Maintaining The AIDA “Difference”: AIDAluna And The Sphinx Class: Part Two

Continuing: Part Two


AIDAluna and the Sphinx Class

By Allan E. Jordan

(return to Part One here)

All images and text copyright Allan E. Jordan, unless otherwise stated

Entertainment and Lounges (continued)

Time Out Bar
Time Out Bar
On Deck 10 off the Theatrium is a small casino – a new addition for AIDA since they are now part of Carnival and the ships are registered in Italy
The casino

Rounding out the lounge facilities on the AIDAluna is a range of bars.  As on the earlier ships there is the Anytime Bar aft on Deck 12 which serves as a night spot.  It features a modern Euro design and opens on to deck with a second outdoor Ocean Bar.  Next to the Anytime Bar down a futuristic tunnel straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey you will find HYPE.  This is the game room.

The night spot on the ship is the Anytime Bar aft on Deck 12
Anytime Bar
Ocean Bar has a folding wall that opens on to the deck in good weather
Down a futuristic hallway from the Anytime Bar is HYPE, a game room

The other two main lounge areas are on Deck 10.  Midship is the AIDA Bar which is in the shape of a star.  It is the primary bar and social area on the ship and as with the earlier AIDA ships, the design encourages people to stand and interact similar to a pub or beer hall.  Around the outer walls of the room there are tables and chairs and a small band area for live music.

Forward on Deck 10 is the signature AIDA Bar. Found on all the AIDA ships it is in the shape of a star designed to encourage the passengers to stand and interact with their fellow travelers.

At the front of Deck 10 is the AIDA Lounge, a quiet space for cards, games, and reading with large windows looking onto the bow

At the front of Deck 10 is the small semicircular AIDA Lounge.  Unlike North American ships which would use this area for revenues, on AIDA it is a quiet space where passengers can sit, lookout or read.  On the wings are tables for the card players and a small library.

While Body & Soul Sport, the exercise space, remains an integral part of the concept it is now placed forward on Deck 11.  Here you will still find state of the art exercise machines and a space for aerobics (and a golf simulator only on the AIDAdiva).

Sports and exercise is a big part of the AIDA experience although on the Sphinx class ships the Body & Soul Sport area has been moved into a more contained space

However, Body and Soul Sport is a more contained space meaning passengers are no longer walking through between the forward elevators and lounges as on the prior AIDA ships.

AIDAluna offers a deluxe Body & Soul Spa with a range of spaces and treatments available

One deck above is the Body & Soul Spa.  Here you will find all the now common spa treatment facilities in a beautifully designed space.

Wellness Suite

The AIDAluna also offers private rooms that can be rented such as the Wellness Suite which costs 199 € for 4 hours and features a sauna, whirlpool, private balcony and more.  Also for 15 € a day a limited number of passengers can enter the private Wellness Oasis, a two-deck high tropical getaway complete with lounge chairs, hot tub and an opening glass dome.

Passengers wishing a quiet get-away can, for a fee, lounge in the Wellness Oase, a space complete with a hot tub, lounge chairs and a roll-back glass dome

There are also a variety of open decks, a small pool and amphitheater and the traditionally German FKK (nude) sun deck.  The space for lounge chairs is relative small and tight, especially by comparison to North American ships.  Starting with the AIDAluna they have added on deck the now obligatory LED big screen found on so many cruise ships.  For the sports enthusiasts there is a volleyball/basketball court and of course a jogging course.

There is a range of open decks for sunning and a small pool. The AIDAluna also has a LED screen on deck (displaying the AIDA logo at this moment) like most of the modern cruise ships

Extending the active lifestyle to shore excursions the AIDAluna carries 90 bicycles and 10 Segway scooters that passengers can rent and which are offered for bicycling tours in port.  A typical bike tour might cost anywhere from 49.95 € for 4 hours up to 89.50 € for 7 hours touring Manhattan.

All the AIDA ships carry bicycles for tours ashore

The standard cruise ship array of shops is placed on Deck 9 just aft of the Theatrium on the companionway leading to the Markt Restaurant.  At the front of this companionway you will find the ship’s Art Gallery where a selection of fine art, of a much higher quality than the print art offered on many North American cruise ships, is displayed and for sale.

