Opinion I Cruised on Carnival's AIDA Line, Here's What It Was Like

I Cruised on Carnival’s AIDA Line, Here’s What It Was Like

You might have seen the cruise ships in port on your sailings in the Mediterranean or Caribbean. You know the ones, the ships with lips – right there at the bow.  AIDA is part of the Carnival Corp. family of nine cruise lines, and it’s a line that caters almost exclusively to the German cruiser — and it’s especially popular for families.

I sailed for a week on the AIDA’s newest ship, AIDAperla. The ship has a big water park with a ropes course, fast waterslide and lazy river. This area and the small pool at the Beach Club were packed with adults and kids alike having a blast playing in the water together.

My cruise had 4,300 passengers onboard. More than 1,400 were youngsters and teens, and a great many of them were traveling with their grandparents. All signs, menus, entertainment, tours and almost every TV channel are in German. But all crew members speak English, so it’s not hard to navigate things.

As an American, it was quite a different experience than what I am used to from the major cruise lines with which I am most familiar, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess, for examples.

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Overall, here is what it’s like on an AIDA cruise.

The Beer – Being a German cruise ship, beer is a pretty big deal. This makes sense. The ship is one of the first to have an onboard brewery. Brauhaus is like an Oktoberfest garden, with long tables, entertainment at the stage and a master brewer who makes three craft brews right on the ship. AIDA passengers 16 and older can drink beer. This was a strange sight to see, especially for a cruiser from America, where the drinking age is 21.

We saw a regular group of young cruisers (boys and girls) gather in Brauhaus to enjoy beers from a 10-liter barrel that was set up on the table. This multi-serving barrel is 72 euros, and the youngsters would be there daily from about 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. slowly draining the barrel while holding court playing card games and chess.

Additionally, beer and wine (sodas, too) are included at lunch and dinner time in any of the ships five buffet eateries. Passengers line up early to get seats for their meals here, and many linger in these spaces to take full advantage of this amenity on AIDAperla.

The Spa – Your experience in the main areas of the spa (the pool, hot tubs, loungers and common areas) will largely be the same as what you are used to. But the saunas are clothing-free. That is the naturist style, as they call it in Germany. We know it as nude. And we also might think of it as “no chance in hell” am I doing that.

Under the Roof – Very few parts of this ship are open to the sky. AIDAperla was built as an all-weather, all-regions ship, and the waterpark and the Beach Club are under roofs and domes (they can be opened partially). There is a small portion of the pool on the outside of the domed space, making it a combo indoor-outdoor pool. But there are few loungers outside. The only spaces outside at the top of the ship are a short jogging track, mini-golf, chess, shuffleboard and a few small viewing areas, as well as some promenade and private spa areas on lower decks.

Even the exclusive sun deck for certain cabin categories and the nude sunbathing area (yes, they have that on Deck 17) are in covered areas.

Dining – AIDAperla has no main dining room. The ship offers a dozen places to eat and a few snack spots, as well. But Germans like buffets, it seems, and the ship has five buffet eateries.

It also has a steakhouse, Italian and French restaurants, Brauhaus, Tapas (Spanish small plates) and Rossini, a gourmet farm-to-table dining experience. You can also have a cooking and dining experience in a wonderfully appointed cooking facility, Koch Studio.

The Staterooms – Standard cabins don’t include mini-fridges, and ours also did not have a mirror anywhere but in the bathrooms. Yes, bathrooms. One small room houses the shower and a sink, and a second one across the entryway hall has a toilet and sink. We had a balcony cabin, and this small outside area features a hammock that can be strung across the space on two hooks, which we think is pretty cool.

Smoking is allowed on all the balconies (and there are many more smoking areas inside the ship and outside than you will find on U.S. cruise ships), and this unfortunately drove us back inside our cabins as it required us to slide our balcony doors shut frequently. Room service is not an option, either.

The Theatrium – AIDAperla also does not have a standard theater that U.S. cruisers would be familiar with. The space to watch shows on the ship fills the atrium space covering Decks 6 to 8. The smallish stage on Deck 6 faces rows of seats, and additional seating banks line the rails on Decks 7 and 8. Those who don’t get prime seats, can fill into a number of alternative seating options that line the atrium on these decks and be able to watch the game shows, music and dance performances and other programs on the numerous TV screens.

The Theatrium area is filled with activity all day and night, whether a show is on or not because all the decks here have several nearby bars and quirky seating areas that look out through floor-to-ceiling glass windows to enjoy views of what is outside the ship.

John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.

