Costa Set to Retain its Leadership in ’09: A Fleet of 14 Ships and New Itineraries

Costa Cruises, the Italian company and market leader domestically and across Europe, has confirmed yet again its place as an innovator in the cruise industry, with the worldwide release of its new 2009 brochure.

The brochure has been published well in advance in all the countries where Costa Cruises operates and once more the new edition features a number of major global innovations for the industry, with regard both to the routes and to the fleet.  Featured on the cover of the Italian version of Costa’s 2009 brochure is an exceptional endorser:  Michelle Hunziker, who is again linked with Costa following the recent success of the hit movie “Natale in crociera”, filmed on board the Costa Serena.

In overall terms, Costa Cruises will be increasing its capacity in 2009 by 12% compared to this year, thanks to the entry into service, in April and May, of the 2 new flagships Costa Luminosa (92,700 gross tonnage and total Guest capacity of 2828) and Costa Pacifica (114,500 gross tonnage and total Guest capacity of 3780), which are currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyards in Marghera (Venice) and Genoa-Sestri Ponente.  The Costa fleet will thus be 14-strong, confirming its position as Europe’s largest, with total Guest capacity of approximately 36,000.  Costa Cruises’ fleet expansion program comprises a total of 5 new ships (including the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica) that will enter service by 2012, all commissioned from Fincantieri and built in Italy, with a total investment of almost 2.4 billion euros:  this is the biggest order book (together with that of the subsidiary AIDA Cruises) of any cruise line anywhere in the world. The 5 new builds will enable a 50% increase in the capacity of the Costa fleet, which by 2012 will be the world’s third biggest, with 17 ships and total Guest capacity of 46,400. Thus Costa Cruises will continue to consolidate its position as Europe’s no.1 cruise line:  after the historic record of 1 million Guest bookings in one year in 2007, the Italian Company has its sights set on the new target of 1.5 million Guests in 2010, i.e. a 50% increase in just 3 years.

In 2009 Costa’s ships will offer about 250 destinations all over the world and more than 100 different itineraries.  There will be even more vacation options for Costa’s customers thanks to brand new itineraries. Costa Cruises will be the first operator to offer an incredible transatlantic cruise from Italy to Argentina and up the Amazon River as far as Manaus.  Other news for 2009 is the introduction of cruises in the U.S.A. (New England) and Canada in the fall, with 5 calls in Quebec, Boston, Newport and New York.  There are also innovations in the Mediterranean, with 2 new itineraries featuring 2-day stopovers in Istanbul and Lisbon, and new ports of call at Capri, the Isle of Elba and St. Tropez, as well as additional cruise routes in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The increased capacity will be reflected both in the exclusive destinations introduced by Costa Cruises in the last couple of years, and in those “traditionally offered”, which have always been extremely popular among Costa’s clientele.  An example of the former is the Far East, where the company will double its capacity with a second ship deployed for the first time.  The Costa Allegra, which inaugurated this route for Costa Cruises in the summer of 2006, will be joined by the Costa Classica.  In Dubai and the UAE the size of the offer will rise by 50% with the arrival for the first time of the Costa Victoria alongside the Costa Classica.  In addition, a larger vessel than at present will be positioned for Indian Ocean cruises out of Mauritius – namely the Costa Europa, with a dounling in the offer.  Costa will also be boosting its presence both in Northern Europe, where for the first time some 5 liners will be operating, and in South America, where 3 ships will be based.

As well as the new itineraries, the other headline news for 2009 is the arrival in the Costa fleet of the fantastic new flagships Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica.  The Costa Luminosa will be one of a kind, a trendsetter in contemporary design, a perfect blend of service excellence and stunning, plush interiors.  She will be the most exclusive and innovative ship in the fleet, made to measure for customers who will settle for nothing less than the best.  Among the highlights on board:  a 4D cinema, a theater with superb laser show special effects, a golf simulator with 37 virtual golf courses and a 90 m² outdoor area with a putting green, a jogging and roller-skating track, plus 772 veranda cabins out of a total of 1130, the highest percentage of private balconies in the Costa fleet (68%).

The Costa Pacifica, the sister ship of the current flagships Costa Concordia and Costa Serena,  will be the music ship:  the very best in music from all periods will be not just the central theme behind the interior design of the various public areas, but also a veritable sensory experience taking the Guest on a “musical” journey of discovery on board.  Both the Costa Luminosa and the Costa Pacifica will offer the latest attractions of the Costa fleet:  the Samsara Spa wellness area (over 6.000 m²), including the wellness center itself, conveniently located cabins with direct access to the spa area and a dedicated restaurant; a totally authentic Grand Prix driving simulator; and a central pool area on two decks, with a sliding glass roof and big video screen.

The new brochure has been brought out almost a year ahead of the cruise departure dates in order to enable all Costa’s customers to take full advantage of ProntoPrice, the Company’s landmark pricing policy introduced in September 2005, with discounted rates exclusively available to early bookers.

Costa’s brochure will be added to its website  Visitors will be able not only to browse through all 340 pages online, but also to access additional information and book a range of shipboard services (from shore excursions to spa treatments) with the help of a  virtual cruise assistant.

In addition, from February 20 to March2 , Costa’s 2009 brochure will be appearing in the heart of Milan as part of an initiative which is unprecedented in Italy:  a large interactive Touch Screen Kiosk will enable the public to browse the pages of the brochure.  The location for this sophisticated audiovisual installation is the C’ Cart megastore in Corso Buenos Aires.  The big screen (base 292.5 cm – height 354.5 cm) is based on advanced touch screen technology:  viewing of the pages of the brochure will be accompanied by audio interaction with reproduction of the sounds of nature (the sea, the Amazon rainforest etc) linked to the destinations included in the catalog.

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