23 March 2013

AIDAblu in Funchal, 15 January 2007, and Arrecife, 18 January 2007


IMO 8521220
Name history: Crown Princess, A'Rosa Blu, AIDAblu, Ocean Village Two, Pacific Jewel
Built 1990, Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 70 285 GT
Length 245,08 m
Width 32,25 m
Draugth 7,90 m
1 748 passengers
1 748 berths
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 24 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Speed 19,5 knots

So, the AIDAblu. Not the current, 2010-built AIDAblu but rather the first AIDAblu built in 1990 for Princess Cruises as the Crown Princess.

Although the ship was delivered to Princess Cruises, she was in fact originally ordered by Sitmar Cruises as the second ship in the three-ship newbuilding spree the company commissioned shortly before it was sold to P&O. P&O purchased Sitmar in 1988 and merged their US cruise operations into their Princess Cruises brand (Sitmar did survive as a separate brand in Australia for some years). The Sitmar-ordered newbuildings were delivered to Princess Cruises as the Star Princess, Crown Princess and Regal Princess. The Star Princess had already been named Sitmar Fairmajesty before the sale, but the original planned names - if any - of the Crown and Regal Princesses are unknown at least to me.

Anyway, the Crown Princess was delivered to Princess Cruises in June 1990 and entered service with them the following month. She stayed with Princess for a dozen years, until in 2002 P&O decided to create an entirely new brand for the German market to compliment their existing Aida Cruises brand: the A'Rosa Cruises brand, which was essentially an attempt to make an upmarket version of Aida. In June 2002 the ship entered service for A'Rosa Cruises as the A'Rosa Blu. A'Rosa was not a success and the brand was closed down two years later, with the A'Rosa Blu moving under the Aida brand as the first AIDAblu.

AIDAblu's Aida career would not be long either, as the non-purpose-built ship was not well suited for Aida's brand. When the new AIDAdiva was delivered in spring 2007, the AIDAblu was transferred to Ocean Village Cruises, which was an attempt by P&O Cruises (which by this time was Carnival PLC of course) to recreate the success of Aida Cruises for the UK market. Ocean Village had one ship at this point, the Ocean Village (ex-Star Princess), and her near-sister joined her as the Ocean Village Two.

Despite the addition of a second ship under the Ocean Village brand it was not as successful as Carnival Corporation & PLC had hoped, and in 2008 they made public the plan to close down Ocean Village Cruises, moving the ships to Australia under the P&O Cruises (Australia) brand. Personally I find this to be a huge loss, purely due to the fact that I really really liked Ocean Village Cruises' visual identity - their livery was awesome. The Ocean Village Two was the first one to leave the Ocean Village brand, sailing for Australia in late 2009, entering service as the Pacific Jewel in early 2010. The Ocean Village joined her as the Pacific Pearl a year later. Both ships remain the P&O Australia fleet. Interestingly, the third unit in the fleet is the Pacific Dawn (ex-Regal Princess), aka the Pacific Jewel's sister ship. In other words, the P&O Australia fleet consists solely of ships ordered by Sitmar.

The photographs below show the AIDAblu at Funcal on 15 January 2007 and in Arrecife on 18 January 2007. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Departing Funchal, as photographed from my private balcony on the Thomson Destiny. Mind you, we actually paid for the cheapest possible cabin but got upgraded due to this having been our honeymoon.
During the cruise it did seem that where-ever the AIDAblu went, the Thomson Destiny followed.
Next time: Volcan de Timanfaya.

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