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Saga to suspend cruise operation amid coronavirus fears

Saga to suspend cruise operation amid coronavirus fears | Insurance Business

Saga to suspend cruise operation amid coronavirus fears

It has today been revealed by Reuters that British over-50s services group Saga will be suspending its cruise operations until early May. The measure is being taken in response to the coronavirus crisis, and comes at an estimated cost to company earnings of about £10 million to £15 million.

Saga is the latest to take this step, following similar announcements from US-based peer Princess Cruises, the operator of two ocean liners that were quarantined after they became hotbeds for infections, and Finland’s Viking Line.

The travel industry is grappling with mass cancellations since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has upended normal life in dozens of countries and led to the cancellation of thousands of flights, holidays and business trips.

Saga said its decision followed UK government advice that people over the age of 70 and those with pre-existing health conditions steer clear of cruise ship travel. The business said that its customer services teams would be in contact with all customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks to offer refunds or future credit.

“The health and safety of customers and colleagues is our number one priority,” Saga said. “We have, therefore, made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of our cruises until May 01, 2020.”

The company, which operates ocean and river cruises, also said it would seek additional cost savings and cut discretionary spending to offset the impact of the suspension.

Saga had warned earlier this month that it was seeing a higher level of near-term cancellations for its cruises and tours due to the epidemic.

However, it added that its insurance business was not expected to be significantly impacted by the virus and has had a good start to the current financial year.