Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 400 out of 500
Accommodation: 146 out of 200
Food: 262 out of 400
Service: 284 out of 400
Entertainment: 71 out of 100
Cruise: 290 out of 400
Overall Score: 1453 out of 2000
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9490052
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: €350 million
Entered Service: Apr 2011
Length (ft/m): 831.1/253.3
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 24.6/7.5
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (36,000 kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 14
Total Crew: 646
Passengers (lower beds): 2,194
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 34.6
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 3.1
Cabins (total): 1,097
Size Range (sq ft/m): 145.3-473.2/13.5-44
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 491
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
This family-friendly large ship is for lively, casual cruises
Overview. AIDAmar is for youthful German-speaking couples, singles, and families seeking a vacation in a fun party-like environment, with plenty of good 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.
The Ship. The ship’s profile is contemporary, quite well proportioned, and the swept-back funnel has a wedge-shaped stern. The bows display the bright 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 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, and according to accommodation size and grade and 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.
Several decks of public rooms and facilities are positioned above the accommodation decks, and AIDAmar shares public room names common to all AIDA Cruises ships: Aida Bar is the main social gathering place; it features a star-shaped bar (whose combined length makes it among the longest at sea), with many tables for standing drinkers.
A small casino features blackjack, roulette and poker gaming tables, and slot machines. There is a separate aft sports deck, a ‘no music’ observation lounge, and an art gallery. Note that there is room service.
Families. AIDAmar 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), 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 in is bright, youthful, rather minimalist, and slightly 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 the headboard to the ceiling. Windows have full pull-down blackout blinds (useful in destinations with long daylight hours).
Bathrooms are compact, practical units, with a shower enclosure, small washbasin, and toilet. As in the most basic hotels and motels, only a wall-mounted body wash/shampoo dispenser is provided (take your own preferred personal toiletries).
Thick cotton bathrobes are provided for all grades of accommodation, as are two towels - a face towel and a ‘bath’ towel, in two different colors. 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 an easy-open sliding door (it doesn’t impinge on balcony space), plus 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, although it only accommodates one (thin) person. Some cabins (forward on Deck 5 - Nos 5103, 5104, 5105, 5106, 5203, 5204, 5206) have cabins with an outside view (well, an outside light), but they are obstructed by steel bulkheads that form the front section of the ship.
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, 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 can be found hanging in a rack, but there are no soup spoons, only dessert spoons.
The standard of food at the self-serve buffet islands ranges from adequate to quite good, with creative displays and presentation, and table-clearing service that is sometimes efficient, but mostly not.
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 make-your-own 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. The fish section has its own fish smoking unit (which resembles a wine cabinet).
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 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 no cover charge Rossini Restaurant, with mostly high-back seats, has an intimate atmosphere. It is open for dinner only, and has a set menu, plus daily ‘specials.’ An extra charge applies to everything on the à la carte menu (such as chateaubriand, rib-eye steak), and for 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 or any other drinks cost extra.
A 12-stool sushi counter is for Japanese-style sushi and sashimi dishes.
A wine bar, Vinotheque, located in front of the Weide Welt (Wide World) Restaurant, has a list of premium wines, and Davidoff cigars (although you can’t smoke them at the bar - or anywhere inside the ship).
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 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 deck for FKK relaxation/nude sunbathing in an area atop the ship forward of the ship’s mast. In keeping with the times, all the trendy treatments are featured in an appealing contemporary setting.