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TUI contemplates newbuilding, second hand purchases for Marella Cruises - report

TUI AG, the German travel company that owns Marella Cruises in the UK, is contemplating a newbuilding for the British cruise line, but lack of shipyard capacity means that it can hardly be introduced before 2025,  so second hand acquisitions remain an option, Travel Wekly reports.

“We are thinking about it. A newbuild could be attractive for the UK market – but it’s hypothetical really because there’s no availability in the yards to build one. Unless we can somehow trade a slot with someone, the likelihood of us being able to build a new ship for Marella in the next five years is not very high. Even if I ordered it today, it’s almost impossible to get it before 2023. So it would be more like 2025,” chief executive Fritz Joussen of TUI was quoted by Travel Weekly as saying.

Marella Cruises has a 16% share of the UK cruise market, which produced just under 2.0 million passenger last year, TUI officials said at a capital markets day presentation last week..

“The size of the ship isn’t the important thing. It’s how much public space you have per customer. It’s no good having too many cabins and then too little public space as that doesn’t create the spaciousness of the kind of quality product we want in the market.”

TUI would upgrade the Marella fleet with second hand ships that offered a higher quality product, such as more balconies, to meet customer demand. “You need to make sure guests get used to a premium offering, We weren’t sure if we [TUI] were the kind of trusted brand that could sell this kind of product. But I think we have reached the point where we are completely trusted now for bringing quality products to the market – just looks at Sensatory,” the report cited Joussens.

He also indicated that he would like to grow expedition cruising from the UK. “Cruise is a big market for us. I think it is more likely that there is potential to grow expedition cruising in the UK. We have a great product and we think nationalities are far more likely to mix on an expedition cruise,” Jousssens was quoted as saying.

Marella Cruises has just introduced the 1996 built Marella Explorer that started life as Mercury of Celebrity Cruises in 1996. Next year, it will be joined by Marella Explorer 2, which is a year older, slightly smaller and originally Century of Celebrity cruises.

Marella Discovery and Marella Discover 2 are acquisitions from Royal Caribbean International. Both were built in the mid-1990s. The oldest ship in the fleet is the 1986 built Marella Dream, originally Homeric of the now defunct Home Lines, which sailed for Holland America Line and Costa Crociere before joining Marella Cruises.