Just after Carnival Corporation had taken over the P&O Princess group, they made clear that they were going to invest heavily in the brands that were now part of their emire. As the company realized that Germany was the largest cruisemarket in Europe, one of the first orders placed was for AIDA Cruises, the company that was going to be transformed into one of the leading European cruiselines. Under Carnival management, AIDA Cruises was separated from P&O and placed under the influence of Italian-based Costa Group. The ships of the former German workersunion were re-flagged to Italy and were to be homeported in Genoa. Furthermore, little changed as the main language aboard was to be German and the ships were totally different from the Costa ships. For the new two-ship order, that was placed in october of 2004, Carnival chose to built the ships in Germany at the Jos L. Meyer Werft at Papenburg and the ships were also designed by the Hamburg-based Partner Ship Design. So although now under Italian flag, the ships of the line were definitely German. The new ships were going to be delivered in 2007 and 2009, but just a few months later, a thirth ship was also ordered for delivery in 2008.
The first Sphinx-class ship is the last that I was able to add to the website, so I was very glad to see AIDAdiva entering the Northsea Canal in the morning of the 25th of april 2016. It was just after a small horn-battle with AIDAvita, her older sister who happened to be berthed at IJmuiden's outer harbour.
Construction and general statistics
The name of AIDA Cruises was based on their first 1996-built ship Aida and to stay within the Egyptian theme (Aida is an opera set in ancient Egypt) the hull-art of the first ships was designed by Feliks Büttner who tried to represent the mystery of Egypt into the face of Aida. For the new ships, the hull-art was also to be the same as on the older ships, only the eyeshadow was to be longer down the ships hull. In fact, the eyeshadow is some 140 meters long, the mouth is 16 meters wide and 7 meters high and the eye measures some 150 square meters. Quite a face! The new class of three ships was also named in Egyptian style, as the class became known as the Shinx-class. The first ship of the line, the now named AIDAcara, measured 38.500 tons and the second pair of ships, built just after the new millennium started, were measured at 42.300. With the Sphinx-class, the scale was pushed up considerably, as the ships were going to be measured just below 70.000 tons. This is also why the new class was named the 'thirth generation' of clubships.
At the 25th of october of 2005, the first steel for the first ship of the class was cut and the official 'laying of the keel' took place at the following 3rd of march 2006. After all 55 buildingblocks were put together, the ship was able to float out of the buildingshed at the 28th of september of 2006. She had been built under yardnumber S.659, but now showed the name AIDAdiva. Her total tonnagemeasurement was 69.203 and the ship had a lenght of 251,89 meters, a width of 32,20 meters and a draught of 7,30 meters. She was driven by two five-bladed propellers that got their energy from two Siemens-designed diesel electric engines. The ship was able to sail at a speed of 22,5 knots. At her 11 decks, some 2500 passengers could find a place to sleep, and they are catered for by 607 crewmembers. The passenger-crew ratio is a little lower then on ships of equal size, but this is due to the clubship concept. After the first enginetests, the ship was overhauled to the fitting-out berth at the 4th of march 2007. The transfer over the river Ems was carried out at the 10th of march and she recieved a welcome in the port of Emden where the ship was finally accepted by the company at the 16th of april.
Luckily, Carnival Corporation had chosen for a design that was just going to be used in AIDA Cruises alone. Througout the other owned brands, like Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Cunard Line and Costa Cruises, many shipdesigns were used in several companies. In theory there is nothing wrong with that, a good design can be used in several brands. But it also spoils a little of the brand identities. But with AIDA Cruises being so different in style from all other companies owned by Carnival, a design that is specific for AIDA Cruises seemed just logical. Overall, the ships interiours were designed by the German-based Partner Ship Design and they used a lot of happy colours and a very bright style within the ship. The most striking feauture was of course the combination of an atrium and a theater in the centre of the ship, spanning three decks and with a total floorplan of 3000 square meters. The glasswalls that give so many views of the seas measure a staggering 8000 square meters. The Shinx-class had totally done away with every kind of tradition, losing the broadway-style theater in total, just like they lost the a-la-carte restaurants. The theatrium is a very open, informal space offering shows every night as well as rehearsals throughout the day. Seating mostly is on long benches and it is very easy to see just part of the show without interrupting others when you leave. But why should you leave? Although it is a totally different setting, the quality of the entertainment and the sound-installation is not less then aboard other ships. At the outside of the ship, the theatrium is also really easy visible, as the big glass bulge coming out of the central part of the ship. From the theatrium, there are many views of the sea.
