TUI Sets Supply Relationship to Launch First Methanol-Fueled Cruise Ship
TUI Cruises is a step closer to becoming the first line to operate a cruise ship on methanol and in time green methanol as part of the German company’s commitment to the decarbonization of its operations. TUI Cruises and energy company Mabanaft agreed to a partnership for the eventual supply of methanol fuels to the cruise company first in Germany and potentially later in Europe.
This becomes the first supply agreement announced for a cruise ship to operate on methanol. Mabanaft is working to develop the infrastructure necessary for the storage and bunkering first in Hamburg of methanol and potentially other ports. According to the companies, the Memorandum of Understanding entered into is the first step in a long-term strategic partnership set to cover TUI Cruises’ methanol needs in Northern Germany and potentially Europe.
“A core element of TUI Cruises 2030 sustainability strategy,” the cruise line writes, “is to establish early alliances with suppliers of alternative fuels to ensure a secure supply,” for its two cruise fleets, Mein Schiff and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
TUI later this year is set to become the first cruise line to introduce a new cruise ship that will be methanol-ready. The ship known as Mein Schiff 7 is currently under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland and is scheduled to enter service in June 2024. She is a sister ship to two earlier cruise ships built by the yard, but the critical difference is that part of the propulsion system will be technically able to run on methanol when she is delivered.
“Mein Schiff 7 brings us a lot closer to the goal of emission-free cruising,” the company writes on its website. The new ship will be 113,000 gross tons. She measures approximately 1,037 feet (316 meters) in length and will have accommodations for up to 2,894 passengers. She will start service from Hamburg sailing in the Baltic in the summer of 2024.
A company spokesperson explains, “The decision was made when starting the project to be ahead of the technical development,” constructing the ship to be ready to use methanol when the technology is available. The main engines are designed to use methanol but according to the company require a last piece of hardware that does not yet exist. The engine design for Mein Schiff 7 leaves a space for the missing component which TUI notes its supplier is “busy finishing” and they expect will become available in 2025.
The supply relationship with Mabanaft anticipates this and prepares for the transition making Mein Schiff 7 the company’s first methanol-fueled cruise ship and very likely the first worldwide. On its introduction this year, Mein Schiff 7 will operate exclusively with lower-emission marine diesel and it is equipped with highly efficient catalytic converts.
TUI notes that it began installing shore power connections on its cruise ships largely before the technology was available in ports. The new Mein Schiff 7 will also have shore power connections so that it will be largely emissions-free while in port. Shore power has grown in availability since TUI began giving its ships the capability.
Over the next few years, TUI Cruises intends to add further dual-fuel methanol-ready cruise ships to its fleet. In addition to Mein Schiff 7, they are building two larger cruise ships in Italy at Fincantieri with the first, Mein Schiff Relax, due to enter service in 2025. Those sister ships will begin service fueled by LNG.
TUI highlights that its cruise lines are the first, and so far only, ones in the cruise market to have their planned CO2 reductions audited by an independent organization. Their plans are reviewed by the Science Based Target Initiative, which is supported by the United Nations among others.
TUI is at the forefront of the cruise industry’s decarbonization efforts while others including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are following a similar path exploring the use of methanol for future cruise ship operations. Disney Cruise Line has reported its new ship Disney Adventure which is the modified Global Dream acquired in Germany will also be a methanol cruise ship when it enters service by 2026.