Costa Crociere is nowadays one of the most well known cruise company worldwide and this thanks also to its long and prestigious history.
On the 7th August 1924 the brothers Federico, Eugenio and Enrico Costa (the family had originated in the Sixteenth Century in Santa Margherita Ligure) purchased the steamer Ravenna, registering her in the maritime district of Genoa; she was a modest vessel, built in Scotland in 1888. At the time, most probably nobody thought that less than a century afterwards the name of Costa would be associated to one of the better known brands of holidays at sea.
The fleet grow at constant pace: four years later the Ravenna was joined by the Langano and shortly afterwards they were sided by another six vessels starting the tradition of naming their ships after family members: Federico, Eugenio C., Enrico Costa, Antonietta Costa, Beatrice Costa and Giacomo Costa. These were the first vessels to bear at sea the C “blue like the mantle of the Virgin Mary” on a background “yellow like olive oil”. The two company colours were described in this way and their ships were mainly employed in Mediterranean waters to carry olives to Genoa Sampierdarena, where the Costas had a large refinery, known since the XIX Century for its oil sold under the famous trademark “Dante”.
In the period between the two World Wars the business grew: in addition to olive oil, the Costas become involved in shipping, textiles, mechanical engineering and real estate.
The first vessel built to the order of the company was the 8000-t cargo ship Caterina C., launched at Riva Trigoso (near Genoa) on the 14th April 1942, in the middle of the conflict. Unfortunatly, the Langano was the only member of the fleet to survive the hostilies.
This tragic event was however a prosperous occasion for an even more quick expansion of the shipping business, characterised by the start of the migrant transatlantic service and, later, by cruises. For a while, in the 'Eighties the company was the first in the World; it was at this time that it became Costa Crociere.
COSTA CROCIERE SHOP
The post-War shipping activities of the Costas started with five tiny motorships for the cargo coastal routes and with two American standard vessels of the “Liberty” class, the steamer Edwin G. Weed and Frank H. Evers, respectively renamed in 1947 the Eugenio C. and Enrico C. A third “Liberty”, the Federico Costa (ex Otto Mears) joined them in 1953.
The new, large migratory wave of the post-War era and the liberalisation of the passenger market (previously controlled by state owned companies only) convinced the Giacomo Costa fu Andrea to start a regular passenger and cargo line between Italy and Latin America. In 1947 the service was inaugurated by the Third Class only second hand steamers Maria C., Giovanna C. and Luisa C., fitted with spartan steerage accommodation for migrants. The first “real” passenger liner to bear the C on the funnel was, in March 1948, the Anna C. soon to be followed by the Andrea C. The company would soon become known as “Linea C” among Latin origin peoples and as “Costa Line” to the English -speaking world.
A folder of the early 'Fifties devoted to the service between Europe and South America with the motorships Anna C. and Andrea C.
A folder of the 'Fifties illustrating the Tourist Class of the Andrea C.
In this pioneering days of the 'Fifties there were a few distinctive events in the company history; in 1953 it was established the Caribbean and Central America service with the well known Franca C. and in March 1958 the Ansaldo shipyard of Genoa Sestri delivered to Costa their first and large transatlantic liner, named the Federico C. Later the same year the sisters Maria Costa and Pia Costa started their full time cargo service to North America.
At that time, the president of the company was Angelo Costa, sun of Federico, a key figure in post-War Italian industrial history and in the development of economic liberalism.
In 1959 the Franca C. made again history by becoming the first Costa ship to be exclusively used for cruising in the American market; she was a pioneer in the development of Florida as a focal point for cruises.
At the same time, the company strengthened its position on the South Atlantic route with the Federico C. and the Bianca C. transporting the largest numbers of passengers on that route.
1964 saw the order of the famous Eugenio C., still remembered as one of the most beautiful liner and cruis ship of her days and a real masterpice of Italian technology, architecture and art, confirming the power reached by Costa on the international market.
In 1967 the shipping activities of the group were concentrated in the newly constituted Costa Armatori S.p.A. and, one year later, in the Costa Line Inc. founded in the United States, with the addition of two important cruise ship, the Carla C. And the Flavia, to reinforce the Caribbean market launching also the air/sea concept, better known as fly-cruising, where passengers were flown out to San Juan to join the ships.
In 1968, the cargo fleet was also greatly increased with the acquisition of six freighters previously belonging to Italnavi for both the Caribbean and South America services.
A well known poster of the 'Sixties published to promote the Summer cruises on board the Franca C. and the Anna C.
A brochure dated 1968 devoted to the Caribbean cruises of the motorship Franca C.