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Cruise operator Costa Crociere took delivery of a new flagship liner on Saturday, hoping the glamour of Italy's biggest ship will mark a new era for a company whose reputation was marred by the deadly Concordia disaster.
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The 114,500-tonne Costa Fascinosa, built by state-owned shipyard Fincantieri, has space for 3,500 passengers. An even bigger vessel, with 5,000 berths, should be ready in 2014 for a company that says bookings have recovered from the crisis.
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\n"We can't ignore the January accident. It hit us hard. We are working on safety issues," Costa CEO and Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters in a spacious bar onboard the Fascinosa with a view over Venice's lagoon.
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The Costa Fascinosa, which will make its inaugural cruise on May 11, is a floating city with a shopping centre, five restaurants, 13 bars, casino rooms and more.
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Carnival brushed off concerns that liners have grown too big, saying it is giving customers what they want. "It's true some people go for smaller ships for premium and luxury cruises but the bigger liners create additional amenities and they are the preference. They're here to stay for quite some time," Carnival's Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said.\n
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Protesters in Venice, where the Fascinosa was built, have called for large vessels to be banned from sailing in the Lagoon waters in front of St. Mark's square because of the environmental damage they cause. There are also concerns of damage to tourism in Giglio where the Concordia will lie for some time. The company says the ship can be towed away in nine months.
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Captain Ignazio Giardina (R) attends the unveiling to the public of the Costa Fascinosa, the new flagship of the Italian passenger fleet and Costa Cruises built at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard, in Venice. (AFP/Getty Images)