MIAMI, FL, Aug 8 â€“ Costa, Europeâ€™s Number One Cruise Line, celebrated the arrival of the Costa Allegra in Shanghai for the first call of the Summer 2008 season from the port with a celebration for the opening of the â€œShanghai Port International Cruise Terminalâ€ and the Italian brandâ€™s 100th cruise in China. Costa was the first international cruise company to operate regular cruises in China and Asia, bringing its special brand of â€œCruising Italian Styleâ€ to the Chinese market. Operations began on July 3, 2006 from Shanghai with the 28,000-ton Costa Allegra. Since then, Costa has completed a total of 121 cruises in Asia, 100 of which were in China with nearly 40% of these from the Port of Shanghai. The Costa Allegra has brought more than 60,000 cruise guests to Shanghai since operating cruises there. Given the success of Costaâ€™s signature experience of â€œCruising Italian Style,â€ Costa will bring a second ship, the 53,000-ton Costa Classica, to Asia and China in March 2009.
In 2008, the Costa Allegra will operate 19 cruises, 14 of these from the Shanghai port and four during the Beijing Olympic Games, which will be broadcast on board the ship on large screens in public areas and in cabins. For 2009, 34 cruises representing an 80% increase are planned for the Costa Allegra and 31 cruises for the Costa Classica.
â€œChinaâ€™s cruise market has good growth potential â€“ Shanghai together with Tianjin (the port of Beijing) will play an important part in this sector due to their role as main ports and economic centers for China,â€ said Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Cruises. â€œCosta was the first to offer cruises in China and chose Shanghai as its home port. This is the city where we began to develop our activities in China and the results of those decisions have gone beyond our greatest expectations.â€ He continued, â€œSince 2006, the Costa Allegra has completed 121 cruises in China and the Far East. Overall, nearly 75,000 guests have taken a vacation on board the Costa Allegra, including nearly 50,000 Chinese guests. These figures are real proof of just how much China and Asia appreciate the quality of the service and the style of our cruises,â€ he added. It is also a concrete example of the worldwide success of our â€˜Made in Italyâ€™ product â€“ 98.28% of our Chinese guests are satisfied or very satisfied with their Costa cruise vacation.â€
The Tourism and Cruise Market in China
Tourism is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the Chinese economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2007 the economic impact of tourism in China amounted to 440 billion USD, or nearly 6% of the worldâ€™s total, generated by tourism. Between 2008 and 2018, this figure should increase at an annual rate of 9.6%. More than 35 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad in 2007. These Chinese tourists represent nearly 6.2% of the worldâ€™s tourism demand. Forecasts indicate that by 2010 there will be more than 50 million Chinese tourists abroad and 100 million by 2020.
According to data from the Ocean Shipping Consultants, an independent research company based in Great Britain, the Northeast Asia cruise market (China, South Korea and Taiwan) will continue to grow at a constant rate. In 2005, it had an estimated 440,000 cruise passengers, a figure which is expected to increase to 720,000 in 2010.
Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal
The new terminal, which will become operational with the arrival of the Costa Allegra, was specially designed to dock international cruise ships. Located along the Huangpu River, it covers a total area of 350,000 mÂ², extends over four floors and can dock up to four cruise vessels at the same time. An ultramodern terminal in terms of efficiency and safety, it will be able to complete immigration procedures at the rate of just 48 seconds per person. The area will also include business centers, hotels, offices and art galleries.
Costa Cruises in Asia
In the Summer of 2008, the Costa Allegra will offer short 4- to 6-night cruises with departures not only from Shanghai but also from Hong Kong and Tianjin. The itineraries include the new destination of Fukuoka (Japan), in addition to Cheju (South Korea), Sanya (China), Da Nang and Cai Lan (Vietnam), Nagasaki and Kagoshima (Japan). These short voyages will be supported by longer 14- and 15-night cruises to the Far East, with calls to ports in Japan, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. These cruises are designed for Chinese and international guests.
Beginning on March 27, 2009, the Costa Classica will offer 31 cruises ranging from 4- to 14-night cruises, with departures from Singapore, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Hong Kong. The various itineraries will include visits to some of the best destinations in Asian countries.
â€œCruising Italian Styleâ€ in Asia
The Costa Allegra offers its Chinese guests the best of â€œCruising Italian Style.â€ Dining options range from the Italian-flavored Amalfi Restaurant, located in one of the shipâ€™s most panoramic vantage points, as well as in two other restaurants and buffets. All include authentic Italian cuisine including fresh, home made pastas and pizzas. Guests may even enjoy Italian cooking lessons with topics including how to prepare the perfect â€œpasta al pestoâ€ and more from Costaâ€™s renowned Italian chefs.
Entertainment options feature Italian touches, including an â€œItalian Night,â€ complete with the election of a â€œMr. Spaghettoâ€ and a song competition during an â€œItalian Festival.â€ A special theater show called â€œMade in Italyâ€ features entertainment inspired by Italian history and traditions. The Costa Allegra shopping area provides guests with the opportunity to purchase major Italian name brands including Armani, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Antica Murrina.
Costa Cruises is Italy and Europeâ€™s number one cruise line. For the past 60 years its ships have sailed the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream vacations with the best in fun and relaxation. In 2007 over 1.1 million guests chose to cruise with Costa, a record for the European cruise industry. The companyâ€™s 12 fleet members, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style, all fly the Italian flag and sail each year to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean. Five more vessels have been commissioned and will enter service by 2012. For reservations or more information, contact a travel agent, call (800) GO-COSTA or visit www.costacruises.com.