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29 Costa Serena Cruise Reviews

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
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 were a few who were not (as if they ... 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.   Read Less
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, also ... 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. Read Less
Sail Date March 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 with ... 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. Read Less
Sail Date February 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 being ... 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...   Read Less
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. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
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. ... 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. Read Less
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. Read Less
Sail Date December 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. Very ... 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! Read Less
Sail Date May 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. Positive, ... 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.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We went on a 3 night cruise to Barcelona and Marseilles, France on Costa. Overall the experience was not a bad one, but certainly one that if you are not Italian or even European can be a bit of an adjustment. The ship was well cared for ... Read More
We went on a 3 night cruise to Barcelona and Marseilles, France on Costa. Overall the experience was not a bad one, but certainly one that if you are not Italian or even European can be a bit of an adjustment. The ship was well cared for and was in the Greek God/Goddess theme. What this means is that I spent several times answering questions from my little one about "what is that" when she pointed to the naked men and women (Greek figures) throughout the ship. The decor was nice, the main area was nice and the cabins were extremely spacious and well maintained. Bingo again was the highlight activity on the ship! We played each night. The shows were pretty good. We pretty much did our own thing for the most part. The cruise ship boasted about the kids activities and we took the youngest to the kids area and many times she was the only one. Many people on the cruise opted to have their children with them. My teenager didn't find anything interesting in the teen zone as again it appeared no one really hung out. The main reason we chose this cruise is to go to Barcelona. However, the Barcelona stop was a true disappointment. We were only in port for 5 hours and that is not enough time to spend in Barcelona. We spent an entire day in Marseilles and it was a waste. I would rather have more time in Barcelona and less time in Marseilles. The food was typical European fare and the buffet is a free for all! There is no such thing as queing for lines so its pretty much get in where you fit in. The evening dining was nice and there was a nice selection of food each night. We had set seating so we dined with the same family each night. They had kids and so it was a nice time to catch up to hear about each others adventures during the day. We bought the drink package because it was worth the money. It averaged out to 3 drinks a day per person and we consumed more than that (non-alcoholic). We bought water from the ports and were able to carry it on with us. The price was right for this quick 3 night cruise and it was a good introduction to Costa to decide if I wanted to cruise with them in the future. As an American on an Italian cruise ship, the hardest adjustment was the smoking throughout the ship. There were not designated areas so people pretty much smoked where they wanted. There were enough people on the ship that spoke English so we didn't fell alienated, but we were certainly the minority on this particular cruise. The people did not appear to be as friendly and sociable as other cruises but the crew was nice. All in all, if there was more time in Barcelona this would be a definite recommend. For the cruising experience, it was not a bad experience and if asked would I use Costa again, I would say yes. At least next time I will know what to expect and can prepare accordingly! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We loved our itinerary and ports of call. We had private excursions arranged by a travel agency so I can't speak to excursions made through the ship. For the most part, the crew was very helpful and friendly. I had a suitcase ... Read More
We loved our itinerary and ports of call. We had private excursions arranged by a travel agency so I can't speak to excursions made through the ship. For the most part, the crew was very helpful and friendly. I had a suitcase not make it to Rome with with me and it didn't catch up to me for 5 days. The ship kept me notified of where the suitcase was and when I could receive it. We were very impressed with how multi-lingual the crew was. Multiple languages was sometimes a problem because, by the time they got to the English version, we weren't listening or didn't recognize it as English until they were two sentences into the announcement. It helped that we were traveling in a group of 78 so we had others to speak English with. We met a couple from Canada who were seated at a table for dinner with no one else who spoke English. Surely the cruise line could seat people by language so they could communicate! This ship had TWO safety drills--I'm sure because of the Costa Concordia disaster--but it was obvious they still didn't know what they were doing. The second one was run a little better than the first. Unlike reviews of the Western Med cruises, we didn't have people embarking and disembarking at every port so we weren't dealing with a lot of luggage in the halls. I guess we had a smaller number get on with us in Rome, so it was very easy getting on and off there. This is the largest cruise ship we have been on and it didn't seem any more crowded than the smaller ones. We didn't encounter any more long lines than on other cruises. Breakfast was the only meal we really enjoyed on the ship because we could have them make omelets the way we wanted them. We have loved the food on the Celebrity ships we have been on and the food on the Norwegian ships have been quite good. We found little at the lunch buffet or on the dinner menu that appealed to us. It was obviously geared toward European taste. For the most part, the passengers were friendly--unless you were in front of someone from a certain country in the buffet line. I had to elbow people from pushing me or reaching over my shoulder. They don't believe in standing in line a lot, and would walk down the outside of the buffet line and then cut in front of you when they see something they want. The dinner staff seemed very competent so we don't relate to the comments by other reviewers. We enjoyed everything about the dinners except most of what was on the menu. The buffet is not open during dinner, which is different from our experience on other ships. We had a veranda stateroom and I think this is the largest one we have had. It was very adequate for our 11 nights there. I did miss the towel animals other cruise lines put on your beds at night. I think we only stayed all the way through two of the shows at night. Overall it was a pleasant experience and very multi-cultural. I found that people of all nationalities responded to a smile and hello. I was surprised at how few shops they had for such a large ship. Shopping was VERY limited. Their fitness room was large and well equipped. We always went early and had no problem getting the machines and weights. The daily information sheet was not as informative as other cruise lines. Really, our only disappointment was the food. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I ... Read More
