"It's like lipstick," said Bob Mahmarian, the executive vice president of Costa Cruise Line, who used to work for Revlon cosmetics.
"When one of our lipstick brands began to get beat up by a competitor, we didn't try to upgrade it. You can't move up an old product. So we dropped a new upscale brand on top of it."
That's precisely what Costa, an old and respected name in cruising, is attempting to do with the introduction of its newest ship, the CostaClassica, which made its maiden voyage out of Port Everglades, Fla., on Jan. 26. The 53,700-ton, 1,300-passenger ship is Costa's first brand-new passenger ship since the 1950s.
Instead of ballyhooing the CostaClassica as a new member of its old fleet, Costa christened it as the first of a new group of ships that will sail under the "Euro Luxe" logo.
This is an interesting concept, especially considering that no one, not even Costa or Mr. Mahmarian, seems to know precisely how to define "Euro Luxe."
"Our intent is to take the best of Europe, expand on it and bring it to America," said Mr. Mahmarian. "But this won't be a walk-through museum. It will be a 'fun' upscale ship."
The best that some of us who sailed on a preview voyage could figure is that Costa is hoping the "Euro Luxe" label will catch on in Yuppieland. Costa says it wants to attract those who want excitement but not crowds, who want class but not stodginess.
"We're still working on Euro Luxe," said Mr. Mahmarian. "We're flexible; if something doesn't work, we'll change it." Costa, he said, wants to create a niche for Euro Luxe at "the top of the mass market and bottom of the luxury market."