Thomas Cook has signalled its intention to revitalise its cruise business with the introduction of 11 dedicated concept stores.

The retailer said the introduction of the Cruise Concept Stores marked the next phase of the company’s transformation, underlined its investment in the sector and “expertise in the cruise market”.

Thomas Cook has long been considered the UK’s biggest cruise retailer by volume, although cruise line suppliers say it had been focussing on other areas in recent years.

Five of the stores are in partnership with Carnival UK brands P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises and the other six stores are in partnership with Royal Caribbean International.

The stores are being opened in Aberdeen, Harrogate, Gateshead, Merryhill, Liverpool, Maidstone, Darlington, Bolton, Newport, Plymouth and Fareham.

Towns and cities have been targeted where there is more than one Thomas Cook branch, and while they will specialise in cruise product, land-based holidays can also be booked there.

Agents in the Cruise Concept stores will be trained on cruise products and the branding inside the stores will reflect the partnering cruise line.

Joanna Wild, Cook retail director, said: “Retail is such an important part of Thomas Cook’s omni-channel approach.

“We know holidays are important to our customers, and cruise holidays are valued for offering a particular sense of adventure and security that everything will be taken care of as soon as our customers depart from port.

“The cruise market continues to grow and we want to invest in the market in support of our great cruise partners.

“The Cruise Concept Stores further illustrate the company’s commitment to the high street, aiming to offer a specially tailored and personalised service to our many cruise customers.”

Ben Bouldin, head of sales at Royal Caribbean, said he jumped at the opportunity to work with Cook on its Cruise Store and believes retail is key to driving new customers to cruise.

He added: “Thomas Cook have realised the tremendous opportunity there is with cruise.

“I think after evaluating the business, it has been realised that they perhaps don’t focus on cruise as much as they may have done in earlier times, and understandably because they were focusing on different parts of the business.

“They recognise cruise is an opportunity, an opportunity they used to be very, very good at. “But this is great to see and it works well for us because we really buy in to the importance of retail to grow the cruise industry.”

Gerard Tempest, chief commercial officer at Carnival UK, said: “Our brands are delighted to be working in partnership with Thomas Cook and their new dedicated Cruise Concept Stores.”

Thomas Cook said the stores will aim to bring the cruise experience to life with suitable colours, textures and furniture, and that dedicated cruise merchandising would appear throughout.