I was meeting my parents and my sister in Barcelona, due to a work conflict I had to join the cruise a little late. The ship sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia), then to Savona, then Barcelona, so I missed just a couple of days of the trip. I met the ship in Barcelona without much of a problem. The crew was extremely friendly, but a little scatterbrained at times trying to figure the logistics out for my late boarding. A few of them remembered me from that and yelled my name every time they saw me. It was hilarious. I know that my family had to wait about 3 hours during embarkation when they boarded in Rome. They weren't thrilled about that, so I'm glad I missed it. This cruise was immediately (a week or so) after the unfortunate Costa accident, so I anticipated the crew and travelers to be a little on edge, but that was not the case. The crew were amazing and lighthearted, extremely pleasant and accommodating. The negative reviews I had read were focused on the food, the fellow travelers and the ship's appearance. The reviewers who say that this is a different type of cruise that Americans may not be used to are absolutely correct. The ship was opulent, but in a very Italian way. This isn't a mini-Vegas, but it is a beautiful ship. Our interior room was bigger than I had expected. The bathroom was pretty and spacious. My parents' interior room was laid out differently, larger sleeping area but smaller bathroom. Both rooms were larger than I had anticipated. The food was delicious, but in a European way. No burgers or huge portions, but the quality was excellent. Again, this is a European cruise, not an American cruise. The late night pizza was fantastic. The breakfast buffet was enormous and delicious. The nightly dining room was so good that we never considered dining anywhere else. Our server Jerry was amazing! The passengers were....well, Italian. Having lived in Italy myself, I understand that social customs are slightly different than what people in the US might be used to. There is a bit of pushiness or less defined personal space rules and they speak a little louder, which may come across as rude if you aren't used to it. It's nothing extreme, just subtle differences that might confuse someone who is sensitive to that sort of thing. The most glaring issue was the lack of English. I speak Italian, but my family does not, so I had to do a fair bit of translating during the trip. The staff does speak English, but most of the passengers don't speak it very well, so it's a little isolating if you are English-speaking and are expecting to meet people. The ports were awesome. We had so much fun in each one of them. It was very easy to find transportation (like free buses) between the port and the downtown area. I missed the Savona port stop, so Barcelona was my first one. Barcelona is a great city. I have been several times (though never through a cruise) and have enjoyed it immensely. The port is located pretty far away from the city, you definitely need a bus/cab from where the ship docks. I tried walking from the city to the port and was defeated. As I was embarking from Barcelona, I have no idea what shore excursions were offered. The cruise initially embarked from Rome (Civitavecchia), so I'm sure there were some excursions that I was not privy to. I have but one complaint about the Barcelona stop - it was too short. About 4 hours. Barcelona is a HUGE city, and it would be very tough to get a feel for it in such little time. Casablanca was next, it was the stop I was most looking forward to, but most hesitant about. The reviews made it sound like a dump, but that was not the case. It was a bit of a hike from the port to the city, but worth it. There is a very authentic feel to this city, which I adore. I personally do not like very touristy areas, I'd prefer to go off the beaten path a bit. Casablanca allowed us to do so. There is a main market that you should stay away from, however. It did not feel safe and we were pushed around a bit. We mostly stayed to main roads and sites, and we had a great time. There is an excursion to Marrakech for the day, which we opted out of. The people who went seemed to have a nice time, though it was a lot of traveling for a short stay. I think that if you are comfortable finding your own things to do and see in Casablanca and aren't afraid of haggling in stores or dining in local eateries, you'll be fine staying in the city. If not, maybe the Marrakech excursion is a better option. Next up were the Canary Islands, Arrecife and Tenerife. Holy crap, Arrecife/Lanzarote is awesome! I HIGHLY recommend the Timanfaya park/camel ride excursion. It was unbelievable. I have about 500 photos from that excursion alone. It was the best port on the trip, hands down. The volcanos are stunning. Most of the island is volcanic, it's really fascinating. The camels are so much fun to ride. We learned a lot about the islands and it was so much fun! The tour ended with a wine tasting at the island's winery. Go on this excursion, you will not regret it! We did not go on any excursions on Tenerife, we just did some shopping and enjoyed the scenery. It was a little bit of a snooze town, but nice to be in. A little expensive. The last stop was Malaga, Spain. It was a nice town, again very pretty. We had a great time wandering, shopping, eating and just enjoying our last couple of days on the cruise together. Not sure I'd go back to Malaga, but they definitely had great shopping. Overall, I would recommend this cruise. It was a lot of fun, and the port stops were pretty great. I would absolutely cruise with Costa again, I'm looking into a Nordic cruise for next year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
After having a great initial cruise experience to Norway on Costa, we had a cruise from Hell the last time we went on this line. We swore we would never set foot on Costa again, however, the itinerary -- Greece, Turkey and Israel-- and the ... Read More
After having a great initial cruise experience to Norway on Costa, we had a cruise from Hell the last time we went on this line. We swore we would never set foot on Costa again, however, the itinerary -- Greece, Turkey and Israel-- and the time of year made us consider this cruise line again. If you read my previous post, we were put-off with the incompetence of the staff and the rudeness of the the fellow passengers. This time, we decided to try to control our experience with these variables by getting a suite, We figured that a larger room would serve to isolate us from the frenzied masses, and that a butler would help navigate our problems with incompetent and uncaring staff. By and large, this strategy helped. While I know that a suite option is not possible for all cruisers, being in the larger room enabled us to comfortably dine in privacy and avoid being assaulted in the buffet lines (truth be told, however, that we we did try the buffet at times, and there were fewer assaults this time!) When we did have problems that needed staff attention, our butler helped at times, and on other occasions, the staff appeared to give us better service. Not sure whether this was due to better training, or because they recognized us as suite passengers. We did try the main and speciality dining rooms, and the food as usual was pathetic, and the servers this time were the worst ever. We have low expectations of cruise line food. And the Serena lived up to our expectations. The ship appeared clean and modern. The cabin was subdued and not garish like some we have been in. The entertainment was awful, but this is a cruise line, yes? We took several Costa excursions, and they actually went out with English-speaking guides! However, we really enjoyed the other excursions we arranged with private guides. Our basic needs were met: We got the ports we desired safely. We did not contract Norovirus. Embarkation and disembarking were orderly in Rome (unlike our previous experiences). We enjoyed ourselves, so the experience was great. Costa is not a first-class line, so you get what you pay for. Our experience improved since our last try with them, and I hope that if you go on Costa, these tips will help you too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The ship is new and big, but the design is no grand as other mainstreem cruise ships that we have been too. Common areas are very small and crowded. Pools and hot tubs looked small & crowded so we never used them. The foods were ... Read More
