The Costa Marina called in Mauritius for her first time today, marking the beginning of the 2007-2008 winter cruise season in which the ship will sail 14-night Indian Ocean routes. The ship’s first call marks the debut of Mauritius as an international cruise destination, and is a global first for the cruise industry. Welcoming the Costa Marina on her inaugural visit to the country were Roberto Ferrarini, Marine Operations Director for Costa Crociere S.p.A.; Robert Desvaux, Chairman of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA); Stefano Zinno with the Italian Consulate in Mauritius and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, Port Authority, local institutions and business community.

“Over the last few years we have established ourselves as the first big cruise company to operate worldwide, offering itineraries that no other operator had ever marketed including China, the Far East, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, and Mauritius,”  commented Pier Luigi Foschi, Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & Chief Executive Officer.  “We have been rewarded for these highly innovative choices by our customers, who have made our new cruise routes a success and stimulated us to further consolidate our presence in the East and Far East as demonstrated by the doubling of our ships in China and the Far East starting from 2009. Even Mauritius is experiencing a great success in our main reference countries in Europe, and also in Asia and North America. Today, though, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the authorities of Mauritius for their cooperation and commitment, which have enabled us to be the first to offer cruise departures from this splendid island.”

“We are proud to welcome the Costa Marina on her first call, as well as to start this important cooperation with the leading cruise operator in Europe,” said Robert Desvaux, MTPA Chairman. “Investments have been made to improve the passenger terminal of Port-Louis harbor and the Mauritius Port Authority has confirmed that the works for a new cruise terminal will start in mid 2008 and be completed by the end of next year. Mauritius is definitely positioning itself as a major cruise destination in this part of the world.”

On December 22, the winter cruise season in Dubai will be launched in the presence of Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere S.p.A.; Khalid A bin Sulayem, President of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the Italian Ambassador Paolo Dionisi, Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ports & Free Zone World, as well as many representatives of local institutions and the business community.

“The cruises out of Dubai have proved extremely popular, especially in Europe, rewarding what turned out to be a far-sighted move, when we became the first to market this new destination,” said Onorato. “The expansion also in Dubai enables us to reinforce our promotion of Dubai and of our cruises in the Arabian Gulf not only in Europe, but also on the local market and across Asia, with an eye on China in particular.  We would like to thank our most loyal guests—they  prompted us to look for unique new destinations, and this led us to offer cruises from Dubai.”

The 25,600-ton Costa Marina will sail the Indian Ocean from Mauritius from December 22, 2007 through February 29, 2008. The Costa Marina features a total guest capacity of 1,000 and will set sail from Mauritius every Saturday on six 14-night cruises. The itinerary includes two-day stopovers in Mauritius and Mahè (Seychelles), and one-day calls at Mombasa (Kenya), Mayotte, Nosy Be (Madagascar), Toamasina (Madagascar) and Reunion.

The Costa Marina will bring a total of nearly 11,000 passenger movements to Mauritius, the majority of which will come from Europe as well from North America.  Guests will also come from Asia and China, where Costa Crociere has had two offices – one in Shanghai and the other in Hong Kong – since March 2006. The Costa Marina will return to the Mediterranean on a spectacular 27-night positioning cruise with departures on March 15, 2008 and visiting Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte, Kenya, the Seychelles, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, the Suez Canal and Savona.

The cruises out of Mauritius on the Costa Marina will feature guided shore excursions in each port of call, with the opportunity for guests to visit local highlights.  One of the main attractions of these routes is undoubtedly the superb beaches in Mauritius, Mahè in the Seychelles, Mayotte and Reunion. Additionally, there are exciting sightseeing excursion options including the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, which first opened in 1735, Tsavo East National Park, safaris in Kenya -- in one of the world’s largest game sanctuaries, daytrips to see the wildlife at Parc Ivoloina in Madagascar, and a tour of Mombasa Old Town with a spectacular “son et lumièrere” presentation portraying the historical struggles between the Arabs and the Portuguese for control of the city. The routes will offer dolphin-watching trips in Mayotte or the blue safari in Mauritius, exploring the superb barrier reef and coral gardens.

For the 2007-2008 winter cruise season, Costa will position two ships in Dubai, doubling capacity compared to last season, when the company began their unique routes in the region. This season, the 53,000-ton, 1,697 capacity Costa Romantica and the 55,00-ton, 1,830 capacity  Costa Europa will sail from Dubai for a total 25 cruises (15 on the Costa Romantica, 10 on the Costa Europa) with 70,000 passengers handled  (40,000 on the Costa Romantica and 30,000 on the Costa Europa).  The two ships will  operate on the same seven-night cruise itinerary that the Costa Classica sailed in winter 2006-2007, with two nights in Dubai and stopovers in the ports of Muscat (Oman), Fujairah (United Arab Emirates), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Bahrain.  The Costa Romantica will  sail every Saturday from December 22, 2007 through March 29, 2008 while the Costa Europa will depart on Sundays from December 23, 2007 through February 24, 2008.

All of Costa’s  cruises from Dubai offer guided excursions in each port of call, which will give an opportunity for guests to visit some of the most historical, cultural and natural landmarks in the area. The program includes excursions to the desert, visits to some of the most exclusive beaches of the Gulf region, visits to beautiful mosques, historical buildings and museums, tours of the city and their typical markets, and  excursions at sea for dolphin sighting.

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