“We had a very successful beginning to the year with the launch of the new Mein Schiff 2 and the reintroduction of the previous Mein Schiff 2 as Mein Schiff Herz,” said Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises. “We have a 21 percent capacity increase this year and are still managing high occupancy rates at good prices and maintaining high levels of guest satisfaction. By the end of April, we had an average fleetwide net promoter score of 73.”
The 2,900-passenger Mein Schiff 2 is the sixth newbuild introduced since 2008, having evolved from the 2,500-passenger Mein Schiff 3.
The “old” 1,850-passenger Mein Schiff 2, the former Celebrity Century, entered service for TUI Cruises in 2011, one of the two ships that helped launch the German brand.
While absorbing the added capacity, Meier said that work is already underway on more newbuilds to come in 2023, 2024 and 2026. With all six newbuilds up to now built by the Meyer Turku shipyard, the next new ship, Mein Schiff 7, will also be built in Finland, as an evolution of the Mein Schiff 1 and 2.
However, the ships slated for deliveries in 2024 and 2026 will be built at Fincantieri and be LNG-propelled, according to Meier.
“These ships will be bigger and of a different design,” Meier said, “but we are maintaining a comfortable space ratio for our guests. It is a work in progress. I cannot say more at this time.”
The German cruise market reached approximately 2.2 million passengers in 2018 and about 26 percent of them cruised with TUI.
TUI’s selling points are that of an all-inclusive premium product, according to Meier. The concept is to promote the well-being of the guests in a relaxed onboard atmosphere.
In addition to German passengers, TUI enjoys market support in German-speaking Austria and Switzerland, and is also seeing more guests from neighboring countries, like Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The expanded fleet is allowing TUI Cruises to explore new destinations as well. Departing from Tenerife in December 2020, Mein Schiff Herz will sail 20 days to Cape Town and 27 days via Port Elizabeth, and offer six 14-day cruises roundtrip from Cape Town to Namibia in January and February of 2021.
Meier’s focus is also on the environment and her target is to reduce fuel consumption and emissions as much as possible. “All our newbuilds have exhaust gas cleaning systems consisting of scrubbers and catalytic converters,” she said, “reducing sulfur by up to 99 percent, NOX by 75 percent and particulate matter by some 60 percent. In addition, we have sailed with hybrid scrubbers in closed-mode loop in the Baltic for the past three years, going above and beyond the regulations.
“We have also been able to improve our energy efficiency from newbuild to newbuild. For our latest newbuilds, the Mein Schiff 1 and 2, for example, we have reduced the energy consumption even further. They both consume 40 percent less energy and therefore less fuel than ships of comparable size – hence reducing ship emissions. Compared to Mein Schiff 5 and 6, they are 10 percent more efficient.”
In addition, by 2020, TUI expects to equip ships for shorepower connection as well.
With the environment and sustainability being sensitive topics in Germany and with stricter regulations in the Baltic and in Norway, Meier said that TUI is committed to continue to work to reduce its environmental footprint. The new generation ships, featuring LNG as fuel, will be another step in this direction.
Market demand has propelled the company’s growth, she added, as well as the all-inclusive concept and being able to turn first-time guests into repeaters. “When we first introduced the all-inclusive concept, there were some skeptics who were concerned that we would reduce the quality as we launched more ships. Instead, we have added more inclusive features and services and improved the product over the years. And despite literally launching a new ship every year, we have kept guest satisfaction at a very high level.”