Costa Cruises is arguably the most famous name in European cruises, and especially Italian cruise lines, with a resurgent MSC Cruises giving it a strong run for its money. The cruise line is actually one of the oldest shipping companies in the world, having started out as a cargo line in the middle of the 19th century, before introducing cruise activities in 1947. During that golden age of ocean liners, Costa operated regular trans-Atlantic services between Europe and South America, but switched to full-time cruising shortly after when the introduction of the commercial jet liner heralded the end of the ocean liner.
Costa Cruises became part of Carnival Corporation in 2000 and a huge amount of money was injected into the cruise line to bring it in-line with the huge, balcony-clad, modern cruise liners synonymous with the North American cruise market. Of the 15 cruise liners in the fleet, 11 have been launched since its acquisition by Carnival, with most of its older tonnage phased out.
The cruise line’s largest ship, Costa Diadema (an adaption of the Carnival ‘Dream class’) was delivered in 2014. This overhaul of the fleet is now entering its second phase, with Costa Cruises’ having placed orders for four new ships to be introduced between 2019 and 2021. These mammoth new cruise ships will be of two new classes, two will be 135,000 gross tons and the other two will be 183,200-gross tons. The two 135,000-gross ton cruise ships will be specifically designed for the Chinese cruise market and will be based in Asia year-round, while deployments for the two larger cruise ships have not yet been announced.
Costa Cruises operates cruises globally, homeporting ships in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, South East Asia, South America, and of course right here in Dubai in the Arabian Gulf cruise market. Costa Cruises started out life offering a very traditional cruise experience, without any of the bells and whistles of the modern cruise industry, but after the acquisition by Carnival it has transformed its fleet into one that offers ‘something for everyone’.
All cruise ships have a focus on striking interior design and vibrant entertainment, with live music, dancing and themed parties. It’s culinary options have seen vast improvement in recent years thanks to a partnership with Michelin-Star Chef Fabio Cucchelli, while the Squok Club, its kid-friendly play area and entertainment program, have also been upgraded in partnership with Peppa Pig. The line also partnered with Italian brands Barilla, Illy Caffe, Nutella and Ferrari wines, all part of the its “Italy’s Finest” initiative.
It’s larger cruise ships especially (Fortuna, Magica, Serena, Pacifica, Favolosa, Fascinosa, Luminosa, Deliziosa, and of course Diadema) are essentially resorts at sea, with the kind of variety of entertainment and dining associated with the mega cruise ships. Costa Diadema for example has seven restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, as well as a 6,200sqm spa, three pools, eight hot tubs, a Country Rock Club, a 4D Cinema, Grand Prix Simulator, an interactive “Star Laser” laser zone with a “Laser Maze” and a “Laser Shooting” simulator.
But then there are the smaller more intimate ships in the fleet, such as the neo Collection, which offer a more pared-down, traditional cruise experience. With the introduction of Costa Smerelda and Costa Venezia in 2019, however, it is likely that the ‘cascade affect’ will see some of these older ships phased out of the fleet.