The ship is new and big, but the design is no grand as other mainstreem cruise ships that we have been too. Common areas are very small and crowded. Pools and hot tubs looked small & crowded so we never used them. The foods were bad on the first day but after that foods were very good. A variety of choices for buffet breakfast, luchn or tea. There were pizza throughout the day. Coffee was bad and there were no juice for lunch, only water and coffee. Dinners in dinning room were very good. There were special nights such as Italian, Gala nights with special performances by dinning room staff. The atmostphere was very lively and fun. the shows in general were very nice and entertaining, especially the show where regular staff (such as waiters or stewards) performed. It was execellent. A variety of entertainment at the lounges/bars with dancing (ballroom, rock & roll or Italian style of dancing) Most cruisers are Italian or non English speaking. So we were assigned at dinner table where people did not speak English. We had to request the change to luckily English speaking people. From then on, dinners were enjoyable. Overall, Costa provided excellent values for your money. THe ports were very good and easy to explore. I would recommend Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we ... Read More
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we stepped on board we thought it was all worthwhile. The ship is about four years old and very smart. We found our cabin quickly and our luggage arrived not many minutes later. No tea/coffee making facilities but free room service for breakfast. Cabin kept immaculate and very comfortable and equipped with safe/hairdryer. Bathroom as you would expect. Only one bar of soap and shampoo in dispenser on the wall but not a problem. We had expected to be in the minority as English speakers on an Italian ship and that was certainly the case but we had no problems with the French, Italians, Germans and Spanish on board. Staff all spoke fluently in loads of languages - felt rather ashamed of my lack of language skills. Ate in the Vesta restaurant and serving staff were all pleasant and helpful. Food was on the whole excellent - yes it was Italian but what do you expect on an Italian ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch had fresh pasta, pizza, a grill with chicken, burgers, fish etc plus the general buffet with salads, cold meats, casseroles, more fish etc etc. The problem was knowing which to choose and when to stop! We had purchased the drinks package before sailing that gave us free glasses of beer, wine or soft drinks in the buffet at lunch or main dining room at night and cost about £160 but we had no problem getting as many drinks as we wanted and without the additional 15% tax on everything so felt this worked out well for us. There are loads of decks on which to catch the sun as well as by the main pool or the quiet pool (not always as quiet as I would have liked!) Other comments have been made about children being allowed in the jacuzzis and this was the case for us also. However, we usually just hid away on one of the upper decks with our books and enjoyed the November sunshine. We will certainly look out for Costa cruises in the future as we enjoyed the mix of nationalities rather than being totally British. I would recommend that you look for one of the newer ships as we saw the Costa Allegra in one port and it looked a bit old and weary but don't be put off Costa by the adverse reviews - go with an open mind and enjoy meeting new friends of all nationalities! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Just got back from our first cruise on the Costa Serena . There was eight of us in our party and we travelled on the first week in October. Some things were excellent and some were poor . Fist the good bits . The ship was excellent very ... Read More
Just got back from our first cruise on the Costa Serena . There was eight of us in our party and we travelled on the first week in October. Some things were excellent and some were poor . Fist the good bits . The ship was excellent very big and very clean . The staff which were mostly from the Pillopeans were again excellent ,and so was the food . THE disappointing bits . There was only 12 English passengers on board and we only spoke to one English crew member . So out of a ship full about 3000 passengers you felt a bit out of it . There was only one draft beer which was Carlsberg Lager at 5.18 Euros for a 400ml glass . The entertainment was very low key and nothing for the English . Out of the ports of call . Barcelona was very good ,and we enjoyed Palma (mainly because it was pretty English).The other places we visited were average to poor .Our main grumble was the 15% service charge that was on everything you purchased on board plus the 49 euros you each had to pay at the end of your trip . So out of a total spend of 500 euros between the two of us . 200 euros of that was service charges . As we never dream of tipping some one 200 euros we thought it was a bit much . Overall we all enjoyed the cruise and thought it was not bad value for the 539 each that we had payed for it . But having said that , if we did another one , we would only go on an English Ship Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was ... Read More
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was rather pricey (we don't drink so we had the kids mocktail and soft drinks) 49 euros for only 20 drinks. We have sailed with Princess before and the same package is for unlimited drinks. The next to hit us was the fact that we couldn't deduct the tips even though it said on our paper work that we could ( we pay tips but only to those that we feel have given us service). We found our cabin quickly and our luggage was already waiting for us. Our cabin steward was friendly and always said hello (Joevan). This is not the ship to be on if you are a none smoker like us.The main pool area is covered and not once during our cruise was it opened to let any air in so smoke just filled the whole area. The bar areas were the same one side of the room for smokers the other for none, but what happens the whole room becomes filled with smoke. Beware of Costa's hidden charges 15% on top of any drinks purchased, charges on the shuttle bus to get you from the port to the towns Anything from 6 to 7 euros each. If you like a drink of iced water with your evening meal, ask for a jug of water otherwise you get bottled water that you have to pay for. The meals on the buffet deck were very poor, especially at tea time, fine if you want pizza every day. We went to see several of the ships shows, the best ones were done by the ships own company. If you are wanting an English cruise this is not for you, out of 3700 guests only 120 were English speaking.But don't let this put you off, all the staff that we had dealings with spoke English. Don't bother taking anything too posh for the formal nights like we did,it just doesn't happen, which is a great shame - getting dressed up is what cruising is all about. Me and my hubby enjoy up to date music and so were looking forward to hitting the night club,this didn't happen because the music around the ship was rubbish and the club (disco Pan) was always full of young teenagers. There was no cut off point for teenagers to leave and let adults only in. Lots of children seemed to get into places where they shouldn't have - the gym under 16's are not allowed in - not the case, young children were not supposed to be in the Jacuzzis - not the case,Don't get me wrong we have 2 children and we know the importance of family holidays but we always kept an eye on our children not so on this ship with many parents. Disembarkation went smoothly, the only let down was the 2 hour transfer back to Nice, then just being dumped at the airport - wrong terminal and no rep to help,once we found the right terminal we had a 5 hour wait for our flight. All in all we had a good holiday, a holiday is what you make of it. But I don't think we shall use Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute option as we were tied