by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com
AidaStella sailing the Elba River to Hamburg
AidaStella, 71,300 gross tons, 831 x 106′, 2,194 lower berths
Saturday saw the naming in Warnemünde of Aida Cruises’ tenth cruise ship, AidaStella, completed recently by shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg. Last of the latest series of seven “smaller” ships, she will be followed in 2015 and 2016 by two 125,000-tonners of a totally new design from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.
The ten godmothers for AidaStella included eight Aida employees from different countries and departments, and a representative each from Meyer Werft and naval architects Partner Ship Design. Aida of course is the German arm of Carnival Corp & plc, reporting to the Costa Cruises Group in Genoa, where former Aida president Michael Thamm is now ceo.
As seagoing “club resorts”, Aida ships have many on-board amenities and facilities that attract younger, more active holidaymakers and families. Much of the dining, for example, is buffet style.
The evening ceremony was celebrated with “stellar” fireworks, stella of course being the Latin word for star. AidaStella spent the night in Warnemünde before setting off on Sunday for her maiden voyage to Oslo, Southampton, Le Havre and Amsterdam and Genoa, where she is due to arrive on Friday.
Of AidaStella’s 1,097 passenger cabins, roughly two-thirds (722), have balconies. Included are thirty-nine spa cabins with direct access to the large spa with its glass roof. The ship also comes fully equipped with seven restaurants and twelve bars, including the Bella Donna for Italian regional specialties and gourmet restaurant Rossini.
AidaStella has her own red wine and an exclusive AidaStella beer will be available on board, in Swarovski-designed crystal-studded ‘starry’ beer glasses.
MSC Preziosa, 139,072 gross tons, 1093 x 125′, 3,478 lower berths.
To the south, Thursday saw STX France deliver the MSC Preziosa to MSC Cruises in St Nazaire. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, she is now cruising by way of Lisbon, Cadiz, Casablanca, Valencia and Marseilles to Genoa, where she will be officially named.
MSC Cruises took over this ship, which was originally ordered in 2010 by Libya’s General National Maritime Transport Company, on the stocks last year. Of MSC’s own Fantasia class, naval architects De Jorio Design International were responsible for the end design.
The fourth of the Fantasia class ships, MSC Preziosa has 100 cabins more than earlier vessels, and becomes the line’s new flagship. Like the AidaStella she also has a Swarovski feature, in her case her sweeping grand staircases. Other features include a magical “infinity” pool for adults only and a revised rear lounge arrangement, casino and disco.
Like the other Fantasia class ships, Preziosa features an exclusive, but enlarged in her case, MSC Yacht Club suite area, with dedicated facilities, private decks and forward-facing lounge on top of the ship.
Almost double the size of AidaStella, MSC Preziosa counts among the ten largest ships in the world. Royal Caribbean International has five larger, seven when Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas deliver in 2014 and 2015. Norwegian Breakaway (to enter service in May) and Norwegian Getaway (2014) will also exceed her size, as do Queen Mary 2 and Norwegian Epic.
MSC Preziosa has eleven shopping venues, including new perfumery and cosmetics shop La Profumeria and two jewellery shops, Il Gioiello for high-end jewels and the new Fashion Bijoux for costume jewellery. Fantasia class favourites include duty-free Mini Mall, designer watch and sunglass shop L’Angolo dell’Oggetto, La Boutique for men’s, women’s and children’s fashions, the Pool Shop, MSC Logo Shop, sweet shop La Caramella, Accessories Shop for upmarket bags, belts and leather goods and the MSC Photo Shop.
MSC Preziosa is due to be named on Saturday by the line’s longtime permanent godmother Sophia Loren.