|Richard Sofer 
Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) is a British cruise line, 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Marella Explorer||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.|
|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.|
|SS Ithaca||1956||Deutsche Werft||1973– 1976||8,977 tons||scrapped 2003|
|SS Calypso||1955||Harland & Wolff||1975–1976||20,204 tons||scrapped 2004|
|SS Island Breeze||1962||John Brown & Co.||1996–1998||26,632 tons||scrapped 2003|
|MS Sapphire||1967||Cantieri Navale Felszegi||1996–2002||12,263 tons||scrapped 2012|
|SS The Topaz||1956||Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering||1997–2003||25,516 tons||scrapped 2008|
|SS The Emerald||1958||Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock||1997–2008||26,431 tons||scrapped 2012|
|The Calypso||1967||Fincantieri||2006–2009||11,162 tons||scrapped 2013|
|Thomson Destiny||1982||Wärtsilä Hietalahti shipyard||2005–2012||37,584 tons||Currently operating on 3/4-day cruises from Greece.|
|Island Escape||1982||Dubigeon-Normandie S.A||2009–2015||40,132 tons||Departed fleet on 27 October 2015,scrapped 2018.|
|Thomson Majesty||1992||Kvaerner Masa-Yards||2012-2015||40,876 tons||Transferred to Celestyal Cruises in October 2017.|
Accidents and incidents
- 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.
- "Marella is making waves". TTG. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- "2012 World Wide Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 2011-11-20.
- "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to Sell Its Interest in Island Cruises to First Choice Holidays Ltd". Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
- "Splendour of the Seas Sold to TUI for Thomson Cruises". cruiseindustrynews.com.
- "Thomson Majesty liner: Five killed and three injured after lifeboat falls into sea off Canary Islands cruise ship - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.