AIDA Cruises, the German affiliate of Costa Crociere S.p.A., a sub-branch of Carnival Corporation, pioneered the “club resort” cruise concept aimed at a younger audience in the '90s. Launched in April 2007, the 2,050-passenger capacity AIDA Diva is the latest in the fleet and the first of four identical ships — the remaining three scheduled for delivery one annually starting this year — for AIDA Cruises built by the Meyer Shipyards in Germany.
Lighting designer Hilton Jones — who works as entertainment lighting consultant for AIDA Cruises in Rostock and as LD for Seelive Tivoli Entertainment & Consulting in Hamburg — was commissioned to create dynamic lighting schemes for the various spaces on each ship.
Architects PartnerShipDesign of Hamburg and Christian Schönrock, director of new building at AIDA, integrated the visual style of the AIDA brand. “There is no space in the ship's public areas which is not part of the overall design, with each area blending seamlessly into the next,” Jones states. “They are also big on integrating the technical equipment into the room design.”
Each new launch brings more modern amenities. AIDA Cruises has bypassed the traditional cruise theatre by creating a “Theatrium,” a fusion of theatre and atrium. This central space is enclosed in glass and located in the middle of the ship, extending up three decks and across the entire width of the ship. It also includes other amenities, such as coffee and sushi bars.
A classic proscenium stage can be extended into the center of the room in just a few seconds with several motorized podiums forming a broad, freely configurable catwalk. At the head of the catwalk is a round podium that, with a large second podium at the rear of the stage, can be lowered to the sub stage one deck below. This enables spectacular entrances for cast and stage elements. “As we have a large number of shows on the Diva, a high degree of flexibility is required from the system, the result being a high reliance on moving lights with very few conventional lights installed,” explains Jones. “As the Theatrium is basically a glass room, fixtures with relatively high output were required.”
The Theatrium is outfitted with a variety of fixtures — run from an MA Lighting grandMA — from Martin Professional (MAC 2000 Profile and Wash units, MAC 700 Wash units, MAC 250 Wash units and Entours, FiberSource QFX 150s, and Mania SCX700s), as well as ETC Source Four ellipsoidals, Strand Quartet Fresnels, Arri Junior 650 plus Fresnels, Robert Juliat Super Korrigan followspots, and Anolis Arcline36 LED strip lights. Jem 24/7 Hazers provide additional effects.
“The primary stage lighting in the Theatrium is MAC 2000 Profiles and MAC 700 Washes with MAC 2000 Washes in the auditorium positions to give a little more intensity to color washes at times when I still have daylight to contend with,” Jones notes. “Spaced around the two balcony levels are MAC 250 Washes to give low-level light to the thrust stage, but they also double for architectural highlights. MAC 250 Entours are used as variable scenic floor lamps for several shows.”
Suspended across the Theatrium's main stage is a Barco ILite 6 LED wall. The wall is divided into six vertical elements that are individually movable to allow any position or combination, from a 4:3 screen to six individual stripes. Content for the LED wall is provided via a coolux Pandoras Box media server. The LED wall, with varying positions and different visual content, forms the setting for 19 production shows plus six solo programs and additional weekly guest artists.
Outside, the deck features pools, cabanas, bars, a stage, and a disco. For the exposed environment, Jones notes he has never been satisfied with weatherproof PAR lamps in the salty sea air. “This time, I decided to use Martin Exteriors for color washes,” he says. The pool deck also has MAC 700 Profiles behind half domes set into the ceiling over the stage. Color washes are supplied by a combination of Exterior 200s for side washlights and Exterior 600 IP65-rated color changers on masts one deck higher for front washes. Additional deck lighting includes Martin Mania SCX700 scanners in front of the stage, as well as Anolis Arcline72 exterior LED strip lights, Exterior PARs, Smoke Factory Captain D smoke machines, Amazerlazer LED full color laser projectors, and an Amazerlazer LED green laser projector, all run from an MA Lighting grandMA light.
The main disco/bar is the Anytime Disco, with both an interior and exterior dance floor. On the exterior, Martin Exterior 200s provide changing color washes, while the inside dance floor uses Mania SCX700 scanners, Mania EF3 effect lights, and Wizard Extremes mounted onto two rings. High End Systems DataFlash AF-1000s, Ultralite 400W UV floods, James Thomas Engineering PAR36 SN pin spots, Strand Quartet PCs, and Smoke Factory Captain D smoke machines add to the club atmosphere, while a Color Kinetics RGB iColor Flex SLX system covers the walls and ceiling. The club lighting is controlled via an MA Lighting grandMA micro.
And even the Wellness Area, spanning two decks, is uniquely outfitted. The centerpiece of the room is a spa pool surrounded by a stone grotto, palm trees, and reclining benches. Here, Martin Exterior 600s, Exterior 600 Compacts modified with CTO filters and dimmers, and Clay Paky VIP300s with cloud animation discs provide ambiance to the space. On overcast days, the Exteriors can simulate sunlight with the option of providing lighting effects at night for evening parties. PixelRange Pixel Brick RGBA LED floods, Anolis Arcline36 LED strip lights, Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12s round out the decorative lighting, and fiber optics in a steam room and multiple saunas are powered by Martin FiberSource QFX 150 fiber optic illuminators. The Wellness Area is controlled via an E-Cue media control system.
Lighting installation and equipment supply for the AIDA Diva was by Amptown of Hamburg. Programming was done by Philipp Herbst and Tue Selmer Friborg, with Seelive's manager for show and live entertainment, Ursula Maile.