Giacomo Costa founded his small shipping company, "Giacomo Costa fu Andrea," in 1854. Originally, his ships transported olive oil, fabrics and other goods to local towns. It wasn't until 1947 that the first passenger steamship, the Maria C. was launched. With a capacity of only 50 passengers, the Maria C. stayed in local waters. The larger Anna C. was launched in 1948. That ship, holding 768 passengers, was the firm's first transatlantic ship.
After changing the company name to "Linea C," the firm expanded its transatlantic service with new ships and new routes that included South American and Caribbean destinations. In 1986, Linea C decided to do away with its cargo business and just concentrate on passenger cruises. The company name was again changed, this time to Costa Crociere S.P.A.
The firm's foray into television advertising brought in more business and caught the eye of the Carnival Corporation and Airtours, which jointly bought Costa in 1997. By 2000, Carnival was the sole owner, and the major cruise firm started adding new ships, all with a focus on luxury and entertainment. Along with the ships came expansion into the Asian Pacific cruise market.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia grounded on the rocks off Giglio Island, near the port of Civitavecchia, Italy. Of the more than 4,200 people aboard, 32 died. The ship sat on the rocks for over a year before a massive salvage operation began. The ship was refloated, and in July of 2014, the Concordia arrived at a dry dock in Genoa, Italy to be dismantled.