Repositioning from Europe to the Caribbean the AIDAaura called at New York’s Manhattan Cruise Terminal before heading south for her winter season. The passengers getting off the ship after a 10-day cruise from Montreal to New York were surprisingly young. With almost a complete absence of the typical fall foliage cruisers, the ship was just about full, with lots of fit-looking families with small children, and no shortage of well-dressed young couples in their twenties and thirties.
The AIDA ship is also surprisingly untraditional with no conventional pool area, but instead a small pool with more of a club-type atmosphere surrounding it. Traditional restaurants are replaced by numerous buffet-style eating options. The ship also had what AIDA refers to as its “star bar” that, in the shape of a star, allowing guests to face each other at the bar for better communication.
The AIDAaura does have a somewhat traditional show lounge, as opposed to the new AIDA class of ships which instead feature midship Theatrium. The AIDAaura’s 800-person show lounge, however, has bench style seating.
“The free flow concept works on the AIDA ships,” commented, Michael Ungerer, senior vice president of operations at AIDA. “There are no set dinner times, no two seatings, no captain’s dinner,” Ungerer told Cruise Industry News.
Most of AIDA’s passengers come from Germany, with small percentages coming from Austria and Switzerland. All onboard announcements are made in German and almost all signage and literature onboard is in German. The official language among the crew, however, is English.
“We have about 40 percent of the German market” Ungerer said. “MSC has about 14 percent and Costa about 12.”
Asked whether the new TUI initiative was impacting AIDA, Ungerer commented: “TUI has about three percent of the market right now, and it appears their ship is only sailing with 75 percent occupancy.”
AIDA has no plans to start marketing towards Americans, said Ungerer, as the ships and the onboard product would need to be refitted and modified extensively to accommodate to American passengers.