In Brief: Aidanova
Photo: © AIDA Cruises
Photos: AllIs Amazing
ROSTOCK, GERMANY EMEA
The latest vessel in the AIDA fleet, AIDAnova’s contract for construction was awarded to Meyer Weft in 2015 and built in its Papenburg shipyard for the world’s largest travel leisure company, Carnival Corporation. Weighing 183,000 gross tonnes and measuring 337-metres in length, AIDAnova is the world’s fifth largest cruise ship and the world’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered cruise ship. A total of 2,626 cabins house a maximum of 6,654 passengers - the ship’s staterooms are available in 21 different categories, including double, single or family cabins, verandas and junior suites with a well-lit winter garden, as well as premium or penthouse suites with an area of up to 53 sq metres. AIDAnova features facilities such as a kids clubs and a beach club, a luxury spa, a spacious sun deck, and a fitness centre. The cruise ship’s other features include a water park, a climbing garden and a mini golf course, in addition to a wide range of public areas and deck spaces for relaxing. AIDAnova has a total of 17 eateries, including six-á la carte, five speciality and five buffet restaurants. The ship’s Lanai deck, which wraps around half of the ship and offers stunning views, is also equipped with restaurants, bars and a Lanai Bar at the stern. System integrator, Amptown System Company (ASC) has integrated the ship’s media technology into the entertainment spaces onboard the AIDAnova. “In the highly competitive cruise market, it’s important for a shipping company to set itself apart from its competitors,” Malte Polli-Holstein, ASC Vice President Maritime Business explained. “A great deal of planning has taken place with the entertainment offerings and the restaurants on the AIDAnova to wow the guests. This literally
started with a blank sheet of paper and began to develop tailored and innovative technical concepts. We refined these in the engineering process, together with the shipping company’s designers and planners and the Meyer Werft shipyard, and implemented them together with manufacturers using state-of-theart technology. We were able to take the experience we gained from previous projects, for example, in the areas of video and projection, or in the transmission of all multimedia signals in a fibre-optic network, and apply it to AIDAnova to spectacular effect and in new forms.” The new AIDA show programme is perfectly taken care of by the new, extended technical features. The new ship in the AIDA fleet offers a different, innovative entertainment experience for every taste every day in a total of 13 locations, whether it be a live band set, a theatrical or circus performance on one of the many stages, DJs in a nightclub, or an all-encompassing dinner and show in one - the latter on AIDAnova being Time Machine. “Since the launch of the first AIDA ship, AIDAcara in 1996, a lot has changed in the design of the ship and therefore so has the entertainment,” said Ursula Maile, Senior Development Manager of AIDA Cruises. Responsible for new entertainment programmes and interface management between departments, Ursula develops ideas and objectives, manages the conceptual aspects of these processes and passes on the mature ideas to operative colleagues including Bernhard Loesken, Senior Superintendent of Media Technics at AIDA. Bernhard, along with Malte highlight its most exciting and innovative entertainment technology while docked in Arrecife, Lanzarote, starting with the onboard Art Gallery.
Passengers may not have the time to browse a gallery or attend an auction in their everyday, busy lives, but on the AIDAnova they have the time to idly browse artwork, invest in pieces and learn about the artist, thanks to the combination of a video wall and several multi touchtables. A split screen Planar LCD video wall displays the artwork, as well as pictures of the passengers taken by the ship’s photographer. The custom video wall is six displays wide and two displays high - it is touch-sensitive on its entire surface and, offering the familiar functionalities of smartphones, with four XI-MACHINES servers powering content. XI-MACHINES is a leading manufacturer of high-performance workstations, server and custom solutions for professional continuous use based in Hamburg, Germany. Passengers can engage with the wall, choose artwork, learn about the artists and resize prints. Sensfloor mats from Future-Shape are hidden beneath the corridor’s wooden floor, directly in front of the display wall. People walking over the floor generate signals that are transmitted to a receiver. The Sensfloor receiver SE10F can calculate the number of people, their direction of movement and speed - the floor becomes a touch pad. JBL Control 26C loudspeakers built into the ceiling add sound to the space, and are also used for when movies are shown on the display wall. Three smaller, split screen display walls can
be found in the photo shop, they are used exclusively to display the ships photography, ready for guests to purchase. A Planar three-metre by two-metre wall is used to display content. A display with an identical configuration is located on the opposite side of the room, while a smaller two-metre by one-metre screen is located behind the shop’s counter. Four eyefactive, waist height, multi-touch tables are also utilised in the space, passengers can play games on the tables, access itinerary information, and see exactly where in the world the AIDA fleet is located at that precise moment. The tables also have an external sensor, which will eventually be used to allow passengers with their personalised RFID boarding cards to make restaurant reservations and pay using ship currency.
