Costa Victoria was the first of a second pair of two megaships for Costa Cruises, launched at the 2nd of september 1995. These ships had been ordered in 1993, just when the first pair of modern Costa megaships, Costa Classica and Costa Romantica were starting their services for the Italian company. It was obvious that Costa was trying to become one of the largest cruisecompanies in the world and especially in Europe and these new ships would help them achieve this goal. The ships measured some 75.000 tons and could be rated among the largest cruiseliners in the world. They were ordered from the Bremer Vulkan wharf in Vegesack, northern Germanyand they, of course, were also the largest cruiseliners ever built in that country.
The Costa Victoria has a lenght of 252,91 meters, she is 36,10 meters wide and her draft is 7,80 meters. A maximum of 2274 passengers can enjoy a holiday aboard at the same time, together with 850 crewmembers. She is propelled by two screws, driven by three 6-cylinder and three 7-cylinder diesel engines and she can achieve a speed of 22,8 knots in normal service. Her first trials started at the 15th of february 1996, followed by a second set of trials starting the first of july that same year. These were satisfactory, so the ship was delivered to the company at the 10th of july 1996. According to the designers of the ship, the Costa Victoria had to really show the 'spirit of Italy' itself. Next to the seven deck high atrium, the first aboard any Costa ship and designed as a planetarium, another four-deck high space was created at the most forward part of the ship. This space gave panoramic views through large windows and is called Concorde Plaza, feauturing seats, bars and a large balcony. Of course, to really wake the spirit of Italy, the ships Spa was designed in true Pompeii-style. Besides, all 14 decks of the ship, of which 11 can be used by passengers, have been named after famous Italian opera's. When introduced, Costa Victoria was the most modern and the largest ship owned by a European company.
Work had already begun on the second ship of the pair, that was to be named Costa Olympia. But when this ship was 35% complete in the middle of 1996, the wharf went bankrupt and all work was halted. She floated out at the 6th of october 1996 and Costa decided not to finish the ship, instead she was put up for sale and brought over to the Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven. In 1999, the ship was sold and completed for Norwegian Cruise Line as their Norwegian Sky and was also used as the blueprint for another ship for NCL, the Norwegian Sun.
But at that time, Costa Victoria was already quite well settled in within the fleet of Costa Cruises. She had been named by Carla Costa, one of the female members of the Costa family, at the 13th of july 1996. This was a tradition for the company, since it had been a family owned company before the Carnival take-over. The ship sailed her first cruise from Venice starting the 28th of july. The Mediterranean was to be her main cruising region, although she sailed Caribbean cruises during wintertime. Her first cruise in the Caribbean started at the 10th of november 1996.
Like many ships built in the beginning or the middle of the 1990's, Costa Victoria had just been built a little too early to feature all needs the modern cruisepassenger expected from a ship from the end of the same decade onwards. Although a very modern liner, passengers got used to balcony cabins just after Costa Victoria started her sailings. In fact, the Costa liner was one of the very last large cruiseliners that had a total lack of these kind of cabins. Also all the newer ships in the fleet of Costa Cruises had recieved balconies from the early stages of their design and when Costa Victoria still wanted to attract passengers, she had to be rebuilt with balconies. On the 12th of january 2004, she was sent to the Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven where 246 outside cabins on Norma deck (10) and Tosca deck (9) recieved added balconies. This altered her appearance, but not too drasticly as we later saw in the rebuilding of Costa Romantica 2012. During the rebuilding of Costa Victoria, also her buffet terrace was expanded and new promenades were added to Rigoletto deck (11).
The ship left her normal cruising scedule in the winter of 2007, when she sailed mostly in the Red Sea instead of the Caribbean. She repeated these cruises in 2008 and in 2009 she spent the winter in South America. In may 2012, the ship was based at Shanghai for 33 cruises, calling also at port in Japan and South Korea. Costa Cruises in in fact the first international cruiseline that can sail these cruises, through the support of the Chinese government. For these itineraries, there was even a true Chinese godmother invited, the fashion-designer Mary Ma. She is considered to be the first true Chinese supermodel, dedicated to promote Chinese fashion on a global scale.
For several fishermen in the South China Sea it was a relief that the ship was sailing close by when their ship was on fire at the 3rd of november 2014. The cruiseliner was sailing between Hong Kong and Sanya Hainan Island when the crew spotted the burning ship and made their way to assist. In total, 12 persons were taken off the striken boat and Costa Victoria also searched for two missing crewmembers assisted by the coastguard, but those were not found.
All the pictures on this page were made in Amsterdam at the 15th of may 2008.