European tour operator TUI Group is adding two new ships to its Hapag-Lloyd Cruises brand as it continues to boost its cruise offering.

The new vessels will operate in the expedition segment. One of the new builds will serve the German-speaking markets of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland while the other will cover the same countries, plus Belgium, the UK, Netherlands and the U.S.

The ships will be designated as P6 Polar Class, meaning that they can operate in the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in warm water destinations such as the Amazon.

TUI expects the ships to launch in the spring and autumn of 2019.

The cruise sector is becoming more important for TUI and this new investment shows how seriously they are taking it.

The sector has contributed €214.4 million ($242.2 million) in the first nine months of TUI’s financial year – a rise of 7.2 percent. It makes up about 1.8 percent of the company’s total revenue.

Sebastian Ebel, the TUI Group executive board member responsible for cruise, said: “The cruise business is one of the key elements of TUI’s growth strategy. Our ambitions are underpinned by our investment in the two new ships for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ luxury and expedition cruise segments serve as world-class benchmarks.”

TUI operates three cruise brands: TUI Cruises, Thomson Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises with a total of 14 ships.

Photo Credit: Passengers onboard MS Bremen view a polar bear in the Arctic. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is adding another two ships to its fleet. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises