Celestyal buys AIDA cruise ship previously set for three-year cruise

Celestyal Cruises, a niche operator that focuses on the Greek Islands, has purchased a cruise ship from Carnival Corporation, which had previously sailed under the AIDA brand as the AIDAaura (IMO 9221566). The vessel had for months been part of a high-profile “perpetual cruise” plan offered by another company.

However pictures appearing online late last week showed the ship’s identity being transferred to Celestyal and the registry being transferred from Italy to Malta, confirming that the handover has been completed.

Celestyal raid that the acquisition of the AIDAaura, built in 2003, was part of the company’s efforts at fleet refreshment. The 42,000 gt ship can carry 1,266 passengers. It will be used to replace the 38,000 gt Celestyal Olympia, which was built in 1981.

The AIDA cruise ship will take the name Celestyal Discovery and will be overhauled during the winter, before entering service in March 2024.

Turkish company Miray Cruises had stated that it was buying the AIDAaura and that it would be refitted for three-year, 382-port “endless” cruise, travelling under the name Laura.

Although the plan gained wide media attention, the finances behind the deal soon began to unravel.

The AIDAaura has been docked in Bremerhaven, Germany since September 21st after the conclusion of its final AIDA cruise. The handover to “Life At Sea” Cruises reportedly had been scheduled for September 29th, but since then had been delayed several times. Life at Sea Cruises, the marketer of the voyage, had said that there had been delays in completing the transfer of money to Carnival Corp.

The crew left the ship because it would not have been practical for them to remain on board until the handover was completed.

Miray had said that the ship would require a three-week refit and the departure date was pushed back to November 1st. The latest announcement from the marketer was that the vessel would be moved to a dry dock in Rotterdam for an overhaul to prepare it for the trip.

There were unconfirmed media reports which claimed that the company’s executives had resigned, although the webpage remained active, and was still showing the November 1st departure date. Miray was also promoting its 2024 cruises aboard another cruise ship.

Equasis lists the 2003-built, 42,289 gt vessel as the AIDAaura, flagged in Italy, owned by Costa Crociere SpA and managed by AIDA Cruises of Rostock, Germany. The P&I information on Equasis is all over the place, listing no fewer than five group clubs. The IG site lists just one, West P&I (Eastern Claims team, on behalf of Aria Shipping Ltd).