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.