According to figures issued on 14th September in Brussels by the European Cruise Council, at the official presentation of the fifth edition of the annual report of the European Cruise Contribution, for the year 2009, Europe is becoming more and more important in the global cruise industry. In 2009, the European cruise market reached 4.9 million cruisers (+12.1% over 2008 and +50% over the last 5 years). Consequently, at the moment, Europeans account for about 30% of cruise passengers worldwide.
In 2009 our continent grew also in terms of place of embarkation, with 4.8 million passengers departing on cruises from European ports in 2009 (+3.2%), and destination, with estimates of almost 24 million passenger visits in European ports (+9.4%). Italy and Greece are Europe’s favorite cruise destinations, each boasting 20% of the continent’s passenger visits, followed by Spain (17%) and France (8%). The upshot of the positive trend in 2009 was further growth in the overall economic impact of the European cruise industry, which accounted last year for around 300,000 jobs and was worth an estimated 34 billion Euros total output (+5.9% compared to 2008).
In this context the Costa Crociere S.p.A. Group, with 1.8 million guests in 2009 and forecasts of 2.1 million total guests in 2010 (approx. +17%), has confirmed its leadership and its role as the driving force in Europe, thanks to the brands Costa Cruises (no.1 in Italy and in Europe), AIDA Cruises (leader for the German-speaking market) and Iberocruceros (operating for the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking markets).
As far as concerns Costa Cruises, the Italian brand has recorded bookings for summer 2010 which are up by as much as 10% compared to the same period in 2009, and the trend is equally encouraging for the rest of the year.
Over 75% of Costa Cruises’ customers are Europeans and the brand is the market leader in Italy, which, according to the ECC report, is the continent’s most important country for the cruise industry. Italy is the most important cruise destination in Europe, with 20% of the continent’s passenger visits, and Italian ports are the busiest in Europe, with 1.7 million departing passengers (about 35% of the European total of 4.8 million). The Italian cruise market comprises almost 800,000 cruisers. Costa Cruises, operating in more than 10 main ports in Italy, is the leading player both in terms of passenger visits, with around 2.6 million passenger visits in 2009 that will grow to 2.9 million in 2010, and in terms of embarking cruisers, with 40% of total cruisers embarking in Italy.
Accordingly, Italy is also the nation that derives the greatest economic benefits from the cruise industry in Europe. In 2009, direct expenditure by cruise lines, shipyards and passengers in Italy amounted to 4.3 billion euros, roughly 30% of total European spending (14.05 billion euros), and was basically in line with the figure recorded in 2008 (when Costa Cruises produced total business output in Italy worth 1.1 billion euros). The result for 2009 reflects the dynamic role of Italian shipyards, which largely outperformed their foreign competitors. 2009 was also the year in which Costa Cruises inaugurated two ships on the same day in Genoa – Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa, both built in Italy by Fincantieri with a total investment worth approximately 1 billion Euros.
Investments in new ships
The findings of the ECC’s European Cruise Contribution 2009 include the critical impact of the global economic downturn, with a decrease in investments in new buildings at European shipyards, that drop to 4.6 billion euros (-13%).
Costa Crociere S.p.A. has the largest fleet development plan of any European operator and is the only cruise group to have an order book comprising a ship due for delivery in 2013. The new ship (71,300 gross tonnage and 2,192 Guests/lower berths) is for the AIDA Cruises brand and was ordered from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany in August this year. The new ship is currently the only European new build scheduled after 2012.
The expansion program was launched back in 2000. Based on the current size of the fleet, in three years’ time the Group will have 30 ships in service with capacity of over 74,000 total Guests. In overall terms, the fleet investment program is worth more than 9.6 billion euros.
With regard to the fleet development plan for the Costa Cruises brand, since 2000 the Group has introduced 13 new ships, including three ships delivered in less than 12 months between 2009 and 2010, and two more – the Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa (114,500 gross tonnage sister ships with 3,780 total Guests each) – currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, which will enter service in summer 2011 and spring 2012, respectively. The construction of each new building entails an investment exceeding 500 million euros and involves the labor of around 3,000 people, comprising both Fincantieri’s own employees and those of about 500 contracted suppliers, most of which are Italian firms.
Costa Cruises’ leadership also extends to the field of environmental sustainability, a topic that was the subject of a special session at the European Cruise Council 2010 Brussels Conference.
The Italian Company’s important results obtained in 2009 will be set out in the forthcoming edition of its Sustainability Report, which is due for publication before the end of the year.
The Report will highlight various achievements, including the following:
* a 9% reduction (compared to 2008) in fuel consumption (measured in relation to the size of the fleet and the total nautical miles sailed) with a consequent drop in CO2 produced;
* a substantial fall (-24% compared to 2008) in greenhouse gas emissions derived from the use of refrigerants; and a large decrease in the production of ozone-depleting substances (-9% compared to 2008).
* Further success has been obtained in the area of shipboard waste management with reductions in the amount of garbage produced per day per person (about 9% less than in 2007) and in the production of special waste (-14% compared to 2008).
On board the ships in the fleet, 100% of solid waste is collected separately for recycling and no special waste is ever discharged overboard. Waste recycling is a top priority and Costa promotes and supports agreements and projects to this end in the different ports of call.
The Costa fleet is among the most advanced in the world in terms of environmental design, management, compliance and energy saving. The most recent additions – the Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa, together with the future flagship Costa Favolosa, under construction in the Fincantieri yard in Marghera (Venice) and due for delivery in summer 2011 – are the first vessels in Italy and among the first in the world to be equipped for “cold ironing”, namely a system whereby the ship is plugged into shoreside electrical power, enabling generators to be shut down during stopovers in port.
Costa’s initial efforts for environmental compliance excellence were undertaken about 10 years ago. One of the early milestones was the attainment of “B.E.S.T. 4” certification in 2004. Later, all the ships in the Costa Cruises fleet were assigned the Green Star notation certifying compliance with the highest environmental protections standards. Over the years, the Italian company’s commitment to social accountability and environmental sustainability has also led to the establishment of important partnerships. Costa Cruises has been an official partner of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Italia for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea since July 2005. In 2009 the partnership was extended with the objective of setting up a network of new marine protected areas in the Mediterranean. In this connection, in July this year Costa announced that it was participating in the pilot REPCET project (the first and only cruise line in the world to take part), a reporting system aimed at reducing collisions between ships and whales while tracking their movements.