Saga Cruises to launch new all-balcony cruise ship

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.

Royal Caribbean orders mega cruise liner

Royal Caribbean International, a subsidiary of Norwegian-American global cruise company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE:RCL, OSE:RCL), has ordered a third Oasis-class ship that is to be built in France.

The new vessel is to be built at STX France’s St. Nazaire shipyard and be delivered by mid-2016, and the company has an option for a fourth vessel with a 2018 delivery.

The Oasis-class vessels are 225,282 tons, have 16 decks and 2,700 staterooms to accommodate 5,400 passengers. Like its two sister ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, the new ship is expected to have twelve or more restaurants, four swimming pools, tree-lined promenades and a wide range of leisure activities to suit all age groups.

The chairman of Royal Caribbean, Richard Fain, said, ‘The Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have fundamentally transformed the cruise experience for our guests. These ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results. We are thrilled to be adding a sister to this extraordinary class of vessels at a compelling price. Being back building in France just adds to the pleasure.’

The company’s president and chief executive, Adam Goldstein, commented, ‘As the cruise line that revolutionised the industry with the FlowRider surf simulator, ice-skating rinks, cantilevered whirlpools and rock climbing walls, we are eager to add this third award winning Oasis-class ship to our brand portfolio. This addition will allow us to showcase our legacy of innovation and imagination to even more guests around the world.’

Royal Caribbean’s existing vessels sail from Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on a weekly basis.