For the “best of the best” in soccer, aficionados of the game may enjoy a Mediterranean getaway aboard the stunning Costa Serena on an exclusive cruise dedicated to Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, better known as “Pelé,” the “O’ Rey” (the King) of world soccer. Departing from Venice on June 28, the “Pele Cruise – Sabor Brazil,” is an exclusive and innovative event on the Costa Serena, organized by Grupo Olympia, a company with more than 20 years of entertainment experience in Brazil.

While onboard, soccer fans may attend conferences held by presidents of soccer confederations and clubs as well as by other big names from the sports and media world. “During my career as a footballer, I was often far from my family and my friends, but I have never forgotten the special atmosphere and the unique flavors of my country,” says Pelé. “When I began to feel homesick, what I wanted the most was to be able to experience the traditions and customs of my beloved Brazil. The Costa Serena cruise, during which everything will be focused on Brazil, will spread joy throughout the entire Eastern Mediterranean, with stops in Italy, Croatia and Greece. I look forward to seeing all of the guests onboard.”

The cruise program, based on “brasileñi” (Brazilian) rhythms, atmospheres and flavors, promises to be full of excitement. The cruise will feature parties, festivities and musical shows involving great Brazilian performers such as Alexandre Pires, Toquinho and the Grupo Sereno.

Gastronomy will also take center stage, with events inspired by Brazilian delicacies, including theme parties, such as “Brasíl en Alta Mar.” There will also be an exhibition of historic collectors’ items tied to some of the great moments in Pelé’s life, with never-before seen video clips. It will be a true Brazilian-style cruise filled with soccer, samba and “feijoada” in the spotlight, and of course, delicious caipiriñas.

The cruise, which departs from Venice on June 28, will feature stops in Bari, Katakolon (Olympia), Izmir (Ephesus), Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Fares begin at $1,199 per person. For reservations or more information, guests may contact a travel agent, call (800) GO-COSTA or visit www.pelecruise.com.

The Costa Serena (114,500 tons; 3,000 dbl occ) came into service in May 2007 as Costa’s newest flagship. It is a sister ship to the Costa Concordia and Costa Pacifica, the latter of which is scheduled for delivery in May 2009. The ship’s contemporary design features serene colors inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, creating an incredibly warm and inviting ambience. Innovative offerings include the Samsara Spa, one of the largest spas at sea complete with dedicated spa cabins, an expansive pool deck extending over decks with a retractable magrodome, and a Grand Prix race car driving simulator. The ship also features five restaurants – including the Club Bacco with menus created by celebrated Chef Ettore Bocchia of the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, 13 bars – including a sports bar and cognac/cigar bar and nearly 6,000 works of art.

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.