The group’s cruise plans include new ships for the UK and German markets. Natasha Salmon reports from the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland
Tui Group’s cruise chief has tipped the UK to reclaim its number-two spot in the global rankings despite Germany recording more than two million passengers in 2016.
Commitment by cruise lines to increase global fleet capacity by at least a third in the next 10 years is predicted to see the UK rise from its current third position behind Germany and the US.
Speaking on board Mein Schiff 6, the latest of Tui’s ships for the German market, Sebastian Ebel, Tui Group’s executive member for hotels and cruises, said the expansion in English-speaking ship capacity was an opportunity for the UK market to surpass its record 1.9 million ocean passenger carryings in 2016.
“The statistics say eight to nine out of 10 German guests prefer the German-speaking product but there are a lot of people in the UK who would book onto an international ship. Germany and German-speaking countries are seeing growth as demand rises. Germany has become the bigger market and we have invested and continue to invest in new ships to meet and drive demand.
“Ships in the pipeline for English-speaking lines are bigger, so I think the UK market will see stronger growth once supply increases. But the measure for us is to have a great product and a strong market in both the UK with Thomson and Germany with Tui Cruises.”
Ebel said future investment in ships testified that cruise was the “most stable” sector in travel and will see “the biggest growth over the next couple of years”.
Wybcke Meier, chief executive of Tui Cruises, said: “The cruise market is so strong, especially in Germany. Tui Cruises has an 18% market share in Germany; we are aiming for 25% by 2020.”
Tui Cruises will launch Mein Schiff 6 in 2019 and has two more ships under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland due to launch in 2020 and 2021.
Sister brand Thomson Cruises has also invested in its fleet. Tui Discovery 2 launched in Malaga last Sunday, becoming its sixth ship. It will be followed in summer 2018 by Tui Explorer, currently sailing for Tui Cruises as Mein Schiff 1. An eighth ship is scheduled to follow.
The launch of Thomson Cruises’ new ship Tui Discovery 2 (pictured) last weekend came as the line revealed an almost 40% increase in passenger numbers in the past five years.
Numbers in the past year alone rose by nearly 20%, according to the operator, which unveiled former Royal Caribbean International ship Legend of the Seas as Tui Discovery 2 in Malaga.
The decision to name the latest ship Tui Discovery 2 is part of a masterbrand strategy that will see the Thomson name dropped in favour of Tui later this year. Tui Discovery 2 offers 915 cabins, 40% with balconies, and offers all-inclusive drinks as standard.
The ship will operate from Malaga to the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco this summer before sailing to Jamaica for the winter.
Expedition ships to join Hapag-Lloyd
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will add two ships to its expedition fleet in 2019 and hopes to attract more UK customers and trade partners.
The luxury and expedition line, part of Tui Cruises, will increase its fleet from four to six. It currently has two luxury ships, Europa and Europa 2, and two expedition ships, Bremen and Hanseatic.
Tui Group’s Sebastian Ebel said: “In early 2019 there will be new Hapag-Lloyd expedition ships and they will be available in the UK. This is a product that is extremely profitable for the trade because the rates are often double what Tui or Thomson Cruises offer.”
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