In august of 1997, Deutsche Seereerderei sold its newest 1996-built cruiseliner Aida to Norwegian Cruise Line, so they were able to obtain a better financial position. Although the ship was sold, she was chartered back to DSR, who changed the name of their cruisedivision to Arkona Touristik from january 1998 onwards. This was not the end of the companies restructuring, as from november 1999, Arkona Touristik sold its daughtercompany Seetours to P&O, at that time the thirth largest cruiseoperator in the world, as Arkona Touristik was part of the Seetours name. DSR had bought the name of Seetours from the travelcompany TUI just in october 1997 but financially, it was needed to work together with a larger party, in this case P&O. Arkona Touristik still was financially involved with a 49% share in the new joined venture, that was dubbed AIDA Cruises, but this was only for a few years as the original company sold it's part of AIDA Cruises to P&O Princess Cruises in the year 2000, so AIDA Cruises became a 100% daughter of the international combine. Just before the total merger into P&O Princess, as P&O did not have financial difficulties, that company bought back the Aida from Norwegian Cruise Line, having her sailing under the banner of Aida Cruises. Just before the whole P&O deal was started, at the 29th of september 1999, the company had already ordered two slightly larger versions of the earlier 38.500-ton Aida, and the P&O deal seemed to be a way of getting the two new ships built in the first place. If this beginning of AIDA Cruises is not confusing enough already, I still have to add that in 2003, the whole of the P&O Princess combine was bought by the Carnival Corporation, making all parts of the companies cruisedivision American-owned. But still before the Carnival-deal, the two new ships were added to the fleet.
AIDAvita (center), AIDAcara (right) and Thomson Spirit (left) are shown together in the port of Palma de Malloca at the 22nd of september 2005.
Construction and general statistics
Because of the contacts Arkona Touristik had, both new ships were built at the Aker MTW Werft at Wismar, Germany. At the 21st of november of the year 2000, the keel for the first of the two ships, dubbed yardnumber 003, was laid. With a tonnage of 42.289 and a lenght of 202,85 meters, a width of 28,10 meters and a draught of 6,20 meters, the ship was a little larger then her earlier sister. She was built for a maximum capacity of 1687 passengers, on a two-per-cabin basis the number given is 1266. Aboard was also space for 418 crewmembers, lesser then aboard other cruiseships because of the 'clubship' style, which is explained at the page of AIDA Cruises. The speed of the new ship was to be 21,5 knots and she was to be driven by two propellers, powered by two 12-cylinder, one 8-cylinder and one 6-cylinder diesel engines. Because of the confusing ownership construction, she was homeported at London, England, the traditional P&O homeport, and owned officially by Seetours although she was going to sail under the AIDA Cruises brand. She was launched at the 15th of september of 2001 and completed before sailing her seatrials starting at the 26th of january of 2002. This was after P&O had become the full owner. The ship was finally named AIDAvita at the 4th of may 2002 by Doris Schröder-Köpf, the wife of the German Chanceller. During the ceremony, also there were youthfull music performances by DJ Bobo and No Angels.
AIDAvita berthed in IJmuiden at the 25th of april 2016. Sadly, due to the weather and another ship in port that was berthed exactly in front of my best picture-opportunity, I was only able to picture her from this angle.
Design and activities
AIDAvita is one of the three ships within the fleet that was built before the company did away with traditional venues, so the ship does have a true two-deck theater. It is located forward and is spread out at decks 8 and 9. There are two market-style restaurants and one a-la-carte alternative, Rossini. There are no fixed diningtimes and no dresscodae aboard, making the whole dining experience different from most traditional cruiselines. Most drinks, including beer and housewines, are also included in the price. Of course the ship offers also several bars, of which the AIDA Bar, where the compass-rose styled bar is the center piece, is one of the most popular. The ship also has its own TV Studio and a large art-gallery, with works from national (German) and international artists. AIDA Cruises always have been very interested in fitness and spa-area's and AIDAvita is not an exception. The ship is a really interesting choice for the sportive passenger.
The pooldeck was designed like a tropical beach, including palmtrees, a freeform swimmingpool and artificial rockformations. There is also the vollyball/ baskerbalcourt and inside, the ship offers a putting green area and golf simulator.
After the namingceremony at Warnumünde, the ship set sail for her first cruise with invited guests and introduced herself in the port of Kiel at the 6th of may 2002. Between the 10th and the 17th of may, she then sailed three short-haul cruises from Hamburg, before departing on her first long cruise from Hamburg to Heraklion, Greece. This was to be her Mediterranean homeport for her first season and she departed Hamburg at the 17th of may. From Heraklion, the ship started sailing seven-day cruises in the Mediterranean, before repositioning to the Caribbean for her winterseason. Since her debut, the ship keeps alternating summercruises in Europe, mostly in the Med, and wintercruises in the Caribbean.
In november of 2004, after the take-over of P&O Princess Cruises by Carnival Corporation, AIDA Cruises was put into the portfolio of Costa Cruises of Italiy. Because of this move, the ship started to fly the Italian flag and was registered at Genoa. Before, the ship had been flying the British flag, homported in London.
In november of 2014, the ship recieved a large update while she was in drydock at Rostock. Two new lounges were added with wide seaviews and the ship was almost entirely refurbished. Also the spa and fitnessarea was redesigned, now also giving more opportunities for people with walking dissabilities. Next to the refreshed inside, the ship also recieved an update in the filteringsystems for her exhausts, so her harmfull emissions will be reduced considerably.