Costa Cruises, Europe’s leading cruise company, is set to double its presence in Asia by the end of March with the arrival of Costa Classica, one of the most popular liners in the 12-strong fleet.

Costa Classica, the 14-storey, 53,000 gross-tonnage ship, with a guest capacity of 1,680 and 590 crew members, is currently making its eastbound journey from Dubai after completing its Middle East winter itineraries. It is scheduled to cruise into Victoria Harbour for the very first time on April 9, joining the Costa Allegra as the second Costa ship to be stationed in Asia.

Before making its permanent home in Asia, Costa Classica is taking its guests on a cultural rich and diverse journey with port calls in India, The Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Hainan Island, before reaching Hong Kong for a historic welcoming celebration.

Since the arrival of Costa’s first ship in Asia, the Costa Allegra, in 2006, more than 50,000 guests have enjoyed an Italian-style cruise experience on over 100 cruises. With the second cruise ship in the Asian market, Costa will offer nearly 55,000 additional berths with a total of over 60 cruises, thus bringing its overall capacity in the region to 85,000 berths.

“The arrival of Costa Classica in Hong Kong on April 9, 2009 reinforces Costa’s commitment to the cruise industry in the Asia Pacific. As the first international cruise line to deploy two ships to the region throughout the year, we strongly believe in its long term potential. We will continue to further develop the markets to make cruising the number one holiday choice and the positioning of Costa Romantica in Asia scheduled for March 2010 is further testament to our ongoing commitment,” said Dario Rustico, Costa Cruises’ Sales and Marketing Director of Pacific Asia Operations.

From July to October this year, Costa Classica will offer a series of 4-to-6-day cruise holidays that will include the popular ports of Tianjin, Shanghai, Japan and Korea. These cruise packages will be priced from just HK$5,0991, inclusive of the round trip airfare from Hong Kong to the ports of embarkation. These shorter Asia cruise itineraries have proven extremely popular among Costa’s Asian guests, who are responding to the Costa cruise product in ever-increasing numbers. For those seeking to set sail for a longer period, Costa will complement its shorter cruises with 14-to-17 night cruises on the Costa Classica and Costa Allegra that will appeal to international cruisers.

The Costa Classica entered service in 1991 and was built by Fincantieri at its Marghera shipyard (Venice) and refurbished in 2005. The ship measures 220 meters in length, offers a total guest capacity of 1,680 and features 1,304 lower berths. She has 659 cabins including 10 suites, 2 swimming pools and 4 Jacuzzis. The art collection of the ship includes masterpieces of the worldwide renowned artists Arnaldo Pomodoro and Emilio Tadini.