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Saga travel firm blames partner for 'exclusively for Brits' cruise brochure

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A Saga cruise liner heads into the River Tyne near Newcastle. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA via AP

Over-50s travel company Saga (SAGA.L) on Thursday blamed its partner Cruise.co.uk for a brochure that advertised one of its cruises as “exclusively for Brits.”

In tweets responding to outraged customers, the company said that it was “not a Saga brochure.”

“Our partners at Cruise.co.uk are extremely sorry for any offence the inaccuracy in their leaflet may have caused.”

The company noted that, while its cruises departed from the UK, they welcomed “anybody, of any nationality, over the age of 50 on our cruises.”

It is not clear how the brochure, which prominently advertises the cruises with an “exclusively for Brits” tag line that appears beneath both Saga and Cruise.co.uk logos, came into being.

The blunder came to light after Anthony Bale, a medieval studies professor, posted on Twitter that his mother was “outraged” and “shocked” to receive the brochure.

“She asked me why they would say this and if it’s legal,” he said.

In a statement, Saga said it was “extremely sorry for the error in the promotional leaflet that was sent to the database of one of our cruise partners.”

“Whilst inside the leaflet it mentions our cruises depart from UK ports only; the wording that was intended to highlight this key benefit on the front cover was interpreted incorrectly and was wholly inaccurate.”

“The error has been corrected with immediate effect and we would like to apologise for any offence this may have caused,” the statement said.

Cruise.co.uk did not respond to a request for comment.

Cruise.co.uk bills itself as the UK’s largest cruise website, and says its cruise consultants can help customers find the best value cruise holiday.

Experts have pointed to the link between a fear of immigrants and foreigners and the 2016 Brexit vote.

In 2017, two academic studies suggested that there was a link between xenophobia and a vote to leave the EU and subsequent support for the outcome of the referendum.

The controversy comes as Saga on Thursday announced its half-year financial results.

The company, which is currently undergoing a restructuring, said that pre-tax profits fell by 52% to £52.6m in the six months to the end of July. Revenue fell by 8.3%, to £396m.

Saga targets those over the age of 50 with cruises and insurance products.

It blamed a number of factors for the decline in profits, including the short-term impact of the retirement of one of its flagship cruise ships.

“I am pleased with the progress that has been achieved this year,” said Saga chairman Patrick O'Sullivan.

“It is early days in our transformation programme and there remains much to do but what we have seen so far gives us confidence that we are pursuing the right strategy.”