A hotly debated topic among cruisers and especially die-hard fans is the question of AIDA or Mein Schiff? Which is better? This is because AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises are the two big players in the German-speaking cruise market and are fighting for the same audience.
Before things really get started, it must first be made clear that there is not the one AIDA. The AIDA fleet currently consists of 14 ships, divided into four different classes. So there are immense differences between the oldest and the newest ship. I myself was on the AIDAnova, the youngest ship in the fleet, so I use that as a reference.
In the Mein Schiff fleet, the differences between the individual ships are comparatively small. But for the record: I was traveling with Mein Schiff 5 at the time.
I will take a closer look at the following points when comparing shipping companies:
AIDA vs. Mein Schiff: Let the battle begin!
#1 The price comparison AIDA and Mein Schiff: Which is cheaper?
For 90% of passengers, price is probably the most important argument for booking. The prices are divided into different topics, which I will now look at section by section.
#1.1 Travel price
The travel price with AIDA is (almost always) significantly cheaper than with Mein Schiff, if you compare similar routes. This is related to the all-inclusive concept at TUI Cruises. Many restaurants and drinks are already included in the cruise price, which is why TUI Cruises has to charge more money.
Nevertheless, there is first of all a point for AIDA here.
#1.2 Prices for children
With both shipping companies, children, teenagers or even a 3rd and 4th adult travel cheaper if they stay in the same cabin. Infants under 2 years of age always travel free of charge.
According to AIDA, young people (16-24 years) pay from €75 per trip and additional adults from €100.
TUI Cruises does not differentiate so much when it comes to age. Children from 2-14 years travel cheaper than the adult fare, which is due from the age of 15. This is again probably related to the all-inclusive concept, where costs have to be calculated higher.
To create a direct comparison, I singled out similar Mediterranean cruises during the summer vacations and compared the surcharges for children and adults. Here’s what came out of it:
|Zusätzliche Belegung||AIDA||Mein Schiff|
Conclusion on the children’s prices: With children and teenagers you can get away cheaper with AIDA. However, if the children consume a lot of paid beverages during the trip, expenses can also quickly increase again, rendering the savings null and void. Therefore, the next point serves to better weigh the costs.
#1.3 All inclusive vs. beverage prices
The cruise price with TUI Cruises is higher in advance, but is the surcharge worth it? Is it even possible to drink that much?
For a sample calculation, I’ll use the drink prices from AIDA. There, a small bottle of Coke costs €2.50, a bottle of water costs €5, a beer costs €3.50 on average, and a cocktail costs about €8. In one day, €20-30 per person can quickly come together. For a 7-day trip, this makes an additional cost of about €150-200 per person if you don’t want to limit yourself to the free table drinks, which are only available in the buffet restaurants.
At this point, you should check whether the all-inclusive offer on Mein Schiff then makes more sense.
As a budget person, I can well do without the paid drinks and maybe limit myself to one bottle of water and one cocktail per day. However, others cannot and do not want to do this and should therefore estimate how much they want to consume during the trip.
#1.4 Prices on board: restaurants and drinks
There are hardly any differences in beverage prices between the shipping companies. Beverage prices on Mein Schiff? Yes, because in the specialty restaurants the passenger has to pay extra for the drinks. Furthermore, some “more expensive” drinks are also only available for an additional charge. In this case, all-inclusive does not mean all-inclusive.
There is not much noticeable difference between the chargeable restaurants. A visit to such a restaurant will range between €20-40 per person on average for both shipping companies – depending on the restaurant and menu selection. And the desired beverage advantage with Mein Schiff, as already mentioned, unfortunately doesn’t have an effect here either.
With both AIDA and TUI Cruises, tips are already included in the cruise price, unlike with most international shipping companies. Thus, both providers offer the advantage that the passenger no longer has to worry about this.
#2 The restaurant comparison: Where does the food taste better?
Which shipping company scores high in terms of quality and choice of food? That is certainly a matter of taste, but for me the point goes to Mein Schiff. There are some dishes that are more memorable to me. So they left a lasting impression.
Especially on the AIDAnova, the restaurant offer is gigantic, but the overall quality didn’t blow me away. Now that doesn’t mean it was bad. Mein Schiff is just a little bit ahead compared to AIDA. Especially the delicious kebab, the large ice cream selection and the cake buffet in the afternoon have convinced me.
#3 The entertainment comparison: Where are things more fun?
What do AIDA and Mein Schiff have to offer in terms of entertainment? Other than on the subject of food, AIDA scores now.
On the Mein Schiff fleet you can still find the classic theater, which is hidden in one part of the ship. The show offer ranges from musicals, artistry performances and opera singing to rock and pop concerts.
On some AIDA ships, however, such as the AIDAnova, the Theatrium is located in the center of the ship. This way, you usually get to see the hustle and bustle that goes on there. The variety of shows is similar to Mein Schiff, but the musical performances in particular invite passengers to join in and celebrate. The central location of the Theatrium is a big plus here.
