|Gran Suite onboard Costa Atlantica|
Costa Atlantica called in New York City on April 14, marking the first time a cruise ship has visited the United States carrying solely Chinese guests.
As part of an 86-day global voyage that began March 1, the ship is sailing roundtrip from Shanghai, China, and is the first world cruise sold exclusively to the Chinese market.
The three-day visit to New York from April 14-16 is one of seven U.S. calls. Costa Atlantica is scheduled to call at PortMiami in Florida Sunday, April 19; Port of Los Angeles for three days from May 3-5; San Francisco May 6; and the Hawaiian ports of Hilo May 11, Kahului May 12 and Honolulu May 13, before setting off on a crossing to the South Pacific.
"Costa Atlantica's arrival in New York carrying only Chinese guests marks a milestone for inbound Asia tourism for the United States and for Carnival Corporation," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise company. "We have made significant investments in China's cruise market, which will one day be the largest in the world.
Inbound tourism from China to the United States is growing by triple digits. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the U.S. will increase to 3.1 million visitors by 2019, up from 2.3 million visitors in 2014. More cruise lines are tapping into the potential growth of a country with a population of more than 1.35 billion inhabitants.
Costa Cruises entered China in 2006 as the first international cruise line to operate homeport cruises in the country. Costa Cruises currently has three ships -- Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Costa Serena -- homeported in China. Costa Atlantica has been dedicated to the Chinese market since May 2013.
To prepare for China's first world cruise, the 85,700-ton Costa Atlantica, which entered service in 2000, received an extensive $20.4 million restyling in January 2015. It is the first western cruise ship to be refurbished at a Chinese shipyard. Work performed included expansion of the duty-free shops to feature high-end luxury brands and extensive makeovers to public areas, top-deck spaces and cabins. Additionally, 48 cabins tailored to satisfy the rising demands of China's consumers were installed.