The Island Escape is expected to be purchased by the end of this month “for an undisclosed amount,” Thomson’s Director of Cruising David Selby told Cruise Industry News, adding that he expects the transition to be a smooth one.

The Escape is slated to sail seven-day cruises for Thomson from Palma de Mallorca beginning March 31, Selby said.

Thomson is “optimistic and confident” that TUI will purchase the remaining 50 percent of Royal Caribbean’s stake in Island, Selby said. The transaction would make Island a part of Thomson, and the line’s remaining ship, the Island Escape, a part of the Thomson fleet. (See previous story.)

As for the ship’s refitting, Selby said that no decisions have been made, but “we are currently investigating.” Both Thomson and Island cater to the three-star-plus market, he noted, and offer a friendly, relaxed cruise experience. Next week, Selby will visit the Escape “for the first time in years to meet the crew, and to explain who we are,” he said.

“Both brands (Thomson and Island) are booking well for next year, and we believe that with the credit crunch and the state of the economy, people who cruise will move more toward the value end – which is what we represent,” Selby said.