- New 114,500-tonne Costa Fascinosa is a floating city with a shopping centre, five restaurants, 13 bars, casino rooms
- Carnival brushes off concerns liner is too big, saying it is giving customers what they want
By Tom Gardner
PUBLISHED: 17:21 EST, 5 May 2012 | UPDATED: 19:36 EST, 5 May 2012
Images from the horrific Costa Concordia disaster sent shock waves around the world, overnight delivering a devastating blow to the cruise line industry.
But the owners of that doomed vessel hope the delivery of a new massive flagship will revive its fortunes.
Operator Costa Crociere – owned by the Carnival Cruise Lines – launched Concordia’s sister ship, the 114,500-tonne Costa Fascinosa.
Massive: The 114,500-tonne Costa Fascinosa, built by state-owned shipyard Fincantieri, has space for 3,500 passengers
Luxury: Costa Fascinosa, which will make its inaugural cruise on May 11, is a floating city with a shopping centre, five restaurants, 13 bars, casino rooms and more
Built by state-owned shipyard Fincantieri, it has space for 3,500 passengers. An even bigger vessel, with 5,000 berths, should be ready in 2014 for a company that says bookings have recovered from the crisis.
‘We can’t ignore the January accident. It hit us hard. We are working on safety issues,’ Costa CEO and Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters in a spacious bar onboard the Fascinosa with a view over Venice’s lagoon.
In January, the Costa Concordia hit a reef near the island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast, capsizing and killing at least 30 people in an accident investigators say was caused when its captain Francesco Schettino took the ship too close to shore.
The accident rocked the cruise liner industry, hitting bookings and raising concerns about the safety of the huge modern cruise ships that ply the seas with thousands of passengers aboard.
Publicity drive: Carnival brushed off concerns that liners have grown too big, saying it is giving customers what they want
Disaster: The Costa Concordia tragedy, which killed about 30 people, dealt a serious blow to the cruise line industry
What customers want: A view of one of the bars £415million Costa Fascinosa cruise ship
For Costa Crociere, which last year carried 2.3 million passengers, it could hardly have come at a worse time, with the global economic crisis already making potential cruise customers nervous about their jobs and finances.
The company actually stopped marketing for a period but now says customers are flowing back.
‘Despite the economic downturn and the impact on consumption Costa has bounced back and booking volumes are back to the same levels recorded this time last year,’ Foschi said.
Costa has promised to introduce a real-time route-monitoring system, which will be later adopted by parent group Carnival Corporation & Plc, and a system to increase sharing of the ship’s navigation plan between the captain and the officers.
‘We do not want to radically change the responsibilities of the captain but simply allow other officers to give opinions,’ Foschi said.
Some of the Concordia officers have said they raised the alarm day but that Schettino dismissed the scale of the danger.
Glamour: The £415million Costa Fascinosa cruise ship has enough capacity for 3,800 passengers and is now the largest Italian-flagged cruise ship
Fortunes: Carnival Cruise Lines hopes the glitz and luxury of its new Costa Fascinosa ship will go some way to restoring its battered reputation
Launch: People attend the unveiling of the Costa Fascinosa, the new flagship of the Italian passenger fleet Costa Cruises built at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard, in Venice
Reputation: A navigation officer sits on the bridge of the new Costa Fascinosa ship which has been launched by Carnival – the company at the centre of the Costa Concordia tragedy
Wreck: The devastating Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster resulted in at least 30 deaths when the ship ran aground off the west coast of Italy, at Giglio island on January 14
The Costa Fascinosa, which will make its inaugural cruise on May 11, is a floating city with a shopping centre, five restaurants, 13 bars, casino rooms and more.
Carnival brushed off concerns that liners have grown too big, saying it is giving customers what they want.
Carnival’s Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said: ‘It’s true some people go for smaller ships for premium and luxury cruises but the bigger liners create additional amenities and they are the preference. They’re here to stay for quite some time.’
Protesters in Venice, where the Fascinosa was built, have called for large vessels to be banned from sailing in the Lagoon waters in front of St. Mark’s square because of the environmental damage they cause.
There are also concerns of damage to tourism in Giglio where the Concordia will lie for some time. The company says the ship can be towed away in nine months.
Carnival says the cruise industry is something of a lifeline for Italy’s flagging labour market, not just for the tourists it brings but for the shipbuilding industry too.
‘In the last 23-24 years Carnival has invested some $24 billion in building ships in Italy, I think that’s the largest investment made in the country by any one company,’ Frank said.
Carnival has five new ships being built by Fincantieri.
Blessings: The launching of the 114,500-tonne Costa Fascinosa is intended to revive Carnival Cruise’s reputation