We traveled for the 11 day cruise boarding at Le Havre, France around the North Sea. Happily, we had fair weather and enjoyed Scotland, an old favorite Amsterdam, and Hamburg in the sun. Crossing from Norway to Scotland was a terrible day at sea, and half the (full) ship was a bit sea sick.
Costa is just a cut above MSC in quality, however, it is a big trench above the other Italian line in price; and frankly, although MSC is the pits, so is Costa. Catering to a majority of Italians, you'll find smokers abound, unattended children in places they shouldn't be - like the casino, and using the corridors as playground space. It's the same old poor quality bar drinks -- MIA TIAs made with 40% lemon juice; coffee from mid-west America, runny eggs and greasy potatoes in the morning buffet, to same old same old lunch, to dinner by candle lite but perhaps only to hide the poor quality cuts of meat, questionable fish, and rot gut wine. However, deserts were acceptable - but not the corny cheese plate with stale walnuts.
So why do I say "dishonest". Nowhere, except in the fine print of the final boarding pass, is the 6€ per day per person tip mentioned that it is not negotiable. Perhaps in advertisements it is mentioned, but never that it cannot be argued with in the case you don't agree that the service warrants it- like all other cruise line packages. So there, if you understand a finer point, you see that the tips should be added to the cruise price - making it a less competitively package. Thus, it's false advertising. Perhaps here, I'd like to point out that Vacations To Go lists that the charges are negotiable, perhaps out of ignorance.
All that aside, the cruise was pleasant, inside cabin small but well appointed and serviced. Regarding the ship in general, it is decorated to the hilt, however, it has few interesting public spaces, with deck 5 serving as a main public space with a host of lounges of differing venues. But, just as with the food, attitude, excursions, etc. these offer little value as they are overcrowded, or sometimes just dead due to lack of interest or talent. The spectacles in the theater were saved from embarrassment by a quartet of fairly talented Chinese acrobats. Without these, take a star off Costa. Actually - I give it a 2 star rating, and have had better food, entertainment, and service on 3 star ships, like the Louis Magesty.
Regarding the casino, just forget it as the pay offs on the slot machines were non-existent; you could easy drop 50€ per 1/2 hour play on almost straight loses.