into dates available. The ship is very impressive with lavish public interiors.We were not disappointed with the cabin. Spacious, with balcony.It would have been nice if we were shown to our cabin, its its a very large ship,although every stage of the cruise was very well organised,from the time we arrived to the time we departed.The cruise was good value for money, although comparing this to previous cruises 3700 people on board was at meal times with dinner shows and change overs a little like butlins!Evening entertainment was very good,particularly the main evening show which was very professional and very entertaining considering there were a lot of Italian and French, most of the songs were in English.Food- although the choice was varied, catering for this number of people does reflect on the quality in the Ceres restaurant,some of the dinners were disappointing,and we decided to use the self service restaurant, where the food was more of a wider choice, although pizza was on the menu every day!There was the option of paying another 20 euro to visit the Samara restaurant.Service was efficient. We did speak to one of the bar staff who work 12-14 hrs every day and well deserve the 15% service charge added to everything that you purchase! Drinks we felt were expensive, although we did purchase the wine and beer package which we were told we could access up to the point we disembarked at the end of the cruise. We left the ship to explore the last port,and returned to the ship for lunch and a beer, but as we had left the ship the Costa charge card was now closed so were not able to access remaining drinks, even though we had paid for them!Overall a good weeks cruise-would we go again? yes if the price was right as it was good value for the money, and now knowing that its a family orientated ship, we know where to go on board to avoid the hustle and bustle. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I went on holiday with my daughter, I thoughtly enjoyed it. It was a new experience. Things that I wished I had known. 1. Do not miss the induction as they have an English speaking person telling you all about the activities ... Read More
I went on holiday with my daughter, I thoughtly enjoyed it. It was a new experience. Things that I wished I had known. 1. Do not miss the induction as they have an English speaking person telling you all about the activities and when they are in English. 2. Buy the drinks vouchers and the soft drink vouchers, I tend to drink alot of soft drinks and I wished that I had brought two lots. 3.Do not leave your cocktail glass that you purchased, dirty in your room you do not get it back. 4. Do not buy the spa treatments before the trip, they have specials. 5. I booked nearly all the excursions, they was good very expensive and some was not necessary. 6. The Italians do not queue. 7. The nightlife was all Italian DJ and songs. Upload some films and music on your ipods 8. TV was in Italian. Reading back it sounds very negative but it was not, we met up with some lovely people on our table, they put all the English speaking people together. The guide excursion was in English. The staff spoke English. My room was an inside state room, but the sea air made us sleep. The spa was to die for, I brought a ticket to attend the spa. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Ah where to begin...thanks to Cruise Critic I had a lot information going in to this cruise and yes there were many ups and downs about the trip, but overall I would say we had a really great time. We have never done a cruise so I'll ... Read More
Ah where to begin...thanks to Cruise Critic I had a lot information going in to this cruise and yes there were many ups and downs about the trip, but overall I would say we had a really great time. We have never done a cruise so I'll start with the positives. We had two cabins one for me and my husband and one for our two teenage boys ages 14 and 17.  Jocelyn was our cabin steward, she was cheerful, helpful, and got you anything you asked for.  She gets a 5 star rating from us. Christopher our table steward was another winner, gracious, informative, attentive and nice looking to boot.  Our cabin was spacious enough with American style outlets and a hair dryer. We opted for interior cabins as a way to reduce costs, but I really wish we had ponied up the money for a balcony, that's the way to go. The ship is beautiful, big and crowded. The theater will hold 1700 people and covers three floors if that is any indication. Take advantage of the kitchen tour and be sure to view the ships stats presentation, they were both fascinating. I also recommend taking some time to talk to the staff. They are eager to talk to you to since it helps them with their English.  They all have really interesting stories of how they landed on a cruise ship. We found out all sorts of interesting tidbits about life on the ship and it made us appreciate them all the more. Also we were put at a table with another American family who had two teenage daughters so that made dinner a nice experience for everyone. Our favorite ports were Katakolon, thanks to George our fabulous taxi driver. I booked him on the internet and he totally exceeded our expectations (www.taxikatakolon.gr) His cost was a little more than half of what a Costa Tour would have cost, more on that later. Our other favorite port was Istanbul. Again we opted for doing it on our own and we saved over half the cost doing it this way and we met two great guides to boot.  What surprised us about Turkey was how many people spoke English, everyone was willing to share what little language they had and it made it fun. Be aware the taxi rides in Istanbul are similar to the old E-ticket rides at Disneyland. Close your eyes until you get to your destination. Now for some of the negatives...the food was well passable. The dinner menu was extensive, but the same old cream sauce seemed to creep onto just about every dish I ordered, and no I tried to get it without the sauce and that wasn't happening. There were too many courses and so much wasted food.  I kept to three of the seven courses and skipped dessert most nights, so there was no worries about gaining any weight. Actually I like the breakfast menu better, it was buffet style with lots of choices. There were the same old eggs, waffles, bacon sort of thing, but I stuck to the cheese, great choices of fresh fruit, prosciutto, and my personal favorite "roll'em up fish" They were some sort of small herring (I think), wrapped around a piece of pickle with onion. When I asked what kind of fish it was I was told "roll'em up fish!" I was disappointed on the days they didn't have it.  We found the desserts disappointing, they seemed all the same and sort of spongy in texture. They did have delicious cream puffs one day, but that was it.  There is a chocolate bar where you can buy fruit slathered in chocolate from one of those chocolate fountain things, but I never took advantage of it. Their gelato machine was my favorite time of the day.  But you have to be fast it only seemed to operate from 12:00-3:00pm and 7:00-9:00pm so you had to be quick. Vanilla or strawberry gelato on cantaloupe was my favorite afternoon snack. We did not take advantage of the wine drink package mostly because you were limited to using it only at dinner and lunch in the restaurant and we were gone at lunch almost every day. Have no fear though every day there was a happy hour special  10:00 am to noon  (we didn't take advantage of that one) and 4:00 to 6:00 when we did. Buy one get two, so we were happy with that and saved a bundle. We would get something to drink and then go out on deck three and watch the waves. As I mentioned before the tour packages were pricey. We did the same tour in Instanbul , the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia for 90 euros for 4 of us instead of 212 e if we had taken the Costa tour. I know we did better, because  met two great guides; Mustafa was 82 years old, a retired English teacher plus a comedian to boot and Idriz who showed us the Blue Mosque and his carpet shop!  So if you are up to making your own way you will do better with saving your pennies because you will need them for the rug you will eventually buy- trust me!  