Costa Cruises once again demonstrated its leadership position in the Chinese cruise industry by winning the title of the “Best Cruise Operator” at the “2009 China Travel & Meeting Industry Awards”, which were announced on July 31. This prestigious award further confirms the universal acceptance of the Costa brand and services by Chinese consumers and industry peers due to its outstanding performance over the past three years.

Initiated by Travel Weekly China, one of the most influential media in the travel industry, the “Best Cruise Operator” is the only all-round recognition for the cruise industry in the “2009 China Travel & Meeting Industry Awards”. Costa was nominated by a professional jury and finally won the votes of almost 600,000 readers of Travel Weekly China.

As the first international cruise company to enter the Chinese market about three years ago, Costa has quickly gained the widespread approval of Chinese tourists and the industry. Meanwhile, Costa has also established its solid reputation at the helm of the Chinese market. On 25 April 2009, Costa welcomed its second cruise ship to China – the Costa Classica – and continues to navigate the Chinese cruise market as the first and only international cruise company to have two ships simultaneously operating in China. In April and May 2009, Costa Classica successfully ran three chartered cruises for Amway to Taiwan, which were not only the first cross-strait cruise groups in history, but also solid proof of Costa’s excellent operation of MICE groups.

“The winning of such a prestigious award shows recognition of our long-term commitment to China,” said Leo Liu, China General Manager of Costa Crociere, “As the leading brand in the market, Costa continues to bring fabulous cruise holidays to consumers. We are very confident that the new regular Taiwan cruise program recently announced in Hong Kong will provide the next hot spots for Chinese tour groups and MICE travel. We remain optimistic about our growth in China and appreciate the continuing support of our business partners, relevant Government bodies and media friends.”

Costa’s next steps will be to continue to fulfill its responsibilities as a market pioneer and promote the healthy and sustainable development of the Chinese cruise economy. Starting in January 2010, Costa will become the first international cruise company to operate regular Taiwan cruise itineraries for mainland tour groups. The Costa Classica will offer a total of 15 cruises next year departing from Hong Kong and visiting some of Taiwan’s most appealing cities: Taipei, Keelung and Taichung. From then on, Chinese tourists will have even more choices from Costa to experience memorable holidays at sea. In addition, Costa will be increasing its investment by replacing Costa Allegra (25,600 gt and 1,000 total Guests) with the larger Costa Romantica (53,000 gt and 1,697 total Guests) in 2010. In fact, Costa Romantica will join her sister ship Costa Classica in China in June 2010, which will allow even more Chinese tourists to enjoy a wonderful and memorable cruise journey.