Mein Schiff (My Ship), the first ship in the new TUI Cruises fleet, was named on May 15 in Hamburg, Germany, in a celebration that marked a significant step for the joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and TUI AG.
The new brand is designed to serve the German cruise market, where some 906,000 Germans took cruises in 2008, and where that number is forecast to increase by 11 percent in 2009.
Following a short inaugural cruise, Mein Schiff will sail in the Baltic for the 2009 summer season (May through October). It will offer two- to 14-night sailings from ports such as Kiel and Hamburg, Germany, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The ship then will reposition to the Caribbean for winter (November 2009 through April 2010), home-porting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
During 2010 and 2011, Mein Schiff also will sail itineraries in the Nordic Seas, reaching the far coasts of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as well as the eastern and western Mediterranean, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to visit the Canary Islands and Morocco.
The 1,914-guest Mein Schiff was formerly Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Galaxy. The ship left the Celebrity fleet on March 16, 2009, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her transformation began during her crossing from the Caribbean to Europe and was completed in 38 days. The ship is now tailored to German guests, their tastes in food, entertainment and amenities, and it will provide a contemporary/premium cruise experience.
"TUI Cruises is another strategic step in our efforts to meet the growing international demand for cruising," said Bayley. "It will provide more options to German cruisers and assist in growing that market. In 2009, our five wholly owned brands will have an unprecedented 22 ships deployed in Europe. When combined with TUI Cruises, this provides more choices than ever before to the European cruise market."
A national naming contest attracted over 30,000 suggestions for the name of TUI Cruises' new ship. Mein Schiff (or My Ship, in English) was the overwhelming winner.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG announced their intentions to form TUI Cruises on December 10, 2007. Each company holds a 50 percent interest in the joint venture.