Dubrovnik was a disappointment, there were two other smaller ships in port and the place was a madhouse and crowded with people.  We were tendered out after the Costa tours had left so we didn't get off the ship until almost 1:30 and had to be back by 4:30 at the latest. It took awhile to find the way to the top of the wall in order to walk around and get a new perspective on the town. We found the best little cafe (I had read about it here on a previous review) where we drank icy cold beer and the boys swam in the Adriatic, it was one of their highlights.  I would really like to go back and spend a week there and really get to know the place, it was just too short of a port stop. With about 3700 people on board it had its crowded moments. There were lots of kids which didn't bother us at all, but I know some people will be put off.  In the week we were on the ship we only stumbled upon maybe 100 people that spoke English, which was ok, but I think my boys would have liked it better if more kids had spoken it. We always said "hi" to everyone to try and figure out if that person would surprise us with some English. Most people that were not Italian would say hi, German, French, British whatever, but we found the Italians just didn't bother replying.  Embarkation was a nightmare- the night before was one of Venice's biggest celebrations the Redentore which celebrates the end of the plague in 1577.  There was so much partying the night before we think the whole city was hungover and that impacted the embarkation process. Disembarkation was a breeze in comparison. As I stated at the beginning we are not cruisers and I don't think we will try again, not because of Costa, but because it is just too crowded and not the vacation style we are most comfortable with.  However I will say we did get to see some great sights in a very short amount of time. It was a great experience and one we will remember for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
If you like Europe and can adapt to a European style of cruising then book a trip on the Costa Serena. This was my first cruise so I can only offer a review of how my trip went. I have no base to say if it is a good cruise ship or not, ... Read More
If you like Europe and can adapt to a European style of cruising then book a trip on the Costa Serena. This was my first cruise so I can only offer a review of how my trip went. I have no base to say if it is a good cruise ship or not, only how I see it. So here is a play by play of the trip, the ship and my thoughts. I stayed in room 7336 on a seven day cruise of the eastern Mediterranean. I am a 30 yom from California and have been to Europe numerous times. This was my first European cruise. Embarkation was an easy process. I caught the free shuttle from the bus stop in Venice. 15 minutes later I was checking my bag at the port and given an embarkation number. It was about a 1.5 hour wait to be called. If you plan on drinking alcohol listen up. There is a duty free shop on site. You can by one liter of hard alcohol and unlimited wine per person. Once you clear security they give you your booze before you get on the ship. After Venice you are not allowed to bring any liquids on board. Costa offers an unlimited beer and wine package, but it is only good during lunch and dinner service. They offer countless other packages but read the fine print before purchase My cabin was great and the steward was on the ball. Filled the ice and cleared the room twice a day. There is a 4 euro/person/day tip charged automatically Room service also will cost you 2 euro/delivery, so order a lot to make it worth it. The entertainment was good, considering the multi nation passengers. There were 3000 on my cruise with 400 english speakers. Announcements are given in five languages. If it does not concern you then you won't hear it in english. Don't travel Costa in the summer. Kids under 12 travel free. You can expect 500 to 700 kids on board running wild according to our english speaking cruise host. Apparently parent supervision is absent and kids are everywhere doing as they please. Breakfast was simple European/American blend. Same food is served in the buffet as in the table service restaurant. Same thing goes for lunch. I do recommend the restaurant seating because you will meet other english speakers. Dinner was mediocre at best, consisting of fancy presentation with frozen pre-prepared items. Very bland and often over cooked. I had one great dinner at the last gala night. Two of the nights I had a late lunch buffet and then got a pizza at night. Not the traditional American cruise cuisine. No steak, lobster, shrimp cocktail or fancy lavish buffets. Dinner was a big disappointment. No need to dress up. Slacks and a nice shirt will do. Bring a tie for the gala nights. Here is my run down on the ports of call. Bari: Don't buy an excursion. It's and easy walk to town and tours are offered off the boat at a cheaper rate by locals. I just walked around on my own and saw the old city in about two hours Olympia: Don't buy an excursion. Get off the boat and hire a cab to take you to the ruins. Once there look around for and English tour and just join in. I went to the end of the cab line and got a ride for 60 euro with and hour wait time. Not enough time to see everything. Try and catch a one way so you can stay for at least two hours or more. Then walk into town and catch a cab back. Izmir: Take the excursion to Ephesus. Well worth the money Istanbul: Take a cab to the palace in the morning and buy a self guided tour. Then return to the ship for lunch. Purchase the half day excursion from 1 to 5pm. However all the main sights are close so you can just spend the day on your own if you want to. I liked having a guided tour of the other big sights. Plus, if your tour is late getting back they will hold the ship for you. If you are out on your own they will leave you behind Dubrovnik: Don't buy and excursion. Take the shuttle to the city and just jump on an english tour or walk around on your own. The ship itself is very large but easy to get around. The amenities on board are simple. No big wow factor. The staff is always available to help you and was very nice. I did not find smoking to be an issue. The hot tubs were warm not hot and the pools were cold. The gym was great but I did not use the spa. There are two reservation only restaurants but I did not eat at either one. Try and get your room on the left side (even room number) of the boat. You get the best views of the ports. Be sure to watch to the two informational presentations offered in the beginning and end of the cruise. When you disembark, wait for your color. I left early and ended up standing around for two hours waiting for my luggage. I should have just stayed on the boat. Overall it was a very nice cruise. My only true complaint was the bad dinners. Everything else was fine. Just understand this is not a Carnival cruise ship, its Italian style cruising. If you can adjust to a European mindset then you'll have a good time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Disclosure: I'm not a Costa employee, but all of my work experience has been in customer service, including many years as someone that had to say thank you when given sick bags, or worse :-) As a result, I have a tendency to have ... Read More
