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Saga Travel chief targets ‘many more’ than two ships in fleet

The new chief executive of Saga Travel says he wants the line to have “many more” than two ships in its fleet.

Speaking at the naming of Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Adventure in Portsmouth on Monday, Nick Stace said: “I have the ambition that we can become the obvious operator for people who want quality, safe, affordable cruising and I really would like to see us not just with two ships but with many more.”

Asked if these would be similar to sister ships Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure, Stace said: “We have landed on a design which is beautiful, but which is also fitting with the current climate.

“We’re going to have pandemics from now on, and the days of 7,000-passenger ships for a period of time are going to be a challenge.

“Our size [999 passengers] is not off-putting to guests, to ports or to local people and so we find ourselves in a happy place where we are much more Covid-safe and pandemic-prepared than others.”

Stace added that enhancements to the ships included the addition of isolation wings and the doubling of medical teams.

He added: “The challenge is the cost and we have to grow in a sensible way. But our sales are fabulous and if anything, we are struggling to cope with the demand at the moment.”

Spirit of Adventure became the first cruise ship to be christened in Portsmouth, with naming duties completed by the recently retired head of the Royal Navy Medical Service, Commodore Inga J. Kennedy.

Saga said the choice of godmother was made “in recognition of the countless hours of service given by medical professionals during the pandemic”.

Stace revealed he felt a “tremendous sense of relief” to finally launch the ship, which the line took delivery of last September.

It has been moored up in Tilbury since then and Stace said he worried that people might not want to travel after the global health crisis.

“I worried about what people would think about travel in general and cruise in particular, but people have voted with their feet. I think if people feel they can trust you to look after them and you have acted responsibly throughout this, they will put their faith in you to take them away again.”

Stace added that he was “excited as a new CEO” to work with Saga Cruises chief executive Nigel Blanks “to improve even further on what we already do really well.”

He said: “We have this relentless determination to be exceptional,” adding that it was the people at Saga, both crew and shoreside, that show kindness and create a community that really makes the difference.

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