Thomson Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, News

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.

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.

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.

Thomson Cruises program for summer 2016 includes the announcement of itineraries for Thomson's latest addition, TUI Discovery, sailing out of Palma (former "Splendour of the Seas"). The program also includes 8 new ports of call. The former RCI ship started round-trips out of Palma following a refurbishment and rebranding programme. The vessel has a 1,830-passenger capacity (double occupancy) across 915 cabins, nearly 40% of which with balconies.

The itineraries of Thomson Discovery will take in some of the most popular spots in Europe, including Livorno, Italy (for Pisa and Florence); Villefranche, France (for Nice and Monaco); Barcelona and Cadiz, Spain (for Seville). Clients, particularly families, will make the most of the program with sailings departing Saturday and flights from 19 airports across the UK. 

Malaga will homeport Thomson Spirit for 2016 summer. Ship’s 4 itineraries will feature new call ports including Vigo, Spain (for Santiago de Compestella) and Marseille, France. 

Thomson Celebration will continue with sailings from Dubrovnik. The ship will offer adults-only cruises, following successful introduction this year. New for summer 2016 will be an overnight stay in ship’s Croatian homeport.

Thomson Majesty will be exploring Western Mediterranean from Palma, with evening stays in Ibiza and Barcelona included in the "Catalan Promise" itinerary (no sea days, maximum time ashore). 

Thomson Dream will be based in Corfu. Ship's 4 itineraries include sailing to Santorini, Mykonos and new port of Syros

New for 2016 summer, Thomson Cruises will offer customers the chance to add a city break experience, staying in Corfu Town, Malaga and Palma. 

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TUI Discovery (1996, former Royal Caribbean ship "Splendour of the Seas"), joined the fleet in 2016. The ship offers year-round Western Mediterranean leaving round-trip from Palma de Mallorca.
  • TUI Discovery 2 (1995, former Royal Caribbean ship "Legend of the Seas"), joins the fleet in Spring 2017. The ship will operate Mediterranean cruises (leaving from Malaga Spain) and Canary Islands cruises (out of Tenerife to ports in the Canaries, as well as Morocco and Funchal Madeira). The new ship's cruises were available for booking on July 21, 2016. The inaugural cruise's ports of call are Barcelona, Valencia, Porto, Ibiza, Marseille. The Canary Islands repositioning is in September 2017.
  • Island Escape (1982, former ms Scandinavia, ms Stardancer, ms Viking Serenade). Joined the Thomson fleet in 2009. Left the fleet in 2015 and is currently operated as "Ocean Gala" (privately chartered ship and a floating hotel).

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