In mid-February TUI Group, the German owner of Thomson Cruises, announced that it is to modernise the Thomson fleet, and in early March Royal Caribbean International agreed to sell Splendour of the Seas to TUI, who in turn will charter the ship to Thomson as a direct replacement for Island Escape (ex-Scandinavia), which was built in France in 1982 for DFDS subsidiary Scandinavia World Voyages.

Splendour of the Seas will represent a massive upgrade over Island Escape, for, although the lower berth passenger capacities of the two ships, at 1,830 and 1,530 respectively, are not vastly different, the new ship is much larger at almost 70,000gt compared with 40,000.

Thomson also operates four other ships, Thomson Celebration (34,000gt), Thomson Dream (55,000gt, on charter from Costa), and Thomson Majesty and Thomson Spirit (owned by Louis Cruises). One of the aims of TUI Group is to move away from chartered tonnage and instead own its ships.

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