Full-Speed Ahead

Costa exceeds booking record

By: By Marilyn Green

During the first seven weeks of Costa’s Online Sales Training Academy (C.O.S.T.A.) more than 400 agents have earned their degrees after studying seven in-depth chapters covering everything from Costa’s 60 years of history to today’s present fleet of 12 ships (five are currently on order) and how to best sell groups with Costa, including information on how they may earn up to 17 percent commissions with Amore Points.

Graduating from C.O.S.T.A. brings rewards including a three percent bonus commission for one year after graduation (not to exceed 17 percent commission), five CLIA certification credits, the opportunity to earn 3.5 CEUs for agents participating in The Travel Institute’s certification program, a C.O.S.T.A. Specialist Diploma and Logo and a chance to win a cruise for two on one of Costa’s inaugural cruises in 2009 aboard either the Costa Pacifica or Costa Luminosa.

Costa announced that the line reached a million guests in 2008, five weeks earlier than last year, establishing a new record. The 2007 achievement was a first for the company — which had never carried this many guests in a 12-month period over its 60 year history — and a record for the European cruise industry as a whole.

Costa expects to end 2008 with a 6 percent increase of total guests compared to the 1.1 million in 2007. This rise is in line with the extra capacity offered this year (and generated by the year-long availability of Costa Serena, which entered service in May 2007).

The company’s next objective is to reach 1.5 million total guests in 2010, which amounts to growth in excess of 35 percent in three years. The strategy is supported by a major fleet expansion program of five new ships due for delivery by 2012, with a total investment worth more than 3.5 billion dollars. The enhancements are expected to lead to a 50 percent increase in the capacity of the fleet, which will be 17 strong by 2012 with berths for 46,400 guests.

This expansion also is fueled by new itineraries introduced by Costa, the first operator in the world to market cruises in the Far East with departures from China, in the UAE from Dubai and in the Indian Ocean with departures from Mauritius.