Saga Holidays, the Britain-based two-ship line that caters to the over-50 set, purchased the 18,591-tonne, 446-passenger Astoria at an auction in August 2009. The ship, renamed Saga Pearl II, was bought as a replacement for Saga Rose, the classic vessel that retired in December 2009.
The 1981-build Astoria underwent a £14 million pound refurbishment before being reborn as Saga Pearl II, debuting in March 2010. Upgrades included the addition of new balcony cabins; upgrades to the show lounge; makeover of the spa and two swimming pools; and the creation of a library and a new Veranda Restaurant.
The ship features 126 twin cabins, 42 double cabins and 25 twin or king-size cabins. Twenty cabins have balconies, while nine cabins have French balconies. A great selling point for solo travellers: Saga Pearl II has a whopping 60 single cabins -- that's almost 25 percent of the total number of cabins (253)!
The ship reflects Saga's trademark style and ambience with traditions such as afternoon tea, ballroom dancing and cabaret-style entertainment. It's staffed by officers and crew from Saga Rose.
On the itinerary front, the ship maintains a residency in Dover and Southampton, offering cruises of 7 to 24 nights to the Canaries, Mediterranean and Baltic.