The TUI Cruises fleet of luxury cruise ships currently includes five editions of Mein Schiff, each individual ship more advanced than the next. The improvement of the series has been accompanied by the deepening of TUI’s collaboration with Meyer Turku.
The first two ships in the series were in fact originally built in Germany for a whole different owner, Celebrity Cruises. They used to be known as Celebrity Galaxy and Celebrity Mercury until the former was acquired by the Hamburg-based TUI in 2009 and converted into an upgraded version suitable for a German-speaking market.
Renamed Mein Schiff (German for ‘My Ship’), the ship entered service with TUI later that year. The retrofitting of Celebrity Mercury followed, and Mein Schiff 2 entered service two years later in 2011.
It was in 2011 that TUI and STX Finland – the predecessor of Meyer Turku – announced a contract to build the first newly built Mein Schiff cruise ship.
Christened Mein Schiff 3, the vessel entered service in 2014. Further contracts for as many as five sister ships to Mein Schiff 3 to be built at the Turku shipyard have been announced since. The latest one to enter service is Mein Schiff 5, which made its maiden voyage in July. Mein Schiff 6 is to see its inaugural run next year.
New Round of Cutting-Edge Cruisers
Last week, the production of a new generation of cutting-edge Mein Schiff cruise ships was started with the traditional steel cutting ceremony held at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.
Everyone was expecting a Mein Schiff 7, but we were in for a surprise. Instead, the latest ship in the series is to be called the new Mein Schiff 1. TUI plans to transfer the original Mein Schiff 1 and 2 out of the fleet in 2018 and 2019 respectively, when the construction of two new vessels is completed and they have been delivered.
Meyer Turku and TUI have been working hard to continue the tradition and make the new ship even better than the previous editions.
To begin with, the new Mein Schiff 1 will be approximately 20 meters longer than its predecessors and have room for an additional 180 cabins. The end result is a 315-meter, 111,500-GT cruise ship with 1,447 cabins and a capacity for 2,894 passengers plus the additional 1,000-or-so crew members.
The new ship will also feature a range of improvements to the guest experience. These changes are based on the best possible source of feedback: the plentiful user experiences gained from the earlier Mein Schiff editions as well as the wishes of the ships’ guests. This aptly indicates how seriously the comfort of passengers is taken in this collaboration.
After the ceremony, we had a chance to have a brief chat with Meyer Turku CEO Dr Jan Meyer. As always, it was a pleasure.
The process of writing really is a fitting metaphor for a variety of things, because we seem to keep bumping into it. As Dr Meyer compares, “First you write something, then others will give you feedback, based on which you edit your text to make it even better. This is what we have been doing with this long series of ships.”
“We get constant feedback telling us what we should be doing differently. That enables us to improve on designs that are already good, and to achieve real improvements and new levels of performance, something that would otherwise be very challenging to reach.”
In addition to its size and the improved guest experience, the new Mein Schiff 1 is probably going to take further steps forward in many technical aspects as well.
“This is likely, although it is still too early to tell,” says Dr Meyer. “A ship simply cannot be fully described at the time it’s ordered. Everything develops in the process, and corrections are made. Our customers trust us to be able to propose good solutions in terms of issues we cannot foresee when the contract is made.”
Quite often some of these good solutions need to be compromises between different kinds of contradictory requirements.
“You can imagine, for instance, that the interior designer will want the ceiling to be as high as possible, because it’s good for the impression. But we also need the air-conditioning pipes above the ceiling, and the bigger they are, the more energy efficient is the system. Now, what’s the best compromise? You need to be able to find clever solutions to issues like that. It’s an interesting challenge.”
Another challenge for the customers of Meyer Turku is the fact that once finished, a ship is going to be used for twenty, even as many as thirty years.
“They need to think ahead and find a way to create something that works but that is also genuinely new, something that really improves the experience for years to come. You need to be able to give your guest a positive surprise. This is the interesting part in our collaboration: coming up with something new and then making it all possible in a way that is also good to maintain and operate.”
It is probably not as hard as it sounds – it is much harder. But as Dr Meyer puts it, “That’s why shipbuilding is so much fun!”
Text and images by Industrial PRIME
tel. +358 45136 3532