The British company Marella Cruises is part of the former Thomson Holidays, which in its part is a company owned by TUI. The companies origins are, believe it or not, in the newspaper business from Canada. In 1934, a man named Roy Thomson aquired the Canadian daily Timmins Daily Press and started up a media imperium, which once also owned papers like The Times (London) and The Scotsman, next to Scottish Television. In 1965, Thomson tried out a new venture and the travelcompany Thomson Tour Operations was started up. In 1971, Thomson also bought Britannia Airways so the travelbusiness suited him well. The company also started in North Sea oil and gas, department stores, publishing and financials, by the way. Throughout the years, the original company gave up the assets in travel, oil and gas and department stores and in 1989 became the Thomson Corporation, concentrating on media and educational book publishing. From 2008, after Thomson bought the Reuters Group, the company became Thomson Reuters, operated from Stamford, Connecticut (USA) although still a Canadian company.
Below, the Thomson funnel is shown from Thomson Celebration. It is in fact the logo of TUI, the owners of the company.
Thomson Tour Operations was started up after Roy Thomson had bought several companies like Skytours, Riviera Luxitours and Britannia Airways. The name Thomson Holidays was introduced in 1971, after all travelcompanies owned by Thomson were re-branded. In 1973, the company started cruising with the chartered steamships Ithaca and Calypso from the Ulysses Line, mainly marketed for the UK. The venture ended in 1976 and Thomson pulled out of the cruising business because of the rising fuelcosts at the time. These costs also were a deadly blow to the Transatlantic , Indian and Pacific steamship companies that were still in operation at that time.
In 1994, Thomson biggest UK rival Airtours bought the Southward from Norwegian Cruise Line and entered the Mediterranean cruising business naming her Seawing. The company, dubbed Sun Cruises, planned of changing the European cruise-industry in the same way that the business in the Caribbean had changed passengershipping in the early 1970's. For this, the company also bought the two first ships of Royal Caribbean International, the Song of Norway and the Nordic Prince, renaming them Sundream and Caroussel, next to the Song Of America, that they renamed Sunbird. The quick growth of this line was the reason that also Thomson again entered the same market, although Thomson did not buy ships but stayed in the charterbusiness. Of the two, it seemed that Airtours had the better cards, also recieving attention from the main companies in the Caribbean like Carnival Corporation, that also bought a stake in the operation. But due to the financial situation at My Travel, the mothercompany of the line, Airtours Sun Cruises ended its operations in 2004, selling its ships to Louis Cruise Lines.
Thomson again entered business in 1996 with Sapphire, which they chartered from Louis Cruise Lines. The ship had been built in 1965 as Italia, one of the first ships of Princess Cruises in the late 1960's when she was marketed as Princess Italia. In the same year, Island Breeze followed and in 1997 The Topaz, The Calypso and The Emerald were added. All of those ships were oldies in the worlds cruisefleet, and all of them have been scrapped in the meantime. The fleet of Thomson now is more modern. All ships were built in the 1980's and they are Island Escape , Thomson Spirit, Thomson Celebration and Thomson Dream under charter from Holland America Line and Thomson Majesty under charter from Louis Cruise Lines. Still, in february 2015 TUI Travel Group, the owners of Thomson Cruises, annouced that the fleet would be more updated the coming years and the first aquisition was made at the 2nd of march 2015, when the Splendour Of The Seas was bought from Royal Caribbean. She will be the largest and most modern ship in the Thomson fleet, replacing the Island Escape from 2016 onwards under the planned name Thomson Discovery. Just a few months later, in may 2015, it was also announced that Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2, two ships from TUI Cruises and formerly known as Galaxy and Mercury from Celebrity Cruises, will come over to Thomson too to modernize the fleet. This announcement came together with the rebranding of the TUI Group, where all seperate brands within the group were expected to dissappear within two years. Also the Thomson name was going to dissappear. Just before Thomson Discovery entered service, she indeed was renamed TUI Discovery so it seems a begin had been made with the phasing out of the Thomson name. The fleet was updated even more with the Legend Of The Seas that became TUI Discovery 2 in 2017 and the Mein Schiff 1 that was to become TUI Explorer from 2018, followed by Mein Schiff 2 as TUI Explorer 2 a year after that.
As it seemed very undesirable that ships that have their names started with TUI were not sailing for TUI Cruises, I really hoped that this was just a temporarely fix. It proved to be, as Thomson Cruises was renamed to Marella Cruises in october of 2017 and the ship again were renamed accordingly. A slight joy as I hoped that the unpretentious follow-up numbersystem was also te dissappear was proven too soon sadly. For Marella Cruises, all ships were renamed with the 'original' TUI or Thomson prefix changed to Marella, except the Thomson Spirit that was just renamed Spirit as she was going to leave the fleet in 2018 and the Thomson Majesty that was sold to Celestyal Cruises immidiately.
Other ships that have been sailing for Thomson Cruises or will be sailing for Marella Cruises in the near future and are placed elsewhere are listed below
Marella Dream (2010-now) is placed under Costa Cruises as Costa Europa
Marella Discovery 2 (2017-now) is placed under Royal Caribbean as Legend Of The Seas
Marella Explorer (2018-now) is placed under TUI Cruises as Mein Schiff 1
*not yet announced (from 2019) is placed under Celebrity Cruises as Century
For booking information, visit Marella Cruises