MUSLIM tourists will have reason to rejoice as Italian ocean liner Costa Victoria is getting a full-fledged halal kitchen next month.
Costa Pacific Asia Operations training and trade marketing deputy director Winnie Wong said they were expected to secure the certification before the cruise liner kicked off its South-East Asia schedule in Singapore and then to Penang for the first time.
“With this, Muslim passengers can havea hassle-free vacation at sea without anydietary concerns.
“We are working closely with Penang International Halal Hub to ensure that our kitchen is halal-compliant,” she said after a press conference in Komtar, Penang, on Friday.
Wong said Costa Victoria would call at Singapore, Phuket in Thailand, as well as Malacca, Pulau Langkawi and Penang for itineraries between three and five nights from Oct 22 to Jan 8 next year.
“We will be making Penang our ‘route base’ or port of call this October.
“Passengers based in Malaysia will be able to embark and disembark in Penang for departures in October and November this year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Penang Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said Costa Victoria had completed its halal kitchen application via online.
“The Halal Management Division is currently verifying the online application. It is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
“The next phase is on board halal inspection and auditing of the cruise liner’s main kitchen in October.
“The application will be evaluated and tabled upon final assessment by the Penang State Halal Board.
“We want the halal certification to be given out during the Halal Malaysia Award Ceremony on Oct 22,” he said.
Abdul Malik said if everything went according to plan, Costa Victoria would be the second cruise liner to be awarded a halal certification.
He said the Blue Lagoon Restaurant of Star Cruise Libra was given a similar award in 2013.
“This year, Star Cruise Libra has shown interest to be based in Penang again with a new halal certification from the state,” he said.
Since its inception in 2008, Halal Penang’s initiative has resulted in the tremendous increase of halal-certified establishments from 55 to 914 premises as of August 2016.