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45 Saga Cruises Saga Sapphire Cruise Reviews

I chose to cruise as I haven't had a holiday for over 25 years and thought that I needed one after a rather stressful divorce. After researching the various options available I chose to book an eleven day trip with Saga sailing ... Read More
I chose to cruise as I haven't had a holiday for over 25 years and thought that I needed one after a rather stressful divorce. After researching the various options available I chose to book an eleven day trip with Saga sailing down the Danube from Budapest for eight days with three days in transylvania. I know what you are all thinking, "SAGA"!!!!! Now I just qualify as I am 51 and thought that it would ease me into the holiday "thing" I was collect from home and driven to the airport, this I found to be an excellent service. The ship was waiting in Budapest and my luggage was taken and delivered to my cabin whilst I booked in and offered refreshments. The reception staff were nothing but wonderful and were very helpful and knowledgeable making the embarkation painless. After settling in my cabin, which was a reasonable size considering the size of the ship and let's face it, we were on a river I was pleasantly surprised to be seated in the restaurant with a very good four course meal. The waiting staff were excellent and very friendly. The following days were more of the same food and I found the staff so friendly and willing to help in any way possible. I have to say that the cruise director, a young lady by the name of Adina to be the most helpful, patient and knowledgeable person I have had the pleasure of meeting. Even joining the crew and passengers in the end of cruise open mic event. Upon reaching our destination our luggage was collected and transferred to the awaiting coaches for the next part of the holiday. My overall experience onboard was one of overwhelming enjoyment and certainly placed my anxieties about solo travel to the back of my head, in fact they left. Overall I would highly recommend this ship and if I could sail with the highly professional Adina again, I would. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was my first solo cruise and I chose Saga because I'd heard such good things about how they look after you, especially if you are travelling alone. Not so! I have no idea how many solo passengers there were because nothing was ... Read More
This was my first solo cruise and I chose Saga because I'd heard such good things about how they look after you, especially if you are travelling alone. Not so! I have no idea how many solo passengers there were because nothing was organised for us apart from a short get together in the lounge at the beginning of the cruise which not everyone attended. Meal times were especially excruciating where solos were seated with couples and not with other singles. In fact the whole thing seemed to be a shambles. I, with most of the other solo passengers, found myself wandering about the ship hoping to meet another lonely solo for some conversation. I made friends with couples mostly who seemed to feel a little sorry for me and some even took me under their wing. Overall I was very disappointed at the lack of social activity for the solo passengers, and I will never travel solo on a Saga cruise again for this reason. The ship, my cabin, food, service, excursions and entertainment were all great, but oh how I wished that I'd had someone to share it with. Solos beware! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to be wedged in a rickety old taxi. At the ship terminal we were met by Saga's ground staff, most of which matched the average age of our fellow passengers. Once we had checked in we joined the queue to get onboard, queuing must be an expectation of the older generation. We pay good money not to. The ship is very old, the average passenger age must be about 80 and modern standards of cruising are yet to be adopted. All of the non-officer staff are Philippino, they are perfectly friendly but their comprehension of English is sometimes lacking. Simple things like good coffee does not exist. We have 4 more days to survive before being shuttled home in a shabby old taxi. Note to self, stick with Seabourn if you want to be made to feel special and receive what you were promised. It will be interesting to see whether Saga's first time guarantee works as easily as their brochure implies. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as ... Read More
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as we live in Australia. We had to use a particular travel agent which meant lots of filling forms and emails back & forth. Then we couldn't use their My Saga application because it wouldn't recognise our postcode. So, more printing out pdfs and emails to book excursions. Very frustrating for us folk who are used to making online reservations. But, we did enjoy the cruise. Firstly, Saga offer a complimentary limo service to the port which was very convenient. Then we found Saga Sapphire to be well laid out and not as ostentatious as some of the ships we've been on. It's small, but our cabin was comparatively large and well equipped. Our only disappointment with the layout was the fitness centre which was small and on a lower deck. Not so good in rough seas. And we couldn't walk around the decks most days because of ice and snow. The food and service were very good, as was the range of entertainment and speakers. The ship only has two main restaurants, both of which serve the same food, so there wasn't a huge variety of flavours on offer. They do, however, turn one section into a specialist restaurant which we had to book. This particular cruise had quite a few problems along the way. We encountered large winter storms which caused us to take a slower route. Plus the ship's propeller was caught in fishing lines. Both of these factors meant we missed two of the scheduled ports. But they tried to make it up to us by adding more entertainment for the passengers. Again, being winter, some of the passengers came down with a bug, but the crew were fastidious about cleanliness and hygiene everywhere on the ship. There were quite a few older passengers who were likely more susceptible. The excursions we went on were well organised and interesting. Unfortunately we didn't see the lights on the evening tours, but did manage to see them from the deck when we were at sea. Artic Norway is stunningly beautiful and we're very glad we chose this time of the year to visit. It was VERY, VERY cold, but Saga provided us with arctic jackets and snow grips for our shoes. And we needed them several times. The Sage Sapphire is in its last season and is to be replaced by a brand new ship. But we really enjoyed the cruise and would certainly consider Sage again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that ... Read More
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that was the right decision, we fancied a winter Norwegian Cruise, and one which specifically aimed at experiencing the Northern Lights seemed an exciting prospect As ever every detail was taken care of, from being picked up at your front door with your luggage through a seemless boarding process at Dover all promised a wonderful holiday experience,which is exactly what we got An upgrade to deck 10 was an unexpected bonus,but all passengers got the same attentive service wherever their cabin was. The whole cruise was ammended to all inclusive which was another nice touch,and we opted for fixed dining which was a delight. The food on this ship is awesome, and the after dinner cheeseboard is the best we have ever experienced anywhere Evening shows were professional and Ancora joining the cruise for week two ensured some never to be forgotten performances, the whole entertainment package was outstanding for a relatively small ship Lectures from accomplished speakers about destinations and other related subjects were interesting and thought provoking, and the library would meet anyone’s taste, complete with librarian. This is proper cruising, no razzmatazz or gimmicks, just traditional formal nights, sumptuous food and well chosen wines and a feeling everyone simply wanted you to enjoy yourselves Saga Sapphire is an old ship, but she is immaculately kept and polished to within a inch of her life morning, noon and night. At every port a free shuttle bus service to the town is available unless the berth is literally in the town centre We were incredibly lucky to see the Northern Lights on three separate nights due to high levels of sunspot activity and on our official included trip to “hunt” the Lights in a dark sky area we were treated to an hour long display of the Northern Lights which were absolutely breathtaking Overall we had a wonderful cruise, seeing the Lights was the proverbial icing on the cake Let’s be clear, Saga isn’t the cheapest cruise provider, but the quality of their cruise experience is truly 5star and on an all inclusive cruise like this you genuinely don’t need to spend any money for the whole cruise unless of course you choose to go on optional excursions The real test is would we Cruise with Saga again; in our case the answer is definitely yes. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin ... Read More