Disclosure: I'm not a Costa employee, but all of my work experience has been in customer service, including many years as someone that had to say thank you when given sick bags, or worse :-) As a result, I have a tendency to have high expectations with regards to customer service and am, not surprisingly, frequently disappointed. I had feared the worst when prior to our departure, I called Costa a couple of times and was given either incorrect or conflicting information about several things, including the free shuttle from Piazzale Roma to the Port. (I was told there was no free shuttle by Costa) I was also quoted 3 wildly different prices on the same day for the X1 package by 3 different people. I don't know what it is with cruise lines, but it seems like every cruise I've taken gives the impression that this is the first time they've ever done an embarkation process. Embarkation - We arrived at the Port of Venice using the free shuttle at 12:30. We did not have any luggage to check as we were travelling light. I didn't even see a sign telling anyone that was checking luggage where to do it. We went to the second floor and were then bounced around from one person to another, before being told we needed a number for boarding. Not having luggage to check appears to really throw them for a loop. We were given #18 even though we had been there early and had no luggage to check. As a result, we could not board until close to 4 pm. Honestly, I think it would have been faster if we DID have luggage to check. Staff - The vast majority of the staff are wonderful. They work under incredibly trying circumstances and I don't think I could do what they do. Certainly not for 6 months at a time. They usually had greetings in the hallway or if they were walking by somewhere. Certainly if we said hello first! Our Dinner waiters had our drinks waiting for us by the time we arrived at the table each night. I don't know what they are being paid, but whatever it is, it's not enough. The only staff I found somewhat unpleasant to deal with were the "Customer Service" staff. When I called and asked to speak with a supervisor as I had a billing complaint that had been unresolved - I was refused and she started arguing with me. The Internet connection on board is very slow. Expect to have to pay 1 or two Euros just to get some pages to load. Some people travelling with us didn't think having to pay 3 Euros for one page to load was reasonable. They complained to the Customer Service staff and were basically told 'tough'. These staff could have made a couple who cruise often happy by removing 1 or 2 Euro charges from their account. I saw their final bill. It was fairly hefty. So Costa probably lost a future customer over that. Had my own billing problem not finally been rectified by the Maitre 'd (of all people) I certainly would not have recommended Costa to anyone. The English speaking Hostess, Jazz, does try hard, though I personally wouldn't classify her has being fluent in English. Maybe it's just my experience with Canadian companies where it doesn't seem to matter how much you bastardize English as long as you're fluent in French. Passengers - much has been written about this already so I'll just say that its interesting. I like watching people and it's never dull here let me tell you. On most North American cruises, or with a majority of English speakers on board, everyone seems to be in a party mood. Saying hello to each other, regardless of whether they know each other or not. Here, most people who are strangers don't greet one another as they don't know what language the other speaks. Then there are those that treat the onboard staff like their personal wait staff. Motioning with a wave of the hand for them to get away from them, or to move a dish - stuff like that. Interestingly, I didn't hear any complaints about the "Gratuity" tax being applied to accounts on the last night. I figured 42 Euros was appropriate for the level of service we received from most of the staff we encountered. I tipped several of them in addition to this the night before disembarkation. They seemed surprised, which I thought was rather sad - as they do work hard. One of these days, the kids that run around in the buffet area or in the gym area (which is against the rules to begin with) are going to get hurt. I don't know how many times I came close to spilling hot coffee on some kid that ran in front of me or cut in front of me in line. Yes there is smoking on board, and it can get pretty smoky in the piano area on Deck 3 at night. Fortunately I was pretty much ready for bed after dinner so I didn't have to deal with the smoke except to walk through those areas. This trip had 1800 Germans, several hundred Italians, several hundred French and a smattering of English speakers on board. 2 Australians (very nice people) and a couple of other nationalities. Rooms - Our room had a balcony and was very clean, except for an odd smell in the bathroom, that I've encountered on other ships. Nothing too offensive, just odd. Our Cabin Steward was super friendly and worked his butt off all day. Introduced himself right away and asked if we needed anything. This was our first time with a balcony and I'll never be able to go back I'm sure. The only negative I found was that balconies sometimes meant noisy neighbors. Apparently some people like constantly moving furniture around without benefit of picking it up, and having loud conversations that meant keeping the door shut at night. A shame as I love the sound of the water as I sleep. The bungee cord I took really came in handy! Restaurant - We had the first sitting at 6:30 most nights. Am glad we did as I'd never be able to sleep with all the eating we did if we had the 2nd. Food was great! Most nights I didn't do all 7 courses as I often had just had lunch 4 hours previously. We usually had sit down lunch at the Ceres. Only ran into one waiter who really didn't seem to know what he was doing. He ended up charging us for beer that was supposed to be covered by our X1 package. Getting this sorted out entailed dealing with far too many people and grief to get it done. At dinner, our table and the next to it was all English speakers so we enjoyed that aspect as I found that Germans or Italians weren't too willing to converse with us at lunch when we were plunked at their table. Maitre 'd was nice, and arranged for our tables to have Caesar salad one night if we wanted it. The only negative thing about dinner was that they would dim or flick the lights at about 8:30 to signal to people to get moving and get out of the restaurant as the second seating was starting at 9. Through no fault of our own, we would usually still be waiting for dessert at that point. I only ate breakfast at the buffet. Yes, it's the same thing everyday, but I found that on other lines as well, and theres quite a variety to start with. Besides, I'm happy with some fruit, yoghurt and coffee, and there was plenty more to eat on the rare occasions I wanted more. The X1 package was a good idea, though I found that the wines that were served as part of this package were not up to par - and I'll drink just about anything! The Merlot was fine, but there was a Soave that was more like a Chardonnay. Still, at 5 Euros a drink, it's easy to get your moneys worth. Ports of Call - I stayed on board in Bari. Didn't do any Costa excursions as I prefer to make my own way for the most part. Got off in Katakolon and walked around the village, and explored Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik on our own as well and saw many of the same sites as those that paid for the excursions - but didn't get dragged to carpet shops ;-) The Ship - its a nice ship though the layout on a couple of floors are odd. Several times we couldn't remember how to get to our restaurant as you had to go up or down one floor, then forward and then up or down again to get to it. Certainly very colorful! We were told that Costa spent close to 500 million Euros outfitting and decorating the interior. A shame they didn't splurge a little on the sound system in the Vesta dining room. During the entertainment they do, it sounds horrible. Overall it was a great trip. Marred only by the disorderly embarkation process and the lack of customer service to quickly rectify an incorrect billing charge. We selected Costa primarily because of the routing and departure dates. Would I go on another Costa Cruise? Certainly. However, I would be inclined to try another Cruise line before then, unless only Costa had the destinations I was looking for. However, I would strongly recommend going with an open mind, things will be done differently. Be prepared to perhaps be in the minority as far as English-speaking guests go. As long as you're friendly and outgoing enough, I'm sure you'll meet up with others who are in the same boat (pun not really intended) Watch your bill and be sure to jump on any discrepancies immediately as it can take two days to get them sorted out. If it results from a problem in the dining room, see if the Maitre 'd can help you out. Go and have fun, thats what it's all about! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Typically people who write reviews either have something highly critical to write or they have been overwhelmed by a wonderful experience. I am just detailing our experience with Costa Serena to help you decide whether or not cruising is ... Read More
