Ship Reviews

Ship Review: TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 4

Mein Schiff 4 is cruising roundtrip from Dubai between November, 2018 and March, 2019. She is one of the largest cruise ships homeporting in the Middle East for the coming cruise season and with 11 bars and restaurants, 8 lounges, the only maritime museum at sea and a full-scale theatre for Broadway-style production, she’s sure to be a hit among German cruise tourists to the Arabian Gulf.

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Mein Schiff 4 is one of four near-identical cruise ships in the TUI Cruises fleet. At 295m long and 99,700-gross tons with a passenger capacity of 2,500, she is one of the largest cruise ships sailing roundtrip from Dubai, and the only all-inclusive German cruise ship homeporting in the Arabian Gulf.

The all-inclusive offering aboard TUI Cruises means that a far wider range of services and amenities are included in the cruise fare than on most ships. For example, 24-hour food and snacks are served aboard Mein Schiff 4, and more than 100 different brands of cocktails and beverages are served free of charge (apart from premium spirits).

All children and teens facilities can be used without charge, along with the spa and gym facilities, and of course the ship’s expansive pool area. All on-board entertainment is also complimentary and there are no compulsory gratuity charges. As a result, TUI Cruises prices can seem more expensive than rival German cruise lines sailing from Dubai, such as AIDA, which is homeporting AIDAprima in the region.

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Mein Schiff 4 was launched in 2014 at the Meyer Turku Shipyard in Finland, along with her three sister ships (Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 5 and Mein Schiff 6). Because TUI Cruises is partly-owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, these ships bare a close resemblance to the Quantum-class cruise ships of RCL. Despite being US-owned, TUI Cruises is a fully German cruise line. German is the main on-board language on all TUI ships, the currency on-board is euros, and all entertainment is geared toward the German-speaking cruise market.

The focus aboard Mein Schiff 4 and her sister ships is ‘wellness’ with a calming interior décor palette throughout and strong line-up of spa treatments and healthy dining options.

Dining aboard Mein Schiff 4 

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The complimentary dining options on-board Mein Schiff 4 are plentiful.

There is the Atlantik main restaurant, the Anckelmannsplatz buffet, the dedicated Backstube bakery where crisp bread, delicious bread rolls and sweet treats such as tarts or Danish pastries are produced round the clock, the GOSCH Sylt seafood restaurant, the Paris-inspired Tag & Nacht bistro, and the Eis Bar.

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Atlantik main dining room.

The Atlantik restaurant is actually a massive dining area that is split into three dedicated restaurants, each with its own vibe and cuisine. There is the Atlantik Brasserie (a 256-seat dining room serving French cuisine specialties, a la carte menu and healthy choices), Atlantik Mediterran (a 266-seat Mediterranean themed restaurant) and Atlantic Classic, which seats 530 and serves buffet-style breakfast and more formal lunch and dinner with white-glove service.

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Richards gourmet dining room.

The premium dining options, which come at an additional charge, are the Surf & Turf grill, the Hanami restaurant with Japanese specialties and Richards (a gourmet dinner only dining option). Drinks in most bars and restaurants are free aboard Mein Schiff 4, even in these premium dining locations.

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The Backstube bakery aboard Mein Schiff 4.

TUI Cruises actually pioneered the ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept that was later introduced fleet wide on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Entertainment and relaxation aboard Mein Schiff 4

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Mein Schiff 4 boasts 8 public lounges and bars, as well as a three-tier theatre, two pool bars, teens’ and childrens’ facilities, an art studio, a concert hall and the first maritime museum aboard a cruise ship.

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Up top, there are four Jacuzzis and three pools (one of which is indoor beneath a glass dome). The two outdoor pools flank the Aussenalster Bar & Grill poolbar and are surrounded by a jogging track one deck up.

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On this deck there is also a Sport & Gesundheit Kursraum (spinning room for sport classes) and open-air multi-purpose sports court with arcade seating.

One of the outdoor pools is 25-metres long for swimming laps and the entire area is dominated by a huge cinema-size outdoor LED movie screen. Toward the back of the pool deck is the Blue Balcony – a “walk on water” spot with 148 ft2/11 m2 glass-floor platforms positioned 37m above sea level.

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Down below there is the 1000-seat main show lounge Theatre for grand-style show productions with a revolving stage and eight dynamic LED screens, and the Sea Life-Explore & Experience – the world’s first maritime museum at sea with a 3,230 sqft sealife museum with an interactive exhibition, interactive bridge, sea cinema and researchers table.

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Sea Life-Explore & Experience with interactive model of the ship.

Mein Schiff 4 also features a Sound House (the first chamber music Philharmonic at sea) that doubles up as a popular evening drinks venue, and extensive children and teens facilities.

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The Sound House concert hall aboard Mein Schiff 4.

There is Sturmfrei (Teens Lounge featuring video gaming consoles, dance floor, foosball table, activities like karaoke, cooking classes, teen parties, movies, etc.), Insel der Seerauber (Pirates’ Island Kids Club complimentary lounge) and the Nest (baby room; offers babysitting services at surcharge).

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Pirates’ Island Kids Club.

Near the central lobby there is also a ‘Playground’ internet café with computers and video console games. Aboard Mein Schiff 4, internet access is complimentary for all Suite guests and Wi-Fi is available shipwide for all other guests at a per minute, per hour or per three-hours charge.

Mein Schiff 4 also features an Atelier (workshop/art studio for painters), which feeds into the cruise line’s focus on wellness and inner-peace.

As such, the ship also has an advanced spa area with seaview saunas, a tea lounge, and a Spa & Sea complex featuring Rasul Room/mud bath, Treatment Rooms, Zen Garden and beauty salon. The spa is adjacent to the Sport & Health Fitness Centre, with a large gym where fitness classes and personal trainers are available for guests.

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Above the spa is the Himmel & Meer Lounge (for Suite Guests only) and the X-Lounge (also for Suite-guests only lounge), but regular guests wanting a sea view can head to the two deck Grosse Freiheit area aft with various restaurants beneath a 1,800 sqft diamong-shaped glass wall. This area is similar to the forward-facing buffet area and Observation Lounge aboard Norwegian Bliss.

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The two deck Grosse Freiheit area aft aboard Mein Schiff 4 with various dining options and sea views.

There is also a small casino and a Neuer Wall shopping arcade, in addition to the plethora of bars and cafes available for nibbles and drinks day and night.

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There is the TUI Bar; Coffee Lounge; Diamant Bar (Diamond Bar); Abtanz Bar (100-seat disco nightclub); Rauchersalon (Cigar Room); Schau Bar (249-seat Show Bar); Champagner Treff (Champagnes Match; wine bar); Uberschau Bar (50-seat wellness bar with a “healthy drinks” menu); Unverzicht Bar (poolside bar); Eis Bar (40-seat Ice Bar).

Staterooms aboard Mein Schiff 4

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Balcony cabin aboard Mein Schiff 4.

There are 1,253 staterooms aboard Mein Schiff 4, spread across 23 different cabin categories. The main differences are between the 89 suites, the 957 balcony cabins, the 97 oceanview cabins and the 123 interior cabins.

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Junior Suite aboard Mein Schiff 4.

Mein Schiff 4 also has 6 wheelchair accessible cabins, all located on Deck 3, with wider entry and bathroom doors, emergency phones, special handrails and a location close to the passenger lifts.

Bonus services for all Suite cabin categories include free Internet access, Xbox gaming consoles, complimentary mini-bar access, concierge service, priority services, in-room dining, exclusive Suites-only access to ship’s X-Lounge and the private sundeck.

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Mein Schiff 4, like her sisters, was built with energy efficient solutions and environmentally friendly power plants that reduce emissions by 30% in comparison to other ships of a similar size.

The dress code on-board is casual and there are no formal nights, although dining in the Richards premium restaurant does require a shirt and closed shoes. The ship will be homeporting in Dubai throughout the winter between November, 2018 and March, 2019, cruising roundtrip from Dubai to cruise destinations in the Arabian Gulf.

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