In late December, Carnival Corporation announced that three ships across the corporation’s brands would be sold as part of fleet optimization, targeting smaller and less-efficient ships.
At the time, it was stated that two of the three ships would be from Costa Cruises, but the identity of the third ship was unknown – until now. AIDAaura will be the third ship to be retired, and will be leaving the AIDA Cruises fleet in September 2023.
AIDAaura to Retire in September
Carnival Corporation will send AIDAaura off in style with a dramatic and diverse farewell season as the ship prepares for its retirement in September 2023.
AIDAaura first launched in April 2003, originally with P&O Cruises before that cruise line merged with Carnival Corporation. The ship is the oldest and smallest in AIDA Cruises’ current fleet, weighing in at just 42,289 gross tons and with the ability to welcome just 1,266 guests at double occupancy.
In comparison, the next oldest ship in AIDA Cruises’ fleet is AIDAdiva, a Sphinx-class vessel that debuted in 2007. At 69,203 gross tons, AIDAdiva can welcome 2,050 guests at double occupancy, but is still small enough to visit many highly desirable boutique cruise ports.
Farewell Season Sailings
AIDAaura has had a remarkable service life, welcoming more than 830,000 guests over the past 20 years to a variety of global destinations, including two amazing world cruises that spanned 117 days each and visited more than 40 ports in more than 15 countries on five continents. In total, the ship has completed more than 800 sailings.
AIDA Cruises and Carnival Corporation want to offer all AIDAaura fans the opportunity to enjoy a final cruise on the vessel. The ship’s farewell season will begin on January 9 with a 14-night voyage to South Africa and Namibia, sailing roundtrip from Cape Town and visiting exciting ports such as Durban, East London, and Luderitz.
Similar itineraries will continue through February, after which time the ship will offer a one-way cruise from Cape Town, South Africa to Hamburg, Germany, departing on March 6, 2023. That sailing can be split into different segments, and will include ports of call in Namibia, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Spain, and England before arriving in Hamburg on April 2.
AIDAaura will remain homeported from Germany for the remainder of her time with the fleet, first homeporting from Hamburg and then, in July, repositioning to Bremerhaven.
Highlights of her last months of sailings include visits to Norway’s fjords, exploring the Scottish coast, calling on historic cities throughout northern Europe, venturing to Iceland and Greenland, and much more. During many of the final sailings, former masters of the vessel, as well as special guest lecturers and hotel managers from AIDAaura will be on board to share their remembrances and travel experiences.
The ship’s final sailing will depart from Bremerhaven on September 9, 2023. The 12-night sailing will visit six ports of call: the Isle of Portland, Falmouth, and London in England, Saint-Malo and Rouen in France, and Antwerp, Belgium, before returning to Bremerhaven on September 21.
It is not yet known whether the ship will then be sold to another cruise line or a different type of operator, such as a ferry service or ship-to-hotel converter, or if the vessel will instead be scrapped after retiring.
Other Ships to Be Sold
AIDAaura is just one of three ships Carnival Corporation will be selling in the coming months. The other two vessels are slated to be removed from Costa Cruises’ fleet, though the exact ships to be retired have not yet been confirmed. They are described as “smaller-less efficient ships” but could be any of several vessels, depending on other factors being considered.
The two oldest Costa Cruises ships are Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica, which entered service for the line in 2003 and 2004, respectively. At just 92,720 gross tons, however, Costa Deliziosa is the smallest ship in the fleet, and might also be chosen for retirement.
Costa Serena or Costa Diadema also remain out of service at the moment, and could be part of the removal plans.
Costa Cruises has not yet announced any farewell season plans for the two vessels to be retired, but may do so once the individual vessels are confirmed.