SHANGHAI--Costa Cruises, the beleaguered owner of a cruise liner that ran aground last month in Italy, has called in PR support in China.

The company has appointed Hill + Knowlton Strategies in Shanghai to oversee its brand reputation efforts, as it attempts to "harnass renewed momentum and move forward" in the country.

“We are eager to take this new step with Hill+Knowlton Strategies in the China market,” said Buhdy Bok, VP of Pacific Asia  and China at Costa Cruise. “This is an important opportunity to move forward and we want to be best positioned to embrace this with H+K Shanghai’s expertise, especially in brand reputation management.”

Global bookings at Costa parent Carnival Corporation have slumped significantly since its Costa Concordia ship capsized off Italy, killing 32 people. 

The company was the first international cruise player to enter China, and has become a well-established tourism brand in the country. In late 2011, it became the cruise industry’s first wholly-owned foreign enterprise in China. To date, more than 170,000 Chinese passengers have travelled on Costa Cruises.