The Costa Favolosa, the new “Italian-made” flagship of Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com), the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s n.1 cruise company, has taken to the sea today for the very first time at a traditional ceremony held at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard on the occasion of the new ship’s technical launch.

The Costa Favolosa (114,500 gross tonnage and 3,780 total Guests), which will set sail on her first cruise in July 2011, is the fourth of five new ships due for delivery between 2009 and 2012, for a total investment worth 2.4 billion euros.  The addition in spring 2012 of the Costa Favolosa’s sister ship Costa Fascinosa, also being built in Marghera, will complete Costa’s ambitious fleet expansion program.

“The launch of the Costa Favolosa confirms the strength and leadership of our Company,” said Costa Crociere S.p.A. President Gianni Onorato.  “Despite the ongoing effects of the economic downturn in 2010 and the uncertain outlook for global tourism, our fleet expansion program has continued uninterrupted.  The strength of our brand, which comes with a guarantee of over 60 years of experience, and the quality of our product have proved to be winning assets, highly appreciated by our customers. That is confirmed also by the positive results in terms of bookings achieved this summer and forecasts suggest we will end 2010 with 2.1 million Total Guests for the Group as a whole, which works out to an increase of around 17% compared to last year.”    

The construction of each new building involves the labor of around 3,000 people, comprising both Fincantieri’s own employees and those of about 500 contracted suppliers, most of which are Italian firms.  In overall terms, the fleet investment program launched back in 2000 by the Costa Crociere S.p.A. Group (comprising Costa Cruises as well as the number one brand for the German market AIDA Cruises and Iberocruceros, which operates mainly for the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking markets) is worth some 9.3 billion euros.

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri CEO commented: “It is a source of great pride for us to launch this new jewel we are building for our friends at  Costa, Europe’s cruise leader with whom we are pleased to further strengthen our long-lasting, successful relationship.  This partnership, besides affording prestige, is absolutely vital, not only for the future of the tourism sector, but also for all the areas of business involved since, without the many ships built for Costa, Fincantieri would not be here today defending the company’s world leadership and the impact of the current serious crisis would be even greater. More than ever before it is important to develop the partnership, to ensure that our two companies may long continue to representing the excellence of Made in Italy around the world, the leading builder and the leading operator in the cruise ship market”.

The ceremony for the launch of the Costa Favolosa observed the protocol laid down for such occasions by seafaring tradition.  The Director of the shipyard invited the Godmother, Beatrice Siri, to cut the ribbon and the bottle of champagne duly broke against the bows of the ship. Betarice Siri, Newbuilding and Special Projects Deputy of Costa Cruises, has been directly involved in the construction of the fleet’s last six ships, including the Costa Favolosa, and on 8 March 2010 she received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. After the opening of the valves and the gradual flooding of the slipway where the ship has taken shape over the last few months, the hull of the Costa Favolosa was transferred for the first time to its natural element – the sea.  The launch was preceded by the welding of a coin to the base of what used to be the mainmast in a ceremony traditionally considered to augur well.

As her name suggests (Favola is Italian for “fairy tale”), the Costa Favolosa is intended to interpret the excitement and emotion of people who view the cruise as a magical voyage in a “contemporary enchanted castle”, a perfect combination of fabulous atmosphere and state-of-the-art hi-tech fun with a truly amazing range of amenities.  The main innovations on board include:  6 new Suites with private veranda and Jacuzzi; a new entertainment area for teenagers (but other age groups will enjoy it too), comprising 4D Cinema, PlayStation World, a bar with ice-cream, drinks and popcorn, and a Teens’ Dance Floor; plus a children’s game room, and a new open-air Aqua Park water playground with its own pirate galleon.  Facilities will combine the very best of the Costa product:   the Samsara Spa, one of the largest and most exclusive wellness centers ever built on a cruise ship; a large lido extending over two decks, with a sliding glass roof and giant movie screen; a Grand Prix driving simulator; and a golf simulator.  The brand new design aft pool area will be particularly large and inviting:  1000 m2 of space dedicated to relaxation and entertainment with the added attraction of new raised whirlpool tubs.

The Costa Favolosa’s position at the cutting-edge of cruise ship building technology also extends to environmental compliance, which has always been a hallmark of Costa Cruises.  Like a couple of other fleet members, the Italian Company’s new flagship will be equipped for “cold ironing”, namely a system whereby the ship is plugged into shoreside electrical power, enabling generators to be shut down during stopovers in port.

The Costa Favolosa is set to make her debut on a 3-day Mini vernissage cruise departing from Venice on July 4, 2011, and calling at Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Koper (Slovenia).  This will be followed by her grand inaugural cruise, which leaves Venice on July 7: a 10-day itinerary taking in Israel, Greece and Turkey with stopovers in Bari, Corfu (Greece), Haifa (Israel), Izmir (Turkey) and Dubrovnik (Croatia).  Throughout the 2011 summer season the Costa Favolosa will be offering 7-day cruises from Venice and Bari to Olympia (Greece), Izmir and Istanbul (Turkey), and Dubrovnik (Croatia).