Saga’s 2022 cruise bookings power ahead of pre-Covid levels

Saga’s 2022 cruise bookings power ahead of pre-Covid levels
The group said cruise revenues for 2022-23 are 58.9% ahead of levels seen in 2019.

Over-50s group Saga has revealed that bookings for cruises in 2022 are now ahead of levels seen before the pandemic struck.

The group said demand is “very strong” for departures over 2022-23 and ahead of the same point two years ago, with revenue and passenger days ahead by 58.9% and 39.6% respectively.

It said tour operations bookings for the new financial year were also ahead of pre-pandemic levels, by 18% for revenue and 10% for passengers.

But it cautioned “there remains some uncertainty within the travel industry surrounding the longer-term impact of Covid-19”.

The comments came as half-year results showed underlying pre-tax losses in the hard-hit travel business widened to £51.2 million for the six months to July 31, against losses of £34.2 million a year earlier.

Underlying losses in the cruise arm more than doubled to £35.4 million from £15.4 million a year earlier, but the tour operations business saw losses narrow to £15.8 million from £18.8 million.

The wider group, which also includes insurance, swung to a pre-tax profit of £700,000 from losses of £55.5 million a year ago.

Chief executive Euan Sutherland said: “Following the successful restart of operations in our travel business, we continue to work towards a full return to service, while remaining mindful of future potential volatility relating to Covid-19.

“As we have demonstrated through the last 18 months, we will continue to take an agile, proactive approach to navigate any challenges.”

He added that the group planned to relaunch the Saga brand “in the coming months”.

While Saga’s travel operations are still suffering amid the impact of the pandemic, its monthly cash burn rate for the division is better than feared, at £5.9 million.

It had previously guided for between £7 million and £9 million a month.

Saga restarted cruises around the UK in June, with international sailing getting underway from the end of August.

In January, Saga became the first tour operator to insist that all holiday customers must be fully vaccinated to travel with them this summer.

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