The ship’s main activity area, Four Elements extends over decks 16 and 17 and houses a waterpark complete with three slides, a junglethemed high-rope activity course, popular with both adults and children, a sports deck and ample room to relax and catch some rays, thanks to the retractable roof. An outdoor Absen XD10 LED screen, measuring 12 sq metres plays commercials, programmes and weather information throughout the day, while at night it serves as an outdoor cinema
showing the latest films. It has also a small dancefloor, which is used for the kids disco and various other events. The air humidity is noticeably higher in Four Elements compared to other areas of the ship and special measures had to be taken before installation could take place. “The humidity places special demands on the technology installed,” Bernhard pointed out. “It’s an indoor location that has to be treated like an outdoor area in terms of electronics.” All of the d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers are seawater-resistant (SWR) versions that protect against salt water. This also applies to the line arrays, comprising d&b audiotechnik Yi8 and Yi12 components with ultra-compact B22 subwoofers, as well as E8 and E12 point source loudspeakers. The line arrays are powered by four d&b audiotechnik 30D installation amplifiers. The d&b audiotechnik Y, E and Bi Series loudspeakers were customised with stainless steel and special Nano coatings, and the colour of the casings carefully match the specifications of the architect to blend seamlessly into the structures and columns. “The cabinets are treated by the manufacturer with a UV resistant surface coating,” explained Malte. “The research and development team at d&b audiotechnik worked very carefully in view of our previous experience, they sealed the glued wood cut edges of the loudspeakers enclosures with oil to prevent possible swelling. All of the
metal parts of the loudspeakers, no matter if they are rigging points, front grilles, connection plates or screws, are made of seawater resistant V4A stainless steel. It’s not just the technology that’s protected, the line array rigging is also made of V4A stainless steel to prevent corrosion.” Martin by HARMAN Exterior WASH 210’s and SGM G-1 Beam moving heads contribute significantly to the ambience of the dancefloor. The lighting is controlled by a central grandMA3 from MA Lighting, located in the Broadcast Centre (BCC). Different lighting installations can be synchronised from the ship’s BCC to make the vessel a spectacular sight when the ship is anchored in a harbour. Local control of the spotlights in Four Elements is also possible, though it is mainly used for special occasions.
Photo: © Amptown System Company
TIME MACHINE RESTAURANT
A different kind of family entertainment awaits guests at the Time Machine restaurant, a quirky dinner theatre venue unlike anywhere else on the ship. The entrance of the restaurant is a gate with an old departures sign above, restored from a German airport. The display, which combines the mechanical parts from the old scoreboard with a modern digital control system indicates the forthcoming show in the venue. Guests who visit Time Machine are treated to a three-course dinner, lasting two hours that is accompanied by a show put on by professional actors using ‘Professor Tempus’ as the central figure. The gate opens and the host leads guests into an elevator, which is in fact a room that leads directly into the restaurant. Framed display screens from Sharp - Sharp PN-R556 and PN-R496 - line the elevator, cleverly disguised as windows,
the screens run dedicated content that gives diners the illusion of falling, aided by a vibrating plate built into the floor that moves 8cm up and down. A height adjustable, revolving stage can be found in the middle of the restaurant, QSC AD-S4T-LP ceiling loudspeakers are installed above the podium and QSC AD-112sw 12-inch subwoofers are hidden in the benches. The CXD43Q amplifiers are also from QSC. These CXD4.3Q networked amplifiers, as well as AD-S loudspeakers, are - like many QSC components onboard part of the Q-SYS ecosystem. The ‘Intrinsic Correction’ feature running on the Q-SYS Cores ensuring brilliant audio throughout various areas of the ship, passing sound through the ship wide Q-LAN network. The restaurant is steam punk themed with elements of brass, machinery and moving cogs. A further 80 Sharp screens
