Costa, Europe’s Number One Cruise Line, is offering an extraordinary glimpse into Israel at exceptional values during its Summer 2009 European cruise season aboard the intimate Costa Marina. Fares for 11-night sailings begin at just $2,499 and include stops in Italy, Greece, Crete, Israel and Egypt.

These select sailings aboard the Costa Marina (25,600-tons, 776 double occupancy capacity) depart from Savona, Italy on June 29; July 10, 21; and August 1, 12 and 23. Ports of call featured include Argostoli, Greece; Heraklion, Crete; Ashdod, Israel; Port Said, Egypt; Nauplia, Greece and Naples, Italy. This is the first time Costa is offering routes with a port of call in Israel since 2001.

“We all know very well that travelers these days want to embark on vacations that are more meaningful and more valuable than ever before,”  said Maurice Zarmati, President and CEO of Costa Cruise Lines—North America. “Our guests have long told us how much they would like for us to return to Israel on our Eastern Mediterranean voyages and we’re thrilled to do just that on this outstanding 11-night sailing at an unbeatable price.”

Guests will begin and end their journey with Italy’s charms before venturing deep into the natural beauty of Greece’s landscapes and cultures. From there, they’ll reach Ashdod, Israel, a modern city from which they may visit centuries-old historical destinations including Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Also included in this incredible itinerary is a stop in Port Said, Egypt, where travelers may visit Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza.

The Costa Marina is one of the most intimate ships in the Costa fleet. Design features include wide windows, skylights and glass atriums that combine to create a stunning contemporary design and infuse the ambience of the ship with an unexplainable energetic character. Interiors are nautically inspired, creating a crisp, continental feel.

Costa Cruises is Italy and Europe’s number one cruise line.  For the past 60 years its ships have sailed the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream vacations with the best in fun and relaxation. In 2007 over 1.1 million guests chose to cruise with Costa, a record for the European cruise industry.  The company’s 12 fleet members, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style, all fly the Italian flag and sail each year to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean.

Five more vessels have been commissioned and will enter service by 2012. Costa Cruises has been certified by RINA (Italian Shipping Register) with the BEST4, an integrated system of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards governing social accountability (SA 8000, issued in 2001), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 1996), safety (OHSAS 18001, 1999) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000). All Costa’s ships have been awarded RINA’s voluntary “Green Star” notation based on the highest environmental protection standards.  Costa Cruises is also an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil.