Costa, Europe's Number One Cruise Line, began its third consecutive season operating in Dubai. Both Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises, the two Costa Crociere brands that became the first lines in the world to offer regularly scheduled cruises from the locale, have increased capacity in the region for the 08-09 winter season. Costa Cruises will increase capacity by 50% with the arrival of the Costa Classica and Costa Victoria, while AIDA Cruises will almost double its cruise capacity with the deployment of the AIDAdiva, the largest ship in the AIDA fleet.

In addition, Costa announced plans to position the new Costa Luminosa 92,700-ton (2,260 double occupancy capacity) in Dubai for the 2009-2010 winter cruise season. This one-of-a-kind ship, which is currently under completion at Fincantieri's shipyard in Marghera (Venice) will enter service in April 2009 and be inaugurated on June 5, 2009 along with the new Costa Pacifica 114,500-ton (3,000 double occupancy). During the 2009-2010 season in Dubai, the Costa Luminosa will be joined by the Costa Europa, which will offer a new itinerary of eight cruises from Savona to Dubai and back. AIDA Cruises will once again operate the AIDAdiva from Dubai and will offer two special cruises from Dubai to India and back during the holiday season.

"We are truly delighted to be starting our third consecutive season in the Arabian Gulf operating out of Dubai," said Pier Luigi Foschi, Costa Crociere S.p.A. chairman and CEO. "We were the first and remain the sole operator to believe in the value of this new cruise destination.  Thanks to the support and cooperation of the DTCM (Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing), we have boosted the presence here - with increasingly large and modern ships - of both Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises. In view of the great response from our customers, we have decided to deploy the Costa Luminosa in Dubai in winter 2009/2010. She will be the new jewel of the Costa fleet, combining the very best of our product in terms of innovation, facilities, choice of materials, design and works of art, and will help consolidate the worldwide success and popularity of Dubai and the other places on the itinerary."

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing's (DTCM) Executive Director of Business Tourism, Mr. Hamad bin Mejren, who is also managing the Dubai Cruise Terminal said, "The new temporary cruise facility which is absolutely similar to what was available in the old terminal is the hallmark of Dubai's commitment to this business. Of course when the final facility is in place, the standards as usual will be on par if not better than any similar facility for cruise ships in the world."

During the current Dubai cruise season, both Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will offer seven-night itineraries with two nights in Dubai and calls in Muscat (Oman), Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) *Costa ships only, Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Bahrain. The Costa Classica will set sail from Dubai on Sundays for a total of 11 cruises (December 21, 2008 through March 8, 2009) and the Costa Victoria will make 18 calls departing on Saturdays from December 13, 2008 through April 18, 2009. The AIDAdiva will depart from Dubai on Fridays for total of 18 calls (December 4, 2008 through April 9, 2009).

Costa Crociere has generated substantial business for Dubai and other ports featured on the itineraries:

Winter 2008/2009 (forecast)
Costa Cruises - 100,000 passenger movements
AIDA Cruises  - 78,000 passenger movements 

Total - 178,000 passenger movements  

Winter 2007/2008
Costa Cruises - 70,000 passenger movements
AIDA Cruises - 35,000 passenger movements

Total - 105,000 passenger movements

Winter 2006/2007
Costa Cruises - 44,000 passenger movements
AIDA Cruises - 21,000 passenger movements

Total - 64,000 passenger movements 

A survey conducted by DTCM last year showed that cruise guests visiting Dubai are mostly satisfied or very satisfied (95%) with their overall experience in Dubai and over half (53%) would be pleased to return to Dubai for vacation in the future. Most of them (78%) were visiting Dubai for the first time. Costa Crociere was the first cruise line to market regular cruises in the Arabian Gulf, turning Dubai into a major cruise destination and contributing to its growth as a tourist attraction.  The Costa Group launched its operations in Dubai in winter 2006/2007 with the Costa Classica for the Costa Crociere brand and the AIDAcara for the German brand AIDA Cruises.

The immediate success of the new cruise destination prompted Costa Cruises to double its capacity by positioning two ships there for winter 2007/2008 with the Costa Romantica and the Costa Europa. The same year, the AIDAcara extended her season by increasing the number of calls from 9 to 15.