Palma.—On March 27, the replacement cruise ship for the Costa Concordia, which continues to lie on her side off the coast of Italy, will sail into Palma.

Costa Cruceros announced at the Balearic Cruise Forum in Palma yesterday that the Concordia is to be replaced by the Costa neoRomantica, one of the lines most luxurious ships, and the regular weekly visits to Palma on her Mediterranean cruise will be reestablished.

However, by the time the neoRomantica finally puts in to Palma, the loss of the Costa Concordia which struck a sand bank on January 13, will have cost Palma 2.9 million euros in lost revenue from cruise passengers. At the opening day of the Forum yesterday, both the Balearic President, Jose Ramon Bauza and the Mayor of Palma, Mateu Isern, praised the cruise line for having found a replacement ship so quickly and therefore minimising the negative impact on the local economy. Nevertheless, come March 13, Palma would have lost 13 visits by the Concordia, that translates into some 40'000 passengers who apparently spend an average of 60 euros each during their stop off in Palma.

The neoRomantica is not as large as the Concordia. It can accommodate a maximum of 1'000 passengers with 400 crew, however, on May 22, she may be replaced by the Costa Magica which has a capacity for 2'500 passengers and 500 crew so Palma does not lose too many Costa cruise passengers. The Concordia carried 3'000 passengers plus crew.

Last year, Costa Cruceros's liners made 147 visits to the Balearics, 137 of those to Palma generating 48.2 million euros for the local economy.
Bauza also confirmed that Alcudia's first cruise ship will dock at the new terminal on July 26 and that his government wants to expand the region's nautical industry at all levels.

He said a team is studying the viability of using some of the islands' smaller ports, such as Andratx or Sant Antoni in Ibiza, as terminals for some of the smaller, more luxurious cruise ships afloat or install the necessary facilities and services so the liners could moor off and passengers be easily brought ashore like in some parts of the Caribbean.