British cruise line Saga Cruises has announced plans to introduce a new all-balcony ship, which will be available to holidaymakers from 2019, The Telegraph has reported.
The new vessel will carry nearly 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.
Saga Cruises currently only operates two ships, the 446-passenger Saga Pearl II and the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire, both of which will be eventually phased out. The plan for a new vessel comes as demand for sailings on the current ships are mounting: they carried around 25,000 passengers last year, with a 75 per cent repeat passenger rate. Sailings on the two existing vessels sell out far in advance, the report noted.
Additionally, according to research by Saga on the travel/holiday patterns of the 50-plus age group, spending on cruising is expected to increase by 43 per cent to £2.2bn by 2020. This compares with £1.65bn in 2014 of £41bn 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.
Built by Meyer Werft in Germany, the new vessel will come into service in 2019. A second new vessel may also enter service by 2021.
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.
The Saga Pearl II and the Saga Sapphire will visit 14 new ports in 2016, including Holy Loch, Scotland; Boulogne-sur-Mer in France; Pyramiden in the Svalbard archipelago; San Remo in Italy and Southwold in Suffolk.