Costa Christens History-Making Ship

Costa Cruises’ newest ship pays homage to Italy’s maritime history.

By: Theresa Norton Masek

GENOA, Italy Costa Cruises’ newest ship pays homage to Italy’s maritime history.

The 105,000-ton Costa Fortuna was christened here Nov. 22 by Italian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta, who may be best known to American arthouse fans for her role in the movie “Il Postino.”

The 3,470-passenger Fortuna is not only the largest in the Costa fleet, but also the largest to ever fly the Italian flag. It was built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Sestri Ponente, which has not constructed a ship since the Michelangelo in 1965. It is also the same yard that launched famous ships such as the Italian Line’s Rex and the Andrea Doria.

Italian seafaring history is featured throughout the Costa Fortuna. All public rooms are named after ships and their launch date, such as the Rex 1932 Theater, the Michelangelo 1965 Restaurant and the Saturnia 1927 Spa.

Artwork throughout the ship was inspired by historic cruise posters for Italian liners. Historic ship models also grace the ship, including a 20-foot model of the Michelangelo built in 1965 and a smaller model of the Rex built in 1931.

Particularly impressive is the atrium lounge, which features a towering mural and ship models chronicling the 55-year history of Costa. Every ship the company has ever operated is memorialized in a model hung from the ceiling high above the bar.

In a welcome to visitors on the pre-inaugural sailing, Costa Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi said the line enjoyed a successful 2003 with 557,000 passengers and 102 percent occupancy.

The Costa Fortuna will spend its inaugural year cruising in the Mediterranean, primarily seven-night itineraries to Tunisia, Spain and France.

The Fortuna will spend the winter of 2004-05 based in Fort Lauderdale to operate Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.