Tine Oelmann, director of port operations, shore excursions and ground handling at TUI Cruises
This article was first published in Itinerary Planning Special Report 2015
For TUI Cruises, itinerary planning begins 30 months ahead of a call. It’s a complex process that takes into account a whole range of factors.
“We are always looking to vary our itineraries and offer our passengers new and interesting routes,” explains Tine Oelmann. “For us, it is important that the destinations are well prepared for large German cruise ships and that our ships should be able to get alongside. Of course, where the destination is located plays a key role too.”
Keen to offer passengers the best possible experience in the safest of conditions, Oelmann explains that TUI Cruises always considers any causes for concern – such as an area’s political situation or whether it’s unsafe or underdeveloped – before finalising its itineraries. “Furthermore, we must bear in mind that we exclusively source our passengers from the German market,” she says. “That means that we must consider how we will get them to a certain destination and ensure the fly-cruise price is fair and matches up to the product and experience our passengers will get.”
In Oelmann’s own words, a good cruise destination today should be as diversified as possible. “It must be interesting, accessible, safe, cultural, developed and friendly,” she adds. “Logistics are very important too. We must take into account the size of the harbour, berth availability and location, terminal facilities and so on. There should also be amenities in place to support shore excursions, for example tour buses and German-speaking guides.”
Because food and beverages are offered on an all-inclusive basis across TUI’s entire fleet, the company considers shore excursions to be of paramount importance – according to Oelmann, they’re its biggest onboard revenue generator. It’s for this reason, then, that the company has created ten different shore excursion categories to suit all tastes and requirements. “We work closely with our experienced local operators to come up with new excursions and create exclusive experiences that our passengers would not otherwise be able to do themselves,” says Oelmann.
During the 2014 summer season, TUI’s newest ship, Mein Schiff 4, is sailing a variety of different routes around Northern Europe, covering the Baltic Sea, Norway and the UK. For the winter 2015/16 season, the vessel will be deployed in the Canary Islands. “Both areas are very popular with the German cruise industry market,” says Oelmann. “For winter 2016/17, though, we’re looking to introduce a completely new route to Central America, which will combine cultural sights with the opportunity to see the region’s natural wonders.”
Oelmann and her team have also finalised the itinerary for Mein Schiff 5, which will enter service in 2016. “During the summer season it will sail routes in Northern Europe before relocating to the Caribbean for the winter season,” she says, adding that although she can’t share details about the routes of Mein Schiff 6 yet, we can expect to hear more soon.