Tui plans to restructure Thomson Cruises and will reveal details in May as it sets its sights on “a leading position in the European cruise market”.

The new Tui Group, formed by the merger of Tui Travel and former leading shareholder Tui AG in December, has 15 ships and three cruise brands: Thomson Cruises, Tui Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Joint chief executive Friedrich Joussen announced this week: “We will look at how to build a leading cruise company in Europe.”

He pledged: “We will be very big.”

Joussen told analysts: “Tui Cruises is very successful. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is successful. But Thomson Cruises has five old ships.” He added: “You don’t find any cruise company that makes a good business based on charters [of ships]. Thomson Cruises is almost all chartered – only one ship is owned.

“Of course, you don’t want ships on your balance sheet. The question is how we go from the Thomson model to the Tui model – Tui Cruises is more profitable.” Joussen promised: “You will see a new structure.” Details will be revealed when the group reports half-year results in mid-May.

Tui Cruises operates as a joint venture with Royal Caribbean Cruises, offering “a differentiated cruise format targeted at the German premium market”. It has five ships on order, due for delivery in 2019.

Thomson Cruises has five ships: Thomson Dream, Thomson Celebration, Thomson Spirit, Thomson Majesty and Island Escapes. Managing director Helen Caron announced plans to invest in Dream and Celebration as part of a “modernisation strategy” in September.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises dedicates one ship each to the UK and German markets, and has a leading position in the German luxury and expedition-cruise sectors.