A trip on a luxury cruise liner for just £100? There must be a catch...

Thomson launches its deluxe voyage of discovery – from South Shields to Harwich

Europe's biggest holiday company has launched a £100 austerity cruise for the peak summer season – a price that includes all meals and tips.

Click HERE to view 'the austerity cruise: high and lows' graphic

There is only one catch: the Thomson Spirit sails from South Shields to the Essex port of Harwich, taking only 16 hours and venturing no further than 30 miles from the English coast.

This year's programme for the cruise ship includes great maritime cities such as Alexandria, Casablanca and St Petersburg. But on 2 August, while her three sister ships explore the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the Thomson Spirit will trim her ocean-going ambitions for a short trip down England's east coast from the Tyne to the Stour.

The ship usually sails from Mediterranean ports such as Barcelona, Palma and Corfu. But for the £100 special, the Thomson Spirit will depart from Tyne Dock, South Shields, which has its own station on the Tyne & Wear Metro.

Demand for the cruise has been strong, with all deluxe cabins apparently sold out. Standard cabins are being sold at £200 for two, and the hourly rate for the cruise works out at £6.25, and the price includes a free bus transfer from Harwich to South Shields before the cruise, or back to the Tyne after it.

A comparable off-peak return fare by rail between Newcastle and Harwich is £139.30. Unlike rail passengers, the 1,250 cruisers on the Maltese-registered vessel will have a choice of three restaurants, two pools and five bars.

The ship will pass Lord Byron's old stamping ground of Seaham, Captain Cook's home port of Whitby and Flamborough Head in east Yorkshire before the sun sets – whereupon the band in the Broadway Show Lounge will strike up. When dawn breaks, the Thomson Spirit will be off the Suffolk coast. After she docks on the River Stour, artistically inclined passengers will find Constable Country a few miles inland.

Fraser Ellacott, managing director of Thomson Cruises, promised customers "a home from home with great food and fantastic entertainment", though the customary Captain's Cocktail Party and Gala Dinner will not be offered. Penny Guy of the Passenger Shipping Association welcomed the concept: "This is a great idea for those who haven't experienced a cruise before – a taster which will show the value and all-inclusive nature of a cruise holiday".

But Jacqui Ridler of The Luxury Cruise Company said there is a secondary purpose: to "position" the ship between longer cruises. The ship arrives at South Shields after a voyage to Iceland, then sails from Harwich for Norway. Ms Ridler said: "If they wanted to attract new business it would be better to sail in and out of the same port."

The smaller Marco Polo, belonging to a different line, will make a positioning voyage from Tilbury to the Tyne in May, with cabins starting at £79.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee