The eyes of Aida are upon you! The ships of this German line and simply recognizable, because they all sail with the same hull-art, the mouth, eyes and eyeshadow of Aida, designed by the German graphic artist Feliks Büttner. This design was not randomly chosen, when you give it a closer look, you'll notice that it has similarities to Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Next to the Aida name, the inspiration comes from the opera Aida of Verdi. This opera is set in pharaonic Egypt, and is in fact a love story about the young Ethiopian princess Aida. Feliks Büttner has tried to give a sense of the mystery of ancient Egypt in this design for Aida Cruises.
The watchfull eye of AIDAluna while she entered the port of Amsterdam at the 20th of march 2009.
The company is the former VEB Deutsche Seereederei and was founded in 1952 in the East German town of Rostock. They entered the cruisemarket in 1960 with a ship called Völkerfreundschaft, meaning 'Friendship between people'. This ship was the former Svenska American Line-ship Stockholm of 1946, now still sailing as Portugales Cruises ship Azores. In 1960, this ship sailed for the Freier Deutsches Gewerkschaftsbund, a workers union. The company grew in several directions, first all of these directions were maritime-orientated, but they also started entering the real estate business, project management and development. Also, a brand of hotels and tourism under the name A-rosa is part of the company. A-rosa sailes also with river-cruiseships in central Europe.
In 1996, a ship called Aida entered the fleet of the Deutsche Seereederei. This ship was a very modern liner, built with the new clubship image in mind. A year later, the ship was bought by Norwegian Cruise Line, but chartered back to DSR-touristik. In 1999, Aida was bought back by the former company and her sailings continued under the banner of Arkona-touristik, later AIDA Cruises after the takeover of P&O by Carnival Corporation. In the meantime, the Deutsche Seereederei had started working together with P&O, and together they opened a new venture called Arkona Touristik. DSR also excists today, still involved in shipping by a 20% share they hold in Scandlines and the A-rosa brand of river cruiseships.
AIDAcara (right) and AIDAvita (center) are shown together in Palma de Mallorca at the 22nd of september 2005. The other cruiseship in the picture, at the far left, is Thomson Spirit, the former Nieuw Amsterdam of the Holland America Line.
Aida Cruises expanded their business by building two ships of almost identical design as the 1996-built Aida, but only slightly bigger. They were named AIDAvita and AIDAaura. These ships entered service in 2001 and 2003 respectively and were added to the Seetours-fleet, registered in London, but part of Aida. In 2004, they entered the Aida Cruises fleet, after the original Aida was renamed AIDAcara. This move was taken after P&O, and thus also AIDA Cruises, became part of the Carnival Corporation after the deal between P&O and Royal Caribbean fell through. With the new financial backing, Aida Cruises was to become Carnivals stronghold in Germany and because the German cruisemarket is the most active in Europe, a good excuse for Carnival to expand the brand. Carnival did part AIDA Cruises from the P&O name, like they also parted Princess Cruises from the P&O name. Instead, AIDA Cruises was placed under the banner of Costa Cruises and so the ships were registered at Genua, the traditional homeport for the Costa ships.
Between 2004 and 2006, the former Crown Princess of P&O Princess was added to the fleet as AIDAblu (I). This ship sailed between 2002 and 2004 as A'rosa Blu for A'rosa Cruises, their first and only deepwater cruiseship. But this bigger ship paved the way for the new Project Sphinx that was announced by Carnival. This totally new class would be designed especially for Aida Cruises, thus this will not be seen in other Carnival-brands. Originally, there would be four identical ships built, but this was later changed to three when the fourth ship of the class was to be re-designed as a somewhat bigger ship, followed by again two newly ordered sisterships. The first of the original 68.500-ton ships entered service in 2007 as AIDAdiva. This ship, also recognizable because of the excentric external look, was followed by the sisters AIDAbella and AIDAluna in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The biggest ships in the fleet of Aida, but very moderate for Canival standard. They were followed by the slighly bigger AIDAblu (the second time this name was used) that is measured at 71.000 tons in 2010 and the AIDAsol that was added to the ever growing fleet in april 2011. Another ship joined the fleet in 2012, the AIDAmar. These newest ships offer one extra deck to their passengers, but are furthermore very simular to the first trio. The last Sphinx class ship entered the AIDA fleet in 2013 under the name of AIDAstella. After her, another two ships are being built for the company, a pair of 125.000 tonners. Nobody would have expected, just a few years back, that the clubship concept would produce monstrous ships like this. The first AIDA megaship will be named AIDAprima and she will be based year-round in Rotterdam, sailing mostly European cruises. Next to the Rotterdam of Holland America Line, that is also using the port of Rotterdam yearround.
This last picture shows AIDAblu (II) in Amsterdam at the 11th of march 2010, while she entered the port of the Dutch capital for the first time.