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Kissing the waves

There is a hustle and bustle at the Cruise Center in Warnemünde. Families, couples and travel groups of all ages drag their suitcases behind them in anticipation and cast expectant glances at the cruise ship AIDAbella.

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The Cruise Centre in Warnemünde is a flurry of activity. Families, couples, and tour groups representing every age group eagerly pull their luggage along behind them and cast expectant glances at the cruise ship AIDAbella, lying at anchor in the Baltic Sea. The radiant sunshine and the salty sea air add their touch to the holiday mood that pervades the scene. We too would be delighted to move into one of the 1,025 guest cabins and head out to sea with the AIDAbella. But, alas, our brief on-board visit has a completely different purpose.
Music enthusiasts surely connect the name Aida with the opera of the same name by Giuseppi Verdi. For historians, the name may call to mind the ancient Egyptian Nubian princess. Astronomers likely think of the eponymous asteroid, and a very small group of keen geographers know that in Japan there is a small prefecture of Okayama that bears that name. But just about any German you ask connects the name with the cruise line AIDA Cruises and its cruise ships which bear the company name. This degree of name recognition is all the more notable considering that the cruise line founded in 1999 as Seetours International did not change its name to AIDA Cruises until 2004. Since then, the market leader among cruise lines in Germany has written a success story that is the envy of the industry.

Impressive figures

[Translate to Englisch:] Im Jahr 2012 unternahmen 632.719 Urlauber eine Reise mit einem der zehn AIDA-Schiffe. Das entspricht in etwa der Hälfte aller Deutschen, die im selben Jahr zu einer Hochsee-Kreuzfahrt in See stachen. Um die große Nachfrage erfüllen zu können, stellte der Rostocker Kreuzfahrtanbieter zwischen 2007 und 2013 jedes Jahr ein neues Schiff in Dienst, die alle auf der Meyer-Werft in Papenburg gebaut wurden. Die Gesamtkapazität der Flotte beträgt derzeit 18.636 Betten. Doch damit soll noch lange nicht Schluss sein. Im August 2011 gab AIDA Cruises bekannt, dass zwei weitere Neubauten in Auftrag gegeben wurden, die 2015 und 2016 in Dienst gestellt werden sollen. Die Schiffe werden bei Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan gebaut und mit 300 Metern Länge, 37,6 Metern Breite sowie 125.000 BRZ (Bruttoraumzahl) deutlich größer sein als jedes andere Schiff der Kussmund-Flotte. Zum Vergleich: Die von uns besuchte AIDAbella misst 69.203 BRZ.

All-inclusive cruise package

Size is not everything. People who spend their holidays aboard cruise ships also want to be entertained when not at ports of call. All of the AIDA ships go to great lengths to guarantee an all-round holiday experience. Guests on the AIDAbella are spoiled by culinary delights in seven restaurants and eleven bars, for instance. A huge sun deck with an array of swimming pools invites guests to relax, as does a broad range of wellness spa treatments. Sports fans can enjoy a workout in the gym, on the running track, or by taking part in one of the more than 30 different fitness courses. Life aboard ship is enhanced by an on-board library, a casino and a cinema. Young guests can play and have fun at the kids’ club. Nightly shows and musical events offer first-class entertainment. One thing is certain: passengers will not be bored.

Technical equipment on board

To ensure that the holiday fun is never spoiled, the machinery and equipment on board has to function smoothly at all times. The same goes for the hydraulic systems and hoses that are installed, inter alia, in the ship’s trash compactor, hatches, and engine room. Jan Miesenburg, the technical superintendent at AIDA Cruises, is responsible for ensuring smooth operations. Miesenburg is who we are visiting on board the AIDAbella. After we pass through the security check, he welcomes us aboard the ship to conduct the interview for this article. His top priority for the interview is speed. We have to finish up quickly because in just a few hours the AIDAbella will weigh anchor for its Baltic Sea cruise and Miesenburg has plenty to do before the dock lines are cast off.