Deputy city president of Kiel Robert Vollborn with the ship's captain Manuel Pannzek and Nicole Claus, cruise director at the Port of Kiel (Image: Seehafen Kiel GmbH & Co. KG)
AIDA Cruises’ AIDAcara opened the 2017 cruise season at the port of Kiel in Germany on 9 April.
Kiel’s Deputy City President Robert Vollborn welcomed the ship’s captain Manuel Pannzek. Together, they unveiled the foundation stone for the future Cruise Ship Walk of Fame, which will honour ships that have a special significance for the port. The first bronze plaque on the new walkway is dedicated to AIDAcara – the port’s most frequent cruise ship visitor to date.
“I am very pleased that AIDAcara, which is marking her 150th visit to Kiel this year, is inaugurating the latest cruise season and also that AIDA Cruises will be on hand with as many as four ships for the first time,” said Dirk Claus, managing director of the port of Kiel.
AIDA will be the most frequent visitor this year, offering a total of 52 cruises from Kiel to Northern European destinations on AIDAcara, AIDAvita, AIDAluna and AIDAbella.
This year, 28 cruise ships will bring half a million passengers to Kiel during a total of 142 calls before the season closes on 28 October. Season highlights will include visits from 16 ships – including Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth, P&O Cruises’ Arcadia and Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s Black Watch – during the Kieler Woche sailing regatta from 17-25 June.
The port will also host inaugural calls from Ponant’s Le Soléal and TUI Cruises’ new Mein Schiff 6, which will sail several introductory trips from the Ostseekai Terminal. In addition, MSC Cruises’ MSC Fantasia will make her maiden call on 29 April, which will be followed by 21 departures from the port’s Ostseekai and Ostuferhafen terminals. She will be the biggest cruise ship ever to have used Kiel as a regular departure and destination port.
“As the base port of MSC Fantasia, Kiel is entering a new dimension as far as ship sizes are concerned,” said Claus. “Our logistics and terminal facilities are geared to ships of this size.”