We have recently returned from a costa cruise, which we almost didn't take because of all the awful things said about the line. So pleased we went with our common sense we had a fantastic time. The important thing to remember when booking a Costa cruise is that this line caters very much to the southern european market, especially italian. therefore dining arrangements, especially at breakfast, are done to suit, i.e. more emphasis on buffet style, less so on the sit down served arrangement as is prevalent on other lines. there is the option to go to the restaurant and be seated, most of the food is continental buffet style but tea and coffee are served, as are items that don't lend themselves to buffet such as omelettes, fried and poached eggs etc. evening dining is the event with 7 courses, and there is the usual lunch buffet/burger and fries bar very much like most cruise lines. there is no buffet dining in the evening, the area turns into a sit down served pizzeria. very italian.
Our embarkation in Barcelona, was quick and very efficient, but most of the passengers don't get on and off here so we are unable to comment on the other ports. We were treated wonderfully from the start, politely, friendly and we didn't come across many staff who couldn't at least make themselves understood in English. Costa are very thorough these days with lifeboat drill, as they should be. the arrangements for english speakers at this port were as plain as the nose on your face. turn up at the arranged time at the theatre, listen to the english hostess give a talk and watch a video and then be ESCORTED to your muster station for the lifejacket demo. simples. you can then happily ignore any further announcements regarding lifeboat drill at other ports no matter what language the announcement is in.
language does seem to be a major issue for some cruisers on costa especially in europe. the bulk of the passengers come from italy, spain, france, portugal, germany etc. their first language is not english, why should it be and why should this need spelling out. it annoys us greatly that some english speakers seem to have this bizarre idea that everybody should be able to speak english. There is also a perception that if the passengers are european therefore there is bound to be pushing and shoving. i will admit that in some instances some of them don't grasp the concept of queuing very well, but in the restaurants we saw none of that. everyone waited in line, generally patiently and did not push in.