Marella Cruises

Last updated

Marella Cruises
Thomson Cruises
Private Limited Company
Industry Transport
Key people
Christopher Hackney [1]
(Managing Director)
Parent TUI Group
MS Marella Spirit as Thomson Spirit in harbour in the Canary Islands in April 2005 ThomsonSpirit.jpg
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 operated by TUI UK, offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia.

A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships and markets cruises on oceans or rivers to the public. Cruise lines are distinct from passenger lines which are primarily concerned with transportation of their passengers. Cruise lines have a dual character: they are partly in the transportation business, and partly in the leisure entertainment business; a duality that carries down into the ships themselves, which have both a crew headed by the ship's captain, and a hospitality staff headed by the equivalent of a hotel manager.


On 9 October 2017, TUI Group 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. [2]

TUI AG, also known as TUI Group, is a German multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Hannover, Germany. It is the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world, and it owns travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and retail stores. The group owns five European airlines – the largest holiday fleet in Europe – and several tour operators based in Europe.

Celestyal Cruises is a Cyprus-based cruise line and the only cruise company based in Greece. It is a subsidiary of the travel and tourism group Louis plc, that was founded in 1935 as the first travel agency in Cyprus. There are four ships under Celestyal's operation. Celestyal runs an Eastern Mediterranean program traveling to Greek and Turkish ports as well as a Cuba program. 2017 was Celestyal's fifth year in Cuba. The company has historically chartered several ships to Marella Cruises, previously Thomson Cruises.


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.

Airtours British tour operator specialising in package holidays

Airtours was a British tour operator specialising in package holidays throughout Europe, as well as in parts of North America and the Caribbean. It was a subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, until the group's demise on September 23, 2019. Airtours holidays were sold on their own website, the Thomas Cook website and in Thomas Cook Travel Agents.

Marella Cruises holds approximately a 1% market share of the worldwide cruise industry. [3]


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. [4] As of March 2013, Thomson operates the Island Escape under its all-inclusive Island Cruises brand.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) is a global cruise holding company incorporated in Liberia and based in Miami, Florida. It is the world's second-largest cruise line operator, after Carnival Corporation & plc. As of March 2009, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fully owns three cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises. They also hold a 67% stake in Silversea Cruises, a 50% stake in TUI Cruises and 49% stakes in Pullmantur Cruises and the now-defunct CDF Croisières de France. Previously Royal Caribbean Cruises also owned 50% of Island Cruises, but this was sold to TUI Travel PLC in October 2008.

Island Cruises was a cruise line that was founded as a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and First Choice Travel PLC, each of whom owned 50% of the company. The company operated in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, aiming its products primarily at markets in the United Kingdom, Brazil and Argentina. First Choice was later acquired by TUI Travel. In 2008, Royal Caribbean sold its stake in the company to TUI, and the cruise line's only fully owned ship, the Island Escape, was transferred to TUI's Thomson Cruises. Island Cruises was discontinued in 2015.

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. [5]

Royal Caribbean International (RCI), also known by its former name Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), is a cruise line brand founded in 1968 in Norway and organised as a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 1997. Based in Miami, Florida, United States, it is the largest cruise line by revenue and second largest by passengers counts. In 2018, Royal Caribbean International controlled 19.2% of the worldwide cruise market by passengers and 14.0% by revenue. It also operates many of the world's largest ships; as of July 2019, the line operates twenty-six ships, including the four largest cruise ships in the world, and has six additional ships on order.

TUI Cruises is a cruise line based in Germany. It was formed in 2007 as a joint venture between the German tourism company TUI AG and the American cruise line operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., both of whom hold a 50% stake in the company. The company started operations in 2009 and competes with AIDA Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten for the German market. It targets German-speaking customers who opt for a premium cruise experience. The onboard product, including food, entertainment and amenities, is custom-tailored for German tastes and German is the main language used onboard its ships.

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. [6]

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. [7] [8]


ShipBuiltBuilderEntered service
with Thomson/Marella Cruises
Gross tonnage FlagHome Ports 2019/2020NotesImage
Marella Celebration 1984 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 200533,960 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Dubrovnik, Croatia Bridgetown, Barbados Previously Noordam, Thomson Celebration. Renamed Marella Celebration in October 2017. MarellaCelebrationArgostoli.jpg
Marella Dream 1986 Meyer Werft 201054,763 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Palma De Mallorca, Spain Limassol, Cyprus Previously Homeric, Westerdam, Costa Europa, Thomson Dream. Renamed Marella Dream in October 2017. Thomson Dream 01.JPG
Marella Discovery 1996 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 201669,130 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Corfu, Greece
Langkawi, Malaysia/ Bangkok, Thailand
Previously Splendour of the Seas, TUI Discovery. Renamed Marella Discovery in October 2017. Tui-discovery-cruise-ship-photos.jpg
Marella Discovery 2 1995 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 201769,130 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Palma De Mallorca, Spain Montego Bay, Jamaica Previously Legend of the Seas, TUI Discovery 2. Renamed Marella Discovery 2 in October 2017. Marella Discovery 2 at Argostoli.jpg
Marella Explorer 1996 Meyer Werft 201876,522 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Newcastle, England Tenerife/Gran Canaria Canary Islands Previously Celebrity Galaxy, Mein Schiff 1 , sold to Marella in 2018. Mein Schiff 1 Hamburger Hafengeburtstag 2013 03.jpg
Marella Explorer II 1995 Meyer Werft 201971,545 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta Naples, Italy
Bridgetown, Barbados
Previously Celebrity Century, SkySea Golden Era , sold to Marella in 2019. Celebrity Century (ship, 1995).JPG


