I had experience on Costa and NCL before this cruise. So, I was comparing with that lines. We decided to choose Aida this time as we wanted to experience German style cruising and found a good price for transatlantic cruise with return ... Read More
I had experience on Costa and NCL before this cruise. So, I was comparing with that lines. We decided to choose Aida this time as we wanted to experience German style cruising and found a good price for transatlantic cruise with return flight to Germany. Also, I liked itinerary with stops at: Hamburg, Southampton, La Coruna, Lisbon, Tenerife and several Carribean islands.
Before the cruise, Aida sends you a small book with all tickets (flight, stateroom, transfers) and baggage strips. Very nice. Also, they send you a book with short description for port of calls and another book about the ship. Very nice as well. But all in German (but it possible to understand most of the information)
Embarkation: it happens in Hamburg in Steinwerder terminal. This terminal is located in industrial zone without good public transport connection. But, you have an option to choose Aida transfer from rail station for 6 euro per person. Or choose taxi (Uber or Free-now) for approx 13-15 euro from city center. Embarkation time is assigned to you and it is in range of 1 hour. So, there is no big queue in terminal as everyone have it's own time.
Disembarkation: this process was combined with registration for return flight from Barbados to Germany. This process was not organized well. We stay in huge queue in old warehouse for 1 hour. There are was no place to sit or no water to drink, no air-conditioning as well. Everyone was upset with this process. All tickets were pre-printed and we stay only to but luggage tags and get our boarding pass. I think this all can be done on the ship. Transfer to airport was ok: small bus but with air-conditioning. And return flight was nice: blankets and pillows for everyone, water was served often, we got food 2 times during the flight.
Ship feels new. All environments are in good condition. Dining space is in great condition and designed well. A lot of fast elevators on the ship. Having the ship was full we didn't experience any issues waiting for the elevator like on most of the ships.
Pool area is very small but there are a lot of places on sun deck with sun beds. No problem to find a place to sit.
What I didn't liked in the ship: on most of the decks it is very narrow. Even inside cabins doesn't exist on most of the decks. You simply do not feel that you are on the quite a big ship (~3200passengers). It feels very small. Around exhaust pipes always bed smell (like on other ships, but I think more here). Also, a lot of small black exhaust from the pipes. All this goes on the railings, on the floor, on the sun beds and is not cleared by personnel.
Aida gives a different experience in dinning options comparing to the most of the cruise lines. Probably dining was what we liked the most.
One disadvantage: there are some gaps in time (half or hour in the morning and around 2 hours in the evening) when all buffets, except of Fuego, are closed. I didn't liked that.
You can get food in 1 of 5 different buffet: Eastrestaurant, Bella-Donna restaurant, Market restaurant, Weite Welt restaurant and Fuego restaurant. They all have a similarity and some difference. First 3 are main buffets, Fuego is located close to Lido deck and provides quick snacks (burgers and pizza and pasta) and drinks
Breakfast in main buffets offers: eggs in all forms (all have egg station where you can request type of egg you want and select additional ingredients: ham, cheese, onion etc), sausages, beans, cheese, great selection of yogurts (including natural), cereals, juices (orange, apple, tomato, grapefruit) etc.
Starting from the lunch you can get alcohol: good beer (Berliner) and good white or red whine.
For the soft drinks you can get: sparkling water, water, cola, cola zero, fanta, sprite and selection of juice. Soft drinks are available during the whole day in buffets (when they are open)
For lunch pretty standard selection of food everywhere: soups, meat, fruits, desserts.
On dinner selection of food differs in each restaurant. In Bella Donna you can find grilled shrimps everyday, grilled pork liver, lasagna, pasta of the day and italian salams. In Market buffet you can find better selection of fruits (it have whole wall of fruits which you can pickup), fish from ship own smokery, red caviar and lobsters on pre-disembarkation day, grilled stakes, selection of marinated vegetables.
In Weite Welt you can find grill as well, pasta, soups. But nothing extra comparing to other buffets.
In East restaurant you can find soup station where you can ask to prepare soup with ingredients of your choice and what they teppanyaki station where they can grill what you want (you can pickup meat, shrimps, calamari, noodles and vegetables).
In each buffet you can find selection of 1-2 desserts (unfortunately, on Aida you will not have a great selection of dessert, only a couple and they almost do not change during the cruise), carved fruit, ice cream with toppings.
There is 3 restaurants where you can get free food but you need to pay for drinks: French Kiss, Casa Nova and Brauhaus. Drinks are from 2.50e for lemonade and 3.90e for 0.5 beer.
In French Kiss and Casa Nova you get standard a la cart selection from 5 course menu. Meals are good, but nothing special.
In Brauhaus you can get half of duck or traditional pork knee. Not the best I've eat. They try to serve food fast so it is pre-cooked. But beer in this place is awesome. They serve Aida brewed beer which is on top with best Germany private breweries. And cost is 3.90E for 0.5.
Also, there are several paid restaurants. We didn't visit any as selection of the food was amazing.
I didn't like that Aida Perla doesn't have normal theater like on other ships. It have so called "Theatrium". Which means they made area in Atrium to be the main place for all the shows. This area too small. Probably can fit not more that 500 peoples and some of the places on 2nd and 3rd level even don't have direct view on scene, guest must look onto TV screen.
All entertainment are in German (of course some live songs are in English).
Scene too small. So, no Broadway shows. Just mall entertainments: comedians, live singing, Voice of the Sea, Who wants to be a billionaire and so on.
For non-German speaking guest I think there is nothing to watch during evenings.
At 10PM there is live music on top deck. Different styles (rock, pop etc). Good to spend some time at night.
Also, there are was some coaches on the board who had private sessions for guests who willing to pay extra.
Service on the ship is bad. And this is not because of bad personnel. There are just not enough peoples to serve such a big ship. Perla have 900 crew for 3200 passengers, comparing to 1700 crew for 4100 passengers on NCL Epic which I sail before. So, on perla, for 1 crew 3.5 passengers, and on Epic for 1 crew 2.5 passengers.
This results in:
- tables are not cleared promptly (especially in Fuego)
- room service happens 1 time per day. Steward starts clearing in 9 at the morning and finish all his duty at 16-00. So, of course he don't have enough time for towel animals, to organize your cables and other handy things that you may find on other ships.
- towels and linens are not changed every day
- sun deck is not cleared at all. If there are was rain - water on the floor remains until everything become dry naturally. The same with black exhaust from pipes. Sometime you can't seat on sun bed because it is in black spots on it.
I saw one case: there is a board on the floor for some game similar to cerling (don't know the name). And there are was a water licking from somewhere. Guests was not able to play. And no one from crew helped with this except they gave a cleaning tool to one of the guest so players can help themselves.
- In restaurants crew pay more attention to older peoples. Don't know why, may be they are tipping them.
Language on board.
It's easy to cover what you can get in English: safety announcements, menu in specialty restaurants. Some messages to cabin related to visa processing on shore.
Once i've contacted service desk to change the room as there are was an issue with balcony. I've got refuse letter in German! Disappointing.
Disembarkation instruction was in German as well. And it was including instruction for the flight. 2 sided A4 paper. A lot of information. It was tricky to translate without internet.
I've tried to cover negative more so everyone will be prepared and will enjoy all nice aspects of this company and this ship. Definitely it was a great experience for my family. For us it was a great value for the price of 100E for Balcony room per person per day with return flight included. Read Less