line the walls and ceiling, displaying content specially created for the themed restaurant and the dinner show’s storyline. The content runs fluidly throughout to create the illusion that the restaurant is moving through time. “It was very difficult to find a manufacturer that could make a screen to fit the entire length of the ceiling,” Malte noted. “The screen has to hang facedown without falling out of its frame, and with the ship’s vibrations we needed to be certain it wouldn’t. The frame had to be big enough to secure the glass plate, which is why we had to use smaller screens and separate them. The frames now give the illusion of ceiling beams or windows. The window frames are also inclined so passengers can see ‘outside’, no matter where they are sat in the dining room.” A close collaboration between ASC, AIDA, the manufacturers and the architects was essential for a
Photo: © Amptown System Company
successful outcome. “The challenge in planning the equipment of a ship is to obtain the desired technical products in sufficient quantities at the time of construction,” explained Bernhard. “If you look at flat screens, for example, you would be hard pushed to find the current models on the market in three years time. For us, however, it is important that the specifications and dimensions defined during the planning work are adhered to exactly, as the interior fittings are difficult to change at a later date for a major project, such as a ship. It’s essential that we work closely with our system integrator, ASC and the manufacturers involved. We receive the dimensions of new products from the manufacturers that exist only as prototypes or even plans, we can then incorporate the specifications into our own plans for a new vessel.” The show is completely automated using Beckhoff Automation control technology. “Everything is based on coolux, though the hardware is from XI- MACHINES, the Beckhoff system acts as a kind of translator between coolux and the various sensors,” Malte explained.
Due to the complexity of the technology, the Time Machine restaurant has its own technology centre, located in a room adjacent to the dining area. “The computers work reliably all round, and we are very satisfied with them,” Bernhard said. “The requirements for a media server on a ship are pretty much the same as those on land. The storage capacities for the video content are very generously dimensioned; with the vibrations of the ship in mind, hard disks are only used when large amounts of data have to be stored. In the Time Machine Restaurant alone, more than 40 terabytes of video content comes together for a show.” ASC did implement the technology within the restaurant so staff rather than technicians can operate it though. When it comes to the show performance, the actors and the servers are all provided with tablets, and each department must press a button to confirm they’re ready and in their places before the show can begin. And once the show has started, diners will be mesmerised by the journey that blurs past, future, reality and fantasy all-in-one.
Moving on to the Theatrium, an impressive and unusual take on the entertainment hub of a cruise ship. This space combines a typical atrium with a theatre, right in the heart of AIDAnova. “After our first three ships, which classically had a closed theatre with a peep-box stage in the front part of the ship, we started with AIDAdiva in 2007 to develop the idea for a combined theatre and atrium in the centre of the hull for the next class of ships. For AIDAnova we have created an even more sumptuous stage setting than we did with our predecessors,” explained Ursula. The Theatrium extends over decks six to eight and includes a 360° stage, allowing passengers to enjoy the ship’s varied entertainment programme wherever they are seated. One show staged in the Theatrium is Voice of the Ocean, after AIDA bought the rights to the original - The Voice - to have the same format onboard the ship. Small technology islands equipped with spotlights, cameras and antennas adorn the surrounding balconies. The loudspeakers are partly integrated into the ceiling, with custom made casings by ASC, colour-matched to the architecture.
