Costa Cruises Unveils Newest and Biggest Ship; Rules Out U.K. Presence

November 15, 2013

(10:15 a.m. EST) -- Costa Cruises unveiled its future flagship and the biggest ship ever built in Italy, Costa Diadema, today in Venice.

The 132,500-ton, 4,947-passenger Costa Diadema will become Costa's biggest ship when it comes into service October 30, 2014.

Costa hopes it will restore the brand's image post-Concordia and attract new markets and customers to the line.

Speaking at a news conference in Venice following the float out, CEO Michael Thamm said: “Costa's back. We're filling ships and raising prices. We're back to where we were before the (Costa Concordia) incident, and booking levels are ahead.”

He said, though, much work still needs to be done to repair the brand's image, particularly in Germany, one of its biggest markets.

“Germany is one of the most difficult markets. After the incident the brand was hit, and we had to convince customers that we are reliable and safe and we are seeing progress with that.”

The CEO also said the company has no plans to expand into the U.K. market, despite a presence in 80 worldwide markets and 250 ports.

“We can't be everywhere," Thamm said. "We believe our focus should be on continental Europe where we have a market share of 45 percent.

“Carnival Corp. has three very strong brands (P&O Cruises, Cunard Line and Carnival Cruise Lines) in the U.K. We have no presence in the U.K, so there would be no strategic function for us.”

Diadema is the same size and shape as Carnival's Dream Class ships, but Costa is not labeling it as this, nor would Thamm be drawn on whether there will be a "Diadema 2."

He described the ship as “our most modern and most ambitious.”
“It gives us a lot in terms of brand development and attracting new customers,” he added.

The ship has been in the planning and construction stage for three years, and it will be a year before it is launched.

The ship's standout feature, as designed by veteran Carnival designer Joe Farcus, will be the Deck 5 outdoor Promenade. Similar in style to Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway and Getaway ships, the outdoor area will features bars, restaurants and cabana seating areas.

It also will have a number of new-to-Costa food and wine areas including Vinoteca, a Birreria, Pizzeria and Gelateria, and a Japanese Teppanyaki. It will also feature a three-deck Samsara Spa.

Farcus said he preferred “evolution” rather than some of the “gimmicks” he says are on some new cruise ships.

The ship will also be environmentally advanced, with scrubber technology, which should reduce energy consumption by 40 percent per passenger per day. All the lighting will be LED, which requires less power and less fuel.

Diadema will sail seven-day Mediterranean round-trip itineraries from Savona, staring in October next year.

Also at the news conference:

•Responding to several questions regarding the ban on big ships in Venice, Thamm said: "We won't quit Venice. We'll dedicate our smaller ships to Venice."

•When asked where Concordia will be towed to be scrapped, a scrapyard in Italy or Turkey, he would only say: "I can't say how, when or where this will happen yet. All I can say is be patient; all the contracts are out for tender. When this process is completed, we will see."

•Thamm confirmed one of its oldest ships, Voyager, would be sold off: "Voyager will finish its employment with Costa. Our decision to pull out of the Red Sea confirmed this for us."

Costa Victoria has completed a three-week dry-dock refurbishment in Singapore and will be deployed in the Asian market.

--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor