Saga has postponed the debut cruise of new ship Spirit of Adventure until February 5 and extended the suspension of sailings by Spirit of Discovery from November until March 7.

The announcement by Saga Cruises comes against a backdrop of a further rise in Covid-19 and further restrictions at a time when the government continues to advise against all UK cruising.

The company’s managing director Nigel Blanks said: “This year, we have all faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For us at Saga Cruises, this has meant that we haven’t been able to sail since March when we introduced a suspension of our operations to keep our guests and crew safe.

“Over the past few months, we have been working hard to put into place detailed plans to safely return to cruising when the time is right.

“Whilst we have made fantastic progress with this work, sadly, most countries around the world are not accepting cruise ships and we do not see this changing for the remainder of this year.

“Therefore, against the backdrop of the recent news that Covid-19 is again on the increase and the announcements of further restrictions, I am writing to inform you that we are postponing the inaugural cruise of our new ship, Spirit of Adventure until 5th February, 2021 and extending the suspension of our cruising operations up to and including 4th February, 2021 for Spirit of Adventure and 7th March, 2021 for Spirit of Discovery.

“I know how disappointing this news will be for many of you who were so looking forward to a return to cruising and, perhaps particularly, for those who were as excited as we were to see Spirit of Adventure set sail later this year.”

Blanks also outlined new arrangements made in preparation for the return to service next year.

These will initially apply to all sailings up to the end of March 2021 and will be reviewed on a monthly basis going forward:

  • Pre-departure Covid-19 testing at home and in the terminal for guests and crew including full medical screening
  • A reduced capacity of guests onboard to a maximum of 800
  • Increasing our crew to guest ratio, to enhance our cleaning regimes onboard
  • Private chauffeur car per household up to 250 miles
  • Social distancing which feels subtle onboard our spacious ships
  • Face coverings being worn in all internal public areas
  • Additional enhancements to our state-of-the-art air conditioning, which already provides 100% fresh air in all public areas and cabins
  • Improved and expanded medical facilities with a new dedicated isolation area
  • Double medical team