AIDAprima represents the pinnacle of AIDA Cruises ‘resort-style’ cruising concept, with the largest Beach Club ever aboard a German cruise liner, complete with water-slides, a lazy river, a rock climbing wall and a huge LED wall designed for watching sports. There are 13 restaurants and 14 cabin categories, including 32 suites. She shows just how fast the Middle East cruise market is growing.
When AIDAprima was first introduced to the media back in 2015, AIDA Cruises said she would allow passengers to ‘rediscover cruising’. Such platitudes are expected when a new cruise ship is launched, but with AIDAprima, the German cruise line appears to have lived up to the hype.
“AIDAprima will usher in a new age of cruising,” says Michael Ungerer, President AIDA Cruises. “Encouraged by the desires of our guests, we are constantly thinking beyond the horizon. Our new flag ship offers more room, more variety, more individuality than ever before.”
The 124,500-gross ton cruise liner was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, at a shipyard better-known for the construction of commercial vessels than cruise ships. She is the first of a twin set of sister ships.
At 300m in length and with a beam of 37.6m, carrying 3,300 passengers, she sits within the same size range as MSC Cruises’ MSC Splendida, which is also cruising from Dubai during the 2018/19 cruise season.
AIDA Cruises have a few tricks up their sleeve with ‘prima’ though. For a start, she features a massive Beach Club that is a relaxation haven during the day and a nightclub by night. What’s more, this huge area can be covered over for ‘guaranteed sunshine’. It has a UV-permeable membrane dome that is almost invisible to the eye.
Enjoy fast-paced fun on the two water slides of the AIDA Racer, let yourself be carried away by the Lazy River, scale climbing walls in the airy heights, pursue trendy ground-level sports on a lavish sports deck, or view games and cheer on your favourite team live on an enormous LED wall, no matter the weather.
The ethos behind the design of this area is for there to be ‘something for everyone’, from the parents to the children, which is of course the great advantage a cruise ship has over traditional land-based resorts.
As such, for the first time aboard an AIDA ship, prima will also have an AIDA Mini Club providing childcare for children 6 months of age or older in addition to the offerings of the Kids and Teens’ Club.
The AIDA Beach Club opens in the evenings for beach parties with the AIDA Bar at the center of all the action. At the same time, the membrane dome serves as a projection surface for a virtual starry sky or mesmerizing laser shows.
Up above the Beach Club, on Deck 17, the highest deck, there is even an exclusive and very private ‘nudist’ pool area.
That’s the fun to be had on the top deck, down below, the Lanai Deck, or Deck 8, has been designed with the classic promenade decks of yesteryear in mind, but again with a few AIDA tricks.
Named after the Hawaiian island of Lanai, here you can find small outer pools, relaxation zones, and of course a promenade.
In a major departure from traditional cruise ship design, where guests have to go indoors to move between decks, AIDAprima features glass elevators that connect the outer areas with each other as well as a glass skywalk 45 meters above the sea at the stern of the ship.
Deck 8 is also where the new Body & Soul Organic Spa surprises with its reinvented organic forms. It features different saunas, various indoor and outdoor pools, a tepidarium, and a fireside lounge room. Occupying almost a third of the front of the ship, it is one of the largest spa areas at sea.
Beneath the spa is the AIDA Plaza, a central meeting point and social hub of the massive ship, with a multitude of shops and bars that transform into a lively stage for street artists at night.
For more formal entertainment shows, there is the Theatrium, the largest on any AIDA ship, outfitted with a circular stage, the most modern LED technology, aerial performance equipment for unique artist shows, and an interactive floating globe.
Unlike most large cruise ships that have two dedicated entertainment and dining decks, AIDAprima has three! Deck 6, 7 and 8 are home to all the ship’s public rooms, with most of the speciality dining venues on Deck 6, while the lounges, bars and novelty options like ice cream parlours are on Deck 7.
Deck 8 is home to the ‘main’ AIDA Lounge and the main dining rooms. The AIDA Plaza atrium connects all three.