Typically people who write reviews either have something highly critical to write or they have been overwhelmed by a wonderful experience. I am just detailing our experience with Costa Serena to help you decide whether or not cruising is for you and give some (hopefully useful) advice. We are in our 30s and have always loved the idea of getting a taster of many places without the hassle of travelling. I had always been nervous of sea sickness (occasionally getting motion sickness when in the back of a car) so avoided boats. My husband convinced me that the boat was so huge that I wouldn't feel anything at all. He was right! The Ship The Costa Serena is huge. It carries approx 4,000 people, 1,000 of which are staff. It is an italian cruise ship so do expect to hear a lot of Italian spoken. I loved this as it made me feel like I was truly on holiday. The ship mainly carries Italian, Spanish, German, French and British passengers and so in order to cater for everyone announcements are made in all languages (thankfully not in the cabin). If you wanted to escape there were always lounges, decks or areas around the ship away from people and noise. There are two pools neither of which were big enough for the ship. Both of us are keen swimmers but never got the chance to take a dip! The Cabins The cabins were spacious and immaculate. Our steward cleaned the cabins three times a day! Initially we weren't concerned as to whether or not we had an inside cabin / window or balcony but we really did appreciate being able to see outside our window and watch the world going by. Our bed was two single beds pushed together and although we asked for a proper double bed we were told that there weren't any. There are no tea or coffee making facilities in the cabin which was a shame but we discovered that for just 2 euros per order we could order as much as we wanted from a high quality room service! What a treat. The Staff The staff were mainly of Filipino origin and were so lovely. Every single one we had dealings with or spoke to were just so helpful and a pleasure to deal with. They work 7 days a week and stay on the cruise ship for 8 months at a time. There is no need to tip them as Costa arrange for a 42 euro gratuity charge for each passenger to be added to the final bill at the end of the trip. I sincerely hope this is passed on to the staff! The Entertainment What Costa did really well was to provide something for everyone! We don't have children and were concerned that our holiday would be overruled by rowdy kids. They were kept occupied in kids club and had their own dedicated pool. Passengers could go to Italian classes, watch ice and fruit sculpture, learn napkin folding, dance classes, quizzes and so much more. An itinerary for the day was delivered to our cabin each morning. Every evening there was a theatre production and more comedy entertainment involving passengers. Everything was included in the price. If you fancy slot machines or roulette there is a huge casino on board too. The Food There are many restaurants. We did realize though that the Italians didn't provide anything apart from Italian food so pizza and pasta was a plenty! The restaurants provided 8 course meals for both lunches and dinner! Be prepared to put on a few pounds. Still water and tea / coffee was free but there was a charge for anything else. The still water was very drinkable. We enjoyed the restaurant food. On the 9th floor there was the Prometeo Buffet with stacks of food. The quality wasn't as good and food was not always hot enough. I'm vegetarian but always found something appetizing to eat. One of the little touches that was really nice is that the staff had pre-planned where we would sit and put us next to English speakers of the same age group. We had very entertaining evenings with them. Dress Code Day - anything goes Evening - smart causal (though the Italians are generally very smart) Gala nights - two evenings where you dress up a bit more... women in smart evening dresses men in long sleeved shirt and trousers. Some men wore jacket and ties but they were generally older. The Excursions Starting in Venice, our ports of call were Katakolo (Greece), Izmir and Istanbul (Turkey) and Dubrovnic. We decided not to pay for the guided tours but to explore on our own and this worked out well for us (and much cheaper). With 3,000 passengers disembarking and embarking at each port, you can imagine that this was slight mayhem. If you paid for a tour you generally get off first. On a couple of visits we got just 2 hours on land which was a shame. This was the only time we felt as if were were hoarded like cattle. Still it was nice to get a taster of each place. Embarkation and Disembarkation What a nightmare! We had a few hours between arriving in Venice and the boat leaving so we had planned to get on the boat, leave our luggage there and explore Venice before the boat left. It took so long to embark and check in that we ended up not seeing Venice at all. (Be prepared). So we decided that we would see Venice at the end of the trip as we had 5 hours before having to catch our flight. The night before you are set to get off the boat they allocate various color luggage tags. Little did we know that this determined your pecking order for getting off the boat. We got black which we now know to mean last! We ended up having to wait for an extra 3 hours on the boat and missed Venice completely! Overall experience We really enjoyed it and would definitely go on another cruise. The concept is amazing and now I know that I don't get sea sick on large boats I'm keener than ever. Having done our first cruise we are now wiser and know what to expect. I hope this gives you a realistic idea of what to expect and doesn't put you off. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Background: We are a family of five traveling together on this cruise; mom, dad, three boys, 17, 19 and 21. Our son's girlfriend, 21, joined us. We have cruised many, many times with Princess and RCI, usually mini suites or baloneys, ... Read More
Background: We are a family of five traveling together on this cruise; mom, dad, three boys, 17, 19 and 21. Our son's girlfriend, 21, joined us. We have cruised many, many times with Princess and RCI, usually mini suites or baloneys, depending on price. In addition to cruising we are a well traveled family. I mention this only so that it may give you an idea of how to judge our review in reflection of our/your experiences and expectations. Our oldest son was studying abroad in Pristina, Kosovo and we took this opportunity to meet him in Venice for a summer holiday before sending him and his brother - soon to be a college freshman - off to school in mid August. We had a very specific time frame to vacation because our son didn't finish classes until early August and we had to be back in the states by Aug 12. Knowing this, and the weakness of the dollar abroad, we decided our best and most affordable opportunity was to cruise from Venice. So the research began. It didn't take long to settle on the Costa Serena. 