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Carnival to field two Costa ships as 'Costa by Carnival' in US (updated)

Costa Venezia, right, is to begin sailing from New York in spring 2023, followed by Costa Firenze, left, from Long Beach in spring 2024
Carnival Cruise Line teamed with sister brand Costa Cruises on a new concept for Carnival’s North American customers, 'Costa by Carnival.'

This debuts in spring 2023 when Costa Venezia joins the Carnival fleet sailing from New York. Costa Venezia will be followed by Costa Firenze in spring 2024, to sail from Long Beach, California.

Carnival will operate the ships, which will marry the service, food and entertainment that Carnival passengers enjoy with Costa’s Italian design features.

'Costa Venezia and Costa Firenze will bring Carnival’s guests the ambiance and beauty of Italy,' Carnival President Christine Duffy said. 'We’re going to invite our guests to "Choose Fun with Carnival, Italian Style."'

Two additional Vista-class vessels in the US

Duffy noted this brings two additional Vista-class ships to the US. Costa Venezia and Costa Firenze are sisters of Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon and Carnival Panorama, each at 135,500gt and accommodating up to 5,260 passengers.

'There are lots of ways we plan to create an immersive fun experience for our guests who choose to sail on these ships, which have beautiful Italian-design elements, dining and retail that will deliver Carnival fun leveraging the spirit of Italy from our sister line Costa Cruises,' Duffy said.

Both ships will continue operating their regular Costa itineraries until they are assigned to Carnival for dry dock work and deployment. Deployment and itinerary plans are being finalized, with the Venezia announcement coming soon.

Follows Costa Luminosa transfer

This follows the recent announcement that Costa Luminosa will be transferring to Carnival and renamed Carnival Luminosa, to operate in Australia starting in November, and then in Alaska. 

Answer to MSC's stateside rise? 

In offering an Italian-style product to Americans, there was speculation Carnival is addressing the rising presence of MSC Cruises in the US — though MSC presents itself as Mediterranean-style, not specifically Italian.

By putting Costa Venezia in New York, it will go against MSC there as MSC Meraviglia begins year-round service in April 2023. And with Costa Firenze from Long Beach, this distinct product will be in the US West Coast market where MSC has yet to expand — however, MSC Group's new Explora Journeys has just announced its inaugural Alaska season in 2024.

Or not?

But several sources in and close to Carnival indicated MSC Cruises was not a consideration.

Rather, they cited strong demand for the Carnival brand and other factors such as Costa not being able to deploy several ships in Asia, particularly China, as it previously did. 

Neil Palomba's Costa experience

Neil Palomba, EVP and chief operating officer at Carnival Cruise Line, has deep experience with the Costa brand, having previously served as Costa president in Genoa until mid-2020.

Update adds reaction to the speculation that MSC Cruises could have played any role in this Carnival strategy