#3.2 Pools and water slides
Both on the AIDA ships and Mein Schiff there are of course pools and whirlpools, which are basically sufficient for the passengers. But only on the newer AIDA ships there are also water slides. A lot of fun that is not only for the little ones. Unfortunately, this is completely missing on Mein Schiff.
Feel-good ship – that actually says it all. On Mein Schiff, things are generally rather quiet. You will hardly find any animation or noisy hustle and bustle. Nevertheless, there are of course parties, themed events and also lively activity in the bars.
With AIDA, the whole thing is actually a bit wilder and louder, as you would expect from a “club ship”. There is more active animation and everything seems a bit more alive. However, the respective route and the corresponding audience are also key factors here.
#4 The comparison of atmosphere: Where is it more beautiful and relaxed?
#4.1 Club ship vs. feel-good ship
If you’re looking for entertainment and a dose of action, you’re in good hands on AIDA. Those looking for peace and relaxation, on the other hand, are likely to feel more at home on Mein Schiff, where the atmosphere is generally more relaxed.
#4.2 Design interiors
The feel-good atmosphere at Mein Schiff is also reflected in the design of the interior areas. The selected colors were decent. The main focus is on natural and blue tones.
AIDA, meanwhile, uses a lot of bright and bold colors to emphasize the casual club atmosphere. On the AIDAnova, the whole thing was toned down a bit and more emphasis was placed on a more stylish look.
#4.3 Guest structure
There is not much difference in the guest structure between the two shipping companies. After all, they are fighting for the same target group; namely German vacationers of all ages. Families with children are logically more likely to be observed during the school vacations. Those who can and want to avoid this should therefore rather avoid the vacations.
#4.4 Dress code
Both Mein Schiff and AIDA are casual on board. There are no gala evenings here as with many international providers. So you don’t need to pack a suit and evening dress. However, long pants at dinner are desirable. Likewise, you should refrain from going to the restaurant in swimwear.
#5 Cabin equipment
The interior style of the shipping companies is carried on in the cabins. While AIDA’s cabins tend to be more colorful, with a penchant for reds and yellows, Mein Schiff’s are found in natural and blue tones.
A big highlight on Mein Schiff: the coffee machine in the cabin. One capsule per person per day is free, so you can enjoy a coffee on the balcony right after getting up. A little thing, but it makes a lot of difference and we appreciated it very much. Another plus is that you can fill up a glass carafe with water around the clock. Appropriate water dispensers are located in the hallway, which can be used free of charge.
With AIDA, however, you have to pay extra for each bottle of water. In my opinion, a major drawback. At least still water should always be available free of charge and freely accessible.
My ship thus clearly scores in terms of cabin amenities.
How diverse is the range of routes offered by shipping companies and how complicated is the booking process?
#6.1 Route offer
The AIDA fleet currently consists of 14 ships (as of 2020) – twice as many ships as the Mein Schiff fleet. This alone results in a larger range of routes. But both providers operate in the usual regions: the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Canary Islands, the Orient, and North America and the Caribbean. Only individual ports of call may differ.
#6.2 Booking online and by phone
With both AIDA and Mein Schiff, booking is very straightforward, whether you book by phone or online.
At AIDA, the hotline is available to guests around the clock, while TUI Cruises’ office hours are limited to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
However, those who want to book online on their own should not have any problems. The online booking process is well structured and easy to understand.
Kreuzfahrten mit der neuen AIDAcosma
|Westliches Mittelmeer||7 Tage||ab 499€ pro Person|
|Kanaren & Madeira||7 Tage||ab 449€ pro Person|
|Transreisen||7 Tage||ab 745€ pro Person|
Kreuzfahrten mit Mein Schiff
|Südeuropa & Mittelmeer||7 Tage||ab 969€ pro Person|
|Kanaren||7 Tage||ab 599€ pro Person|
|Westeuropa||7 Tage||ab 899€ pro Person|
|Orient||7 Tage||ab 549€ pro Person|
|Nordland & Großbritannien||7 Tage||ab 829€ pro Person|
|Mittelamerika & Karibik||14 Tage||ab 1.199€ pro Person|
|Asien||14 Tage||ab 1.299€ pro Person|
Conclusion: AIDA or Mein Schiff?
Such a comparison article screams for a conclusion, which is not that easy in this case. Ultimately, personal preferences must be the deciding factor.
For everyone who only cares about the price, AIDA will probably be cheaper. However, anyone who wants to consume a particularly large number of beverages for which a charge is made must weigh up whether the savings will pay off in the end.
If it’s a matter of the quality and selection of the food, I would tend more towards Mein Schiff. In terms of entertainment, however, AIDA scores highly. Those seeking peace and quiet and passengers who do not want to worry about additional costs will be happy on Mein Schiff. Individual preferences, individual decision!
Hopefully, my comparison of the two shipping companies has now made your choice easier.
And now it’s time to decide. Which team are you on? Team AIDA or Team Mein Schiff? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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