Costa Cruises has set itself a goal to build fully sustainable, zero-emission cruiseships.

The cruise line, which is the Italian arm of Miami giant Carnival Corp, plans to do this in conjunction with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

The goal was revealed by Michael Thamm, group chief executive of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, at a ceremony on Tuesday for the delivery of the 135,500-gt cruiseship Costa Firenze at the shipbuilding group’s yard in Marghera.

“Costa’s goal is to design the future of sustainable and zero-emission cruising, and we hope that our long-lasting partnership with Fincantieri can bring our companies to work together on a roadmap that can lead to this ambitious yet essential objective,” Thamm said.

He did not provide any details on what technologies would be considered to achieve this goal.

The LNG-powered Costa Firenze might fall short of Costa’s ultimate goal of a zero-emissions ship, but the company was quick to highlight the significant sustainability targets it meets based on currently available technology.

The company said the 5,200-passengership’s environmental performance has been acknowledged by Italian classification society Rina with a Green Star 3 rating.

This is a voluntary notation covering all the main aspects of a ship's environmental impact and requires maximum protection and prevention across areas such as waste, grey water, black water, machinery oil, CO2, ozone, greenhouse gas, particulate matter, sulphur oxides, nitrogen and ballast water, among others.

In addition to complying with a series of environmental sustainability standards, the company said the certification also recognised “the design solutions and operating procedures that Costa has implemented voluntarily, both during construction and navigation, aimed at outperforming the environmental protection requirements of international regulations”.

Costa, which has a fleet of 14 larger cruiseships, was one of the first European cruise operators to restart cruise operations on a limited scale this past summer, scheduling a handful of its ships on short cruises out of Italy.

The Costa Firenze will sit idle for the next couple of months as it is only scheduled to make its first Mediterranean cruise at the end of February 2021. After completing a summer cruise season in the Mediterranean, it will shift across to Costa’s Asian fleet.

“The handover of the new Costa Firenze is a sign of hope and restart for the whole cruise and tourism ecosystems," Thamm said. "This ship represents the most tangible evidence of the will of our group to restart. Our hope is that people will soon be able to travel again and that more ships will set sail and contribute to the revitalisation of tourism in Italy, Europe and globally.”

Thamm has reason to hope. Fincantieri is scheduled to deliver another three identical sisterships by 2023. The vessels are part of a six-strong class of ships the yard is in the process of building for Costa — an investment of just over €6bn ($7.3bn).

No cancellations

The interior of the Costa Firenze features an Italian renaissance theme. Photo: Costa Cruises

Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono described the Costa Firenze's delivery as “an important moment because it is the concrete demonstration that the company is getting back to its normal production activity”.

“I would also like to underline that the financial and economic situation of Fincantieri has not changed significantly compared to what we communicated in the previous quarters," he said. "The company has proven to be very resilient, avoiding the cancellation of orders and strengthening relations with the customers of the cruise sector.”

Bono described Fincantieri as a growing company with an “orderbook guaranteeing long-term visibility with opportunities to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability”.

Fincantieri has about 40 cruiseships on its orderbook, with deliveries scheduled into 2026. The vessels, which range from small luxury cruiseships for Viking Ocean Cruises and Silversea Cruises to a pair of 175,000-gt cruiseships for Carnival Corp’s Princess brand, are being built at several shipyards scattered throughout Italy.

Subsidiary Vard Holdings branched out into cruiseship building several years back and has completed nine small luxury and expedition cruiseships. It has a further seven expedition cruiseships in its orderbook for delivery into 2022.

Carnival Corp is Fincantieri’s most prolific customer, having placed orders for approximately 80 cruiseships with the shipbuilder, beginning with the 55,900-gt Statendam (built 1993), which was operated by the Holland America Line brand and today is owned by Portugal's Mystic Invest as the Vasco da Gama.

The Costa Firenze is scheduled to enter cruise service at the end of February 2021. Photo: Costa Cruises