Oosterdam berthed at Port Chalmers yesterday. Photo by Jane Dawber.
The largest cruise ship operator in the world, the Carnival
group, has been well-represented here, with a ship in port
each day since last Wednesday.
The sister ships Dawn Princess, Sea Princess
and Sun Princess were followed by the larger
Diamond Princess, all from the Princess Cruises fleet.
And yesterday, the Holland America Lines Oosterdam
returned on its third visit.
However, on Thursday, another member of the group, Costa
Crociere SpA (the Costa Cruise Line), of Genoa, will make its
debut here with the arrival of Costa neo Romantica.
With the exception of the Japanese-built Diamond
Princess, the other vessels mentioned were all built in
Italy by the state-owned Fincantieri shipyards. This week's
220.52m long newcomer entered service in September, 1993, and
was built in Venice. It was designed to carry 1782 passengers
in 678 cabins and operate at 20 knots. Four eight-cylinder
Sulzer diesels with a total output of 48,944hp have slip
couplings and single gearing to two propeller shafts.
The ship served as Costa Romantica until November,
2011. It was taken out of service to undergo a 90 million
($NZ144 million) refurbishment by the San Giorgio del Porto
yard, at Genoa. At the same time two new half decks were
added to the vessel and these increased the gross tonnage
from 53,049gt to 56,769gt. The ship was renamed Costa neo
Romantica before returning to service last March.
In 1997, the Costa Crociere was bought by the American firm
Carnival Corporation and the English company Airtours. Each
held a 50% stake in Costa and this increased the investment
capacity of the Genoese company while maintaining its
identity as an Italian one. Carnival purchased the Airtours
shares in September, 2000.
Today, Costa has 14 ships in service. It also controls the
nine ships operating under the German AIDA Cruises brand,
plus three employed by Iberocruceros, which caters for the
Portuguese and Spanish speaking markets.
While people today might associate the Costa name only with
cruising, it has been around for nearly 160 years. It started
off in 1854 under the name of the founder, Giacomo Costa fu
Andrea, who started out trading fabrics and olive oil between
the markets of Genoa and Sardinia.
The company later expanded services to other areas and later
became more widely known as Linea C. And in the 1930s the
tradition of naming ships after family members was
In 1948, the company inaugurated commercial services to North
America; then five years later extended them to South
Four years later it turned its attention to passenger
vessels, which it introduced to the South American run. The
company added new ships to this service over the years.
Eventually the family ''C'' names disappeared in favour of
the Costa prefix, adopted when the company made the decision
to become a full-time cruise ship operator.
Today the Costa fleet is made up of vessels built between
1991 and this year.
They also have one on order for completion in 2014, a
132,500gt vessel that will be the largest ordered for the
line. These modern vessels are indeed an interesting contrast
to the first unit of the fleet used from 1959 exclusively for
cruising, a vessel that is still afloat at the grand old age
This historic vessel, the 6549gt Franca C, carried 354
passengers in air-conditioned accommodation on cruises mainly
in the waters of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The ship
served in the Costa fleet from 1953 to 1977.
The ship was built by the Newport News yard in 1914, as the
steamer Medina for the Mallory Steamship Company, of
New York. After serving it until 1948 the ship was
reconstructed as the passenger and emigrant carrier Roma.
After buying the vessel, Costa had it converted to a
considerably high-powered motor ship with a service speed of
15.5 knots. And when it sold it in 1977 the ship became
well-known throughout the world as having the biggest
floating library in the world.
The new German owner, Gute Bucher fur Alle, renamed the
vessel Doulos on the Maltese register. From April 5 to
27, 1989, it made its only visit to Dunedin. Retired from
service in Singapore in late 2009, the ship was handed over
to a new owner in Singapore on March 18, 2010, for
preservation and in now named Doulos Phos.