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Live(ish) report: First real cruise this year - Greece with TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 6 - 9/27


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Dear fellow cruise addicts 😃

 

Even as loyal Celebrity cruisers we couldnt´t wait any longer. We just had to book a cruise...

 

As reported here by Germancruiser a while ago, TUI Cruises Germany started with cruises to nowhere under strict Covid-prevention protocols in July.

After various successful cruises they now offer cruises with port stops. The first one is actually sailed last Sunday and will return to Crete tomorrow.

 

We are booked on the cruise sailing on 9/27 and, as promised in another topic, I will report here - as live as I can.

PLEASE refrain from turning this into a discussion about politics, masks, numbers or anything like that. Please consider that circumstances are somewhat different in Europe and Germany than in the US. I will try to explain the protocols as I go along. They have been clearly communicated in advance. If we had not been fine with the protocols we would not have booked the cruise - it´s as simple as that.

 

I kindly ask the hosts to keep this topic as clean as possible. I am reporting from the cruise to give you a glimpse of the things most likely to come when cruise lines start sailing again. Not to start a debate or discussion. TUI Cruises Germany are part of the RCG group. A joint venture to be precise. So you can be sure the RCG is watching closely.

 

TUI Cruises Germany started with two Celebrity ships many years ago - Galaxy and Mercury. Galaxy has left the TUI fleet in 2017 and Mercury is now named Mein Schiff Herz (Heart).

TUI have become so successful that they now operate 6 new ships (named Mein Schiff 1-6) and the older Mein Schiff Herz. More ships (LPG powered) are already ordered.

 

In terms of quality TUI is very much comparable to Celebrity. In a nutshell the main differences are the focus on German speaking passengers and an all inclusive concept. Gratuities, most beverages (even Cosmopolitans, Martinis), different restaurants etc. are included. The new ships are a mix between S class and Edge in style.

DW and I always avoided cruising with German cruise lines but always said that if we had to, it would be TUI. Well, the day came sooner than expected.

 

If you want to know more about the ship, here are some links:

 

https://www.tuicruises.com/mein-schiff-6

 


The cruise is a 7 night cruise sailing from Heraklion/Crete with stops in Corfu and Athens. The cruise had to be booked as a package deal incl. flights from Germany.

Before being allowed to board, all passengers have to undergo a PCR test which is included in the price. TUI Cruises are cooperating with Helios hospitals in Germany. So every passenger can go to any of the 86 Helios hospitals in Germany without an appointment, show their seapass and get tested. The timeframe is given by the cruise line. In our case it´s between Thursday 12pm and Fryday 11am.

 

The test result is directly communicated to the cruise line. We will be contacted only in case of a positive test result - by 4pm on Saturday, the day before the flight and cruise.
Otherwise we are good to go. 

 

Excursions have to be booked with the cruise line. They want to keep track of the passengers. Despite that the prices for excursions where very decent. We booked an e-bike tour on Corfu and an e-scooter tour in Athens for around 50 Euro a person. We chose these particular tours to be outside and in a small group. We hope distancing comes automatically on bikes :-)

I know many of you want to know more about the Covid-protocols. As a heads up:

- Yes, masks have to be worn on board. However, only in areas where social distancing is not possible - likes aisles, elevators (limited to 4 persons at a time).  

- The ships capacity is limited to max. 60%, only balcony staterooms and suites are available
- Mask do not have to be worn in bars or restaurants. Just as in hotels and restaurants on land the mask needs to be worn until you are seated.

- Bars offer no seating at the counter. Chairs and tables only.

- The buffet restaurant is open but operated kind of like HAL do it. Passengers choose and staff handle the food.

In case any of you wonder: no, that does not pose the slightest problem to us. We are so used to wearing masks in our everyday lifes (in Germany) that we sometimes even forget to take them off. And although I have a lung condition I really don´t mind. If that´s what it takes - fine!

 

So that´s it for now... stay tuned for more.

 

   

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Just now, Luckynana said:

I've been waiting to hear about your cruise.  I'm sure you both are quite excited that your cruise is only a week away!!!  


Yes and no... I have been so busy at work that I had no time to be excited 😆 

Until yesterday I even thought I had to cancel the cruise because of projects I’m working on.