The loudspeakers in the Theatrium are all once again d&b audiotechnik with products from the V, Y and E Series. The sound system is configured to do justice to the visual opulence of the venue. Some are partly integrated into the ceiling with custom-made casings by ASC, colourmatched to the architecture. Subwoofers are located on the left and right sides of the stage, below seating areas and islands and are protected by customised decorative grids on the galleries. The remote subwoofers are operated with a delay time appropriate to the main PA. A special foam material is used to decouple the loudspeakers from the ship’s structure, reducing vibrations. The room acoustics in the venue were optimised with the help of various measures including perforated ceiling elements backed with insulating material, numerous upholstered seating areas and the large carpet area. The FOH is located in the middle of a balcony and contains a DiGiCo SD7 console. Audio signals coming from the stage are usually routed to DiGiCo SD Racks and then distributed digitally via fibre-optic cable. At the heart of the fibre infrastructure is Broaman’s Route66- Optocore AutoRouter, which acts as a
digital interpreter between the fibreoptic incoming signals and the DiGiCo system. The fibre-optic infrastructure is designed to anticipate future developments in media technology. End devices such as digital audio consoles can be replaced with newer products without having to re-route the cabling. The analogue patch panels, which are of course also installed onboard, come from manufacturer, Ghielmetti. “We think it makes sense to have one brand of mixing consoles,” said Bernhard. “It makes training our staff much easier, and if you look at a small or large DiGiCo console, the philosophy of using either one is the same. This is something, which is very important. DiGiCo had the right product and the manufacturer and was able to supply different sized consoles for different needs in each of the venues. They are also very reliable.” Sennheiser’s 5000 Series is also at home in the Theatrium combining state-ofthe-art wireless microphones, versatile transmitters and powerful rack mount and portable receivers. Frequency interference is obviously an issue with a moving vessel, and regulations change from port-to-port, so AIDA keep a close
eye on this element of the technology inventory. It’s thought that an update to a digital system will take place in the not too distant future. A comparatively large number of moving lights are used, in contrast to a theatre on land and all of the fixtures were chosen with flexibility in mind. Technicians are forbidden from using ladders onboard, so it’s essential that the positioning of individual lamps can be handled remotely. When the ship is docked in port, technicians can use ladders to realign fixed spotlights if necessary. “The challenge was to bring the design and entertainment needs together, while keeping the lighting designers in mind, too. It had to be a flexible lighting design because there are so any different shows and nobody is coming in to do a show with their own lighting rig,” Malte explained. The lighting technology that met the requirements includes ETC Source Fours and Source Four LED Series 2’s, Martin by HARMAN MAC Quantums and MAC Encores, Elation SixBar 500 and 1000’s, Elation ACL 360 Bars, GLP impression X4 Bar20’s, and Martin by HARMAN JEM Glaciator fog machines. Lighting technology is controlled by an
MA Lighting grandMA console. “The Elation spotlights are real workhorses and perform their duties onboard without any notable problems,” noted Bernhard. “Elation’s headlights are installed, put into operation, and then everything runs smoothly.” “The advantages of products such as the MAC Encore and MAC Quantum are that they offer are clear, innovative and sophisticated solutions, including reduced heat, no lamp replacements and they are energy-saving. Only LEDs are used on AIDA and the spotlights are very low-maintenance,” added Morten Gjoetz, Sales Director, Global Cruise & Marine for Martin by HARMAN. “For more than 20 years we have been working with AIDA Cruises and ASC together in the maritime business, ASC is one of the top integrators, no matter whether it is a new building or a refit - it is a very long-term partnership with Martin Professional [now Martin by HARMAN] and a real tradition.” AIDAnova is one of the first ships on which almost all the lamps onboard are based on LED technology. The advantages are obvious. The LEDs generate less heat during operation than conventional light sources, and they
Photo: © Amptown System Company
also consume less electricity - if you look at the ship as a whole, the energy savings are considerable and contribute to the endeavour to make cruises as environmentally friendly as possible. LED light sources also require little maintenance during their long life cycles. On the visual side a total of 11 Absen LED walls line the back of the stage, which are partly motor driven and entirely movable. A custom substructure attached to a rigging system from Bosch Rexroth was manufactured by ASC to ensure a secure hold. ASC also manufactured a substructure for the LED tiles to attach to the balconies, creating a curved impression. Onboard AIDAnova it was clear from the outset that many of the LED surfaces would have to be custom designed, so, the team worked closely with manufacturers, Absen to meet their needs. “Not all manufacturers are willing or able to respond to such special requirements. Absen is a company that responds to our needs and the LED surfaces integrated into the architecture are well received by the guests,” said Bernhard. For safety and security, the shows in the Theatrium are all pre-programmed, and time code triggered. There are lighting, sound and rigging operators who will react if something unexpected happens or dancers or singers are in the wrong position.
