Another cruise ship has changed hands in recent months. The MV Hebridean Princess, one of the oldest cruise ships still sailing, has gained a sister. Owner company HP Shipping Ltd have acquired MV Lord of the Glens from the Magna Carta Steamship Company Ltd.

At 27 years old, Lord of the Glens is a mature vessel but still half the age of her new fleetmate. She features just 27 passenger cabins, all freshly renovated in 2020. Roger Allard, Chairman of HP Shipping and Hebridean Island Cruises commented, ‘“Small is beautiful” is the Hebridean Island Cruises’ mantra and the Lord of the Glens can certainly boast of that accolade.

Small is beautiful

It seems that mid-size and small ships are particularly catching cruise lines’ eyes this year. Another British-based cruise line, Fred Olsen, purchased Holland America Line’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam recently. Chairman Fred Olsen Jr noted, ‘they will fit seamlessly into our existing fleet of small ships’.

Meanwhile, over in the river cruise market TUI look set to launch their slightly delayed river cruise offerings. Shunted by COVID-19, the cruise line will sail Tui Isla, Tui Maya and Tui Skyla from 26 November. The refurbished vessels have undergone multi-million pound makeovers. This includes a handful of suites with private balconies and two new restaurants with floor-to-ceiling views of the river

Returning ships

In an interesting twist on the vessels’ refurbishment journey, TUI will in fact be welcoming back Tui Isla, Tui Maya and Tui Skyla to their fleet. The ships were originally part of TUI’s Germany-only ‘Flussgenuss’ river cruise offerings. The brand launched in 2010 and ceased operation in 2014. TUI sold the river cruise fleet only to repurchase WT Sonata, Excellence Allegra and Excellence Melodia for their new river cruise launch.

TUI’s re-entry into the river cruise market is an example of the complexity and development of niche cruise markets. They cited an overcrowded market as a reason for shuttering their Flussgenuss brand in 2014. In the years since river cruise has seen unprecedented growth, providing more opportunities for companies interested in expanding. However, demographic has also played an important part in TUI’s repositioning. Their new river cruise itineraries will serve the British cruise market, which has seen significant growth in recent years.

Using refurbished vessels have allowed TUI to quickly move to market. They announced their intention to launch a river cruise brand in early 2019 and proposed to sail in summer of 2020. Although they were thwarted by regulations surrounding the unprecedented global pandemic, their three vessels were guest-ready despite having been sailing for their previous line as late as the end of 2019.