On the other hand, we are going through serious cruise withdrawal symptoms...

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1 hour ago, Miaminice said:

Dear fellow cruise addicts 😃

 

Even as loyal Celebrity cruisers we couldnt´t wait any longer. We just had to book a cruise...

 

As reported here by Germancruiser a while ago, TUI Cruises Germany started with cruises to nowhere under strict Covid-prevention protocols in July.

After various successful cruises they now offer cruises with port stops. The first one is actually sailed last Sunday and will return to Crete tomorrow.

 

We are booked on the cruise sailing on 9/27 and, as promised in another topic, I will report here - as live as I can.

PLEASE refrain from turning this into a discussion about politics, masks, numbers or anything like that. Please consider that circumstances are somewhat different in Europe and Germany than in the US. I will try to explain the protocols as I go along. They have been clearly communicated in advance. If we had not been fine with the protocols we would not have booked the cruise - it´s as simple as that.

 

I kindly ask the hosts to keep this topic as clean as possible. I am reporting from the cruise to give you a glimpse of the things most likely to come when cruise lines start sailing again. Not to start a debate or discussion. TUI Cruises Germany are part of the RCG group. A joint venture to be precise. So you can be sure the RCG is watching closely.

 

TUI Cruises Germany started with two Celebrity ships many years ago - Galaxy and Mercury. Galaxy has left the TUI fleet in 2017 and Mercury is now named Mein Schiff Herz (Heart).

TUI have become so successful that they now operate 6 new ships (named Mein Schiff 1-6) and the older Mein Schiff Herz. More ships (LPG powered) are already ordered.

 

In terms of quality TUI is very much comparable to Celebrity. In a nutshell the main differences are the focus on German speaking passengers and an all inclusive concept. Gratuities, most beverages (even Cosmopolitans, Martinis), different restaurants etc. are included. The new ships are a mix between S class and Edge in style.

DW and I always avoided cruising with German cruise lines but always said that if we had to, it would be TUI. Well, the day came sooner than expected.

 

If you want to know more about the ship, here are some links:

 

https://www.tuicruises.com/mein-schiff-6

 


The cruise is a 7 night cruise sailing from Heraklion/Crete with stops in Corfu and Athens. The cruise had to be booked as a package deal incl. flights from Germany.

Before being allowed to board, all passengers have to undergo a PCR test which is included in the price. TUI Cruises are cooperating with Helios hospitals in Germany. So every passenger can go to any of the 86 Helios hospitals in Germany without an appointment, show their seapass and get tested. The timeframe is given by the cruise line. In our case it´s between Thursday 12pm and Fryday 11am.

 

The test result is directly communicated to the cruise line. We will be contacted only in case of a positive test result - by 4pm on Saturday, the day before the flight and cruise.
Otherwise we are good to go. 

 

Excursions have to be booked with the cruise line. They want to keep track of the passengers. Despite that the prices for excursions where very decent. We booked an e-bike tour on Corfu and an e-scooter tour in Athens for around 50 Euro a person. We chose these particular tours to be outside and in a small group. We hope distancing comes automatically on bikes 🙂

I know many of you want to know more about the Covid-protocols. As a heads up:

- Yes, masks have to be worn on board. However, only in areas where social distancing is not possible - likes aisles, elevators (limited to 4 persons at a time).  

- The ships capacity is limited to max. 60%, only balcony staterooms and suites are available
- Mask do not have to be worn in bars or restaurants. Just as in hotels and restaurants on land the mask needs to be worn until you are seated.

- Bars offer no seating at the counter. Chairs and tables only.

- The buffet restaurant is open but operated kind of like HAL do it. Passengers choose and staff handle the food.

In case any of you wonder: no, that does not pose the slightest problem to us. We are so used to wearing masks in our everyday lifes (in Germany) that we sometimes even forget to take them off. And although I have a lung condition I really don´t mind. If that´s what it takes - fine!

 

So that´s it for now... stay tuned for more.

 

   

Have a wonderful trip!  Can’t wait to read all about it.   Booked on a cruise visiting Greece in 2022 on another line.

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1 hour ago, Miaminice said:

DW and I always avoided cruising with German cruise lines but always said that if we had to, it would be TUI. 

 

How come? I'm curious. What's the distinction that attracted you, do you think, vs. the others?

 

- Joel

 

 

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2 hours ago, cl.klink said:

 

How come? I'm curious. What's the distinction that attracted you, do you think, vs. the others?

 

- Joel


The answer is simple. We generally avoid German cruise lines because of the monocultural passenger structure. Since DW and I both have an English speaking background, cruising on ships with international passengers is what we prefer.

 

The three major German cruise lines are TUI, Aida and Phoenix. Aida is the German equivalent to (and owned by) Carnival. I don’t have to say more 😉 

 

Phoenix is just too old fashioned and also way too German for us and the ships too small for us. There is a TV show about the ships. Whenever we come across it we think: just not for us.

 

So taking the all German speaking passengers out of the equation, TUI is very similar to Celebrity in style and quality. The ships are beautiful, food is good, the ambiance is loungy and laid back - so all the things we like about Celebrity.

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Just to give you some more info about TUI... 

We are actually impressed with their current dedication and enthusiasm to wow their passengers.
 

On the current cruise Mein Schiff 6 met up with two other TUI ships at sea for a “family meeting”. Today she took passengers off the originally planned course into Santorini’s caldera so the passengers could see the famous Santorini sunset before returning to Crete. Both events where unannounced and meant as extra highlights.

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Hi! Great to hear from you that you simply couldn't stay away from cruise ships and booked one of the few cruises currently available. The one we would have met you on in March (Asia/ Celebrity Millenium) fell through, our three following cruises to Spain , Greenland and Norway  as well. The last time we tried boarding a ship we were turned away an hour before boarding because they had detected CoVid-19 cases on board and had quarantined the ship before we were able to get on it.That was in August... Now we have not yet given up but have turned to river cruising for the rest of the year - but we'll keep an envious eye on your trip report and hope you'll have a great time in Greece even with the few restrictions on board. Like you we have never been on a TUI ship yet because we prefer the international crowd on the American and British cruise lines- but perhaps you'll help us re-think with your report!

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that these tentative experiments with a re-start of cruising will be successful!!

Edited by grayjay
typo
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22 minutes ago, cangelmd said:

Looking forward to your report and bon voyage.

Question, if, heaven forbid, your Covid test comes back positive, what happens? Rebook? Refund?


Depends... if your trip insurance covers Corona you can use that. An extra insurance covering the possibility was also offered (50 Euro for the cruise).

 

Otherwise, no refund, no rebooking... passenger’s own risk.

Edited by Miaminice
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1 hour ago, Miaminice said:


The answer is simple. We generally avoid German cruise lines because of the monocultural passenger structure. Since DW and I both have an English speaking background, cruising on ships with international passengers is what we prefer.

 

The three major German cruise lines are TUI, Aida and Phoenix. Aida is the German equivalent to (and owned by) Carnival. I don’t have to say more 😉 

 

Phoenix is just too old fashioned and also way too German for us and the ships too small for us. There is a TV show about the ships. Whenever we come across it we think: just not for us.

 

So taking the all German speaking passengers out of the equation, TUI is very similar to Celebrity in style and quality. The ships are beautiful, food is good, the ambiance is loungy and laid back - so all the things we like about Celebrity.

 

Thanks.

 

So, if I speak no German, would I be able to function on this cruise ship?

 

- Joel

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Great to hear from you Miaminice- I will follow you through- makes passing the time until I board Mein Schiff 1 at Oct.2nd a bit nicer.

4 hours ago, cl.klink said:

 

Thanks.

 

So, if I speak no German, would I be able to function on this cruise ship?

 

- Joel

I am sure you could function - as the crew speaks English - the ones on MS2 I met did. I sometimes even ordered my meals  in Englisch, it seemed  a bit easier from them.

As for the daily programms- I don´t know if they print them in English- I dout it though! But one could always ask, coulnd´t one?

As for Miaminice I could not imagine sailing on a pure German ship before Covid stroke. Don´t get me wrong I have nothing against my fellow country man- but I also prefer a more international group.

