by the coast and escape the "European Razzmatazz" of the ship then it will do. Take food and drink with you because you'll not get any at this beach. Now for the brave. If you don't do a ships excursion catch the free shuttle into the town. On the way ask the driver to STOP at the castle and go and check it out. Te entrance cost me 3 Euros and I got some stunning photos. After I had finished at the castle I just waited for another minibus to pass and then continued the journey to the town centre. This town must and should be twinned with a small village in India or Mars... The Mosque looked pretty but a day trip to a slum just doesn't float my boat. Don't let me colour your judgement on this place but when you do get it and the light goes on please let know lol....

Beautiful Abu Dhabi was will be the last port of call before you head back to Dubai. You will find the first free shuttle bus to the World Trade Centre Mall does not come until 10am so don't break your neck to get off this ship is this is your idea of a day out. You will see the horror in the taxi drivers eyes when you ask him to take you to the Mall. These boys are after the ones with the cash who want to booked them for a few hour city tour. Do it yourself and save a fortune doing what I did. I jumped into the taxi, closed the door and instructed the driver to take me to the Port gates. You could see the relief coming from him as he is obliged to take you as the Port officials are watching. Once you are at the Port Gates catch bus number 9 or 11. Pay the 2 Dirham's for the 30 minute journey to the Marina Mall. The photos you'll take along the way will be fanatic and for less than 0.50c you are now at the place of the rich and famous. Once you've hit the Mall walk across the bridge towards the beautiful Cornish and within 15/20 minutes on your right you will be left spell bounded with the Emirate Palace which is an absolute must do. Once you have finished at the Emirate Palace head back to the Mall and look for bus numbers 54, 34, 32, 32 & 52. For the 2 Dirham's all of the buses will take you to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is a GOT TO DO. The beautiful mosque will blow your mind and all I could think about when visiting was the 1001 Arabian Nights. Aim to be at the Mosque at 10am, 11am or 5pm for the free tour. Just remember to respect local traditions and customs and cover-up I was appealed at the number of people being ignorant of this but I guess sadly that is just one of the issues I have with this "we know it all and don't give a toss generation" Now you've a couple of choices get back on the bus or like I did I watched the sun-set and jumped into a taxi back to the ship (Remember you need terminal 2 should you be taking the bus back).

Please don't think I'm frugal but when I'm travelling I like to do it on a shoestring and see it as local would because to me that is a big part of the attraction for me. All in all a nice cruise. The international ship staff i.e.. Filipino and Indonesian are just wonderful as usual nothing is too much trouble and a smile is to be had all the time. Now on the other hand I personally found the European Staff at the Guest Relations Desk all attended the "Vlad the Impaler" finishing school and most of them graduated with a major in "I don't give a hoot and it's OK for me to belittle you" I did actually find myself having a drink on deck 3 and sitting near the Guest Relations Desk just for the entertainment. Lookout for the larger than life Italian lady she is just delicious and the young girl from Russian get my nomination for frightening the life out of people talking to them like they are soon to be shot lol...

Hope I've not driven you the bottle or a premature death with my writing and should you do this cruise I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did and don't be taken in with stereotypes or others ignorance I found the locals I met around the Gulf to be genuine, hospitable, friendly and most of all kind and more than happy to help.

Wishing you all, many, many miles of smiles...

 

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Sail Date: January 2015

I cannot believe all the negative reviews for this cruise. Ok its not on a par with the likes of Celebrity and Norwegian, both of whom I have sailed previously on 3 occasions, but neither is the price!! For what I paid I thought it was ... Read More

I cannot believe all the negative reviews for this cruise. Ok its not on a par with the likes of Celebrity and Norwegian, both of whom I have sailed previously on 3 occasions, but neither is the price!! For what I paid I thought it was excellent value for money.

We had an Oceanview cabin which was spotlessly clean and had more storage than I have had on the two aforementioned cruise lines. The food was good with plenty choice and the buffet always had plenty choice and in my opinion was good quality. People are complaining about having to wait till everyone at the table is finished each course before the next is served. Is this not just common courtesy and table etiquette!!

The drinks package was half the price charged by other cruise lines and the choice available was more than adequate. The service round the pool and in the bars was in my opinion better than Norwegian and Celebrity. We were having to refuse drinks the servers were round so often.

The entertainment maybe could have been better but due to the mix of different nationalities there was a nice friendly vibe on board and a sense of fun.

We made an effort to speak to others of all nationalities not just fellow brits and didn't encounter any rude or obnoxious people.

We chose to walk of with our own luggage and were off the ship in no time and heading to the airport.