Not a single moment of action will be missing though, thanks to the five cameras permanently installed, which are controlled from the BCC - video content is stored on servers from XI- MACHINES. Images of live events can be distributed on screens around the Theatrium, so that guests seated in the bars can follow the action on stage.
During the day, the Beach Club is a pool deck and swimming area covered with a retractable foil roof, which allows the UV light in, so passengers can soak up the rays regardless of what’s going on outside. The Beach Club includes several pools, a jacuzzi and a tropical themed bar. This area is popular with families in the daytime but at night the space transforms into a nightclub, with live bands and DJs entertaining passengers late into the night. Four Christie D13WU DLP laser projectors are installed near the DJ booth, projecting images on to the foil roof, illuminated by 560 Martin by HARMAN Exterior PixLine 10 LED video sticks, which can be controlled either locally or from the BCC. “The ceiling lighting at the Beach Club allows different lighting moods to be achieved. It’s about ambience, it’s about atmosphere - our goal is to inspire the guests,” furthered Morten. The focal point of The Beach Club is its
41 sq metre Absen LED wall. Made up of XD10 tiles, ASC integrated two highresolution XD6 fields in 16:9 format, ideal for videos and TV broadcasts. “Integrating the Absen LED modules was possible without any problem, the Absen tiles are the same size regardless of their resolution,” Malte continued. “The reason that two 16:9 screens were embedded at all is due to the door that had to be installed in the middle of the LED surface, allowing musicians and the drum kit placed on a roll riser access to the stage.” Content for the screens is stored on XI- MACHINES servers. “The requirements for media servers on the ship is similar to those on land,” Bernhard explained. “The storage capacities for the video content in the Beach Club are generously dimensioned. Taking ship vibrations into account, solid-state disks are mainly used here instead of conventional hard disks.” Mixing requirements are taken care of by a DiGiCo SD8 console. “We have been working with DiGiCo for many years,” said Bernhard. “For the guest acts, the sound engineers accept DiGiCo consoles without hesitation, the desks comply with the international industry standards and the engineers also receive support from our technicians working onboard if required.” Powerful seawater-resistant line arrays consisting of specially varnished Vi8’s and Vi12’s combined with
B22 subwoofers from d&b audiotechnik are concealed within two columns at The Beach Club. All are covered with acoustically transparent and specially treated grilles. ASC also selected six d&b audiotechnik M4 loudspeakers for stage monitoring. Here, and elsewhere on the ship where d&b audiotechnik cabinets are installed, the company’s 10D and 30D amplifiers power the boxes. “The four-channel 10D and 30D models from d&b audiotechnik’s portfolio, designed exclusively for installation applications are used onboard as power amplifiers, typical touring amplifiers can’t be found on the ship,” Bernhard explained. Uwe Henne, Marketing Manager from d&b audiotechnik, added: “An essential argument for d&b audiotechnik onboard is the system integration of the power amplifiers into the ship’s system and the connection possibilities to the environment through GPIOs. The possibilities of the system monitoring and the system operation by d&b software simplify the process for the user, for example, the show conversion, customised presets can be stored and recalled in the final stages, meaning it can also be recalled in complex stage situations. Many of the advantages of d&b audiotechnik’s multichannel power amplifiers can also be applied to loudspeakers from other manufacturers.” Lighting consists of Martin by HARMAN 210 and 320 Series Exterior washlights, as well as outdoor moving heads, G-7 spotlights and G-1 Beams from SGM. “We have a long history of working with Martin Professional [now Martin by HARMAN],”
Bernhard recalled. “So the R&D department informs us of new developments that could be of interest to us at a very early stage.” Just like Four Elements, this indoor area is treated as an outdoor area in terms of equipment and safety. Exposure to sunlight was also included in the material planning. “We had a positive experience with SGM products on other ships in the AIDA fleet,” explained Bernhard. “Especially the weather protection, class IP65 has proven to be resistant in challenging environments.”
