Monfalcone - The Italian flag was struck for the last time on board the “Costa neoClassica”. The Portuguese flag is now flying at the stern instead of the Italian merchant navy’s flag. This historic ship has thus forever left Costa Crociere’s fleet; in its new life it will be called “Grand Classica” and will sail for the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. Built by Fincantieri at the Venice-Marghera shipyard, it was the very first cruise ship built there; the beginning of a long production cycle that is ongoing. Delivered on 4 December 1991, it launched on 7 December at Riva Sette Martiri in Venice. It was subsequently transferred first to Naples and then to Genoa for press and travel industry events. On 17 December, it left Genoa for its maiden voyage in the Mediterranean, and then its transfer to the Caribbean until 1993. During that period Costa attempted to break into the US market, and its flagship was put in direct competition with two giants of the sector, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The operation did not succeed, so the company decided to target the European market again, bringing Classica back to the Med. At 52,900 tonnes gross tonnage, it was the first next-generation ship ordered by the Costa family - and held the company for quite a few years. The goal was to recreate the splendour of Italy’s great transatlantic liners, re-imagining everything in a modern way. The interior design was entrusted to great Italian architects Pierluigi Cerri and Ivana Porfiri.
Costa also invested heavily in the works of art that decorated its interiors, such as mosaics by Emilio Tadini on the walls of the ship’s theatre, and the Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro which dominated the atrium (the latter was transferred to Costa Deliziosa in 2009). In 2000, Costa, now part of the Carnival galaxy, entrusted the project of elongating Classica to the Cammel Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. This was to involve the addition of a new section, and an entire deck of cabins with balconies, with the ship’s new gross tonnage increasing to about 78,000 tonnes. The ship was already on its way to the English shipyard when it was recalled to Genoa because the section was not yet ready. The operation was thus cancelled, and the long sequence of legal battles that followed led to the bankruptcy of the shipyard.
The last significant refit on the ship dates back to 2014, when the ship was renamed Costa “neoClassica”, thus becoming part of the “neocollection” project for the smaller ships in the fleet. On this occasion, the renovation of its interiors was entrusted to Germany company Partner Ship Design.
Costa Crociere is now entering a phase in which its fleet will undergo a major renewal; next year it will receive delivery of Costa Venezia and Costa Smeralda, giants which little neoClassica can no longer compete with. Hence the decision to sell it - although the memory of this beautiful ship will always remain with all of its passengers and the crew members who lived on it and loved it.