Mein Schiff 3
In april of 2008, TUI AG, the largest travelcompany in Europe, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines joint forces and created TUI Cruises, based in Hamburg, Germany. TUI already owned the British-based Thomson Cruises as well as HAPAG-Lloyd, but now the plan was to start sailing cruises under the own name. Of course it also gave RCCL the opportunity to loose older tonnage of the main fleets, but with TUI Cruises this seems to have been the case just for the start-up as the company almost immidiately ordered one 90.000-ton newbuild, but also an optional sistership was taken in consideration. The company in style is almost equal to Celebrity Cruises and this was also the company that supplied the first two ships. The former Celebrity Galaxy opened the brand under the name Mein Schiff in may of 2009, followed by the former Celebrity Mercury in may of 2011. Sadly, TUI joined a long line of companies with a boring namingsystem, as this ship recieved the name Mein Schiff 2 and the first one was renamed Mein Schiff 1. In the newbuildings, starting with Mein Schiff 3 in 2014, this style was continued. Another three followed in the same class, you can imagine their names without me telling 'ya.
Below, Mein schiff 3 can be seen docked in Lisbon, Portugal at the 15th of october 2017.
Construction and general statistics
The official order for at least the Mein Schiff 3 was placed at the 27th of september of 2011 and the optional sisterhip was ordered officially at the 5th of november 2012. The first steel was cut by TUI Cruises CEO Richard J. Vogel at the STX Finland wharf at Turku at the 5th of november of 2012 and the ship was going to be built as yardnumber 1383. At the 24th of may in 2013, enough steel was cut that the keel of the ship was able to be laid in the dock and already at the 8th of november of the same year, she was completed enough to sail out of the dock for further fitting.
Just under 100.000 tons she finally became, with a tonnage-measurement of 99.526. Mein Schiff 3 measures 293,20 meters in lenght, is 35,80 meters wide and has a draft of 8,05 meters. Some 2506 passengers in 1253 cabins are taken care of by approximately 1000 crewmembers at 15 decks. The ship is driven by two fixed propellers powered by four diesel-electric engines of Wärtsilä design and there are also three bow thrusters and two stern thrusters installed for good manouverability. With this, she can sail at a cruisingspeed of 21,7 knots, some 40 km/h. Although she is a very German ship, she is homeported in Valetta, flying the Maltese flag.
There was a serious possibility that the ships would not be able to get built, as the wharf was in severe financial problems during the time the orders came in. As the wharf had built the first two Oasis-class ships for Royal Caribbean International, they were now also bidding for the contract for building the thirth, the Harmony Of the Seas. The funding for the two TUI Cruises ships was connected to the winning of this prestigious order, so when the contract was awarded to the French yards at Saint Nazaire, building the two ships for TUI became problematic. Next to losing the RCI order, the yard also wasn't granted a 50 million euro loan by the Finnish government and now they faced bankrupcy. Luckily, a re-negociated 'innovation aid' loan of 31 million euro was obtained from the Finnish government in february of 2013 and for 23,5 million euro the town of Turku bought the land on which the yard was built so the crisis seemed to be over and construction continued. TUI also loosened the pressure when they decided for more flexibility in payments ans also the South Korean STX mothercompany added to the loan to keep the wharf open. It wasn't truly enough, as the yard again came in very bad weather financially and had to sell its shares of Aker Arctic Technology to the Finnish state in december.
All problems made that the scedule where-in the ship had to be built was very tight so only one set of sea-trials was actually carried out at the 22nd of april 2014. Det Norske Veritas was pleased and accepted the ships seaworthiness and so the ship was able to be delivered to TUI Cruises at the 22nd of may. Two days later, the ship was supposed to sail for Hamburg, but because of several delays she finally set sail for Germany at the 4th of june.
The main designer and master planners of the ship were Wilson Butler Architects, who designed most of the open public spaces including the open decks, main theater and the concert hall, but also Tilberg Design was involved in the interiour design of the ship.
As mentioned, the ship has a true 270 square meter philharmonic concerthall named the Klanghaus with a seating capacity of 300 persons. This is the first hall of this kind at sea. Another unique feature of the new Mein Schiff's is the Grosse Freiheit or Great Freedom, which is a diamond-shaped glass exteriour space at the stern covering some 167 square meters on two decks giving magnificent views at the ships wake. Also the so-called Blaue Balkon, or Blue Balcony is located at the stern, glass platforms some 37 meters above the sea. In total, there are 13 bars and lounges and enough places to dine. There is a Japanese restaurant called Hanami, the seafood restaurant GOSCH, a Eurasian and a Mediterranean restaurant, to name but a few of those. In total there is some 4952 square meters of restaurants aboard. There is also some 12.000 square meters of open deckspace with hammocks, a spa and sea sauna area, jogging tracks and other outdoor sport facilities and several pools. One of those is a 25 meter long pool, one of the longest pools installed aboard any cruiseliner.
Some 90% of all cabins are outside cabins and some 80% of those do have a balcony.
Of course the ship is built with environmentalfriendlyness in mind. Almost all materials used within the ship are able to be recycled and filters are installed to reduce the amount of exhaustgasses and the energy usage aboard will be some 30 percent lower then aboard other, older ships of the same size.
The ship is for the young and of course young at heart passenger, looking for a casual but close to luxurious feeling atmosphere. TUI Cruises offers a totally different product from other German lines such as AIDA Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd. Although these companies all are German and dedicated to the German market mostly, also the languages aboard are German, you can really feel at home as a 'foreigner'. Almost all onboard expenses like food, beverages and gratuities are also included in the cruiseprice, in contradiction to most other cruiselines. So you do not have to be scared for huge bills on your day of departure. TUI also offers specially themed cruises and also music events aboard as special gimmicks.
Mein Schiff 3 was named by Helene Fisher, a German singer/ dancer/ entertainer/ TV-personality at the 12th of june 2014 in the port of Hamburg. Afterwards, the ship started to sail her maiden voyage to Mallorca for her first season of Mediterranean cruises. Underway, she also called in at Le Havre, La Coruna, Leixoes, Lisbon and Cadiz.