Marella Cruises

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Marella Cruises
Industry Transport
Founded 1973
Key people
Richard Sofer [1]
(Managing Director)
Products Holidays, cruises
Parent TUI Group
MS Marella Spirit as Thomson Spirit in harbour in the Canary Islands in April 2005

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) is a British cruise line, [2]operated by TUI UK, offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia. Thomson Cruises uses ships once used by Louis Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Holland America Line.

On 9 October 2017, TUI announced that Thomson Cruises would be rebranded in late October 2017 as Marella Cruises, with all of the existing Thomson fleet adopting the name change either from Thomson or TUI to Marella (except Thomson Spirit which will be renamed Spirit and Thomson Majesty which will be transferred to Celestyal Cruises). The line also announced that it would base TUI Discovery in Asia for the Winter season of 2018, with the ship being based out of Malaysia, the first in the line's history.[3]


The company had initially entered the cruise market in 1973, but due to rising fuel costs the venture was terminated in 1976. In 1995, Thomson restarted their cruise line after their competitor Airtours had made a successful entry in the cruise business under their Sun Cruises brand.

Marella Cruises holds approximately a 1% market share of the worldwide cruise industry.[4]


On 13 April 2016, Marella Cruises (then Thomson Cruises) announced the next addition to its fleet, the former MS Splendour of the Seas, would be named TUI Discovery as part of the re-brand which will see the whole of Thomson transition to TUI over the next eighteen months. TUI Discovery will be the first of the Thomson Cruises fleet to offer an all-inclusive drinks package as standard.[5][6]


MS Island Escape was added to the Thomson fleet in April 2009, as a result of parent company TUI's acquisition of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s share in Island Cruises that took place in 2008.[7] As of March 2013, Thomson operates the Island Escape under its all-inclusive Island Cruises brand.

In March 2015, Royal Caribbean International announced that they had agreed to sell Splendour of the Seas to TUI Cruises in the second quarter of 2016, and that TUI would lease the ship to Thomson Cruises to replace the Island Escape.[8]

In May 2015, TUI Group announced that as part of their modernization strategy, TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 would be transferred to Thomson Cruises over the next few years.[9]

In October 2015, the Island Cruise brand was discontinued after the sole ship Island Escape completed her last scheduled cruise with Thomson Cruises.

In March 2017, it was announced that Mein Schiff 1 would join the fleet in May 2018, and would become the TUI Explorer.

In July 2017, Thomson had announced that they would be extending the Thomson Spirit Lease until October 2018, and she will be based out of Palma for 18 April and then based in Malaga from May 2018 with her last cruise being on 21 October 2018.

In March 2018, it was announced that Royal Caribbean Cruises and Ctrip were to close the SkySea Cruise Line brand and that the line's sole ship SkySea Golden Era would join the Marella fleet in place of Mein Schiff 2 which would stay with TUI Cruises.[10][11]


Ship Built Builder Entered service
with Thomson
Gross tonnage Flag Home Port (Winter 2017/2018 Notes Image
Marella Spirit 1983 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2003 33,930 tons  Malta Dubrovnik,Croatia until end of October 2017, Limassol, Cyprus Previously Nieuw Amsterdam, Patriot, Spirit, Thomson Spirit, Spirit - Chartered from Louis Cruises until October 2018. "Thomson Spirit" - Dubrovnik, 2010 (cropped).jpg
Marella Celebration 1984 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2005 33,960 tons  Malta La Romana, Dominican Republic Previously Noordam, Thomson Celebration. Renamed Marella Celebration in October 2017. MS Thomson Celebration alanya.jpg
Marella Dream 1986 Meyer Werft 2010 54,763 tons  Malta Tenerife, Canary Islands Previously Homeric, Westerdam, Costa Europa, Thomson Dream. Renamed Marella Dream in October 2017. Thomson Dream 01.JPG
Marella Discovery 1996 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2016 69,130 tons  Malta Palma de Mallorca, Spain until October 2017, then Bridgetown, Barbados Previously Splendour of the Seas, TUI Discovery . Renamed Marella Discovery in October 2017. Tui-discovery-cruise-ship-photos.jpg
Marella Discovery II 1995 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2017 69,130 tons  Malta Montego Bay, Jamaica Previously Legend of the Seas, TUI Discovery II. Renamed Marella Discovery II in October 2017. Legend of the Seas (1) (cropped).jpg
Marella Explorer[12] 1996 Meyer Werft 2018 76,522 tons  Malta Palma, Majorca Currently in Cadiz Yard as previous Mein Schiff 1, she has been sold to Thomson for 2018 season along with Legend of the Seas and SkySea Golden Era to replace the Marella Spirit & Marella Majesty. Mein Schiff 1 Hamburger Hafengeburtstag 2013 03.jpg


Ship Built Builder Enters service
with Thomson
Gross Tonnage Flag Notes Image
Marella Explorer II 1995 Meyer Werft 2019 71,545 tons  Malta Currently sailing as SkySea Golden Era, she has been sold to Thomson for 2019 season. With SkySea Cruise Line closing she will sail in place of Mein Schiff 2 which will remain with TUI Cruises.[13][14] Celebrity Century at Sydney Harbour.jpg


Ship Built Builder In service
with Thomson
Gross Tonnage Notes Image
SS Ithaca 1956 Deutsche Werft 1973– 1976 8,977 tons scrapped 2003
SS Calypso 1955 Harland & Wolff 1975–1976 20,204 tons scrapped 2004 "Southern Cross" - River Fal.jpg
SS Island Breeze 1962 John Brown & Co. 1996–1998 26,632 tons scrapped 2003 "The Big Red Boat III" & "Rembrandt" - Freeport, 2001.jpg
MS Sapphire 1967 Cantieri Navale Felszegi 1996–2002 12,263 tons scrapped 2012 Sapphire in Malaga, Spain.jpg
SS The Topaz 1956 Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering 1997–2003 25,516 tons scrapped 2008 The topaz (2459865684).jpg
SS The Emerald 1958 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock 1997–2008 26,431 tons scrapped 2012 The Emerald in Venice, Italy on May 13, 2008.jpg
The Calypso 1967 Fincantieri 2006–2009 11,162 tons scrapped 2013 The Calypso cruise ship at Rhodes, Greece 2008.jpeg
Thomson Destiny 1982 Wärtsilä Hietalahti shipyard 2005–2012 37,584 tons Currently operating on 3/4-day cruises from Greece. ThomsonDestiny (cropped).jpg
Island Escape 1982 Dubigeon-Normandie S.A 2009–2015 40,132 tons Departed fleet on 27 October 2015,scrapped 2018. 2011-03-05 03-13 Madeira 121 Funchal, Hafen (Island Escape).jpg
Thomson Majesty 1992 Kvaerner Masa-Yards 2012-2015 40,876 tons Transferred to Celestyal Cruises in October 2017. Thomson Majesty.jpg

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 9 February 2013, five crewmen of MS Thomson Majesty were killed in Santa Cruz de La Palma whilst checking a lifeboat. The lifeboat ropes snapped and plunged 65 ft from the upper deck into the sea. It overturned as it hit the water, trapping them underneath. Three crewmen were taken to hospital, but five others - three Indonesians, one Filipino and one Ghanaian - drowned as rescue attempts were made.[15]