AIDAperla as seen sailing past Hoek van Holland in the early morning of the 27th of april in 2018. She is heading for Hamburg during her European capitols cruise.
The succesfull introduction of the Sphinx and Ikarus classes for AIDA Cruises after the Carnival Corporation take-over of the P&O Group in 2003 resulted in a spectacular growth for the untill that time smallish AIDA Cruises brand. With these two new classes, the German-based company created a loyal following and a strong name for European cruising in particular. Their no-nonsense, youthfull and cheaper style of cruising filled a great demand and soon in was obvious that the company could handle bigger ships. The Sphinx and Ikarus classes had been 70.000-tonners, but on the 3rd of august in 2011, a new class of two ships was ordered from the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Yards at Nagasaki, Japan and they were going to measure around 125.000 tons. A huge step forward, so the class was dubbed the Hyperion-class, after the Greek mythological figure who'se name means 'he who walks to great heights.'
Construction and general statistics
The earlier classes had been built in Germany, but because of the full orderbooks at Jos L. Meyer in Papenburg mainly, the ships were going to be built in Japan. Their planned deliverydates were march 2015 for the first ship and march 2016 for the second ship. But soon after the keel-laying of the first ship, the to-be AIDAprima, it was clear that the planned deliveries would not be met. The design for the new cabins took longer then expected and the wharf came in severe financial difficulties due to re-designing the ships and the materials not arriving on time. Also AIDA Cruises insisted at making the ships as environmentalfriendly as was possible, adding again to the delay due to designchanges during building. As AIDAprima was delayed two times, ultimately to the deliverydate of the second ship then thought to be named AIDAmia, the second ship automaticly was also delayed by the same time.
The keel for the second ship, then known as yardnumber 2301, was laid after the AIDAprima had left the buildingdock in may of 2014. The ship was 299,95 meters long, 37,65 meters wide and her draft was going to be 8 meters. The tonnage measurement is 125.572 and there is space aboard for 3250 passengers in 1643 cabins. Those passengers are catered for by 900 crewmembers on 18 decks. The Hyperion-class ships are the first in the AIDA fleet to be driven by two ABB designed Azipods of the XO-class. These are the first pods that AIDA Cruises trusts, as the earlier podsystems had the disadvantage of failing from time to time. Power comes from three dieselengines of Caterpillar-MaK design and one diesel/ gas motor. They provide the opportunity to sail at a speed of 22 knots.
Partially because of the long delays experienced by the AIDAprima, in october of 2014 it was announced that also the new ship, who'se name was now AIDAperla, was not going to meet the planned deliverydate. A new deliverydate was set for the first quarter of 2017, a year later then originally planned. With all delays and problems, the wharf had to report a loss of 1,7 billion US dollars on the building of the ships of the Hyperion-class. On the 27th of april of 2017, the ship was finally delivered from the wharf to the cruiseline and she left the wharf at the following 3rd of may. It was reported that the ship was delivered three weeks ahead of scedule, but, well...
Just like the ships of the Royal Princess-class for Princess Cruises, the Hyperion-class ships have a skywalk. It is much different aboard both classes, this one on AIDAperla is situated at the aft end of the ship, where the skywalk aboard the Princess Cruises ships is located midships.
Like her earlier sister AIDAprima, AIDAperla breaks tradition as she is built with a straight stem, a designfeature long lost for passengerships since the 1920's. Because the ship was designed for slower, port intensive cruises, the straight stem works better then the flared bow, that is better for longer distances. This was incoreparated after long tests at the Hamburg Schiffbau Versuchsansalt (HSV), a researchfacility that was set up by the Blohm & Voss Shipyard. Also the bulbous bow is smaller then on most cruiseship and with the streamlined hull, the water flows more freely in slower speeds.
A new system that was developed by Mitsubishi is also incorporated in the design. This so-called Mitsubishi Air Lubrication Sysytem (MALS) is blowing airbubbles under the ships hull, reducing friction and creating a smoother sailing. The system also provide a fuelreduction of seven percent because of the lower frictions. Next to these changes in the design of the hull, the ship also is equipped with the shrudder-filtersystem at the funnel, reducing harmfull emissions like nitrogenoxide and soot-particles with 90 to 99%. Like her sister, it is possible for AIDAperla to be fuelled with Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) while in the ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg or Southampton. This gas is now the most environment-friendly was to power a ship and she and her sister are the first ships in the world having this possibility.
For the interiour design, the company approached Partner Ship Design, based in Germany, like they had also done with all precious ships of the company. Of course all standard feautures of the AIDA fleet are incorporated, like the AIDA bar in the shape of a compass-rose, enought open deckspace and a large health and spa area. Also the Theatrium returns, the combination of a theater and an atrium, as well as the four buffet-restaurants next to a wide array of a-la-carte speciality restaurants. The main thema for the ship is the four elements, water, fire, air and earth. This is especially visible on the sportsdeck, where there is the possibility for ice-skating. There are also several slides, a Beach Club with a UV dome so it can be used all-year round and a climbing course.
The first cruise of AIDAperla started at the 28th of may 2017 in the Italian port of Napels. She sailed for Genoa and Palma de Mallorca, settling in for her first seaon of Mediterranean cruises. In Palma de Mallorca, the new ship was named by Lena Gercke, the 2006 winner of Germany's next topmodel. After her naming, the ship kept sailing the Mediterranean, changing places with her earlier sister AIDAprima in march of 2018. She traded places, taking over AIDAprima's northsea cruises from Hamburg and Rotterdam, while AIDAprima started to sail the Med. From october of 2019 onwards, AIDAperla will start sailing in the Caribbean, leaving the European capitals cruise to her older sister AIDAmar.