Costa Smeralda, the soon-to-be new flagship of the Costa Cruises fleet, has finally touched water for the first time, as she was floated out of her dry dock at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.
Costa Smeralda will now be moved to a wet berth where fitting out of the 6,518-passenger, 182,700-gross ton ship will be completed.
With 2,612 cabins, several dozen lounges, more than 20 dining and drinking venues and 16 passenger decks, the task is a mammoth project, and the shipyard will have just seven months in which to do it, as Costa Smeralda is due to enter service in October this year.
“With the hull of the ship now completed, the next stage of the building process is proceeding to complete all the attractions and features, making sure at the same time that Smeralda will be a safe, reliable and comfortable ship to sail at sea,” said said Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku.
“After the summer, the commissioning and testing of the ships myriad of automatic systems will intensify both at the pier and at sea before delivery,” he added.
Smeralda will debut in the Mediterranean, and will homeport there for at least the next two years, cruising roundtrip out of Savona, Marseille, Barclona and Civitavecchia (for Rome) during her inaugural season.
These seven night cruises will all have the same itinerary, but with the different ports of call offered as turnaround ports for guests.
Costa Smeralda will also be the first cruise ship in the Costa fleet to be powered by LNG, a much cleaner burning fuel than marine diesel, which has fewer emissions.
She is the second of 11 new LNG-powered ships ordered by Carnival Corporation (which owns Costa Cruises). The first was AIDAnova for AIDA Cruises, which launched in late 2018, and the third will be P&O Cruises’ Iona, which will launch in 2020, followed by two LNG-powered ships for Princess, another two for AIDA and two more for Costa, one more for P&O and of course Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras.
All 11 cruise ships will have the same basic exterior design and will be in the 181,000 to 183,000-gross ton range in terms of size.
“With LNG a breakthrough in fuel technology, Costa Smeralda represents a major innovation for the international market and an important step toward setting new standards for the entire sector,” said Neil Palomba, President of Costa Cruises. “Costa Group is the market leader in Europe and China, and we continue to make sustainable tourism a key part of our industry leadership.”