Who’s Who Part III: TUI Group

With all of the different brands of cruise lines out there, I thought it might be appropriate to break down the lines and help you understand who the parent companies are and what their sub-brands are best known for. This Weekly Wednesday article will dig up some minor brands which you may not have ever heard before. All of the information is current as the of the time this article was published.

This post will be released in smaller parts over the next several weeks. Links will be activated once the subsequent entries have been posted.

(Part ICarnival Corporation & plc – AIDA CruisesCarnival Cruise LineCarnival CSSCCosta CruisesCunard LineHolland America LineP&O CruisesP&O Cruises AustraliaPrincess CruisesSeabourn Cruise Line

(Part IIRoyal Caribbean Group – AzamaraCelebrity CruisesRoyal Caribbean InternationalSilversea Cruises

(Current Article) TUI Group – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Marella CruisesTUI Cruises

(Part IVNorwegian Cruise Line HoldingsNorwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

(Part V) Genting Hong KongCrystal Cruises, Dream Cruises, Star Cruises

(Part VIOther Cruise Lines – Bahamas Paradise Cruise LineDisney Cruise lineFred. Olsen Cruise LinesMSC CruisesSaga CruisesVikingVirgin Voyages

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TUI Group

Incorporated in 1923 as a German mining company, Preussag AG operated as an industrial and transportation company. After the sale of Salzgitter AG and the purchase of a navigation and logistics company, Hapag-Lloyd AG, Preussag AG became a global enterprise in the service and leisure industry. Hapag-Lloyd held 30% interest in the tourism conglomerate TUI which only increased to 100% in 1999. The company also acquired 25% of Thomas Cook shares in 1997 which were doubled the next year. Thomas Cook and Carlson Leisure Group merged in 1999 and turned into a holding company which was owned by a German bank. A year later, Preussag acquired Thomas Cook’s rival Thomson Travel and was forced to sell its majority 50.1% stake in Thomas Cook. Finally, in 2002, Preussag renamed itself to TUI AG. In 2012, the logistics activities which were concentrated in the shipping sector were kept within Hapag-Lloyd AG as TUI worked to exit from the shipping business and optimize its tourism business. By 2014, the company announced that it would fully merge with TUI Travel to create a united group which was traded on the Frankfurt and London stock exchanges. TUI is short for Touristik Union International and is currently the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world. They own travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and retail shops.

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Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Getting its roots in 1847, a new company was put together with the intentions of transporting people and goods between European ports with North American ports. The HAPAG flag flew high on their 1891 sailing as it was billed as the first “pleasure cruise” of its day. HAPAG (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Aktien-Gesellschaft), which was more commonly referred to Hamburg America Line and, was known for its transatlantic sailings. The First World War saw the demise of most of the HAPAG fleet due to ships being torpedoed or being taken over by the wining side as war reparations. The company built themselves back up and experienced a similar wipe-out during World War II. After this point, the company elected to deal within the cargo shipment sector and took a break from passenger services.

Another company by the name of Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) was formed in 1857 which offered transportation of cargo and people between Bremen and New York. The line also experienced difficulties during World War I with the surviving ships being turned over to the winning side. World War II saw a similar experience for the company, leaving only one ship in the fleet as a survivor. Passenger service returned to the line in 1954.

HAPAG and NDL joined forces in 1967 to create a container line called Hapag-Lloyd Container Line. The line launched their cruising division in 1970 with the introduction of only one ship, MS Europa. There have been three iterations of the MS Europa, 1970 to 1981, 1981 to 1999, and 1999 to present. In 1998, Hapag-Lloyd was acquired by Preussag AG (TUI Group). The year 2003 saw the discovery of a new island in the Antarctic which has since been placed on maps and named after the ship that discovered it, Bremen Island. To this date, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is known for it’s 5-star-plus designation, offering unique itineraries on intimate ships.

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Marella Cruises

In 1973 a new company joined the cruise market called Thomson Cruises. Rising costs in fuel caused the company to end its run in 1976. It wasn’t until 1995 that Thomson restarted their cruise line after a competitor, Airtours, had made a successful entry into the cruise business with their brand, Sun Cruises. Thomson Cruises was a British cruise line that offered cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. In 2009, TUI acquired Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd’s share in Island Cruises and transferred their ship Island Escape to Thomson Cruises under its all-inclusive Island Cruises brand. In 2015, Royal Caribbean International sold Splendour of the Seas to TUI Cruises who then leased the ship to Thomson Cruises to replace the Island Escape. As part of a modernization of their fleet, TUI Group shifted Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 from TUI Cruises to Thomson Cruises beginning in 2015. In 2017, TUI Group announced the name change for Thomson Cruises to Marella Cruises, with all of the existing fleet changing to Marella. COVID-19 played a major part in this line’s expenditures, forcing the retirement of two ships from the line.

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TUI Cruises

In 2007, TUI AG (TUI Group) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Joined forces to create TUI Cruises. Both companies decided to split their ownership down the middle giving each company exactly half. The line began operations in 2009 and directly competes with AIDA Cruises (see Carnival Corporation) for the German market and is targeted toward German-speaking customers who are looking for a premium cruise experience. The details of the offerings go as far as the food, entertainment and amenities are all custom-tailored for Germain tastes and German is also the primary language used onboard. The first ship that sailed with TUI Cruises was the Celebrity Galaxy, which had been transferred over from Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises in 2009. She was given the new name, Mein Schiff (My Ship) and sailed until 2018, when she was transferred to Marella. In 2010, another Celebrity ship (Celebrity Mercury) joined the fleet and was renamed Mein Schiff 2. There was an extensive refurbishment performed on the ship before it entered service, and it set the tone for all of the other ships that followed in the line. 2014 saw the launch of Mein Schiff 3, the first newly built cruise ship for the line. It wouldn’t be until after 2017 when their ships would grow above the 100,000 Gross Ton mark.

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So many brands!

We hope you enjoyed Part III of the Who’s Who series and that you learned something new. Don’t forget to come back next week for the next part of our journey as we talk about Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

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