A lounge, bar and nightclub all-in-one, The Cube’s mirrored, tunnel entrance leads guests into a stylish, modern hotspot where the DJ booth dominates the space. The entire booth is encased in LEDs behind the DJ, 32 sq metres of Hybrid 15 LED panels from ROE Visual with integrated LED spotlights provide powerful effects. MADRIX software serves as lighting control, using the music being played at any given time as the basis for creating lighting and video effects. Both the effect lighting and the light implemented by the architecture are integrated into the control system in the nightclub. For a variety of stunning effects and colours, Martin by HARMAN’s Rush MH1’s, Scanner 1 LED lights and strobes, as well as LED PARs and Eurolite UV floodlights are utilised in the space. Installing the lighting was a challenge for ASC due to the low ceiling height in the club. For this reason Martin by HARMAN scanners with their electro-mechanically movable mirrors were the
perfect solution. Vi10P three way high-performance point source loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik, supplemented by Vi-GSUB basses, as well as E8 and E6 as fills provide excellent sound with a powerful SPL for the dancefloor. Additionally, two coaxial d&b audiotechnik E12D high-performance loudspeakers are placed either side of the DJ. The four 10D and 30D amplifiers powering the PA are characterised by comparatively low power consumption and a favourable thermal working range, despite their professional performance, the space requirement is low. The ability to monitor and control the system using the d&b software is an important feature in distributed installations, saving technician’s time and unnecessary journeys. Presets stored in the power amplifiers simplify conversions for different stage shows software updates keep the sound system up-to-date at all times.
Next door to The Cube, guests can enjoy live rock music every night at the Rock Box bar. Designed to look like a classic ‘80s rock venue, the main focus is clearly on the stage. Live sound comes from the d&b audiotechnik portfolio. The main PA consists of Vi10P loudspeakers and Vi- GSUB subwoofers set up either side of the stage. The live sound is mixed at FOH on a DiGiCo SD8 console. Brick walls, dark furniture and thoughtful lighting turn the ambience from cruise ship to casual bar with a traverse ceiling. PAR cans and ACL blinders with an analogue aesthetic are
Photo: © Amptown System Company
fitted with LED light sources, in-line with AIDA’s energy saving concept. RUSH spotlights from Martin by HARMAN, Elation CUEPIX Strips, Blinders and SIXPAR 200’s provide the effect lighting, and are controlled by an MA Lighting desk.
BODY & SOUL ORGANIC SPA
The morning after the night before, guests can relax and recover at the Body & Soul Organic Spa and Wellness area on decks seven and eight. Covering 3,545 sq metres the wellness area offers five saunas, three jacuzzis, a sun deck, a fireplace and a tepidarium. ASC installed two d&b audiotechnik E6 and E12 loudspeakers, carefully colour matched to the interiors, supplemented by four matching E15 subwoofers, all of which are powered by two 30D power amplifiers. Six sq metres of Absen N2 LED walls line the entrance to the spa, displaying nature scenes such as running water and trees, depending on whether it represents the sports area or the wellness areal.
THE YACHT CLUB
The Yacht Club is a spacious buffet restaurant at the stern of the ship directly connected to the Lanai Bar, so that guests can dine al fresco in good weather. Inside, ASC integrated an impressive custom-made LED wall that simulates an outdoor ambience with maritime motifs. Built from Absen’s fanless N2 modules, this sophisticated substructure was made to measure by ASC, the animated motifs are computer
generated and change according to the time of the day. Stored on two XI-MACHINES servers located in the BCC, coolux software takes over the control, elsewhere Datapath Fx4 units serve as display controllers. “The LED wall extends almost across the entire width of the ship, and it’s really unusual,” Bernhard said. “ASC has built a suitable substructure that can withstand all mechanical loads and is reliable even with large ship movements.”
