Thomson Cruises is to spend millions of pounds refurbishing its two best-performing ships as it launches a new Platinum collection of cruises.
Managing director Fraser Ellacott marked a year in the role by unveiling plans for Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration following a strategic review.
“We have picked these ships because they are our best-performing. And we are looking at how we position the cruise product to make it mean a lot more to our customers,” he said.
The operator’s Platinum collection includes product given a Thomson rating of 4T or higher (equivalent to four stars or upper premium) and that has been rated good or excellent by 90% of customers.
Ellacott said Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration would undergo extensive refurbishment, with modern contemporary designs added in both the public and private areas.
New restaurants will be created offering Thai and French speciality dining and all staterooms will get a makeover, with features such as flatscreen televisions and tea and coffee-making facilities added.
Spa facilities will also be upgraded and spa cabins added. The upgrade of the ships is part of an extensive long-term modernisation of the Thomson fleet.
Thomson Dream will re-enter service for its winter Caribbean programme in 2012 and Thomson Celebration’s makeover will be completed in 2013 in time for summer sailings out of Marmaris, Turkey.
The new cruise Platinum collection goes on sale on April 25 with its own brochure. It will also feature alongside complementary product in Thomson’s mainstream brochures.
Ellacott said there was scope to grow cruise-and-stay business. “Cruise and stay has interested me from the start. For first-time cruisers, why not have a fantastic cruise plus a few days in a hotel?”
Thomson Cruises carries 250,000 customers a year making it the UK’s third largest operator, and it has become more reliant on third party agent sales since bringing the Dream, a former Costa Cruises ship and the largest it operates, into its fleet.
Next year’s programme will see it return to the Black Sea with itineraries to Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine and it will also include calls in Beirut and Algiers as well as British regional ports of call including Torquay and Belfast.
Thomson Spirit will be returning to British waters to operate ex-UK cruises out of Newcastle and Harwich.