Saga has announced it is expanding its river cruise division with the addition of four ships, which will sail on the Moselle, Main, Elbe and Rhône rivers.
The news was announced with Saga’s annual results, which showed a loss across the entire travel division for the year ending January 31, 2022. The cruise division was profitable in the second half of the year, with a load factor of 68% and customer satisfaction levels of 9.1 out of 10.
The new river vessels include Spirit of the Moselle, Spirit of the Main, Spirit of the Elbe and Spirit of the Rhône. They will operate across each river, with the first due to come into service in May 2023 and the others following each year thereafter.
They will join Saga’s two existing river ships, which were named last weekend (March 19) in Arnhem, and will be operated as part of the wider cruise business under Saga Cruise CEO Nigel Blanks.
Banks said: “We are so excited about the opportunity to expand our fleet of river ships to keep up with the ever-growing demand for luxury boutique river cruising. Today’s announcement of four new ships is the exciting next step in expanding our wider cruise offer… These new ships will enable us to offer an even greater range of boutique experiences to guests looking to travel on the waterways throughout Europe.”
Saga’s preliminary results described the 12 months ending January 31, 2022 as “a pivotal year” for its travel businesses. The travel division lost £79.3 million, following a loss of £78.5 million during the previous 12 months.
The cruise division restarted in June 2021 after 15 months of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with its two ships completing 31 sailings between June 26, 2021 and January 31, 2022.
The management of its river cruise operation moved across to ocean cruise and the group restructured its tour operating division, combining Saga Holidays and Titan Travel.
The group said steps taken to “simplify our business and maximise our efficiency” included reducing its office space. It also terminated the majority of partnerships with agents.