The intercom system used throughout the ship, comes from RTS Intercom Systems - a manufacturer belonging to the Bosch Group - and is grouped around an ADAM-M matrix. The technicians use wireless DECT-based TR-1800 four-channel belt packs with HR Series headsets. The audio systems on AIDAnova are divided into two areas: the entertainment sector and the Public Address General Alarm (PAGA) system. In the entertainment sector, a QSC Q-LAN network is used for the ship wide distribution of audio signals, all venues are interconnected in this way. A connection to the PAGA part, which is also based on a Q-LAN network, is established the analogue way via tielines. The PAGA, with its numerous ceilingmounted loudspeakers - separated into A/B lines, network-compatible power amplifiers from the CXD-Q Series - is assigned servers for the playback of background music. Different channels are streamed into different areas of the ship, in the sushi house restaurant for example, a different sound backdrop can be heard than
in the Italian restaurant. In order to connect the entertainment venues to the background sound system, the cross-connection between the two systems was set up. Each venue on the AIDAnova is equipped with its own QSC Q-SYS Core110f system centre. The decentralised structure with a total of 24 Core110f is intended to ensure greater operational reliability and avoid a single point of failure in the form of a higher-level main matrix. The Cores are interconnected so that signal transmission is possible. Each Q-SYS core processor offers local inputs and outputs, signal processing, control, conference camera routing, endpoint bridging, high-quality echo cancellation and equaliser functions. Control options include QSC touch panels (TSC-7) on which for example, a channel for background music or local inputs can be selected. Via the QSC Q-SYS system, control commands are also transmitted via TCP/IP to the d&b audiotechnik amplifiers, in which presets - for example, to suit the current stage configuration - can be switched. Even loudspeaker sharing is possible, on certain occasions ceiling-mount loudspeakers of the PAGA system are jointly operated with subwoofers of the entertainment system. Unlike the PAGA components the subwoofers don’t need to be connected to a UPS unit when this happens. Solutions from Guntermann & Drunck are important tasks onboard. “If you briefly imagine how many devices from the entertainment sector on board the AIDAnova can be controlled with keyboard, mouse and screen, the use of a
Photo: © Amptown System Company
powerful KVM system makes absolute sense,” said Bernhard. “We can access any machine from different positions, and if, for example, a technician needs access to a particular media server in the Theatrium, they can conveniently control the device in real time from their current position without having to go to the associated technical room. Almost all areas on the ship are connected to the KVM system; connections can be made in many places via wall panels. We have set up our own network for the KVM system, due to the size of the application, two G&D matrix systems are connected to each other.”
When selecting the products for use on the ship the team pay particular attention to quality and durability. “As you can imagine it’s not possible to quickly procure a spare part in the middle of the sea,” Bernhard said. However, for a lot of
the key products, there is a back-up held in the ship’s warehouse, in the case of a replacement being needed urgently. “Our concept is to use reliable equipment from a few selected manufacturers for all venues onboard, which simplifies replacing and repairing the equipment.” This can lead to some less consequential venues being equipped with highquality and comparatively expensive equipment. For outsiders this may seem a little extravagant at first, but under the circumstances the homogenous equipment onboard makes sense. “It’s good if we can work with manufactures and suggest features that are important in our specific context,” Bernhard continued. “We work closely with the right people and the right products to delivering a first-class entertainment experience.” ASC prepares the media technology as far in advance as possible on land. “The challenges of this project go far beyond
the usual framework for a new build on land. All 19-inch racks, for example are pre-configured and internally wired so that they only have to be connected on the ship. This is still a lot of work and requires perfect timing and extensive testing,” Bernhard explained. It is this level of detail and planning that has kept ASC and AIDA Cruises in partnership since 2002. Bernhard summed up their relationship: “We are absolutely satisfied with the results on every new ship, it’s so important for us to have partners we can trust, who we know will deliver.” Malte concluded: “The new building program includes another two AIDA cruise ships in the Helios class on which we will have the honour of installing the complex entertainment technology. The next cruise ship is planned for 2021, with the third vessel scheduled for delivery in 2023.”
