Saga has become the first cruise operator to be awarded new Covid-19 health assurance accreditation by Lloyd’s Register, the maritime safety experts.
The move is a crucial step ahead of the planned return of cruise operations in spring next year in a Covid-19-secure environment.
Lloyd’s Register has awarded Saga the Shield+ accreditation, the highest category of health assurance they have.
The new framework has been created to reduce risk and provide greater confidence in the safety procedures of operators against the introduction of infectious diseases onboard cruise ships, including Covid-19, Norovirus and common flu.
The move comes as the industry works with government to restart an industry that employs 88,000 people and is worth £10 billion a year to the British economy.
Being awarded the accreditation demonstrates that Saga exceeds the compliance criteria in every category set out by the UK Chamber of Shipping in their guidance for Covid-19 Secure Cruising, which has been supported by the government.
The safety accreditation is assessed against six key categories covering every aspect of ship safety where health risks are elevated: medical, policy, food, ventilation, accommodation and water.
Award of the accreditation follows months of detailed planning from Saga, designing and putting in place detailed new procedures to meet the highest standards of health and safety.
Saga’s ships have been surveyed and inspected in all key areas and the accreditation has been awarded for both the Spirit of Discovery and Saga’s brand new ship, the Spirit of Adventure, which is due to set sail for the first time in May.
Nick Stace, Saga chief executive of travel, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the highest health and safety accreditation from Lloyd’s Register for our two ships – the newest on the seas.
“We have been working with the government, all the relevant authorities and our peers in the cruise industry to put in place all the measures needed to ensure a safe return to cruising.
“At Saga we believe that our ships offer one of the safest places in the world to see the world.”
He added: “This important step removes one of the last barriers to a safe return for cruising.
“We know there is considerable pent up demand from our customers for cruising.
“In our most recent round of cancellations, more than 80 per cent of guests immediately rolled their booking over to a new cruise and our guests tell us they are ready to sail.
“Being the first cruise operator to achieve Lloyd’s Register’s Shield+ accreditation is testament to the work done by all our Saga colleagues and brings us one step closer to welcoming our guests back onboard our ships in the safest capacity possible.”