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Mein Schiff 1 (II)
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Mein Schiff 1 (II)

Background

Mein Schiff 1 even before she was named, visited The Netherlands at the 7th of may in 2018. She is seen here entering IJmuiden harbour, heading for Amsterdam which is one of her first ports of call. 

As one of the most active cruisemarkets in Europe, the large cruise-operators of course wanted to try and get a piece of the pie, but the main companies based in Germany were owned by other parties in the 1990's. P&O Cruises had been the owner of AIDA Cruises, the former East-German workersunion holiday-branch Deutsche Seerederei and HAPAG-Lloyd, the classic high-end combo was owned by Europe's largest travelcompany TUI. In 2003, Carnival Corporation became the owner of P&O and thus AIDA Cruises and the involvement of the main players in the market started. Originally, it was meant that P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean were going to merge and then Royal Caribbean should be able to tap into the German market also. So Royal Caribbean had to find another way and they came up with the creation of a totally new company, TUI Cruises in 2009. As the name suggests, the company is not only owned by Royal Caribbean, but it was a conglomeration between the Americans and TUI, who started selling their part in HAPAG-Lloyd around the same time. As for market-positioning, the new TUI Cruises was to be placed between the casual AIDA Cruises and the high-end HAPAG-Lloyd, who started to concentrate more and more on expeditioncruising. So the older ships of Celebrity Cruises would fit very nicely in the new company and the Celebrity Galaxy started sailing in 2009 as Mein Schiff for TUI Cruises. But from the beginning, the plan was to take the German market by storm and TUI immidiately ordered two 100.000-ton ships from STX Finland. In the beginning of 2011, Celebrity Mercury was also rebranded for TUI Cruises under the inventive name of Mein Schiff 2, so the first ship was renamed Mein Schiff 1

In 2014, the first of the newly built ships entered service under the name of Mein Schiff 3 and of course a string of sisters were ordered to follow her, every year one. But with the growing succes of the company, the ships that were to enter service in 2018 and 2019 were re-designed as larger versions. Originally planned as Mein Schiff 7 and Mein Schiff 8, they were re-named as Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 as the first two ships were transferred to another TUI owned company, Thomson (Marella) Cruises.

Construction and general statistics

At the 16th of august 2016, the first steel for the ship was cut at the STX yards at Turku, Finland, although at that time the wharf had been taken over by the Papenburg-based Meyer Werft so officially the name became Meyer Turku. Here, the ship was built under yardnumber NB-1392. At the 13th of february 2017, the first buildingblock was lowered into the drydock, often still referred to as 'keel-laying'. At the same day, the wharf started to cut the first steel for the second ship, that was to be built as Mein Schiff 2. During building of the second ship, though, it was announced that the original Mein Schiff 2 was not leaving the fleet and some speculation about a new name for the new sister started. Soon after the announcement, TUI made clear that the new ship would become the second Mein Schiff 2 and the original Mein Schiff 2 would be re-named.

At the 29th of september of 2017, Mein Schiff 1 left the buildingdock and was floated out, overhauled to the fitting out berth, and she was finally delivered to TUI Cruises at the 25th of april in 2018. Immidiately, the ship left the wharf and headed for Kiel, where her first shake-down cruise started at the 27th of april.

The Mein Schiff 1 measures 111.554 tons and has a lenght of 315,7 meters. She is 35,8 meters wide and has a draft of 8,05 meters. Some 2894 passengers can be sailing her (based on a two-per-cabin basis and also there is space aboard for around 1000 crewmembers. The ship is registered at Valetta, flying the Maltese flag although everything aboard is German. 

Design

Mein Schiff 1 is very modern in style, with the use of many light and bright colours, especially white, caramel and cream, making the ship feel very spacious. As a convenience for the passengers, the fleet of TUI Cruises used an (almost) all-inclusive concept, meaning you will not be surprised with large bills on the day of departure.

The ship is very closely related to her earlier sisters Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 4, Mein Schiff 5 and Mein Schiff 6 but she is 10.000-tons larger and 20 meters longer. Also her capacity is higher, with some 180 more cabins. Sorry, staterooms... One of the longest pools afloat, some 25 meters in lenght, is also aboard for the sportive passenger. When weather is not favourable, there is a retractable roof above the Arena, which is a combination between a sportingvenue and a cinema. As sporting is very important aboard ships of TUI Cruises, there was a lot of attention for the fascilities. As a nice touch, the ships 438-meter long joggingtrack for example extends over the side of the ship at several places, so that sporters can really go beyond their boundaries. The track is also lit by light ornaments in the dark, so it is also possible to use it in the evenings. Responsible for the design of the joggingtrack and the Arena is the German-based 3deluxe Designs.

Below, the joggingtrack overhanging the ships stern can be easily spotted.

Aboard, there are twelve restaurants and fifteen bars and lounges so that the inner passenger is not forgotten. Two speciality restaurants are placed inside the Grosser Freiheid (Great Freedom), which is the diamond-shaped glass space at the stern of the ship. Also, there is a beerbar named Ebbe und Flut (Lowtide and Hightide) and a fishrestaurant named Fischmarkt. Tha main restaurant Klassik is decorated with Mondriaan-style glass artworks and has a large glass wall as its main eyecatcher.

The Grosser Freiheit houses two restaurants and great views over the ships wake.

Responsible for the design of the suites is the Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola who provided an individual design for all kinds of suites, but all are inspired by the sea which comes to view with the colours and materials used. Also Tilberg Design was involved in the design of several suites and most of the spaces aboard.

Carreer

After her first shake-down cruise from Kiel, the ship had another short cruise to Amsterdam before she was named at Hamburg at the 11th of may 2018 during the 829th celebration of the birthday of the Hamburg harbour. These days always have a lot of cruiseships visiting and mainly also are used for naming-ceremonies of the new German-based ships. Mostly, AIDA Cruises sponsors these events but this year, TUI Cruises has also a large presense. The ship is named by Kira Walkenhorst and Laura Ludwig, the German Olympic champions in beach-volleyball.

In her first season, Mein Schiff 1 will be sailing the northern seas from Kiel and Hamburg, with cruises to the Baltic and Norway. In the 2018-2019 winterseason, she will be sailing the Mediterranean Sea and Canary Islands.

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