Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 355 out of 500
Accommodation: 131 out of 200
Food: 251 out of 400
Service: 268 out of 400
Entertainment: 68 out of 100
Cruise: 277 out of 400
Overall Score: 1350 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: AIDA Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9221554
Builder: Aker MTW (Germany)
Original Cost: $350 million
Entered Service: Apr 2002
Length (ft/m): 666.5/202.8
Beam (ft/m): 92.2/28.1
Draft (ft/m): 20.7/6.3
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
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
An upbeat, family-friendly ship for vibrant, busy, cruising
Overview. Any 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 the relatively few staff.
The Ship. AIDAvita has a smart profile, with a swept-back funnel and wedge-shaped stern. The bows display the red lips and 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.
Open deck space is tight, but sunbathing space includes some rather pleasant, reasonably quiet space above the navigation bridge. Dip pools and hot tubs, plus seating areas, are provided in a cascading, tiered setting atop the ship on the pool deck, providing a decent amount of sunbathing space. It’s all designed to be in a ‘beach-like’ environment, with splash and play areas.
Other facilities include a shore excursion counter, library, seminar rooms, duty-free shop, several bars and lounges, a small casino with blackjack, roulette and poker gaming tables, and slot machines.
There is an aft sports deck, a ‘no music’ observation lounge, and an art gallery. The embarkation entryway is really innovative, has a bar and a lookout balcony, and is cheerfully painted to look like a city street scene. It is different from the utilitarian gangway entry areas found aboard most cruise ships. A welcoming environment, it helps to calm tempers after waiting in a line to go through the security process for embarkation or in ports of call.
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.
Several decks of public rooms and facilities are positioned above the accommodation decks, and AIDAvita 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.
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.
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/cabins have two beds (convertible to queen-size bed). Some cabins have two extra beds/berths for children; some have interconnecting doors - practical for families.
The decor is bright, youthful, 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. The 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; 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 suite-grade accommodation (non-suite grade passengers can obtain one from the spa). A face towel and a ‘bath’ towel are provided. 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 an easy-open sliding door 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. 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 totally obstructed by steel bulkheads that form the front section of the ship.
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 (typically) 12.30-2pm and 6.30-9pm respectively.
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 (considered unhygienic), and there are no soup spoons, only dessert spoons. It’s very casual and easy-going mass catering, so think food court eating, not dining.
There is always a decent 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.
You can sit where you want, when you want, and with whom you want, so eating is a socially interactive occasion. In fact, it’s hard to be an unsociable couple and have a table for only two. At peak times, the venues may remind you of noisy roadside cafés. Because of the large buffet rooms and self-serve dining concept, the crew to passenger ratio looks poor; but this is because there are no waiters as such (except in à la carte venues), only staff for clearing tables.
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. Vending machines dispense out-of-hours snacks.
Other dining options. The Rossini Restaurant (à la carte) has a quiet, 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 the waiter and sommelier service are friendly.
The wine bar, Vinotheque, 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).
Entertainment. The Theater (Das Theater) is the main venue for all shows and most cabaret, and is two decks high, with 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.
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 whole ‘ice walls’ to use when you come out of 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.