VENICE — On the stage of the Costa Fascinosa's three-deck theater, three men in business suits took turns speaking optimistically, even a little defiantly, about the glory of Italian industrial stalwarts Costa Crociere and the Fincantieri shipyard.
After about 80 minutes of speeches and prayers, but little applause, a teenage girl in a pearlescent summer frock moved behind a table wheeled on the stage, as five more executives joined the others behind her.
She pushed the button by a tiny model of a ship's hull, and the TV screens in the theater showed a bottle of champagne bursting against the European Union flag painted on the hull.
Twin confetti shooters showered parts of the theater with gold foil, and the Costa Fascinosa was officially christened.
At 114,500 gross tons and carrying up to 3,800 passengers in 1,508 cabins, the Fascinosa is Costa's new flagship and the largest Italian-flagged passenger vessel.
The Costa Concordia tragedy, in which 32 people died, came up just twice during the ceremony.
The cruise director, acting as emcee, asked for a minute of silence before executives from the shipyard and cruise line spoke. When Costa CEO Pier Luigi Foschi went to the microphone, he only made a passing reference to "the recent incident."
The rest of his remarks were upbeat, as were those of Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono and Italy’s minister of tourism, Piero Gnudi. It was Gnudi’s daughter, Elsa, who pushed the bottle-launching button.
Bono held up a copy of a newspaper and said that the media had been too harsh on Fincantieri and on Costa.
After its first revenue cruise sails May 11, the Fascinosa will sail weeklong cruises in the Mediterranean from Venice and from Bari.
It then sails to South America for the winter season, calling in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.