To reiterate for what we paid we thought it was excellent value for money and would have no qualms about sailing Costa again if the price was right.

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Sail Date: December 2014

Boarding was an apocalyptic chaos, despite the fact there was to be priority embarkation. Took us an hour to get to the gangway only to be told that we had to back to check-in because they had forgotten to give us health declaration ... Read More

Boarding was an apocalyptic chaos, despite the fact there was to be priority embarkation. Took us an hour to get to the gangway only to be told that we had to back to check-in because they had forgotten to give us health declaration forms. An hour later we were on board.

Somebody else's bag turned up at our door with our bag tag 24 hours after boarding. We returned it and liberated our own bag from the ship's office.

The cabin was superb.

These guys know how to drive a 114 thousand ton ship!

Service attitude was superb.

Food was mediocre at best. I thought this is an Italian boat? They should know something about food.

The bars were great.

Our balcony was superb.

Disembarkation was an apocalyptic mess again. Finally found our suitasuitcases about a kilometer from the place we were directed to.

Still - will do it again.

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Sail Date: December 2014

As a 70 year old grandfather, I flew Emirates alone from Birmingham on the overnight flight to Dubai. Emirates have great food and a generous baggage allowance and I was well within the 30kg limit, even including all of the Christmas ... Read More

As a 70 year old grandfather, I flew Emirates alone from Birmingham on the overnight flight to Dubai. Emirates have great food and a generous baggage allowance and I was well within the 30kg limit, even including all of the Christmas presents which I was taking. Flying overnight and the 4 hour time difference meant I wouldn't require a hotel. The flight route, which you can reassuringly monitor on your own screen,carefully avoids the troubled areas (Ukraine,Syria and Iraq) with the final leg over increasingly friendly Iran.

The early morning arrival at Dubai was delayed by a half hour whilst we circled over the Arabian Gulf, waiting for the airport to re-open, after being closed due to the morning fog. On the landing approach, the magnificent sight of the Costa Serena could be seen at berth in the port.

Dubai is a massive hub airport. After an internal train ride, I joined the immigration queue. Allow a good half hour for this if you need the 30 day visitor visa stamp.

I was to meet up with the rest of the family party arriving at midday so there was no rush. Our party totaled 6, 3 adults and 3 children.

After lunch, we looked for transport to the ship. We made the initial error of dealing with a taxi tout at the exit. It became clear that we were going to cover a very large distance on foot to his vehicles. We then retraced our steps back to the white taxis in the official taxi rank. We realized that with 6 of us and all of the luggage, we would need 2 taxis. To our surprise, both our taxi drivers were ladies. They are not allowed to drive all male passengers, but because we had two females in our party, the convoy could depart, after negotiating a very reasonable fee for the trip.

At the port, an army of porters unloaded our luggage and took it into the embarkation hall for us. With hindsight, arriving at 3.30pm was a bit early. I would think 4.30 would be better but there is significant traffic at rush hour in Dubai. There were many people there already and the check in process was very slow to gather pace. Basic refreshments were on sale in the embarkation hall. Toilets are available but you had to re-enter via security again.

Security was good; equal to airport standards. The labels which Costa pre-supplied were attached to the luggage which duly appeared later outside our cabins at 8.00pm. You may prefer to keep your carry-on bag with you as cabins are not available until 8.00pm.

Access to the ship using the Costa Card initially required a photograph to be taken at the gang-plank. This is then stored and associated with your bar-code each time you leave and enter. Your carry-on baggage is then X-rayed and you are metal detected. This is a very reassuring level of security, although one cynic suggested they were looking for smuggled-on booze.

Once aboard you are relieved of your passport. This is duly labelled and stored until the eve of dis-embarkation when they are returned. A receipt was issued for each passport.

On board your Costa card serves many purposes. It is used as a payment cash card, cabin key, and identity card. You need to back it up with either cash or a bank card within 48 hours otherwise you get a reminder letter delivered to your cabin.

Once on board, you are free to explore. Buffet food was available for free in the buffet areas. We used the deck 9 Ristorante Buffet Prometeo with lovely views from the window tables and subsequently we always breakfasted there and had lunch when aboard.

Bar staff will approach you to sell the many drinks packages. We settled for a wine and water package which gave us 6 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of water. This worked out well for 3 adults with the 6 restaurant meals we would have during the week. We couldn't justify the all-in drinks package costs because we are only moderate drinkers. When you use your drinks package, you sign a receipt and retain a copy. On this receipt is printed exactly what you have remaining of your package. It is a good system, and you know exactly where you stand.

