Cruises for over-50s scrapped until May because of coronavirus

Saga has cancelled its cruises until May because of coronavirus. Pic: Saga

Saga has cancelled its cruises until May because of coronavirus. Pic: Saga

Holiday firm Saga has cancelled all its cruises until May 1 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The tour operator for people aged 50 and over stated the move follows updated advice from the government advising people aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions against going on cruises.

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It said that while cancellations had increased in recent weeks, demand for cruises was 'very positive', with bookings of around 80% of its sales target for the year.

The company said cruise customers who were due to travel during the period will be offered a 'full refund or credit for a future departure'.

The announcement follows the decision by Carnival-owned Princess Cruises, which had two ships affected by the virus, to cancel all trips for its 18 vessels for the next two months.

Meanwhile holiday firms in Norfolk are seeing bookings down by 30% as people cancel trips, particularly cruises.

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Sir Richard Branson announced that the inaugural season of his new Virgin Voyages cruise line was also being postponed due to the outbreak.

Saga has said it expects the suspension of its cruise operations for the next six weeks to reduce profit in the division by between £10 million and £15 million.

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The firm said that, while the travel environment is 'uncertain', it has significant liquidity available, including a £100 million credit facility, £33 million of cash at the end of February and strong cash generation in its insurance business.

It said it does not expect the outbreak of coronavirus to impact the insurance arm, which has reported a 'good start' to the current financial year.

Last week, Saga warned coronavirus had affected its travel business due to cancellations and falling demand.

It has been a testing start to life at the business for Euan Sutherland, who joined the company as CEO from Superdry in January.

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