From a delicious pasta dish with flavors reminiscent of a visit to a Roman trattoria, to fresh seafood that brings to mind a leisurely lunch in Portofino, dining onboard a Costa cruise transports the taste of Italy to sea wherever guests travel. To celebrate Costa’s grand tradition of Italian cuisine, along with the high praise bestowed on it from numerous past guests, Europe’s Number One Cruise Line is unrolling a new “Buon Appetito” culinary contest for past guests to submit their favorite Costa dining experience.

Between February 17 and April 17, 2009, guests who have sailed with Costa may enter the “Buon Appetito” culinary contest by visiting and submitting an entry detailing their favorite Costa dining experience or dish in 300 words or less. One winner will be selected by a Costa panel based on creativity and style. The winning entry will win a cruise aboard the new Costa Pacifica, complete with a complimentary dinner for two in the ship’s specialty restaurant, the Club Blue Moon. The restaurant features menus prepared by award-winning Italian chef Ettore Bocchia, heralded for his Michelin-starred cuisine at the Grand Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy.

“With so many of our guests telling us how much they enjoy the Italian cuisine aboard our ships, we decided to celebrate their enthusiasm with this special “Buon Appetito” culinary contest,” said Maurice Zarmati, president and ceo of Costa Cruise Lines—North America. “While we offer other types of dishes onboard as well, it’s the special brand of magic in our Italian dishes that really moves guests to rave about our cuisine.”

With more than 50 different recipes created each day using 3,500 ingredients, it’s no wonder guests love “dining Italian style” aboard Costa’s fleet of 12 ships – soon to be 14 when the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica come into service in May and June respectively. From homemade pastas and sauces to freshly made pizzas and other specialty dishes, Costa brings its Italian heritage for “mangia bene” to its guests around the world.

Entries for the “Buon Appetito” culinary contest must be submitted via by April 17, 2009. A winner will be selected on or around May 17, 2009 and be notified via mail. The prize is cruise only and the winner is responsible for air, non-commissionable fees and government taxes. Certain restrictions apply.

Costa Cruises is Italy and Europe’s number one cruise line. For the past 60 years its ships have sailed the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream vacations with the best in fun and relaxation. In 2007 over 1.1 million guests chose to cruise with Costa, a record for the European cruise industry. The company’s 12 fleet members, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style, all fly the Italian flag and sail each year to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean.

Two more new ships – the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica – are due for delivery at the end of April and the end of May 2009, and will be christened together in Genoa, Italy on June 5 this year. Three additional ships are on order. Costa Cruises has been certified by RINA (Italian Shipping Register) with the BEST4, an integrated system of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards governing social accountability (SA 8000, issued in 2001), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 2004), safety (OHSAS 18001, 1999) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000). All ships in the Costa fleet have been assigned RINA’s Green Star notation certifying that they are operated in compliance with the highest environmental protection standards. Costa Cruises is an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil. In Mediobanca’s 2008 survey of over 3,700 Italian enterprises that recorded revenue of at least 50 million euros the previous fiscal year, Costa Crociere S.p.A. ranks 72nd in terms of sales and in 12th place in regards to profitability.