The crew consisted of mainly Philipinos and some Italians. The Engineers and navigational and administrative crew were mainly Italian with a handful of other nationals The catering and cleaning crew were mainly Phlipino. The level of English spoken was very good. Although Italian was officially the first language, English was widely understood.

There were many nationalities amongst the passengers Italian, French,Spanish Dutch, British,Philipino, South African, German,,Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and we got to know some of them. A good chance to try out my restricted foreign languages.All very friendly and lots of smiles

The amount of traffic on the tannoy system was reasonable. English was usually 4th in line. The accommodation areas were quiet after about 10pm so the children could get to sleep.

The level of service was very good. All of the crew were very pleasant and polite. The dining staff in particular were brilliant with the children. They would quickly serve dishes outside of the main menu, nothing was too much trouble. The whole ship was kept sparkling clean by a crew which happily took pride in the ship.

For the trips ashore at Muscat, you are issued with a local entry and visa card by the immigration officials who come aboard. We later found that our passports had been stamped by them each time we had dis-embarked and embarked. The guided tour of Muscat was good with a really excellent local guide. We visited the Grand Mosque, the Sultan's Palace, the Omani Museum and the Souk. This is the biggest souk in the Middle East and we liked it so much that we went back on foot to get lost there the next morning. Muscat is highly recommended, so beautiful and the people so friendly.

We were on the top deck when we left the port of Muscat. Playing loudly on the deck p.a. System was

It’s time to say goodbye (Con te partirò) sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Con te partirò ( I’ll go with you

su navi per mari ( on ships across seas

che, io lo so, ( which, I know,

no, no, non esistono più. ( no, no, exist no longer.

It’s time to say goodbye…

I never realised before how poignant those words were. With the ship's siren blasting away, there were few dry eyes on deck that evening.

We were too late in booking excursions at Khasab, they were all fully booked. We took the free shuttle bus into town. It is quite small and did not take long to explore. You really need to book an excursion in time. So after a lazy lunch on the ship we tried out The F1 Racing Simulator. At 12 euros for 7 minutes, great fun and reasonable value.

There were also some dance lessons available. A different dance each day with instruction in italian,

In Abu Dhabi we traveled using our Costa Cards as I.D and took the Big Red Bus Tour..This is good value. There is an earpiece (which you keep) commentary in many different languages. It is Hop on-Hop off so you can structure your own trip and spend as long as you wish at each location, so long as you don't miss the last bus back. In most of ports you are not permitted to walk to the gate; you have to be in a vehicle.

In Dubai, we again traveled using our Costa Cards as I.D. and took the Big Red Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour with commentary. Tickets are valid for two routes and for 24 hours. This includes a free trip one way on the water bus across the Dubai Creek. This is on the red route. The blue route takes you down the Palm Jumeirah and passes the Burj Al Arab. The return route passes the famous palatial shopping mall and the Burj Khalifa which is the world's tallest building. There is also a metro and a monorail system which we didn't have time to explore. Useful maps are available on the bus.

So there is a great deal to see here. One day is definitely not enough. Unfortunately my return flight was early next day, so I wished I had booked a hotel for an extra day or two.

For dining, we had a large table on the upper deck (4) of the Ceres Restuarante for the early sitting at 6.30pm. This was exactly as requested. We dined there every evening and the earlier sitting meant that we could take the children to the shows or discos before bedtime. The meals were always superb. Served with Italian style, always five courses plus a side salad.The waiters were really pleasant and efficient. They were really great with the children's food and were really attentive. There were two gala evenings during the week when we did get dressed up. There were some entertainments from the waiters including singing and napkin waiving and a conger dance.There was also a glass of proseco from the Captain. We made use of the squok club for the younger children. This was well run with good security that also scrupulously verified collection of the child. The 6 year old enjoyed it so much that she stayed all day and had two meals whilst the rest of us went on a shore excursion. The elder boy (15) used the teen club on several occasions and enjoyed playing wee games there.

The theatre shows by the resident entertainers involved very professional dancing and singing. Most of the songs were in English with a few french and iIalian songs also, with audience participation. I mean everybody knew volare, cantare oh oh oh oh. A drinks service in the theatre is provided by very agile bar staff, so you do not need to leave your seats. There is no interval as the shows last for just over an hour.One evening there was a kind of talent show which involved varied acts by crew members such as waiters, chefs and engineers etc. This was surprisingly good and very entertaining. An other evening in the theatre was a meet the Captain and officers multilingual affair with free proseco for a toast. I spent part of a pleasant warm evening watching the Andrea Bocelli Christmas Show on the large screen outdoor video screen in the sheltered area on deck 9; more for the oldies though. There was always live music at various parts of the ship and also discos. The daily newsletter (Oggi, Today) which arrived in every cabin each evening, was a useful list of all of the next day's activities.

