Thomson signs stars for cruise facelift

TV celebrities Linda Barker and Jilly Goolden have been drafted in by holiday company Thomson to brighten up its cruise holidays next year.

Interior designer Barker will be redesigning the suites on board Thomson's Spirit ship, while Goolden will be recommending wines on the company's cruises. Both will appear on the front of Thomson's 2003 cruise brochure, to be launched on December 19.

It is part of TUI managing director Chris Mottershead's plan to give package holidays a "makeover".

"Cruise holidays have become complete commodities. This is to make them more relevant to modern lifestyles," he said. "You only have to look at the success of magazines such as OK!, Hello and Now to know that people today just can't get enough of celebrities."

The company believes that the involvement of celebrities adds an edge to its brochures and creates a PR platform for the media.

Warts'n'all ITV1 docusoap Cruise Ship, featuring a boat owned by rival First Choice, has arguably tarnished the image of cruises.

Barker has become famous for creating interiors on a host of TV programmes including BBC1's Changing Rooms and House Invaders.

Goolden, a wine expert, made her name on the BBC's Food & Drink programme in the 80s. Thomson's cruise menus will describe her selected wines in Goolden's own inimitable style.

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