Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s number 1 cruise company, and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) have announced today in London on the occasion of World Travel Market a global first for the cruise industry: Costa Deliziosa, the Italian company’s new “top of the range” ship, will be named in Dubai on 23 February 2010. Costa Deliziosa, the 15th ship in Costa’s fleet, will be the first ever cruise ship to be named in an Arabian city.

The naming ceremony will take place during the ship’s Grand Inaugural cruise, departing from Savona on 5 February 2010 and calling at Dubai from 23 to 26 February. Costa Guests cruising on the first leg of the Grand Inaugural Cruise will be able to attend the christening ceremony.

The Costa Deliziosa (92,600 gross tonnage and 2,826 total guests) is currently being fitted out at Fincantieri’s Marghera (Venice) shipyard and will be delivered on 29 January 2010. Together with her sister ship, Costa Luminosa, christened on 5 June this year, Costa Deliziosa will be the most exclusive and innovative ship in the Costa Cruises fleet and will become the “top of the range” of the Italian Company. Both ships will be deployed in Dubai during Winter 2009/10, offering 7day cruises in the Arabian Gulf.

“Costa Cruises was the first and it’s still the major operator to believe in the value of this new cruise destination, confirming the pioneering spirit of our Italian Company,” said Fabrizia Greppi, Costa Crociere S.p.A. V.P. Corporate Marketing & Communication. “Thanks to the partnership and four years of activities with the DTCM, we have boosted our presence, bringing ships to Dubai which are ambassadors of the best “made in Italy” in the world. For the coming winter season Costa will deploy in the area “top of the range” sister ships Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa. The naming ceremony of our fifteenth ship, Costa Deliziosa, in Dubai confirms our strategy while strengthening the partnership between Costa Cruises and DTCM. We are working together towards the same goal of creating an unforgettable event rich with surprise and atmosphere, combining the charming tradition of an Arabian night with the unique Italian style by Costa Cruises”.

Mr. Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry, Director Overseas Promotions and Inward Missions, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: “The cruise industry plays a crucial role in the overall growth and development of the tourism industry in Dubai and the region. We realized its importance long ago and created the infrastructure and services that were needed to tap its potential.” He added: “We welcome Costa’s decision and hope that it will be a boost for the regional cruise industry. We will continue to devote our efforts to further promote this most-promising sector of the tourism industry. Costa’s decision to name Costa Deliziosa in Dubai reconfirms the emirate’s potential as the regional cruise industry hub. We are delighted with their decision and guarantee our whole hearted cooperation and support to make the initiative successful. We are confident that this will help expand the cruise tourism industry in the region and stimulate other cruise operators to use the emirate as a cruise hub.”

The Costa Deliziosa naming ceremony further strengthen the ties linking Dubai and Costa Cruises. The Italian company - together with AIDA Cruises, the German brand also belonging to Costa Crociere’s group - was the first to market regular cruises in the Arabian Gulf, turning Dubai into a major cruise destination and contributing to its growth as a tourism destination.

In winter 2009/2010 Costa’s ships are expected to bring 140,000 passenger movements to Dubai thanks to the presence of three ships - the Costa Luminosa, the Costa Deliziosa and the Costa Europa - for a total of 32 calls. The estimated economic impact will be about €14 million*, coming from Costa Guests direct spending, shore excursions, transfers, cruise operation expenditures, general expenditures (food & beverage). Most of Costa’s Guests will come from Europe (Italy, Germany, UK and France). In addition to Costa Cruises ships also one AIDA Cruises ship, AIDAdiva (69,200 gross tonnage and 2,500 total Guests), will be calling 20 times at Dubai in winter 2009/10.

Costa’s operations in the area started in winter 2006/2007 with one ship, the Costa Classica (53,000 gross tonnage and 1,680 Guests). The immediate success of the new cruise destination prompted Costa Cruises to increase its capacity in the area year after year. Costa Cruises’ passenger movements in Dubai increased from 44,000 in Winter 2006/07 to 100,000 in Winter 2008/09. Costa Cruises’ ships have generated substantial and growing business for the emirate of Dubai and the other ports of call on the itinerary.

As per a WEFA report – one of the most respected economic information company - tourism’s direct contribution to Dubai’s GDP stands at 19.89 per cent, while the indirect contribution is 35 per cent. Dubai is sailing ahead to become the ultimate cruise destination of the Middle East. The cruise industry is rapidly growing with 260,817 cruise tourists predicted to visit the emirate during 2009; nearly a 25 per cent increase on last year. In 2010, Dubai is expected to host 99 calls with over 383,000 passengers with the burgeoning cruise industry set to grow further as the new Dubai Cruise Terminal becomes operational in January 2010.

In a survey, 80 per cent of cruise passengers in Dubai revealed that they would extend their visit to the emirate during their next visit and 95 per cent said they would recommend others to visit Dubai to enjoy its all-appealing facilities, pristine beaches and unparalleled shopping options.

In Winter 2009/10 both Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa will confirm the established 7-day itinerary with two nights in Dubai and one day calls at the ports of Muscat (Oman), Fujairah (United Arab Emirates), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Bahrain. The Costa Deliziosa will be departing from Dubai on Sundays from 14 March 2010 to 9 May 2010; the Costa Luminosa will be setting sail on Saturdays from 12 December 2009 to 10 April 2010. In addition to the two Costa fleet jewels, the Costa Europa will be offering a brand new itinerary: 18-day winter cruises from Savona to Dubai and from Dubai to Savona - a unique itinerary crossing the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.