ShipBuiltBuilderEnters service
with Marella Cruises
Gross Tonnage FlagNotesImage
TBA 1997 Meyer Werft 202277.303 tonsCivil Ensign of Malta.svg  Malta [9] Mein Schiff 2 (2).JPG


ShipBuiltBuilderIn service
with Marella
Gross Tonnage NotesImage
SS Ithaca 1956Deutsche Werft1973– 19768,977 tonsscrapped 2003
SS Calypso 1955 Harland & Wolff 1975–197620,204 tonsscrapped 2004 "Southern Cross" - River Fal.jpg
SS Island Breeze 1962 John Brown & Co. 1996–199826,632 tonsscrapped 2003 "The Big Red Boat III" & "Rembrandt" - Freeport, 2001.jpg
MS Sapphire 1967Cantieri Navale Felszegi1996–200212,263 tonsscrapped 2012 Sapphire in Malaga, Spain.jpg
SS The Topaz 1956 Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering 1997–200325,516 tonsscrapped 2008 The topaz (2459865684).jpg
SS The Emerald 1958 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock 1997–200826,431 tonsscrapped 2012 The Emerald in Venice, Italy on May 13, 2008.jpg
The Calypso 1967 Fincantieri 2006–200911,162 tonsscrapped 2013 The Calypso cruise ship at Rhodes, Greece 2008.jpeg
Thomson Destiny 1982 Wärtsilä Hietalahti shipyard 2005–201237,584 tonsCurrently operating on 3/4-day cruises from Greece for Celestyal. ThomsonDestiny (cropped).jpg
Island Escape 1982Dubigeon-Normandie S.A2009–201540,132 tonsDeparted 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 2012-201540,876 tonsTransferred to Celestyal Cruises in October 2017. Thomson Majesty.jpg
Marella Spirit 1983 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2003-201833,930 tonsPreviously Nieuw Amsterdam, Patriot, Spirit, Thomson Spirit, Spirit - Sold for Scrapping in October 2018. "Thomson Spirit" - Dubrovnik, 2010 (cropped).jpg

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. [10]

Related Research Articles

Celebrity Cruises is a cruise line which was founded in 1988 by the Greece-based Chandris Group. In 1997, Celebrity Cruises Ltd. merged with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to form Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the latter since then. The company has its headquarters in Miami, Florida. Celebrity's signature logo is an "Χ" displayed on the funnel of Celebrity ships, and is the Greek letter chi, for "Chandris".

Norwegian Cruise Line American company operating cruise ships

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), also known in short as Norwegian, is a cruise line founded in 1966 and based in the United States. It is the third-largest cruise line in the world by passengers, controlling approximately 8.7% of the total worldwide share of the cruise market by passengers as of 2018. It is wholly owned by parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

MSC Cruises company

MSC Cruises is a global cruise line registered in Switzerland and based in Geneva. It was founded in Naples, Italy in 1989. MSC Cruises is the world's largest privately held cruise company, employing about 23,500 people worldwide and having offices in 45 countries as of 2017. MSC Cruises is part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC), the world's second biggest container shipping operator. MSC Cruises is the fourth largest cruise company in the world, after Carnival Corporation & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings with a 7.2% share of all passengers carried in 2017.

<i>Marella Explorer</i> Century-class cruise ship

Marella Explorer is a Century-class cruise ship owned and operated by Marella Cruises. Before joining TUI she cruised as MV Galaxy with Celebrity Cruises, and later as Mein Schiff with TUI Cruises. She was laid down at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, on 25 May 1995, was launched in May 1996, and was delivered to Celebrity Cruises on 10 October 1996. She entered service on 21 December 1996.

<i>Empress of the Seas</i> Cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International

Empress of the Seas is a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International. She was formerly operated by Pullmantur Cruises as Empress.

<i>Marella Discovery 2</i> Cruise ship

Marella Discovery 2 was the lead ship of the Vision Class of cruise ships originally operated by Royal Caribbean International. With a gross tonnage of 69,130 GT, the ship can carry 2,074 passengers. Its maiden voyage was May 16, 1995. The ship's facilities include a rock climbing wall, a mini-golf course, dining areas and bars, an atrium, 2 pools, a theatre and a fitness centre.

MS <i>Marella Dream</i>

MS Marella Dream is a cruise ship owned by TUI UK Ltd. and operated under charter by Marella Cruises. She was built in 1986 at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, West Germany as MS Homeric for Home Lines. In 1988 she was sold to Holland America Line and renamed MS Westerdam. In 1990 she was lengthened by 36.9 m at Meyer Werft. In 2002 she was transferred to the fleet of Costa Cruises and renamed MS Costa Europa. In April 2010 she left the fleet of Costa Cruises on a ten-year charter to Thomson Cruises, under the name MS Thomson Dream. She is the last new build for Home Lines to remain in active service.

