AIDA Cruises and Unikai have set up a joint operating company for Hamburg’s cruise terminals. From the 2009 season, they will run the two cruise terminals in the Elbe metropolis through the new venture HCC Hanseatic Cruise Centers GmbH.

From the start of this season AIDA Cruises and Unikai will be operating the two Hamburg cruise terminals, the one at Grasbrook in HafenCity and the new terminal in Hamburg-Altona, through a recently founded joint venture: HCC Hanseatic Cruise Centers GmbH will in future be welcoming cruise ships and their passengers to Hamburg and providing all the organization and logistics involved in supplying them. Michael Ungerer, SVP Operations of AIDA Cruises, and Joachim Köhn, a senior Unikai manager, will become Joint Managing Directors of Hanseatic Cruise Centers.

On 15 August, AIDAaura will be the first vessel to berth at the new facility in the Altona district of Hamburg. The terminal here will be completed by 2010. On the same day, Cunard Line’s ‘Queen Mary 2’ will berth. Also, the existing lightweight structure at Hamburg Cruise Center at Grasbrook is to be replaced by a new building combined with a hotel in HafenCity’s Überseequartier from 2011.

"We are very happy about having the chance to accelerate the dynamic growth of the cruise base Hamburg together with our partner Unikai,” explains Michael Ungerer. Unikai, being a subcompany of the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA, Hamburg Port and Logistics plc), operates the cruise terminal in the so called HafenCity since its opening in 1998.

The cruise port of the Hanseatic city is very popular amongst AIDA travellers. Therefore, Hamburg is base port for journeys with AIDA ships since the summer season of 2007. From its beginnings with 23 calls and 22,300 passengers in 2007, AIDA continously turned the port of Hamburg into a center of attraction for cruise enthusiasts. The christening of the new-built AIDAdiva on 20 April 2007 set another milestone in the Hamburg commitment: The spectacular opera of light and fire, directed by the famous light-architect Gert Hof, fascinated more than 350,000 viewers in the port of Hamburg. In 2009, AIDA will be guest in the base port Hamburg with all-together 32 calls. The number of AIDA visits in the Hanseatic city is as high as never before and makes more than one third of all cruise calls on the Elbe river.

AIDA Cruises is the number-one operator in the German-speaking cruise market carrying more than 336,000 passengers in 2008. A total of five AIDA ships are currently in service and operate in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, Dubai, around the Canary Islands, North America and Asia. The Meyer shipyard in Germany has been commissioned to build four further ships for delivery in spring 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Delivery of the next new vessel, the AIDAluna, will be on 16 March. Two days later, the ship will arrive in Hamburg for her first visit. On 22 March, AIDAluna starts on her maiden voyage from Hamburg to Palma de Majorca, where the ship will be christened by top model Franziska Knuppe on 4 April.