In a move that will surprise some and baffle a few, Iberocruises’ Grand Celebration will be transferring over to parent brand, Costa Cruises, later this year, The ship is currently in dry dock in Genoa, Italy, where she is undergoing a nineteen day, 4.5 million euro general overhaul involving hull cleaning, some mechanical work, and interior refurbishments.
The ship will be renamed Costa Celebration. The 47, 263 ton, 1,896 pax ship originally started life for Carnival Cruises as the Celebration in the mid 1980’s, and was for many years a staple of the seven day Caribbean circuit.
From November through to February 2015, the newly wrought Costa Celebration will operate a series of fifteen and sixteen day cruises that showcase the highlights of the eastern and western Mediterranean, sailing from Marseille. From April 21st onwards, Costa Celebration will offer a series of eight night itineraries between Venice and Istanbul.
This seems a strange fit for Costa, coming hard on the heels of that company taking over the similar sized, former Grand Mistral, and then remaking her as the Costa NeoRiviera as one half of a more upscale, boutique cruise operation (The other ship is CostaNeoRomantica). However, no plans have been announced yet to incorporate Costa Celebration as a third vessel.
Until November, the ship is so far scheduled to remain with Iberocruises, for whom she is slated to sail on seven night, Venice to Istanbul itineraries.
With all eyes focused on the November christening of the new flagship, Costa Diadema in Genoa, Costa still seems to be trying to settle on a definitive, post Concordia direction. The period of retrenchment is obviously not anything like over yet for the venerable Italian flag carrier.
Costa has for many years been seen as almost exclusively a big ship operator, catering to the mass market in regions including the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Greek Islands, Caribbean, South America and, of late, Asia as well. There was a brief flirtation with small scale that ended abruptly with the cancellation of the Costa Voyager programme of scheduled winter cruises to Egypt and Sinai, and the subsequent sale of that ship to a Chinese company.
Similarly, the original ‘big’ Costa matriach, Costa Classica, is due for a major refurbishment. She was originally intended to be lengthened more than a decade ago; a project only cancelled at the last minute, when the mid section had already been built and the ship was actually in the Irish Sea, en route for Liverpool.
To find out what happens next, please stay tuned.
A report today on the highly reliable Cruise Industry News website states that the soon to be wrought Costa Celebration will, indeed, be getting a new, Costa style yellow funnel to replace the current, former Carnival model.
I’m very grateful to the always excellent and perceptive Phillippe Brebant for pointing me in the direction of this story. Merci, Phillippe.