Costa Celebrates 50 Years of Cruising from South Florida

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MIAMI, Dec. 18, 2008 -- In 1959, Costa Cruises became the first cruise line to offer regularly scheduled Caribbean cruises from Port Everglades with the elegant Franca C. When the Costa Fortuna sails into Port Everglades this December 21, she will celebrate Costa's 50th Caribbean cruise season from South Florida.

"We're proud to bring a little bit of Italy to South Florida each year with our seasonal departures from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean and value the loyal clientele we've established in this market over the years," said Maurice Zarmati, president and ceo of Costa Cruise Lines-North America. "Our modern, state-of-the-art ships may differ from the smaller vessels that set sail in these waters 50 years ago, but one thing remains the same - our warm, authentic and genuine Italian hospitality and flair that keeps guests sailing with us year after year."

The convivial atmosphere onboard back in 1959 aboard the Franca C was marked by Italians and Americans mixing and mingling against a glamorous tropical backdrop. The 552 berth ship featured sleek, elegant interiors designed by Nino Zoncada and accommodations, all in one class, featured bathrooms and air conditioning, heralding a new era of pleasure cruises. Guests sipped cocktails and played cards on the lido deck, creating the indelible impressions of cruising's heyday that would eventually become a more accessible luxury for guests to enjoy.

Today, Costa Cruises is still bringing its signature style of "love, laughter and la dolce vita" to guests departing on cruises from South Florida. The Costa Fortuna is beginning her second season from Port Everglades on December 21, offering seven-night cruises on rotating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through March. Drawing inspiration from the grand Italian liners of yesteryear that provided regular passenger service between Italy and the Americas, the 105,000-ton Costa Fortuna combines nostalgia and a refined atmosphere into a stunning modern framework. With a double capacity of 2,720, the Costa Fortuna features 1,359 cabins -- 857 ocean view and 458 with large verandas. The ship offers guests a stunning array of facilities including 11 bars, 4 restaurants, a theater extending over three decks, three swimming pools, a casino, disco, ballroom and a gym.

Costa's unique and authentic onboard Italian flair provides guests with a feeling of "Italy in the tropics" on its Caribbean routes. For many, sailing Costa offers a "new" way of experiencing the Caribbean ports of call they know and love -- bringing to mind the romance and warmth of Italy without having to cross the Atlantic.

From homemade pastas and delectable desserts, to Italian greetings including "buon giorno" in the morning and "buona sera" in the evening, the "amore" of the old world stays with guests long after they disembark from their cruise. Festive onboard activities include everything from on-deck bocce ball games, tarantella dancing under the stars and Italian cooking lessons during "Festa Italiana," to the famous "Roman Bacchanal" soiree, where guests don tasteful togas and celebrate as the Romans did centuries ago.

Costa Cruises is Italy and Europe's number one cruise line. For the past 60 years its ships have sailed the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream vacations with the best in fun and relaxation. In 2007 over 1.1 million guests chose to cruise with Costa, a record for the European cruise industry. The company's 12 fleet members, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style, all fly the Italian flag and sail each year to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean.

Five more vessels have been commissioned and will enter service by 2012. Costa Cruises has been certified by RINA (Italian Shipping Register) with the BEST4, an integrated system of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards governing social accountability (SA 8000, issued in 2001), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 1996), safety (OHSAS 18001, 1999) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000). All Costa's ships have been awarded RINA's voluntary "Green Star" notation based on the highest environmental protection standards. Costa Cruises is also an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil.