Last December, the two companies announced their plan to form a new cruise line (after a deal between Carnival and TUI fell through). On March 10, 2008, European antitrust regulators OK'd the joint venture. Each company will have 50 percent control over TUI Cruises, and the new line will launch with one ship in early 2009.
Sales and marketing activities will begin soon. More details about the first ship in the fleet and the cruise product itself will be announced at the very end of April.
The new line will compete with Hapag-Lloyd and Carnival's AIDA in the burgeoning German cruise market. TUI Cruises will market to travelers looking for a more upscale vacation than AIDA, but perhaps not as high-end or adventurous as Hapag-Lloyd. The deal also marks Royal Caribbean's expanding presence in Europe -- the company now owns Spanish line Pullmantur, is launching a French line called CDF Croisieres de France and is homeporting the new Independence of the Seas in the U.K.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor