Costa Cruises launched a new charitable foundation onboard its new flagship, Costa Diadema, shortly after the vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Marghera to Trieste on 30 October.
The Costa Crociere Foundation will focus on both social and environmental issues, said Thatcher Brown, vice president of Onboard Revenue for Costa Cruises and chairman of the board of the foundation.
“We are an independent structure and we are results-driven,” said Brown. He added that the board of directors, which comprises academics, Costa staff and high-profile experts including Christine Cousteau of the Cousteau Foundation, would define the strategic direction of the new body, which would operate in a “thoughtful, objective and non-political” manner.
The line’s CEO Michael Thamm will be closely involved with the foundation as a board member. “The cruise industry is based on the model of selling dreams,” said Thamm. “This is in very sharp contrast to the reality in some places out there. We feel privileged and have a desire to give something back, so we decided to build a body to take that forward in a consistent, structured and strategic manner.”
Thamm said the foundation would donate €1 million a year from its initial fund. He indicated that the body would play an important role in the countries suffering from the economic crisis where Costa is active. “In Italy, there is a lack of public funds to serve various needs,” he said. “We can’t leave it all to the state – private enterprises are required to help and we have decided to do so.”
In addition, Thamm said Costa staff would be encouraged to participate in the foundation’s activities. “We are a company of 22,000 people and I believe many of our employees have a desire to give. As executives we can make much more out of this by dedicating resources, not only money. If our employees want to dedicate time we will support them by enabling them to take time out of their duties.” He added: “We have access to tens of thousands of partners and in a polite way, we will ask our business partners for support.”
Projects will include food banks for the homeless, as well as environmental projects and joint humanitarian initiatives with the Italian Coast Guard.
Regarding the potential to involve cruise guests in the work of the foundation, Brown said the board had considered various existing models of engaging guests but had not opted to do so in the initial stages. “We need to be very intelligent and responsible in the way we engage the business environment of cruise to support the foundation. We will start with small steps towards our goals and then work together to respond, always keeping an open mind.”