At the 13th of december 2007, Carnival Corporation ordered two more cruiseships for the very successfull Aida Cruises brand. In april 2007, just half a year earlier, the first ship of the Sphinx-class AIDAdiva was starting her sailings and she was to be followed by two ships of the same design, AIDAbella and AIDAluna. Confidence in the new class of ships was high, as a fourth ship was also already ordered but to a slightly different design, with one extra deck. She was to become AIDAblu and because of the change in design, this ship wasn't officially part of the Sphinx-class anymore, but the lead-ship for the Ikarus-class. The two newly ordered ships would be built to her profile, so with the extra deck too.
AIDAsol seen from Velsen Zuid at the 30th of april 2011. This small village was almost destroyed totally when the Northsea Canal was enlarged. Only a small part around the church is still existing. A new part of the village has been built at the northside of the Canal, and it's called Velsen Noord.
Construction and general statistics
The keel for the first of the two extra ships was laid at 20th of october of 2008 and she was to be built under yardnumber S.689. In the beginning, she was known as AIDA SPHINX V, but at the 6th of november of 2009, she was given her true name, AIDAsol. The ship floated out of her building dock at Jos L. Meyer's wharf at Papenburg, northern Germany at the 27th of february 2011. She measures some 71.304 tons, is 253,33 meters long, 32,20 meters wide and her draft is 7,20 meters. The total number of passengers she can carry is 2500, but the normal figure given is 2198 and this is based on a two-per-cabin count. She also accomodates 646 crewmembers. Originally, she was driven by two five-bladed propellers that are powered by two diesel-electric engines designed by VEM Sachsenwerk, making the ship normally sail at a speed of 21,8 knots. Her homeport is Genoa, Italy due to the connections with Costa Cruises (this is explained on the AIDA main page). At the 11th of march 2011, AIDAsol transferred from the Papenburg yards to Emden via the Ems river, a river nearly wide enough for the massive cruiseliners built at Meyer's yard. To watch a ships passage over the river is always a marvellous sight and a good day out for the people living in the region or people who travel from all over Europe to witness those events. Meanwhile, her newer sister was also in the building process and she had recieved the name of AIDAmar. Another ship to the Ikarus-class design was also ordered and she finally became the AIDAstella, bringing the Sphinx/ Ikarus classes at a total of seven ships.
AIDAsol at the passengerterminal at Amsterdam during her first call and overnight stay at the Dutch capital. She is seen here at the 15th of april 2011, just days after her delivery to the company.
Naming ceremony and design
The following 9th of april, the ship was named at Kiel by Bettina Zwickler, an inhabitant of Kiel who won a Facebook contest out of 1523 women and was picked to be the godmother of the new ship. The naming ceremony was truly one of a large scale. A free concert in the style of the Night of the Proms was organized, and artists playing there included names like Kim Wilde and John Miles. Also, YouTube broadcasted the entire event and at the other ships of AIDA, passengers could enjoy a live-stream.
AIDAsol offers the same facilities as the AIDAblu, including the brewery and one the largest Spa's at sea. Her interiours were designed by the Hamburg-based Partner Ship Design and mostly are done in fresh Mediterranean colours, with many light-greens and blues, in combination with white. The walls of the 3000 square meter Theatrium, the central hub aboard, are decorated with light wood materials and silver leaf. Seven restaurants, of which four are buffet-market style, and twelve bars are there to care care of the hungry and thirsty passengers, so no need to worry about that. There is also plenty of outdoor spaces, especially for a modern cruiseliner that mostly take care of the ships interiour spaces where the money is spent.
Amsterdam was one of her first ports of call and in fact, the ship is the 1000th cruiseship that berthed at the new passenger terminal, opened in 2000. At saturday the 16th of april 2011, the captain of the ship was offered the symbolic key of the city of Amsterdam by its mayor, Eberhart van der Laan. Also, the German ambassador in The Netherlands Heinz-Peter Behr, the vice-president of AIDA Cruises Michael Ungerer and the director of the port of Amsterdam Dertje Meijer attended this traditional symbolic event.
Since her introduction, the ship normally sailes northern Europe and the Baltic during European summer and the Canary Islands or the Mediterranean out of Palma de Mallorca in European winter.
Because environmental friendly cruiseships are the future, AIDA Cruises develloped a new energy saving project for their ships when they are berthed in the port of Hamburg, together with a company called Becker Marine Systems. The plan is to use an LNG-hybrid barge, named Hummel, next to the ships, that will provide electricity and significantly lower emissions. This way, the ships own diesel-plants don't have to be used when the ship is in port. In the summer of 2013, AIDAsol was the first ship using this innovative system. When there are no AIDA ships in port to be fed from the LNG-barges, the barges will be connected to onshore facilities so they can provide energy to the local network.
In december of 2013, the ships two five-bladed propellers were replaced by a Rolls-Royce designed system, named Promas Lite, in which the propellers and the rudder are integrated. Her new propellers only have four blades now and the new system reduces the fuelconsumption, as well takes care of a better manouverability.