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TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff Sets Sail

on .

Mein Schiff (My Ship), the first ship in the new TUI Cruises fleet, was named today in Hamburg, Germany, in a celebration that marked a significant step for the joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and TUI AG.

The new brand is designed to serve the Germany cruise market, where some 906,000 Germans took cruises in 2008, and where that number is forecast to increase by 11 percent in 2009.

Following a short inaugural cruise, Mein Schiff will sail in the Baltic for the 2009 summer season (May through October). It will offer two- to 14-nights sailings from ports such as Kiel and Hamburg, Germany, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The ship then will reposition to the Caribbean for winter (November 2009 through April 2010), home-porting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

During 2010 and 2011, Mein Schiff also will sail itineraries in the Nordic Seas, reaching the far coasts of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as well as the eastern and western Mediterranean, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to visit the Canary Islands and Morocco.

“We are honoured to welcome Mein Schiff as a new benchmark in the European cruise market,” said Michael Bayley, senior vice president, International, for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The launching of TUI Cruises’ first ship is a significant milestone in the relationship between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and TUI AG. We have an outstanding partnership in TUI Cruises, which will provide extraordinary holidays for its German guests. We look forward to helping the new brand grow and prosper.”

“The naming of our first ship and her first sailing for us are significant achievements for our new brand,” said Richard J. Vogal, chief executive officer of TUI Cruises. “This is a great day in the history of German cruising and it highlights our outstanding partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Together, we’ve done an excellent job rejuvenating Mein Schiff in just 38 days, and the results are stunning. We look forward to providing an entirely new level of service and enjoyment to our guests.”

The 1,914-guest Mein Schiff was formerly Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Galaxy. The ship left the Celebrity fleet on March 16, 2009, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her transformation began during her crossing from the Caribbean to Europe and was completed in 38 days. The ship is now tailored to German guests, their tastes in food, entertainment and amenities, and it will provide a contemporary/premium cruise experience.

“TUI Cruises is another strategic step in our efforts to meet the growing international demand for cruising,” said Bayley. “It will provide more options to German cruisers and assist in growing that market. In 2009, our five wholly owned brands will have an unprecedented 22 ships deployed in Europe. When combined with TUI Cruises, this provides more choices than ever before to the European cruise market."

A national naming contest attracted over 30,000 suggestions for the name of TUI Cruises’ new ship. Mein Schiff (or My Ship, in English) was the overwhelming winner.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG announced their intentions to form TUI Cruises on December 10, 2007. Each company holds a 50 percent interest in the joint venture.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France. The company has a combined total of 38 ships in service and six under construction. It also offers unique land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America. Additional information can be found on www.royalcaribbean.com, www.celebrity.com, www.pullmantur.es, www.azamaracruises.com, www.cdfcroisieresdefrance.com or www.rclinvestor.com.

TUI AG is Europe's leading travel and shipping group. TUI AG holds the majority stake in Europe's leading travel group, London-based TUI Travel PLC. The corporation operates the world's fifth-largest container shipping company -- Hapag-Lloyd -- and, through Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, also runs the leading German cruise line company in the luxury and expedition segment.

TUI Cruises is a joint venture of TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The newly formed company based in Hamburg will be offering from May 2009 premium cruises in the German-speaking market. TUI Cruises focuses above all on couples and families who value in a cruise ship room to move, generous surroundings, high quality and service. “Mein Schiff”, the first ship of the fleet, is a four-star-plus ship. In its first season TUI Cruises is offering Nordic and Baltic cruises from May to September. From September to the beginning of November “Mein Schiff” will head for the western Mediterranean. Caribbean cruises are on the agenda from November 2009 through to March 2010.