TUI newbuild rendering.STX Finland and TUI Cruises have signed a contract for the design and construction of a 2,500-passenger, 97,000-ton cruise ship.

The vessel is scheduled to be delivered in spring 2014.

It will be the third vessel in TUI's fleet, joining the Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2, both ex-Celebrity vessels, making the new order TUI's first newbuild as it competes with AIDA in a hot German market. The existing ships in the fleet are 78,000 tons and 1,886 passengers.

The project will bring some 5,500 man-years of labor to STX Finland's Turku shipyard, which has not had a cruise order on the books since it delivered the Allure of the Seas last November. STX is currently building a Viking Line ferry, powered by LNG.

TUI Cruises has an option to order another ship subject to the decision of TUI Cruises shareholders.

The vessel will be approximately 295 meters long and approx. 36 meters wide, according to STX.

The ship will have 1,250 staterooms and will serve maximum of 2,500 passengers and a crew of 1,000. Most rooms will have balconies

The ship has a wide variety of restaurants, a theatre, a spa, a nightclub and a large deck area which all are carefully designed to ensure a unique cruising experience for passengers of all ages

"We are extremely pleased to sign this contract with TUI Cruises. This order is highly important for STX and STX Finland. By building this innovative ship we continue our successful and long history of building top class cruise vessels", said Sujou Kim, CEO of STX Europe and STX Finland

"This is a very important contract for STX Finlands Turku Shipyard and for the entire Finnish maritime cluster. We are delighted to deliver to TUI Cruises their first newbuilding which will represent the next generation of energy efficient and environmentally friendly cruise ship", said Jari Anttila, director of STX Finland’s Turku Shipyard.

"Due to its outstanding positioning as a shipyard and long-term cooperation with Royal Caribbean Cruises, we trust that STX Finland is a great partner for us and will successfully realize our ideas in the new ship", added Richard J. Vogel, CEO of TUI Cruises.