Disembarkation was well organised with presentations in various languages. These presentations were also available on the video channels. Basically there were two windows for departure either before or after 0730 and two times for collection of luggage from outside each cabin. The luggage would be labelled with colour coded tags for the various different tours and duly delivered to collection points in the embarkation hall. Passports were reclaimed on a per cabin basis.

Boat drill muster took place early on the first day and is compulsory for all passengers. As a first time cruiser and also as this ship was the sister of the Concordia, I took particular attention. We pre-walked the route specified on the back of our cabin door in advance of the actual drill. This route involved using stairways which were nominally 'crew only.' On the actual drill we were shepherded by crew along a different route using the standard stairways. I am sure a knowledge of these secret routes could prove vital in a real emergency. I believe this was done as a time saving measure; but I would say familiarise yourself with all of the safety instructions.

Possibly as as a precaution, and maybe as a result of intelligence received, a letter was sent to all cabins regarding dangerous waters through which we would be sailing. This detailed the alarms that would be given in the event of possible attack at sea by pirates, terrorists etc. In the event of an alarm, passengers were not to use balconies, flash photography over the side would be banned. Certain areas high above the water line such as deck 9 were designated as muster points. I guess the Gulf of Hormuz was perhaps seen as a danger point. However the Serena had just completed a 3 week voyage from Savona, the last week of which took her down the Red Sea,non-stop past Sudan,Eritraer,Djibouti, Somalia and through the Gulf of Aden and then past the Yemen. It was reassuring that Costa had done the risk analysis and produced a plan to deal with such an emergency, however unlikely.

The level of hygiene on the ship was good. We all remained well and were not aware of any gastric type illnesses on board. We were always very careful to wash hands thoroughly before eating and avoided touching surfaces by using elbows, knees and feet to open doors etc.Hand gel dispensers were fitted in the in the buffet areas and most passengers used the individual serving tongs correctly.

As non-smokers we were pleased that the ship's smoking rules were well observed. We were never troubled by people smoking.

In summary, we really enjoyed this cruise and would definitely sail again with Costa. The Serena is a well run happy ship and the food is excellent.

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Sail Date: May 2014

We had booked 4 inside cabins for the family! We were given 2 at the back deck 7, 1 at the front deck 7.1 at the front deck 1. Having found the other cabins we went to find ours on deck 1. As expected it was compact but well set out. ... Read More

We had booked 4 inside cabins for the family! We were given 2 at the back deck 7, 1 at the front deck 7.1 at the front deck 1. Having found the other cabins we went to find ours on deck 1. As expected it was compact but well set out. Very surprised to find we had port holes and thought there must be a catch! The ship is well laid out with sliding tops on 2 of the pools. Our first meal at 7pm (the second sitting is at 9.45) We were seated together. The first surprise was that there was no water supplied. ALL DRINKS had to be paid for which is price of drink and tax and the food was quite salty! Mealtimes were not cheap. The descriptions were very inventive and the portions small, very little in the way of vegetables. The waiters were lovely. Our first meal was served within around 10 mins of ordering the second course came within a reasonable space of time. The plates were cleared away and we waited for our dessert and waited. Then music started many guests started swinging their napkins round their heads (watchout for flying breadcrumbs) my family decided to join in with this strange tradition! Some waiters then sung for us! I just sat and waited for my dessert. When the singing was over our desserts finally came. This did not happen every night. We went to the very comfortable well laid out theatre the entertainment was good and there was no language problems. We then went to bed! The next morning we were awoken by engine noises which suddenly turned very loud and the whole cabin viberated! This was caused by the side thrusters as we docked. We would not be needing to set an alarm for this holiday! There is no food available after 5pm except for the restaurants and only water after breakfast! I found a lot of the food a bit bland and all desserts tasted the same to me! Beware the chocolate bar! Strawberries coated in chocolate 1 euro + tax my family got quite addicted to these! We found the holiday relaxing had plenty of sun. The sea day was overcast and there are no deck games on this ship despite lots of wasted space on the top deck. There was a lot of annoying entertainment on the pool deck which meant there was no where to sit in there. The pools are lovely and warm and a sensible depth. The hot tubs were warm and a good size. Despite saying no one under 16 should use the hot tubs there were plenty of children in them even a baby in nappies. This is my 3rd cruise with 3 different lines. I place it second!