The Shopping Arcade and Art Gallery are located aft of the Theatrium on Deck 9

Kids Club has both indoor and outdoor play areas aft on Deck 5

For family passengers, AIDAluna has a secluded children’s club aft on Deck 5.  The Kids Club has play areas and a private deck space with splash pool.

Success Through Single Culture Focus

Throughout the AIDAluna your eye is drawn to the modern designs and colorful decor.  The design shows a high level of detail with touches of whimsy, such as the palm fronds at the tops of the pillars or the laundry room which is painted like a field with grass and sheep.  In places you see art designed to evoke the lunar feel to coordinate with the ship’s name and elsewhere there are exposed metal structural elements that give the modern industrial Euro design feel to the ship.  And no tour of the AIDAluna is complete without a stop into the public bathrooms which each have their own unique designs.  Overall the ship offers a very pleasing often light hearted feel and highlights why the design firm, Partner Ship Design, has earned such a positive reputation in the industry.

The stairways showoff some of the design elements developed by Partner Ship Design of Hamburg

Partner Ship Design and AIDA both enjoy adding some whimsy to the ships in the art works (Deck 9 forward of the Markt Restaurant)

More whimsy in public spaces, such as the Waschsalon
The forward elevator lobby on Deck 8 shows one of the art works with a lunar theme

Since its launch 15 years ago, AIDA has been a German product aimed at German-speaking passengers.  Whereas most cruise lines are international, and in Europe you can have a cruise ship making announcement in four, five and six languages, AIDA believes that the single focus makes it a stronger and more appealing vacation product.

The strength of the German market has both fueled AIDA’s growth and gave rise to their chief competitor TUI Cruises and the vessels Mein Schiff and Mein Schiff 2.  AIDA draws most of its passengers from eastern and northern Germany and is enjoying strong growth in the German market, which is estimated to have a potential of 18 to 19 million people.  Club Director Bernberger reports that up to 50-60% of the passengers can be repeaters with 10-15% having sailed more than five times in the past five years.  The age of the passengers also tends to be younger than many cruise ships.  AIDA estimates its passenger’s average age is around 46, failing to around 40 in the seasons when a lot of children travel and up to 50 plus years in the school seasons.

Officially AIDA’s headquarters says that the passengers are drawn from Germany and German speaking countries.  While most of the crew speaks English the firm however generally limits or prohibits non-German speaking passengers.  The official reason is that the safety programs and operations are only in German on board.  There are even reports of AIDA headquarters telephoning people from outside Germany who are seeking a cruise and testing their German comprehension before accepting the booking.  However, English speaking passengers can function aboard because of the self-service restaurants and many of the passengers speak English.

All the AIDA ships have German or Austrian officers and cruise staff.  While the bulk of the crew is international, most and especially those in the most direct service roles learn at least some German to speak with the passengers.   The crew is rewarded for their service and, for example, can earn one of the 90 “leisure pins” aboard the AIDAluna.  Crew with a leisure pin can go to the passenger bars or restaurants for a chance to relax, interact with the passengers, and understand the product they are offering.

AIDA is one of the shining stars in the Carnival Corporation generating very positive returns for the corporation.  The Sphinx class has a high density design and with the self-service restaurants, AIDA operates with one of the industry’s lowest passenger to crew ratios.  Recognizing the success of AIDA, Carnival has invested in the rapid expansion of the brand.  Beyond the two ships currently under construction at Meyer Werft, recently they announced plans for two more ships, each 125,000-ton with 3,250 berths, to be built by Mitsubishi in Japan.  Due in 2015 and 2016, this fourth generation will be three times the size of AIDA’s first ship.

The unique style of the AIDA ships is a key contributor to the firm’s remarkable success.  AIDA likes to do things differently, as seen in the ships’ fun loving designs.  It will be interesting to see how AIDA maintains and improves this in the face of growing competition and as it continues to build bigger ships.


(return to Part One here)

© Allan Jordan at Maritimematters 2012


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