TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 3

(11:30 a.m. BST) -- TUI Cruises has become the latest cruise line to order new Liquefied Natural Gas ships, which will be delivered in 2024 and 2026.

The ships will come in at 161,000 gross tons and will be the largest ships ever built in Italy. They will be slightly smaller than Norwegian Escape (165,000 tons), which carries 4,248 passengers at double occupancy.

Yesterday, Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed two more ships in its Leonardo class of LNG-powered vessels, which will launch in 2026 and 2027. Other lines which have LNG-powered ships on order include P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, AIDA and MSC Cruises.

LNG is the most environmentally-friendly form of fuel for cruise ships at the moment, cutting emissions by up to 80 percent.

TUI Cruises is expanding rapidly to cater for the fast-growing German cruise market, with two new ships, launching in 2019 and 2023, with a total bed capacity of about 18,800. The line confirmed that the Mein Schiff fleet -- the oldest of which has just been reborn as Marella Explorer -- will grow to nine ships by 2026.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said: “These will be the largest ships ever built in Italy: we proved once more we can provide the market with the best mix of reliability and innovation, pillars of Made in Italy and distinguishing features of Fincantieri in the global shipbuilding landscape."

--by Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, Cruise Critic, UK