Saga Sapphire Cruise Review by JKnight: First time cruise - Norwegian Fjords Saga Sapphire May 2014
First time cruise - Norwegian Fjords Saga Sapphire May 2014
As I was unsure about a cruise I decided to start with a short one. Suffice to say the next one will be longer!
As a treat for our 50th birthday (making us just old enough to qualify) my twin sister and I cruised the beautiful Norwegian Fjords from Dover, calling at Bergen, Olden, Flåm, and Stavanger. From the outset this was a hugely enjoyable Saga experience. From being picked up (and dropped off) from my home address, the check-in procedure, embarkation, excursions, disembarkation and everything between, Saga had it all covered and it went like clockwork.
Having no preconceived idea of what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin. It was well-appointed, with ample room for two people. It comprised of twin beds, a triple wardrobe (with shelving & hanging, long enough to accommodate full length gowns), a chest of drawers, dressing table, plus a table and seating by the window, TV / DVD, mini fridge and a great shower room. One minor More point to note is that there was only one three pin socket - the rest were the continental two pin variety. However, this wasn't a problem as we took travel adapters.
The Saga Sapphire is beautiful, and what I call an 'old fashioned' shape ship. The public areas are well thought out and easily accessible by stairs or lift. The interior decor is tasteful, with themed areas, such as Cooper's Bar and The Aviator Lounge. There are some truly stunning pieces of art on board, the best being the fish sculpture (by the reception desk) on deck seven descending to deck five.
There are three 'eateries' - the main restaurant, Pole to Pole, the intimate East to West, serving a fusion of Oriental / Asian dishes and The Grill & Verandah Restaurant, where you can dine alfresco if you wish and weather permits. Most seating is open, although there is a small amount of reserved seating in the Pole to Pole restaurant. We tried each one - The Grill & Verandah being a firm favourite where we ate most of our meals. I cannot fault the food that was served. There was plenty to choose from - starters, salads, soups, mains and desserts, plus petit fours to round the evening meal off.
The ship's staff were a fantastic, polite and happy crew, from Captain Rentell down. They were all very attentive, be it helping wheelchair bound passengers disembark, to carrying a plate of food to a table during self service meals, to opening doors. All this was done with the minimum of fuss, and with dignity and respect, even towards the very small number of people who were (in my opinion) unforgivably bad mannered., and in some cases downright rude. Our cabin stewardess was lovely and I don't think she ever stopped smiling! Saga, the staff on Sapphire are a credit to you.
We partook of three of the optional excursions on offer, the all day Geiranger Fjord trip, the half day Flåm Railway trip and a half day excursion round the old part of Stavanger and the Cathedral. All were thoroughly enjoyable, with some excellent English-speaking Norwegian tour guides. We were blessed with (in the main) superb weather, considering it was early May. We left Dover in very calm seas, which stayed with us during the whole cruise. We were told Bergen was the rain capital of Europe, having on average, 230 days of rain per year. Having looked around Bergen during the morning, we returned to the ship for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon sunning ourselves on the Verandah deck (not swimsuit weather, but pleasant enough to sit in a t-shirt).
One thing I hadn't realised was how noisy and 'alive' a ship in motion can be. This is not a criticism, and after the first night, I didn't notice the noise at all. However, if you are a first time cruiser like me, please take note!
If there is one area that could be addressed, this would be a passenger laundry room. As we were on a short cruise, this didn't affect us at all, but it would be a great benefit on a longer cruise.
To summarise, a fantastic first cruise. Norway is stunning, and being able to berth in the heart of the cities and villages due to the depth of the Fjordland water made sightseeing very easy. Saga certainly have the cruise know how, and I am now saving for the next one! Less
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Cabin review: Twin Standard Outside5072
As a first time cruiser, therefore having no preconceived idea of what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin. It was well-appointed, with ample room for two people. It comprised of twin beds, a triple wardrobe (with shelving & hanging, long enough to accommodate full length gowns), a chest of drawers, dressing table, plus a table and seating by the window, TV / DVD and mini fridge. The en suite shower room had plenty of storage space for the myriad cosmetics and toiletries that two ladies need for a weeks cruising and complimentary shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and hand-soap were supplied. One minor point to note is that there was only one three pin socket - the rest were the continental two pin variety. However, this wasn't a problem as we took travel adapters. Our allocated cabin maid turned down the bedding each evening, as well as cleaning the cabin daily and restocking the shower room toiletries.