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The European cruise industry continues to expand in 2008

Cruising to Italy continues to rise; Costa Cruises still at No1

With a fleet of 14 ships presently in service, three new ships due for delivery by 2012, a record 1.2 million total guests in 2008 with 1.5 million forecast for 2010, Costa Cruises has once again confirmed its position as the number one cruise line in Europe. The latest figures from the European Cruise Council (ECC) show that the expansion of the industry continues to exceed expectations in terms of impact on jobs, creation of wealth and inbound tourism across the continent…

With a fleet of 14 ships presently in service, three new ships due for delivery by 2012, a record 1.2 million total guests in 2008 with 1.5 million forecast for 2010, Costa Cruises has once again confirmed its position as the number one cruise line in Europe. The latest figures from the European Cruise Council (ECC) show that the expansion of the industry continues to exceed expectations in terms of impact on jobs, creation of wealth and inbound tourism across the continent.

The fourth edition of the “European Cruise Contribution” report shows direct expenditure by cruise companies, shipyards and passengers of 14.2 billion Euros in 2008, an increase of ten percent on that of the previous year. From the total amount, 4.3 billion euros were spent in Italy, showing an increase of 9% compared to expenditure in 2007, deriving the greatest economic benefits from the cruise industry in Europe, 30% of total spending in 2008.

Key to this growth is the increasing number of passengers embarking on cruises from European ports, rising 10% to 4.7 million in 2008. Italian ports remain the busiest in Europe, with up to 1.7 million departing passengers, indicating why Italy remains Europe’s favorite cruise destination (with 23% of the continents 21.7 million transit passenger movements) ahead of Greece, Spain and France.

Europe’s position as the world leader in cruise ship design and construction continues to assist this growth, with the ECC report estimating that during 2008 the global cruise industry spent around 5.2 billion euros on cruise ship construction and maintenance in Europe, of which the lion’s share of 1.5 billion were spent in Italy alone.

European passenger numbers increased by 10% to 4.4 million, consequently increasing the number of people employed in the European cruise industry to approximately 311 thousand, a 15% increase than that of the previous year.

This rapid expansion has witnessed the consolidation of Costa Cruises position as the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s number one cruise line, with a record breaking total of 1.2 million cruise guests (75% Europeans), travelling with the company in 2008.  In 2008 the Costa Crociere S.p.A. Group (comprising the brands Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Iberocruceros) recorded total sales of 2.35 billion Euros (up 17% compared to 2007). Presently Costa Cruises has set its sights on achieving a total of 1.5 million guests in 2010.

Costa Cruises has commissioned MIP, the Milan Polytechnic School of Management, to conduct a study assessing the economic benefits derived from its activity in Italy. According to the initial survey results, the Costa Cruises brand produced a total business output in Italy worth at least 1.1 billion Euros, generated by the port calls of Costa Cruises’ ships, passenger movements to and from airports, general expenditure, transport, fees, taxes and the investment in new ships. Initial estimates suggest that the regions benefiting most from the activity of allied industries last year were Liguria, Lombardy, Latium and Sicily.

Costa Cruises’ leadership is also confirmed by statistics from the main Mediterranean ports.  According to the ECC report, the top six EU cruise ports in 2008 were Barcelona (two million passengers), Civitavecchia (1.8 million passengers), Naples (1.2 million passengers), Venice (1.2 million passengers), Palma de Mallorca (1.1 million passengers) and Savona (772,000 passengers). Costa Cruises’ ships accounted for roughly 30% of the passengers in these leading six Mediterranean ports, with 2.1 million cruisers (embarking, disembarking or in transit) last year.

Costa Cruises remains Europe’s largest and most advanced fleet, with 14 cruise ships with a total guest capacity of 36,000 passengers. The Italian company has the biggest order book of any cruise line anywhere in the world, including five new builds between 2009 and 2012, all commissioned from Fincantieri and under construction in Italy, with an overall investment worth almost 2.4 billion Euros. Three of the new ships are due to join the fleet in less than twelve months, with Costa Luminosa delivered on April 30 soon to be followed by Costa Pacifica on May 29 and  Costa Deliziosa, sister ship of the Costa Luminosa, at the end of January 2010. The two sister ships of Costa Pacifica will join the fleet in spring 2011 and 2012.

AIDA Cruises, the German affiliate of the Costa Cruises Group, also contributes to the development of the European shipbuilding industry. The AIDAluna (68,500 gross tonnage and 2,500 total guests) entered service in March 2009. Another three vessels, each able to accommodate 2,500 guests, are on order from Meyer Werft and due to join the fleet in spring 2010, 2011 and 2012, with a total investment of over one billion euros.

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