TUI Cruises, a joint venture of TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., may spend as much as 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) for four new vessels to meet increased European demand for cruise holidays.

TUI Cruises ordered two 2,500-passenger ships for delivery in 2016 and 2017 from the Finnish arm of STX Corp. in Turku, with options for another two vessels, the company said in a statement today. If those options are exercised, the deals would be worth about 2 billion euros for STX and would double TUI Cruises’ fleet to eight ships, Finnish Economy Minister Jan Vapaavuori said in Helsinki today.

Demand for cruises is prompting Hanover, Germany-based TUI to expand its fleet, as Germany is set to overtake the U.K. as Europe’s largest cruise market. Chief Executive Officer Friedrich Joussen has said TUI will expand in hotels and cruise ships. The company is merging with TUI Travel Plc, Europe’s largest tour operator, in which it has a majority stake.

“Interest in cruises is rising in Germany and Europe,” Joussen said in a statement. “Our ships’ utilization is outstanding, and the business is growing. Cruises are a major trend and new target groups are discovering them.”

TUI Cruises, based in Hamburg, received its first newly built ship in June, after starting operations with two vessels acquired from partner Royal Caribbean. It’s fourth vessel before the orders announced today is scheduled for launch in June 2015.

Changwon, Korea-based STX is selling the Turku shipyard in Finland, with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft GmbH acquiring 70 percent of the business and the Finnish government the remainder.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at

Photo Credit: TUI's MS Mein Schiff. Marc Ryckaert / Wikipedia