180,000gt design in the Costa livery
The Carnival cruise line recently ordered four 180,000 gross ton mega-ships, with the German ship builder Meyer Werft.
Each ship will accommodate 6,600 passengers (all berths) which is a world record. Carnival have now confirmed that two of the new ships will go to their AIDA brand and two to their Costa brand.
Now although I know who Costa are, I must admit that I don’t much about ‘AIDA’.
I was quite surprised when I heard that a cruise line that I do not know much about was going to get two such big ships. At 180,000gt they will be the second biggest ships in the world (based on gross tonnage).
Only Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class ships, at around 225,000gt, are bigger.
AIDA was acquired by P&O/Princess cruises in 2000. In turn, in 2003 P&O Princess was acquired by the Carnival Corporation to form the world’s largest cruise holiday company, comprising of 11 cruise brands. Following the merger, executive control of AIDA Cruises transferred to the Costa Cruises Group, now responsibility for the European brands.
AIDA ships cater for the German-speaking market and are renowned for their youthful style and casual service. As seagoing “club resorts”, AIDA ships have many on-board amenities and facilities aimed at the younger, more active passengers.
The German Cruise Market
The UK cruise market was the second biggest in the world and was only superseded by America. However in the past year UK cruise growth has stagnated.
However Germany is set to become Europe’s biggest cruise market (it my already be so) as record employment levels, wages and leisure time all combine.
Over the last 10 years German passenger numbers have increased threefold. 1.7 million Germans cruised in 2014 and this is expected to rise this year (2015). Therefore it is hardly surprising that AIDA was the first choice to get two of the biggest cruise ships ever built for Carnival.
The AIDA Fleet
(AIDAprima courtesy of AIDA)
I was not aware that Aida currently has ten ships in their fleet:
AIDAcare (1996) is there oldest and smallest ship at 38,531 gross tonnes.
AIDAvita (2002) AIDAaura (2003) are 42,289gt.
AIDAdiva (2007) AIDAbella (2008) AIDAluna (2009) AIDAblu (2010) AIDAsol (2011) AIDAmar (2012) AIDAstella (2013) are all around the 70,000gt mark, give or take a couple of gross tonnes.
AIDAprima will be delivered later this year. A twin (as yet unnamed) will be delivered in 2016. These are the first AIDA megaships at around 125,000gt.
(AIDAprima rendering courtesy AIDA)
Then of course AIDA will have the two new ships at 180,000gt, names and delivery date unknown.