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Sail Date: March 2014

This review contains some of my own personal thoughts, opinions and suggestions that could improve your crusing expereince, especially if you are a first time crusier((like me). The review will be seperaetd into three sections. ... Read More

This review contains some of my own personal thoughts, opinions and suggestions that could improve your crusing expereince, especially if you are a first time crusier((like me). The review will be seperaetd into three sections. Positive, Negative and would be even better ifs!

Positives

Embarkation at Barcelona quick , efficient and hassle free.

Cabin with a balcont worth paying the xtra for and spacious lovely and clean

Drinks package, buy before you cruise. Its great value and not anywhere close to as limited as stated by other reviewers. At somewhere around £16 per person per day it is well worth it, especially if you, like me, make it your lifes work to travel all the way through the cocktail list! There are of course non alcholic cocktails so when you have made your way through the ones containing alcohol and fancy something else, feel free to ask the waiter or bar person to add alcohol of your choice to the non alcoholic ones and they will happily oblige!

The staff on this ship are second to none, always polite, always helpful and even on occasion go above and beyond the call of duty. PLease ensure that you save a few euros for the end of the trip to tip your cabin person as they do an amazing job, often twice a day cleaning and tidying your cabin, should it be required.

The english rep madeline is lovely, knowledgable polite and the epitomy of professionalism. Top marks there.

Trip to pompeii- Do not miss this, this was the very best part of the trip for all of the guests in our party. the sites were amazing and margot the guide was excellent, so much so that we tipped her at the end of the excursion.

Trip to Tunis. no need to buy the expensive excursion. Ten euros will get you on the shuttle bus that drops you at the souk and this is great fun!

Trip to the catacombs- The catacombs are great if not a little scary but get the shuttle bus into town rather than the expensive excursion. the trip is long winded spends too much time in one place and often the commentary takes ages as the tour guide has to describe everything in a number of different languages which on the surface is fine but does become really tiresome and both myself and my sister in law got really agitated by this towards the end of the trip.

savona- simply get off the ship walk into town and sit at the side of the harbour and watch the world go by whilst trying some of the beautiful pasta and pizza on offer its awesome.

Entertainment on board isnt to everyones taste but is fine

Good hairdryer in room

There is an indoor smoking room located on one of the decks look out for Dark vader! The chap who cleans this room comes in with a gas mask on! rightly so but was quite funny the first time we saw him!

For him indoors there is an F1 simulator. Be prepared to be left for long periods of time if your chap is into his motor sport. Testosterone was in buckets and the competition was fierce! Good fun though i was told. Hubby spent almost 100 euros on here so it must have been!

Negative

I expereinced a lot of the pushing and shoving and not queing

Food was fine for the first few days but it was never particulalry hot just warm. I suppose only to be expected taking into consideration the amount of people needed to be fed.

A gripe from all our group was that bottled water is not included in the drinks package

The mini bar is expensive and there is a charge for it to be restocked

I love the sun and therefore if you do too i would say dont book to go on a cruise in feb,march etc as you wont see much sun on board you will get some in Tunis though.

No mention of hand hygeine in presentation and few people taking advantage of the hand sanitiser available at most entrances to eating areas. A ship this size could see food poisioning spread quickly,

Decor, not to everyones taste and whilst im no linda barker found it all to bright and gawdy with no where except the cabin to give the eyes a rest.

Quality of the coffee at breakfast is rubbish and the hot water is only hot not boiling so even if you were to take your own t bags it doesnt make a decent cuppa.

if you like a sing song and see karaoke on your 'today' magazine, dont get excited, its mainly in other languages, you dont stand a hope in hell of being able to get up and sing, the screen wobbles all over the place and the graphics are pants.The compare gets people in the wrong order so it causes loads of confusion, give this one a wide berth(excuse the pun)

Even better if

You dont go expecting The QE2 (as was)

Your happy to mingle with individuals that have no manners and can overlook this

Water was included in drinks package

You go in the warmer months (obviously you will pay more)

The decor was toned down in a few areas

The food was hot

Finally I have said that i would be unlikely to cruise again. The main reason for this is that the whole experience simply reminded me of all inclusive holidays that i had previously on land, without the benefit of being able to jump on a bus or a taxi whenever i felt like it. Therefore i found it restrictive. However i have considered this in more depth and come to the conclusion that if i had gone during the warmer months, and perhaps to a smaller ship and to better destinations that i could be persuaded to try it again. As a woman in my early 40s i ditched all inclusive type holidays when i didnt have my children in tow,. Cruising isnt for everyone but if you like the all inclusive vibe then you will be fine and it is something that you need try at least once.

 

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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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