The last Sphinx-class cruiseship built for AIDA is AIDAstella, she is seen here from Velsen Noord at the Northsea Canal sailing for Amsterdam at the 22nd of april 2013.
Originally, the Sphinx-class of ships was to be four ships only. But the success of the first ships was so big, that the order was renegotiated and the fourth ship would be enlarged with one extra deck. Besides this, two extra ships were ordered to this new design, dubbed the Ikarus-class although nobody nowadays uses this class-diversion and also the enlarged ships are mostly referred to as Sphinx-class. At the 12th of august 2010, AIDA Cruises ordered still another ship in the class, this time really the last, as the company started to think bigger with the Hyperion-class of 125.000-tons in their minds. Clearly, the clubship concept that the company had introduced in the 1990's worked very well and the take-over of the line together with their parent P&O had given AIDA Cruises the financials to expand.
Construction and general statistics
Like all of her Sphinx- and Ikarus-sisters before, the ship was ordered from the Jos L. Meyer yards at Papenburg, Germany where she was constructed under yardnumber S.695. The ship measures 71.304 tons, she has a lenght of 253,33 meters, she is 32,20 meters wide and her draft is 7,30 meters. The maximum passengercount on hr twelve passengerdecks is 2500, but on a two-per-cabin basis this number is set at 2174. Also, 646 crewmembers are aboard. The ship flies the Italian flag, due to the link between AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises and her homeport is Genoa. But in everything, the ship is German and caters for German passengers. Under her real name AIDAstella, the tenth ship in the fleet of AIDA Cruises, she left her buildingdock at the 25th of january 2013 and during the night of the 9th of february, she left the outfitting basin and started her transfer over the river Emstowards the northern German port of Emden.
Design and style
The home-designer for all ships within the AIDA fleet is Partner Ship Design, based in Hamburg, Germany. In all, she definitely is a German ship, although you will also feel very welcome as a 'foreigner' aboard. The ship is very bright and colourfull, but in a modern way, not in an eighties style neon-fashion. She offers a very large Spa-area and wellness center and also children are very welcome aboard and there is a lot of entertainment especially for the smaller guests. The company offers discounts for every passenger under 24, making it very affordable for young parents with young children. This is also why the AIDA ships can be very full with children especially in the summer holidays, just keep that in mind as when you are looking for a relaxed, quiet holiday, this may not be your ship.
Just like her closest sister AIDAmar, the ship has LED-flatscreens within the inside cabins, so when you book an inside cabin, you will still have views of the sea...
For an extra touch of environmentfriendliness (if that's not a word it will be now), the ships ballasttanks are carefully designed so that micro-organisms that are taken in when the ships ballasttanks are filled, will be eliminated so they will not leave the ballasttanks again when they are emptied in another part of the world. This way, they will not be brought over to other environments where they could damage the local ecosystems. AIDAstella is the first ship in the world that is equipped with this kind of system.
For several people, commuting to work means crowded subwaytrains or holding tight to railings in smelly busses. For me, commuting to work means meeting up close with things like cruiseliners. Every day I have to take the ferry across the Northsea Canal and sometimes I have a close encounter of this kind.
AIDAstella left Emden on the so called Clubnight at the 11th of march, sailing for the port of Hamburg. From here, she left on a voyage with fans of AIDA Cruises one day later and she returned to Hamburg at the 14th of march. She was named in the port of Warnemunde at the 16th of that same month. AIDA Cruises is the last years known for its spectacular naming ceremonies, and this again was something special. The ship was christened from inside the Theatrium by not one, two or three godmothers, but by ten godmothers. They christened the ship with the words 'You exquisite ship, we christen you with the name AIDAstella. We wish you, our guests and our crew bon voyage at all times and may there always be water under heel keel.' The selection of these ten godmothers was easy, because the ship is the last ship in the Sphinx-class, this selection was a 'thank you' for all people who helped making the class the succes as it is. Eight of the godmothers are female crewmembers representing all different countries and different departments of AIDA Cruises. One godmother represented the builder, Jos L. Meyer, and one godmother represented the designers, Partner Ship Design. Because of the great weather, some 15.000 spectators attended the event at Warnemunde and watched the moment when the bottle of champagne was smashed at her bow, followed by a gala fireworks display where the AIDA Cruises namings are know for. After her unusual naming, started her normal cruisesailings in northern Europe. In the winter of 2013/2014, the ship was based in southern Europe for cruises around the Canary Islands. Untill this day, AIDAstella keeps loyal to this sailingscedule.
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