Costa Cruises has strengthened its ties with Savona and confirmed its local port expansion plans.

According to forecasts there will be approximately 900,000 cruisers and 220 calls at the Savona Palacrociere cruise terminal in 2012, figures in line with the record numbers clocked up in 2011.

The continuity and growth of the alliance between Costa Cruises and the town of Savona was reiterated earlier today at Palazzo Lamba Doria in Savona at a meeting between Costa Crociere President Gianni Onorato, the Mayor of Savona Federico Berruti, Savona Chamber of Commerce President Luciano Pasquale, and Savona-Vado Ligure Port Authority Chairman Rino Canavese.

Costa Cruises has confirmed its plans to double the capacity of the Palacrociere, the cruise terminal that the Italian Company has been running directly since 2003. Building work is set to commence on the second passenger terminal at the end of May this year, with an investment by Costa worth around 9 million euros.

The tender process for the project was completed on February 10, 2012 and the contractor will be formally appointed at the end of April once all the necessary procedures have been carried out. The building site will operate for about 15 months and the new satellite terminal is expected to open its doors for business at the end of August 2013, in time for next year’s peak cruise season in Savona.

The professional firms behind the design of the new facility are all Ligurian: Studio Vicini Architetti (architects Luigi Vicini and Andrea Piazza), who also contributed to the designs of the original Palacrociere and the Barcelona “Palacruceros”; Studio Tecnico Ingg. Montaldo e Canale; and C.V.D. Progetti Srl.

The second Savona terminal will cover a total area of 3,500 m2. It will be a satellite terminal, functionally connected to the existing Palacrociere, so that it can use its services, but also able to operate as a free-standing facility with its own waiting, transit and baggage handling areas.

The Palacrociere looms large in Costa’s program of cruise vacations for Easter 2012. In the last two weeks, Costa Cruises has recorded booking volumes for its 2012 Easter cruises exceeding the corresponding figures for its Easter cruises in 2011. The Company has 5 of its fleet members operating in the Mediterranean for this Easter, all departing from the Savona Palacrociere: the Costa neoRomantica, which left on March 31 on a 9-day Western Mediterranean cruise (Savona, Marseilles, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari, Malta, Catania, Naples); the Costa Deliziosa, sailing on April 6 on a 5-day mini-cruise (Savona, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Ajaccio); the Costa Serena, leaving on April 8 on a one week Western Mediterranean itinerary (Savona, Civitavecchia, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Marseilles); the Costa Pacifica, with departure on April 8, and the Costa Mediterranea, with departure on April 4, on an 11-day cruise to Greece, Israel and Turkey.

Among the most popular recent innovations this season in the Mediterranean are the mini-cruises of Costa Luminosa, Costa Atlantica and Costa Deliziosa, sailing from the Savona Palacrociere, introduced on the market for spring 2012 (from April to June) and autumn 2012 (from September to November) and especially suited to first time cruisers and people who want to make the most of a getaway vacation but only have limited time available.

The following Costa ships will be operating out of the Palacrociere during the forthcoming summer season: the Costa Serena, with a new 7-day itinerary dedicated to trendy beaches and fun, including an overnight stay in Ibiza; the Costa Magica, on one-week Western Mediterranean cruises; and the Costa Mediterranea, on 10- to 13-day cruises to Morocco & Portugal, the Black Sea and Greece, Israel and Turkey.

A red-letter day is scheduled for September 19, 2012, when the Costa neoRomantica, the result of the radical refurbishment of the Costa Romantica carried out at the San Giorgio del Porto shipyard in Genoa, will depart from the Palacrociere on the Grand Cruise from Italy to Australia and New Zealand, via the finest and most fascinating places in the eastern hemisphere.

The presence of Costa’s ships generates an important economic impact for the region. According to a study conducted by MIP, the Milan Polytechnic Business School, Costa Cruises generated more than 5.5 million euros of direct economic impact in the Port of Savona in 2010 and almost 230 million euros in Liguria as a whole, the latter figure largely accounted for by work carried out on the ships in the fleet.

Costa’s liners began calling at Savona in November 1996 with the arrival of the Costa Riviera, the first Italian cruise ship to dock there. The alliance between Costa Cruises and the town has flourished ever since – one of the key stepping stones was the inauguration of the Palacrociere passenger terminal, which Costa co-financed with an approximately 3.6 million euro investment, opened on November 24, 2003.

Conceived by the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, the Palacrociere was specially designed and built to provide hospitality for cruise Guests, guaranteeing them high quality services. Thanks to its innovative architecture the terminal is able to reduce waiting time to a minimum, while combining the utmost comfort with maximum security. The Savona Palacrociere received from RINA the B.E.S.T. 4 (Business Excellence Sustainable Task), which is an integrated voluntary scheme certifying corporate compliance with the highest international standards in the areas of Social Accountability, Environment, Safety and Quality.