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Costa Cruises gets Halal certification as inaugural Penang homeport season starts

Costa Victoria's main galley staff with Halal certificate
Costa Cruises has officially been granted a Halal certificate for Costa Victoria's main galley ahead of the ship's  inaugural homeport season out of Penang, Malaysia which started Tuesday.

Costa says it's the first such certification for an international cruise line in the region, for food to be endorsed as prepared as prescribed by Muslim law.

Buhdy Bok, president of Costa Group Asia, said, 'Costa Asia is delighted to expand its services with its Halal-certified kitchen onboard Costa Victoria, and the first-ever sailings departing from Penang.' He referred to going the 'the extra mile on our products and services to bring our passengers the most creative and high-quality holiday travels at sea.'

The line, which has been operating in Asia since 2006, worked with Penang International Halal Hub to get its Halal certification.  

The certification is part of Costa Asia’s efforts to up hospitality standards, in view of growing demand for cruise holidays among Southeast Asian markets. The region has a significant Muslim population.

Guests onboard have a choice of Mediterranean and Asian food on three to five night sailings. Besides Penang, departure locations for Costa’s current Southeast Asia season include Singapore, Phuket, Malacca and Langkawi.

Costa Victoria's ex-Penang sailings are intended to provide, 'an opportunity for Malaysian guests to embark and disembark at their doorstep for the first time,' said Bok.

Penang’s Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal opened in 2010 after a major rebuild. It has a main berth that is 400mtr in length with a water depth of 12mtr capable of handling large cruise vessels. It also has two inner berths which are 248mtr and 219mtr in length.

When it opened, the terminal handled some 1.1m passengers, with the bulk of this traffic Cruises to Nowhere offered by cruise operators such as Amusement World and Star Cruises.  

By 2015 passenger throughput grew to some 1.3m but mid-last year Star Cruises, Penang’s anchor cruise tenant relocated to other regional ports.

However Star's SuperStar Libra returned for homeporting in Penang this September and is expected to stay through December 2017, offering one-night ocean cruises and 3-night cruises to Phuket and Krabi.

Penang has long been popular with tourists drawn by its beautiful beaches, famous local food, quaint streets and colourful markets.