'Upward trend' for Costa bookings


The tide appears to be turning for Costa Cruises.

Booking volumes for its Easter season cruises this month "exceed the corresponding figures" for Easter 2011, the line said in a statement April 4.

It's an about-face for a company that just six weeks ago reported a 35% drop in bookings following the Jan. 13 Costa Concordia accident in Italy that killed 32 people.

Costa CEO and Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi told an Italian media outlet in late February that the negative publicity surrounding the Concordia accident could sink Costa.

"Our brand has been massacred by the media," Foschi said at the time, suggesting that Costa Cruises ultimately "could fail as a [brand]."

A few days after that declaration another Costa ship, the Allegra, suffered an engine room fire and became disabled in the Indian Ocean. It was eventually towed to the Seychelles.

The Costa Allegra was permanently removed from service, and the Costa Concordia was deemed a total constructive loss.

But Foschi's forward-looking statements about Costa Crociere, which operates the Costa Cruises, Aida and Iberocruceros brands, have become decidedly upbeat. He issued several positive remarks about the group's 2012 performance when the company on March 26 released its 2011 financial results.

His statements were made available only to Italian media.

In published reports, Foschi predicted that Costa Crociere would "close 2012 with positive financial results." He did not offer any predictions by brand.

"Despite continuing difficulties, bookings for 2012 are showing an upward trend with encouraging signs of recovery," he said of the group.

Meanwhile, one of several Concordia-related lawsuits pending against Costa and its parent, Carnival Corp., recently delayed the departure of a sister brand vessel in Texas.

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph was briefly held at its homeport in Galveston on March 31 after a Texas judge issued a warrant for the vessel.

The suit, filed on behalf of a German woman who died in the Costa Concordia accident, sought the Carnival Triumph as security in its attempt to get Carnival Corp. to post a $10 million bond for damages.

It was released that night after Carnival said it had "resolved the issue."

For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly.


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