Aboard the AIDAbella

The largest cruise ship to ever call in at the Port of Montreal stopped over for three days, from October 2 to 4, and again from October 22 to 24. Follow us aboard the AIDAbella !

The AIDAbella docked at Alexandra Pier's Iberville Passenger Terminal.

The AIDAbella’s visit coincided with the peak traffic of this cruise ship season, which draws to a close at the end of October. Montreal welcomed no fewer than four cruise ships between October 2 and 5: the AIDAbella (2,500 passengers), the Seven Seas Navigator (500 passengers), the Crystal Symphony (960 passengers) and a regular caller, the Maasdam (1,266 passengers). That adds up to more than 5,200 tourists, here to admire Quebec’s fall colours. Last year, the Port of Montreal welcomed close to 70,000 cruise passengers and crew members, domestic and international cruises combined, up 74% over the previous year.

The AIDAbella was making its first, but not last, visit to Iberville Passenger Terminal. She returned to Montreal on October 22. German-built in 2008 at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and German-owned by AIDA Cruises, a subsidiary of the Italian company Costa Cruises, which in turned is owned by the world leader in cruises, Carnival Group, the AIDAbella enjoys a 4.5-star rating out of a possible six. She flies the flag of Italy.

She measures 253 metres long by 32.2 metres wide and has 13 decks. Her draft is 7.3 metres and she can reach a speed of 21.8 nautical knots, which is close to 40 km/h. She accommodates 2,500 passengers and 620 crew members from 25 different countries.

The vast majority – 95% – of passengers are German, and 100% are European. The morning of her arrival, 14 fully loaded supply trucks came to deliver food for the rest of the trip.

The AIDAbella sailed from Wermemunde / Rostock, Germany on September 5 and arrived in Montreal on October 2, a 28-day trip with stops in Oslo and Bergen, Norway; Reykjavik, Iceland; Qaqortoz, Greenland; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; New York, Boston and Bar Harbor, USA; back to Halifax, then Quebec City and, lastly, Montreal.


The Port of Montreal organized a tour of the ship for a class of students in international logistics and passenger transport at the Drummondville CEGEP. In the first row, to the left, Michael Hiereth, Director of the Club, or passenger service, and to the right, his assistant and our guide, Niels Lederer.

We were welcomed in the Theatrium, a three-storey high show venue that opens onto decks 9, 10 and 11. Two circus performers are rehearsing their number. In addition to their troupe, the stage also welcomes singers, dancers and comics. There is a show every night.

Further along, on the same deck, there is a very large, cafeteria-style dining room. Food, beer and wine are freely served. Payment for consumption is only required in two restaurants – the Italian restaurant Rossini and Buffalo Steakhouse – and in the ship’s bars.

Speaking of which, here is one with an impressive star shape. We can hear the band Black Velvet and take dance classes here: meringue, tango, salsa, etc.

The AIDAbella has a full gym, a spa with sauna and massage therapists, and …

... a hairdressing salon.  

Amidships, a huge wall of glass lets in a flood of sunshine that makes the metal structure of the elegant staircase leading to the upper floor gently gleam. More than eight decks are equipped for passengers.

A casino with gaming machines and tables awaits gaming enthusiasts who enjoy tempting fate. The ship also has a video arcade for teens. Then there’s the Kids’ Club that organizes activities for passengers under age 12. “On one trip, we had about 250 teens and 200 children,” said Niels Lederer. “There was lots of activity on board!”

Passengers who prefer to stretch their legs can enter the intergalactic passage that leads to the nightclub. It’s open until very late at night...

…unless they opt for 4D cinema thrills, where the seats move.

Passengers who yearn for quiet time on their own can comfortably settle into these round chairs and watch a movie of their choice, with the blue sea bobbing in the background behind the glass wall.

When the weather is nice, everyone on deck! There are swimming pools, deckchairs…

… and even a basketball court behind the ship’s huge funnel. The large net surrounding the court is there to prevent the ball from going overboard.

… and even a basketball court behind the ship’s huge funnel. The large net surrounding the court is there to prevent the ball from going overboard.

Here is the view of the City of Montreal from the rear deck.