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John Roberts
John Robertshttps://InTheLoopTravel.com
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.
Opinion I Cruised on Carnival's AIDA Line, Here's What It Was Like

5 COMMENTS

  1. Great report John!

    Your descriptions of this ship reminded me of how little of the cruising world we Americans have been exposed outside of what RCI, NCL, Carnival et al provide. Our family had one experience more than a decade ago on the MSC Lirica. While the ship itself was modern and clean, the crew, beginning with the captain and ending with the Chief of Security left us less than impressed. The food (Keep in mind, this IS an ITALIAN cruise line) other than the main diningroom was second rate, cafeteria quality blah. Housekeeping made little effort to accommodate our needs outside of fresh linens every morning, and roomservice took significantly more than an hour regardless of what time of day you requested it. Worst of all was the lack of decorum on the part of the Captain and First officer of the ship. On days-at-sea and on more than one occasion, we watched in disdain how the Captain made himself at home in one of the whirlpools and entertained himself exclusively there with a bevy of young female passengers (or were they crew-members trying to win favor with the “Old Man” of the ship?). I was convinced they were passengers based on the conversations the captain had with these young ladies. Then there was the First Officer who we found in the Disco several nights of our two-week cruise cavorting with yet even more young women in a semi-private area of the nightclub! It was quite a shock to the system, that I can assure you. I have nothing against officers of ships mingling with passengers, even to the point of enjoying time with one or two desired guests during the limited amount of “free-time” these men and women are afforded while on company-business; but flirting with, and in rare cases, paring off with passengers? REALLY??? One need remember no further than Captain Schetino and the Costa Concordia to see how such lack of discipline on the part of Italian cruiseline officers has resulted in questionable situations aboard a minority of ships. Hopefully, such is not the case on ADIA ships.

    Although I found your shock of how lax both alcohol and tobacco policies are on Euro lines, along with their sense of immodesty to be a bit over-the-top, I appreciated your efforts to not only point these important facts out, while exicuting the writing skill of being nonjudgmental. With regard to minor consumption of alcohol, I am old enough to remember a time when it was legal in the United States for 18 year-olds to legally consume alcohol. I am also aware enough to have observed over the past 30 years how MADD has done little to eliminate teen drunk driving. What they HAVE successfully done is lobby politicians throughout America to pass laws which raised the legal drinking age to 21, and these laws have simply done nothing but increased binge drinking and alcohol poisoning both at Frat-parties and off-campus parties alike, (not to mention increased revenues to state-coffers due to all the court cases created by such mis-guided policies). The Europeans have observed these practices from afar over the past three decades, and come to what I consider is the CORRECT conclusion; that it is far-better to introduce young adults to both the enjoyment AND the pitfalls of alcohol consumption, rather than to simply say: “You may be old enough to vote, serve the country, buy a house and even marry, but no, we older adults think you’re too immature to consume alcohol.” This is what has led to countless teens suffering a host of disasters while cruising; some of which happen onboard, while even more catastrophes take place while in ports of call.

    As for public nudity… I myself find public nudity to be less than a desirable activity, but I have always had the attitude of “to each his own”. I just don’t it wise to expose young children to such adult lifestyles while on a cruise ship. It’s one thing to say: “No, we’re not going to that beach!” it’s quite another to be unable to avoid passing a portion (or portions) of a ship where naked people are standing around in full-view of others.

    Without question, your report on ADIA certainly leaves the reader with the desire to take a closer look at this German line, and considering making a brief departure from our loyalty to the American brands if for nothing else than a change of pace.

    Well done sir!

    • Many thanks for such a thorough review and for an interesting recap of that MSC cruise. Gosh. I would be quite perturbed to say the least if I had to experience or witness much of what you pointed out as going on on that ship.
      I do try to be non-judgmental. I am very easygoing and have no problem with nudity. I do try to relate to how others might feel i that situation is all. The teens drinking beer was fine with me, too. They were never obviously drunk and seemed to be having a wonderful time — actually hanging out and doing things other than looking at their cellphones.

      Thanks again for the feedback and happy travels.
      JR

  2. Thanks for the great review. I’ve been tempted to book Aida to try something different so this was very helpful. The other comment about MSC is hard to believe. I’ve sailed MSC a number of times in the past few years and find them very top notch on par with say Celebrity or others.

  3. Hey there,

    I’m from germany and have been on three cruises with AIDA so far. It’s very interesting to read what it’s like for people from other countrys. Thx for the insight.

    Something I would like to clarify that maybe would help deciding on booking, too:

    In no way will somebody be “forced” to watch people nude. All areas where it’s allowed to be nude have a restricted view. The sun decks for example are only accessable via spiral staircase and the glass walls surrounding the area are partially stained. Sure, saunas are cloth-free, but you will only get to see people if you go in there, not from the outside. Easy to avoid

    Thx again for the review

  4. Great review, thank you. As an American, I’m having a hard time finding how to book an Aida cruise if you’re a U.S. citizen. Can you share how or who you booked with? Thanks!

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