AIDAstella - 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: 262 out of 400

Service: 284 out of 400

Entertainment: 71 out of 100

Cruise: 291 out of 400

Overall Score: 1454 out of 2000

AIDAstella Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 71,304

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9601132

Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)

Original Cost: €350 million

Entered Service: Mar 2013

Registry: Italy

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): 722

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


A large family-friendly resort ship for basic, but fun cruising

Overview. AIDAstella is for youthful German-speaking couples, singles, and particularly families seeking an urban party-like environment, with very good entertainment. It’s all about über-casual cruising, with two main self-serve tablecloth-less buffet restaurants instead of waiter service.

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

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 tiered setting atop the ship on the pool deck, providing a decent amount of sunbathing space. It’s all designed as a ‘beach-like’ environment, with splash and play areas.

Overall, this really is cruising for youthful German-speaking families, and for anyone who likes lots of liveliness around them. An AIDA cruise isn’t cheap, but you get lots of high-tech entertainment, and there’s always plenty of food. Some frustration can occur when shore excursions sell out, when lines form after shore excursion buses return to the ship and you have to go through the slow security check, and for shore tenders.

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 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. Port taxes and gratuities are included in all cruises.

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

A small casino features blackjack, roulette and poker gaming tables, as well as slot machines. There are many balcony cabins, a separate aft sports deck, a ‘no music’ observation lounge, and an art gallery.

Families. AIDAstella 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.

Accommodation. There are several cabin grades, from deluxe suites to interior (no-view) cabins.

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, rather minimalist, and slightly whimsical. All are 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 that goes from headboard to the ceiling. Windows have full pull-down blackout blinds (useful in destinations with long daylight hours).

Bathrooms are compact, practical units; they have a shower enclosure, small washbasin, and small toilet. As in the most basic hotels and motels, 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, in two different colors. 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 that 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 one-person hammock. 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.

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 fine 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.

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.

The many food islands and active stations cut down on 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 (weak) loose-leaf regular and herbal teas. 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 is provided in carafes on each table for lunch and dinner. 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 everything on the à la carte menu and for wines. Reservations are needed, tablecloths are provided, the food is good, and service is sound.

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. It’s a little like going out to eat in a decent restaurant ashore - but without tablecloths. Wine or any other drinks cost extra.

There is a 12-seater sushi counter has stools for seating, and two low-slung tables.

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 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).