Costa China Set to Introduce ‘Game Changer’ New Ship

Mario Zanetti

“It is our first newbuild dedicated to the Chinese market,” said Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia, referring to the new Costa Venezia, which debuts in Shanghai next May.  “We are creating a strategy for the new ship and it will be a game changer.”

That strategy is offering Italy at Sea to Chinese guests with a flair of local tastes as well, while a dramatic Venetian-themed interior design brings out the best of Italian culture aboard the 4,232-guest ship, as the company has its eye on the current and future needs of the modern Chinese cruise guest.

With the Venezia arriving in Shanghai, it will take the place of the Serena, which will move to Tianjin in place of the Fortuna, which heads back to Europe.

The Atlantica will concentrate on southern homeports, sailing from Shenzhen and Xiamen, said Zanetti, in an interview with Cruise Industry News.

“Those four ports are our backbone and the way to create accessibility, having homeports in the south, east and north,” he said.

Zanetti has helped lead Costa away from full ship charters in the market, helping to diversify risk while working to create value for travel agencies, he said.

Costa Venezia

“At this stage of the industry it’s largely based on the charter, and it’s not adequate for the sustainable development,” he said. “We are shifting models to reduce the risk and reduce the (size of the charters), to create a win-win culture. We are not only talking but working with our agency partners to help them educate the market.”

Earlier this year the company launched various business-to-consumer programs in China, including a roadshow covering the entire country.

Moving away from full ship charters, he said a good number of agents were now involved in each sailing. Adjusting the model from a supply driven market to a consumer-centric market is key for the long-term development of the industry, Zanetti explained.

With other cruise companies making significant adjustments to their business operations in China, Zanetti said the numbers were promising.

“We are talking about a market where the penetration rate is very low,” he said, noting the growing middle class and their demand for leisure and entertainment options.

“We see our peers reducing deployment, but we are focused on being committed to the market to provide a high-quality and Italian cruise holiday experience. We are confirming this by introducing the Costa Venezia and increasing our capacity next year. That expresses our confidence in the growth and potential of this market.”

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Costa Enters Second Three-Way Agreement in Singapore

Costa Cruises has announced that it has entered its second three-way agreement with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Changi Airport Group (CAG). Costa stated that the three-year partnership will leverage its global presence, Singapore’s cruise hub status and Changi Airport’s air hub connectivity to further enhance Southeast Asia’s appeal as a cruise destination.

The partnership will see joint-marketing initiatives rolled out in different countries where Costa operates worldwide. It is expected to bring in over 100,000 international fly and cruise visitors to Singapore over three years.

Costa currently has four ships deployed in Asia year round. The Costa Fortuna, which has a total capacity of 3,470 guests and is sailing in the Far East, will be homeported at Singapore from mid-November 2018 to March 2019.

In 2017, Singapore welcomed 421 ship calls and logged a passenger throughput of 1.38 million. This represents an increase of 3 percent and 17 percent respectively over 2016 figures, according to Costa.

New Technology: Carnival LNG Bunkering

Cardissa (Photo credit: Kees Helder, Helderline)

With the AIDAnova slated to start regular service in the Canary Islands in December, Carnival Corporation has been working on the LNG bunkering processes and procedures not only for the new AIDA ship but also for the Costa and Carnival ships that will follow.

Carnival has contracted Shell to supply AIDA and Costa with LNG in Northern and Southern Europe and Carnival in Southern Florida. A bunkering solution for P&O’s new ships, which will also be LNG-fueled, was in the discussion stage, according to Tom Strang, senior vice president of maritime affairs.

“Because of the volume we are going to consume, LNG will be supplied by a bunker vessel,” he continued. “Shell already has a bunker vessel, the Cardissa based out of Rotterdam, and has another vessel under contract that is currently being adapted to bunkering.

“There are only six bunkering vessels for LNG in the world of which two will be dedicated to our trade going forward.”

A barge is under construction for bunkering in South Florida that will be ready by the first quarter of 2021.

The LNG capacity of the new cruise ships will be 3,620 cubic meters in three tanks, Strang said. “The typical maximum bunkering load we can take will be just over 3,000 cubic meters which should take from six to 10 hours, a little bit longer than traditional bunkering, but not significantly so.”

The ships will be dual fuel, meaning that will also carry MGO onboard as a pilot fuel and also to satisfy the safe return to port requirements.

In order to bunker, Shell needs approval permits in every port, Strang explained. He described it as a complex process where Shell has to run risk and hazard assessments together with the ports and authorities, unlike bunkering HFO or MGO that do not require a similar approval process.

“As part of the process we have gone through with Shell we have developed a very specific bunkering protocol,” Strang said.

The cruise line’s class society must also approve the procedures as must the class society for the bunkering vessel along with the port and local authorities before permits are granted.

Strang added: “If we had waited until the infrastructure was there before placing orders we would only now be thinking about possible orders. We took the view that this is the best fuel available for environmental performance and a number of other reasons, and then we entered into partnerships to build the infrastructure when and where we need it.”