As volume recovers, Costa to deploy bigger ship in Med in fall


Four months after the CEO of Costa Cruises raised the specter that the line "could fail as a brand," the Italian company announced it would add capacity in the Mediterranean before the year is out.

Bookings at the line had plummeted by 35% in the weeks following the Jan. 13 grounding of the Costa Concordia off Tuscany and the Feb. 27 engine room fire aboard the Costa Allegra. But since then volume has steadily rebounded.

Citing "significant positive booking trends in Europe," Costa last week said it would replace the 1,680-passenger Costa Classica with the 3,470-passenger Costa Magica in the Med starting Nov. 18.

The larger ship will operate 12-day cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean, calling in Greece, Israel and Turkey, and 11-day cruises to Portugal and Morocco in the Western Mediterranean.

"Our enduring strength has always been the Mediterranean, where our itineraries are consistently rated as 'best of the best,'" said Scott Knutson, vice president of sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America.

"Long cruises to the east and west are particularly popular, so given the recent uptick in Med demand, it made perfect sense to double our offerings and capacity on the 11- and 12-night program with the Costa Magica at an opportune time when most other lines exit the region," he added.

Costa also is adding to its capacity in the United Arab Emirates.

The Costa Classica will be deployed there beginning Nov. 17, joining the 2,112-passenger Costa Atlantica. The ships will operate weeklong cruises from Dubai to ports in the Emirates and Oman.

Costa began operating in the Middle East in 2006. Last winter it deployed the 3,800-passenger Costa Favolosa in Dubai, a move that it said solidified its "leadership role in the UAE market."

Before its repositioning to the Med, the Costa Magica had been scheduled to deploy with four other Costa ships to South America next fall.

Passengers booked on South America itineraries aboard the Costa Magica will be accommodated on a similar itinerary on one of the other ships, said the line.


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