A new cruise ship that will use Malta as one of its ports of call as starting from next year was launched earlier this month.

The Costa Concordia, the new flagship of the Costa Crociere fleet, is set to become Italy's largest cruise ship. The ship - whose name, the owners say, expresses the wish for continuing harmony, unity and peace between European nations - will depart from Civitavecchia on its maiden cruise on July 14 after the final stages of work are completed.

The Costa Concordia will start calling in Malta every Friday starting in November 2006.

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