Spirit of Discovery is slated to set sail in July 2019. // © 2017 Saga Cruises
Feature image (above): The interior of Spirit of Discovery // © 2017 Saga Cruises
Bring on the tea kettles and grilled tomatoes at breakfast: “Downton Abbey” fans and other Anglophiles are the target of two new ships from a venerable company.
Saga Cruises will introduce newbuilds designed to please the American market as well as its traditional British customers. Saga, which has been in business since 1951, is partnering with David Morris International’s veteran team of Marilyn Conroy and David Morris on strategic sales, marketing and reservations in North America.
Saga’s newbuild program will launch with Spirit of Discovery, scheduled to set sail in July 2019. Due to the ship’s strong prebookings, Saga has exercised its option for the delivery of a second new vessel — Spirit of Adventure — which will debut in August 2020. Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany is building the all-balcony ships, which will each carry just under 1,000 guests. Dining venues on both vessels will include the Grand Dining Room, an Asian venue and Coast to Coast — a new concept for Saga — a seafood restaurant serving British and locally sourced seafood.
Spirit of Discovery will launch with itineraries that include the Baltic Sea; the British Isles and Ireland; the Mediterranean; the Canary Islands; Norway; and Iceland. It will also have an intriguing roundtrip Southampton cruise during the Christmas season.
Conroy says that North America is expected to be a strong secondary market, with solid potential among Americans who want a British experience that’s different from a transatlantic cruise. The price point will be positioned between Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, according to Conroy, starting at $1,670 for a weeklong cruise. The rate includes onboard gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner and all port taxes.
Conroy notes that Saga will provide agents with l5 percent commission on the cruise fare. Air/land commissions will be 10 to 12 percent, depending on the individual agency’s volume with Auto Europe, which will handle reservations for air, pre- and post-cruise hotel packages, travel insurance and car rentals.