Smoking Is Allowed on Balconies: And, trust us, it drifts around the balcony dividers.
Extra Charges Add Up: Sure, you pay for bottled water and espresso on most mainstream lines — but here there’s even a mandatory daily onboard service charge and the Internet packages and spa treatments are surprisingly expensive for cruises at this price point.
English Isn’t the Main Focus: American travelers who are used to crew members who deal primarily with English-speaking guests may feel that some service gets lost in translation — and language aside, the service may not have been up to American standards in the first place.
Italian Lite: While there’s still a lot of Italian influence on board, many travelers who sailed on Costa before the line was purchased by Carnival lament the drop in attention to detail in the kitchens and the diminished focus on high-quality Italian imports. The first-time Costa cruiser, however, will enjoy the delightfully varied, regional Italian cuisine.
Draconian Lifeboat Drills: If you cruise on the line out of Florida, be prepared for an unusually long and regimented process. Still, considering the wreck of Costa Concordia in 2012, these elaborate drills feel like an improvement from the casual, cursory affairs (some only in Italian) that are still conducted on some of the ships.
The Bigger the Ships, the More Amenities: The cruise line’s newest builds follow the mega ship trend, and the larger the vessel, the more souped-up the innovations (the rest of the fleet has to wait for the roll-out of the same amenities). Among the latest: Pepper the Robot, an information portal that senses and reacts to human emotions; a gourmet mozzarella bar; and gala dinner menus from Michelin-starred chef Bruno Barbieri.