Saga Sapphire to Leave Fleet in 2020

Saga Sapphire

Saga Cruises today announced the Saga Sapphire will leave its fleet, with the last cruise heading to Norway on a “Musical Norway” sailing in spring of 2020.

“For Saga Sapphire’s last foray to the Norwegian fjords, we’re cruising off the beaten track for an in-depth exploration of this country’s beautiful fjords, mountains and villages,” the company said.

The 10-night cruise leaves from Dover on April 11, 2020, and offers live jazz performances onboard while sailing 2,376 nautical miles through the Norwegian fjords.

Sailing roundtrip from Dover, calls include Alesund, Trondheim, Geiranger, Ulvik and Haugesund, along with four days at sea.

The Sapphire leaving Saga’s fleet complete’s the British company’s fleet renewal program. The Pearl II will depart the Saga fleet in early 2019, making way for the Spirit of Discovery, a 1,000-guest newbuiild that joins the fleet in summer 2019.

As the Sapphire leaves in early 2020, the Spirit of Adventure, a second newbuild, joins the fleet in summer 2020.

Saga’s new all-balcony German-made cruise ship

The cruise line will offer an all-balcony 1,000-passenger ship from summer 2019 as the first of two modern vessels to meet demand
An artist's impression of the Veranda area shows the slick design on the new Saga ship, which will be available from 2019
An artist’s impression of the Veranda area shows the slick design on the new Saga ship, which will be available from 2019 Photo: Saga

Saga Cruises has ordered an all-balcony ship that will be available to holidaymakers from 2019, to accommodate demand on the holiday company’s popular sailings.

The new vessel will carry fewer than 1,000 passengers in around 540 suites and cabins, each with a balcony. Around 15 per cent of cabins will be designed for single occupancy and leisure facilities will include outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and beauty salon.

Artist impression, The Veranda

Artist impression, The Veranda

Saga Cruises currently only operates two ships, the 446-passenger Saga Pearl II and the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire, both of which are set for an eventual phase out. Demand for sailings on the ships is extremely high: they carried around 25,000 passengers last year, with a 75 per cent repeat passenger rate.

The new ship is significant as sailings on the two existing vessels sell out far in advance, suggesting that demand from cruisers outstrips what Saga can currently offer.

“There is no expectation that customers will pay more.”
Robin Shaw, chief executive of Saga Cruises

The 55,900 grt vessel that will come into service in 2019 will be built by Meyer Werft in Germany. The shipyard recently put the finishing touches to Norwegian Cruise Line’s soon-to-launch Norwegian Escape and is building Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.

A second new vessel may also enter service by 2021.

• Saga sets sail for further cruises

Robin Shaw, chief executive of the cruising division, said that, “There is no expectation that customers will pay more” as a result of the new ships.

Lance Batchelor, Saga chief executive officer, added that cruising remains, “at the heart of the Saga brand”.

Feedback from passenger forums indicated that passengers are keen to maintain the friendly, “one ship for everybody” ethos that Saga is known for. Dining can be accommodated in a single sitting and there will be no exclusive areas on board, or restaurants that charge supplements.

Research commissioned by Saga into travel buying patterns of the 50-plus age group found that spending on cruising is expected to increase by 43 per cent to £2.2 billion by 2020. This compares with £1.65 bn in 2014 of £41 bn on travel and tourism as a whole.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of the over-50s in employment said they were planning to increase their spending on cruises post retirement.

The Saga Pearl II and the Saga Sapphire will visit 14 new ports between them in 2016, including Holy Loch, Scotland; Boulogne-sur-Mer in France; Pyramiden in the Svalbard archipelago; San Remo in Italy and Southwold in Suffolk.