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin was large, (inside deck 7) bigger than the normal cruise liners we have sailed on like HAL, RCL etc. Decor not quiet up to a brand new cruise ship but plenty of space for hanging clothes and draws . Shower and toilet efficient and clean if a little smaller than the top cruise liners. Dining and entertainment were superb. Top quality, attentive and pleasant staff and all inclusive in restaurants and drinks. The Sapphire was above the mainstream cruise liners and just below the six star Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking cruises which we have done. Value for money, quality, ambiance and enjoyment made for a memorable cruise. Not the last time we will sail with Saga, who have two new ships coming into service. Do not let Saga’s reputation for catering for the very old put you off, this is not true. Whilst it is for the over 50’s the age profile was no different to those other lines like Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking. It did cater very well for those with mobility issues, but I have seen many more mobility scoooters on Caribbean cruises. Lots of people got up dancing to great dance music in both the main Britannia lounge and the Drawing Room. Sunday lunchtime was just fabulous. Lunchtime jazz in the drawing room followed by transitional sunday lunch in the main dining room. Just idyllic. Entertainment was outstanding. Great lectures by Gary Fildes on the Northern Lights and astronomy in general. Had 700 pax enthralled. The cruise was well worth the money just to listen to him speak. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We are seasoned cruisers and chose this 4 night cruise to introduce friends to the joys of cruising. We couldn’t have made a better choice. Like most of our previous cruises, the food was excellent as was the entertainment, but where ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers and chose this 4 night cruise to introduce friends to the joys of cruising. We couldn’t have made a better choice. Like most of our previous cruises, the food was excellent as was the entertainment, but where they differed was for the price - the level of service was first class, you could almost believe there were more waiters than guests in the buffet restaurant! There was an inclusive drinks package, which covered generic spirits and a few cocktails. But they were willing to extend this to a particular named sherry when we pointed out that there was no choice offered of a generic one. This is just an illustration of their “can do” attitude. The cheapest cabin which we had, was the largest one we had seen for the price. The Asian themed restaurant was a gourmet dining experience at no extra charge. We are sorry that the Saga Sapphire is to be replaced soon, but we will be cruising with Saga in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and ... Read More
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and from Dover was very appealing and worked perfectly. The cabin was very spacious and comfortable (without balcony - but that was our choice and they are a lot less of them on the Saga ships). The steward was attentive and looked after our cabin well throughout the cruise. The dining experience was excellent throughout. Lunch and dinner were accompanied by good wines so that it was not necessary to purchase off the wine list. I was most impressed that the evening when "reserved" table service was suspended due to planning for a late night buffet after the return of those passengers who had attended the Edinburgh tattoo, but the maitre d' approached us and kept our table for us (we had chosen to dine on a smaller table for each meal). Very relieved and amazed that he remembered to do this for us. A great plus. WE didn't attend much of the "formal" entertainment: though some of it happens more casually around the ship during the "Edinburgh Fringe" theme of the cruise. What we saw and heard was very good - just not our "social scene". My gripe about all the cruises we have been on - the dress code is clearly explained both before and during the event. At least one evening is "formal" - so why can't people abide by this rule? Evening dress means evening dress - not just a jacket with a bow-tie! The ladies (generally) make the effort - why can't the men? Even on the less formal nights, I feel it would be polite to wear a jacket even if no tie is worn. Saga doesn't have a policy of certain parts of the shop being free from these rules (unlike Cunard) so people ought to come prepared for the whole "experience". The trips we went on were well organised, and well executed with some excellent guides (esp. the trip to see Hadrian's Wall and Chesters). Saga didn't make much of visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia as we were docked right by it. But we made a private visit and it is well worth seeing. Perhaps the ship ought to make more of this - by planning "blocked booking" for the ship's passengers as clearly it gets very busy and the queues looked long at times (luckily we went first thing in the morning). Overall. a very good experience - though (personally) I did find the age-profile rather higher than I was expecting and it did slow-up (particularly) the trips on coaches on days in port. Some people had clearly not read the notification that there was walking involved. Getting (older) people on and off coaches takes time (and effort): so planning for a "ten minute stop" to see one site actually took thirty minutes!! This timing needs to be built into the programme as at times things seemed rushed. Some of the passengers were disappointed about the Edinburgh Tattoo - expecting to be able to obtain tickets - either privately or via Saga - only to find they were sold out. A shame if this was the sole reason who had come on this particular cruise. But we enjoyed what we saw and experienced. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
First cruise. What I do find misleading you see the adverts from.....we paid double and more. I wish they would set a price. Some back to back (people who were on previous or later tour) were 'phoned up and given a good discount ... Read More
First cruise. What I do find misleading you see the adverts from.....we paid double and more. I wish they would set a price. Some back to back (people who were on previous or later tour) were 'phoned up and given a good discount for including the mini break. We were told they did not discount..........mmmmm Still good holiday, first time cruisers, lovely, lovely staff, happy. Wish I was back. The Reception staff, not tour booking. I found when I asked a question I was told in your Ship's newsletter, we had not been cruising before. They could have told us there and then. They did their job, but listening to how they dealt with older people, got the impression not a happy group. Perhaps need fresh people....sign on desk, this ship is full, no change of cabins. Fortnately we were pleased with our cabin. On a tour, a guide told us that a ship is never fall. Little negatives....which let down the otherwise lovely, happy and excellent team. Saga get your pricing realistic to the cost.....the from........hearing don't do discounts but two couples told us they stayed on because they were given a deal.......make all staff happy. Lovely to deal with. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole ... Read More