AIDAdiva's Theatrium as seen from the outside.
The four restaurants are market-style buffet, but again, do not think the quality of the food is less. There is a lot of information available for diets and vegetarians and the choice is enormous. There are of course no fixed times to eat and you can walk to the buffets as much as you like. This all is presented in German spotlessness. Of course, there are not many waiters, but you can be your own waiter. Within the four market-style restaurants, you will always find something you'd like to eat. Furthermore, the ship offers three a-la-carte alternative restaurants, where you have to pay a small fee. Then there is also a very wide choice of bars and lounges, eleven in total, of which the AIDA Bar is one of the favorites. Here, a 65-meter bar is placed in the center in the form of a compass-rose, so there are many seats available at the bar and interaction with felloow passengers is very easy. The ship also has 6400 square meters of outside space, a volleyball, basketball and squashfield as well as a joggingtrack. For swimming, three swimmingpools and four whirlpoos are also available.
How happy those ships look, despite the rain...
As wellness is very important for the AIDA passenger, a 2300 square-meter space is available for this. The space is located above the bridge and is partially covered by a sliding glass roof. Underneath are palmtrees, cabana-style beds, a large jacuzzi and hammocks for relaxation. There are also 14 treatmentrooms, a sauna and a steamroom. When the ship was introduced, this was the largest wellnessarea aboard any cruiseliner. If you like to loose a little money after you have lost some weight, you can also try your luck in the ships casino. It is the first ship in the AIDA fleet that has one, as there was no casino aboard the AIDAcara, AIDAvita or AIDAaura. The ship offers also a very large artgallery, with works by Janosch, James Ricchi, Lindenbergh and Robert Nippoldt, among others. For the sportive types, in every port the ship offers its own bike-rental, as well as the possibility to hire diving equipment and a hammock for use on your private balcony. Due to supersticion, the ship does not have a deck 13, it immidiately goes from 12 to 14.
Between the 18th and 22nd of april of 2007, an event named the Aida Days was organized in the port of Hamburg. Highlight was the naming ceremony of AIDAdiva at the 20th of april. The ship was named by Maria Galleski, chosen out of the readers of a local Hamburg newspaper and she named the ship during a 45-minute light and lasershow that had been put together by the German theaterdirector and lightdesigner Gert Hof working for A&O Technology. In the show, more then 200 searchlights were used to lit the Hamburg skies and those were done in the logocolours of AIDA Cruises. Also, special music was created for the ship to create the right vibe. Some 300.000 spectators filled the quays of the city to witness the event and this is very typical for namingceremonies by AIDA Cruises, it is always a very big spectacle and the Germans love it.
At the 30th of april, the ship left for her maiden cruise from Hamburg to Palma de Mallorca, that was to be her summer homeport. During wintertime, the ship mostly sails the Persian Gulf from Dubai but she has also been sailing from Thailand, homeported at Bangkok.
AIDAdiva enters the north lock of IJmuiden. To the far right, you can notice the former tower of the marinetraffic control center that is being demolished for the building of the new lock. This new lock will open in 2019 and will be the largest sealock in the world. The sea-entrance will be located at the point from where this picture is taken.
An incident occurred while the ship was docked in the port of Ashdod, Israel at the 7th of july 2014, when parts from an Israeli missile came down at the decks of the ship. The missile had been a defensivemissile, used in the ongoing Gaza conflict to shoot down a missile launched by Hamas from Gaza. Nobody aboard was injured and there was no damage done to the ship, but it shows that the eastern Mediterranean can be very hazardous.
From 2015, the ship was stationed in the Baltic during the summermonths, sailing from Warnemünde.