Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 382 out of 500
Accommodation: 146 out of 200
Food: 255 out of 400
Service: 284 out of 400
Entertainment: 68 out of 100
Cruise: 287 out of 400
Overall Score: 1422 out of 2000
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9334856
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: $390 million
Entered Service: Apr 2007
Length (ft/m): 830.0/253.3
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 24.6
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
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 0
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
Try this large family-friendly ship for a good-time experience
Overview. An AIDAdiva cruise is for youthful German-speaking couples, singles, and particularly families seeking a fun-filled environment, with good entertainment. This is all about über-casual cruising, with two main self-serve buffet restaurants and tablecloth-less eating.
The Ship. The ship has a contemporary profile, swept-back funnel and wedge-shaped stern, and red lips on the bows, 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.
Several decks of public rooms and facilities are positioned above the accommodation decks, and AIDAdiva shares public room names that 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 (whose combined length makes it among the longest at sea), with many tables for standing drinkers. There’s also a ‘no music’ observation lounge, and an ‘art’ gallery.
A small casino features blackjack, roulette and poker tables, and there are also a number of slot machines. The embarkation entryway is innovative; it has a bar and a lookout ‘balcony,’ and is cheerfully painted to look like a street scene in a city like Copenhagen. Different from the utilitarian gangway entry areas found aboard most cruise ships, it is 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, and no ‘formal’ dress-up nights on board. Port taxes and gratuities are included.
Families. AIDAdiva 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 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 have interconnecting doors - useful for families.
The decor is bright, youthful, rather minimalist, and slightly whimsical. All are accented with multi-patterned fabrics, wood-trimmed cabinetry, and rattan or wood-look furniture. Beds have duvets and a colourful canopy from headboard to ceiling, and windows have full pull-down blackout blinds (useful in destinations with long daylight hours).
The bathrooms are compact, with a shower enclosure, small washbasin, and 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 for all grades of accommodation, as are two towels - 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 - it’s located in the vanity unit in the cabin. There is no cabin service after 3pm, and no night-time turn-down service.
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. Note that balconies on the lowest deck can be overlooked by anyone on a balcony on the decks above. Balcony cabins have a hammock as standard (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 that form the front section of the ship.
Naturally, 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 are the best and most desirable).
Dining. There are three self-serve eateries: Markt (Market), Bella Vista (for Italian cuisine), and Weite Welt (Wide World) restaurants. The opening times for lunch and dinner are 12.30-2pm and 6.30-9pm respectively. 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. These venues are open at set times (there are no 24-hour-a-day outlets, because there is little demand for them), although the Pizzeria typically stays open until midnight.
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 hangs in a rack (a somewhat unhygienic arrangement), but there are no soup spoons, only dessert spoons.
The many food islands and active stations help reduce the waiting time for food. There is always a good selection of breads, cheeses, cold cuts, fruits, and make-your-own coffee and teas.
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 usually provided in carafes on each table for lunch and dinner. Note that beverage stations open only during restaurant opening hours, unless you go to the extra-cost coffee bar (Café Mare).
Other dining options. The à la carte Rossini Restaurant, with mostly high-back seats, has an intimate atmosphere, and tablecloths. 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 (such as caviar, chateaubriand, rib-eye steak), and wine or any other drinks. Reservations are needed.
The Buffalo Steakhouse has an open ‘display’ kitchen, and offers various prime steak cuts and sizes - Delmonico, New York Strip Loin, Porterhouse, and Filet, plus bison steaks - and roast lamb rack. It’s like going out to eat in a decent restaurant ashore. Wine or any other drinks cost 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.
The shows (each is just 30 minutes long, with four different shows scheduled each evening, so there’s plenty to see and experience) are produced by AIDA Cruises’ in-house department in a joint venture with SeeLive (Hamburg’s Schmidt’s Tivoli Theater), and consist of around 12 performers. Show vocals are performed live to pre-recorded backing tracks that provide a mix of recorded live music and synthesized sound (there’s no live band on stage). The shows are trendy, upbeat, fun, and very entertaining.
Spa/Fitness. The spa, fitness and sports programming is extensive. 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 (atop the ship forward of the ship’s mast).