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Royal Caribbean International has initiated a joint venture with UK holiday operators First Choice to operate the Viking Serenade cruise ship from 2002. The new company is being marketed simply as Island Cruises, and Viking Serenade is renamed the Island Escape. The brochure is aimed at young first-time cruisers, and emphasises the informality of their operation - it appears to be a UK equivalent of the German Aida Cruises (now owned by P&O but sticking with the German market). She will operate two alternating 7-day itineraries from Palma (Majorca) through the summer of 2002. When Royal Caribbean purchased the ship from Sundance Cruises in 1990, that young cruise line disappeared from the scene. Renamed Viking Serenade, the ship began 1991 at Southwest Marine Company's San Diego shipyards, being enlarged to 40,1432 gross tons which effected extensive renovations to her interior, balconied cabins added aft, the line's signature Viking Crown Lounge was constructed aft of her funnel and the car decks were built out, replaced by rooms for several hundred additional passengers. Using every bed and berth, her capacity is now 2104, and she has a crew of 610. Island Cruises has added a second ship to its fleet - Island Star, a former Celebrity Cruises ship. Since the travel giant TUI PLC purchased Royal Caribbean's share in Island Cruises in late 2008 MS Island Escape will be marketed by TUI's subsidiary Thomson Cruises while keeping the Island Cruises brand. MS Island Star has been returned to Royal Caribbean and re-deployed to Pullmantur Cruises (a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises).

 

Cruise ships and itineraries:

     
Island Escape: Bahamas registered, built 1981, refitted 1991, 40.143 gross tons, 2.104 passengers, 610 crew members.
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Trans-Atlantic, Brazil.
  Island Escape cruise ship