Costa Cruises (also known as Costa Crociere), considered by many to be Europe's #1 cruise line, is a member of the World's Leading Cruise Lines, a Carnival Corporation company. Costa is the most innovative cruise line in Europe, leading Europe's cruising-world in technological advances and in releasing new cruise ships. "Cruising Italian Style" is their motto, and while on a Costa cruise you're sure to see that they hold true to this notion.
Costa's history is long and interesting. Started way back in the mid-1800's, Costa (then known as "Giacomo Costa fu Andrea") was originally a trading company of olive oil and silks. Costa's name comes from its founder, Giacomo Costa. Eventually, after much success, Costa began transporting goods all over the world. In 1959 Costa introduced the world's first cruise ship specifically used for pleasure cruising, the Franca C. This ship did 7- and 14-Day cruises in the US and the Caribbean.
In 2001 Costa Cruises launched a massive expansion program, leading to the development and launch of six new ships in only six years. By 2010 Costa had spent €4.5 billion since the year 2000, and had introduced 11 ships to its rapidly growing fleet in that time.
A significant feature that Costa offers is "kids sail for free." On select Caribbean sailings Costa offers free cruise rates for children. This has created a significant increase in families taking Costa cruises. There are also various reduced rates for Europe cruises (such as $199) for children as well, also on select sailings.
Among the 14 cruise ships currently in the Costa Cruises fleet, the newest of them are Costa Fascinosa and sister ships Costa Favolosa and Costa Pacifica, the latter of which debuted in 2012.
Costa Europa has become (since April of 2010) a part of the U.K.-based Thomson Cruises brand. Upon this change the ship was renamed Thomson Dream and is now sailing on 7-night Mediterranean cruises out of Palma. Thomson Cruises will be chartering this ship for ten years, with an option to purchase it any time after the first five years. Thomson Dream is the largest ship in the Thomson Cruises fleet.
Costa Cruises was brought to an unfortunate spotlight in the world media in January of 2012. On January 13, 2012 Costa Concordia hit a rock on the Isola del Giglio off of the Italian western coast. The ship had a large hole in it, approximately 164 feet long, and begun to take on water. She was pushed by currents onto the shore of the island and begun to list towards her port-side. The orders to evacuate were given by the captain, Francesco Schettino, but it took multiple hours which is much greater than the cruise line standard of a half hour for evacuations. The ship is in the process of being moved and taken apart for scrap. 32 passengers and crew perished in the disaster and legal action is being taken against the captain for sailing too close to the shore of the Isola del Giglio.
Although Costa is known very well for their European cruises, they actually offer cruises in many popular non-European destinations. For example, there are Costa cruises in the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. In fact, Costa is one of the world leaders in South American cruising.
Costa offers over 350 sailings a year, with 81 different itineraries among them. A typical Costa cruise ranges anywhere from 4- to 17-Nights in length.
Costa is one of the few cruise lines in the world that offer year-round Europe cruises. The Costa Europe cruise itineraries are greatly varied, offering a wide range of choices to their customers. In addition to that, Costa's cruise ships (in Europe) leave from a wide range of departure ports, adding even more options to choose from when planning a Europe cruise.
As previously stated, "Cruising Italian Style" is the motto of Costa Cruises. As such, while on one of the Costa cruise ships you will be frequently reminded of that.
Because of their special free, and reduced, rates for children, Costa attracts a decent amount of families. That is why there is a pretty good kids program onboard their ships. This program separates kids into age-based groups (ranging from ages 3 to 17), and provides them with many supervised activities throughout the cruise.
A special feature on the newer Costa ships is the Samsara Spa. This is a very nice area, featuring top-notch amenities and services. The ships with this spa have special spa cabins and spa suites for passengers that really want to immerse themselves in the spa. Special features for these cabins include flat-screen televisions, special Elemis bath accessories, and a "Welcome Ritual" (featuring unlimited access to the spa and Thalassotherapy pool, two complimentary fitness classes, two sun-lamp sessions, two spa treatments, a special wellness cuisine in an exclusive specialty restaurant, and more).
Costa used to be known as having an almost entirely Italian staff. This is no longer the case, as there is now a much larger mix of international employees throughout Costa. However, you will still most certainly experience a very Italian/Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and ambiance during a Costa cruise.
While on a Costa cruise there is a ton of activities to choose from at night. Whether you want to gamble in the casino, relax in a lounge, or see a show, you're sure to find something enjoyable to do.
Being a European cruise line, Costa's onboard lifestyle is very European. In the past some non-smokers would complain of constant public smoking through the ships. Costa has now limited public smoking to designated areas around the ship, helping to limit such complaints. All of the bars and dining areas aboard the Costa ships are now smoke-free.
Costa is a popular product with families, seniors, and honeymooners. While on a Costa cruise in Europe, the majority of the passengers are European. There are much more North American passengers on a Costa Europe cruise in the Summer months than in the Winter. If you take a Caribbean or South American Costa cruise you will notice that there is a majority of North Americans on the ships, with some Europeans still present. Age-wise, Costa has a wide range of passengers, but their typical passenger is 35+ with a $75,000+ (in the Caribbean) to $100,000 household income (in Europe). Their Caribbean cruises usually attract a younger crowd than their Europe and South America cruises.
Costa Cruises' past passenger program is the CostaClub. It is a point-based system that gives you access to price discounts and exclusive amenities. View our CostaClub page for additional details regarding this program.