Appointed new President and CEO of Costa Cruise Lines, Dino Schibuola, said that his first priority is to bring in the top management that he wants aboard. Over the next four weeks he will also be visiting each ship in the Costa fleet. "We will look at everything," Schibuola said, adding that he does not believe in a piecemeal approach. He expects to have a comprehensive plan for Costa's future growth and development in the United States by early September.
"We need to have a significant presence in the United States," Schibuola said, adding that he would like to see one of the new Costa ships year-round in North American waters. For the 93/94 winter season, Costa will operate the new Costa Romantica, the Costa Classica and the Costa Allegra here. The Costa Romantica, which is presently being completed at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard, enters service November 21, from Miami.
"We are the premier cruise line in Europe," Schibuola said, "and very successful financially in that market. My intention is also to have a significant presence here and to reinforce our position as a meaningful international operator."
"The concept 'Cruising Italian Style' has helped define our product; Schibuola said, adding that if he had to categorize Costa, he would call the line's product 'elegant contemporary premium'.
Scbibuola said that Costa has a tremendous heritage and experience, and that he was confident that given some stability and clarity of purpose, Costa can be as successful as any other cruise line.
"Costa has gone through a lot of changes as part of the evolution of the company and the integration of a new fleet," Schibuola said. "Now, we must carefully choose a direction for the company's successful growth."
"For me, it is important to work with people that I know and am familiar with," Schibuola said. "The chemistry of top management is very important."
Scbibuola recently announced the appointments of David Christopher as Vice President of Passenger Services and William Chambers as Vice President of Marketing, effective August 2.
Christopher is a 20-year industry veteran who comes to Costa from Commodore Cruise Lines where he was Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Passenger Services. He has previously held executive positions with Costa, Ocean Cruise Line and Norwegian Caribbean Line.
Chambers was most recently Vice President of Marketing at Seawind Cruises. He has previously held executive positions with Star Clipper Cruises, Commodore, Costa and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
Schibuola added that he was still assessing the national sales situation at Costa.
Schibuola said that Costa has a fleet of 10 vessels and 8,400 beds and is number five in terms of size among the major cruise operators.
According to Schibuola, plans call for Ocean/Paquet to be integrated with the Costa organization both in the United States and Europe within the next six months.
American Family Cruises, meanwhile, will operate as a separate business entity, although sharing general offices and some operational synergies in the areas of administration and fleet operations. AFC will have its own sales and marketing executives, and sales force. AFC is a distinct product, Schibuola noted.
The appointment of Schibuola coincided with the separation of the day-to-day organizational divisions of Costa and AFC. Bruce Nierenberg, who was appointed President and CEO of Costa last June (1992), remains as Chairman and CEO of AFC, which is a joint venture between Nierenberg and Costa Crociere of Genova.
Schibuola returns to Costa following a three-year tenure as Senior Vice President with Celebrity Cruises. Prior to that, he operated his own management consulting firm, Adelphi, and from 1983 to 1988, he served as Executive Vice President of Costa.
"With Dino back at Costa, we have a top executive who knows both the American market and the Italian style which highlights our product positioning in the U.S. market," said Nicola Costa, Chairman of Costa Crociere.