In a move that presages Costa’s expansion from an Italian focused cruise line to one that celebrates a wide swath of Europe, the company inaugurated its new CostaMagica last night: in Barcelona. This marks the first time ever that Costa has launched a ship outside of Italy. As the newest member of Costa Cruises' growing fleet, CostaMagica's launch Saturday evening in Barcelona created the much-anticipated magic (Costa is easily the premier line today in terms of creating genuinely memorable and special launching ceremonies). Spanish TV and movie actress Paz Vega was on hand to perform godmother duties, including breaking a bottle against the 105,000-ton, 2,720-passenger ship.
While in years past wine and more recently Champagne have been used in this ancient seafaring tradition, Mistress of Ceremonies Anne Igartiburu informed the thousand guests present that "in Catalunya, it has to be Cava." (Cava is a sparkling white wine exclusive to Spain.) Vega struck a box to propel the Cava-on-a-rope toward a target of blue and yellow light being projected onto the ship from the pier. The bottle smashed successfully on the first try in the presence of proud head honchos from Carnival Corporation's Micky Arison and Howard Frank to Pier Lughi Foschi of Genoa-based Costa Crociere.
The ship acted as a backdrop for the rest of the evening as well, as images of famous Italian landscapes and artistic masterpieces sprung to life against it in the manner of a drive-in movie, starkly visible against the night sky. A troupe of performers presented the show, entitled "Travel Notebook," atop elaborate on-ground floats and suspended in air by ropes while performing Cirque de Soleil-style acrobatics (a pair pedaling bicycles was truly remarkable). The show was set to five musical sequences, which included some fun and recognizable Italian tunes like "That's Amore" and "Arrivederci Roma." And speaking of music, the festivities kicked off with a pianist keying out a tune while swaying in midair -- with his piano. Blasts of show-ending fireworks topped off the evening, along with a gala dinner and fabulous Flamenco onboard.
Barcelona as its launch location fit the bill perfectly, as that city is a rapidly growing European cruise destination -- particularly for Costa, whose ships will make 125 calls there in 2005. Costa is also pitching in to boost tourism in Barcelona by funding a new cruise terminal, expected to be completed in spring of 2006.
CostaMagica will sail its first "regular" cruise, an eight-night voyage from its Savona homeport, on November 10 (visiting Naples, Messina, Kotor Bay, Venice, Dubrovnik and Corfu). This will be followed by an 11-night grand inaugural cruise on November 18 from Savona (visiting Naples, Alexandria, Limassol, Rhodes, Marmaris, Athens and Olympia; that same itinerary will be offered through Spring 2005.
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CostaMagica Makes Splashy Launch in Barcelona
November 7, 2004