Costa Cruises has announced new details about the latest addition to its fleet, the 36,674-ton , 1,022-passenger Costa Tropicale. The vessel will sail seven-night cruises from Venice from June 9-Nov. 10, calling in Bari, Italy; Katakolon, Santorini, and Mykonos, Greece; Kusadasi, Turkey; and Dubrovnik, Croatia. According to Costa President Dino Schibuola, "We haven't finalized the winter (2001-2002) itineraries yet, but I believe the Costa Tropicale will be positioned in South America, together with the Costa Classica and possibly the Costa Allegra." The Costa Marina, which has previously been positioned in South America in the wintertime, will likely be positioned in a 10-night Mediterranean itinerary for the 2001-2002 season, Schibuola said.

The Costa Tropicale will be completely refurbished between March and May at a yet-to-be­ deterrnined Mediterranean shipyard, at a cost of between $20-$25 million. "All the cabins and bathrooms will be redone, the buffet area will be extended and all the carpeting will be upgraded," said Schibuola.

Current plans call for the Costa Tropicale to be sold to both Europeans and Americans while sailing its summer Mediterranean cruises. The vessel will be marketed to Americans as part of the budget-priced "Best Value" program, which currently includes the Costa Riviera.

It was originally believed that the Costa Tropicale would be exclusively sold to Germans as part of a new joint venture between Costa and a German tour operator, possibly under a new brand name. Asked about the status of that plan, Schibuola said, "It is still alive." Whether or not the deal - if it is ever consummated - will involve creation of a new brand "has not been clarified," he said, and depends on the nature of the transaction. Schibuola would not name the German tour operator in talks with Costa.

If the Costa Tropicale is repositioned to South America as planned, it will be sold almost entirely to South Americans, as are the company's other vessels in the region.

Conunenting on the South American market, Schibuola explained, "Brazil has recovered quite well from its (currency) crisis of a few years ago."

Regarding other expected deployments for winter 2001-2002, Schibuola said that the Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica will be positioned in the Caribbean (with the Victoria dropping its call in Jamaica and replacing it will be Progreso, Mexico), and the Costa Romantica will be homeported in Guadeloupe and sold to European clientele.