The Italian Company Costa Cruises, the number one cruise line in Italy and across Europe, has been chosen as one of the finalists for the Sodalitas Social Award, an Italian prize organized by the Sodalitas Foundation and conferred annually on firms who implement the best CSR projects.

The 2008 edition embraced 210 enterprises and 260 projects devised for the Italian market.  Costa Cruises’ project was selected as a finalist in the “Social Marketing Campaign” category because “the Company has formed a close partnership with WWF (World Wildlife Fund), championing the cause of safeguarding marine biodiversity” and raising the awareness of its Guests in this regard by means of a series of activities including the distribution of material in 4 languages, fundraising, and educational games for children.

Costa Cruises’ project, featuring the slogan “Do you love the sea?”, is based on the partnership established in August 2005 between the Italian Company and WWF to safeguard three of the most precious and endangered marine ecoregions on the planet: the Mediterranean Sea, the region of the Greater Antilles, and the north-east coast of Brazil.  Costa Cruises has carried out a range of informative and awareness raising activities for the Guests on board its ships, who numbered over 1,100,000 in 2007 (a record figure).  The initiative also involves Costa’s youngest Guests, aged from 3 to 12, with dedicated educational and fun activities in the Squok Clubs (board games, posters, stickers and pictures to color in) so that children can learn about and respect the marine environment.

Costa Cruises has also made arrangements for the collection of donations from its Guests in favor of WWF’s measures to protect the three marine ecoregions, and it has publicized their partnership in its brochure, on its website, in Today (the program of daily activities handed out on board) and in the six-monthly publication  La Dolce Vita, which is distributed to Guests on Costa’s liners.

This concentrated public awareness campaign across the fleet has so far reached about 3 million people of all nationalities, and this is only counting direct contact with Costa’s Guests.  Another 12 million-plus contacts a year are guaranteed via distribution of the Costa brochure (every copy is read by an average of 2 people), on top of which there are thousands of contacts established through the Company’s other means of communication.  Also, the web page dedicated to the alliance with WWF, in the section dealing with Costa’s CSR, has been visited more than 15,000 times.

The award from Sodalitas, which the Company has now received twice, is further confirmation of Costa Cruises’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, which, coupled with its efforts to safeguard the environment, has placed the Italian Company at the forefront of the tourism industry as a whole.  This dual commitment is reflected in particular in the Company’s Sustainability Report (consultable on-line at www.costa.it/Costa), a purely voluntary form of reporting designed to provide comprehensive and transparent information on the effects of corporate activity on the environment and the community.  Among the results documented in the most recent edition of the Report, concerning 2006, social performance highlights include the introduction of new career paths for Costa personnel and new training opportunities.  The Company supported a series of initiatives and research projects by means of donations and in kind, particularly for disease sufferers.  Various initiatives were also implemented to improve the hospitality and service offered to Guests with disabilities.  Further new facilities in this regard were added in 2007:  these include a sign language translation of the safety video for Guests with hearing and speech impairments; the video, which is screened on a special TV channel in every cabin on board on the day of each embarkation, explains the main safety procedures in force on the vessel, including those to be followed in the unlikely event of an emergency.  The other measures introduced in 2007 are designed to further enhance the cruise experience for physically challenged Guests:  reserved seating in the theater to see the shows, front seats reserved on the buses and other means of transport used for Costa’s shore excursions, reserved tables at the buffet, and a priority area to facilitate disembarkation.  In addition, at the beginning of every cruise there is a meeting with the Guest Relation Manager, during which the various services are explained and all the relevant information is provided, including a special plan of the ship showing the wheelchair accessible areas and how to get to the most important places on the ship.

Results in the environmental field include a 10% reduction in the volume of garbage generated per person and the introduction of a new system of disposal of waste other than food waste, with segregated streams and subsequent recycling.

Costa Cruises’ Sustainability Report has its roots in the application of the “BEST4”, an integrated management system that encompasses four types of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards in the areas of quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, issued in 2000), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 2004), safety (OHSAS 18001, 1999) and social accountability (SA 8000, 2001), guaranteeing the measurement of company performance and continuous improvement.  Costa obtained the BEST 4 from RINA (the Italian Shipping Register) in 2004, thus becoming the first company in the world to do so.

In 2005 Costa Cruises was also the first company in the world to receive the “Green Star” across the fleet from RINA; this prestigious notation certifies that all Costa’s vessels comply with environmental standards for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment and it is actually stricter than the prevailing provisions of the international MARPOL Convention.

Confirming its role as a major player in the field of environmental compliance, Costa has also entered an agreement with CIAL – the National Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Aluminum – for the separate disposal and recycling of aluminum packaging on board its liners, a first for Italian shipping.  In 2005 Costa Cruises launched a project of collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission for monitoring climate change in the Mediterranean, and it is also a signatory to the voluntary Venice Blue Flag agreement designed to safeguard the environment and heritage of Venice.

Meanwhile, on April 22, 2008, Costa Cruises participated in “International Earth Day”, through the promotion SEED (Steiner Evergreen Earth Drive) launched by Steiner Leisure, Costa’s partner in the management of its shipboard spas.  For every Guest who experienced a treatment that day at one of the wellness centers on board the 12 Costa ships, Steiner Leisure planted a tree (donation of $1) in support of the “Arbor Day Foundation”, which is the world’s largest tree-planting organization.