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COSTA VICTORIA RETURNING TO EUROPE IN 2018

COSTA VICTORIA RETURNING TO EUROPE IN 2018

After several seasons of being Costa's point ship for opening new itineraries out of China and Japan, the 1996 built Costa Victoria is finally making a welcome return to Europe next year. Though itineraries are still very much in the planning stage, it is anticipated that the ship- the first mega ship to be built for the company- will return to her former haunts in the Aegean and Mediterraenan, probably sailing out of Venice.

Unique to the Costa fleet, the one off Costa Victoria was ordered before the takeover of the line by Carnival Corporation. There was also an order for a sister ship- Costa Olympia- but that feel through, and the uncompleted hull was bought by Norwegian Cruise Line, who had her completed as their Norwegian Sky. The same shipyard- Meyer Werft at Papenburg- then built NCL another ship that has very much the same design; this is the ship currently sailing as the hugely popular Norwegian Sun.

As built, the 70,000 ton Costa Victoria was the largest Italian passenger ship ever constructed. The Costa compnay used to operate her on seven night summer sailings out of Venice and Savona that took in the highlights of the eastern and western Mediteranean and, in this role, she was hugely popular. The ship also uaed to make a regular, five night sailing around Italy in both April and November as she repositioned to another cruising region.

Once Carnival took over, investment in the Costa brand increased massively, with three entirely new, successively larger classes of ships emerging to enter service for the company. These new ships brought bigger passenger capacity, expanded facilities, and obvious economies of scale that simply don't come from a single ship in a class. Inrceasingly, Costa's strategy changed to sending the Costa Victoria out as a kind of maritime pathfinder, establishing the company in previously untapped cruising regions.

In this role, Costa Victoria became the first, large European cruise ship to be based year round in the Far East. As a result, she became enormously popular, and virtually established the current Asiatic cruise boom more or less single handedly. Now, with more and larger ships from almost every major cruise line sailing the region on a year round basis, her initial impact on the China trade has tended to be overshadowed for many.

For all that, the return of this classy, more intimate and European styled ship will remind many people, no doubt fondly, of the 'old' Costa product. It will be interesting to see how she fares in 2018, once she returns to her former cruising grounds.

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