Three major French “stars” will play the leading roles in the christening of the Costa Serena, the new flagship of Costa Crociere and Italian seafaring (114,000 dwt and a capacity of 3,780 passengers), undergoing the final fitting out stages at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa.

Costa Crociere’s new flagship will be the first cruiser to be christened in Marseilles. The official christening ceremony will be held in the city’s port on the evening of 19 May 2007. The Costa Serena’s godmother will be the beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard, a real talent in the French cinema world who’s also stepping into the international limelight thanks to her leading role in the soon-to-be-released film “La vie en rose”, dedicated to the life of Edith Piaf. According to tradition, she will cut the ribbon to break a bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull. Then, to bring the ceremony to a close, the Marseilles Opera Chorus will seal this alliance between the Italian company and the French city with “symbolic” opera arias of the two countries. For this event, the master of ceremonies will be Gerard Holtz, one of France’s most highly esteemed television journalists.

This will be followed by a gala dinner for more than 1,200 guests, to be held in the Vesta and the Ceres, the ship’s two main restaurants. As with other christenings of the company’s latest flagships over the last few years, Costa has commissioned internationally-renowned chefs to create a special dinner menu. For the Costa Serena the choice reconfirms the solid ties between Italy and France: Pascal Barbot, 3 “very recent” Michelin stars and one of the world’s most highly esteemed young French chefs will work with the Italian chef Ettore Bocchia, 1 Michelin star and Executive Chef of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, who will supervise the “a la carte” restaurants of Costa’s two flagships (the “Club Bacco” on the Costa Serena and the “Club Concordia” on the Costa Concordia).

The evening’s festivities celebrating the Costa Serena will end with an inaugural show, entitled “Mediterranean Serenade”, involving the entire city. On the evening of 19 May, locals and tourists alike will gaze upon the Costa Serena, anchored in the bay of Marseilles, and be treated to a spectacular display of lights and colours that “interacts” with 5 of the city’s most important monuments, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, the Palais du Pharo, the Sainte Marie Majeure Cathedral, the Entrecasteaux Castle and the Fort Saint Jean. In this way, the Costa Serena will become the city’s sixth “monument”.

The Costa Serena, like her sister the Costa Concordia, will be the largest ship flying the Italian flag: 114,000 dwt, overall length of 290 metres, 1,500 cabins and a total capacity of 3,780 passengers. She offers the most innovative and unique features also available on her sister ship, the Costa Concordia, such as the Samsara Spa, one of the largest wellness centres ever installed on a cruise ship (2,154 m²), 2 swimming pools with a retractable glass roof and a Grand Prix race car simulator. The ship’s interiors, whose main theme puts the accent on ancient Roman and Greek mythology, have been designed by the ingenious architect Joseph Farcus. That same theme was also applied to the 6,000 works of art that can be admired throughout the ship.

The godmother: Marion Cotillard

Born into a family of artists, her mother is a theatre actress and her father a director, Marion Cotillard began her acting career in the 1990s. She made it to the big screen in the film Taxxi by Luc Besson, a role that she continued to play in two subsequent tsequels. With parts in numerous French films, Marion Cotillard had also played various roles in American movies, working with directors such as Tim Burton (Big Fish) and Ridley Scott (A good year). In 2005, she won the César Award for best supporting actress in A very long engagement by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. In 2007 she plays the main character in the film dedicated to the life of Edith Piaf, La vie en rose, one of the hopefuls in the last edition of the Berlin Film Festival, and soon to be released in Italy. Marion Cotillard is also supporting the environmental safeguard daily, and she is happy to be the godmother of the new flagship of Costa Crociere, a partner of the WFF Italy and a major player in the field of environmental compliance.

The Master of Ceremonies: Gérard Holtz

One of France’s most popular television journalists, he is a 25-year veteran in the world of French TV. For the general public he is a household name mainly as the host of various sports programs and, first and foremost, Stade 2, the main show of France’s national network France 2. He is also a commentator for the Paris-Dakar and the Tour de France, and one of the main figures of Telethon, the television marathon held every year in France to collect donations for medical research. He has been a host of the France 2 news program and has presented very popular TV programs in France such as Inspecteur la Bavure, La Revanche and Banzaï.

The Chef: Pascal Barbot

A young prodigy in the world of French cuisine, at just 34 years of age he has already achieved international acclaim. He takes inspiration from the various cultures around the world to create a dynamic type of very inventive cuisine that is rich in taste. Since 1997 he is the Chef, along with Alain Passare, of the prestigious restaurant Arpège in Paris. In 2000, along with Christophe Rohat, he opened the restaurant Astrance  in Paris, which this year received three stars, the highest possible rating, from the prestigious Michelin Guide.

Costa Crociere SpA is an Italian cruise company and the market leader in Europe and South America. In 2006 Costa carried a total of 880,000 cruise Guests and this figure is expected to hit the one million mark in 2007. Its fleet, Europe’s largest and most advanced, has a total of 12 ships in service and 3 under construction, including the Costa Serena due to enter service in mid-May 2007. By 2010 the Costa fleet will be 15 strong with total Guest capacity of approximately 30,800. All of the vessels fly the Italian flag and are deployed in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, South America, the Arabian Gulf, the Far East, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Costa Crociere 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). Costa Crociere is also an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil. Costa Crociere SpA also operates the brand AIDA Cruises, which is the number one cruise company for the German market with 4 ships in service and 3 under construction. Costa Crociere SpA is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise operator.