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole experience was way above our expectations.Embarkation was quick and easy, cabin very clean and bigger than expected with more than enough storage space. The food was of a very good standard, with plenty of choice. Entertainment overall was good.The service throughout was excellent,with all the crew being very polite and helpful. although the sapphire is classed as a small ship, it certainly didn't feel like it to us . Disembarkation was very slick and smooth, yes, there is a waiting time, but you know in advance your app. time to go. all in all a very enjoyable holiday, and yes we will go with saga again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and tilbury. we went on the excursion to amsterdam river trip which was fantastic, and the highlight was Keukenhof gardens we spent 6 hours there and it was brilliant .The food was excellent, the cabin was great and the staff looked after us well,the ship was well keeped and spotlessly clean, the cabaret was brilliant.Embarkation was ok and disembarkation was covered very well no rushing to get off the ship, we were given a number and when they called that number it was our turn to disembark.. we now have the cruising bug and after this cruise hopefully we will cruise with saga again. We recommend saga cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was booked only 5 weeks beforehand and was our only option for a short cruise over Easter, departing from Southampton. As we had never cruised with Saga beforehand, we had no real idea what to expect but we were very pleasantly ... Read More
This was booked only 5 weeks beforehand and was our only option for a short cruise over Easter, departing from Southampton. As we had never cruised with Saga beforehand, we had no real idea what to expect but we were very pleasantly surprised with the experience. Boarding at Southampton was very quick - possibly an advantage with a smaller ship - and we were able to access our cabin immediately. We then went to the Britannia Lounge for a very early afternoon tea - at 2pm. The food was excellent but we found this very strange, having been used to having a "proper" lunch with other cruise lines. However, we enjoyed it. We ate in Pole to Pole the first evening but from then on ate in the Veranda where the food was excellent - and the service second to none. The staff couldn't do enough to please and the Manager, Mark, was exceptional. The entertainment in Britannia lounge was excellent, especially The 4Tunes, four very talented young men with Operatic/West End Musicals experience. It was also wonderful to have 'live" music throughout the ship. We had already decided not to do any excursions as we both needed this to be a restful cruise but, in view of the wet and cold weather, we felt it was just as well. Of course, the weather is out of everyone's hands but we were disappointed not to be able to go to Guernsey and, although the captain managed to arrange for us to visit Cherbourg, it's a port which I can happily miss - best driven through quickly from the ferry to more pleasant places in France. Unfortunately, the Ratings section on here doesn't appear to have a facility to show "not used" so I've had to give "average" ratings for Enrichment, Fitness and Excursions. So, overall, an excellent experience and we would definitely cruise again on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Having spent previous Christmas & New Years in warmer climes, we thought it would be good to go to the snow. Not Saga's fault but we only got a mere sprinkling in Oslo. The cabin, service and food were up to the usual high ... Read More
Having spent previous Christmas & New Years in warmer climes, we thought it would be good to go to the snow. Not Saga's fault but we only got a mere sprinkling in Oslo. The cabin, service and food were up to the usual high standard. For a festive cruise the entertainment was only average with less than average cruise directors (they swapped part way through). Some partying on deck was not well publicised and the first we knew of it was in a video shown at the final cocktail party. A previous reviewer criticised the benefits given to Britannia Club members. These include a bottle of sparkling wine, a cocktail party and some discount on on board purchases but not preferental access to the East to West restaurant where, by the way, the staff are Filipino, not Thai. We have certainly never found any hint of it being a clique. There was a cough spreading through the ship and, yes, some passengers, including my wife and her friend, were still suffering after our return. Friends who have just returned from the Caribbean on P&O Britannia were suffering even more. We are not put off but will take greater precautions against picking up ship's bugs. I'm told that saline spray and Vaseline smeared inside the nose cavities is a help. As usual the staff were beyond first class but the captain lacked the persona of those we have met before. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
As well travelled cruisers with several other companies we wanted to try out the SAGA experience so booked a superior cabin on their 17 day Scandinavian Christmas. My wife and I are in our early 70's so thought it would be a nice ... Read More
As well travelled cruisers with several other companies we wanted to try out the SAGA experience so booked a superior cabin on their 17 day Scandinavian Christmas. My wife and I are in our early 70's so thought it would be a nice change. To some extent there were parts of the cruise we enjoyed but to ever repeat the experience again regrettably it would not be for us. We paid for a superior cabin on Deck it with a Balcony and this was our first disappointment. We were surprised and disappointed how small this cabin was, it only had a low oval coffee table with one lounge chair and a dining chair at the other side of the bed as a result it was impracticable to have a meal in the cabin, which was one of the reasons for choosing the Superior cabin. The balcony of our cabin was so narrow it was impossible to sit down on the chairs provided. It could be better described as no bigger than a window box. We paid a total of almost 11K for this cruise we consider was grossly overpriced, despite the tips being included as well as a courier service to and from the ship. The one aspect we didn't like was the fact that the seasoned SAGA regulars become members of the Britannia Club after so many cruises and there are several perks these guys have over the remaining guests. The best dining options on board was the Thai East to West Restaurant which provided stunning cuisine in a very conducive environment but regrettably we were only able to dine there twice during our 17 day cruise. We spoke to a couple who were gold Britannia members who were able to dine there on six occasions. Whilst the food was reasonably good with good choices the Thai restaurants was certainly the finest dining experience. The very best feature of this service was undoubtedly the Thai service staff who were all impeccable throughout. They were personable, extremely efficient and helpful, hard working and were responsive to our every need. We dearly hope that SAGA pass on ALL the included service tips to theses dedicated and loyal individuals. The second part of this cruise involved us spending four days on the ship cruising from Stockholm to Bremerhaven and during this time all the public areas became unbearable to spend time in due to the fact of being confined inside with limited seating space being available. In this last few days most passengers had developed coughs and sneezes and we and several others left the ship with a serious chest infection mainly due to this confinement. Whilst a small ship has its advantages it also has its limitations as well. The entertainment on board was variable with the usual song and dance troop the best features were the classical guitarist and the banjo playing comedian both of which proved very popular. Likewise most of the guest speakers were informative and presented well one in particular a marine so called expert was utterly boring in reading for almost an hour from a rigid script. One night a magician was the guest artist and this show was very amateurish or perhaps we were sitting to close to the action to see all his many failings. He only made one appearance of a planned repeat performance. This whole experience was memorable for the wrong reasons which of course we shall not be repeating. The so called SAGA Britannia family has a masonic feel to it which offered these regular cruises the many advantages mentioned. We didn't feel that several advantages were offered to these individuals after we paid highly for supposedly the same experience. We shall in future stick to what we know and like and therefore will not be pursuing any more SAGA nights towards Britannia Membership. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the ... Read More
