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Saga Cruises hosted a two-day preview sailing of Spirit of Discovery for 700 agents ahead of its christening. Amie Keeley reports from Dover


Ship ‘will change Saga perceptions’ S


aga Cruises’ new ship Spirit of Discovery will “tackle brand perception” and prompt agents to


“re-evaluate” the over-50s specialist. Saga’s head of trade sales Iain


Powell said there were perception issues around the Saga brand but the 999-passenger ship, which describes itself as a “luxury boutique hotel at sea”, will atract new customers. Spirit of Discovery is Saga’s first


new-build ship and will be followed by Spirit of Adventure next year. Te vessels will replace Saga Pearl


and Saga Sapphire. It is the first new-build ship


dedicated to the British market since P&O Cruises launched Britannia in 2015. “Tese ships will bring a lot of


12 11 JULY 2019


new customers to the brand,” Powell said. “We know there is a brand perception challenge around Saga but this is a really great ship to say ‘Saga is not what you thought’.” Saga underwent a brand refresh


last year, introducing a new logo and a ‘Keep Doing’ tagline. Saga Travel chief executive


Robin Shaw ruled out any rebrand, but said: “We have to improve our consideration. Everyone knows Saga and this ship gets everyone to re-evaluate what Saga is offering. Te trade has a big role to play.” Te line hosted about 700 agents


last week on a preview sailing ahead of Spirit of Discovery’s christening in Dover, where the Duchess of Cornwall named the ship. However, due to a technical fault,


the ship did not sail to Bruges as planned and instead sailed around the English Channel. About 30 agents who were due to


sail had to give up their places as the cabins were needed for contractors to finish work on the ship. Powell said agents had been very


“understanding” and they would be hosted on a future date. He said 70% of new customers


came via the trade. “Tat’s why it’s such an important


channel for us,” Powell added. “Te trade feedback has been


overwhelming. We’ve worked hard for this for four to five years and we’re finally here, so to see agents walk on was really wonderful.” Meanwhile, Saga is looking at


packaging pre and post-cruise stays travelweekly.co.uk tinyurl.com/sagatour


Take a video tour of Spirit of Discovery:


in Dover and Southampton. Te line operates sailings from both ports. Shaw said: “Where we use Dover as our home port, there are options to package pre and post-stays there or even in Southampton, especially for those customers travelling from the Midlands and the north. “At the moment it’s a secondary


priority, but certainly something we will be looking at.”


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