First Methanol-Ready Cruise Ship Begins Assembly in Finland
Assembly has begun on the first large cruise ship that is being built to be ready for methanol-fueled operations. With the placement of the keel block for Mein Schiff 7 into the dry dock at Meter Turku in Finland the cruise industry is among the shipping pioneers pursuing the emerging alternate fuel. The cruise ship is scheduled to be commissioned in 2024 with other firms including Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise, and Costa Cruises also moving forward with plans for future ships employing the new fuel.
"The decision to prepare the Mein Schiff 7 for a methanol drive is an important investment in the future for us and an important contribution to climate-neutral cruises," said Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises during the ceremonies on March 21. She noted that the Mein Schiff 7 will be equipped with an innovative system including the ability to operate in the future on green methanol, which would make the ship almost carbon neutral.
While methanol is garnering a lot of attention for its future potential, only a relatively small group of ships, mostly product tankers, operate on the fuel today. Maersk is set to kick off the next generation with the first methanol-fueled containership due to delivery this year and in total DNV calculates that there are 68 methanol-fueled or ready containerships on order. There is only a scattering of orders for methanol-fueled vessels in other sectors such as chemical tankers, bulkers, and offshore vessels, although experts expect an increasing number of newbuild contracts for the alternative fuel.
TUI Cruises, which is a partnership between Germany’s TUI Group and Royal Caribbean Group, announced in June 2022 that the Mein Schiff 7 would become the first cruise ship built to be methanol-ready. The first steel cuts for the cruise ship began on June 14, 2022.
Rendering of the new Mein Schiff 7 (TUI Cruises)
"We are very happy that the first block of the ship could be laid as planned and look forward to the further milestones that lie ahead of us," said shipyard manager Tim Meyer. “With the laying of the keel, a quarter of the shipbuilding is complete. During the construction process in the dry dock that is now starting, a total of 85 steel blocks will be brought together and welded together.”
Following TU’s lead, Disney Cruise Line announced that it plans to outfit the recently acquired Global Dream from the bankrupt MV Werften to also run on methanol when the ship is introduced in 2025. Norwegian Cruise Line is also actively working with MAN on methanol conversion programs and recently announced that the fifth and sixth cruise ships of its Prima class being built at Fincantieri in Italy are being redesigned for methanol-fueled operations. Those ships are scheduled for delivery in 2027 and 2028. With four cruise ships announced for methanol-fueled operations, it puts the cruise industry ahead of both the bulker and chemical tanker segments for the number of ships on order for methanol. In addition, Carnival Corporation’s Costa Group, which manages Costa Cruises and AIDA, announced last month it is working with Proman on steps to support the implementation of methanol as a marine fuel for the cruise industry.
The new Mein Schiff 7 will be 1,035 feet long and is a sister ship to two earlier cruise ships built by Meyer Turku and delivered in 2018 and 2018 for TUI Cruises. The new ship is reported to be 111,500 gross tons with a double occupancy capacity of 2,894 passengers and approximately 1,000 in crew. Like the current TU cruise ships, she will be registered in Malta.
The new build is designed for dual-fuel operations says Tim Meyer. It can also operate on low-emission marine diesel and will be equipped with catalytic converters able to reduce NOx emissions by around 75 percent. It will also have shore power connections.
Wybcke Meier noted that the ship is the first of three the cruise company will be introducing between 2024 and 2026. The line is also building two LNG-fueled cruise ships at Fincantieri in Italy. With the addition of the three new ships, the fleet will grow to nine cruise ships and double capacity to a total of almost 27,000 beds. The Mein Schiff operation was started in 2009 and is focused on the German-speaking market.