The Thomson name may disappear from Britain’s travel agencies to be replaced by the name (and smile logo) of German parent company TUI – and the change is going to have a significant effect on Thomson Cruises.
Two ships which carry almost 2,000 passengers each are likely to be transferred to the UK fleet where they will join the similar-sized Thomson Discovery. They will probably replace older, smaller ships such as the Thomson Spirit and Thomson Celebration.
Mein Schiff 1, built in 1996 as Galaxy, and Mein Schiff 2, the 1997-built former Mercury, were both originally with Celebrity Cruises. Discovery is currently sailing as Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas and will move to Thomson next year.
It’s a significant step up for the cruise line, which operates mainly in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and to the Canaries, flying passengers direct from regional airports in the UK on the company’s own planes.
Its Dreamliner aircraft have sufficient range to serve ships sailing in south-east Asia and the increased capacity could also bring a welcome return to UK cruises – providing a significant value-for-money challenge to operators such as P&O and Fred Olsen.
No date has yet been set for the disappearance of the Thomson name and the transformation to a global TUI brand could take between five and 10 years.
The ship moves will come a lot sooner.