It is believed to be the first time a cruise ship has visited the United States carrying solely Chinese passengers. As part of an 86-day global voyage that began March 1, Costa Atlantica is sailing round-trip from Shanghai. The cruise was sold exclusively in China.
The New York call is the first of seven scheduled US stops. Costa Atlantica is to call at PortMiami on April 19, Los Angeles May 3-5, San Francisco May 6 and the Hawaiian ports of Hilo May 11, Kahului May 12 and Honolulu May 13. After that, the ship will cross to the South Pacific.
Costa Atlantica's call marks a 'milestone for inbound Asia tourism for the United States and for Carnival Corporation,' said Arnold Donald, president and ceo of Carnival Corp. & plc, the parent of Costa Cruises. 'We have made significant investments in China's cruise market, which will one day be the largest in the world,' he added.
'We are thrilled to have our guests from China on this historic world cruise, and we know they are thoroughly enjoying their time on Costa Atlantica and in great cities like New York,' Donald said.
Inbound tourism from China to the United States is growing by triple digits. According to US Department of Commerce projections, the number of Chinese tourists will increase to 3.1m by 2019, up from 2.3m in 2014.
Costa Cruises entered China in 2006 as the first international cruise line to operate homeport cruises. It currently bases Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Costa Sirena there.
To prepare for the world cruise, the 85,700gt Costa Atlantica, which entered service in 2000, received a $20.4m restyling in January. The company said this was the first Western cruise ship to be refurbished at a Chinese shipyard.
The work included an expansion of the duty-free shops to feature high-end luxury brands and extensive makeovers to public areas, top-deck spaces and cabins.
Forty-eight additional cabins were installed.