Costa Cruises, Carnival Corporation’s Italian brand, was among the first to suspend operations in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, but was also among the first to start cruising again, sailing from Italy in September.
The company now plans to cruise again as soon as March and has seen a net reduction of just over 3,000 berths, according to the 2021 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
Here’s the latest on Costa:
China and Early Cancellations
Costa was one of the first cruise lines to suffer COVID-19 related issues and cancellations. The company had multiple ships year-round in the Chinese market, and suspended cruising there in January 2020.
The Costa Smeralda, meanwhile, became among the first ships to be quarantined by authorities.
Docked in Civitavecchia, the vessel had guests and crew held onboard due to fears about two passengers with coronavirus-like symptoms. After testing, the guests were diagnosed with the common flu and the vessel was cleared.
The company also took the lead in pausing its global operations. With the virus hitting Italy earlier than the rest of the world, Costa decided to stop all its cruises on March 13, 2020. Initially, the company planned a three week pause, which would end on April 3, 2020.
Four Ships Gone
In January 2020, Costa transferred the ownership of the Costa Atlantica to Carnival Corporation’s joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).
A few months later, Costa sold one of its oldest ships, the 1996-built Costa Victoria. The vessel was delivered to its new owners in June 2020 and ended up beached for scrap in January 2021.
In July 2020, the Costa neoRomantica was purchased by Celestyal Cruises. Now named the Celestyal Experience, the 1993-built vessel was delivered in August 2020, becoming the third ship to leave the fleet in eight months.
The next to leave is the Costa Mediterranea, which was also sold to CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping in 2018. Used in crew repatriation efforts, the 2003-built vessel is already in Asia.
Newbuilds Delayed; Firenze to Stay in Europe
Originally scheduled for an October 2020 delivery, the new Costa Firenze was handed over to Costa in December.
Built by Fincantieri, the Firenze is a sister ship to the 2019-built Costa Venezia and was custom-designed for the Chinese market. The vessel, however, is staying in Europe for the entire 2021 season. In July 2020, Costa decided to use it as a replacement for the deployment of the new Costa Toscana, which has also been delayed.
Under construction in Finland, the LNG-powered Toscana was set to start cruising in June 2020, offering a Mediterranean itinerary. Now, it will debut in December 2021 and sail straight to Brazil, becoming the first Costa ship to be christened in South America.
New Protocols and Service Resumption
In September, Costa became one of the first major cruise lines to resume service. With approval from Italian authorities, the company reactivated a total of three ships, including the 5,224-guest Costa Smeralda.
Initially, the cruises were only available to Italian guests and visited only Italian ports. All followed Costa’s new health and safety protocol, which was released in August. Itineraries to Greece were offered in October and November.
Another Pause in Operations and Resumption Plans
After several setbacks, Costa entered into another operational pause in December. After a request from the Italian government, the company was forced to cancel holiday cruises onboard the Costa Smeralda, the only ship sailing at the time.
The brand plans to welcome the guests back on the Smeralda on March 27. A second ship should start cruising in May,.
By The Numbers
- Ships shed: – 4
- Ships added: + 1
Result: – 3 ships
- Berths shed: – 7,512
- Berths added: + 4,232
Result: – 3,280 berths