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Italian-based Costa Cruises, operator of Europe’s largest cruise fleet (and a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation since 2000), has just wrapped up its very first stint sailing the New England / Canada circuit. The inaugural fall 2009 cruises between New York City and Quebec onboard Costa Atlantica (pictured here on NYC’s Hudson River yesterday), fell surprisingly under the radar of American travelers, with an estimated three quarters of the ship’s clientele touting European passports. Still, in-the-know American cruisers were privy to an exceptional chance to mingle with European travelers in a delightful Italian-inspired atmosphere, right here stateside. While the last ship has sailed on the New England/Canada season, the Costa Atlantic has one more stateside sailing left before moving onto her Caribbean-cruise-season perch in Fort Lauderdale – at bargain rates to boot. Snag a cabin on the 13-night October 25 repositioning sailing from Quebec to Fort Lauderdale (with stops in Boston, NYC, Bermuda, and more) for as little as $449, or just $35/night!

The 2,100-passenger Costa Atlantica is an entirely modern ship oozing plenty of Italian flavor, with much of the ship's design and décor drawing inspiration from either the city of Venice or Frederico Fellini films. Expect Mediterranean-influenced cuisine (the menu in the main dining hall changes daily to reflect different regions of Italy), a double-decker nightclub dubbed “Dante’s Inferno,” a charming lounge that’s a dead-on replica for the bellini birthplace of Caffe Florian in Venice, and a trio of pools (including one with a tricked out waterslide; pictured here).

Courtesy of Elissa Richard

If the October 25 sailing date is too close for comfort, not to despair – the ship will be returning for the 2010 fall season (so mark those calendars!).

Visit www.costacruise.com to book.

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