In an ironic counterpoint to yesterday's distressing news from rival Festival/First European, the Genoa-based Costa Cruises -- which launched two brand new ships just last year -- has placed an order for a brand new vessel. The 112,000-ton, 3,800-passenger ship is expected to launch in summer 2006. At that time, it will assume the mantel (from CostaFortuna) of not just the cruise line's biggest-ever but also the largest in the history of Italian seafaring.
The new ship will be built at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente shipyard. The company plans to deploy it in the Mediterranean on a year-round basis (similar to the role CostaFortuna is playing now). Highlights will include a wider range of formal and casual dining venues, one of the largest health and wellness centers at sea, and four swimming pools (two will feature retractable domes). The ship will also feature plenty of cabins with balconies; approximately 62 percent of outside staterooms will feature that all-important amenity.