AIDAaura - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)


★★★ +

Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 360 out of 500

Accommodation: 131 out of 200

Food: 259 out of 400

Service: 269 out of 400

Entertainment: 71 out of 100

Cruise: 277 out of 400

Overall Score: 1367 out of 2000

AIDAaura Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 42,289

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9221566

Builder: Aker MTW (Germany)

Original Cost: $350 million

Entered Service: Apr 2003

Registry: Italy

Length (ft/m): 665.5/202.8

Beam (ft/m): 92.2/28.1

Draft (ft/m): 20.3/6.2

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (27,150kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 10

Total Crew: 389

Passengers (lower beds): 1,266

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 33.4

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 3.0

Cabins (total): 633

Size Range (sq ft/m): 145.3-344.4/13.5-32.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 60

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 4

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 6

Casino (gaming tables): No

Slot Machines: No

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 5

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: Euros


This upbeat, family-friendly ship is for casual, no-frills cruising

Overview. An AIDA Cruise is for youthful German-speaking couples, singles, and particularly families seeking good value for money in a party-like environment, with excellent entertainment. This is all about über-casual cruising for urbanites, with two main self-serve buffet restaurants. It’s tablecloth-less eating, and there is little contact with the relatively few staff.

The Ship. The ship has a smart, contemporary profile, with a swept-back funnel and wedge-shaped stern. The bows display the red lips, as well as the blue eyes, of Aïda (from Verdi’s opera, written to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1871). AIDA Cruises, Germany’s largest cruise line, is part of Costa Cruises − itself part of Carnival Corporation.

There are three pricing levels - Aida Premium, Aida Vario, and Just Aida - depending on what you want to be included, plus differences in price according to accommodation size and grade, and the itinerary. Opt for the basic, price-driven Just Aida package and the cruise line chooses the ship, itinerary, and accommodation for you - sort of a pot-luck cruise, based on or close to the dates you choose.

The dress code is simple: casual (no ties) at all times - there are no formal nights on board. All port taxes and gratuities are included in all packages, and, with very attractive rates, a cruise provides much better value than almost any land-based vacation.

Families. This is a family-friendly ship. Children are split into five age groups: Seepferdchen (4-6 years), Delfine (7-9), Sharks (10-11), Orcas (12-13), and Teens (14-17). Each has its own play area. There is a diverse selection of children’s and youth programs, and special Club Team members dedicated to making sure that everyone has a good time.

Accommodation. There are several grades, from deluxe suites to interior (no-view) cabins, depending on the ship, which keeps your cabin choice simple.

Contrary to maritime traditions (even-numbered cabins on the port side, odd-numbered cabins on the starboard side), cabin numbers progress numerically (example: 8201-8276 on the port side; 8101-8176 on the starboard side). All suites and cabins have two beds (convertible to queen-size bed). Some cabins also have two extra beds/berths for children, and some cabins have interconnecting doors - useful for families.

The decor is bright, youthful, minimalist, even whimsical, and accented with multi-patterned fabrics, wood-trimmed cabinetry (with nicely rounded edges), and rattan or wood-look furniture. Beds have duvets and a colorful Arabian-style fabric canopy from headboard to ceiling. Windows have full pull-down blackout blinds (useful in destinations with long daylight hours). Lifeboats may obstruct views in some cabins in the ship’s center.

Bathrooms are compact, practical units, with a shower enclosure, small washbasin, and small toilet. Only a wall-mounted body wash/shampoo dispenser is provided, so take your own conditioner, hand lotion, and other toiletries you need.

Thick, 100 percent cotton bathrobes are provided for suite-grade accommodation, although non-suite grade passengers can obtain one from the spa. Two towels are provided - a face towel and a ‘bath’ towel, in two different colors. The ‘bath’ towels are not very large, at 54 by 27 inches - compared to 72 by 36 inches aboard the P&O Cruises’ Ventura, for example. Although the bathrooms do not have a hairdryer, one is located in the vanity unit in the cabin. Unusually, night-time turndown service is not provided (there is no cabin service after 3pm).