<i>Marella Discovery</i> Vision-class cruise ship

Marella Discovery is a former Royal Caribbean International Vision-class cruise ship now sailing for Marella Cruises. Prior to April 2016, she was operated by RCI as Splendour of the Seas. The second in the line of the Vision-class ships, she features a seven-story lobby, rock-climbing wall, and a 9-hole miniature golf course.

The Vision class is a group of six cruise ships built by Royal Caribbean International, and operated by themselves and Marella Cruises. Although called a class by Royal Caribbean, the Vision-class ships were built as three pairs of sister ships, each pair differing from the others in size and design. Unlike other Royal Caribbean classes, the Vision class is not named for the first ship built; Vision of the Seas was the last ship in the class to be built. Royal Caribbean had been promoting "Project Vision" for some time before ordering the first two ships in the class in 1992, but Vision of the Seas was not ordered until 1994.

<i>Marella Explorer 2</i> Century-class cruise ship

Marella Explorer 2, formerly Celebrity Century & SkySea Golden Era, was the lead ship of the Century-class of cruise ships for Celebrity Cruises, and the co-flagship of the Celebrity fleet, along with Millennium-class ship Celebrity Constellation, and the newest Solstice-class, Celebrity Reflection. Other ships belonging to the Century-class include Marella Explorer and Mein Schiff 2.

<i>Mein Schiff Herz</i> Century-class cruise ship

Mein Schiff Herz is the second of two Century-class cruise ships operated by TUI Cruises. Built for Celebrity Cruises at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, she was launched on 11 July 1997, and was christened and entered service as MV Mercury on 27 October 1997.

Pullmantur Cruises is a cruise line headquartered in Madrid, Spain. It began operations in the late 1990s as an offshoot of the Madrid-based travel agency Pullmantur. In 2006, Pullmantur Cruises, through its parent company, was purchased by US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., but Royal Caribbean later sold a 51% stake in the cruise line to Spain-based investment firm Springwater Capital, retaining a 49% stake.

MS <i>Marella Celebration</i>

MS Marella Celebration is a cruise ship owned by TUI UK, and operated by their United Kingdom-based Marella Cruises. She was built in 1984 by the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France for Holland America Line as MS Noordam.

MS <i>Island Escape</i>

MS Island Escape was launched as the cruiseferry MS Scandinavia in 1981. In 1985 she was renamed MS Stardancer and in 1990 MS Viking Serenade before being converted to a cruise ship in 1991. She became MS Island Escape in 2002 being renamed once more as MV Ocean Gala in 2015. Her final name was MV Ocean Gala 1 before being scrapped in 2018.

MS <i>Marella Spirit</i>

MS Marella Spirit was a cruise ship owned by Holland America Line and operated under charter by the United Kingdom-based Marella Cruises. She was built in 1983 at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in France for Holland America Line as MS Nieuw Amsterdam. Between 2000 and 2001 she sailed for United States Lines, a subsidiary of American Classic Voyages, as MS Patriot. In 2002 she returned under Holland America Line ownership and reverted to the name Nieuw Amsterdam, but was not used in active service. During the same year she was chartered to Louis Cruise Lines, who in turn sub-chartered the ship to Thomson Cruises, with whom she entered service under MS Thomson Spirit in 2003.

<i>Mein Schiff 3</i> Cruise ship

Mein Schiff 3 is a cruise ship owned by TUI Cruises. She was delivered from STX Finland Turku Shipyard on 22 May 2014 and was followed by identical sister ships, Mein Schiff 4 in 2015, Mein Schiff 5 in 2016, Mein Schiff 6 in 2017. In addition, Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 were confirmed on 1 July 2015, with deliveries set for 2018 and 2019. These ships are built with environmentally friendly power plants and energy efficient solutions that reduce emissions by 30 percent in comparison to other cruise ships of similar size.


  1. "JavaScript is disabled in your browser". Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. "Thomson Cruises to Rebrand as Marella Cruises and Base Ship in Asia".
  3. "2012 World Wide Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 20 November 2011.
  4. "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to Sell Its Interest in Island Cruises to First Choice Holidays Ltd". Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  5. "Splendour of the Seas Sold to TUI for Thomson Cruises".
  6. Mathisen, Monty (13 May 2015). "TUI: Thomson to Get Mein Schiff 1 and 2".
  7. Mathisen, Monty (20 March 2018). "Royal Caribbean and Ctrip to Kill SkySea Brand".
  8. Mathisen, Monty (20 March 2018). "SkySea Shutdown Sparks Ship Transfer Shuffle".
  9. User, Super. "Mein Schiff Herz: Premierenfahrt mit spektakulärem Programm". Mein Schiffsexperte - TUI Cruises.
  10. "Thomson Majesty liner: Five killed and three injured after lifeboat falls into sea off Canary Islands cruise ship - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.