New Ship Debuts for Costa Cruises

Described by the company as its new flagship, the $668.8 million Costa Fascinosa is "at the cutting edge of safety and environmental protection standards," according to the company.

The show must go on for Costa Cruises, and it's going on in a spectacular way this week with two cruises for about 1,800 travel agents from Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Africa aboard the Costa Fascinosa, a new flagship delivered May 5 to the company in Venice, Italy, by its builder, Fincantieri. The weeklong "Champions of the Sea" event with cruises to Slovenia and Croatia showcases the ship's amenities and its safety and environmental features, according to Costa Cruises, which owns the Costa Concordia that is soon to be salvaged after running aground on an Italian island's coastline.

The new 114,500-ton, 3,800-guest ship cost $668.8 million and is the largest Italian-flagged cruise ship afloat, according to the company. It said the ship's construction at the Marghera shipyard involved about 3,000 shipyard workers and 7,000 contractor employees.

"The delivery of Costa Fascinosa is an important stepping stone on our company's road to recovery," Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said in a news release. "It is confirmation that the long-term fundamentals of our business remain strong, and we will continue to work for our customers, offering them even better cruises on fantastic ships like Costa Fascinosa."

"Costa Fascinosa is the living proof of the progress and the results achieved by two great Italian industries jointly contributing to spread a positive image of 'Made in Italy' around the world," said Giuseppe Bono, chief executive officer of Fincantieri. "We are most pleased to have contributed to the success of Costa, an Italian company which proudly flies the Italian flag."

The Concordia's grounding came amid a major building boom at Costa Cruises, which is owned by U.S-based Carnival. Since 1990, Costa Cruises has invested $7.6 billion (5.8 billion euros) in projects done by three Italian shipyards, with 14 ships either built or on order and others refurbished. A ship still under construction at Marghera will be 132,500 tons when delivered in October 2014 and accommodate up to 4,928 guests, making it the largest Italian cruise ship.

The company said Costa Fascinosa will make seven-day cruises this year from Venice and Bari, Italy, to Greece and Croatia and will be in South America during winter 2012-13, calling at Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Besides a lavish art collection and furnishings, waterfalls, a 60-square-foot movie screen, and a Grand Prix Simulator on the highest deck of the ship, its interior design by maritime architect Joseph Farcus is meant to honor great films and famous operas. The company promises the ship is "at the cutting edge of safety and environmental protection standards," including producing most of the water used on board from desalination plants and discharging no waste overboard.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Titan Salvage was awarded the contract in partnership with the Italian firm Micoperi for salvaging the Costa Concordia wreck from its current position on the coastline of Italian island Giglio, with the work to begin this month.

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