Costa Cruises, the international cruise company which has long been a pioneer in the development of the Chinese cruise holiday market since 2006, today revealed that it has received official approval from the PRC Ministry of Transportation to operate three special cruises on a direct line across the Straits between Mainland China and Taiwan from April to May this year departing Shanghai new cruise terminal, once again leading the way in this promising emerging market.

These cruises, the first direct cross straits cruises, will take a new route which was specially designed for Amway (China) Co., Limited, one of the most important manufacturing and distribution company in China. Departing from Shanghai, the cruises will call at Hualian port, Jilong port and Taizhong port in Taiwan and last for seven days and six nights.

It is planned that the newest member of the Costa fleet in China, Costa Classica (53.000 gross tons and 1,680 total Guests), will be the ship used for the three trips from Shanghai to Taiwan. Costa Classica will be the greatest innovation for Costa Cruises in China. She will be the second ship of the Italian company to be deployed in the Far East, alongside the Costa Allegra, who had started the Costa cruises in China and the Far East in July 2006 . Many Amway’s most outstanding employees are set to embark upon these luxurious Costa cruises for an experience like no other. With a romantic and full of passion Italian-style atmosphere onboard, they will be able to enjoy a glimpse of Taiwan’s beautiful scenery and the exciting yet relaxing cruise lifestyle at the same time.

“We are honored and proud we are being allowed to operate these first cruises to run directly between China and Taiwan; it is the opening of a brand-new chapter for Costa’s development in China,” said Massimo Brancaleoni, Vice President of Costa Cruises Pacific Asia, “We value China as one of the most important and promising oversea markets for Costa globally. We strongly believe that the broadening of the policy on cross-Straits direct sea transport will have a very positive impact on the Chinese cruise holiday market offering a new and particularly appealing destination to Chinese consumers and at the same time granting a fast and profitable development of the coastal cities economies like Shanghai and Xiamen that have recently launched their new cruise terminals. Costa will continue to lead at the cutting edge of the market by opening up more tourist lines for Chinese travelers, to further boost the rapid growth of the cruise market in China.”

With the further development of direct transportation links and travel between the two markets, cruise holidays to Taiwan are likely to become a new trend for Chinese tourists. Such cruises allow Chinese tourists to enjoy Taiwan’s beautiful scenery without worrying about fixing accommodation in the different cities around Taiwan. As the leading international cruise company in the market, Costa understands the needs of Chinese tourists; and it is constantly working to provide products which are best suited to their interests. To show its appreciation for its customers’ support, as well as to give even more Chinese tourists the chance to enjoy the passion-filled Italian lifestyle onboard its romantic cruises, Costa has sent an official application to the Department of Transportation to offer more direct cruise lines in 2010.

With more than 60 years of international cruise holiday experience, Costa Cruises decided to establish a home port in Shanghai in July 2006, becoming the first international company to schedule regular cruises in China. After nearly three years of development in the market, Costa Cruises has established a strong leadership position here. Costa is the only international cruise company to currently run different cruise lines 12 months a year in Asia. The cruise itineraries are based in the three mother ports of Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong, and stop at several attractive destinations for Chinese visitors including Sanya, Halong Bay, Da Nang, Okinama, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Jeju. So far, almost 55,000 Chinese guests have embarked on Costa cruises to enjoy the incredible, passionate Italian holiday experience with consumer satisfaction rates of higher than 98%.

In 2010 3 ships will offer Far Eastern cruises with departures from China: the Costa Classica, Costa Allegra and Costa Romantica, which will replace the Costa Allegra from April onwards.