Costa Cruises has announced that its new cruise ship Costa Smeralda will not enter service until November 30th, 2019, forcing the cancellation of several cruises in October.
The cruise line said in a statement that her planned itineraries would remain the same, but that the date for her inaugural cruise would be pushed back.
While the cruise line has promised to reimburse passengers booked on cruises scheduled before November 30th, many people on Facebook have complained that it does not include flights, hotel and train tickets that may have also been purchased as part of their travel plans.
The episode serves as a remind of the importance of travel insurance, although there are unconfirmed reports on Twitter and Facebook that Costa is also reimbursing passengers for these ancillary costs.
In a statement released on Monday, Costa Cruises President Neil Palomba apologised to affected passengers, but said the delays were out of the cruise lines’ control.
“Our priority is always to offer our guests a unique vacation experience that exceeds their expectations. Unfortunately, the Meyer Turku yard needs more time to ensure that Costa Smeralda will do just that and this is absolutely crucial as far as we’re concerned,” he said.
“We deeply regret this delay and apologize for the inconvenience caused to all our guests who’ve already booked a cruise on Costa Smeralda sailing prior to November 30. In any case, we trust that we’ll be able to welcome them on board our new flagship and we’ve already made the necessary arrangements so as to offer them a new choice of departure dates,” he added.
Meyer Turku, in its own statement, seemed to point the blame at the ship’s LNG propulsion. “With its new cruise ship LNG propulsion system and many sophisticated rooms with stage and audio/video equipment the complexity and sophistication of the ship is very high in order to create a unique Costa-style passenger experience,” the shipyard said.
“In getting this all to work together with many involved persons and companies, Meyer Turku had a slower progress speed than needed, despite counter-actions. Meyer Turku apologizes to all that are affected by this change,” it added.
Costa Smeralda will be only the second fully-LNG powered ship in the mainstream cruise fleet. The first was AIDAnova of AIDA Cruises (which, like Costa, is owned by Carnival Corporation). AIDAnova was built at Meyer Turku’s sister yard, Meyer Werft, and she too was subject to a delayed delivery.
AIDAnova and Costa Smeralda are both sister ships of more than 180,000 gross tons, they are the first of 9 ‘Excellence-class’ LNG-powered cruise ships being built for Carnival Corporation’s Costa, AIDA, Carnival Cruise Line, and P&O brands.
Carnival’s Princess Cruises brand is also having two LNG-powered cruise ships built, but they will be slightly smaller at 175,000-gross tons and are being built by Fincantieri.