TUI Cruises is getting bigger and greener, flying the flag of sustainability in expansion and responsible environmentalism.
The Hamburg-based cruiseline – a 50-percent joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the Anglo-German tourism company TUI AG – markets to the German-speaking world with a theme of “well-being” aboard its ships.
Environmentalism is a growing part of that approach.
TUI said two ships slated for commissioning in 2024 and 2026 will be powered by low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG). Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises, called it a “logical continuation of our environmental strategy” when announcing the expansion earlier this year. They’re to be built at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone.
Its existing newbuilds already burn some 30 percent less fuel than ships of similar size and are equipped with exhaust scrubbers and catalytic converters that reduce sulfur emissions by as much as 99 percent, nitrogen oxide by up to 75 percent and particulates by about 60 percent.
TUI began sailing in 2009 with a single ship, Mein Schiff 1 – the former Celebrity Galaxy – and in 2011 obtained the former Celebrity Mercury, renaming it Mein Schiff 2.
Its steady expansion since then can get a bit confusing because TUI has stuck with its eminently practical naming convention, Mein Schiff (“My Ship”).
The original ship was transferred to sister line Marella Cruises in April 2018 when it was replaced by an all-new Mein Schiff 1. A new Mein Schiff 2 is to come on line early next year, replacing the original by that name, which will continue to sail in the fleet until 2022 under a new name, Mein Schiff Herz.
Mein Schiff 3, the line’s first newbuild, entered service in 2014; Mein Schiff 4 in 2015; Mein Schiff 5, 2016; Mein Schiff 6, 2017.
Another newbuild, Mein Schiff 7, is planned for 2023. With the addition of the LNG-powered newbuilds, TUI’s fleet will number nine ships by 2026.
A launch of a different kind took place in October when TUI announced a plastics reduction program it calls WASTELESS. Beginning with replacing disposable products in staterooms, restaurants and bars with green alternatives, its objective is to eliminate plastics on ships and land by 2020.
“Already today, we operate the most modern and environmentally friendly cruise fleet around the world,” CEO Meier said. With WASTELESS, “we take things to the next level in the field of waste management and will systematically reduce plastic waste.”
Since its founding, the cruiseline has supplied guests with refillable glass water jugs, eliminating disposable plastic bottles. Cabin showers on newbuilds include refillable shampoo and gel dispensers. Slippers are no longer packed in plastic, and instead, are slipped into bathrobe pockets.
Coming up: Laundry bags will be made of degradable bio-based plastic; plastic drink stirrers will be replaced with wood sticks; and plastic straws will be provided to guests only by request.
This initiative follows a pilot program last year that cut food waste on Mein Schiff 4 by 17 percent, earning TUI the German Travel Industry Association’s 2017 EcoTrophea environmental award.