Costa Cruises held a launch ceremony on May 17, 2012 for the long-awaited Costa Victoria at Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal.

The event was hosted by Shanghai Baoshan People’s Government, Sinotrans & CSC Shanghai Changjiang Shipping Corporation, Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal Development Co., Ltd and Costa Crociere S.p.A. Ms. Zhao Wen, Vice Mayor of the Shanghai Municipal Government, Mr. Xue Chao, Deputy Secretary General of Shanghai Municipal Government and many members of Shanghai People’s Government and Baoshan District People’s Government were in attendance.

Renowned fashion designer, Mary Ma, considered to be China’s first international supermodel and famed for promoting Chinese fashion on the global stage, was onsite as the ship’s Godmother; an apt choice for what is Asia’s first fashion cruise.

Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal will be the home port for Costa Victoria, which will provide 33 itineraries a year, making Costa Cruises the biggest international operator at the terminal.

“We are thrilled to see Costa Victoria launch from Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal” said Mr. Pier Luigi Foschi, the Chairman and CEO of Costa Crociere S.p.A. “She embodies our commitment to the China and Asian market. We were the first international cruise company authorized to operate in the China market and so it’s with great pride that I can attend today to see one of our finest cruise ships leave from this remarkable port in this spectacular city. Costa Cruises has long held a special relationship with this region and we’re pleased to confirm that next year we’ll be increasing our investments here still further.”

Costa Victoria will have a unique to-the-region onboard designer boutique concept, selling top brands at duty-free prices. The cruise will set sail on 18 May, the day after the event, when its passengers will be able to sample its varied onboard delights. There’s a large array of high-end fashion stores plus a fashion show modeling onboard wares. The boutique concept will be developed from its maiden call so passengers in the future can fully enjoy this new take on a cruising holiday.

With the explicit support and encouragement from the Chinese government Costa Cruises has been running cruises from Shanghai since 2006. At the end of this year it’s estimated that Costa will have operated more than 300 cruises and holidayed over 300,000 people from China. 300,000 happy customers - last year 98% of passengers were satisfied with their cruise. The growth of the market means that the Asia Pacific region is one of the most important for Costa Cruises, particularly the China market. It has increased its investment locally as a result, the latest embodiment of which is Costa Victoria. This marries well with the local government’s plan to boost the shipping industry and tourism in the region.

“This latest launch of Costa Victoria’s maiden voyage in China unveils the journey of Wusongkou as the main port of Shanghai,” said Ms. Wang Hong, the Chief of Baoshan District. “It becomes the first theme event of the 2012 Wusongkou Cruise Tourism Culture Festival in Shanghai."

As is common for the launching of cruise ships, the event was marked by the ship’s Godmother, Mary Ma, who won international acclaim for her unique and luxurious collections, gave her blessings and launched Costa Victoria with Mr. Foschi and the representatives of Shanghai People’s Government and Baoshan District People’s Government. Ms. Ma, Designer and Founder of Beijing Maryma Haute Couture Ltd., is widely acknowledged as China’s first contemporary supermodel and now ranks as one of China’s top designers. She has been a standard bearer for Chinese fashion on the international stage for decades and as the heart and soul of China’s fashion world she personifies Costa Victoria’s fashion theme.

The Wusongkou Cruise Tourism Culture Festival was also launched at the event. Speeches by government officials and Mr. Foschi were followed by a video display recounting the 150-year history of Costa Crociere, its recent achievements and concluding with a clip on the joy of taking a cruise holiday.

Costa Victoria will stop at several destinations in Japan including the tropical paradise Hososhima/Miyazaki, Wakayama, which boasts the largest hot spring resort, in Japan’s second largest city, Osaka, and the popular sightseeing cities in the Kanto Area Yokohama and Tokyo, the capital city. In the South Korean part of the itinerary destinations include ‘island of the Gods’ Jeju, the picturesque harbor town of Yeosu and South Korea’s second largest city, Busan.

The first voyage is a five-night itinerary that departs from Shanghai to Jeju then Fukuoka then Hososhima/Miyazaki before returning to Shanghai.