TUI Explorer rendering

(12 p.m. BST) -- Thomson Cruises has revealed more features on its newest ship TUI Explorer including a new-to-the-line kids' mini pool and a "really innovative and exciting entertainment" line up.

Currently sailing as TUI's Mein Schiff 1, TUI Explorer will become the line's largest vessel -- carrying up to 1,924 passengers -- when it takes delivery of the ship in early 2018.

TUI Explorer will have 10 dining venues, including another first for Thomson -- a tasting menu-style restaurant in one of the new as-yet-unnamed venues.

Speaking exclusively to Cruise Critic at a dry dock refurbishment for the line's next ship, TUI Discovery 2, managing director Richard Sofer said: "The ship will be in a relatively short dry dock -- for about four and a half weeks -- and will launch towards the end of May 2018.

"There are more dining areas onboard that ship, so the decision we've taken is to give more variety and choices to the customers. That enables us to give a better range of products and cuisine, for example, there's a smaller a la carte restaurant on the ship and we're going to look to push that into slightly more experimental cuisine. We're looking towards creating a more theatrical occasion [at the restaurant] for passengers."

Sofer described the new restaurant as "an intimate space, suited for couples or friends."

Thomson revealed the name for the 21-year old ship in March, as well as a number of features.

These include Indigo, a flagship bar that will be a focal point of the ship; plus a new high-end drinking venue called Aperitif, that will link Kora La and Surf and Turf restaurants, that Sofer described as "a high-end London style venue." 

Other features include:

  • Scoops: An ice-cream parlour with quirky bicycle-themed seating.
  • The Lounge: A new venue complete with colour-changing bar and signature brightly-coloured piano, where customers can relax and listen to live music.
  • Umi Sushi, a showcase sushi counter.
  • The Mediterranean, a dining venue featuring a glass roof inspired by open-air terraces and local tavernas, which will house two inclusive restaurants -- a pizzeria and a tapas restaurant -- plus the for-fee Hot Stone Grill.

TUI Explorer joins TUI Discovery, which launched last year, and, TUI Discovery 2 -- launching next week, on May 14.

TUI Explorer will sail from its homeport of Palma, Majorca in May 2018, visiting Western Mediterranean ports including Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Florence and Lisbon, on four itineraries -- Cosmopolitan Classics, Highlights of the Mediterranean, Magic of Spain and Mediterranean Secrets.

--By Kerry Spencer, Editor, U.K.