Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s number 1 cruise company, opens its fourth Winter season 2009/2010 in Dubai with Costa Luminosa, the most exclusive and elegant of its cruise ships.

It’s the first time for Costa Luminosa (92,600 gross tonnage, 2,826 Guests) to operate in Dubai. The ship, which entered into service in April 2009, will confirm the established 7-day itinerary in the Arabic Gulf, homeporting in Dubai until April 2010 and calling at Muscat (Oman), Fujairah (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Bahrain.

Costa Luminosa’s arrival in Dubai however, is not the only “big news” given by the Italian Company, the first in the world to operate regular cruises in the area. In fact, starting from February 2010, Costa Luminosa will be joined by her sistership Costa Deliziosa, which is currently being fitted out at Fincantieri’s Marghera (Venice) shipyard.

On 23 February 2010, during her Grand Inaugural Cruise, Costa Deliziosa will be named in Dubai becoming the first ever cruise ship to be christened in an Arabian city. The ship will depart from Savona on 5 February 2010 and will call at Dubai from 23 to 26 February. Costa’s Guests cruising on the first leg of the Grand Inaugural Cruise will be able to attend the naming ceremony.

Therefore in Winter 2009/10 Costa Cruises is deploying in Dubai, for the first time together, the “top of the range” of the fleet, Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa, to boost the Italian company’s presence in the Arabian Gulf.

Costa Deliziosa & Costa Luminosa will also be joined by Costa Europa (54,800 gross tonnage, 1,830 Guests) which will offer a brand new itinerary with a series of 8 cruises from Italy to Dubai and vice versa.

“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,” commented Gianni Onorato, Costa Crociere S.p.A. President. “The appreciation of the destination from the public is increasing. In the 2009/2010 winter season bookings to date are in line with the increase of the offer, that was over 40% compared to last year, thanks to the positioning in the area of 3 ships. In particular for the first time ever we are deploying in the same area the “top of the range” sister ships Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa. Moreover, the naming ceremony of our the Costa Deliziosa, in Dubai on 23 February 2010, confirms our growth strategy, while strengthening the partnership between Costa Cruises and DTCM (Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing). 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”, added Gianni Onorato.

Costa Deliziosa’s naming ceremony further strengthen the relationship between Dubai and Costa Cruises which started in winter 2006/2007. 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, Spain, 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.

The immediate success of Costa’s operations in the area started in winter 2006/2007 with Costa Classica (53,000 gross tonnage and 1,680 Guests). 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.

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 groweing 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.

Itineraries

Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa established 7 days itineraries for the coming Winter season 2009/10 consist of two nights in Dubai and one day calls at the ports of Muscat (Oman), Fujairah (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Bahrain. Costa Deliziosa will be departing from Dubai on Sundays from 14 March 2010 to 9 May 2010; Costa Luminosa will be setting sail on Saturdays from 12 December 2009 to 10 April 2010. In addition to the two Costa fleet jewels, 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.