Summary: A nice ship that is always clean and well maintained. Rooms are small but well organized. Staff is extremely friendly and efficient. Shops contained expensive designer type items. The officers were seen frequently throughout the ship. Drinks were weak but free champagne was offered frequently. The food was ok but nothing 5 star. The shows were very good, family oriented and well attended. Very large casino but the children's video game area was too close. We had a very nice time all in all. If you go thinking that you are going to get a $2000 cruise for $500 you will be very disappointed but if you consider what you get for the price you pay I think it is well worth it and we are planning to cruise with Costa again next Christmas. For more details read on.
Let us start with Day one: Embarkation: Embarkation went very smoothly. As you entered the pier the porters were right there to immediately take your luggage. They do not work for the cruise line so they do expect a tip. As you entered the building each person was handed a number and asked to be seated. Several cruise personnel were going around to check and make sure that all you paper work was completed properly and help those that needed help. As the building filled up you were called into lines according to the number you held so those that got there first went onboard first. This made the procedure very efficient.
As you entered the ship some one was there to greet you and direct you to your room taking any carry on luggage that you might have with you. We were immediately impressed with the cleanliness of the ship. Our room was very nice, a little smaller than most of the other lines, but arranged for efficiency. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. We had an outside room and it had a very large round window, which really brightened, up the entire room.
As the steward showed us around the room he also told us about a welcome aboard buffet. They had this at the usual buffet location and were well stocked with the usual buffet foods. They were also serving hamburgers and hotdogs out on the deck. We found this as a pleasant surprise as the Carnival ships that we had sailed on previously had not offered food until dinnertime. We didn't leave port until 7pm so we had plenty of time to unpack, relax, and get oriented to the ship. First seating was having their dinner as we were leaving. This ship is one that rocks quite a bit with the weather so if you have problems walking or with seasickness you will want to be aware of this. Also rooms do not accommodate the large scooter type of wheel chairs. They do have a pizza shop on board but it does not open until 3pm and we found it not to our liking. The shops onboard catered mostly to those who like designer items. I found the prices on most items too high. The Internet cafe was a nice touch for those of us who could not leave their e-mail for an entire week. It is also good for staying in touch with the family.
We had decided to get the honeymoon/anniversary package, for the romance and the robes. It was very nice and consisted of a large basket of flowers that would have cost at least $50 at your local florist, a bottle of champagne with two glasses, 2 cotton robes that even fit fuller figures like ours, a silver 8x10 picture frame with a free 8x10 photograph, a rose on my pillow the first night, and an invitation to a special cocktail party with the captain. We thought that this was a very good addition to our cruise and especially for $99.
The food: We had heard some bad reviews about the food aboard this ship so we didn't really know what to expect. Truly my husband and I are not gourmets and like just about anything. We almost always enjoyed what we ordered. The food was always served to us hot and displayed nicely on the plate. We did find a lot of foods that we had never eaten before and tried a few and enjoyed them. On the nights that we wanted something simpler and more American we ordered from their always-available section, consisting of sirloin steak, chicken breast, or fish. We noticed that they had special menus for those that wanted a vegetarian meal. Those with more of a gourmet taste for 5 star restaurants may not have found it to their tastes but for my husband and myself, we were well suited. We did however find that the menus description sometimes did not match the American thoughts. Like taco salad to an American is usually lettuce, meat, cheese, etc. Their actual taco salad was a to be built taco. When we did get this they were more than happy to get something else for us.
The staff….We found the staff extremely friendly and ready to assist you with anything that you might need. Our cabin steward knew us by name before we sailed the first day and anticipated our needs before we realized we needed it. The waiters were friendly, efficient, and entertaining. They had several nights that the waiters entertained before desert was served one night they even danced with each lady at the table. Everyone from the Captain, who was often seen about the ship, to the man or woman sweeping up always greeted you with a smile and offered assistance.
Tours: In Key West we took the Conch Train Tour which was really a trolley. It gave a little information about the city but I would not recommend it. We were not in this port long enough to really see it. In San Juan we took the city tour, which showed us around the city in an a/c bus. We also stopped to see the old fort but didn't really have time to really explore it. Also the cost of the fort was not included in the tour price. Town was crowed with 10 cruise ships in port!!! City was pretty and decorated for Christmas. We did our own thing in St Thomas having been there before. We went to Coki Beach a great place to snorkel. My husband scuba dived for the first time too. Then we hit the shops! In Nassau it was chilly and rainy but they didn't cancel the tour to the Blue Lagoon. I would not recommend this tour for anyone who has problems walking a long distance. After the boat let us off it was about ¾ mile to the place to swim. The water was only to the knees and nowhere insight to snorkel. They did snorkel with the stingrays or dolphins but you had to pay extra for that! It ended up being a $30 each boat ride. Very disappointing. We left within the hour. Then it rained hard most of the day. We stayed on board the ship.
We had no children on board so we can't tell first hand what their programs were like. I did however see that the younger ones were well attended and appeared to be having fun. The teens seemed to enjoy themselves too. All in all kids were less rowdy than on Carnival cruses.
Debarkation: Went smoothly. We were placed in rooms according to the color of tags on luggage and dismissed by color to avoid bunching. Luggage was easy to find because it too was placed according to color of tag on the luggage. Leaving Port Everglades was a total traffic jam.