Thomson Cruises to be renamed Marella Cruises

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Thomson Cruises is to be rebranded as Marella Cruises, at the same time that Thomson changes to Tui later this month.

Marella, meaning ‘shining sea’ in Celtic, was selected to give the cruise line ‘stand out in the cruise market’ and to give it its own identity from the company’s European cruise brand, Tui Cruises.

Distribution and cruise director Helen Caron said: “We don’t want British guests to be confused with the group’s cruise business in Europe. Marella Cruises will still have the Tui smile logo, but a new Marella Cruises logo in a blue box, similar to the way we would market Sensatori as part of the world of Tui.  The name was chosen to reflect the spirit of exploration and discovery across the seas.”

Confirming Marella cruises would still offer its fully-integrated fly-cruise programme, from 22 regional UK airports, across its fleet of six ships once Marella Explorer enters service in May 2018, Caron added: “Marella Cruises takes us to a cruise brand from a tour operator brand. We expect the new name to open us up to a whole new market of customers who haven’t considered a Thomson cruise before. It’s very exciting and come at the perfect time as we modernise our fleet and add more and more destinations.”

News of the rebrand came as Tui also announced a new homeport in Asia for winter 2018. The newly named Marella Discovery will sail from Lankawi to 18 new ports of call on 14 new adult-only itineraries, with customers also able to join from Bangkok. Ports of call include Ho Chi Minh City, Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur, and also to Mumbai, Mangalore, Cochin and Colombo.

Caron said: “Asia is an incredibly diverse part of the world and I have no doubt that our customers are going to love their adventures across countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India and Oman to name a few.”

For the first time in the company’s history, Tui is also going to base two ships in Barbados in winter 2018. Marella Explorer will be joined by Marella Celebration.

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Tui Explorer to join Thomson Cruises fleet next year

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Tui Explorer has been unveiled the name of the latest ship to join the Thomson Cruises fleet next year.

It will become the line’s largest vessel when it enters services from its homeport in Palma, Majorca in 2018.

Currently operating as Mein Schiff 1 for the German market, the vessel will be joined at the UK arm by Mein Schiff 2 in 2019.

Tui Explorer joins Tui Discovery and Tui Discovery 2 in continuing to introduce the Tui brand to UK ahead of the re-brand which sees Thomson disappear later this year.

Tui Explorer will run all-inclusive cruises with ten dining options including a new sushi counter and The Mediterranean, an area with a glass roof inspired by open air terraces and local tavernas which will house two inclusive restaurants – a pizzeria and tapas restaurant – plus the Hot Stone Grill at an additional cost.

New cabin types include 14 family balcony cabins that measure 20 square metres, sleep up to five people and have a balcony of up to 9 square metres, and a balcony cabin with more external space.

Standard inside cabins onboard Tui Explorer are 16 square metres, larger than any other standard cabin in the fleet.

Other features include a spa split into 11 different areas including a Finnish sauna with floor to ceiling windows, a couples room and two luxury treatment suites.

An adults-only sunbathing area called The Veranda will have padded sun loungers, pod chairs and day beds.

A new feature bar, Indigo, offers ocean views from the top of the ship and is home to a casino and nightclub.

Another new venue is The Lounge, complete with colour-changing bar and a brightly coloured piano to provide live music.

On sale later this month, Tui Explorer will sail four itineraries – Cosmopolitan Classics, Highlights of the Mediterranean, Magic of Spain and Mediterranean Secrets.

Ports of call will include Barcelona, the ports for Rome and Florence, Naples and Lisbon.

Thomson Cruises managing director, Richard Sofer, said: “I’m delighted to unveil the name of TUI Explorer, our biggest and most exciting ship yet.

“As part of our continued modernisation and transformation strategy, and our commitment to offering choice and flexibility, we’ve created a whole host of new spaces onboard to meet our customers’ needs.

“We’ve got ten restaurants and ten bars, as well as more onboard activities and spaces for families including an indoor cinema and a fantastic new Kids’ Club with children’s pool and slide.

“I’m also really excited about our new flagship entertainment venue, Indigo – a huge space with incredible ocean views, sat right at the top of the ship.”

The ship, which started life as Celebrity Cruises’ Galaxy in 1996, has a capacity for 1,924 passengers.

Thomson Cruises adds Guatemala to winter programme

Thomson Cruise ship (the shadow is of MSC Poesia); photo by Dave Jones

by Phil Davies

Guatemala is being introduced together with more Cuba calls in an expanded Caribbean programme by Thomson Cruises for winter 2017-18.

Three ships will be based in the region including Thomson Celebration moving to a new homeport of La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

All-inclusive ships Tui Discovery and new addition Tui Discovery 2 will join Thomson Celebration and will sail out of Bridgetown, Barbados and Montego Bay, Jamaica respectively.

Thomson Celebration’s move to the Dominican Republic opens more opportunities to combine cruises with beach stays, with the new Sensatori Resort Punta Cana among properties added to the portfolio.

The port of Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala is introduced on new Tui Discovery 2 itinerary, as well as Nassau in The Bahamas as part of re-positioning sailing.

The number of Cuban sailings on the new ship will be increased, giving passengers more chance to explore Havana during overnight stops.

Other destinations include St Lucia, Grenada and Antigua, St Maarten and Martinique.

Tui Discovery will sail on two new itineraries from Barbados, which include calls St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The cruises will be served by new regional Thomson Airways flights from Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stansted in addition to Birmingham, Manchester and Gatwick.

Thomson Dream will move to its new homeports of Santa Cruz, Tenerife and Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in November 2017.

Thomson Majesty and Thomson Spirit will both embark on their last sailings in November 2017 from Malaga and Limassol respectively before they leave the fleet.

The winter 2017 programme goes be on sale from Thursday (November 17).

Free all-inclusive upgrades are available on selected cruises on board Thomson Celebration, Thomson Dream, Thomson Majesty and Thomson Spirit which set sail between November 2017 and April 2018. Tui Discovery and Tui Discovery 2 offer all-inclusive packages as standard.

Thomson Cruises managing director Richard Sofer said: “We’re really excited about the introduction of the Dominican Republic as Thomson Celebration’s base for next winter.

“This is the first time we’ll have had three ships in the Caribbean and that means we can continue to offer more choice and flexibility to our customers, who we know are looking more and more for holidays further afield.”