TUI Cruises Scaling Up Service – Cruise Industry News
“We are confident that we will have a minimum of three ships and up to four in service in southern Europe by the end of the summer and three ships departing from northern Germany,” said Wybcke Meier, CEO by TUI Cruises, in an interview with Cruise Industry News for the summer 2021 edition of Quarterly magazine of news from the cruise industry.
Mein Schiff 2 has been sailing from Palma since mid-June after being redeployed from the Canary Islands. Mein Schiff 5 sails in Greece until the end of October, offering two weekly itineraries that can be combined into a 14-day cruise. And, Mein Schiff 1 started sailing from Kiel in May, offering scenic Baltic cruises, including a stopover in Stockholm, but without passengers being able to disembark on early cruises. Mein Schiff 6 followed in June with scenic three and four day cruises to Skagen and Gothenburg. As soon as the Baltic states open, organized shore excursions will be possible, according to Meier.
“Looking at pent-up demand in Germany and the holiday season ahead, I think scenic cruises will be an attractive holiday option,” she said at the end of May. “Passengers can spend days at sea, go to dinner, go to the gym, be outdoors and enjoy all the activities that they missed and that are still not possible in many parts of Germany and the rest of Europe.
“Once Sweden and other countries open, we hope that our passengers can disembark in the concept of bubble that we have in the Mediterranean.
“We hope to have another ship in the Mediterranean by the end of July and follow the published routes,” Meier continued. “And then more ships in Northern Europe, in the Baltic.
As TUI Cruises ramps up, it will continue to implement its security protocols and sail at reduced occupancy.
“We provide a safe cruising experience without limiting ships to fully vaccinated passengers only,” Meier said. “At this point (end of May) 14-15% of the German population has been vaccinated, and we want to give all of our passengers the opportunity to sail with us.
“As more and more people are vaccinated, we could increase the occupancy rate. We take a look at this week after week and what is happening in the markets. Our government has told us that everyone should be fully vaccinated by the end of August, so I’m sure we can increase the occupancy rate for our fall departures. “
With sister brand Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the two cruise lines have been sailing since last summer, carrying more than 100,000 passengers and had just eight COVID-19 cases on board their ships. But authorities never asked for the service to be suspended because the contact tracing of cruise passengers was working flawlessly, Meier said, and thus interrupted the chain of infection.
“We were able to tell where the passengers contracted the virus,” she explained, “and where they went on board, who they were in contact with, and we were able to isolate the contact person. We have not had any serious cases.
“This is happening because there is always a small gap between testing and boarding.
“Our protocols have worked as expected,” added Meier.
With seven ships in its fleet, TUI Cruises has three more ships on order. Mein Schiff 7, which is a sister ship to Mein Schiff 1 and 2, is under construction at Meyer Turku for a slightly delayed delivery in 2023. She weighs 110,000 tonnes with a capacity of 2,900 passengers (double occupancy).
In addition, Mein Schiff 8 and Mein Schiff 9 were commissioned from Fincantieri and represent a new generation for TUI Cruises. Scheduled for deliveries in 2024 and 2026, Meier said she expected them to be more or less on time. Fueled by LNG, they will be significantly larger than existing ships with 161,000 tonnes and 4,000 passengers each.
Starting from an estimated annual capacity of 620,000 passengers in 2019, TUI Cruises will be able to carry more than 750,000 passengers in 2023, with the annual service of Mein Schiff 7, and more than 1.1 million by 2027, according to the Cruise Industry News Annual Report 2021.
“Research has shown that the German cruise market can generate 4 to 4.5 million passengers per year,” Meier said. “These people also have the means to pay 1,200 euros for a weekly cruise, so it’s a very buoyant market.
“Before the pandemic, around 2.4 million Germans were sailing.”
Extract from the Cruise Industry News quarterly magazine: summer 2021