Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

INTERVIEW Success with small ships Nigel Blanks tells Michele Witthaus how introducing two ocean ships, enhancing its no-fly concept and updating itineraries is helping Saga Cruises to raise the bar for boutique luxury cruising The UK-headquartered brand Saga Cruises’ dedication to ‘no-fly cruises’ ensures that all ocean cruise guests can step onboard their ships without having to negotiate airports and flights. And the travel operator is working on making this concept even easier for its cruise guests, says CEO Nigel Blanks. “We have been prioritising small evolutions in our service recently, to make sure we continue to offer a first-class experience that guests know Saga for,” he explains. “For example, we recently expanded our very popular chauffeur car service for the 2024 season to 300 miles. That means guests are picked up from their front door and we worry about the rest, leaving them to enjoy their trip the minute they leave their homes.” When Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery debuted in 2019 and 2021 respectively, Saga Cruises pioneered a commitment to providing balconies for all cabins on its ocean cruise ships, mirroring the access to the outdoors that guests were already experiencing on its river cruise vessels. Intimate travel is further enhanced by the fact that passenger numbers are under 1,000 on the ocean vessels. Blanks says that 2024 will bring extended itineraries on these ships. “We have noticed a particular demand for longer ocean cruises, which we’ve reflected in our itineraries for next year,” he says. “We have some particularly exciting longer cruises in 2024 that are proving popular with Saga customers. One “ We’ve noticed that many of our river cruises in particular are popular with firsttime cruisers” Spirit of Discovery by night 75