Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

189 Photo: TUI Cruises TUI Cruises was the first brand to restart cruise operations in Greece in summer 2020 the first volume cruise line in the world to restart cruising in July 2020 with socalled ‘blue cruises’ sailing from German ports and offering sea days only. These were partly facilitated by Sweden’s opendoor policy and Norway’s successful push for winter cruises. As a result, one of TUI Cruises’ sister brands, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, had expedition ships sailing winter cruises out of Germany to the Norwegian fjords and Finland for the northern lights and deep snow expeditions. “Because of Covid, we saw a demand out of Germany for these itineraries and now there will always be such a ship here in winter,” says Puttich. In addition, TUI Cruises is also homeporting a mass-volume Mein Schiff ship in Germany in winter to sail longhaul Caribbean cruises, Canary Island cruises and longer cruises along the Norwegian coast towards the North Cape. There has also been strong passenger demand for Greece, following TUI Cruises becoming the first cruise brand to restart cruises from the country in summer 2020. Hence, Mein Schiff 5 will be based in Heraklion, Crete, for complete summer seasons from 2024. Further afield, TUI Cruises decided to introduce some long-haul cruises to the Caribbean on Mein Schiff 1 in winter 2021-2022. “We were looking for open destinations,” says Puttich. “It was a shortterm plan but then we saw it was quite well received, so we will continue with it.” The sea days on these itineraries – and on the ‘blue’ cruises – were also well received by passengers. “During the pandemic we saw that guests benefitted from having sea days,” says Puttrich, noting that while TUI Cruises is now considering introducing these into cruises elsewhere, the destinations remain its top priority when designing itineraries. Looking eastwards, TUI Cruises has worked hard on returning to Singapore and is proud of being the only volume market international brand to have returned post-pandemic. “We are very happy that we are finally able to offer cruises in Asia again,” says Puttich. “It was quite an effort to do but the authorities and stakeholders very much supported us in getting cruise back to the region, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.” Considering the next decade, Puttich thinks there will be more emphasis on sustainable deployment and not just in terms of the environment. “It will become more important to engage with the port community on what can we do as a cruise line and strengthen our communication so that the destination is able to see the benefit from us visiting,” he says. “We want to put the focus more on, whatever we do, the footprint we leave is as small as it possibly can be.” “The focus with itinerary planning will be more towards sustainability, not just cold ironing but also speed and everything you can do to reduce the footprint.” In this respect TUI Cruises is already plugging into shore power where it is available. Of utmost importance is that the shore power comes from renewable sources in order to ensure