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 Venezia Poised for Taiwan Stint

Costa Serena

The new Costa Venezia is heading for China in 2019 after her delivery from Fincantieri, and will also spend a month sailing from Taiwan next May, according to local media reports.

The 4,232-guest ship is a sister to the Carnival Vista and will spend next May on charter to a local tour operator in Taiwan, offering cherry blossom-themed sailings to Japan, according to Taiwan media.

The report said the ship would carry around 12,000 guests from Keelung, noting at least one cruise will be an eight-day sailing will include port calls in Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Osaka.

Pictured above: the Costa Serena in Keelung, Taiwan, earlier this month.

Costa Serena Becomes Largest Ship to Dock in Vladivostok

Costa Serena in Vladivostok

The Costa Serena has made history in Russia as it became the largest ever cruise ship to dock in Vladivostok earlier this week, with more than 3,000 guests aboard on a cruise from South Korea’s Busan, also having called in Sokcho.

The ship was chartered by Lotte Tour, a Korean travel agency.

Maiden Call Ceremony in Vladivostok

The Costa Serena’s passengers and crew were greeted by hospitable welcome ceremony, organized by Vladivostok Sea Terminal in partnership with shipping agency, tour operator and prepared by Far Eastern State Technical Fisheries University, which presented their artistic program with drummers, singers and dancers.

Among the VIPs present for the call were the head of tourism in Primorsky Territory Government’ as well as the consul general from the Korean embassy.

The port noted record time for immigration clearance, with all guest being cleared within two-and-a-half hours and the first group in under 30 minutes.

Costa Serena in Vladivostok

Tour programs included the highlights of Vladivostok and a Transsiberian railway experience, among others.

The port and its tour operators arranged 79 total buses and 79 Korean-speaking tour guides for the call.

A maiden call ceremony on the ship included Governor Andrey Tarasenk as well as other local officials and the ship’s officers and CEO of Vladivostok Sea Terminal LLC  Valeryi Nagornyi.

The port is looking forward to dredging and pier improvements ahead of welcoming the Quantum and Spectrum of the Seas in 2019.