I am curious about the approching Covid test- I have no information as of yet from TUI regarding my test.

So- Miaminice- have a great pre cruise week. Thanks for posting.

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5 hours ago, cl.klink said:

 

Thanks.

 

So, if I speak no German, would I be able to function on this cruise ship?

 

- Joel

 

I am sure you would! The crew are as international as on any other ship and English is the language for them to communicate. 

 

We were also hoping to be able to at least speak some English on board. Therefore we were happy to see in a documentary I found that housekeeping, wait staff etc. speak English among themselves. For us they won´t have to make the effort to speak German.  

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From some other topics I know that this is what many of you are interested in. 

 

Here´s a translation of the information about onboard protocols:

 

1. Your health - in focus from the start
Filling out the ship's manifest is routine for our guests. The usual information is now supplemented by a health questionnaire. The questionnaire must be completed by all travelers on a daily basis and presented on arrival at the entrance to the port terminal. This is how we ensure that the data is as up-to-date as possible.

 

We play it safe: For the time being, you need a negative COVID-19 test result for all further departures to start your journey. To this end, TUI Cruises is cooperating with the Helios hospitals: In future, all guests can have themselves tested at one of the 86 Helios locations before departure. The costs for the tests are already included in the travel price.

 

For the time being, the following procedure applies: The guests visit a Helios clinic of their choice within a specified time window to take a Covid 19 test. It is not necessary to make an appointment, the nasopharynx test can be taken there on the test days. The guests identify themselves with their ship pass. If the Covid-19 test is negative, the guest is not notified separately, but the clinic determines the ability to travel and automatically transmits this to TUI Cruises.


2. Check-In - Contactless from now on
Newly introduced processes and measures ensure contactless embarkation and compliance with the required minimum distances in the port terminal during your journey.

Our online check-in will be mandatory for all travel participants. All the documents and information required are already recorded. New for our Blue Voyages: There will be fixed time slots for your check-in in order to limit the number of people who are in the port terminal at the same time. Please understand that access to the terminal will not be possible outside of this period. Simply select an available time slot online in the My Trips area. All suite and junior suite guests have the entire check-in time at their disposal - without a fixed time slot.

Trust is good - control is better: Before you enter the port terminal, your body temperature will be measured as a precaution.


3. Mein Schiff - by far the best
Of course we keep our distance wherever necessary - but that cannot separate us from you. On board the Mein Schiff ® fleet, we already have the best seat-per-passenger ratio. For even more distance on board, we limit the number of passengers at the beginning of the Blue Voyages to a maximum of 60 percent per journey.

In addition, we are temporarily adapting all processes in the guest and crew area to comply with distance and hygiene rules. All guests and crew members are required to keep a mutual safety distance of at least 1.5 meters in the public areas of the ship.

 

Wherever this distance cannot be maintained, we ask that you wear mouth and nose protection for mutual protection. This applies to elevators, stairwells and cabin corridors, for example. In some cases you will also find structural changes such as Plexiglas stands or marked walkways. Basically, rules of conduct and distance are comparable to those on land. Trained crew members point out these rules to our guests.


4. Service - now also at the buffet
Personal service at the table and various service restaurants without fixed table times are also part of the concept of the Mein Schiff ® fleet during regular operations. During the Blue Journeys we are happy to serve you at the place of your choice. At our buffets and beverage stations, our crew will serve your favorite foods and beverages.


5. Free seating - sure enough
We will be happy to take your drinks order in the bars of the Mein Schiff ® fleet at your table. There will be no seats at the bars. Our hard-working bartenders take their place - to mix the best cocktails by far.

It's even more spacious here than usual: In the restaurants and bars, the tables and seating are set up at a generous distance from one another. You can take a seat without hesitation and enjoy to your heart's content.


6. Program on board - small but nice

Of course, we also implement consistent distance rules during the various events on board. Events, sports and entertainment offers with a small number of participants, such as yoga courses or performances in the theater, can still take place. Our theater programs will also be smaller, but no less interesting.

And of course we play several times in the theater - in order to be able to keep enough seats free.

