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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.

First time crusiers - Costa Serena

Costa Serena Cruise Review by Katie H

Trip Details
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.
Katie H’s Full Rating Summary
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