TUI Cruises floats out its 5th ‘Well-Being’ ship

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There’s something eminently practical and efficient in how Germany’s TUI Cruises names its ships.

So when the fourth cruise ship in its fleet was handed over from shipyard to owner last spring, it only made sense that it was called Mein Schiff 4 (“My Ship 4”), continuing the practice that began with Mein Schiff 1, then 2, then 3.

And now Mein Schiff 5, ordered in the fall of 2014, has reached a significant milestone in its construction as the latest vessel in the steadily growing TUI Cruises, a 50 percent joint venture with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

It floats.

This month, as snow fell and blanketed the facilities at Finland’s Meyer Turku Shipyard on a bone-numbing 10-degree day, more than 79 million gallons of seawater flowed through a valve into the dry dock where the ship’s keel was laid only last June.

Just as there is no suspense in what it will be christened in ceremonies later this year, as expected, Mein Schiff 5 successfully rose from its resting place in the dry dock during the day and overnight, and was towed upstream to the pier where it is now being outfitted.

After all, this shipbuilder has been at it since 1737.  Even so, Ferdinand Strohmeier, TUI’s vice president of operations, made the point that such an event is anything but ordinary.

“Although this is TUI Cruises’ third new build, it is still a long way from becoming routine,” Strohmeier said after opening that valve. “It’s always a great feeling the first time we see the ship afloat.”

TUI Cruises has set itself an ambitious expansion schedule to be played out over the next few years. At the time of last summer’s keel-laying ceremony for 5 – to be delivered this summer – production began on Mein Schiff 6 with a delivery date scheduled for 2017. The cruise line has also hired Meyer Turku to build Mein Schiff 7 for delivery in 2018 and Mein Schiff 8 for the following year.

Like their predecessors the new ships 5 and 6 will be about 965 feet long with 15 decks and more than 1,250 staterooms. Of those, 90 percent are outside cabins and 82 percent offer guest balconies.

In keeping with RCL and TUI sustainability practices, the new builds are equipped with technology that will allow them to use some 30 percent less energy than comparably sized ships, and scrub 99 percent of sulphur and 75 percent of nitrous oxide from their stack emissions.

TUI Cruises markets its voyages to couples and families as adventures in “well-being and relaxation” while traveling on itineraries in Europe and the Caribbean.