Last year we went on our very first cruise. We went to Norway with Saga on the Ruby. They say first impressions count and although punctual, the taxi service wasn't the Mercedes-Benz with a uniformed driver shown in the brochures, but a rather older people carrier from a local firm. On the way to Dover, we went at up to 90MPH and on our return journey, the driver was nodding off and we very nearly had a head-on collision - we hope that Saga is reviewing its taxi service.
At Dover, the check-in process was friendly and efficient, but once on board the Ruby, our cabin was pretty dirty and its shower had quite a lot of mould, which couldn't have suddenly appeared after the previous occupants had left the ship. Saga took the matter seriously and cleaned the cabin thoroughly, but that should have been done before we joined the ship.
As for the cruise itself, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The crew were friendly and attentive, the food was superb and we felt safe and care-free throughout. The overall experience made us want to take another cruise.
All passengers were allocated to a particular dining table in the main restaurant, which remained unchanged, along with one's dining partners, for the whole cruise. We took the opportunity of one dinner in The View Restaurant, which was as good as the reviews had suggested.
We found some of the Saga excursions could have been a little better organised. In Bergen, we arranged our own guided tour and we believe this was better than the one provided from the ship. If you want everything done for you, the Saga excursions are fine, but sometimes it can be rewarding to do your own thing. However, it's worth remembering that if a Saga excursion is delayed, the ship will wait for your return. If you "do it yourself" and something goes wrong, you could return to see your ship on the horizon!
We're not too bothered about the formal dressing-up thing, which adds significantly to one's luggage, and we would like to see some cruises with no formal nights. One can look smart without having to take formal wear.
As well as first impressions counting, lasting impressions count too. The overall impression remains one of an enjoyable care-free holiday, now spoilt by Saga's constant pestering for new business. Once on Saga's customer database, we started to receive their promotional material for another cruise soon after our return. We even received a rather pressured phone call, trying to get us to book a cruise then and there. The Saga brochures have continued to arrive relentlessly and have become something of a joke with the postman. We assume it's a result of Saga's policy of trying to avoid offering last-minute extra discounts, leaving them the only option of pestering customers until they eventually give in. If so, it is beginning to cloud our lasting impression and is putting us off re-booking with Saga.