(2 p.m. GMT) -- Saga Cruises' two ships -- Saga Sapphire and Spirit of Discovery -- could become floating hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 720-passenger Saga Sapphire and 999-passenger Spirit of Discovery are currently berthed at Tilbury in Essex following Saga's decision to suspend all operations until May 1, and it is understood the line has been in preliminary talks with the government about the possibility of using the vessels to help free up space in NHS hospitals.

No decision has been announced and a spokesperson for the U.K.-based company for the over-50s told Cruise Critic that Saga was unable to comment at this stage.

The news follows Carnival Corporation offering vessels from across its global fleet for the same purpose.

The coronavirus outbreak has curtailed the farewell season of Saga Sapphire, which was launched in 1980 and joined Saga in 2012. It will be replaced by the line's second all-new ship, Spirit of Adventure, scheduled to be launched in Portsmouth on August 19.

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