Big cruise ships.
We have never really been attracted to them.
The only cruise we have been on in the past was the transatlantic crossing from Brazil to Europe on the Club Med 2, a staysail schooner that has a capacity of 380 passengers. However there were only about 100 of us on board.
The AIDAprima has a maximum capacity of 3.400 passengers.
Do we really want to go on a trip on a ship of that size?
We are hesitant.
Until last year.
We got a cruise newsletter in our mailbox with a very interesting looking trip. The Canary Islands and Madeira, a 7 day trip on the AIDAprima for less than €1.000 in total for 2 people.
From Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria , Funchal (Madeira) and back to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. With 2 full days at see.
We are in Tenerife at the moment of that trip.
So we book our first cruise trip on the AIDAprima.
7 days has to be doable, right. If we really dislike it, at least it is over in a couple of days.
Worth the risk.
Departure day, we can board from 3pm onwards.
The AIDAprima is the biggest ship in the harbor, it looks quite impressive.
Boarding is a breeze.
Our ocean view cabin is located on deck 4, cabin 4170. The same level as the reception area.
We are surprised by the size of the room. It is quite spacious because it can be transformed into a 4 bed cabin. The room, bathroom and furniture is simple but nice and well maintained. Not worn down or tired after being in service for 20 months. We didn’t have any expectations really, fair to say that we are actually quite excited now.
The AIDAprima has 18 decks.
That will keep us busy.
After walking around here and there, we both agree that the AIDAprima is massive. However there are not that many people on board. Perhaps a bunch still has to fly in, or people are taking the opportunity to visit Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The decor of the AIDAprima is quite modern, lovely colors, tastefully decorated. And everything is spotlessly clean. Lots of bars, restaurants and entertainment options for everyone.
But let’s be honest. We are here for the trip and for the food of course. Especially the food.
That is mainly what this travel review is about.
What is the quality of food like if you need to cater for over 3 000 people several times a day? We are very curious to see how the AIDAprima manages that.
We didn’t go to each and every single restaurant.
There are 12 restaurants, 3 snackbars and 14 cafés and bars on the AIDAprima. And only 7 days on board? That’s quite a challenge.
We quickly decided which were our favorites. And the ones that we would skip. Like the steak house and sushi bar.
So for our first dinner on the AIDAprima we book at Casa Nova. It is an a la carte restaurant, you can order whatever you like from the menu. Only drinks come at a surcharge.
Why not go to one of the buffet restaurants where food and drinks are all included? We asked one of the staff members at the AIDAprima reception what restaurant she would recommend. She told us that the buffet restaurants can be quite hectic the first night when there are lots of new passengers on board. Most passengers are there at 6pm right when the buffet restaurants open because they all want to sit at the best tables and can’t wait to raid the buffet. The à la carte restaurants are much quieter.
Makes sense, so on our walk we stop at the Casa Nova restaurant to make a dinner reservation.
As we make our way there for dinner, we see that the receptionist was right. Casa Nova is on deck 6, just like 3 other buffet restaurants. The entrances and hallways are quite packed with people waiting to go in. We want to add that this happened only on the first night.
After that people were more relaxed.
This à la carte restaurant on deck 6 serves Venetian specialties.
The Italian decor is elegant and cozy.
On the à la carte menu: antipasti, soups, salads, pasta, risotto, main dishes and desserts. You can order whatever you like, as much as you like. Alcohol and drinks are at a surcharge but the prices are very decent. Luc chooses an excellent €25 bottle of bardolino.
The food is delicious. The portion size is more than OK. We go for beef carpaccio, fish soup, pasta carbonara, ravioli marinara, Venetian style veal liver with polenta and slow cooked veal with artichokes and fondant potatoes. No dessert, we are stuffed.
Great dinner, excellent quality, very attentive service. Quiet atmosphere. The perfect place for a quiet romantic dinner for two if you want to avoid the crowd. Reservation required.
This one is definitely our favorite.
We will come here a few times for breakfast and dinner during our trip. The Brauhaus is located on deck 7 of the AIDAprima. What we like the most? The onboard brewery! Their AIDA Zwickel draft beer is delicious.
The food à la carte is complementary, drinks are not included.
No worries, a beer costs between €2,50 and €5 depending how large it is. On the menu are German classic dishes such as ham hock, schnitzel, roast duck, pretzels, cold cut platter, goulash soup, potato salad, Bratwurst, dumpling soup, bologna sausage salad.
The food here is perfectly cooked, it makes you feel like you are in Munich at a local Brauhaus. Highly recommendable. Reservation required although it was never full when we were there and walk ins were more than welcome.
Also on deck 7 is buffet restaurant Weite Welt, German for wide world.
This restaurant serves all types of cuisines. Every night has a special theme, such as Asian, French or mediterranean. Besides dinner specials you can always go for classics like pasta, salads, meat and veg. And a bunch of desserts.
Drinks here are also included and plentiful.
There is also an outdoor seating section for when the weather is great.