Senior Project Manager for new builds at AIDA Cruises
Photo: © AIDA Cruises / Susanne Dupont
Responsible for entertainment programmes and interface management between departments, Ursula and her colleagues from the technical and specialist departments are constantly creating new and exciting experiences for guests onboard an AIDA cruise ship. Ursula initially completed training as a hotel clerk before beginning a career in the cruise industry in 1991, with a job in River Navigation. This new career really laid the foundation for a future career in project management, the day-to-day role included the inspection of the shell of the ship and the development of entertainment concepts. In 1997 AIDA Cruises offered Ursula a new challenge, setting up the entertainment department for the young shipping company in Rostock. Ursula worked on the company’s first cruise ship, AIDAcara, followed by its sister ship’s AIDAvita 2002 and AIDAaura 2003. Based on the philosophy of offering dream destinations at affordable prices, AIDA took its entertainment programme seriously, hiring a professional cast and crew from the off. “We moved to a former school in an old brick building with high rooms in the Hamburg district of St. Pauli,” Ursula recalled. “As a musical city, Hamburg offered us a lot of potential for artists, especially as we were able to gain prominent support from the neighbouring theatre and art scene. We went our own way in the new forge in Seilerstraße and created our own productions.” The nearby AIDA Entertainmenthaus houses the costume design, tailoring, production and operation departments, as well as a generous equipment storage space. It includes four spacious rehearsal rooms, an artists stage, a pre-programming room, recording studios and a recording room to enable sound design and entertainment managers, event technicians, artists, dancers, singers and musicians to meticulously prepare their assignments onboard. “A lot has changed in the design of the ships since 1997 and therefore also with the entertainment side of things, we wanted to go one step further
than with the predecessor models, which classically had a closed theatre with a peep-box stage in the front area of the ship. That’s how we invented the mixture of theatre and atrium,” explained Ursula. “The Theatrium is the heart of this ship class; it extends over three decks and is the setting for rehearsals, our own productions and breathtaking shows. On the newest ship, AIDAnova, the architects have gone one step further with the covered Beach Club and the Four Elements on one deck, a greater variety of restaurants and a more versatile Theatrium. “The stage in the Theatrium can be played at 360°, which still takes some getting used to for some bands and artists because the guests are so close,” she continued. “Audience participation is part of our concept of contemporary entertainment.” “I develop ideas and objectives, manage the content and conceptual aspects of these processes and pass on the mature ideas to my operative colleagues, including Bernhard Loesken, Senior Superintendent Entertainment / Media Technics New Buildings, and his team,” explained Ursula. “The food and beverage team also has a lot of input, there’s a lot of entertainment going on in our restaurants and bars. On AIDAnova, for example, we have 17 restaurants and 23 bars - the entertainment restaurant, Time Machine is just one of the features we have thought about intensely over the years. All those involved in the project, including our system integrator, Amptown System Company, worked so hard on the task: constantly asking how do we manage to integrate the incredibly complex technology and the media part into this very limited space?” Ursula draws her inspiration from trade shows, regularly visiting InfoComm, ISE and Prolight+Sound, and from trips to Bangkok, Tokyo or at home in Hamburg, more precisely in St. Pauli. A good example of this is the Rock Box on AIDAnova, inspired by a live music venue from the Hamburg music scene. “The Rock Box on AIDAnova was a dream of mine for a long time. I had the company’s support and together
we thought about what the location needed to achieve, the atmosphere, the size of the bands we’d have and how much room they had to work with, what kind of guest experience we want to achieve. We communicate these answers to the architect and the marketing department - and with the motivation and commitment of everyone, a new successful entertainment highlight is created.” Ursula was involved with the entertainment side of AIDAnova from the very beginning. “From the first drawing, to the concept, to the questions - which personnel do we need? Where will the artists be accommodated? What content must be created? What does the spatial concept look like? Our entertainment areas have to be versatile in order to deliver a new guest experience during the longest cruise of 21 days onboard. This goes hand in hand with reliable, multifunctional and modern technology that is available at numerous locations throughout the world.” Over the years, Ursula has acquired a great deal of knowledge and technical know-how, she knows what guests have come to expect from an AIDA cruise, how to wow new guests and make old friends of them. “Like the other AIDA ships, AIDAnova is a German-speaking ship when it comes to onboard communication and the language of the ship - in terms of safety aspects, signage and crew selection, we act in German/English,” said Ursula. “Several generations can spend their holidays here together and everyone will find something that will make their time with us an unforgettable experience. ‘Welcome home’ is the slogan our guests will find at the gangway.” Looking back on 22 years of AIDA Cruises, Ursula concluded: “I had never imagined staying in a company for so long. But AIDA Cruises has offered me so many rich facets - I have learned new things every day. Architecture, technology, entertainment, food and drink culture, guest structure - everything is subject to permanent change and therefore always challenging me.”