Cruises are becoming increasingly popular among European travellers. This is accompanied by questions about the sustainability of cruises: The TUI Group has set ambitious environmental and climate targets for both the Mein Schiff fleet and the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet.


By 2030, we want to offer the first climate-neutral cruises and significantly reduce CO2 emissions. By 2050, the entire TUI Cruises fleet (Mein Schiff and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises) will set sail in a climate-neutral manner. To this end, the TUI Group submitted concrete reduction plans to the NGO Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) - a cooperation between the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - in August 2022. A rigorous verification process ensures that the ambitious COreduction targets are in line with those of the Paris Climate Agreement.

To ensure maximum climate efficiency, we have always invested in the most modern, low-emission ships. The ships in the Mein Schiff fleet that entered service between 2014 and 2017 consume 30 percent less fuel than comparable ships. For the two most recent additions to the fleet in 2018 and 2019, the savings are as high as 40 percent. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' ships built in 2013 and later are also characterised by high energy efficiency. We make full use of what is technically feasible in our fleets.

On course for climate neutrality


This of course also applies to the three cruise ships that will join the Mein Schiff fleet by 2026. Special focus is being placed on sustainable fuels. For example, two ships can be operated with lower-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG). In the future, TUI Cruises will rely on fuels obtained either from biogenic residual and waste materials (Bio-LNG) or synthetically from renewable energy (E-LNG/E-Fuels). In the fall of 2022, Hapag-Loyd Cruises, the luxury and expedition cruise operator, successfully used biofuel from sustainable resources for the first time. This consisted mainly of leftover cooking oils. The expedition ship bunkered this as an admixture to marine gas oil; the proportion was about 30 percent. The certified biofuel is virtually free of sulfur oxides and offers COreductions of up to 90 percent compared to fossil fuels. Further blending of biofuels is planned across the fleet.

With the commissioning of Mein Schiff 7 planned for 2024, TUI Cruises will reach another milestone. The ship will run on lower-emission marine diesel (sulfur content: 0.1%) and is equipped with catalytic converters (nitrogen oxide reduction: around 75%) and a shore-side power connection. The shore-side power connection enables almost emission-free operation of the ship while in port.


In shipping in particular, environmental protection is more than just COreduction. That's why we design the schedules of our fleet according to the "slow steaming" principle, so that the ships are on the move in a fuel-efficient way. This includes both low speeds and the shortest possible distances between ports. In addition, we are reducing pollutant emissions on six of the seven ships in the Mein Schiff fleet using a combined exhaust gas cleaning system - voluntarily, worldwide and around the clock. This enables us to reduce sulfur emissions by up to 99 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by around 75 percent and particulate emissions by up to 60 percent.

Since July 2020, the entire fleet of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has been voluntarily using marine gas oil with a maximum sulfur content of 0.1 percent worldwide. It goes without saying that we rely on innovative and comprehensive water and waste management on our ships. Modern wastewater treatment plants on board purify all wastewater generated - only treated wastewater is discharged overboard. We are continuously increasing the recycling rate and have been massively reducing plastic and food waste for years.


A sustainable cruise strengthens cruise destinations enormously. For example, each guest on a seven-day cruise spends an average of 660 euros in port cities. German guests in particular love excursions, so the average expenditure at TUI Cruises is even higher - museums and cultural institutions, restaurant operators, souvenir stores, local excursion providers, bus operators, cab drivers and local authorities benefit via port fees.

"The key to success for cruise destinations is management."

Mato Franković, Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik since June 2017

The effects are significantly higher when tourists also take advantage of overnight offers. Port cities where passengers start their journey and arrive earlier or extend their stay for a few days after the end of the cruise record additional revenue of 170 euros per cruise passenger per night. A study commissioned by Hamburg Cruise Net and the City of Hamburg on the regional value-added contribution of the cruise industry has determined a contribution to the gross value added of Hamburg's economy of around 420 million euros for 2018 - i.e. before the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic.


When it comes to working conditions on board, it is important to know: Maritime is the only industry with globally binding social standards. The Maritime Labor Convention of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) - drawn up with the participation of trade unions such as ver.di - guarantees a safe workplace on board, appropriate employment and living conditions, and medical care. This ensures social standards and fair competition among shipping companies.


Cruise lines are making upfront investments, but they need compelling political support. Two key issues are:

  • Shore-side power: Large parts of our fleets are already equipped for shore-side power. Local emissions drop to almost zero. However, as of summer 2022, fewer than 20 ports worldwide offer shore power for large cruise ships, including three in Germany. The expansion of the infrastructure urgently needs to be accelerated. It is also crucial that the ports present green power concepts - German ports such as Kiel are setting a good example here - as well as predictable energy prices.  
  • Alternative fuels: Three new ships will join TUI Cruises by 2026. They could be powered by bio-LNG, renewable electricity-based energies or green methanol. It is now important to bring the sustainable alternatives quickly to market maturity. Politicians are called upon to provide appropriate incentives and adapt regulations for the use of these green fuels in the maritime industry.