Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison and numerous local dignitaries were present for the blessing (which is a tradition in Italy) of CostaConcordia by His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa. Godmother Graziella Frisone, an employee of the shipyard, was on hand to perform the ceremonial champagne bottle break. Alas -- and unluckily -- the champagne bottle did not smash on the hull on its first try. Fortunately, a prescient shipyard worker had another one on hand. This time, the bottle resoundingly splintered.
Then the valves to the dry dock were opened and the gradual flooding began. Now moored to its new home (a dock nearby), shipyard workers will focus on outfitting the ship's interiors.
Beyond its size, what's new and different about CostaConcordia? Our correspondent, on hand for the ceremony, was able to tour the vessel and reports that uber-architect Joe Farcus (who has designed Carnival's ships for years) is theming the interiors around Europe's most architecturally intriguing cities in Europe: Passengers can dine in rooms named after Milan and Rome, dance with the orchestra in Grand Bar Berlin, or sip a cup of coffee at Cafeteria Helsinki.
The 112,000-ton, 3,000-passenger CostaConcordia shares the same dimensions, or platform, as sister cruise line Carnival's Conquest-class ship, but there are some significant differences, too. Because CostaConcordia will sail year-round in the Mediterranean, both of the ships' pools will be outfitted with sliding glass roofs as inclement weather could be a factor in winter months. Other distinctions include Ristorante Samsara, which will focus on spa fare, and one of the huge movie screens that are becoming ubiquitous in cruising; it will be located in the mid-ship pool area. The Samsara Spa, which stretches over two decks, will feature a separate indoor thalassotherapy pool.
A new innovation will be the introduction of a Formula One driving simulator, which will recreate the experience of a genuine Formula One racing car; Costa Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi says that the car will not be a Ferrari, but a "Costa" racing car.
CostaConcordia's maiden voyage is scheduled for July 14, 2006; the ship will sail seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Rome's Civitavecchia year-round.