The German cruise line TUI has marked the steel cutting for the first of two new LNG ships to be built by Fincantieri in Italy.
The steel cutting ceremony, which marks the official start to construction of a new ship, was attended by Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI, and Luigi Matarazzo, General Manager Merchant Ship Division of Fincantieri.
The two new ships will be around 160,000 gross tons and run on LNG, marking TUI’s entry into a growing club of increasingly environmentally-conscious cruise lines.
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Although Fincantieri will build both vessels, the steel cutting ceremony took place in San Giorgio di Nogaro (Udine) at Centro Servizi Navali, a company specialized in logistics and production of sheet metal for the Fincantieri yards located in northeastern Italy.
The new ships will be built at the Monfalcone shipyard and delivered in 2024 and in 2026, respectively, forming the backbone of the future TUI Cruises fleet.
“The investment in LNG-powered ships is an important milestone on the way to emission-free and climate-neutral cruise,” said Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises.
While the ships will run on LNG, Fincantieri is also studying the possibility to make them operate in the future with low-emission biofuels – an important step towards climate-neutral cruising.
”LNG serves as a bridging technology here. In the future, we will use BIO LNG, which is generated either from biogenic sources or synthetically from renewable energy,” said Meier.
In addition, they will be equipped with improved catalytic converters (compliant with the Euro 6 standard) and a shore power connection.
Little has been announced about the design of the ships, or the passengers features and amenities onboard. The cruise line has confirmed they’ll be 160,000 gross tons, which makes them the largest in the TUI fleet.
The current largest ships are the 111,500 gross ton Mein Schiff 1 and 2. Because TUI is partly owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, its ships are largely similar in external appearance, and the new vessels will be commensurate in size to the Quantum-class.
These ships are expected to be named Mein Schiff 8 and 9 (although rendering have them marked as Mein Schiff 1 and 2), but in addition to these two newbuilds, a different shipyard, Meyer Turku, has started work on Mein Schiff 7 which is designed to be the first cruise ship capable of operating on methanol.
At the beginning of construction on June 14th, TUI announced that this ship would be capable of operating on bio-methanol when the fuel becomes available.
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