louis-majesty (6:40 a.m. EST) -- Thomson Cruises has announced today that it's introducing a ship swap for the forthcoming summer season. The 37,773-ton, 1,450-passenger Thomson Destiny will return to its owner, Louis Cruises, and Thomson will take out a long-term charter of the ship that's currently sailing for Louis as Louis Majesty, which will be renamed Thomson Majesty.

From May this year, the 40,876 ton, 1,462-passenger ship (which NCL fans may remember as the old Norwegian Majesty) will sail exact replicas of Thomson Destiny's summer itineraries: Adriatic Explorer, Pearls of the Aegean, Colourful Coasts and Canarian Flavours.

Exact reasons for the swap have not been given but Thomson Cruises' managing director, Fraser Ellacott, told Cruise Critic: “We've been discussing modernisation of our fleet, and this is the first part of the story. We feel this ship suits our customers both now and in the future.”

Majesty, which is currently laid up in Piraeus, Greece for the winter, is being re-branded with Thomson signage and a lot of the crew from Thomson Destiny are being brought over to the new ship, but there are no immediate plans for refurbishment, Ellacott said.

Thomson Majesty is ten years ‘younger' than Destiny, built in 1992, although while sailing under Louis Cruises, it has scored an average of three stars in Cruise Critic's member reviews, as opposed to Destiny's four. What's bothering members on our message boards is that passengers already booked on Destiny are being transferred between two ships on which the cabin grades don't match exactly. Member Davecttr's comment is typical of the concern being expressed: “I have a midships inside booked and reserved on Destiny for next winter so will be expecting a call from my travel agent about transferring the booking. If I don't get a cabin to my satisfaction I will not be pleased.”

No compensation is being offered to passengers affected, Ellacott said, as the ship change is a straight swap.

There could even be benefits. Thomson Majesty has more outside cabins than Destiny, as well as an a la carte restaurant, Le Bistro, and a larger spa.

But Thomson Cruises will no doubt be careful about using the word ‘new' when describing its recent acquisition; there were many misunderstandings in 2010 when Thomson Dream joined the fleet and passengers were disappointed not to find a brand new ship.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor