Costa Christens Concordia in Civitavecchia

July 7, 2006
CostaConcordia -- the 11th and largest ship in Costa Cruises' fleet -- was officially named and christened in Rome's Civitavecchia today in a late-night al fresco celebration.

Costa, more than any other cruise line, is known for its extravagant, joyful celebrations -- no banal ribbon cuttings here -- to welcome new ships to the fleet and this event was no exception.

After shipwide cocktails and a black-tie gala dinner, cruise line and shipyard executives, as well as media and travel partners, filed off the ship and into stadium-style seating for the outdoor ceremony. Italian television personality Antonella Clerici emceed the event, and special guests in attendance addressed the crowd in Italian, including Costa Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi, Fincantieri Chief Executive Giuseppe Bono, Captain Giorgio Moretti and Italian Minister of Transportation Alessandro Bianchi.

A cardinal recited a blessing in Italian before godmother Eva Herzigova stepped up to officially name the ship. The Czech supermodel and actress released a bottle of Champagne on a rope, which swung down to shatter against the ship on the first go (breaking bubbly on the hull of a new vessel is an old maritime tradition). The site of impact was illuminated by a spotlight, and images of martini glasses were projected across the 112,000-ton, 2,780-passenger ship's port side.

Eva Herzigova was gifted a luxurious Chopard parure (a matching set of jewelry: necklace, earrings and bracelet); Captain Moretti was given a special bell.

Keeping with Costa tradition, an over-the-top inaugural show followed the ceremony. A lake was actually constructed on Pier 25 for "The Waters of Rome," an outdoor production that celebrated water's role in Italian culture, specifically cinema. Child and adult performers danced in the water, mimicking films displayed on a large movie screen in the background, such as "La Dolce Vita." Above the water, aerialists floated through the air as if by magic (but in reality, by high-wire), while another suspended from a huge helium moon sprinkled "pixie dust" down on the crowd.

A new twist for this inauguration, however, was the addition of a fashion show hosted by Alta Roma, a company aiming to revamp haute couture in Rome. Women in dresses ranging from off the rack (a sparkling, floor-length gown in snowy white) to off the wall (a skirt designed as a map of the earth's continents) paraded up and down a dock-turned-runway.

Fireworks wrapped up the evening (outdoors anyway -- a party began onboard as soon as guests returned, and the disco was still going strong at press time!).

CostaConcordia's maiden voyage is scheduled for July 14; the ship will sail seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Civitavecchia year-round.

Got questions? Check out our special CostaConcordia thread!

Stay tuned later this month for Cruise Critic's "sneak preview" of the ship!