Genoa - “Costa Cruises announces that as of 22nd November, the Costa Celebration will not be part of its fleet”: this is the news released by the company that has created a stir in travel agencies. The ship was, in fact, scheduled to depart today from Savona on her first voyage under the Costa flag, which had just been painted on the side of the ship in the dockyards of Marseille, following the vessel’s transfer of ownership from Ibero Cruises. But there was no time for the voyage. Costa’s press release does not say who the new owner is, but the ship must have been sold to another company, probably American. The name of the new owner is confidential. One of the rumors is that it is a small US company, called Celebration Cruises. They recently had to give up their ship Bahamas Celebration due to an accident, thus cancelling trips in November. It may, therefore, have had an interest in acquiring another ship urgently. Yesterday “L’Avvisatore Marittimo “ tried to contact Celebration Cruises but got no reply. The decision came suddenly. According to the Spanish website “preferente.com” dedicated to tourism operators, it was taken on 18th November. Actually, the sale had always been an option, since Carnival decided to close Ibero Cruises. Costa took over two ships from the company, Grand Holiday and Grand Celebration, both built in the 1980s. For both ships, this was a provisional situation, while waiting for a buyer, but none was found for months. Costa spent €4.5 million last spring to renovate the Celebration in the docks of Genoa, and organized the 2014-2015 season that was supposed to start today. In the meantime, the ship was being chartered and until this week, it made short cruises from Genoa and Marseille. The offer to purchase must have been sudden and urgent and of a magnitude large enough to persuade the French to cancel existing bookings, and to face potential complaints from those who have had to change their plans at the last minute. The market value of a ship like this would vary between 40 and 50 million Euros. To forestall any protests, the company immediately started offering refunds or alternative travel, including the costs already incurred for the maiden voyage. “All guests who have booked a cruise until mid-April 2015,” Costa explains in a statement, “will be re-directed to one of 15 other Costa ships.” The company will keep the summer programe that was designed for the Celebration, which will instead be done by the Neoclassica: “In the summer (from 15th June to 14th September) cruises on the Costa Neoclassical will be dedicated to the Spanish market, with a customized product for local customers, and in the spring (20th April to 15th June) and autumn (from 14th September to 2nd November) the Neoclassical will offer its regular Costa neoCollection cruises available for all markets.” Even booked guests on the itineraries of Costa Neoclassica during the summer of 2015 prior to this change, will be able to choose from several alternative vacations aboard other Costa ships. Yesterday, however, the trip was still presented on the Costa website, but was not available for purchase online. From Savona, it would have reached Spain, Tunisia, Malta, Turkey and Italy, with prices starting from €799.