Saga has reported a record launch of its 2024-25 ocean cruise season with its river sailing and tour operating divisions set to return to profitability.
In a trading update today (Tuesday) for the period from February 1 to June 19, the over-50s travel and insurance specialist reported a booked ocean cruise load factor for 2023-24 of 79% at June 18 was 79% – seven percentage points ahead of the same time last year.
The full year load factor projection is in line with previous guidance of at least 80% and Saga said it remained on-track to deliver £40 million profit for each of its two ocean-going ships, excluding overheads.
“Due to expected seasonality in the late summer, this will be weighted towards the second half of the year,” the company added.
“The launch of the 2024-25 ocean cruise season was the strongest on record, already having secured a booked load factor of 34%.”
The booked river cruise load factor for 2023-24 was 74%, equating to revenue of £39 million – 37% ahead year-on-year.
Meanwhile, booked 2023-24 revenue for Saga’s tour operations was 37% ahead year-on-year at £150 million, described as largely driven by an uplift in touring.
The tour operations are on track to return to an underlying profit before tax for the second half and full year, in line with previous guidance, Saga reported.
The sale process for the group’s insurance underwriting business is ongoing, “consistent with the ambition to reduce debt and move towards a more capital-light model”.
Group chief executive Euan Sutherland said: “Four months into the financial year, we have continued to build on the momentum in our cruise and travel operations, while making further progress in our growth agenda through the development of our newer businesses. Year-end underlying profit is expected to be well ahead of the prior year.
“We have taken strong bookings for our ocean cruises with a load factor that is ahead of the same point in the prior year, and our river cruise and travel businesses are on track to return to profitability in line with previous guidance.”