The Italian cruise line Costa Crociere, the market leader in Europe and South America, has set a new historic record:  1 million Guests have booked a cruise on board its ships in 2007.  This is a first not only for the Company, which has never before in its 60-year history had so many passengers in a 12-month period, but also for the European cruise industry as a whole.

Costa Crociere’s one millionth Guest in 2007 booked a Costa cruise on July 17.  In fact, they are an Italian family who will be at the center of Costa Crociere’s celebrations planned for the month of October.

The historic achievement will be also celebrated by Costa Crociere worldwide over the next few days with toasts on board its 12 ships and in the Company’s 28 offices, the event being marked by a specially selected limited edition Prosecco Aneri Magnum.  A further 10,000 commemorative bottles will be sent to the Company’s partners.

“Our one millionth customer is a historic achievement and one that fills us with pride,” commented  Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi.  “For us this is a testimony of the fact that 1 million Guests have rewarded our passion, the quality and excellence of our work, and the competence and solidity that our Company alone possesses, with its 60 years of experience in the cruise business.  I would like to thank all our employees, our Guests and our partners for making this feat possible.  Costa Crociere’s growth plan doesn’t stop here.  We have our sights set on ambitious new objectives:  we aim to boost the number of our Guests by 50% in just 3 years, so as to reach the 1.5 million mark in 2010.”

1 million Guests is a highly significant statistic for the cruise industry as a whole, which in 2006 clocked up 12.12 million cruisers worldwide (source: CLIA), including 3.4 million Europeans (source: ECC). Costa Crociere thereby confirms its role as a key player in the industry.  In the last 10 years the Italian operator has more than tripled its number of customers, from 350,000 in 1997 to one million reservations recorded in just 8 months this year. This growth has been supported by a fleet expansion program with the introduction of 11 ships in 11 years (from 2000 to 2010) and an investment worth around 4.5 billion euros.  7 of these vessels were or will be built in Italy by Fincantieri, at a total cost of almost 3.5 billion euros. Costa Crociere’s fleet is currently 12 strong; all of the vessels fly the Italian flag, with total Guest capacity of approximately 23,200 in dual occupancy cabins.  3 more ships have been commissioned from Fincantieri.  By 2010, when the last of these new buildings is delivered,  the Costa fleet will have 15 members and total capacity of around 30,800 passengers in dual occupancy cabins, confirming its status as Europe’s largest and most advanced.

Costa Crociere’s growth has also had a significant impact on the tourist industry in the cities where its ships have regular stopovers.  In 2007 the Company will make approximately 600 calls in the 10 Italian ports of embarkation included on its itineraries (Savona, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina, Palermo, Catania, Bari, Ancona, Venice and Trieste), which works out to 2,000,000 passenger movements (about 26% of the cruise traffic in Italy); it is estimated that these cruisers will spend a total of over 100 million euros during the stopovers*.

The Company’s capacity to innovate has played a decisive role allowing it to top the 1 million Guest mark in under a year.  In the course of the last 6 decades Costa Crociere has launched a number of global innovations, like the “fly-cruise” formula, which it actually introduced back in 1968, or winter cruises in the Mediterranean, dating back to 2001.  Other major innovations regard the ships in the fleet:  the first in Europe to be fitted with private balcony cabins, two pools on the same deck with a sliding glass roof enabling use even in mid-winter, and a wellness center of over 2100 square meters (featuring cabins with direct spa access). Also, in the last couple of years Costa Crociere has introduced a series of unrivalled itineraries further enhancing its offer, which now stretches virtually right round the world, from the Americas to Asia:  it is the first operator to market cruises departing from China, Dubai and Mauritius.  Costa Crociere presently has 37 ports of embarkation across the globe and around 250 destinations visited by its ships.

The fact that 98% of Costa’s Guests say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their cruise vacation is testimony to the service excellence that has set the Company apart during its skyrocketing growth.  Costa Crociere has some 8 training schools located around the world for its 15,000 employees, comprising 14,000 shipboard personnel and 1000 shoreside staff. Costa Crociere’s excellence is also recognized by RINA’s B.E.S.T. 4 (Business Excellence Sustainable Task), an integrated voluntary scheme certifying corporate compliance with the highest international standards in the areas of social accountability (SA 8000, issued in 2001), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, issued in 2004), safety (OHSAS 18001, issued in 1999) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, issued in 2000).