When we were kids my brothers and I played a "name that car" game during road trips. We'd shout out Chevy! Ford! Cadillac! and back in those days it was even easy to differentiate the model year (think tail fins). Today my husband and I play a similar game during cruise vacations called "name that ship" and I always win. It's particularly interesting in Europe where many of our aging Caribbean favorites have found new lives sailing for European cruise lines.
So, when Carnival Corporation announced that the 1,488-passenger Costa Europa, currently operated by their Costa Cruises brand, will join British travel company Thomson Cruises under a 10-year bareboat charter beginning in April 2010, I got to thinking about the ship's history. Originally launched in 1986 as Homeric, she sailed for Home Lines until being purchased by Holland America Line in 1988. Re-christened Westerdam (the second HAL ship to bear that name), she was "stretched" with a new mid-section that added length and passenger capacity. Although you can't tell by the photo above, it's relatively easy to spot where the newer section was inserted—the windows fore and aft are smaller in the original ship.
A bit of Hollywood glamour rubbed off on Westerdam when the 1997 movie "Out to Sea" was filmed on board. The film paired grumpy old men, played by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, on a cruise headed to the Bahamas. Matthau tells Lemmon that the trip is free and will be a good way to meet rich widows, but once aboard Lemmon discovers his friend has signed them on as dance hosts (hence the free passage). Good thing one of them (Lemmon's character) could actually dance.
Five years later Westerdam departed the HAL fleet and emerged from an overhaul in 2002 as Costa Europa, one of the first ships to operate on regular cruises in the Arabian Gulf, with departures from Dubai, and the Indian Ocean out of Mauritius.
Under the agreement with Carnival Corp, Thomson Cruises, which has announced the new name of the former Costa Europa will be the Thomson Dream, has an option to purchase the ship any time after five years. The name may have changed, but it's not likely the ship's profile will so it won't be difficult to "name that ship" in her new Thomson livery after April 2010.