This winter, according to Travel Weekly blogger Jane Archer, the line is offering a somewhat complicated 21-night Caribbean circuit that can be booked as any of three variations of a 14-night cruise, with Havana either at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the voyage.
But for 2012, Cuba has been dropped in favour of a new home port -- Barbados -- and three new seven-night itineraries, which include maiden calls in Costa Rica and Venezuela. They can be combined into 14-nighters and cruise-and-stay options.
So what's going on? Ian Corbett, Thomson Cruises' brand manager, told Cruise Critic that "Cuba has sold very, very well. But we have decided that as we will only have one ship in the Caribbean in 2012, we need to offer the full repertoire of seven-night cruises, 14-night cruises and cruise-and-stay. Cuba could only ever be done as part of a 14-night cruise because of its location."
And that "one ship?" It'll be the flagship, Thomson Dream. Which means Thomson Destiny, until now based in the Dominican Republic in winter, is destined for a new seasonal home.
(For its part, Tropicana Cruises, which was supposed to have started service out of Havana on November 6, has not responded to requests for information on its programme.) Thomson is keeping details of its Europe and Red Sea programme for winter 2012 under wraps until early December, but Corbett hinted that the company has "something up our sleeve" regarding Destiny's destiny. "It's no secret that profitable winter homes for ships are not that easy to come by," he said "But we've got our own airline, which allows us to operate from destinations other cruise lines can't reach."
-- By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor