(5 p.m. EST) -- With less than a month until the end of a year that has undoubtedly been difficult for Costa Cruises, keel-laying began Monday for the line's newest flagship, Costa Diadema, which, at 132,500 tons and 4,947 passengers, will be the largest Italian-flagged cruise ship afloat.
The vessel, slated for completion in October 2014, is being constructed at Italy's Fincantieri Shipyard. The prototype for a new class of ship, it will be larger than those in the line's most recent Concordia class, which was capped with the release of 114,500-ton, 3,000-passenger Costa Fascinosa earlier this year.
"The construction of the Costa Diadema is a tangible commitment to the future growth of our company," says Michael Thamm, CEO of the line, which struggled to maintain a steady flow of bookings during the early part of the year, following the tragic capsizing of Costa Concordia.
Diadema's construction will create nearly 3,500 jobs, most of them local.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor