TUI Expects to Restart Cruise Ships With Less Occupancy, More Changes

Mein Schiff 2
Tui’s new Mein Schiff 2

TUI Group has said it expects to restart cruise service this summer, but with less occupancy.

The company, which oversees the TUI, Hapag-Lloyd and Marella brands, said the changes will start at boarding, with new health questionnaires. screening preboarding and staggered boarding groups.

The company also said it plans to start with less than 1,000 guests on each ship until August 31, 2020, meaning TUI’s big ships, with capacity for just under 3,000 guests, would be sailing at approximately one-third occupancy, allowing for much more distance in public areas.

Other changes include the elimination of self-service food. Public venues will also be limited to one-third of their capacity. Only 10 children will be allowed in the Kids’ Club aboard, the company said.

In addition, the ships will operate at what TUI called OPP-3 (Outbreak Prevention Plan Level 3), meaning constant cleaning of touched services, every 30 minutes or less. The company said it expects to have COVID-19 testing capabilities aboard with additional medical staff.

The cruise line will work closely with ports to develop joint procedures to handle any possible COVID-19 cases, according to a statement.

When the Major Cruise Lines Plan to Restart Service

Carnival Splendor

The major cruise lines are planning to start operations again this summer.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line, in an update, said it intends to start cruising again with some ships in North America starting on August 1, while other itineraries and ships are projected to start service again later this year. Carnival plans to have eight ships in service from Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston on short cruises.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean announced it had extended its suspension of sailing for its global fleet through June 11, 2020.

The company said it plans to return to service on June 12, 2020, with some previously announced exceptions.

The most crew is also being sent home.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises announced a further extension of the halting of all its new cruise departures fleetwide through to July 10.

MSC Cruises USA is offering guests affected by this measure a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) where they have the opportunity to transfer the full amount paid for their cancelled cruise plus an additional 25 per cent credit to a future cruise of their choice, on any ship and any itinerary, departing on or before December 31, 2021.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line announced in late April an extension of its pause of service through the end of June. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings recently raised enough capital to keep it going in a zero-revenue situation through early 2021.

Costa Cruises

Costa ships are out of service through early July at this point.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises, in a recent update, cancelled the remainder of its summer season. 

AIDA Cruises

All AIDA sailings through June 30 are currently cancelled.

Celebrity Cruises

Royal Caribbean, which owns Celebrity, announced it had extended its suspension of sailing for its global fleet through June 11, 2020.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line has extended its pause of global cruise operations and cancel all Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England cruises for 2020, according to a press release.

In addition, Amsterdam will not operate the 79-day Grand Africa Voyage from Boston, Massachusetts, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that was scheduled to depart on Oct. 3, 2020.

TUI Cruises

German brand TUI Cruises has hit pause through June 11, in line with Royal Caribbean, which is a partner in TUI Cruises in a joint venture arrangement.

Marella Cruises

Should it be safe to set sail, Marella Cruises will commence its summer 2020 program in July 2020, with three of its five ships sailing. More details here.

Bahamas Paradise

Sailings will resume onboard Grand Celebration on June 13 and onboard Grand Classica on July 10, according to a press release.


Hurtigruten is planning for a gradual restart of operations on the Norwegian coast. The first planned departure will be Finnmarken from Bergen on June 16.

Marella Discovery to Sail From Port Canaveral in 2021

Marella Discovery

For the first time ever, Marella Cruises will base a ship in the United States as the Marella Discovery will sail from Port Canaveral in 2021.

The TUI-owned brand targeted at the British market will sail the Marella Discovery from the port beginning in Summer 2021, offering four new itineraries with 11 port-of-call visits.

“We’re excited that Marella Cruises has selected Port Canaveral as the homeport for its first-ever cruises from the United States,” Port CEO Captain John Murray said. “Today’s announcement is another endorsement that our ongoing investments in state-of-the-art terminals and commitment to excellence in cruise operations continue to earn the confidence of some of the world’s most successful cruise brands.”

Cruise bookings go on sale Thursday, Nov. 7, for 26 seasonal voyages from May 2, 2021, through Oct. 24, 2021.

The ship will sail from Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 5.

“We’re really excited to be setting sail from the USA,” said Chris Hackney, Managing Director at Marella Cruises. “Expanding our program provides an opportunity for cruisers to sample the American Dream, and we’ve ensured there really is something for everyone, whether that’s a visit to Walt Disney World in Florida, an evening in New York, authentic jazz music in New Orleans or a rollercoaster in Busch Gardens. Offering our customers more choice and flexibility is at the heart of what we do.”

Customers sailing on Marella’s American Dream and Big Apple Adventure itineraries will enjoy an overnight stop in New York City. The Discovery will also visit Miami and Turks and Caicos on its Sunshine States and Sands itinerary. And customers can select seven- or 14-night options with an overnight stay in Tampa on the ship’s Floridian Favorites itinerary. Guests choosing one of the four itineraries also have the flexibility to extend their cruise ashore with available cruise-and-stay packages available in Orlando.

The Marella Discovery will make port-of-call visits to the Ports of Charleston, S.C., New York City, Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas, Norfolk, Va., Key West, Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans.