Germany’s giant travel and shipping group TUI AG has announced expansion plans for one of its companies, the long-established Hapag Lloyd. A 39,500gt newbuild, to be named Europa 2, will be constructed by STX Europe at its St Nazaire yard beginning in September, with delivery for May 2013.

The new ship will be owned by a separate company, which is not owned by TUI, and chartered to Hapag Lloyd for 12 years. The 526-passenger vessel, which will have a crew of 360, has a length of 225m, beam of 26m and a huge passenger-space ratio of 76.6. She will be geared to the five-star market and have 258 all-balcony suites, most of which measure 28m2, as well as four grand 90m2 penthouses.

Detailed itineraries have not been announced for the new ship, but the company has said that Europa 2 will operate seven-day Mediterranean cruises in the summer and ‘be in the exotic market in the winter’.

Hapag Lloyd is also taking Oceania Cruises’ Insignia (1998/30,277gt) as a premium product on a two-year bareboat charter from April 2012. As Columbus 2, the 698-passenger ship will operate in the Mediterranean, Baltic and Norwegian Fjords during the summer and sail on world cruises in the winter. Insignia was formerly ROne, the first of eight identical sisters built for Renaissance Cruises.

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