Cruise demand continues to be strong for Saga’s travel division as the over-50s company counts down towards the launch of two new ships.

At the same time, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines reported three million-pound sales days in one week, marking the best start to January in the company’s history.

Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery, which enters service in July, has reached 69% of sales targets for 2019-20 departures.

The company has achieved 34% of its sales target for 2020-21 departures for sister ship Spirit of Adventure which is due to join the fleet in August 2020.

Issuing a trading update this morning, Saga Group said its total travel division is 54% sold for 2019-20.

“Cruise demand continues to be strong,” the company said. “With the launch of forward sales for Spirit of Adventure during the period, the bookings for both
Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure continue to support the group’s ambitious plans.”

Current ships Saga Pearl II and Saga Sapphire are due to leave service in April 2019 and June 2020, respectively.

“An assessment of the recoverable amount for both ships has resulted in a non-cash impairment of £6 million, which will be excluded from underlying PBT [profit before tax],” Saga said.

Tour revenue for 2019-20 departures was described as being “approximately flat” due to a continuing change in mix towards higher margin products, with fewer passengers.

Group CEO Lance Batchelor said: “We are making progress with our strategy to invest in attracting new customers across the business.

“Healthy forward sales for our new cruise ships and the growth in membership are encouraging signs for the group.”

Saga is due to deliver full year results for the 12 months to January 31 on April 4 together with an update on strategy.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 passengers have been booked onto 150-plus cruise holidays promoted in a cruise sale launched by Fred Olsen on December 5.

Sales and marketing director Justin Stanton said: “We are delighted that there is such high demand for our unique style of cruising.

“Customers are clearly recognising the value of our attractive cruise sale offers, with almost everything included in the price.

“With strong bookings for both 2019 and 2020, we are anticipating a very successful year for our smaller, friendlier ocean and river cruise ships.”