Costa Cruises has gained immense popularity in the Middle East and it returns the love by dedicating its most exquisite ship, Costa Mediterranean, to the region every year during the winters. Alessandro Bottaro, Head of Sales & Marketing for Mediterranean New Markets, UK, East Europe, Africa and Middle East at Costa Crociere S.p.A. speaks to TravTalk about the special bond that Costa shares with the Middle East.
Q. How important is the Middle East market for Costa Cruises?
Costa Cruises believes in the region and in the future of the cruising industry here. We pioneered the tradition of cruising holidays here 12 years ago, offering cruises from Dubai, and we are still the only cruise line that has done a ship christening in the region (February 2010 Costa Deliziosa was christened in Dubai) as we strongly believe in the potential of this area. We believe that our product fits perfectly with the needs of the locals and also of the expats living in the Middle East. On board our ships, our guests can find just the right products for any of their needs and desires. For example, our family policy fits perfectly with the needs that a family with children can have. On almost all of our cruises, nothing is charged for the children (up to 18-year old) who share the cabin with their parents (only port charges to be paid).
Q. Can travellers from the Middle Eastern countries personalise their itineraries?
Costa offers cruises to 261 destinations with 137 different itineraries and therefore, it is able to satisfy all possible needs of all the guests coming to be a part of it. Furthermore, we also offer 60 embarkation ports worldwide, giving our guests a huge variety in embarkation options as well.
On board our cruises, we have guests from almost 90 different nationalities. So we have an international environment with an Italian touch in everything on board, this is why our guests will feel at home. We offer customisation option for all of our products to all of our clients, be it for religious preferences, food preferences or any other reason involving their usual needs and habits. For example, for years we have had vegetarian menus and no-alcoholic-beverage packages as offerings on our cruises.
Q. Please share the details of the ship and the itinerary of Costa Cruises for ME for 2017-18.
Costa Mediterranean is the ship that will be positioned in Dubai from December 2017 to March 2018. Inspired by the style of Italy’s historic palaces, Costa Mediterranean represents Italian elegance in its entirety — elaborate in its details and filled with works of art. An example of this is the Argentieri Restaurant, which is unique, spectacular and embellished with 139 artistic pieces of silverware.
There are 1057 rooms on the cruise; out of these, there are 660 cabins and 58 suites which are with private balconies. There are also 4 restaurants, 12 bars, including a Cognac & Cigar Bar and a Wine Bar, an Ischia Spa — a wellness centre on two levels, a gym, treatment rooms, sauna and Turkish bath, UVA-ray solarium, 4 Jacuzzis, 4 pools — including one with a retractable cover, a water slide, a multipurpose sports pitch, an outdoor jogging track, theatre on three levels, a disco, a shopping centre and a casino. With Dubai as homeport and calls in Muscat (overnight), Sir Bani Yas Island and Abu Dhabi, Costa Mediterranean will offer 5- and 7-day itineraries to the guests. They would get to have 2 overnights in Dubai if they go for the 7-day cruise.