May 25, 2001
Is Costa the Carnival of Europe? As a result of the line’s Italian heritage -- even though it’s now owned by Carnival Corp. -- Costa Cruises’ more obvious challenge of late has been to reach out to the American audience. Its new Atlantica, for instance, was the line’s first ship to be designed with Americans in mind. But wait: Carnival’s recent announcement that it will market the Costa Marina -- in itineraries and on-board atmosphere -- specifically to the German market is the latest indication of how important the faster-growing European cruise market has become. In fact, the rapidly-expanding Costa, which already this year has gained vessels from two of Carnival Corp’s family (Carnival Tropicale, Holland America Westerdam), has three new cruise ships on order, including a sister to the highly successful Costa Atlantica and two 105,000-ton vessels. Its fleet, a mix of older vessels combined with spanking-new-contemporary models, resembles Carnival’s own approach, geared to attracting first-timers with varying styles of trips and ships. Costa Marina's new German-oriented schedule, which debuts next spring, will include voyages ranging from 7 to 16 days in length and itineraries that incorporate the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Black Sea from Venice or Savona in the spring and fall, and from Hamburg and Kiel to the Baltics, Russia, Scandinavia and British Isles in the summer. In the winter, the 24,441-ton ship will reposition to the Caribbean to offer weeklong voyages from the Dominican Republic.