After two cruises with the TUI Cruises Mein Schiff fleet I am already a big fan – and constructive critic. My experiences in the form of practical tips (15 do’s and 5 don’ts). In addition, tips for shore excursions on the western Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea at the end of this text. Ship ahoy!
The feeling of freedom when you go to sea and head for the next unknown port. The relaxation, when you enjoy the evening sun with a drink on the deck. The comfortable, if the annoying packing and unpacking on a round trip are eliminated and you can still explore a new destination every day – if the hotel travels so to speak. The feeling of well-being (true to the motto of the Mein Schiff fleet), when you find countless indulgence, relaxation and entertainment options on board.
I already loved cruising before I made one for the first time.
In the meantime I have four cruises done: a river cruise on the Nile (Aswn bis Luxor, May 2007), a first “real” cruise on the high seas in New England and Canada with Holland America Line (Boston to Montréal, July 2013), the TUI Cruises “Mein Schiff”–premiere in the western Mediterranean (Mein Schiff 4, from / to Palma de Mallorca, April 2016) and most recently a Baltic Cruise on the brand new Mein Schiff 6 (from / to Kiel, July 2017). Route and excursion tips at the end of the text.
“Premium all inclusive”
The cruises and ships of TUI Cruises are positioned in the upscale (but not luxury) segment. The premium all-inclusive concept includes that most services are included in the price: from the buffet to the 5-course menu, even the brand drinks and cocktails at the bar, child care (from 3 years) etc. Only a few specialty restaurants and additional services such as SPA treatments or guided shore excursions cost extra. Theoretically, you could be on board for ten days without spending a single penny – which of course you do not 😉 The cabins are clean, friendly and quite generous. Even with two small children on the double bed we had enough space in a normal balcony cabin.
15 things to do on the Mein Schiff (Do’s):
- Book a Mein Schiff cruise. Discard any reservations about cruises that may exist and do not let the don’ts listed below confuse you. A Mein Schiff cruise is an absolutely great experience!
- Also select the cabin according to the location – e.g. with young children on one of the upper decks near the back staircase (B) to be near the buffet restaurant, the pools and the kids club.
- Join My Boat Newcomer on the boat tour offered on the first day of the cruise to get to know many onboard pleasure, relaxation and entertainment options.
- Visit the crew show in the theatre. Instead of a professional ensemble, the women and men from the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, etc. show their show talent once per cruise.
- Enjoy the dessert buffet in the buffet restaurant Anckelmannsplatz (even if you had dinner somewhere else).
- Participate in the meat tasting offered several times per cruise in the Steakhouse Surf & Turf (25 €). Maybe the same thing happens to me and the sous-chef of the steakhouse recognizes you one and a half years after your last cruise 😉
- In the daily programs look out for various special buffets (cheese, seafood, caviar breakfast, etc.)
- Take Nespresso capsules for the coffee machine in your cabin if you drink more than one capsule, which is available for free per day.
- Your children always spend time in the Kids Club. The carers lovingly take care of them and have a varied program and even shore excursions ready. And you deserve an extra portion of recovery during this time 😉
- Enjoy the evening sun, the harbour exit and an aperitif in the small bar on the highest sundeck.
- Once per cruise, go to the highest point of the ship, the lookout, and once round the ship on the promenade deck (deck 5). In wind and weather, the view from the bow to the sea is particularly impressive.
- To read and relax, retreat to the Café Lounge (Mein Schiff 3 + 4) or the Himmel & Meer Lounge (Mein Schiff 3-6).
- Participate in the nautical question time of the captain and learn a lot of interesting facts about the ship. And pose with the captain for the family album 😉
- Book an internet or social media package if you want to connect to the world on the high seas.
- Respectfully deal with the hard-working men and women of the crew. Take some time for a chat from time to time, give them a smile – and maybe a few euros (even if the tip is included).
5 Things You Should Avoid on the My Ship (Don’ts)
- Only eat in the main restaurant Atlantik. We prefer the buffet restaurant Anckelmannsplatz and the (partially chargeable) speciality restaurants (especially Surf & Turf, Schmankerl and Osteria – Pizza).
- Watch every show in the theatre. Some are okay, with others you barely hold the class in the chair. On the other hand, some of the smaller shows and concerts in the Klanghaus (Mein Schiff 3 + 4) and Studio (Mein Schiff 5 + 6) absolutely worth seeing.
- All the program points offered on the ship want to complete – the recovery is certainly too short. Instead, take your time just to read or sit on the balcony or in a bar on the deck.
- The feeling is, in the disco (dance bar), in the bars or at the pool party go from the post office. For the big party, there are probably more suitable ships and shipping companies. For pleasure and relaxation, however, you are exactly right on the Mein Schiff fleet.
- Book guided shore excursions in each harbour. These are quite expensive, you move to the cities, museums, etc. in a large mass and you are at the mercy of the quality of the local tour guide at the mercy. Increase your anticipation of the journey by planning and undertaking outings on your own whenever possible. Various My ship forums (such as on Facebook), Google, Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor, the local tourist information and Reto’s Little Travel Blog provide valuable support!
TIPS FOR LAND EXCURSIONS
- Ajaccio (Corsica): Bike tour on the beautiful island, stroll through the old town with the market (a few minutes walk from the pier), Maison Bonaparte (birthplace of Napoléon).
- Civitavecchia (Rome): Explore Rome on your own – book the transfer (about 1.5 hours) via TUI Cruises, because the trains are unreliable and the walk to the train station takes about 30 minutes.
- La Spezia: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Cinque Terre villages – should you ever see them despite the tourist crowds.
- Monaco: On your own (by train or boat) make a day trip to beautiful Nice.
- La Seyne (Toulon): Strolling through the city centre of Toulon with market transfer via the bay of Toulon with the shuttle boat from TUI Cruises.
- Barcelona: Sagrada Familia Basilica, Mercant de la Boqueria (food market)
- Ibiza: Stroll through the pretty town of Ibiza with the elevated castle (great view) and numerous shops, restaurants and cafes.
- Palma de Mallorca: Stroll through the interesting old town.
- Gdynia / Gdańsk (Gdansk): Stroll through the Old Town of Gdansk (see blog post: A Boy’s Weekend in Gdańsk), enjoy the beach in Gdynia
- Klaipėda: Bike tour on the UNESCO World Heritage Curonian Spit (peninsula, ferry every 30 minutes, about 10 minutes on foot from the pier) with its sand dunes. Cheap bike rental at DU RATAI (about 5 minutes walk from the pier).
- St. Petersburg: Neva boat tour, Hermitage Museum, Yusupov Palace. Separate blog post about St. Petersburg coming soon! If you want to explore St. Petersburg on your own, you need a visa.
- Tallinn: Stroll through the UNESCO-listed Old Town (about 20 minutes on foot from the pier)
- Stockholm: hop-on-hop-off boat tour, Old Town Gamla Stan, Vasa Museum (1628 sunken warship), with children: Junibacken (Astrid Lindgren’s children’s literature to experience and play).
- Kiel: Here I have no tips, because we directly on and off again, rsp. have travelled to Hamburg.
You can find the original article to read here