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Young At Heart

Pier Luigi Foschi chairman and managing director of Costa Crociere right and Micky Arison chairman of Carnival Corporation at the launch of the Costa EuropaThe year is shaping up quite positively, according to Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and managing di-rector of Costa Crociere. “Our bookings are higher than they were a year ago,” he told Cruise Industry News in May. “We are also looking at pricing equal to last year,” Foschi said, “so the outlook is encouraging.”

Costa has always monitored its costs and operating procedures, according to Foschi, who added that after 9/11, the company took additional actions to reduce costs.

“However, we did not touch the product,” Foschi underscored. “We negotiated new contracts with suppliers who understood the exceptional situation and were willing to share the burdens with us,” he explained.

Costa recently announced revenues of 706.8 million euros for 2001, compared to 572.4 million euros for 2000. The company’s fleet carried 447,808 passengers in 2001 compared to 363,218 in 2000.

Costa is on a fast growth track - from approximately 10,600 lower berths today to 19,000 by 2004 when the company expects to carry well over 700,000 passengers.

Diversification

Costa launched its German product this spring, dedicating the Costa Marina to the German market. “Germany is the second largest tourism market after the U.S.,” Foschi said. “We believe it is more effective to have a ship dedicated solely to the German market.”

Offering “La Deutsche Vita,” the product is a combination of German-lan- guage orientation and Italian flair, according to Foschi. “We offer the same Italian experience but without the Italian language,” he explained. Costa spent five million euros upgrading the Marina.

Costa also has a number of cruises dedicated to national markets. Foschi said that the Allegra offers sailings targeted at former French Paquet Cruises’ passengers. The product is Italian-style cruising with a French language orientation. Costa’s ships in South America and North America are also geared to the local markets. “It complicates our operations, but is a unique aspect of our brand,” Foschi said. Costa claims to be the market leader in France, Spain, Switzerland and South America in addition to Italy.

Foschi is convinced that it will be possible to double the passenger sourcing in Europe over the next five years. He said that Europe already produces close to two million cruise passengers. But he sees Europe developing differently than North America. Instead of categorizing the ships as contemporary or premium, he sees ships targeted to specific markets.

Meanwhile, Costa’s core product is for Italians who are young or young at heart. They never go to sleep and enjoy life, Foschi said.

New Ships

Costa has three ships under construction for delivery through 2004: The 86,000-ton, 2,100-passenger Costa Mediterranea, sister ship to the Costa Atlantica, enters service in 2003. At the end of 2003 comes the first of a new series of larger ships, the 105,000-ton, 2,720-passenger Costa Fortuna, which will be followed by a sister ship, the Costa Magica, in 2004.

Costa has also received two ships from sister companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Line. Foschi made the distinction that Costa paid for the ships, adding that Costa also spent 30 million euros last year making the Tropicale into what he called a de facto new ship. “We refitted all the cabins, all the bathrooms, all the crew areas, and the public rooms, and upgraded the engines,” he said. “You will not recognize the ship anymore. We even opened up the entrance to two decks with a waterfall - all designed in contemporary Italian style.”

This year, Costa introduced the Costa Europa, the former Westerdam. The Costa Europa is European in all respects, according to Costa: “in her decks named after constellations recalling Greek mythology, in her art work, the multitude of languages spoken onboard, in the cuisine and entertainment, and in the desire to offer a cruise as fun, relaxing and pampering experience.”

Meanwhile, the recently announced joint venture with the Greek Attica Enterprises to create a new cruise brand in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a new fast-ferry product has been pushed back, awaiting the outcome of Carnival Corporation’s bid for P&O Princess Cruises.

Winter 02/03

Next winter season, Costa will have two ships in Ft. Lauderdale again, compared to only one ship this past winter. The Costa Victoria and the Costa Atlantica will be marketed in North America. But Costa will cut back on its capacity in South America, from three ships this past winter to two ships next year, the Classica and the Tropicale. The Romantica will continue to sail from Guadeloupe. Costa will also have two ships in the Mediterranean sailing to the Western Mediterranean and Atlantic Islands: the Europa from Genoa and the Allegra from Savona. The Marina, which is dedicated to the German market, will sail out of Santo Domingo during the winter months.

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