We took the Christmas cruise from Dubai on the Costa Serena in a premium balcony room on deck 8. The room was quiet and well positioned although seemed smaller than the 20sq.m that Costa claim. Room was made up appropriately each day. The itinerary was good. (Dubai, AbuDhabi, Muscat and Kasabh)
I'd echo other people's concerns about cutbacks. Most of these are simple things but they leave you disappointed. For example, Ice cream machines that never served ice cream, switching off the water machines to force you to buy drinks, no jug water available at dinner, no buffet option available in the evening and none the usual little cruise touches like towel animals. It kinda felt like a budget airline approach.
It showed up in other ways too – Our room wasn't particularly clean with stains and smears on low down and high surfaces in the room. Maintenance of things like the water slide was also lacking- The slide was one of the reason for selecting this particular boat and it didn't operate at all during that cruise.
Breakfast and lunches were fine but evening meals were disappointing as they lacked variety and quality. Nothing really tasted fresh, it was all frozen re-heats; The menus didn't excite or inspire; I had difficulty picking one item rather than difficulty choosing between two.
The main issue is the staff. At time of booking, I had been promised a late departure. There was a different story on the boat. Guest relations did little to resolve my concern, failed to communicate with me and at times were just plain rude. Their management didn't seem to work – perhaps they were off for Christmas or just couldn't be bothered? The “International host” was never available and gave contradictory messages to those of the guest relations team. Even check-in staff and left luggage team were very rude. It's almost as if there is a malaise across the entire crew....
I only read the other reviews after I came home. It seems that I'm not alone in my disappointment. I've been on Costa boats before and loved them – but not this one. If this is indicative of where Costa is taking their business, I won't be booking any more.
My advice to anyone considering the Serena is only buy if it;s cheap and then think of it as budget cruise. Don't waste money on premium rooms and the like. Consider it like a B&B in a sunny climate...