TUI and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) have announced that they will launch a new joint venture serving the German cruise market. The new company, TUI Cruises, plans to launch service with one ship in early 2009, and grow with newbuilds in 2011 and 2012. Sales and marketing will begin in spring 2008, according to RCL.

The announcement came shortly after Carnival Corporation abandoned its efforts to form a joint venture with TUI, citing the slow process of regulatory clearance and tax considerations.

Both partners will hold a 50 percent interest, but no dollar-amount was given, although the announcement said that the joint venture is subject to regulatory and board approvals before completion.

The first ship, which is expected to come from Royal Caribbean International or Celebrity Cruises, will undergo renovations before entering service. "Once deployed, it will not only enhance the German cruise market, but also meet the sophisticated needs of German-speaking customers seeking a contemporary cruise experience," according to TUI and RCL.