 

For the time being, we have to wait together for events such as pool parties or big football tournaments. We will surprise you on board with alternative program items. Currently there will only be single treatments in the SPA & Sea area. Sections of the sauna area are open and can be used within a 2-hour time window after prior registration (limited number of guests). The care in the kids club and teenslounge is organized according to the strict guidelines and increased hygiene standards and must be limited to the time-limited participation of a few children.

 

7. Maximum hygiene - a clean affair
On board the Mein Schiff ® fleet, hygiene is of great importance even during normal operation. We have now expanded these already existing and firmly established measures. All surfaces on board that are regularly touched are continuously cleaned and disinfected. Highly effective cleaning agents and surface disinfectants against bacteria and viruses are used. Our crew members protect themselves during the continuous disinfection with masks and gloves.

 

In addition, all passenger cabins are thoroughly disinfected on every day of arrival and departure. Only after all departing guests have left the ship and the public areas have also been completely cleaned do we start checking in passengers arriving. In addition, we pay close attention to thorough hand hygiene of all guests and crew members. Hand washing and subsequent disinfection is mandatory before entering all restaurants.

 

We are also making more disinfectant dispensers available in public areas. Guests and crew members can disinfect their hands at any time and at all important contact points. In addition to the restaurants and bars, this includes the SPA & sports area and the reception.

 

8. On-board hospital - all-round care
Medical care for all guests and crew members is ensured at all times by the on-board hospital, which is staffed by German doctors and nurses. Both the crew and the equipment of the on-board hospital are being increased purely as a precaution:

The acquisition of additional test and laboratory equipment ensures maximum protection for everyone on board. An early warning system was introduced especially in connection with the disease from COVID-19, which is based on continuous monitoring of symptoms and daily temperature measurement of guests and crew members.

 

With immediate effect, the crew of the Mein Schiff ® fleet will also have a new officer - in addition to the sanitation officer: The "Infection Control Officer" trains the crew regularly and also monitors compliance with the newly implemented measures to protect against infectious diseases.

 

This means that we are as well prepared as possible to be able to act immediately in the unlikely event of an infection. There are defined processes and close cooperation with the German health authorities on land for this purpose.

 

9. Our Mein Schiff ® crew - well prepared
The corona pandemic has brought with it many new and unprecedented challenges for our entire industry. What is particularly beneficial to us in coping with this time is our reliable and highly motivated Mein Schiff ® crew. For their own safety and that of all guests, the crew is tested, equipped and extensively trained in advance for use on board.

 

Of course, all protective measures and precautions also apply to our crew members. In addition, we have taken other precautionary measures: some employees will wear face shields while they are serving you. Other crew members are - depending on their field of activity - equipped with mouth and nose protection, protective goggles and / or disposable gloves.

 

At the time of your arrival, our crew is fully trained. All crew members presented a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival on board. In addition, each crew member initially goes into isolation for a temporary period. The crew member will only start working after the end of this isolation period and provided there are no symptoms.


10. Together - for one another
Dear guests, we need you! As you can see, we take care of you, our crew and each other. But once again the same applies to us on board as it does on land: The best ideas, hygiene concepts and precautionary measures only work if everyone is willing to actively participate in compliance. And not just for his own sake, but - above all - for one another and out of mutual respect.

So please be considerate and take care of each other - because after your arrival we are all literally "in the same boat". We look forward to finally giving you an unforgettable holiday at sea again.

 

 

Another thing, not mentioned in the above information, is that booking a b2b is not possible. 7 days are currently the maximum time on board. 

 

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Miaminice, sincere best wishes for a fantastic cruise!

 

The thing that has impressed me the most about your report so far is the management team’s efforts to make the most of the trip...Santorini is one of my favourite places on earth. Much as we have loved touring the island sitting on the ship in the caldera is the best part of it, I would love to be there at sunset!

 

I have also found it useful to read all the information you have provided, gives us an idea what new cruising may be like.

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Here´s an image of the mentioned surprise meeting of Mein Schiff 6 with her sisters 3 and 5...

meeting.JPG.79fda44416cdd1e866f1e87b1a019b60.JPG

 

In a video the captain said it was a very emotional moment for the crew of all ships - finally seeing a ship sailing with passengers again. My eyes would have welled up the second they sound their horns...

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