Jump to content

My Aidanova Cruise Review - November 2019

Recommended Posts

This is my cruise review for my recent Aidanova Canaries cruise. Cruisecritic doesn't currently have this ship listed in its review section, so I'm posting it here.


This cruise was a 7 night Canaries cruise on 16th November 2019.


As a British cruiser this was my first experience of Aida cruises and German cruising. It's important to note that this cruise line is directed exclusively towards Germans and you won't find an English website. However if you call their reservation line, all of the staff speak good English and will happily book your cruise. Likewise a travel agent will be able to make a booking for you. Personally I chose to use website translation and booked online. 
Once you've booked there is limited access to your booking in English via Aida's website, but everything is available in German. Google Translate became my best friend throughout this process and helped me enormously to book restaurant reservations and added extras like beverage packages and a coffee machine. Likewise all documents will be emailed to you in German, not English. Again, you can find many pdf translation websites online to translate your documents.
I chose to cruise with Aida because I found a great price for a balcony cabin. In addition I was aware that the Aidanova was a brand new ship. Having previously cruised with Norwegian, P&O, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, I thought it would be nice to try something different. I was curious to see how different German cruising would be, if at all, from the UK and US cruising experience.
We boarded in Gran Canaria and boarding was incredibly easy and straightforward. Most if not all staff spoke English and we were onboard in less than 15 minutes. Be aware that Aida embark and disembark passengers at multiple ports, not just one. This is very much like MSC cruises. So during your cruise you're likely to see an influx of new passengers, as well as extra Muster drills (which you will not have to participate in). For our 7 night Canaries cruise we boarded new passengers in Tenerife as well as Gran Canaria. 
Things I loved about the Aidanova
  • Interior Design
The interior design and decor of the ship was beautiful, especially the restaurant areas. There's great attention to detail and theming without being too 'Disneyfied.' In particular the Sushi, Teppanyaki Asian and Ocean restaurants are beautifully themed. Likewise the 5 buffets look great, especially the Yacht Club which has vast LED walls and moving graphics. Overall, the entire ship is colourful without being excessive and gaudy. 
  • Plenty of Bars & Restaurants 
There are plenty of places to eat and drink as there are 17 restaurants on board. There really is something for everyone and for all tastes. When the restaurants are closed they have several casual eating areas to choose from. Their Street Food concept is fun, offering casual eats from 12pm til 2am. Here you'll find three food offerings: Sandwiches and Pastries, Donner Kebab and Currywurst Sausages. There's also a Barbecue bar offering hot dogs and loaded Fries during the day.
  • Balcony Comfort Cabin
The balcony comfort cabin (12087) had a light and bright decor with aqua marine walls and maple furnishings. The carpet had a sandy beach pattern and the balcony was very big. Note that it's much cheaper to book a guaranteed cabin than select your own with Aida. The price is doubled if you opt to choose your own cabin, so I would avoid that option. The bathroom was the largest we've had on a ship, but strangely there was no mini fridge in the room. The daily cruise itinerary that was delivered to the room was in German, but you can use the google translate app (camera option) to hold your phone up to the itinerary and translate it. (Wifi or 3/4G required). Failing that, a member of the crew will be happy to translate for you. All safety announcements were broadcast in English as well as German.
  • Plenty of Friendly Crew
All of the crew and servers on board were very friendly and all spoke English. There was never a long wait at any bar and if a mobile waiter saw you waiting, they usually approached you to take your order. Indeed there seemed to be an above average ratio of crew to passengers throughout the cruise.
Things I didn't like about the Aidanova
  • The removal of the Theatre. 
Apparently Germans love buffet restaurants and the fact that there are 5 of them on board proves this. 4 of them are huge but get totally packed out at every dinner sitting. Now whilst I enjoy a buffet, these areas have come at the expense of an onboard Theater. Aida have removed a dedicated Theatre from the Aidanova and have instead merged the Atrium and Theatre together and called it the 'Theatrium.' 
Whilst this sounds like quite a novel and innovative idea, I think it leaves a lot to be desired. Atriums are usually the only open and airy space inside a ship. They're generally the hub of a ship and offer an open design that helps make the onboard experience less claustrophobic. The Aidanova boasts a three deck high glass Theatrium and technically speaking this should flood the space with natural daylight. Sadly this is not the case. The entire space is taken up by the Theatrium and walkways. As a result limited daylight comes into the space unless you're sitting directly next to the windows. When rehearsals or a show begins on stage, all of the automatic window blinds close and make the area totally dark, like it would be in a theater. 
