AIDA is a fascinating experience

One of the newer additions to the Cayman Islands cruising landscape is the Aida Luna, a club ship of unique design.

The German cruise line first visited on Saturday, 13 November, on a Western Caribbean itinerary that circles every two weeks. And for hotel manager Denis Wiechert it’s been quite an experience.

“The feedback from the passengers has been that they enjoy the journey very much. We’ve nice ports in Grand Cayman, Tortola, St Maarten and sea days are also important for passengers because they also want to enjoy the cruise ship,” said Weichert.

Indeed, the interior of Aida Luna, which can carry 2,100 passengers, is designed to give a sense of space. Each different area is very thoughtfully put together.

“It’s very important, because you don’t remember the place that you make a holiday; you always try to remember the emotions you feel there. We try to capture different kinds of emotion on the ship.

The disco is funky and customisable – for a 1980s party, for example, we can use a couple of decorations and give the passengers that kind of experience – they don’t just hear the music, but you also see the crew wearing different kinds of uniforms.”

The very impressive, multi-room spa, for example, is one of the biggest at sea and designed with several different rooms and feels, some of which have spectacular window views.

“We try to provide different things – the Body & Soul area is one of the largest on a ship. We have an Indian theme and try to name treatment cabins like Karma, Delhi and the treatments are focused on that.

The passengers have a place where they can feel well – it is a different world here on a ship and within that you can also offer different worlds, which is what we try to do.”

The average passenger age is around 45 in the Caribbean, due partly to the long flight from Germany. The average age rises when the vessels are closer to home.

And although Cayman’s tourist figures during 2010 by air comprised only 6,401 from continental Europe, which constituted just under 2 per cent of the total air arrivals, figures for nationalities by cruise are not available.

However, as Aida Luna visits bi-weekly for the tourist season, those 12 visits add up to a potential of 25,000 passengers from Germany. That is, of course, dependent on the ship being full and all passengers coming ashore.

Among many design features is the Theatrium – a three-level complex that can be transformed into a theatre, a 4-D cinema, seven restaurants, 11 bars and an enormous LED TV screen in the sun deck area.

There’s also a fully-functioning art gallery showing original works of famous and upcoming artists.

The Western Caribbean route is new to Weichert, who has travelled extensively since beginning his career as a chef in a small hotel in Germany.

He heard about Aida through friends and wrote an application. “They invited me very fast and I started work after some training and safety training, everything like that.

“Then suddenly I was standing in front of Aida Aaura in Aruba – it’s one of our smaller ships but it was the biggest thing I’d ever seen.”

Weischert, 30, worked as hotel controller, with joint responsibility for provisioning, purchasing and costs across all different departments, then worked his way up to hotel manager in the company’s training system within three years.

“The heart of the brand is that we smile a lot; it’s really like that. If you are a passenger and you ask one of the crew for something they do everything they can to satisfy you.” He says, “It’s really important. It’s at our heart, that we work with emotions, with crews, with passengers. It’s not a machine; we live here and work here and try to bring the emotions to our passengers.”