February 9 marked the official start of the 2010 cruise season with the christening of the “AIDAblu”. According to media reports, tens of thousands of locals and numerous onlookers who had come to Hamburg especially for the event followed the ceremony at Hamburg’s Fischmarkt.

The Port of Hamburg had already welcomed the “AIDAblu”, the seventh ship in the AIDA fleet, on 5 February. The wintery temperatures and the ice-covered River Elbe provided the appropriate setting for the christening’s motto “When fire meets ice”.

The “AIDAblu” was officially greeted in Hamburg with a celebratory ceremony on board the ship on 8 February. In keeping with tradition Harbourmaster Hans-Jörg Pollmann of the Hamburg Port Authority presented an admiralty plaque to the captain of the “AIDAblu”, Captain Dr. Friedhold Hoppert.

‘Godmother’ Jette Joop, the internationally renowned jewellery designer, skilfully smashed a bottle on the ship’s bows and wished the new vessel ‘God speed and bon voyage’. Joop will also continue to maintain a close relationship with the AIDA fleet, as she will be designing uniforms for the shipping company. JETTE GmbH is headquartered in Hamburg, underlining the regional value-creation potential of the cruise industry for Hamburg. It is not only tourism which profits from the cruise industry but also the Hamburg-based companies within the value creation chain. In addition to the maritime industry, these include, for example, companies in the IT, floristry and entertainment sectors.

Gerd Drossel (Managing Director, Hamburg Cruise Center e.V.) is convinced that “Hamburg is the cruise industry’s competence centre in North Germany and, over and above this, offers a perfect platform for maritime events”.

The tens of thousands of locals and numerous onlookers who had come to Hamburg especially for the event certainly followed the christening ceremony and the impressively choreographed fireworks display with great interest. Numerous street artists and ice carvers enchanted the spectators in a specially designated entertainment area. The christening show was broadcast live on a large LED wall. Following the christening the “AIDAblu” set sail for her maiden voyage to Mallorca. She will be returning to Hamburg on 6 March and will offer a total of nine cruises from/to Hamburg along the Atlantic west coast. “We are pleased that an AIDA shipping line vessel will be the first to take up the concept of the “Atlantic Alliance -- Europe's Prime Cruise Destinations” Drossel commented. The “Atlantic Alliance” is a marketing organisation dedicated to promoting the cruise region between Lisbon and Hamburg. For more details visit www.atlanticalliance.eu.

In 2010 Hamburg will be the home port to three AIDA ships – the “AIDAblu”, the “AIDAluna” and the “AIDAaura”. In total the ships will be calling at the Port of Hamburg 43 times this season. In addition to this the “AIDAcara” will also be visiting Hamburg twice.