Cabins with balconies have a sliding door that’s easy to open and doesn’t impinge on balcony space, a small drinks table and two small, light chairs are provided. Balconies on the lowest deck can be overlooked by anyone on a balcony on the decks above. Some cabins (forward on Deck 5 - Nos 5103, 5104, 5105, 5106, 5203, 5204, 5206) aboard this ship have an outside view (well, outside light), but they are totally obstructed by steel bulkheads that form the front section of the ship.

Suite-grade accommodation offers more space, including more drawer and storage space, better quality furniture and furnishings, a larger lounge area, and a slightly larger bathroom with a tub - and a larger balcony (those at the front and stern of the ship have the best views).

Dining. Two eateries are included in the cruise fare; these are the Markt and Karibik self-serve buffet-style restaurants. The opening times for lunch and dinner are 12.30-2pm and 6.30-9pm respectively.

The concept is simple: main meals are taken when you want them in one of the two large self-serve buffet restaurants, with open seating at tables of four, six, or eight. Cutlery hangs in a rack (rather unhygienic because it can be touched by many fingers); there are no soup spoons, only dessert spoons. It’s very casual and easy-going mass catering, so think food court eating, not dining.

Also, the tables are almost all large (for six or eight persons), and, when the ship is full, it is challenging to find a seat, not to mention service staff to clean the tables. Because it’s a buffet venue, you’ll probably sit with different people for each meal - which could be a good way to make new friends.

Several food islands and active stations cut down on the waiting time for food. There is always a big selection of breads, cheeses, cold cuts, fruits, and make-your-own coffee and teas - with a choice of more than 30 types of loose-leaf regular and herbal teas; in all, over 1,200 items of food are offered.

Beer is available at the push of a button or a pull of the tap, and table wine - of the sort that would make a good drain cleaner - is provided in carafes set on tables for lunch and dinner. The beverage stations open only during restaurant opening hours, unless you go to the extra-cost coffee bar (Café Mare). Vending machines dispense out-of-hours snacks.

Other dining options. The small Rossini Restaurant (à la carte) has a quieter, more intimate atmosphere. Open for dinner only, it has a set five- or six-course menu (plus daily specials). An extra charge applies to additional items from an à la carte menu (such as caviar, chateaubriand, rib-eye steak), wine or other drinks. Reservations are needed, tablecloths are provided, the food is good, and the waiter and sommelier service is friendly.

Vinotheque, the wine bar, located in front of the Weide Welt (Wide World) Restaurant, has a good list of premium wines, and Davidoff cigars (although you can’t smoke them at the bar - or anywhere inside the ship).

Pizzeria Mare provides ever popular pizzas.

Entertainment. The Theater (Das Theater) is the venue for shows and most cabaret acts, and is two decks high. It has a raised stage, and amphitheater-style bench seating on all levels. The benches have back rests, and are quite comfortable, and sight lines are good from most seats, with the exception of port and starboard balcony sections, where sight lines are interrupted by thick safety railings.

The trendy, upbeat shows are produced by AIDA Cruises’ in-house department in a joint venture with SeeLive (Hamburg’s Schmidt’s Tivoli Theater). Vocals in the shows are performed live, to pre-recorded backing tracks that mix recorded live music and synthesized sound.

Spa/Fitness. The Body and Soul Spa, is located forward on Deck 11. It measures 11,840 sq ft (1,100 sq m), and contains two saunas (one dry, one wet, both with seats for more than 20 persons, and glass walls that look onto the deck), massage and other treatment rooms, and a large lounging area. There are also showers, and two ‘ice walls’ adjacent to the saunas (simply lean into the ice wall for maximum effect). Forward and outside the wellness center, is an FKK (Freikoerperkultur) nude sunbathing deck, on two levels.

Sport biking is part of the line’s youthful image, with three different levels of cycling to suit differing fitness levels. ‘Sport bikes’ (mountain bikes with tough front and rear suspension units) are provided for conducted biking excursions in each port of call by a concession run by Austrian downhill champion skier Erwin Resch. You can also book diving and golfing excursions (golf-theme packages include playing at notable courses in many ports of call), play golf in the electronic golf simulator, billiards, volleyball, or squash - or go jogging.