I'm sorry to have to write this and perhaps add to Costas problems, however I believe people should be able to make an informed decision. We went on this cruise with no prior views on the changes Costa has made in recent months. On the good side we booked directly with costa UK and got a good bargain for a premium balcony cabin. if I had paid any more I would probably be more scathing in this review. Embarcation was a shambles. Rome was not the main port for embarcation, but i still ended having to queue in 4 different wrong lines after being directed by costa staff.
All costa seemed to be interested in was to sell the all inclusive beverage package, which compared to other lines seems to be a good deal. This being the case, there was only water available during breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Tea and coffee was only available at breakfast time and during afternoon tea. Any other time it had to be purchased. Unless you had purchased the package or had the USA water exemption, water had to be purchased at dinner. Food at night was good, however if you missed your set dining, the only other option was to pay for food. Don't know what happened if you were on a costa excursion and came back after your seating time however. Lunch was varied, but with the same choices every day.
Breakfast was diabolical. If you wanted anything either than a continental breakfast, the dining room was an option serving "International" fare. This was wait served And consisted of a full English - bacon, eggs, terrible brownish coloured beans etc., if for example you did not want eggs, this was not an option - you always had to have the lot as it was a preset plate. A Belgian breakfast - waffle and synthetic cream, an AMerican breakfast - pancakes and maple syrup and I can't remember what else as after the second day of trying to queue, and it was a long queue, I lost the will and kept to the buffets at the Lido. These were the same every day, nothing varied whatsoever, but you could get tea, coffee, water and concentrated fruit juices -until they turned the machines off.
Entertainment was dire. Ok if you liked to hear the same Italian songs sung by different singers. There were good acts, one female singer, one male singer, an illusionist that was good but there was a lot of walking and prancing about, a variety show that was saved by a man using members of the audience and proceeding to pick their pockets. The dancers were average and unfortunately they put a show on every other day. There was major uncertainty about the itinerary, one of the stops was Ashdod, but this was cancelled. We were notified at embarkation therefore had no time to rearrange any private tours. Seems ironic that they could email me to remind me to book costa tours and the beverage package but not about things like rescheduling stops.
At nine o clock when we were having dinner, either the day prior to a sea day, or the day before, the stop, I'm sorry I can't remember, but the port of Crete was cancelled due to industrial action at the port and was replaced with santorini. All in all the cruise was turning into a mystery tour! We had no choice but to book a costa tour for a full day in Galilee on the 7th November, but this was excellent due to the guide. We also had a wonderful meal at a hotel, which to be honest was the best meal we had all trip. They took our passports off us at embarkation and kept them until we got to Isreal despite us requesting them back for when we went ashore. We asked what would happen if we missed the ship at one of the ports, we were told that our costa card would be sufficient. I can just imagine how that would go down if we tried to book an airline ticket! The queue to get the passport back was incredible.
All in all any arrangement by costa was shambolic, but no one seemed to care. I talked to several people who, for them, this was their first cruise, and have stated that they will never cruise again. Shame, as it's a wonderful experience. The entertainment staff in general were noisy, shouting even when they had microphones. One good thing though was if you liked ballroom dancing, they did actively encourage it with lessons on Deck and dance partners in the evening. This seemed to be enjoyed by a lot of people. If you want a library book - forget it, take your own. If you want games, unless you booked them out early you had no chance. All in all we have cruised with costa 4 times now, and this will be the last unless they get their act together.
Room steward was excellent. Cabin spotless but very noisy as it was above one of the main dance areas and the noise continued until 1.00am. although it was a premium balcony we were not allowed bathrobes as these were only available for those in suites