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the way back. Luggage transfer is smooth - once it is in the car you won't have to haul it around anywhere. We had a balcony cabin - not worth it on the ship as the balconies are about as wide as a window box. The cabin was a good standard, very clean with comfortable bed and a walk in shower. Ship has main Pole to Pole restaurant, Verandah casual (but menu same as Pole to Pole at night), East to West which is extra so we did not try, fish and chips by the pool and afternoon tea in two of the lounges. Food was really excellent - a talented chef on board - amd with plenty of choice. Dinner seven courses if you wanted it - with included house wine which was OK, lunch at Veranda either a choice of three cooked things, barbecue grill or an extensive cold buffet. Very pleasant eating outside here. Saga makes much of tables for two being available - but in reality there are very few. We were lucky, being put with two other people we really got on with. We sat together thoughout There is no tipping on Saga ships.Staff mainly Filipino and apart from odd language problems excellent. If wi fi is important to you avoid this ship as mainly it does not work and the so called computer exper is clueless. Two pools -outdoor very chilly, indoor quite warm. Tea and coffee is help yourself from a machine - which we did not like much. Drawing Room a very nice place to sit. Plenty of loungers around the ship. Clientele definitely on the elderly side - bit like a seagoing care home. Entertainment a bit on the seaside concert party side - and is in one of the large lounges as this ship does not have a theatre. A good choice if you want an easy trip and need to be looked after. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, ... Read More
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, rates a series of general aspects, like dining. Helpful though these scores are, they do not allow for specific aspects of the service, some of which may be poor and some excellent. Our ratings are repeated below and followed by an attempt to explain why the overall rating is not the whole story. Background information We are experienced travellers but have previously only cruised three times, twice with P&O and once with Thomson. We are English (as were nearly all our fellow passengers) and now comfortably meet Saga’s over 50 requirement. Our reasons for selecting Saga and the “Celtic Charms” cruise were for the lack of children, the included door to door travel, the included tips and the itinerary. We wanted to see Guernsey and Ireland and this cruise included St Peter Port and five ports in Ireland. It really did offer to go where other cruise lines don’t. Ship information Saga Sapphire is a proper cruise ship as distinct from a giant floating tower-block. It seemed similar in size to P&O’s Artemis and Thomson’s Spirit but smaller than P&O’s Canberra. It lacks a wrap-round promenade. The prom on deck 9 is in two bits but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top. It has ten passenger decks but two of these, decks 2 and 4 are only partly public, housing an indoor pool, beauty treatment and a lecture room. The Beach Club on deck 11 is worth a mention. It offers self-service ice-cream and sweets, fish & chips, a pool, and deck-chairs, all free but you need to go into the adjoining Drawing Room to find a bar. The ship has a friendly, club atmosphere and as with all Saga, is child free and for the over 50’s (see Onboard Experience). The whole ship was always clean and tidy. Even the public loos looked and smelt like they had not been used. Table cloths were always spotless. We did not normally see any cleaning but when we did, they were taking extra trouble for example, on their knees, vacuuming the cracks in the grating where the lifts join the floor. There were hand cleaning machines and sprays everywhere and they were greatly used. There was quite a lot of banging on the second night. Reception, next morning, offered no explanation and said that we should have reported it at the time. Other passengers more helpfully suggested that it was waves hitting the ship. There was some swaying from side to side the following day but things settled down after that. It’s difficult to compare different ships in different conditions but we’ve had worse in the north sea and in the bay of Biscay. It was our impression that this ship rode rough waters better than some. Cabin Our Rating - Average A review of the cabin is in CruiseCritic’s separate section. Dining Our Rating - Excellent - but Saga Sapphire has two main restaurants but there is little difference between them. The bigger “Pole to Pole” on deck 7 is slightly more formal with a slightly more comprehensive waiter service. The alternative “Grill” on deck 9 has an out-side option, the “Verandah”, weather permitting. There is also a speciality Asian restaurant, “East to West”, also on deck 9 which is free but we had to queue at specific times to get a booking. We only ate there once at a table for two in a spacious, peaceful room with an interesting menu and excellent service, let down a little by the request at the end to say how good it was on our end-of-cruise survey. Dining times could be better. Breakfast often ended at 9:30. With two restaurant options, it should be possible to offer breakfast till at least 10am and preferably 11am. Dining times for lunch and dinner were similarly limited and changed from day to day but we did not find this a problem. There was no late night buffet and the unappetising late bites (hors d'oeuvres) offered in some of the bars were no substitute. Dining arrangements were better than expected and better than other ships we have tried. Although we did not apply for an optional fixed table, we were often able to get a table for two on arrival at “Pole to Pole”. Otherwise, there were usually options to join tables for four, six or eight. At some of the tables, the seating was quite close but we have experienced worse. Only once, did we find ourselves dining in poor company and on that occasion we were soon joined by another couple who lightened the atmosphere. The overall atmosphere in both main restaurants was generally hectic rather than relaxed. There were some quiet areas but mostly waiters and fellow passengers were coming and going around the tables all the time. It was never quiet and the temperature got quite high in some places. On our cruise, heat was not a problem. It did not get warm enough to use the “veranda”. The speciality “East to West” was more spacious and much more peaceful. Restaurant service was consistently polite and attentive. We usually did not have to wait long, either to be seated or at any stage during meals. Aspects of the service were, however, confusing. We could order from a menu, but it was never clear what else was available from the buffet (both restaurants) or even where the buffets were. Waiters would explain, but some of them, presumably because of limited English, gave misleading or unhelpful responses. Sometimes the wrong meal was delivered and when offered coffee and requesting tea, we were likely to get another waiter offering coffee again before tea turned up. Menu choices were good. For breakfast, we have not seen more options anywhere else. Lunch and dinner menus changed daily but it was not clear how many courses there were supposed to be. Soups and salads were all listed under starters and it was not clear which of the main meals needed additional potatoes or vegetables. The waiters would, however, without question, bring anything ordered including items not on the menu. For breakfast, toast, like tea, coffee and fruit juice, was waiter served with a choice of white or brown. It turned up somewhat randomly, before of after what you wanted it with and it was never hot. None of the above points prevented us from getting what we wanted at meal times and all the food was really good. Free wine (reasonable quality red or white with lunch and dinner) and water were topped up regularly and there was tea or coffee with sweeties to finish. The food was, if anything, better than we have had from P&O and much better than Thomson. Finally, further comments about other food and drink options are under “Service” below. Embarkation - including travel to embarkation port Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. Travel or parking are included in the cost of a Saga cruise. The people carrier arrived at our home a little early. There were already a couple in it, so we got the rear seats - spacious but not as comfortable as the middle seats or a car. The driver loaded and unloaded our four cases. The journey should only have taken two and a half hours but our fellow travellers wanted to stop once and then the driver wanted to stop again, only half an hour from the port. On arrival, there was a ten minute queue of vehicles waiting to be unloaded. At the head of this queue, on leaving the people carrier, neither the driver nor anyone else were able to advise us, so we followed our luggage. This turned our to be wrong and we were re-directed to another queue. After another few minutes, as we got closer to the head of the queue, it became apparent that it was only for optional photo’s. We then walked straight to a reception desk. Embarkation - Our Rating - Excellent Having got past the unnecessary delays, check-in and boarding were instant. We exchanged our passports for plastic cards, signed a health disclaimer and walked on to the ship. A girl immediately escorted us to our cabin. Here the welcome news-sheet explained what was on, how to register our ship’s cards to our bank card (or credit card for a 1.5% charge) and most importantly where to find the welcome buffet. This was extensive with more than we needed for lunch. There was ample seating, waiters regularly re-filled tea and coffee cups and a string quartet entertained us. On returning to our cabin, two of our cases had arrived and the other two followed within half an hour. Because of bad weather, muster, shortly after returning to our cabin, occurred in the public rooms where we took rather than wore our life-jackets. This was a good deal more civilised than mustering on deck. Activities (enrichment or otherwise) Our Rating - Poor There were some but that is not what were were looking for or expecting from this cruise. We did attend one of the lectures for a bit but it was so uninteresting, we can not even remember the subject. Entertainment Our Rating - Average - just None of the entertainment was annoying and some of it did entertain. The “cruise director”, Jo Boase, did a good job of compering and informing us of what was on. The shows were not as good as on other cruise lines, not helped by the lack of a proper theatre. Irish dancing where the audience can not see the dancers feet is pointless although the music and energy were good enough and there were TV screens dotted around. The “Saga Orchestra” seemed to comprise five musicians - not really enough for a band let alone an orchestra. The sound was quite good but the single saxophone stood out with no other wind instruments. Similarly, the second main act, the “Ocean Duo” relied on one good female voice backed by recorded tracks and an unimpressive male singer-guitarist. This duo might be more entertaining if their repertoire was not so limited. We heard many numbers more than three times. The “cocktail pianist”, Stuart Anderson was entertaining. If anything, too entertaining for a cocktail pianist, especially as he played mostly in “Coopers” bar which is really too small for entertainment. Saga would have done better to deploy Stuart in place of the Ocean Duo and add a pianist to play the untouched grand pianos which were all over the ship. In addition to these acts, there was a classical string quartet, “the Pier” who were good and “Mr Yalba” a speciality music act. His first show was good but not good enough for us to want to see the second. Fitness & Recreation Our Rating - Average This may not be a fair rating as we did not look for or use any fitness facilities. There was some equipment and an indoor pool in the bowels of the ship on deck 3. There were also some recreational classes, notably exercising, crafts, dancing and bridge but we did not join in. The promenade on deck 9 is in two bits so you can not promenade around the ship but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top, where there is crazy-golf and other games. Onboard Experience Our Rating - Good - but In at least two places there were lingering bad smells of drains and or fuel. Fortunately this did not affect our cabin or the public rooms. Each morning, “Today” a four page what's-on plus a four page newspaper summarising UK and world events were delivered to our cabin. “Today” was a great help in planning each day. We were treated to three “cocktail parties” where bubbly or soft drinks flowed and staff officers circulated. They were pleasant enough get-to-gethers but there were no actual cocktails. We are in our seventies but our fellow travellers seemed old. Walking sticks and walking frames were everywhere. This did make progress slow on the gangways and shuttle buses but having said that, there was normally no problem getting around the ship. When the weather was bad, staff helpfully escorted the numerous, partially disabled around and this did slow things down. There were, however, none of the crushes to get to the best seats that we have experienced on other ships. Our cruise seemed more like a floating care home than a floating holiday camp. The passengers were universally polite, good humoured and not down market. We developed quite close relationships with several passengers and had interesting conversations with many more. Public Rooms Our Rating - Average Saga Sapphire has two large public rooms, the Britannia Lounge on deck 8 and the Drawing Room on deck 11 plus two smaller rooms, the Aviator Lounge on deck 7 and Coopers Bar on deck 8. There is also an under cover outside bar at the Verandah on deck 9. The Britannia Lounge has assorted comfortable seating mostly with tables. There is no tiered seating, the stage is not very high and much of the entertainment uses the dance floor. So, it’s good for listening to shows but not so good for seeing them. Afternoon tea and the “cocktail parties” are held here when waiters serve the drinks. There is no bar. The Drawing Room is very multi-purpose. Basically it is an observation lounge but it has a library; board games and jig-saws set at small tables; self-service cakes and hot drinks; a bar and a dance floor plus doors out to the forward deck and to the Beach Club. It hosts daytime and evening entertainment. The seating is all upholstered but mixed. There are some comfy armchairs, some less comfortable fitted sofas with too few cushions and other fixed sofas facing the wrong way, away from the windows, dance-floor and performance area - there is no stage. There are some tables but also some space wasting large upholstered boxes which are neither tables nor stools. This room is very different at different times. Mostly, it’s a peaceful observation lounge. Sometimes, when the self-service is available, it’s a busy tea-room. Sometimes it’s an entertainment venue, including classical concerts, quizzes and evening dancing or shows. It was popular and at times difficult to find a seat. The Aviator Lounge is split into two parts with the reception and tour desks in-between. One part has a bar and waiters try to service both sides. The seating is mostly near to windows and comfortable with tables. Coopers Bar is next to the Britannia Lounge. It is small but despite this, on our cruise, was a popular entertainment venue. Waiters imported extra seating and the room became very crowded when Stuart was performing. At other times, it was peaceful and the seating (apart from the bar stools) was comfortable. It was good to find draft real ale, Shepherd Neam’s Spitfire, in all the bars. Service Our Rating - Excellent - but The staff were mostly Filipino and they were universally polite, helpful and friendly. Once or twice, it was not clear whether our request had been understood. For example, meal orders were not always repeated back to us but this is really a minor quibble. We would be pleased to get such good service in England. We did not try the launderette, partly