Update: The Future of Island Cruises

October 8, 2008

Yesterday, Royal Caribbean announced that it had sold its share of British cruise line Island Cruises to tour operator TUI Travel PLC. Royal Caribbean will transfer Island Star to its Spanish brand, Pullmantur (Island Escape will be moved to TUI's Thomson Cruises). Today, Thomson and Island have issued a statement on future cruises.

As TUI Travel -- the parent company of Thomson -- now owns 100 percent of Island Cruises, a number of changes have been made to the cruises programme.

Passengers booked on Island Star at or after the end of March 2009 will feel the biggest impact as that's when the ship will leave the fleet to join Pullmantur -- meaning all future cruises from that date are cancelled. This includes a spring Caribbean cruise, a full summer programme from Palma de Mallorca, and winter 2009-10 Caribbean sailings.

Thomson is advising the following if you are booked on any Island Star itinerary after 26 March, 2009:

If you booked through a travel agent, then he or she will contact you in the next 14 days to talk you through the switch to an alternative cruise. If you are looking to find a cruise to replace the Island Star's summer Mediterranean itineraries, then both Island Escape and Thomson Destiny will be operating itineraries in the region. Details of future Caribbean cruises will be available in December.

If you booked directly with Island Cruises, either on the phone or the Internet, the cruise line will get in touch within the next 21 days to discuss these same options.

Customers not wishing to take a cruise can also switch to a land-based holiday with Thomson or First Choice -- or receive a full refund.

However, if you really want to cruise Island Star before it leaves the fleet, there are still some great deals available for the rest of the year. On our cruise deals page we currently have a 7-night Mediterranean fly-cruise from £519 per person departing on 1 November.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor