Ahead of her Hamburg departure last weekend, Seatrade Cruise News joined a group of politicians, stakeholders and German media for an above and below decks ship tour.
Mein Schiff 6, built in 2017 has always had a close affiliation with Hamburg, the city where it was named alongside the then new Elbphilharmonie concert hall in the summer that year.
Last Saturday night, the vessel was bathed in blue lights as she featured in the Hamburg Cruise Days ship’s parade having earlier completed a turnaround operation at the Altona Centre cruise terminal.
Packed to the rafters, over 2,500 German-speaking passengers joined Mein Schiff 6 on Saturday as she departed mainland Europe with an occupancy of 106% to make their way to New York.
The ship is the same size and configuration as Mien Schiff 3, 4 and 5, each with a complement of 1,000 crew.
Spacious and relaxing
The public spaces and cabins are spacious and airy, the onboard ambience is one of tranquility and relaxation. Music on embarkation day was present but in the background.
Wybcke Meier, TUI Cruises CEO, told Seatrade, ‘Our concept is based on relaxation be it in your own space (85% of cabins have balconies) and 24 hour room service if desired, or if you do want to be around the ship there are 11 restaurants and bistros, 16 bars and lounges.’
The Day and Night bistro serving pizza, pasta, burgers, hot dogs is as the name suggests, open 24 hours. ‘Whenever I am onboard there is always somebody sitting in there whatever the time of day, or night,’ she added.
There is a strong emphasis on wellness and the ship boasts a 1,800sq mtr spa, managed on MS6 by the welcoming Janine Mohle, spa and sports manager, who showed us around the 17 treatment rooms and includes an exceptionally spacious uni-sex sauna, offering varying temperatures in three separate rooms which is free to use and open from 9am to 9pm every day.
On the sun deck, one of the longest swimming pools afloat at 25mtr in length (also found on other Mein Schiff sister ships).
Meier added, ‘The guest to space ratio really works for us and we will be adopting the same ratios on our newbuilds still to come – sister Mein Schiff 7 arrives next year - and even in our two larger InTUItion class ships being built at Fincanteiri due to start sailing in 2025 and 2026.
The main focus of the visit though was to explain TUI Cruises’ sustainable operations to local politicians, stakeholders and media, and to share its goals and focus from economic, social and environmental angles and how each aspect is managed.
TUI plans to offer climate-neutral cruise holidays by 2030 at the latest. At the same time, TUI's cruise business (TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Marella Cruises) will reduce the CO2 emissions of their fleets by more than a quarter (27.5%) in absolute terms by 2030.
‘We have our reduction target approved by science-based target initiatives - SBTi. Energy efficiency in ship operations, fuel-saving route optimization, shore power in ports and the use of alternative fuels - such as sustainable bio-fuels, bio-LNG and green methanol - are essential to achieving the 2030 reduction targets,’ she added
The three newbuilds coming into the fleet by 2026 will not use heavy fuel oil. Mein Schiff 7 will run on lower-emission marine diesel and be equipped with catalytic converters and a shore power connection. In addition, the ship will also be able to run on 'green methanol' in the future.
The two Italian-built newbuilds will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
During the turnaround operation, Mein Schiff 6 was hooked up to shore power facilities on the quayside (with the plugs disconnected one hour before departure in order to ensure the switch worked smoothly). It currently uses shore power at 13 cruise ports across Europe.
An interesting discussion took place in the engine control room around if the cost of running the ship on shore power versus using engines and burning fuel whilst in port was more, or less, expensive?
Hamburg Port is currently not able to inform the cost of shore power on a real time basis as the information is provided by the power supplier dependent on how much is used over a period of time and then calculated by the port across all users.
According to one expert on the tour, unaffiliated with TUI Cruises, he believed the daily cost to use shore power at berth could be up to as much as four times more expensive than burning fuel which is normally brought in advance on the spot market.
The tour then proceeded with Environmental Officer Marko Grgic (pictured), who explained how the garbage room worked - ‘it really should be called the recycling room’ and catering to the 3,500 people on board.
All non-food waste is collected and separated into clear and coloured glass, aluminium cans, scrap metal, aeresols, paper and card, batteries and coming soon, vapes, he explained. Glass and tins are placed in crushers to bring the volume down whilst cardboard is pressed to reduce the size
Food waste is always handled by the crew and is separated into dry and liquids of between 5-10 cu mtr a day burned in an incinerator at around 800-850 degrees.
There are certain items (of between 1-2 cu mtr a day) that simply cannot be treated, he explained, such as pineapple leaves and large bones.
‘What waste to offload and in what port is calculated according to the voyage plans and itineraries and pricing, but we already have planned what we are going to offload and in which ports up to end 1H 2024.’
Finally before disembarking there was a quick chance to go with hosts Dennis Tetzlaff, VP fleet operations and newbuilds, Marcus Puttich, director destinations and Maria Tauschke, head of shore operations to the top deck to get a glimpse of an art installation being placed near the ship’s funnel.
Next year is the 250th birthday of German painter Caspar David Friedrich, known, among other things, for the iconic work ‘The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’.
A special exhibition dedicated to his work will take place at the city’s Hamburger Kunsthalle art gallery from this December to April 1, 2024 and where the iconic painting created in 1818 is displayed.
It shows a figure looking into the distance while surrounded by a sea of fog.
A 2mtr high sculpture of the silhouette of the ‘Wanderer’ was placed on Mein Schiff 6 on Saturday and unveiled by Meier.
It will sail around the world visiting 104 ports in 27 countries by being passed onto six other TUI Cruises’ vessels throughout that time, including on sister Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ luxury and expedition ships. After 28,449 nautical miles, the hiker returns to Hamburg on March 20, 2024 on board Hanseatic nature to be welcomed by Julian Pfitzner, CEO Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
And then it was time for this wanderer to disembark.