because the laundry service charges were reasonable. £1.50 for a shirt from memory. The results were more than acceptable but the ultra-fussy may want to do a bit of re-ironing. Other aspects of service were not quite as good. Meal times were restricted, particularly breakfast, as mentioned above but on top of that, the availability of other options was unclear. The hot drink machines had restricted hours and the free room service was limited. We did not try ordering food from room service, just late night hot drinks. We could have tea, coffee and biscuits but not a cappuccino. It took two ‘phone calls to establish that cappuccino was only available “when the bar was open” and even then we would have had to pay although a cappuccino would only cost £0.95. Shore Excursions Our Rating - Average - and expensive Because of bad weather, we first went to Cherbourg instead of Guernsey. We then went round Ireland the opposite way, calling at all five ports but in reverse order. Finally, we called at Portland (Weymouth) instead of Ilfracombe before returning to Dover. Captain Julian Burgess was very informative, especially about the changes, saying that we were on a magical mystery cruise. We considered three options for the ports we were to visit, Saga’s optional excursions, booking advance tickets or making our own way (d.i.y.). We settled for two of Saga’s excursions and d.i.y. on the day for the rest. Just as well we did not book advance tickets as we did not visit two ports and the other five were all on different dates. We had been tempted by an on-line 15% discount for advance booking of the Dublin hop-on-hop-off bus but glad we did not. On excursions generally, there were always queues to get on or off the ship, not helped by the slowness and disability of some of the passengers. Saga should and could do things to improve this. 1 - Cherbourg This was in place of St Peter Port, Guernsey, where we planned d.i.y. visits to Castle Cornet, the Union Street pillar box, German Naval Signals HQ and possibly Guernsey Museum. We did not get off at Cherbourg. 2 - Cobh (Cove in English) As a result of the re-scheduling, we arrived here a day early at 7:30pm. We took advantage of this and went ashore after dinner. A couple of hundred yards from the ship we found an Irish pub in the town square with three musicians, bagpipes, flute and squeeze-box, sitting round a table, playing jigs. With a pint of Beamish it was an enjoyable Irish experience. There was no singing but we left fairly early. Next day Saga suggested getting the train to Cork but we stayed in Cobh visiting St Colman’s Cathedral, well worth the climb as others have remarked, and the Titanic Experience. Although tiny compared with the Belfast version this guided tour of the original White Star ticket office cost just €8 each (about £6.80) and was almost as interesting. 3 - Dublin Here, because of the re-scheduling, we did not stay as long as planned, arriving at 11:15pm, a bit late to go ashore that night. Next day, we had nothing booked so took the free shuttle-bus into central Dublin. A lot of Dublin seems to be being dug up for a new tram system. We walked past the Molly Malone statue and the parliament building to the GPO where we bought tickets for the Witness History experience at €8 each. There was a film re-enactment of the revolution in a small cinema; small screens showing learned people explaining the revolution plus displays of a few artefacts. It was not anti-British and interesting to learn how loss of empire started almost accidentally. Compared with other capital cities, we were not impressed by what we saw of Dublin. 4 - Belfast We had pre-booked Saga’s “Birthplace of the Titanic” tour for £59 each. It’s an impressive building and exhibition complete with a ride through a simulation of the construction, a film show and a multi-screen reproduction of the Titanic’s luxurious interior. Arguably as interesting were the original slip-way and sole remaining White Star Line ship outside. We did not see any artefacts although there was not enough time to see everything properly. The tour bus then took us past some of Belfast’s sights including the Falls and Shanklin roads - interesting. Overall the tour lasted four hours. As there seemed to be no queue for tickets on the day for the Titanic Experience and it was only about two and a half miles from the ship, it probably would have been better and cheaper to take a taxi and spend more time there. The tickets do, however, cost £14.50 each, more than twice the price of the Cobh exhibition. Perhaps because of the limited bus tour, Belfast was more impressive than Dublin. 5 - Killybegs Saga’s tour to the Belleek Pottery was already fully booked when we booked the cruise. We registered our interest on boarding at Sapphire’s tour desk and subsequently got tickets at £49 each. This tour was better value. It included an extensive trip through County Donegal and a stop at Donegal town as well as the pottery. We also passed some small cells “Killybegs” in Galic, claimed to have been occupied by monks who gave the place it’s name. It would have been difficult for us to independently get to and from the pottery, some thirty-six miles away. Donegal is quite a pretty little town with some touristy shops and what they call a castle but not a lot else to see or do. The Belleek Pottery guided tour was interesting and comprehensive with plenty of time after to browse the displays and shop or use the cafe. After returning to the ship and a late lunch, we went ashore again, taking the shuttle bus less than a mile into Killybegs village. Here we looked at the completely and impressively refurbished church, St Mary’s and walked back via St Catherine’s Well, on a small hill overlooking the harbour. It was all interesting enough so we did not mind not finding the Maritime & Heritage Visitor Centre. Irish sign-posting seems to be comprehensive but not necessarily accurate. 6 - Glengarriff We had nothing booked here. We went ashore mid-morning by tender and walked about half a mile into the village. There was not much to see. A few shops and a few pubs half of which were closed on a Tuesday lunch-time. We went in one to try the local Guinness. The pub had, if anything, less atmosphere than your average English local and to non-Guinness drinkers, it tasted the same as it does at home. 7 - Portland This was in place of Ilfracombe and again we did not go on an excursion. We took the shuttle-bus into Weymouth, walked through this picturesque sea-side town and took the bus back to the ship. Disembarkation (and Return Travel) Our rating would be Good. Disembarkation was if anything smoother than embarkation but took much longer. Our cases had to be packed and put outside the cabin before we went to bed. Breakfast was early as we had to be out of the cabin by 8am. We then had a long wait in the Drawing Room for our number to be called. At least the hot drink machines were working and there were Danish pastries. Our call came on time just after 11am. Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. The travel service home was better than coming. On leaving the ship, we pointed to our cases and a porter trolleyed them first to our driver and second to his people carrier. As before, there was a (different) couple already in the middle seats. This time the journey was direct, first to their home in Colchester and then on to ours. A private limousine would make this service much better. Value for Money Our Rating - Poor - but Saga cruises are expensive. Set against that are the free travel service; included tips; free wine with meals and bubbly at parties; free shuttle buses; free room service; free fruit in the cabin (though not daily) and free to book the speciality restaurant. Bar prices are also a little below the on-shore average. £3.20 for a pint of real ale, £1.50 for Pepsi. A 175cl glass of wine cost from £3.70 to at least £4.70. In addition the food was excellent. From memory, better than we had on P&O’s Artemis some years ago and significantly better than we got on Thomson’s Spirit, four years ago. If you take off all the extras, it is likely that a Saga cruise would still be a little more expensive than others but there is probably not much in it. A more subtle benefit is that with so much thrown in, there less to worry or think about. On that basis Saga cruises probably are value for money. Summary Our Rating - Very Good Saga’s