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

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



Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 400 out of 500

Accommodation: 146 out of 200

Food: 264 out of 400

Service: 284 out of 400

Entertainment: 71 out of 100

Cruise: 291 out of 400

Overall Score: 1456 out of 2000

AIDAbella Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 69,203

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9362542

Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)

Original Cost: $390 million

Entered Service: Apr 2008

Registry: Italy

Length (ft/m): 826.7/252.0

Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 24.6/7.5

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (36,000 kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 13

Total Crew: 646

Passengers (lower beds): 2,050

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 33.7

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 3.1

Cabins (total): 1,025

Size Range (sq ft/m): 145.3-473.2/13.5-44

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 480

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 11

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 10

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: No

Swimming Pools: 3

Hot Tubs (on deck): 0

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: Euros


This upbeat, family-friendly ship is for 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, with two main self-serve buffet restaurants instead of the traditional waiter service. It’s tablecloth-less eating, and there is little contact with 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, which is itself part of Carnival Corporation.

The open deck space is rather limited, but sunbathing space includes some reasonably quiet space above the navigation bridge. Dip pools and hot tubs, plus seating areas, are provided in a cascading, tiered setting on the pool deck, providing a reasonable amount of sunbathing space. It’s all designed to be in a ‘beach-like’ environment, with splash and play areas.

Several decks of public rooms and facilities are positioned above the accommodation decks, and many of the public room names are common aboard all the ships in the fleet: Aida Bar, for example, the main social gathering place, whose principal feature is a star-shaped bar (its combined length is among the longest at sea), with many tables for standing drinkers.

A small casino features blackjack, roulette and poker gaming tables, and there are also several slot machines. There’s also a ‘no music’ observation lounge, and an art gallery. The embarkation entryway is innovative, has a bar/coffee counter and a lookout ‘balcony,’ and is cheerfully painted to look like a street scene. It is quite different from the utilitarian gangway entry areas found aboard most cruise ships and provides a welcoming environment.

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.

Families. AIDAbella really 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 in a holiday camp atmosphere, and special Club Team members dedicated to making it all happen. Supervised by a chef, children can make their own menus for the week, and visit the galley to make cookies and other items - a novel idea more cruise lines could adopt.

Accommodation. There are eight or nine 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 - like the lifeboats), 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, and slightly whimsical, 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 the headboard to the ceiling. The windows have full pull-down blackout blinds (useful in destinations with long daylight hours).

The 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 may need.

Thick cotton bathrobes are provided, as are a face towel and a ‘bath’ towel. The ‘bath’ towels are not large, at 54 by 27 inches - compared to 72 by 36 inches aboard P&O Cruises’ Ventura, for example. The bathroom does not have a hairdryer, but one is located in the vanity unit in the cabin. Note that the usual night-time turndown service provided aboard most ships is not provided, and 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. Balcony cabins have a hammock as standard, but it’s just for one (thin) person. Some cabins (forward on Deck 5 - Nos 5103, 5104, 5105, 5106, 5203, 5204, 5206) have cabins with an outside view (well, outside light), but they are obstructed by steel bulkheads.

Dining. There are three self-serve eateries: Markt (Market), Bella Vista (for Italian cuisine), and Weite Welt (Wide World) restaurants. Additionally, there’s a Buffalo Steakhouse (which serves excellent steaks), an à la carte Rossini Restaurant with waiter and sommelier service, a Sushi Bar, a Pizzeria Mare, and a Café Mare.

In the three self-serve restaurants, the meal concept is simple: main meals are taken when you want them in one of the large self-serve buffet-style restaurants, with open seating at tables of four, six, or eight. Cutlery can be found hanging in a rack (but this is rather unhygienic because many fingers can touch it); there are no soup spoons, only dessert spoons.

The many food islands and active stations cut down on the waiting time for food. There is always a good selection of breads, cheeses, cold cuts, fruits, and coffee and teas - with a choice of more than 30 types of loose-leaf regular and herbal teas. More than 1,200 items of food are offered, and the fish section has its own fish smoking unit.

Beer is available at the push of a button or a pull of the tap, and table wine is usually provided in carafes on each table for lunch and dinner. Note that 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 à la carte Rossini Restaurant, with mostly high-back seats, has an intimate atmosphere. It is open for dinner only, and has a set five- or six-course menu, plus daily ‘specials.’ There is no cover charge, but an extra charge applies to additional items from the à la carte menu, and wines. Reservations are needed. Tablecloths are provided, the food is good, and service is sound.

The Buffalo Steakhouse has an open ‘display’ kitchen, and offers various steak cuts and sizes - Delmonico, New York Strip Loin, Porterhouse, and Filet, plus bison steaks - and roast lamb rack. There’s a daily special - a prix-fixe meal (example: a 180g fillet steak, house salad, and dessert). It’s like going out to eat in a decent restaurant ashore - but there are no tablecloths. Wine and any other drinks are extra.

A 12-seater sushi counter is for Japanese-style sushi and sashimi dishes. The Pizzeria Mare provides a small selection of ever popular pizzas.

Entertainment. The Theatrium (theater) is in the center of the ship. It is open to the main foyer and other public areas, on three levels (Decks 9, 10, and 11), and topped by a glass dome. Amphitheater-style seating is on three decks (the bench seating on the two upper levels has back supports, but not on the lower level), plus standing tables, although sight lines to the raised thrust stage area are less than good from many of the seats.

Spa/Fitness. The Body and Soul wellness/oasis area is located on two decks (connected by a stairway) and encompasses some 24,750 sq ft (2,300 sq m). There is also an open-air wellness FKK deck for relaxation/nude sunbathing in an area just forward of the ship’s mast. There are saunas and steam rooms, and 14 rooms for massage and other treatments (most named after places associated with the design theme), a fitness room with high-tech machines, neat showers, funky changing rooms, and a tropical garden with real (waxed) palm trees and relaxation loungers. Sport enthusiasts can also play billiards, volleyball or squash - or go jogging.