(11:15 a.m. EST) -- Costa Cruises has announced that its newest ship, Costa Deliziosa, will be named in Dubai -- the first-ever cruise ship to be inaugurated in an Arabian city.
The ceremony will take place on February 23, 2010, after which the ship will be based in the Emirate until May, operating a series of seven-night cruises to Muscat, Fujairah, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
Costa was one of the first cruise lines to experiment big-time with Dubai as a winter sun cruise destination (though Royal Caribbean was quick to follow). Starting in 2006 with Costa Classica, the project was success, with 44,000 mainly Italian, German and British passengers escaping the chilly European winter for a dose of sun, sand and shopping.
This number is predicted to increase to 140,000 over the coming winter, thanks to the presence of three Costa ships: the new Deliziosa; its sister, Costa Luminosa; and the older Costa Europa. These ships will make 32 total calls at Dubai's brand-new cruise terminal in Port Rashid and bring an estimated 14 million euros' worth of direct economic impact to the destination.
This may seem ambitious in view of the troubles facing Dubai, which have been widely reported in the media and here on Cruise Critic. Stories include the slowdown of the Emirate's massive phase of hotel construction, the artificial island The Palm lying neglected and unfinished -- and shelved plans to turn the QE2, which was "retired" to Dubai in November 2008, into a floating hotel.
But Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry, director overseas promotions and inward missions, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), claimed in a press conference in London yesterday that the visitors keep coming; 3.85 million of them in the first half of this year, a healthy increase on 2008, when seven million came over the period of 12 months.
Details of the naming ceremony are yet to be finalized, but Al Geziry hints that it will (hardly surprisingly) have "an Italian and Arabian nights theme." What's exciting for Costa fans is that guests on the first leg of the grand maiden cruise, a 20-day voyage from Savona, Costa's home base, to Dubai, will be able to participate in the naming ceremony.
Costa has made a point of naming several of its ships in different ports to emphasise its "European-ness"; Costa Magica, for example, was named in Barcelona in 2005 and Costa Serena in Marseilles in 2007. "The naming ceremony of our 15th ship, Costa Deliziosa, in Dubai confirms our strategy while strengthening the partnership between Costa Cruises and DTCM," said Costa's vice president, corporate marketing and communication Fabrizia Greppi in a press statement.
The 92,000-ton Costa Deliziosa is currently under construction in Venice. Its interiors will be done by Joe Farcus, who is responsible for the lavish, glitzy themes on all of Costa's newer ships, as well as those of Carnival Cruise Line. Facilities on board will include a 4D cinema, a golf simulator, a Grand Prix driving simulator and PlayStation World, an area dedicated exclusively to PlayStation3.
After the Dubai season, the ship will sail in the Baltic. U.K. fans have two opportunities for cruising to or from a British port, with sailings calling at Harwich propping up either end of the season, one on May 27 from Savona to the U.K. and a second from Harwich to Savona on September 14.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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Dubai Naming Ceremony for Costa's Newest Ship
November 10, 2009