package is impressive. In many ways the cruise was excellent. Our little niggles were not enough to spoil a great experience. The service and food stand out for commendation. We had particularly wanted to see Guernsey but did not. We also wanted to see Ireland and did, though from what we saw, we are in no rush to return. It was good to see but now we’ve seen it. The itinerary changes were a disappointment but Saga went to some trouble to re-arrange things to cope with the weather conditions. This too deserves commendation. Of the niggles mentioned above, the early breakfast times and lack of a late buffet were the most annoying. Also, the travel service could be better and the entertainment should be better but what got nearest to spoiling our holiday was the number of passengers with significant disabilities. Their age was not a problem. For complex personal reasons we booked this Celtic Charms cruise after booking Saga Sapphire’s “Continental Christmas Markets” which sails on 4 December 2017. Our experience of the Celtic Charms cruise has convinced us not to cancel the second cruise, even though we will be cruising twice in the same year. We hope that this shorter shopping cruise will attract a higher proportion of mobile passengers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 ... Read More
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 and, not long after clearing Dover harbour, we were treated by Saga to a 15 minute flying display by two Spitfire fighter aircraft from Biggin Hill. Amazing! This was our third voyage on Saga Sapphire in 2 years, and it was rather nice to see familiar faces amongst the staff and to be greeted by name. Our prior (excellent) experiences were repeated on this 15 day voyage.....excellent service, good food and quality complimentary wines. If you wished, you could order wines from the standard wine list, with a £10 per bottle discount,but the complimentary wines were so good that this would only be necessary for celebrating a very special occasion. We visited seven ports, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallin, Ventspils, Gdansk and Wismar.....all interesting destinations although Ventspils is probably still climbing the learning curve for tourism. It was our second visit there and my wife and quite like its quirkiness (especially the bovine street art!) We were also impressed with the flower displays all around town. With calm seas and slight winds for the whole voyage, we could not have wished for better on this cruise holiday. Just a few spots of rain for 20 minutes in St Petersburg, and that was the totally of 'bad' weather. I have to mention the efforts of the catering staff and the hard work they put in for lunchtime events outdoors on the Verandah terrace, and for the fabulous Russian Buffet that was put in place in the Pole to Pole restaurant on our overnight stop in St Petersburg. The entertainment was of high quality. We enjoyed the Greek classical guitarist, Dimitris Davakallis, and the Polish violinist. Michael Bacala who each gave two excellent performances. Also aboard were the Think Pink Duo (Marta and Gabi Onali) from Rumania and, along with many other guests, enjoyed dancing to their music late at night in the Drawing Room. They very kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga.y kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our first ever cruise and couldn't fault it. So good we've booked another cruise on Saga Sapphire for May next year whilst on board. Spotlessly clean cabin on arrival and our cabin steward kept is so for all the cruise. ... Read More
Our first ever cruise and couldn't fault it. So good we've booked another cruise on Saga Sapphire for May next year whilst on board. Spotlessly clean cabin on arrival and our cabin steward kept is so for all the cruise. Exemplary service. Food excellent and very varied menu. Opted for the 'open dining' option and found this the best way to meet people. Entertainment generally very good, with the 4 piece string quartet and pianist in the bars excellent. Organisation from collection from home to return first rate. Shore excursions were very well organised and advance informative talks given 1-2 days before arrival. Lots of lectures on various subjects to keep you occupied during at sea days. Very good on-board library. WiFi on board free through-out the ship, but can be a bit slow due to being on a satellite link. Best port of call was Arendal, only small but very interesting and easy to get to without need of shuttle bus. Except for St Petersburg (due to visa requirements) shuttle bus for port best option. Tallinn was crowded, but 3 other cruise ships docked at same time. Enjoyed the galley tour with George Streeter the chef - very informative. The weather was generally good, and the captain gave advance notice of some slightly choppy waters after Stockholm so everyone was prepared. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Recently returned from Baltic Capitals cruise on board Saga Sapphire which was our first experience with Saga. Everything from being collected at the door to returning home was extremely well organised and went smoothly. The cabin on deck ... Read More
Recently returned from Baltic Capitals cruise on board Saga Sapphire which was our first experience with Saga. Everything from being collected at the door to returning home was extremely well organised and went smoothly. The cabin on deck 10 which was adapted as I am a wheelchair user was a good size with a large wet room and balcony, ideal! The food, and there is plenty of variation, was excellent and always served with a smile. Entertainment was in the main of a high standard and there were plenty of activities on board. Shore excursions are not cheap but are well organised, but there are shuttle buses in the ports that are for the passengers who wish to adventure on their own.Saga Sapphire is a lovely ship with a very happy helpful crew who make sure your cruise is a happy one. All in all a wonderful experience and looking forward to our next cruise on Sapphire. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We wanted to visit the fjords and see the Midnight Sun and wanted to cruise on Sapphire again, so of course opted for this cruise. It was excellent from start to finish. Booking was easy over the phone. The door to door transport was ... Read More
We wanted to visit the fjords and see the Midnight Sun and wanted to cruise on Sapphire again, so of course opted for this cruise. It was excellent from start to finish. Booking was easy over the phone. The door to door transport was really good and embarkation simple and quick. In no time at all we were on board and shown to our cabin which was as expected. We felt at home straightaway and headed on up to our favourite bar where we were greeted by the same smiling bar staff from our previous cruise. It was the same for the rest of the cruise. We chose to eat mainly in the waited-on restaurant, Pole to Pole, and as we prefer to eat alone in the evening were given a fixed table for two. However the table was not to our liking, but, no problem, the Maitre d' Kirsten changed it for us to one we were completely happy with. We had lovely food, not a bad meal all the way through, ,and a good choice of courses. The waiting staff were excellent, nothing was too much trouble, and we were greeted by the same friendly faces as last year. Show entertainment is not our thing so we preferred to go up to the drawing room after dinner for quiet drinks, laid back music and quizzing! Service all through the ship was excellent, we wanted for nothing, from the early tea-tray brought by the steward to the turned down bed at night with the chocolate on our pillows. The ports we visited were interesting, although we feel some of the excursions were too expensive for what they were. It was good to have the free shuttle bus service at the ports where we had not booked a trip. Unlike a previous reviewer we felt we had enough information about the itinerary and we did get to see the fjords and the Midnight Sun. In fact it seemed as though the previous reviewers had been on a different cruise to us! We have already put our names down for another cruise on Sapphire in 2018 and eagerly await the new brochure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous ... Read More
