The day started off with a press conference at which Costa was gifted with a Guinness Book of World Records Award for a brand new category: "most ships inaugurated in one day by one company." This was not without controversy because, as we noted in our earlier report this week, Costa's actually the third cruise line to host a double christening. (NCL inaugurated Norwegian Star and Norwegian Sun in 2001 and P&O welcomed Adonia and Oceana in 2003.) It is, however, the first cruise company to debut two ships at one time in Italy.
The real highlight of the day for christening guests and passengers onboard Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa was a rare opportunity to visit the "other" ship. Hundreds of us, who'd been cruising on Costa Pacifica for a short, pre-inaugural warm-up, trooped over to Costa Luminosa, docked on the other side of the pier. (Equal throngs debarked from Luminosa to visit Pacifica.) That ship, which has been cruising since May, not only is brand new but is a fresh prototype for the line. (Interestingly, Costa's positioning Luminosa as a more upscale design for its better-heeled customers; stay tuned for our "sneak preview.")
The evening's warm-up began at cocktail hour as guests and passengers headed for upper decks on both ships -- and people all over Genoa stopped working, eating and talking to crane necks skyward -- to watch an aerial display by Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force Squadron. It was both terrifying and exhilarating as nine planes flew in various formations. In one maneuver, the fleet thundered over the ships' mid-ships in a pyramid, spewing plumes of green, red and white exhaust in honor of Italy's national colors. In another, they drew a huge red heart in the sky. In one acrobatic display, the nine planes flew a mere two meters apart. The last stunt was executed as Luciano Pavarotti's "Nessun Durma" bellowed.
The ritual bottles of bubbly were to have been delivered by paratroopers, who would be landing on a glass magrodome roof on each vessel. Alas, blustery winds put a kibosh on that event, but I don't think the crowd even noticed.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief