They were once a shipping company handling container cargo. They're relatively new, don't know when they bought their first cruiseliner but it's been well over 5 years. The closest cruiseline out there for comparison would be Costa, much better known. They're both based in Genoa, Italy and have a very European flair. English, although spoken by all their crew members may not be the primary language on announcements or at your dinner table on many itineraries. If you're looking for a cruise that includes a great culturally diverse experience, expecially in the Med, either line would be a good choice. If you're looking for a traditional North American population, meals, etc. stick with the lines you're more familliar with.