Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s no. 1 cruise company, doubles its cruises in the Far East. In fact, on 27 March 2009, the Costa Classica (53,000 dwt and 1,680 Guests), the second Costa ship operating on a permanent basis in the Far East, departed on her first cruise in Asia from Singapore.

The Costa Classica operates alongside the Costa Allegra (28,400 dwt and 1,000 Guests), that began the Italian company’s operations in the area in July 2006. Costa Cruises was in fact the first international cruise company to open the cruise market in Asia and in China, selling its Italian cruises also on local markets. From when operations began in the Orient to the present, about 100,000 guests have taken cruises with Costa Cruises in Asia, and half of them Chinese.

The Costa Classica was positioned in Asia after having operated in Dubai for the entire 2008-2009 winter season, offering 7-day cruises in the Arabian Gulf, another worldwide Costa exclusive. The Costa Classica’s first cruise in the Far East, a 14-day itinerary, includes calls to Thailand, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. For all of 2009, the Costa Classica will set sail from Singapore and from the Chinese ports of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tianjin, with alternating extended and short cruises. The longer 14 and 15-day itineraries, preferred by international guests, will includes calls to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, China and Vietnam. The shorter 4 to 6 day cruises, more popular with local guests, will call on some of the most coveted destinations in those markets, such as Okinawa (Japan), Kagoshima (Japan), Nagasaki (Japan), Fukuoka (Japan) and Cheju (South Korea). The various cruises offered by the Costa Classica in China will include, between April and May, 3 between China and Taiwan, the first linking these two countries. Guests will be the employees of Amway (China) Co., Limited, one of the leading manufacturing and distributors operating in China.

In the wake of the great success of its Far East cruises, in 2010 Costa Cruises will increase its activities in the area. Starting in March, the Costa Allegra will be replaced by an even bigger ship, the Costa Romantica (53,000 dwt and 1,697 Guests), to operate alongside the Costa.