Exclusive interview: Neil Palomba, President Costa Crociere S.p.A

Innova

1. Dear Mr. President. My first question, of course, is about the Costa brand that is widely known all around the world. What position the Costa brand holds among Italian companies?

According to the recent BrandZ™ research Costa is among the top 15 most valuable Italian brands. Costa stands for Italy as it is the only cruise company to sail the Italian flag .On board our ships our Guests are always welcomed by Italian hospitality, quality and style. Such values represent the kind of experience we aim to deliver to them. Regardless of where the ship is sailing, we want our guests on board a Costa ship to experience the same emotions usually only a holiday in Italy can offer.

2. Investments, now everybody talks about investments. What does the Costa company invest in new ships?

In total, Costa Group has 26 ships in service. Seven ships will enter service between 2018 and 2023, including 2 for our brand, 2 for Costa Asia brand and 3 for the Aida brand, for a total investment of over 6 billion euros. Once these seven new ships have come into service, the company’s capacity will have increased by over 50% in 5 years with almost 5 million guests in 2023.

3. How much money does the Costa company invest in the Russian tourist market?

We cannot disclose financial figures but I can tell you that Costa’s business results for the Russian market showed phenomenal increase in 2017, proving once again that the Russian market is very promising for the cruise sector. During 2018, we reinforced our commitment in Russia and we are continuing to invest in this direction for the next coming years.

4. How will Costa develop and what will it be in 10 years?

Costa Group is today the market leader in Europe, and we continue to lead the industry towards increasingly sustainable tourism. The penetration of cruises as a type of vacation is very low in a number of European and worldwide markets. If we exclude markets such as US, China, Germany or UK the percentage of the penetration of the entire population is less than 1% so we have huge opportunities to grow and I think we are very well prepared to this great challenge we have in front of us. The mix between our product, our ships – especially the new one – our values and our employees will make the difference in the forthcoming years. So I expect that Costa in 10 years will be a successful Company with a bright future.

Image courtesy of Costa Cruises

5. Please, tell us about Costa Cruises’ environmental programmes and its projects related to charity.

Running our business in a sustainable way is the basis of our success. We want to innovate responsibly and lead the industry. Costa Group, along with its sister brands within Carnival Corporation’s global portfolio, has been an industry leader in promoting and developing sustainable and environmental solutions.

Our new upcoming flag ship, the Costa Smeralda, will be the first ship to be marketed broadly to global consumers that will use LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) to generate 100 percent of her energy, both in ports and at sea. In addition to the use of LNG for cruise ships, Costa Group and Carnival Corporation’s global cruise brands have been industry leaders in pioneering the use of Advanced Air Quality Systems in the small confines of a cruise ship. Considered an environmental breakthrough, Advanced Air Quality Systems are installed on about 60 percent of ships in the Costa Group and Carnival Corporation fleet.

The use of LNG and Advanced Air Quality Systems will both play an important role in further improving the impact of our marine operations.

Talking about charity. We are extremely focused on exceeding our guests’ expectations. But at the same time, we cannot forget those who are living without happiness. In the different countries where we are operating we feel a strong responsibility to support those who live in challenging conditions, and we are doing this through Costa Crociere Foundation. Among the different projects promoted by the Costa Crociere Foundation I woudl like to mention the “Guardians of the Coast ” project which has become one of the biggest citizen science projects in Italy. The initiative raises the awareness among young people about the beauty and fragility of italian coasts, which are threatened by pollution, particularly plastic waste. It actively involved 156 secondary schools , over 600 teachers and 5,700 students during the 2017-2018 academic year. Each school “adopted” a section of the Italian coast, covering a total of 2,610 km. Early November 2018construction of a school in Colombia promoted by Fundación Pies Descalzos started with the first brick,arrived in Colombia after a journey on board Costa ships where both crew and guests had the chance to leave a dedication and a special message. Pies Descalzos is a non-governmental organization founded by international artist Shakira with the main objective to promote quality public education for children in vulnerable situation in Colombia. The relation with her included also the active participation of our brand to the philanthropic program set up by the Foundation she created.

6. Costa Cruise company organizes holidays for tourists from all over the world. In what way tourists from Russia are different from others?

I would say that Russian appreciate very much our product. Costa has the right positioning and is able to embody a right offer for their preferred holiday. A recent survey we conducted on the Russian market and consumer preferences demonstrated that Italy is perceived by Russian travelers as one of the most preferred destinations for holidays and leisure travel: 97% of the research target is positive towards Italian products and consider Italy as a very desirable holiday destination. Italy is among them associated with Beauty, Excellent food, Great shopping, Cool trends, Ability to enjoy life but also design, style , hospitality, quality and passion which are also the Costa brand values.

7. Do you have your favorite cruise route?

I love cruising and I love all the destinations we call all over the World. But of course there is always a preference. For many different reasons and most of them are personal I would say that West Med itinerary on board a Costa ship is probably my favorite one.

8. The Costa company cooperates with many famous brands. Please, tell our readers what brands one can find when traveling aboard Costa ships.

Guests on board can enjoy nice shopping opportunities and savor the Italy’s Finest food and beverage offer . among the different brand you can find on board let me mention Illy , Aperol, Campari, Barilla, Spumante Ferrari, Trussardi, Armani , Liu Jo , Coccinelle and many others

9. Italy is the country of brands. Let me ask you a personal question – what brands appeal exactly to you?

I’m an Italian who lived a lot abroad, before working on cruise ships afterwards working in US and Europe. Italy is very well known all over the world and when talking to people about Italy they always appreciate the same values that we bring onboard our ships: hospitality, quality and style. I do personally love the Italian fashion brands because they are able to combine elegance with style and innovation. Regarding the food and hospitality more in general the brands just mentioned, our partners, are really the perfect example of what Italy is able to offer in this area. And of course Italy has a great tradition as car manufacturer and here we have a number of brands that well represent technology, emotions, and speed. I think you guess easily who I am referring to.

The publication is prepared by brand.travel editorial office

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