We arrived the night before and stayed at a Costa recommeded hotel. Since it was spring break we kind of knew what to expect. Drunk kids everywhere - another worldly experience.
We took a shuttle to the pier. Since we had a panorama suite, we were given priority embarkation and all went extremely well. Customs held us up a bit - but this is not Costas' problem. Anyway, we wrrived at the pier at 1:30 and were in our room by 2:00.
The ship is beautiful. There is so much decorating done to this ship that it is difficult to notice all that has been done. After a week aboard we discovered most of the decorative theme of the ship.
We had all paperwork completed on the Costa website prior to sailing so all went well.
When we set out to explore the ship, we found the guidance by crew members to be very goo. Since this was our 20th cruise, we quickly found out that the ship is layed out like many others - seems the deign trends are melding together on the newer ships.
Panorama suite: We found it to be smaller than a similar category on Royal Carribean by about 200 square feet. But the price was certainly right! Room steward and butler spoiled us rotten and our every needs were met, including restocking of the mini bar. In fact, our butler started bringing us bottled spirits from the bar ($20 versus $5.50 for airline sized bottles). This was appreciated and saved us a good amount of money during the cruise since we also entertained in our stateroom.
There have been complaints about the thin mattresses on the beds. We checked this out first thing and requested a second mattress. It was brought and the bed remade in plenty of time for our first night aboard.
Our luggage was distributed to us three hours prior to sailing with no damage. We got things unpacked and into the closets and drawers prior to sailing. The amount of storage was so enormous, even with the souvenirs we purchased we could still not fill it all!
The buffet food was good. Not great, but not bad either. Coffee machines were always full as were juices.
Our room was extremely quiet, especially since the ship rocked and rolled due to large swells for the first three days. The maintenance crew would wash life boats in the AM and took care not to "contaminate" our balcony.
The dining room service was very god and the food - especially if you like seafood- was very good - and hot when delivered to our table. We asked our waiter each night what was best and he was right on each night. The beef was cooked to our liking, and the pasta dishes were excellent - especially the polenta with mushrooms.
Club Medusa, the alternate restaurant, was excellent especially the filet mignons and dessaert. The service was impeccable. Incidentally, you do not have to dress up to eat in this venue.
On two nights were ordered room service - since we had a suite we could order from the dining room menu. The food was always brought on time and piping hot - sometimes with double what we ordered. We had one lunch from room service (we were hungry for hamburgers), and they were some of the best I've every had at sea - much better than in the pool area.
We took two shore excursions. The snorkleling cruise in Casa De Campo was cut short - we still do not know the reason. We found we had adequate time in San Juan. We had a taxi take us to the top of the hill in the shopping district and meandered downhill toward the wharf with plenty of time to spare.
Our shore excursion in the Dominican Republic was cancelled due to a storm and our ticket prices refunded on our final statement. We found everyone courteous and polite in the lines waiting to get onshore in the ports. You draw more flies with honey.....so the saying goes.
The onboard entertainment in the theatre, except for the steel band, was mediocre. We opted for the casino on a couple of nights and broke even during the duration of the cruise.
Disembarkation was a snap. As we had the suite, we had a VIP room in the Medusa Restaurant where they served a continental breakfast. We were the second group to leave the ship.
We'd take another Costa cruise. We found the Europenas on borad to be respectful, polite, and courteous.
My ratings: Ship 8 of 10 Food 8 of 10.