A neon blue laser beam cut through the night sky over Lübeck-Travemünde in Germany and, once it had found its target, tripped the latch that released a swing on which a bottle of Champagne came down and smashed against the bow of the newest ship in the TUI Cruises fleet.
In that instant, a spotlight found the name freshly painted on the bow of the vessel – Mein Schiff 5. And the sky was lit by fireworks while majestic orchestral music announced the official christening of the sleek, modern vessel.
What TUI’s naming ceremony on July 15 lacked in suspense – its ships are predictably named Mein Schiff (My Ship) 1, 2, 3, 4 and now 5 – it made up for in pomp and such high-tech stunts including the laser trigger, in this case operated by the ship’s godmother, German pop singer and songwriter Lena Meyer-Landrut.
“Although this is already our third new build, it’s still incredibly exciting to see a new ship grow from the first steel cutting to the finishing interior touches,” said TUI Cruises CEO Wybcke Meier. “In a good two-year construction period, countless people have dedicated themselves to turning more than 10 million unique components into our ship.”
Marketing its European and Caribbean voyages to couples and families with themes of well being, relaxation and spaciousness, TUI Cruises serves the German-speaking world in a 50 percent joint venture with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
The Mein Schiff naming convention began with the line’s first cruise ship when it was chosen from among 30,000 suggestions sent to a contest TUI held to come up with an original moniker. It will continue with Mein Schiff 6, already well under construction at Meyer Turku and scheduled for delivery in 2017, as well as Mein Schiff 7 and 8, for delivery in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The latter two vessels are intended to replace TUI’s first two ships, which were acquired as older stock from RCL’s Celebrity Cruises.
And like RCL, TUI Cruises is also dedicated to the environment. Mein Schiff 5 was built at Finland’s Meyer Turku shipyard, incorporating eco-friendly technologies that allow it to operate on 30 percent less energy than similar sized cruise ships. It is also equipped with a stack “scrubber” and catalytic converter to slash sulphur emissions by about 99 percent, and nitrogen oxide emissions by around 75 percent.
“With six ships in the medium term, we are aiming at a market share in excess of 25 percent,” Meier said. “This growth presents us with the opportunity to further strengthen our position with one of the most modern fleets in the German market.”