Saga suspends all cruises amid coronavirus threat to the over-70s and group warns its profits will take a hit as the outbreak worsens
- Saga suspending cruises from 15 March to 1 May amid Government advice
- Affected Saga cruise customers will be contacted by phone in next few days
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Saga is suspending all its cruises from 15 March to 1 May after heeding Government warnings about the risks posed to over 70s and those with underlying medical conditions from the coronavirus outbreak.
The over 50s holiday and insurance group warned that its cruise arm will lose up to £15million worth of profit as a result of the move.
Customers booked to set off on a cruise with Saga over the next few weeks will be contacted by phone by the company in the next few days and offered either a full refund or credit for a future departure.
Docked: Saga is suspending all its cruises from 15 March to 1 May after heeding Government warnings about the risks posed to over 70s
The company said it had not made the decision lightly, adding that ‘in the current circumstances, we no longer believe that we can give you the cruise experience you would expect from Saga.’
Anyone booked on a Saga Open Cruise over the suspension period will be offered an additional future cruise credit to the value of 25 per cent.
Is your cruise affected?
Saga will be contacting affected cruise customers by telephone over the next few days.
But, if you are worried about your booking, call Saga’s cruise line for existing customers on 0800 504 505.
The company said: ‘This means if you choose to amend your booking to a future date, the full amount you have paid for your cruise, plus an extra 25% will be transferred to that booking; or we can send you a voucher for this amount to be redeemed against any future Sags Ocean Cruise, ‘the company said.
It added: ‘This future credit will last for a period of 24 months’.
If customers are unable to use the future cruise credit within the 24 month time-frame they will automatically receive a refund equal to the amount they originally paid for the cruise.
Alternatively, affected customers can also simply be issued a full refund.
Options: Affected customers can get a credit for a future date or a full refund
Empty: Cruises have become something of a hotbread for the spread of the coronavirus
For cruises booked with Saga falling outside the current suspension dates, the company said it was ‘continuing to monitor any updated Government advice and any impact it may have on your cruise.’
If the situation changes, Saga said it will contact any further customers affected as required.
It has been a torrid week for travel groups, and Saga’s share price has fallen by over 4.5 per cent this morning to around the 14.29p mark.
In a stock market update today, Saga said its decision to halt its cruises until 1 May will hit its cruise arm profits by between £10milloin to £15million.
The company said that while the travel environment was ‘uncertain’, it had significant liquidity available, including a £100million credit facility, £33million of cash at the end of February and strong cash generation in its insurance business.
Saga said its insurance arm remained unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak and enjoyed a ‘good start’ to the financial year.
The group said demand for its cruises had been ‘very positive’, with bookings of around 80 per cent of the full year revenue target.
It added: ‘While cancellations had increased in recent weeks, as of 11 March 2020, the average booked load factor for the remaining five Cruise departures in March was 79% and the average booked load factor for five April departures was 85%.’
A number of cruise ships have been stranded amid the global spread of the coronavirus. Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised against people aged 70 or over going on cruises for the time being.
Earlier this week, around 4,000 passengers were stranded on the Carnival Panorama while they waited for the outcome of one person tested for the virus. Shares in Miami-based Carnival are currently down over 30 per cent.
Elsewhere, the Diamond Princess became one of the world’s largest clusters of virus cases when more than 700 people tested positive during a two-week quarantine in Japan.
Outbreak: The Diamond Princess became one of the world’s largest clusters of virus cases