$688m Costa Diadema gets wet and sets sail

Costa Cruises has officially christened its new flagship cruise liner Costa Diadema, which is worth $688 million (£433 million).

On November 7th, at Ponte dei Mille in Genoa’s historic maritime station, the ship was officially named and the ceremony began with a parade of the godmother – Italian travel agent Carolina Miceli – and her international maids of honour, who represented Germany, France, Spain and China.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who is the archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, blessed the ship while Ms Miceli named the vessel and helped to cut the ribbon to start the celebrations. A three-litre jeroboam of Ferrari Gran Cuvee Trentodoc spumante was opened on the bow of the ship to get proceedings off with a bang.

Fireworks and a light show made impressive viewing outside, while inside there was a gala dinner that had a special menu created by Michelin-star chef Fabio Cucchelli.

Costa Diadema

Once the christening had finished, Costa Diadema started to make its way towards its homeport – the Italian port of Savona –
until the 2015 summer Mediterranean season comes to an end.

It will take passengers on seven-night cruises that call at Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Naples and La Spezia.

The vessel weighs 132,500 tonnes, and is more than 300 m long and 37 m wide, making it quite the force to be reckoned with. Inside, there are 1,862 guest cabins and it is hoped that the view over the sea will remind viewers of an Italian resort.

In terms of relaxation facilities on board the Costa Diadema, there’s an arcade with interactive games, a three-level spa and a 500 m open-air promenade that contains restaurants, bars and cabanas.

Evening entertainment consists of the new shipboard production show Sapori d’Italia (Flavours of Italy), where a range of songs from the last 100 years will be performed by 18-year-old baritone Simone Baldazzi, acrobats Celia and Julian and the Phly Boyz.

What’s more, the masked party La Notte in Maschera finishes off the night-time programme of events.

More than 1,000 shipyard workers helped to build the vessel, along with 2,500 subcontractors and 400 Italian interior suppliers from Fincantieri’s Marghera yard.

Costa Crociere chief executive officer Michael Thamm said: “Costa Diadema is our new flagship, and she will set new standards in the European cruise industry and further strengthen Costa’s leadership in Europe. She is the best expression of our new brand positioning: Italy’s finest – its passion and modern Italian lifestyle, hospitality and elegance.”

Concordia, by the numbers

By Tom Stieghorst

Although I’m loath to admit it, numbers can tell a story just as effectively as words sometimes. Or images.

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. So when it comes to the Costa Concordia, the image of the ship being towed to Genoa, Italy, next week will go further than any number of words in showing that the ship is at last floating again and on its way to oblivion.

More intriguing are the numbers. In a graphic compiled by CNN from numbers released by the Costa Concordia’s builder, Fincantieri, and the salvage consortium Titan Micoperi, some numbers are juxtaposed, making for several eye-opening stories.

First are the dollars. Costa CEO Michael Thamm said this week the meter on the Concordia accident has reached 1.5 billion euros, including the cost of demolition and recycling over the next two years. That’s about $2.04 billion at current exchange rates.

According to the CNN graphic, the Concordia took about $612 million to build. By that math, recovering the wrecked Concordia cost more than three times the price of building the new Concordia. Somewhere there’s a lesson there about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.*TomStieghorst

Likewise, the numbers show it took about 20 months to build the 114,000-ton ship at Fincantieri back in 2004, but will take about 54 months, or four-and-a-half years from the time of the accident, to remove and unbuild it.

The graphic shows a loss of 12,000 tourists since the accident in the island of Giglio, but I think that’s misleading. Most of the tourists lost were likely Italians or Europeans from other nearby countries.

The Concordia accident, for better or worse, made Giglio nearly a household name in countries around the world that never heard of it before. I think over the long term it may lead to more tourism, despite the short-term losses.

Another story told through numbers appears dramatic but again is misleading. Of the 500 people who worked on the salvage team, fewer than 12 were locals, according to the graphic.

I have no idea how that count was made, or if it is accurate, but I do know that salvage work of the magnitude involved in raising the Concordia requires world-class expertise, and is not the kind of thing where local hiring outreach makes a lot of sense.

Another set of numbers is also about people: 3,200 passengers, 32 killed, one missing. With that there can be no argument.

Frank named Costa Cruises chairman

By Tom Stieghorst

HowardFrankLongtime Carnival Corp. executive Howard Frank was named chairman of Costa Cruises, succeeding Pier Luigi Foschi in the role.

Both Frank and Foschi retired last year from Carnival Corp. positions. Frank had been vice chairman and chief operating officer. Foschi, in addition to chairing Costa was chairman of Carnival Asia.

Carnival said that in his new role, Frank will support Costa CEO Michael Thamm.

When he stepped down, Frank was named to serve as special adviser to the CEO and to the chairman of Carnival Corp.

Frank is also chair of the executive committee of CLIA.