7 day cruise from Venice with great port stops at an unbelievable bargain. I came back to Costa again and again and ultimately settled on that trip. And decided on three inside cabins because it was such a darn good deal. I have never sailed on an inside, although we always put the boys across the hall in one. Then I began reading the boards. And boy was I worried. But again, how bad can it be? Telling the boys not to expect a Princess experience, and hoping I could adhere to that advice as well, we left the states in great spirits, anxious to meet our son in Venice and begin a family vacation. Friday, July 31, Overnight Cleveland / Venice with a layover in Paris. After a very long day of traveling, the layover allowing us to see Notre Dame and The Eiffel Tower - yes, LEAVE the airport, it's totally doable - we arrived in Venice without three bags. Mine and one of the boys. Honestly, who cares about his luggage? He has two brothers almost the same size. Missing mine was sending me into a quiet panic that I managed to ignore the first day. After several phone calls to Air France and Continental they assured me it would be on the ship when we boarded on Sunday. Not having a lot of confidence in that plan we proceeded to the port. After turning a corner, in the middle of a frenzied group attempting to check in luggage, there sat our three bags on a sidewalk as though they'd been thrown from a truck. Happily, I grabbed them. Embarkation: Good, not great. Long wait in the terminal. Either get there first, or wait until late in the day. We arrived in the middle and probably sat for 90 or more minutes. No big deal for us, although we started getting anxious to board. Once our number was called, we were on the ship within minutes. The ship is lovely. Yes, it's done in lots of red and golds. But it's lovely. Clean, clean, clean. Our cabins were wonderful and the shower was larger than any other bathroom we've had on RCI or Princess. And how did I like the inside cabin? I've never slept so well in my life!! Would I do an inside again? On this particular cruise, yes, because of the value. The next category up was more than double what we paid. But I'm looking forward to my next balcony! Dinner: We bought the x1 cards for my 21 year old and myself. My husband is more of a mixed drink guy. I was really the only wine drinker in the group, so I thought this would be fine for me. So thankful that we did this. Buy the boys and girls card for others in your party. Again, great value. The very first night our waiters brought us a bottle of wine, after asking if we'd prefer white or red, and never stopped bringing beers to our table for anyone drinking them. This x1 pays for itself many times over as long as you're happy with Carlsburg beer (what 21 year old isn't) and house wine. We never tried to have drinks at lunchtime, mostly because we weren't on ship, so I can't comment on how well the x1 works outside the dining room. I might mention here that the drinks on board are really expensive. With the weak dollar most cocktails are in the $10 range, almost twice as much as we're used to on other ships. Drink menus are in Euros so if the dollar was even, it'd be no big deal. We had a wonderful table by the window and were always one of the first to arrive and last to leave. We really enjoyed the dinners. Was the food the best we've ever had? No. But is WAS good. Sometimes even great. I'm the foodie in the group. Everyone else would probably give higher grades than me. The presentation lacked, but many times the flavor was there. My husband tipped our wait staff the fist night, and in addition to beer and wine waiting at our table each night, we were treated to bruschetta, and various other Italian goodies every single night piled high on platters in the middle of our table. An extremely pleasant experience and one of the best overall dining experiences on a cruise ship, but not necessarily because of the food. Announcements, Languages and Americans: From what I could tell, we were six of maybe 50 Americans (at most) on board. Fine with us. Maybe that's why we were treated so nicely. Having a pattern after dinner of stopping at the piano bar, then playing a little black jack in the casino, the bar and casino staff came to recognize us. They called us 'the family'!!!! We were always greeted with smiles by name, (obviously read our cruise cards when we paid for our drinks) and by the third night, the bar staff knew our order. This was by far the friendliest cruise staff we've encountered. The boys befriended some teenagers from a Spanish family and Tom and I found a group of three English couples that we enjoyed spending time with each evening after dinner. The pit boss would even open a black jack table for us so that we could all play together. Yes, they made announcements in many languages. But honestly, why is that such a big deal? If you don't listen for it, you may miss it. And isn't it kinda cool to try and recognize words from another language that you hear again and again. I mean we are the only country that educates in one language. The Buffets: Here's the biggest negative on the trip. Hated the breakfast, and even more so, the lunchtime buffets. Unorganized, chaotic, and crowded. Crazy hours; I swear from 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm nothing is open! It took us a while to figure out the buffet areas and we found that the buffet outside by the aft pool had the best overall situation. Different types of pizza type bread with toppings and some other unusual, but tasty, lunchtime food. Salad selections were not good. Or at least I didn't find any. The Italian yogurt was excellent by the way. The itinerary on the ship didn't have us on board many days at lunch which actually was a good thing. Ports: We never did get off the ship in Bari. The best laid plans......Too much fun the night before prevented us from even feeling like getting off the ship. Olympia: We hired George; I found out abouthim on these boards, and he met us right off the ship. We had a wonderful day viewing the Olympic ruins and the small town of Olympia. George even took us back to his home to meet his family. Very knowledgeable and friendly I would highly recommend him to anyone inclined to arrange their own excursion. TIP: The duty free shop right outside the ship has a very large 6 pack of water for 1.50E -if you're a water drinker don't pass this up. Izmir: Because I had trouble arranging our own excursion at this port, on board we booked with Costa for the Ephesus and House of the Virgin Mary tour. This was probably our favorite stop. It's a sleeper!!!! The ruins are incredible and more than anything point out existence of an ancient civilization that's very easy to imagine given the magnitude of the ruins. This isn't rocks poking out of the ground. Let's just leave it at that. Don't want to ruin the awe of it for anyone planning to visit this ancient wonder. Istanbul: Again, hired a private tour agency recommended from these boards and had a wonderful day touring Istanbul. It's an amazing place and we found the Turks to be so gentle and kind. The grand bazaar was grand! And fun, and loud and crazy!!! I expected it to be like the markets in Bangkok but it wasn't even close. Much crazier!!! But we loved it! Dubrovnik: By the time we arrived in Dubrovnik, we wanted a restful day. After walking around the city a bit, we found a wonderful cafe set on the edge of the rocks where we sat for hours sipping local beer while the boys jumped off the cliffs into the Adriatic. Oh, and by the way. I was concerned not having a Costa excursion booked for this port we'd be delayed getting off ship which would severely cut into our already short dock in Dubrovnik. We took the elevator down to the tender floor and walked off the ship shortly after docking. No questions asked. Try it. Leaving the Ship was easy. We took the Costa bus back to Piazza Roma and headed to our hotel for one last night. We left Venice very early the next morning with memories of a fantastic trip. Summary: We had a great experience with Costa. What made it great was the value. Had I paid for a suite on this trip I think I would have been more prone to disappointment with other aspects of the ship. Maybe we would have expected better dinners, or less crowded buffets, or better entertainment. But so many things about this ship were right on. And several experiences that hands down were better than Princess or RCI. But we went in with the right attitude and it paid off. Would we cruise Costa again? Under the right circumstances I think we would. I would probably not sail Costa in the Caribbean. We are booked on the Emerald at Easter time for 10 days and I do prefer Princess or RCI over Costa in the Caribbean. But having said that, give Costa a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
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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