New Thomas Cook investor Anex Tour has announced plans to move into the cruise sector with the purchase of Saga ship Sapphire.
Anex chairman Neset Kockar, who last week took an 8% stake in Cook, said the acquisition would allow the Turkish holiday giant to create a “unique eastern Mediterranean cruise experience”.
“With changing habits of travellers, we must adopt our product offering accordingly,” said Kockar.
Sapphire will be delivered to Anex in mid-2020 and will homeport in Antalya.
Nigel Blanks, Saga Cruises chief operating officer, added: “With her spacious cabins and comfortable public areas, Saga Sapphire has become hugely popular with our guests over the last seven years.
“As the time approaches for her to leave the Saga fleet, we are delighted she will now have a new career launching Anex Tour’s exciting new cruise product.”
Group-wide, Anex caters for about four million holidaymakers a year, operating primarily in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Germany.
Subsidiary Onex Travel operates in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
Sapphire was built in 1981 and entered service in early 1982, sailing under the name Europa for Hapag-Lloyd. It traded hands several times between 1999 and 2011 when it was acquired by Saga.
The ship boasts 382 with capacity for 800 passengers across 12 decks. It features several restaurants, pools, a spa, shopping arcade and other recreational attractions.