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's slated to retire in December 2009.
Saga Pearl II debuted in March 2010.
Saga Holidays had long intended to add Astoria to its fleet, first as part of its Spirit of Adventure sub-brand, and then as a replacement for the 1965-built Saga Rose. The line was actually scheduled to take ownership of Astoria earlier in 2009, when the ship's owners went into receivership (i.e., went bust), and the deal fell through.
The 1981-build Astoria underwent a £14 million pound refurbishment before being reborn as Saga Pearl II. Upgrades include:
Addition of new balcony cabins
Upgrades to the show lounge
Makeover of the spa and two swimming pools
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.