I tend to be pretty easy to please on a cruise. I don't particular enjoy complete white glove service (ala Celebrity, Radisson, Crystal). I also don't like service that tries to be too friendly (Hooters :-). However, time is important to me so slow service is something I don't suffer well. As has been stated by others here, European-based service tends to be efficient, subdued, and impersonal (at least in my experience). I personally don't mind that, I'm not looking for a new friend :-), just someone to provide efficient service. However, I have enjoyed several waiters and seek them out if I cruise their ship again. My favorite waiters have been on Celebrity, which ironically isn't my favorite line. They seem to allow you to establish the relationship with them in your manner.
Much cuisine is lost on me. I don't understand why folks rave about lobster, I'd rather have a lemon-herb grilled chicken breast or halibut any day. I was chastised on another message board when I was using it to plan a trip to Paris and I glibly tossed out that the food/restaurants weren't important to me. In fact, one append writer suggested that I stay home if i wasn't going to France for the food. Geez, there's much more to France than the food. I found that writers remarks very myopic, so I just chose to ignore it. I would prefer to eat at TGI Friday's or Applebee's over Ruth Chris's. Not that the food is of a better quality, just my personal tastes.
The point is, taste varies all across the board. I really enjoyed Randy's comments above (all save the "you CRUISE COSTA") as they have real substantive experiences and aren't completely subjective (e.g. "They're awful" - Ok, say why?)
My experience on this web site message board has been that it is one of the friendliest, courtiest, helpful, and most even handed at dispensing information on cruises. I find that most appends are best if they don't judge/subjectify the comments, but just state them as facts, or at least state the facts and then judge. Having said that though, I do like closing statements of how they liked it overall and if they would do it again. I also like when it is rated against other cruise lines if there is context to it, i.e. why do you rate it so.
This has been my first foray onto the Costa threads in the board, and whew! there's some venom out there :-) Although, I have seen similar comments in regard to Carnival, RCCL, Princess, etc. just not in this volume. Actually, over at cruisecritic.com, the comments seem to be a bit more positive.
Although I don't discount many of the comments, I also weight them against the real content in the append and try to base my decisions on the content, not the personality of the append. For example, I'm a big fan of Consumer Reports. Gives me a lot of facts without personal subjectiveness (in my opinion).
I've sort of rambled on here, but one last thing I would like to ask is "how could Costa have stayed in business if they are as bad as some of the appends say they are". The cruise industry is mostly based on repeat customers. If they don't have repeat customers, I really don't think they would have survived this long. I kind of use that as my base assumption and extra the content from the appends.
Background: I've cruised on RCCL, Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity. I would recommend them all, but only after I know what kind of cruise experience the person is looking for. Cruises aren't commodities. There's quite a bit of variance in the experience.
BTW: I am also considering my first cruse on Costa. The negative appends here have definitely caused me to cast a cautious eye, but I'm trying to just distill the content. Right now I'm still considering taking the cruise as it is a very good deal price wise, and to date, I've never taken a bad cruise.