Thomson Cruises will no longer charter its Emerald cruise ship after this summer amid plans for a larger, more modern ship in 2010.


The news comes as the company launches its summer 2009 programme, which includes a return to the Caribbean after a gap of eight years.


David Selby, director of cruising for TUI Travel mainstream division, said: “We have had Thomson Emerald for 11 years and it is as popular as ever, but the longer term strategy is to have more modern, larger vessels.”


It means the cruiseline will have four instead of five ships offering cruises next year. Thomson charters rather than owns ships, some of which are on short-term leases.


Thomson Celebration will take on Emerald’s itineraries around Dubrovnik and the Greek islands in 2009 while only Thomson Destiny – instead of two ships – will offer cruises out of Palma next year.


Thomson Emerald’s last cruise will be on October 17 from Corfu to the Greek islands, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon and high demand is expected for the 1,000-passenger ship this summer.


New for winter 2008/2009 will be a return to the Caribbean for Thomson Destiny, including two transatlantic voyages and two seven-night cruises, based on trade and consumer feedback.


Following the success of dance fever competitions on board Destiny last winter, for the first three months of 2009 there will be professional Latin dance demonstrations and classes on Celebration.


Also new for 2009 is a luggage allowance of 25kg instead of 20kg, and 30kg for suites.