April 26, 2008

Costa Celebrates 60 Years of Cruising

Stepping aboard the mighty Costa Serena, an 114,500 ton superliner carrying nearly 3800 passengers on luxury Mediterranean cruises, it’s difficult to imagine the long and sometimes difficult history that brought the Costa name to this point.

Celebrating the pre-eminent Italian cruise line’s 60th anniversary this year is something of a modest announcement because the Costa maritime connection extends back to 1854 when the family bought their own vessel to expand their olive oil and textile enterprise.

The Costa fleet grew and travelled far and wide and just before the Second World War the family company owned eight ships. The fierce Mediterranean conflict all but destroyed the company, leaving them with just one vessel. However, demand placed upon the few remaining vessels was enormous and Italian shipbuilding – and Costa – were soon back in full swing with a new emphasis on passenger transport.

In 1947, the cruise line ‘Linea C.’ was born with the steam ship Maria C., quickly followed by Anna C.. Luisa C. and Franca C. were added to the fleet as well as new destinations in the Americas. During the fifties, Costa developed a reputation for lavishly decorated, art nouveau style ships that were much more than mere transportation. This reputation is continued to this day with all the current vessels. Costa Serena, the newest, is styled on classic mythology.

Jupiter, the god of light and skies, gives his name to the high-tech theatre; Apollo, the god of music and song adorns the main bar and dance floor; Venus, fittingly sponsors the beauty salon, while Giano, the Romans’ two-faced divinity presides ominously over the casino.

One of the significant points of difference in this latest Costa offering is the Samsara Spa and Wellness concept which includes premium cabins and staterooms, dining and spa access. The Samsara Spa itself is enormous, occupying over 2000 sqm, and acknowledging that the latest trends in land-based hospitality are extending offshore.

Launched amid great fanfare in Marseilles on May 19, 2007, Costa Serena is the latest in the hectic Costa build programme that will bring the fleet to 15 vessels by 2010. Following her slightly smaller sister, Costa Concordia, she will be followed by the similarly massive, Costa Luminosa in 2008.

But Costa’s expansion is not restricted to just building magnificent new vessels. Giacomo Costa, the family founder, would be astonished at the growth of his vast empire. A regional office now exists in Hong Kong, where the line’s current vessel, Costa Allegra, will be reinforced by the much larger, Costa Classica, in 2009 thanks to the runaway success of the company’s Asia cruise program.

To service the empire, communication, logistics, personnel and provisioning all take on a whole new scope. Even booking the thousands of new passengers and leisure cruisers requires vastly new systems.

In co-operation with leading Australian-based cruise agency, ecruising.travel, enormous technological leaps have occurred in computer and on-line bookings.

Independent travellers can now log on to www.ecruising.travel , check out cabin availabilities in real time and complete their booking and payment – instantly!

Cruisers who prefer to use a trusted travel agent can have their agent perform the task on their behalf and leave the agency with confirmed tickets in hand in the time it takes to order and drink a cappuccino.

Who said over-50s don’t like computers? ecruising.travel were recently confirmed by Internet research firm, Hitwise Australia, as receiving the highest percentage of traffic in the Travel - Destinations and Accommodation industry from Australian Internet households in the 55-plus age bracket.

Book your next Costa cruise with the acknowledged leaders in on-line travel – ecruising.travel

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