Moreover, the capacity of the Theatrium is significantly less than that of a Theatre. This results in huge crowds of people having to stand on all three levels to watch perfirmances. Personally speaking this is a waste of a great Atrium window design. If you want to see the full potential of this space then look at the forthcoming P&O Iona which is the same design as the Aidanova. However the P&O design is much better. P&O have kept a separate Theatre and the Atrium is a glorious open space flooded by daylight. I've only seen this on YouTube, but I can assure you it's a much better use of the design and space. 
  • Poor Structural Design.
In addition to the poorly executed Theatrium, the rest of the ship feels like a rabbit warren in it's design. In particular trying to access the buffets and rear sections of the ship can be confusing. The design of the ship doesn't flow like others I've been on, and it's very easy to miss whole sections of the ship. In many ways the location of certain key areas of the ship also feels misplaced. Guest services which is usually found near an Atrium was tucked away next to a set of lifts. This placement isn't ideal at all as it causes a bottle-neck due to passenger queues. 
  • The Buffets
Because the Aidanova doesn't have a main dining room, extra pressure is placed upon the 5 buffets that have replaced it. You would think that 5 buffets would easily handle the crowds of passengers flocking to them, but sadly this was not the case. Every day Breakfast and Dinner became a buffet cattle market with lots of buffet refugees endlessly seeking available seats and tables. We often had to give up on one buffet and move to another one in search of a seat. What was also odd was the lack of 2 seater tables considering the quantity of couples on board. There was an over abundance of 4-6 seater tables. Every buffet was a bustling and hectic experience and we were thankful to leave the area as quickly as possible. To be fair, the later you attend the buffet the less crowded it becomes, but then you have to settle for eating very late in the evening. The lunch buffet was also much less crowded, especially on Port days.
The food inside all the buffets was practically identical, regardless of its theming. This was odd considering the themes of the restaurants such as Italian. There was a range of German cuisine on offer but there was also plenty of non German fayre to be had. Sadly the cuisine never changed from night to night and became boring very quickly.
  • Small Swimming Pools
The two swimming pools on board are TINY for a ship that's 180,000 tons and holds upward of 6000 people. The Beach Club especially, which is under a large dome at the top of the ship is a vast area, but Aida have chosen to make this a social space for live events with a stage and a bar with a very small pool to one side. This is an odd design choice. Though as  a large open space, it does compensate a little for the lack of an Atrium. Again, P&O plan a much larger pool for this area on the Iona. I believe that the forthcoming Carnival Mardi Gras is also the same ship design as the Aidanova, so expect Carnival to do things differently too. There is, however, a plethora of hot tubs situated all over the ship.
  • Smoking Allowed on Balcony Cabins
Though smoking wasn't allowed anywhere inside the ship, smoking was permitted on all Balconies. We had several instances where we had to vacate our balcony quickly due to the stench of cigarette smoke as it was very strong. This was a real shame and not something that's allowed on US and UK cruise ships. (though many still flout this rule)
Overall Impressions 
Overall we enjoyed our Canaries cruise on the Aidanova. Funchal was well worth visiting, but the other ports were much less attractive. It was very interesting to see how the Germans cruise and the ship itself was lovely. However I don't think we would cruise with Aida again. It's simply much easier to cruise on a ship where everyone speaks English. This avoids those awkward moments sharing tables at meal times, as well as the fact that all entertainment and excursions are in German, making it hard to enjoy. 
I think P&O and Carnival will do a better job with the design and layout as they will stick to a conventional theatre space and separate atrium. Also they will both have main dining rooms and no need for multiple buffet restaurants. 
In many respects the Aidanova is a brave design that dares to break with cruise design convention. In this respect Aida are to be admired for such a bold move and there are many people who loved the Theatrium. However I would question its execution, as its come at some cost to other areas of the ship. Though it makes me wonder whether other cruise lines will see this 'innovation' as a way of cramming in more attractions onto a ship by removing traditional spaces. 
Edited by FirstTimeFreddy
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, FirstTimeFreddy said:




