The Government of the Dominican Republic has granted Costa Cruises – Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s no. 1 cruise company – a 5-year extension on the public concession for the use of Catalina Island. Thanks to the concession, this small Caribbean isle will continue to be a private beach resort reserved for the exclusive use of Costa’s cruise Guests.
Less than 10 km², Catalina Island is only a stone’s throw from La Romana. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494 and is renowned for its splendid beaches and crystal clear waters, which are among the finest in the Caribbean. The superb barrier reef makes this a paradise for diving and snorkeling, while the island itself is a Nature Reserve.
Catalina Island is part of the itinerary on 2009/2010 winter cruises in the Caribbean on the Costa Mediterranea. From December 22, 2009 through April 13, 2010 the ship will be in Catalina every Tuesday. The stopover at the island lasts from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. The ship lies at anchor a few hundred meters from the shore; there is a non-stop shuttle service by tender to and from the island. The beach resort is equipped with deckchairs, sun loungers and umbrellas, as well as barbecue and bar facilities.
The Costa Mediterranea will be offering 7-night cruises calling at a different island each day as follows: departure every Saturday from Guadeloupe, Sunday in St. Maarten, Monday at La Romana, Tuesday in Catalina Island, Wednesday in Tortola, Thursday in Antigua, Friday in St. Lucia, arrival back in Guadeloupe on Saturday (further information at www.costacruise.com).
The extension on the public concession granted for Catalina Island is further acknowledgement of the great efforts made by Costa Cruises to develop the tourist industry in the Dominican Republic. The Italian Company was one of the first enterprises to recognize and invest in the tourism potential of this Caribbean nation, where its liners have been making regular stopovers since 1993. In the winter 2008/2009 season, Costa’s ships brought around 60,000 Guests to the Dominican Republic.
In the last 16 years Costa Cruises has made investments worth several million dollars in tourism infrastructure on Catalina Island, where operations are run by its local company Operadora Catalina. In December 2002 the inauguration took place of the new Port of La Romana, the “Muelle Turistico International Casa de Campo”, built under an agreement between Costa Cruises and the Central Romana Corporation, which is a leading player in many sectors of the economy in the Dominican Republic.
The renewal of the concession for Catalina Island was also made possible thanks to Costa Cruises’ commitment to promoting responsible tourism. Costa Cruises plays an active part in cleaning and preserving the beach at Catalina Island, where waste streams are collected separately for recycling. The Company’s shoreside excursions are organized in accordance with the principles of environmental compliance and sustainable tourism. The Italian Company’s 2010 brochure includes around 240 eco-tourism excursions, comprising visits to parks, oases and nature reserves, with programs that minimize the impact on the ecosystem and create economic opportunities for the local communities. These include excursions departing from Cataliana Island and La Romana during the Costa Mediterranea’s port calls here.