We pondered long and hard before booking a cruise since we had never really fancied cruising. We finally decided to do a short trip within the GCC and managed to get a good deal through the tour operator for “Jewels of the Emirates” on board Costa Serena.
Costa Serena (the ship of the Gods): Owned by Carnival Corporation and built in Italy with both the European market and European cruising in mind, Costa Serena is the flagship of the Costa flee with a maximum capacity of 3,780 (all berths). It is the line’s 12th ship.
Costa Serena has a concept of classical mythology, with polystyrene Greek gods floating above the atrium, Pan’s hairy goat legs supporting the red, glittery stools in the nightclub and green tentacles adorning the cocktail bar’s ceiling. Costa Serena exhibits works by many of the most celebrated contemporary artists. The ship has an amazing nine-story atrium lobby, the top-deck waterslide, the busy thoroughfare of Deck 5, where almost all the bars are located, and the pair of two-deck dining rooms, Vesta and Ceres, at the centre and aft of the vessel. Every area reflects beauty, pleasure and entertainment.
We live in Dubai hence drove to Sh Rashid port which is approx 10 mins from our home. Upon arrival at the port, we had to take our luggage to the luggage drop-off area at the harbour. Embarkation was quick and our luggage was taken to our cabin (this service is free of charge).
Images below of the port, vessel and the embarkation/dis-embarkation area:
Cabins: the ship has 1,500 cabins in total, including 505 with private balcony, 58 suites, all with private balcony. We booked the premium category ocean view room.
Restaurant & Bars: Costa Serena has five restaurants, all of which offer culinary delights. The Ceres Restaurant, the Vesta Restaurant, the Prometeo Restaurant Buffet, and the Club Bacco a la carte Restaurant all have two levels; enjoy different cuisines to choose from in each location. The Samsara Restaurant is a great spot for healthier fair. If you would prefer a quiet meal, there also is a room service menu. The ship also includes a piano bar, as well as a Cognac and Cigar bar and a Coffee & Chocolate Bar. Try your luck out at the Giano Casino, where you can enjoy all of your favorite casino games.
Entertainment: There is no shortage of things to do on this amazing ship. The ship features several great entertainment options and there is something for everyone. If you like live shows and music, the Giove Theater, spanning three levels, features different live performances each night. If you like to dance, head over to the Cupido Dance Lounge, or the Pan Disco – you can groove to the beat all night. Also with four swimming pools, including two with retractable roofs and one designed just for the kids along with five Jacuzzis the water babies are always occupied. The ship has a shopping center, an art gallery, a chapel, a library, and a card room too. For the kids, there is the Squok Club, which features supervised activities for kids of all ages along with The Grand Simulator.
Outdoor; sun & sport – total relaxation: Costa Serena is the perfect size for all days spent on board. You can choose to enjoy the great events shown on the mega-screen of the Sole Lido. The sporty types can enjoy the multipurpose sports pitch offering basketball, tennis and volleyball and the outdoor jogging track. For those who love taking a dip in the pool, there is the Iris Lido water chute slide with its breathtaking panoramic view.
Since we traveled during Christmas the ship was at 70 percent capacity, and was quite an experience with exuberant holidaymakers dancing by the pool and children swarming all over the pool areas. There were hordes of people everywhere – all the time. The ship was dressed with Christmas trees and gorgeous Christmas decorations.
Wellness & sport: the ship has an outdoor jogging track, outdoor sports area and the Samsara Spa which is 6,000 m2 on two levels, with gym, baths, thalassotherapy pool, treatment rooms, sauna, Turkish bath, UVA-ray solarium. You can get a great massage at the Samsara Spa or enjoy an hair cut, color, manicure etc… at the Venus Beauty Salon. I actually went ahead and got my hair cut, blow dried etc with this lovely Uzbeki lady who also gave me some good tips on hair maintenance along with some of her sample products to try out. Patricia, our Argentinian gym instructor was a delight to be with. I attended one of her workshops and group class which was fun.
Capella / Wedding Chapel: (weddings/vow renewals are not allowed while the Serena ship is at open sea; the room also hosts religious services lead by a Catholic priest)
Since we knew a couple of officers on board we got an opportunity to interact with the Captain which was interesting. We also used the the services of the professional photographer on board, a lovely Filipo lady (cannot recollect her name now!) who made the whole shoot super entertaining.
Highlight of the cruise: Dubai-Muscat-Khasab-Abu Dhabi-Dubai
We boarded the ship in Dubai and as part of our excursion we got off at Muscat port early am to visit the mosque, palace, museum and walked along its bustling souks. We returned to the ship around early evening. Entry visas into Muscat, transport to/fro the cruise is all taken care of as part of the trip. We did not get off at Khasab and Abu Dhabi since there was so much to do on the cruise itself.
Gala dinner on Christmas eve:
Costa Serena is a unique experience, enriched by evocative beauty. We had a magical time on our first cruise!