Wilmington, NC – On Monday, October 26 the AIDAaura, a casual club ship operated by the German cruise line AIDA Cruises (www.aida.de), will bring up to 1,300 passengers and more than 400 crew members to Wilmington and North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast. Sporting AIDA’s signature red lips and blue eye-shadow motif, the unique-looking cruise ship will dock at the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s Wilmington terminal. This will be AIDAaura’s second visit to the Port of Wilmington; their first visit was in October 2008. Once again, staff members of the Wilmington/Cape Fear Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau will be available to greet passengers, distribute visitor information, and answer questions about the area.
During AIDAaura’s visit in Wilmington & North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast, shore excursions will again be provided by Tours by Degrees, a receptive tour operator based in Wilmington. Tour itineraries include stops at Bellamy Mansion, Thalian Hall, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach State Park, Fort Fisher Recreation Area, canoeing on Greenfield Lake, and a Cape Fear River cruise aboard the Captain Maffitt. Other excursions include a round of golf at Magnolia Greens, a bicycle ride to Wrightsville Beach, and a trip to Bald Head Island. Other tours might also be offered based on last-minute passenger requests. Passengers not taking shore excursions will have the opportunity to board shuttles destined for Downtown Wilmington. Passengers and crew members will also patronize area retailers and restaurants.
According to a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2007 study, each cruise ship passenger spends an average of $123 per U.S. port-of-call visit. It is estimated that each crew member spends an average of $49 per visit.
“We welcome AIDAaura’s arrival and hope her passengers and crew will enjoy the history, charm and natural beauty of Wilmington and North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast,” states Kim Hufham, President/CEO of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority. “When you calculate the average daily expenditures of the ship’s passengers and crew, we estimate a raw economic impact of $180,382. Using a conservative 2.5 multiplier, this equates to more than $450,000 dollars in total economic impact as they explore the area in a single day. The economic impact rises when you add other local expenditures such as fuel, ground transportation, tour services, and docking fees associated with large cruise ships such as AIDAaura.”