This would make TUI a full-on owner; it acquired the other 50 percent when it took over First Choice. The cruise line was created in 2002 by a joint ownership between First Choice and Royal Caribbean with the idea to take on cruise lines like Thomson, which is part of a giant tour operator.
The part of the transaction that will most likely impact travelers is that Island Star, which was owned by Royal Caribbean and chartered to the venture, will depart the fleet. Royal Caribbean will place it with Spain-based Pullmantur, a cruise line it owns.
At this point, it looks like Island Star, which was meant to sail cruises from Palma de Mallorca throughout the spring and summer, will leave the fleet in spring 2009. According to information from Island Cruises, the planned itinerary of the Island Star will remain unchanged for this winter and the ship will continue to sail in the Caribbean under the Island Cruises banner until 26 March, 2009.
The transaction is subject to regulatory clearance in Ireland.
Ultimately, according to Island, the line itself will no longer exist; it will be intergrated into Thomson Cruises, which also is owned by TUI UK & Ireland.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief