With a fleet of 12 ships, 5 new ships due for delivery by 2012, a record 1,100,000 total Guests in 2007 and 1,500,000 forecast for 2010, Costa Cruises has confirmed its position as the number one cruise line in Europe, where – according to the latest European Cruise Council (ECC) figures – the expansion of the industry is exceeding expectations in terms of its impact on jobs, wealth creation and inbound tourism in Europe.

The second edition of the “European Cruise Contribution” report of the ECC, presented today in Brussels, shows direct expenditure by cruise companies, shipyards and passengers of 10.6 billion euros in 2006, a 27% increase on the previous year. Each million euros invested in the cruise industry generated 2.2 million euros in business output and 21 jobs paying an average wage of 33,500 euros. Europe's position as the world leader in cruise ship design and construction is helping to drive this growth: the ECC report estimates that during 2006 the global cruise industry spent over 4.1 billion euros on cruise ship construction and maintenance in Europe, while at the end of 2006 European yards had 36 new builds on order worth a total of 14.9 billion euros, including 20% accounted for by the 8 Costa Crociere S.p.A. group (4 for Costa Cruises and 4 for Aida Cruises) then under construction in Italy and Germany at Fincantieri and Meyer Werft.

There was also a rise in the number of people employed in the cruise industry in Europe, with approximately 225,000 jobs in 2006, 20% more than the year before.

Cruising remains a major source of inbound tourism for European countries. Between 1995 and 2006, demand for cruising worldwide more than doubled from 5.7 million to 15.15 million passengers. Over the same period the number of Europeans taking cruise holidays around the world more than trebled from 1 million to 3.4 million. According to the ECC the rapid growth is expected to continue with 4.1 million Europeans taking cruise holidays by 2010 and 5.5 million by 2015. 3.6 million cruise passengers embarked on cruises from European ports in 2006 (+27% compared to the previous year); on average, these passengers spent 100 euros at each embarkation port city and another 53 euros at each port of call. In all, there were 15.2 million passenger visits at European port cities (+21% compared to 2005). Italy is still Europe’s favorite cruise destination with 3.4 million transit passengers, followed by Spain (2.7 million), Greece (2.5 million) and France (1.3 million).

Italy derives the greatest benefit from the cruise industry in Europe, with more new buildings, embarkations and ports-of-call visits than any other country. In Italy the industry employs over 74,000 people (+21% compared to 2005) with direct expenditure of 3.2 billion euros (+28% compared to 2005), comprising 1.45 billion euros worth of investments in fleet expansion and upgrading. Italian shipyards are presently building 20 of the 36 new cruise ships which were on order at the end of 2007, including the 5 Costa Crociere S.p.A Group ships . 517,000 Italians chose a cruise vacation in 2006. There were over 1.1 million embarkations in the country’s ports (+15%), with direct expenditure by passengers amounting to 330 million euros; this included spending on airfares, port fees, hotel accommodation, food & beverages, excursions and other purchases.

In this context of rapid expansion, Costa Cruises has consolidated its position as Europe’s no. 1 cruise line. In 2006 the Italian cruise line carried a total of 880,000 cruise Guests (74% Europeans), and last year this figure rose to 1,100,000 (76% Europeans), setting a historic record for Europe. What’s more, Costa Cruises plans to achieve an almost 50% increase in the number of Guests in just 3 years, with its sights set on the 1.5 million mark in 2010. In 2006 Costa Cruises also clocked up nearly 6.9 million Gusts days, that in 2007 rose to 8.5 million. In 2006 the Costa Crociere S.p.A. (the group also includes the brands Aida Cruises and Iberocruceros, in addition to Costa Cruises) recorded turnover of 1.658 billion euros, and last year this figure rose to more than 2 billion euros.

The Costa Cruises fleet is Europe’s largest and most advanced with 12 cruise ships, all flying the Italian flag, and total Guest capacity of around 29,400. The Italian Cruise line has the biggest order book – together with that of the subsidiary AIDA Cruises – of any cruise line anywhere in the world: 5 new builds scheduled to enter service by 2012, all commissioned from Fincantieri and under construction in Italy, with an overall investment worth almost 2.4 billion euros. The 5 new additions will enable a 50% increase in the capacity of Costa’s fleet, which by 2012 will be 17-strong with total Guest capacity of 46,400.