  • Plenty of Friendly Crew
Indeed there seemed to be an above average ratio of crew to passengers throughout the cruise.
Things I didn't like about the Aidanova
  • The removal of the Theatre. 






First of all thank you for your detailed report.


Just sme information regarding the above two points.


Crew/passenger ratio: Usually this ratio is worse than on RCCL,NCL or MSC. SO either you got the wrong impression or the ship was by far not sold out. Cause usually AIDA has a rather poor ration.


Regarding the Theatrium: This is a signature element of all of their ships since 2007.(only the three small older ship do have a real theater). I personally think this is the worst idea someone ever had when designing a cruise ship. It is way to small for the number of passengers and from many places you just can`t see much of the stage. But as this is one of their signature elements of their ships they will not remove it and will have it on all of their future ships as well.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting review from another perspective, thank you! 


Please note that AIDA, as you experienced, is really quite different on many levels. For some reason (i believe cleverly placed tv "documentaries" and other PR) they have managed to occupy the term cruising = AIDA in the german market, despite many other interesting choices... In reality, german, or rather german speaking (which includes austria, switzerland and reaches even further into italy, netherlands, luxemburg and so on) cruising is maybe 50% AIDA at most... 


For instance their buffet-heavy dining concept is absolutely not every germans' cup of tea. And there is also a slight tendency away from buffet-only on their newer ships compared to the older ones. 


As commented above by @CruiseMH the passenger to space, as well as the crew to passenger ratio is notoriously on the poor side. (Admittedly, they also seem to have somewhat more "german" staff and crew with likely corresponding salaries) compared to other lines. 

Combined with discount marketing through sometimes weird sales channels like ALDI supermarkets, they seem to attract somewhat less affluent and obnoxiously pennywise folks, too... 


When looking for more traditional service like waited tables for dinner etc... please give TUI "Mein Schiff" a good lookin'... 


AIDA does have some positive reputations as well: Interesting routes, younger demographics, more party / fun factor, very family friendly with uncomplicated baby/kids services including babysitting for example... 


and each ship has one of the few, if not last, nude sunbathing areas at sea... 





p.s. not taken an aida cruise myself yet... this is the essence from a lot of research and quite a few firsthand accounts... the buffet thing mostly ended up steering us other ways, whenever we had considered AIDA... 


p. s. 2

they are just now going through somewhat of a train wreck with the intro of a refurbished costa ship (former costa neo riviera) under the name of AIDAmira, but that's a whole separate story... 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks so much for your review!  I really enjoyed it.  I applaud you for doing something that was probably out of your comfort zone and experiencing something different.  Not speaking German on a German ship probably has it challenges, but sounds like you handled it like a pro.  


I've been watching the progress of Carnival Corp's XL class ever since it was introduced.  The fact they are LNG powered is of interest to me, but even more so how high density they are.  Smaller than Royal's Oasis Class but more people.  AIDA NOVA was the first and now we have COSTA SMERALDA just making her debut.  The reviews have been horrific for the new Costa ship.  I've studied the deck plans for all 4 ships (AIDA, Costa, P&O, and Carnival) and for me personally P&O's IONA looks to be best in class.  She is the only one with a forward facing observation lounge which is awesome.  Also there are a lot of great swimming pools which both the AIDA and Costa versions seem to lack (or their pools are very small).  Second for me would be Carnival's MARDI GRAS.  Lots of pool options, and as you mentioned a true theater added (although a small one compared to most ships). The Theatrium will be used as a central gathering area of the ship, with some bars, casino, restaurant, lounges depending on the level.  I think I prefer that concept especially after your description of the Theatrium.  Regarding a true Theater, the new Costa ship added it as well, but reviews indicate it's way too small for the ship and sightlines are poor.  I'm not sure if this will be the case on the Carnival and P&O ships.  


The buffet concept on AIDA would be a big turn off for me, especially on a ship as big as NOVA.   Personally I think TUI and their new MEIN SCHIFF's would be more my style in German cruising.  Those ships are have the Royal Caribbean designers behind them and they are stunning.  Kind of like a German version of Celebrity Cruises.  Not as high density either.  


I do have a question regarding your experience.  It's about the cabins.  Do they have daily servicing like on other ships?  I recall reading something where they don't, or maybe it's just the twice daily servicing they don't have so no turndown?  Also is room service offered?  If assume there is a charge if it is.  


Thanks again! 

Edited by eroller
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, eroller said:

  Smaller than Royal's Oasis Class but more people.


The buffet concept on AIDA would be a big turn off for me, especially on a ship as big as NOVA. 


Thanks again! 


Just some minor corrections:


1. They are smaller,but they also have less passengers then the oasis class ships.

      Oasis = 5484(double) / 6780(max.)

     AIDANova = 5252(double) /6654(max.)


Ratio between gross tonnage and assenger is still better at Oasis class.


2. Especially on their newer bigger ships(Nova,Perla and Prima) they do also have several included dining options with table service.

The older smaller ships do only have buffet included(they do have upcharge restaurants as well)




Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, CruiseMH said:


Just some minor corrections:


1. They are smaller,but they also have less passengers then the oasis class ships.

      Oasis = 5484(double) / 6780(max.)

     AIDANova = 5252(double) /6654(max.)


Ratio between gross tonnage and assenger is still better at Oasis class.


2. Especially on their newer bigger ships(Nova,Perla and Prima) they do also have several included dining options with table service.

The older smaller ships do only have buffet included(they do have upcharge restaurants as well)






Thanks for the info.  At some point I had read a higher double occupancy capacity than the Oasis Class but perhaps that has since been revised.  In any case I'll take the Oasis Class with a couple hundred more pax but around 44,000 gt larger.  I like those odds and having sailed on 3 of the class I know they rarely feel crowded.  The XL class is pretty high density for certain, and somehow I doubt as beautifully and thoughtfully designed as the Oasis Class.  In any case I would like to try one, probably MARDI GRAS.


Glad AIDA does include some sit down table service options.  Eating at an over crowded buffet for a week is not my idea of a vacation.   

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Cruise Critic's State of the Industry Report - Trends & Future Outlook
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...