The food here is again very well cooked, lots of choice every night and the staff behind the buffets is super friendly. We especially remember the confit duck, grilled sea bream, anchovies, Italian cold antipasto station and the roast suckling pig. Absolutely delicious.
Our favorite buffet restaurant for dinner. No reservation needed.
Most buffet restaurants are open for breakfast.
The selection of food is more or less the same in every restaurant. And the choice is amazing: classic English breakfast items, yogurts, juices, fruits, cheese, charcuterie, salads, lots of different breads, Danish pastries, pancakes. All of excellent quality, well presented and organised. You won’t go hungry.
Coffee and tea are self service.
Not all restaurants are open for lunch.
If we are back from our walk in a town we like to go to the East buffet restaurant on deck 4. It serves delicious Asian food such as noodle soups, stir fries, steamed vegetables, dim sum, fruits and desserts. Drinks are complementary.
When the East buffet restaurant is not open or we are back on the boat after it closes, we usually go to the Fuego buffet restaurant on deck 14. It serves good classic burgers, pizza, pasta, salads and such. This restaurant can be packed with families and small(er) children.
Drinks here are complementary as well.
A few buffet restaurants open again for free coffee, tea and freshly baked cakes in the afternoon.
Occasionally we would see free coffee, tea and a small selection of sweet treats at the Lanai Bar on deck 8 of the AIDAprima.
If you want a savory snack, the Scharfe Ecke snack bar on deck 6 serves German Currywurst and fries practically all day long. The food is free, drinks are not. However you can sit down and just eat your snack, you don’t need to order a drink.
We are barely scratching the surface here of the food options on the AIDAprima.
We need an extra 2 weeks to go to each and every one. There is also a champagne bar, a Magnum ice cream parlor, Spanish tapas bar and a coffee bar with fresh patisserie.
OK, but what about your trip?
We can hear you ask.
Well, this 7 day island trip is great. The towns where the AIDAprima stops are lovely. You choose whether you just want to stroll around town and relax. Or book an excursion with the AIDAprima.
You can also rent a car or book with a travel company to drive you around the island for a couple of hours to see places. Do book that in advance, there is no possibility to rent a car on the spot. Some rental companies even have an office and car park in the harbor.
One of the highlights of our trip?
Funchal, its colorful bay, the buildings on the surrounding hillsides and its lovely busy streets. We also enjoyed the madeira wine tasting tour at Blandy’s. By the way, you are allowed to bring one litre of alcohol on board per person per day which is great.
Most fellow passengers on the AIDAprima were German, the second largest group was British.
Even though there are a bunch of people on board, surprisingly we never had the feeling that bars, the theatre or restaurants were overcrowded.
Internet connection is available on the AIDAprima but not included in the price.
However internet packages can be bought on board. Not surprisingly these packages are very expensive and the connection can be quite slow. You can buy internet connection per day for €3,49 to €19,99 or in packages from 150 MB (€19,99) until 6 000 MB (€119,99).
There is usually free internet connection in every cruise terminal or harbor. Perfect for checking emails and social media.
However it is not really suitable for uploading or downloading stuff.
Make sure to download movies and books before you leave on your trip.
Would we cruise again with AIDAprima and AIDA in general?
Yes, and we did already.
We booked exactly the same Canary island trip with the AIDAnova some time after our first trip with the AIDAprima.
The AIDAprima is kept spotlessly clean. The decor is modern, very new and elegant. We liked the choice and quality of the restaurants and food a lot. The staff was overall very polite, attentive and fast. Our room was comfortable, we felt at home for 7 days.
Prices on board are overall very reasonable.
However internet still is overpriced and connection is not great if you travel with certain cruise companies. We get that the satellite technology isn’t cheap, however we have traveled with other companies after this first trip with AIDAprima where internet on board was included in the total price and quite good.
The safety drill was a disaster.
The first night right before leaving the Santa Cruz de Tenerife harbor after dinner time a safety drill was announced on the AIDAprima. As we walked to our muster station with our safety jackets we could see that loads of people were clearly not participating or were perhaps not aware of the drill. We had our room keys scanned by a crew member.
Eventually the people who had showed up left little by little. And so did we after a while as the crew also lost interest.
The next day a new safety drill was announced on a leaflet in our room, clearly pointing out that it was mandatory. Buffets, restaurants and bars closed to force everyone to take part in the safety drill. Our group was made to sit down in the Bella Donna buffet restaurant. Over half an hour after hearing the safety information and measures over the intercom we were still sitting down.
Some passengers asked the AIDAprima crew who was walking around if this was normal. They would just shrug and walk off again.
Luc decided to read a book on his phone, there was nothing else to do. This set off one crew member who started yelling and screaming that he had to turn his phone off. When he asked why the crew member could only say ‘for safety reasons’ and threatened to call security. Putting his phone away wasn’t enough, he had to turn it off. Which Luc refused as other people were visibly on their phones as well.
The attitude of this crew member was outrageous and a disgrace. We reported this incident the day after at the reception where we heard that they would ’take note’ of it.
We didn’t let this affect our trip though.
Yes, we would book again with AIDAprima!