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Refreshing news – new cruise company buys former Saga Sapphire

February 26, 2021 Cruise News, Headline News No Comments Email Email

According to a report in Cruise Industry News by Maria Romanenko in a refreshing change from news about cruise ship sales and scrapping. a new cruise company Selectum Blu Cruises is reported to have acquired the former Saga Sapphire from Saga Cruises, with Selectum Blu Cruises will be focusing its passenger sourcing on Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe.

The CEO at Selectum Blu Cruises, Necdet Ucarlar, told Cruise Industry News, “It’s a huge market, more than 300 million people” and despite being new to operating its own cruises, Selectum Blu Cruises is actually part of Turkish tour operator giant Anex Tour, which has been selling holidays since 1996 – including cruises.

Ucarlar said, “We are the biggest tour operator in Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe”, adding, “The cruises are our new product for our source market especially, for Russia and Ukraine”, and “Last year, we tested with MSC and Costa in our networks”, “We tried it because we have to be working with our summer programs, for example,” “We can see other cruise lines’ tickets selling out in days, in some days,”  “They are waiting for the new products”.

Selectum Blu Cruises plans to start sailing from May 2021 from Antalya for Eastern Mediterranean itineraries and from September 2021, it will be sailing from Marmaris, Turkey.

Ucarlar said, “For September, for three months, it will start from Marmaris just for Turkey and Greek islands, but the first eight itineraries will be Eastern Med, and the rest of the summer, we will visit the Greek islands, so, we have two different homeports – Antalya and Marmaris,”.

The Saga Sapphire, after being acquired in 2019, was soon renamed the Blue Sapphire, with the 1981-built ship accommodating 750 passengers and while Selectum Blu Cruises hasn’t even launched a website yet it has confidence that the cruises will sell.

Kunter Kurtogullari, Director of Cruise Operations at Anex Tour, said, “We have a huge sales network. I mean, huge, huge sales network,” and “We are so confident about our ship because all we need is 750 or 800 passengers a week”, adding, “So, it is very a small part of our general operations.”.

Ultimately, the cruise line plans to expand to three ships, with Ucarlar saying, “But the other two ships will be bigger than (Blu Sapphire)… (T)hese big cruise ships will be the sailing in Asia and the Caribbean,” “For example, from Vietnam, or Sanya”, and “to the Dominican Republic for the Caribbean,” with Kurtogullari adding, “We (already) have operations there,”.

They both said, that several languages will be used onboard the Selectum Blu cruises, adding, “Russian is one of the languages on the ship, but, of course, (service will also be) in English and partially in Ukrainian and Kazakhstani languages”, adding, “We also have 15 or 20 percent of Turkish passengers, so we are planning to arrange some Turkish language, especially for the summer tours”.

An edited report by John Alwyn-Jones

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