AIDAprima has 1,643 staterooms spread across 14 different categories.
AIDA says that the new stateroom concept will offer AIDA guests even more room for individuality and service, but in truth most of the categories are differentiated only by location aboard the ship.
Generally speaking, the closer you are to key facilities, such as the public lounges, the spa or pool deck, the more expensive your stateroom will be.
There are a few key differences though. The classic balcony stateroom has been changed to a veranda stateroom thanks to a 6m² sunning area with room for up to two sun loungers. These 20 and 25m² veranda staterooms are essentially mini-suites, with walk-in closets, two bathrooms, and a comfortable sofa that can be transformed into an additional bed in the blink of an eye. There is of course also a full-size double bed.
Then there are the Lanai Staterooms with a winter garden and large veranda off the Lanai Deck (Deck 8). The doors to the lanai stateroom’s winter garden can be opened all the way and transform the entire 32sqm suite into a private resort with little distinction between indoors and out.
If that isn’t enough, there are also 36 Panorama Staterooms with exclusive access to the patio deck, a private sun deck and pool area. From the Patio Bar on Deck 16 at the bow of the ship, you can enjoy the same view as the captain.
There are also 32 full-size suites aboard AIDAprima, with 53sqm of living space and a private 83sqm sun deck. These suites feature a separate bedroom, a king size sofa bed, two bathrooms, and a walk-in closet. Suite guests can enjoy private and exclusive offerings in the new AIDA Lounge, which also features concierge service.
Back of the bars and restaurants
The restaurant concept on board AIDAprima has seen considerable new developments. Thirteen restaurants will take guests on a culinary world tour.
Besides the AIDA classics such as the Markt Restaurant, Bella Donna, or the East, there is also Fuego, an additional buffet restaurant for the whole family right next to the 4 Elements.
The selection of speciality restaurants, all of which require a reservation in advance, has also been expanded. In French Kiss, AIDA chefs will be serving up specialties from the nation after which the restaurant is named.
Casa Nova offers the finest Mediterranean cuisine in the ambiance of a Venetian villa.
And also celebrating a first is the AIDA cooking school. After purchasing exquisite ingredients together at local markets, the AIDA chefs will share their secrets during interactive cooking classes for select menus.
The 18 bars on board AIDAprima include the exclusive Spray Bar over two decks at the bow of the ship, operated in cooperation with Moët & Chandon or the Lanai Bar protected from the wind at the stern on Deck 8.
Other highlights include the nightclub Nightfly and the club D6. The M Bar or Tapas & Bar also surprise guests with their new concepts. Upon request, small specialties are also available and they can be made to go in the M Bar.
Technology and the environment
The new generation of AIDA ships set new standards in terms of environmental protection. A comprehensive filter system to reduce exhaust emissions has been installed.
According to an AIDA spokesperson, this new exhaust system is able to filter and reduce by between 90 and 99 percent of all three significant emissions, namely soot particles, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur oxide, for the very first time.
A completely new hull design, with a vertical prow, also increases energy efficiency considerably.
Another first for the cruise industry is the use of the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS). This modern technology allows the ships to glide on a carpet of air, thereby further reducing fuel usage.
The latest in pod drive technology also contributes significantly to the decrease in fuel usage.
AIDAprima is the first of the new AIDA generation of ships to be outfitted with dual fuel engines and can also be powered almost emissions-free with LNG.
Maiden Middle East cruise season
AIDAprima will cruise roundtrip from Dubai from November 23rd on 20 7-night cruises in the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi will also be used as a turnaround port, meaning cruise passengers can board in either city.
In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi she will stay overnight in port.
AIDA Cruises have taken the interesting decision not to include Sir Bani Yas Island as a port of call on their Arabian Gulf itineraries for the 2018/19 cruise season. Instead, AIDAprima will cruise roundtrip from Dubai to Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain before returning to Dubai.
Categories: Ship Reviews