The Costa Fascinosa, the latest ship to join the fleet of Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com), Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s no. 1 cruise company, today touched the water for the first time during her technical launch ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera.
Once the work to fit out her interiors has been completed, the Costa Fascinosa (114,500 gross tonnage and a total capacity of 3,800 passengers) will depart on her first cruise on 2nd May 2012. About 3,000 employees and 7,000 workers from linked industries are contributing to the construction of the ship, and most of the companies involved in the shipbuilding activities, about 500, are Italian. Costa Cruises’s total investment to build the Costa Fascinosa amounts to approximately 510 million euros.
The Costa Fascinosa’s technical launch ceremony was carried out according to seafaring tradition. The launch started with the welding of a coin at the base of what was once the mainmast, a custom considered to bring good luck. Then, the shipyard director invited the godmother, Mirca Pizzato, an employee of Marghera shipyards, to cut the ribbon and break a bottle of champagne against the bow of the Costa Fascinosa. Once the dry-dock basin where the ship took shape over the last few months had been filled with water, the hull finally had the chance to touch the sea for the first time.
V.Group’s senior management has teamed up with OMERS Private Equity in the buy-out of V.Group, parent company of V.Ships. OMERS will support the further growth of the global supplier of ship management and related marine including offshore services replacing Exponent Private Equity as V.Group’s financial partner. Commenting on the transaction, Clive Richardson, CEO V.Group who will continue to lead the management team stated: “I look forward to partnering with OMERS Private Equity in continuing to build a market-leading company delivering outstanding service and value to our customers.” He added: “V.Group has a tremendous future and the management team is excited in working with our new partners in the next chapter of growth in our business.”
Mark Redman, Senior Managing Director of OMERS Private Equity in Europe commented: “V.Group has an attractive and differentiated outsourcing-based business model and is led by an exceptional management team. We believe that V.Group’s extensive global network, track record of profitable growth, compelling customer value proposition and breadth of services provides significant long-term potential. As a global leader operating in robust and growing segments of the market, we believe the future opportunities for V.Group are extremely attractive.”
Financing for the transaction with an enterprise value of US$520m was provided by RBC Capital Markets. V.Group was advised by Lazard, with further transaction support provided by Allen & Overy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and BCG. Kinmont and Travers Smith advised V.Group’s management.
V.Group is the parent company of V.Ships, the world’s largest supplier of independent ship management and other marine services to a fleet of over 1000 vessels via an extensive network of offices. V.Ships manages various vessel types including tankers, dry bulk carriers, gas and chemical carriers, containerships, cruise ships and offshore vessels. V.Group provides a broad portfolio of technical, crewing, commercial and other services to ship owners and other companies. The group was founded in 1984 as V.Ships.
Holland America Line will enhance Zaandam's 2012 Asia itineraries by now offering five 14-Day Asia Explorer voyages. In addition, Zaandam will offer one unique 14-Day China and Korea voyage that will sail roundtrip Hong Kong with calls to Incheon (Seoul) and Jeju (Cheju) City, South Korea. The four unique itineraries offered on seven departures range from 14 to 28 days and give travelers ample time to discover the region's historical and cultural landmarks, as well as explore its mystical allure.
"Asia continues to be a 'must-see' destination for our guests looking to explore a culture that is rich in tradition and mystery, combined with modern technology and intriguing architecture," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America Line. "Filled with unique sights, sounds and experiences, we're thrilled to add South Korea to our diverse Asia itineraries."
14-Day Asia Explorer Voyages: Zaandam's five 14-day Asia Explorer voyages sail between Hong Kong and Singapore and feature port calls at Koh Samui and Bangkok, Thailand; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Phu My and Nha Trang, Vietnam. Departure dates are Jan. 8, Jan. 22, Feb. 5, March 4 and March 18.
14-Day China and Korea Voyage: The 14-day China and Korea voyage departs Feb. 19 and sails roundtrip Hong Kong. Two full days at both Shanghai and Xingang (Beijing) allows ample time for guests to delve into the culture and take advantage of fantastic shore excursion opportunities including the Maglev Train Ride & New Shanghai and the Summer Palace & the Great Wall of China. Additional fascinating ports of call (and maiden calls for the Zaandam) include Incheon (Seoul) and Jeju (Cheju) City known for its idyllic beaches, pine forests and waterfalls.
28-Day Asia Explorer Collectors' Voyage Combines Asia Explorer and China & Korea: Zaandam's 28-day Asia Explorer Collectors' Voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong departs Feb. 5 and combines back-to-back itineraries for a longer cruise at the best per day value. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy overnight calls at Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand, and Shanghai and Xingang (Beijing), China, as well as extended stays in many of the region's favorite ports of call.
22-Day Japan and Alaska Repositioning Voyage: The 22-day Japan and Alaska voyage departs April 15 from Kobe (Osaka), featuring port calls at Jeju (Cheju) and Busan (Pusan), South Korea and Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka), Russia before crossing over the Northern Pacific Ocean to Vancouver, British Columbia, with stops at Kodiak, Sitka and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
Cruise fares begin at $1,599 per person, double occupancy for the 14-day sailings; $2,099 for the 22-day Japan and Alaska sailing; and $3,399 for the 28-day Asia Explorer Collectors' Voyage sailing.
Today, MSC Orchestra was docked at the port of Oslo in Norway, where in the afternoon two explosions hit buildings in the city center. MSC Cruises reports that the cruise ship has not suffered any damages and that all passengers came back from excursions as planned. All guests are now safe on board and the cruise will follow its original schedule.
Meanwhile, Costa Cruises has canceled the call of Costa Magica in Oslo tomorrow due to the Friday's terrorist attacks.