Balloons go up for Costa in Dubai

//Balloons go up for Costa in Dubai

Panic over. I’ve found my passport so I’m on track to fly to Dubai tomorrow for the naming ceremony of Costa Deliziosa. It’s the first time the Emirate has seen an event like this, and it looks like they are pulling out all the stops.
The cruise ship arrives at Dubai’s Port Rashid on its Grand Inaugural Cruise, and 2,000 passengers will be among the 3,000 guests at the celebrations on Tuesday, which promise a melange of Italian and Arabic culture.
It’s all due to start before dusk with hot air balloons and parachutes filling the skies – rather slower but probably no less spectacular that the show put on by the Frecce Triccolori – Italy’s equivalent of the Red Arrows – during the naming of Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa in Genoa last year.
After that we will be taken on an “artistic journey” through the history and culture of Dubai and Italy – through the medium of dance and song, I expect – before we get to the official speeches from the giant stage on the quayside.
The venue has dictated one significant departure from tradition. When the ship’s godmother pronounces the words “I name this ship Costa Deliziosa” and sends a bottle smashing against the hull, she won’t be using Italian Prosecco. Instead, it will be non-alcoholic dates champagne.
One tradition which will be maintained, however, is that proceedings will end with a fireworks display, and from what I saw of the opening of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, they’re pretty good at fireworks in Dubai.
Deliziosa – Italian for “delicious,” by the way – will be cruising from Dubai until April, and joins a growing number of cruise ships using the port as a base. The new cruise terminal at Port Rashid can handle up to four ships at a time, and the number of visitors is growing every year.
In 2009, Dubai played host to 100 cruise ship calls that brought 260,000 cruise tourists. This year, Dubai will welcome 120 ship calls with more than 325,000 passengers, and by 2015 they are expecting 575,000 passengers in 195 ships.
They will be doubly welcome, given the effect Dubai’s financial meltdown appears to be having on land-based development, and on plans to turn the world’s most famous liner, the QE2, into a floating hotel. I’m looking forward to catching a glimpse of the old girl while I’m there.
The name of Costa Deliziosa’s godmother is still a closely-guarded secret, but there’s no mystery over the identity of the woman who will be naming another new Italian cruise ship, MSC Magnifica.
Italian actress Sophia Loren will be on duty in Hamburg on March 6, as she has been for more MSC launches than I can count.
Before then, Magnifica will be shown off in the UK during a three-night visit to Southampton from February 26 to 28. While there, guests might have the surreal experience of bumping into Count Dracula.
Not quite as scary as it seems; actor Sir Christopher Lee will be on board in his role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador raising money for deprived children in Brazil.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:32+00:00 20 February 2010|Cruise News|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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