Saga today confirmed plans for a second new cruise ship to meet growing demand.
The over-50s travel and insurance specialist is also bringing forward the launch of its second new-build Spirit of Adventure to August 2020.
The decision follows strong demand for first new-build Spirit of Discovery as Saga transforms its fleet.
Spirit of Discovery is at an advanced stage of design with construction due to begin in February ahead of its planned delivery in June 2019.
Announcing half year financial results today, Saga chief executive Lance Batchelor said: “We launched the first 19 cruises to our advanced registered members on 18 July, having generated over 18,000 advanced and pre-registrations by this date.
“Our calls with the advanced registered members are converting into sales at around 80% and as at 18 September we had booked 6,449 passengers.”
He added: “The strong demand for Spirit of Discovery has given us the confidence to approve Spirit of Adventure, our second new ship, and to bring forward delivery to August 2020.
“This decision to further invest in our shipping capacity will complete the transformation of our cruise business for us and our members.”
Saga revealed that pre-tax profits for its core retail broking and travel businesses rose by 10.4% to £82.8 million year-on-year in the six months to July 31.
However, overall pre-tax profits fell by 6.3% to £103 million, reflecting costs associated with re-financing and other losses.
Saga confirmed the introduction of new membership scheme Saga Possibilities offering special benefits and experiences.
The company described the initiative as being “critical” in how it engages with customers.
Batchelor said: “Saga is on track to deliver a fourth consecutive year of growth. Underlying profits are up again and so is our dividend.
“Our retail broking and travel divisions are performing well.
“Saga’s new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will arrive in June 2019, and pre-sales are very strong. Our confidence in demand has supported our decision to purchase our second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, and to bring forward delivery to August 2020.
“I’m delighted to announce the launch of Saga Possibilities, our new membership programme, available to all Saga customers.
“Saga Possibilities is a critical new offering that will allow us to thank and encourage our customers to enjoy more of what Saga can offer.
“I believe that these results continue to demonstrate that Saga is growing, has good momentum, and is on track to deliver in line with expectations for the full year.”
He added: “The launch of Saga Possibilities has also coincided with the launch of our new brand identity.
“The new look brings to life our new ‘keep doing’ ethos. ‘Keep doing’ is about celebrating what’s at the heart of Saga’s purpose and our members’ needs; their desire to lead a rich and full life, full of experiences and opportunities.
“Saga’s role is to create products and services that enable our members to make the most out of life.”
Spirit of Adventure will be a sister ship to Spirit of Discovery and similar in external design, carrying less than 1,000 passengers, with balconies for all cabins.
Saga Cruises chief executive Robin Shaw said: “Our loyal customers have played a key role in the design process for our first new build ship Spirit of Discovery.
“To date almost 7,000 passengers, who had pre-registered to sail on her have already gone on to book one of our new itineraries. This is a phenomenal conversion of over 80%.
“Thanks to this strong demand, the desire of Saga members to keep doing the things they love and the forecast growth in the cruise industry, I am absolutely delighted that we are today confirming that we have now agreed to build a second new ship, Spirit of Adventure for delivery in summer 2020.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for Saga cruises and I am immensely proud of my team, both onboard and ashore, and the customers that will continue to help shape the look and feel of our future fleet.”
Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Geerman shipyard Meyer Werft said: “We are very happy and honoured to continue to work with Saga Cruises. Their decision to build now two vessels with us makes us very proud.”
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