Thomson Cruises

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Thomson Cruises fleet

Review of Thomson Cruises

Thomson Cruises is a Thomson-operated British cruise line, that offers low-price voyages around Europe with ships from Holland America Line and Louis Cruise Lines.

Initially, the company entered cruise market in 1973. Due to the rising fuel costs, in 1976 it was terminated. Thomson Cruises restarted the cruise line in 1995 and nowadays holds 1% market share of worldwide cruise industry.

Thomson Cruises has its own unique place in the British cruise market as cruise division of the largest tour operator and travel agency in Britain. After its foundation in 1965, the company soon established dominant position in the British tour market with own airlines and travel agencies.

Thomson Cruises logo

Two Greek ocean liners were chartered by Thomson in 1973, but the company failed to capture audience, like other cruise lines of the 70s. Operations restarted in 1995 after Thomson Cruises chartered the tiny Sapphire ship from Louis Cruise Lines. Soon the company chartered other ships, among which Island Breeze owned by Premier Cruises, Topaz and Emerald.

Thomson Cruises aimed an effect on the British market just like Carnival did in the United States. Package holidays had already been very popular in the United Kingdom, and the company wanted the same for cruising. Despite the aging ships, Thomson cruises attracted an ever-increasing number of Britons- first-time cruisers with attractive fares and presence of company’s travel agencies across Britain.

  • In the 1990s Thomson Cruises began working as budget cruise operator and improved its product becoming more successful in cruise industry by improving amenities, ships and service and introducing a wider range of itineraries.
  • Royal Caribbean sold its stake in Island Cruises to TUI Travel (Thomson Cruises’ parent company) in 2008. In 2009 Island Star left the fleet and joined the Spanish brand of Royal Caribbean - Pullmantur.
  • Island Escape joined Thomson fleet in 2009 and continued to offer informal cruises to the U.K. market. The latest addition to the fleet is Thomson Dream. The vessel joined in spring 2010 from Costa Cruises.
  • In March 2015, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) announced they had agreed to sell Splendour of the Seas to TUI in the second quarter of 2016. TUI would lease the vessel to Thomson Cruises in order to replace Island Escape.
  • In May 2015, TUI Group announced plans for Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 to be transferred to Thomson over the next few years.
  • In October 2015, Island Cruises was discontinued after its sole ship Island Escape completed her last sailing with Thomson Cruises.

A cruise and stay holiday with Thomson Cruises at a Thomson hotel or apartment is a possibility to take the best of both worlds. You can choose to have the stays either at the beginning or at the end of your cruise.

Onboard cuisine offers everything you can think about - from healthy options to exotic local specialties and culinary choices on offer. Daytime entertainment with Thomson cruises is great for all members of the family. There are also different activities for children onboard and special children’s menu for junior diners. You can relax each evening in the wide range of bars and lounges or enjoy first class entertainment with singers and comedians.

Thomson's fly-cruise deals from UK to Caribbean are served by regional Thomson Airways flights from the UK airports Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Gatwick. Flights are to the company's Caribbean homeports Bridgetown Barbados and Montego Bay Jamaica.

On select cruises Thomson offers free all-inclusive upgrades on the company's older ships. The line's new vessels (TUI Discovery 1 and TUI Discovery 2) offer these all-inclusive packages as standard cruise fare inclusion.

Itinerary of Thomson Cruises

With a large selection of destinations and itineraries, Thomson Cruises may show you the whole world. With a variety of UK cruises with departures from Southampton, Newcastle and Harwich; cruise and fly holidays from a large number of airports (available departures from over twenty UK airports), Thomson Cruises sail in the Red Sea and Canary Islands during winter, the Mediterranean in summer. There are about a hundred different destinations to explore aboard Thomson ships. 

In 2017 Thomson Cruises returns to the United Kingdom with a series of sailings departing from Newcastle. The line will base its Thomson Celebration in Newcastle, UK throughout summer 2017. The 1,254-passenger vessel will offer 4 to 14-night itineraries to Scandinavia, the Baltics and the Norwegian Fjords, including StockholmCopenhagen, Saint Petersburg and Iceland. It is the first time the line has based a ship in the UK since 2014.

Thomson cruise itinerary changes

In March 2016, Thomson announced the company will return to the UK in 2017. The line will offer a series of Thomson Celebration ship itineraries leaving out of Newcastle England throughout the 2017's summer. The ship's schedule has 4-nights to 14-nights long cruises to Iceland, Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia and Russia, with ports of call Copenhagen, Stockholm, St Petersburg.

  • Thomson Celebration (1984, former ms Noordam), joined the fleet in 2005. During summer, the ship operates Adriatic Sea cruises leaving round-trip from Dubrovnik Croatia. During winter it offers Persian Gulf cruises from Dubai. For summer 2018, the ship was relocated to homeport Dubrovnik for an adults-only cruise program with full day port stayss in Bar, Korcula, Zadar, Venice, Trieste, Split. The ship also introduced 2 new 7-day itineraries, themed "Sail Three Seas" (Valletta Malta, Messina Sicily, Cephalonia Island, Igoumenitsa, Kotor) and "Greek Mystique" (Chania Crete, Piraeus-Athens, Kalamata, Corfu Island, Kotor).
  • Thomson Dream (1986, former ms Homeric, ms Westerdam, ms Costa Europa), joined the fleet in 2010. During summer, the ship offers Eastern Mediterranean cruises leaving round-trip from Corfu Greece. During winter it offers Caribbean cruises leaving round-trip from Jamaica (Montego Bay).
  • Thomson Majesty (1992, former ms Royal Majesty, ms Norwegian Majesty, ms Louis Majesty), joined the fleet in 2012. The ship operates on year-round itinerary program with round-trip Madeira and Canary Islands cruises with departures from Tenerife and Gran Canaria. For summer 2018, the ship will be based in Palma Majorca.
  • Thomson Spirit (1983, former ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Patriot, ms Spirit), joined the fleet in 2003. The ship offers year-round European itineraries - Western Mediterranean cruises from Malaga and round-trip Madeira and Canary Islands cruises with departures from Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In July 2017 Thomson Cruises announced that it extended the time of Thomson Spirit with the fleet, sailing the ship until the end of summer 2018 due to overwhelming customer demand. Thomson Spirit, which was due to cruise for the final time in November 2017, was based in Palma in April 2018, before moving to Malaga in May. Clients had the opportunity to see the best that Western Mediterranean has to offer - big city favourites like BarcelonaLisbon and Rome, as well as lesser-known Spanish gems like Mahon, Roses and Tarragona. The last cruise of Thomson Spirit in the fleet of Thomson, Continental Coasts, set sail October 21, 2018.
  • TUI Discovery (1996, former Royal Caribbean ship "Splendour of the Seas"), joined the fleet in 2016. The ship offers year-round Western Mediterranean leaving roundtrip from Palma de Mallorca. TUI Discovery will move to her new homeport Newcastle from May 2018. The ship will visit the Norwegian fjords and major cities including StockholmTallinn, and Reykjavik. Passengers on the Baltic voyages will enjoy an overnight stay in Saint Petersburg. In September 2018, TUI Discovery will be homeported in Southampton for Baltic Sea itineraries. 
  • TUI Discovery 2 (1995, former Legend of the Seas / Royal Caribbean), joined the fleet in Spring 2017. The ship operates Mediterranean cruises (leaving from Malaga Spain) and Canary Islands cruises (out of Tenerife to ports in Canaries, Morocco and Madeira). The new ship's itineraries were opened for booking on July 21, 2016. The inaugural cruise's ports were Barcelona, Valencia, Porto, Ibiza, Marseille. Following the Canary Islands repositioning in September 2017, the ship operates on Caribbean cruises out of Montego Bay Jamaica. For summer 2018 os homeported in Corfu Greece for roundtrips to Greek Isles, Turkey and ports in Adriatic Sea (Dalmatian Coast).
  • TUI Explorer (1996, former Mein Schiff 1) - starting operations for Thomson in 2018, the ship will operate on 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises leaving round-trip from Palma De Mallorca Spain. Among the ports of call are popular French Riviera cruise ports in France.

Guatemala was introduced together with more calls in Cuba in an expanded Caribbean program by Thomson Cruises for winter 2017-2018. Three of the company's ships will be based in the region including Thomson Celebration, moving to a new homeport of La Romana, Dominican Republic. All-inclusive ships TUI Discovery and the newest addition TUI Discovery 2 will join Celebration and sail out of Bridgetown and Montego Bay, respectively.

Thomson cruises to Cuba from Jamaica

Thomson Cruises offers Cuba cruises with round-trip departures from Jamaica (Montego Bay) on the ship Thomson Dream. Itineraries started in 2017. The first cruise was on January 31 (7-night / 8-day to Grand Cayman Island, Havana Cuba, and Cozumel Mexico).

The current list of passenger shipping lines offering cruises to Cuba in 2017-2018 includes:

  • Carnival Paradise leaving from Tampa Florida - cheapest prices (from USD 480 pp)
  • MSC Cruises (ship MSC Opera, leaving from Havana)
  • Holland America (ship Veendam) leaving from Fort Lauderdale since December 2017
  • Oceania Cruises (ships Marina and Regatta) starting in 2017, Cuba circumnavigation, stops in Cienfuegos and Havana, also part of some Panama Canal transition itineraries.
  • NCL (ship Norwegian Sky, 4-day itineraries with Havana overnights - starting May 2017.
  • Azamara Cruises (ship on Azamara Quest from Miami)
  • Compagnie du Ponant (yacht Le Ponant, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Pearl Seas Cruises (ship Pearl Mist, leaving from Fort Lauderdale Florida)
  • Lindblad Expeditions (chartered sailing ship MS Panorama II, leaving from Havana)
  • Celestyal Cruises (ship Celestyal Crystal, leaving from Havana and Montego Bay Jamaica)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line (ship MV Clio / ex Tere Moana) one-way from Miami to Havana, or the reverse from Havana to Miami (embarkation/disembarkation in port Cienfuegos).
  • International Expeditions (leaving from Havana, charter flights out of Miami)
  • Victory Cruise Lines - MS  Victory I (former MS Saint Laurent) - fly-cruises from Miami to Havana (home-port Cienfuegos /departures)
  • Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016.
  • Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort  Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

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