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous size. Our first shock was, when booking, to find that two days after receiving the brochure we found that prices has been increased by 10% - all cabins as offered were already sold. We almost cancelled, but decided we liked the itinerary so confirmed the booking. Not a good start,however, and not handled very diplomatically by Saga staff. The staff on board were from many countries - the captain and the "cruise director" were British; deck and engineering officers of various European nationalities; catering and "hotel" staff mostly Filipino; entertainment by performers from several European countries. Some aspects of the cruise were as we had expected from previous experiences with Saga. Filipino staff all friendly and diligent - no reason to fault them. Food generally good, but let down by some very poor meals - consistency not as good a we had been used to. Bars and (free) wine with meals - no problems. Entertainment was mixed, however. Some good performers were overwhelmed by the resident backing "orchestra" - pianist and guitar drowning out the voices, violin soloists etc. No attempt to mix sound properly. And there didn't appear to be anyone taking an interest in resolving the problem - the "Cruise Director" was busy telling us all how wonderful it was, with no time it seemed, to check it was as good as he believed.. (We have over fifty years of experience in musical shows so know good from bad..) Then we were very disappointed to be given some basic info about towns we were to visit, but barely anything about the fjords - which was the basic reason for coming on the cruise. In the event we saw no fjords in normal daytime hours except on excursions. When we were due to see fjords at night (in daylight still, of course) there was inadequate (or no) guidance on when to be on deck so we missed them. We also found that, particularly in Bergen, the ship was allocate a berth four miles form the town centre. Saga does not rate highly with the port, it seems. Finally, it took us four hours from berthing at Dover before we left the port. We saw no evidence of any supervision of the multitude of staff rushing around; embarking crew were mixed up with disembarking passengers; our taxi driver had himself been waiting over four hours. Chaos reigned. We gained the impression that Saga is now a very small outfit trying to punch above its weight in a very competitive market. In the past they appeared to keep going. On this performance they failed to provide the vision, the management or the supervision that are needed to survive in the same league. We will not be cruising with them again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Trying a cruise on my own for the first time. Embarkation and disembarkation always goes so smoothly and I found no difficulty being on my own. There are Saga staff to help if needed. It was a great success. From the first moments ... Read More
Trying a cruise on my own for the first time. Embarkation and disembarkation always goes so smoothly and I found no difficulty being on my own. There are Saga staff to help if needed. It was a great success. From the first moments before sailing the entertainment crew- Abby -a dancer and Richard a gentleman host came and chatted as I was sitting on my own. I was seated at meals with other single passengers and made many friends. The food was fantastic as usual. My cabin was very comfortable. I would advise any ladies to take their own hairdryer if needed as I found it quite difficult with arthritic hands to keep my finger constantly on the button to use it. The showtime group were very professional. This was my third cruise on Sapphire and I would not hesitate to travel on my own again. The included chauffeur service from home was perfect. It is so nice to not see your luggage until it is in your cabin! I am ready to book on Sapphire next year once again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
For our 40th wedding anniversary we decided on a cruise and as it was our 1st time we chose Saga because of their reputation and smaller ships. When we spoke to the sale advisor's we emphasized why we were booking the holiday and ... Read More
For our 40th wedding anniversary we decided on a cruise and as it was our 1st time we chose Saga because of their reputation and smaller ships. When we spoke to the sale advisor's we emphasized why we were booking the holiday and requested a larger Superior cabin with a balcony as this was a special occasion. Their brochure quotes “Larger cabins up to 270 square feet”. When calling their office regarding other queries we double checked that this cabin would meet our requirements and was assured this was the case. We were surprised and disappointed how small this cabin was, it only had a low oval coffee table with one lounge chair and a dining chair at the other side of the bed as a result it was impracticable to have an intimate meal, which was one of the reasons for choosing the Superior cabin. The balcony of our cabin was so narrow it was impossible to sit down on the chairs provided. A travel lodge room is bigger than this cabin with 2 proper chairs. We later discovered from visiting a fellow cruiser’s standard outside cabin on deck 6 was larger and more like a “large hotel room than a ship cabin” as quoted in their brochure. At no point whilst speaking to the sales advisor's was this explained nor does it show this in the brochure or on line. Had we been informed at the time of booking of these differences we would not have chosen a Superior cabin with a balcony. Having paid £754.00 extra for a smaller cabin with a balcony of little use seems excessive at least. We would also comment on the dining arrangements, these were advertised as being available in the evenings from 6:45pm until 9:00pm as a single sitting, after arriving back from a trip late one evening we went down to dinner only to find we were rushed at every stage from order to dessert Norway was a lovely country but our experience of this cruise was spoilt by the comments above and found the cruise was certainly not value for money. Don't get sucked in to higher priced cabins unless you are fully aware of what is on offer, as all is not as it appears. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second cruise aboard Saga Sapphire, and our 16th cruise in all. I have to say that this one was the best ever! My family has no direct connection with the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, but I do have an interest in WW1 ... Read More
This was our second cruise aboard Saga Sapphire, and our 16th cruise in all. I have to say that this one was the best ever! My family has no direct connection with the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, but I do have an interest in WW1 history, hence embarking on this trip. Embarkation was slick, and we had an outside cabin on deck 6, close to the bow, which was a bit noisy during the few roughshod days that we experienced, slamming into waves, but nothing about that was in any way concerning. My impressions from the May 2014 cruise to the Baltic were repeated - excellent dining, friendly and courteous staff, very comfortable and of course plenty of entertainment options so that difficult choices had to be made. As this was the ANZAC Centenary, you'll not be surprised that many Australians and New Zealanders had flown 12,000 miles to join this special cruise for this special day on 25 April. We had 71 aboard, amongst the 604 passengers who embarked. A bigger bunch of extroverts one couldn't have asked for, and they were great fun to socialise with. SAGA had organised 3 Aussie military historians, as well as a UK diplomat and an army brigadier/historian who gave a series of lectures setting out the context for the political history of the Great Powers and the wide range of events leading up to the declaration of war in 2015, and then about the concept and execution of the Gallipoli campaign itself from a number of perspectives. Very thought provoking. Prior to ANZAC Day we spent two days in Chanakkule, with battlefield tours organised to take us to the different landing beaches and battlegrounds. The lectures put everything into context. On the centenary morning we were supposed to have anchored in ANZAC Cove, where the Australian and NZ forces landed along with some British regiments. The dawn centenary commemoration service was to start at 5, attended by many heads of state, plus Prince Charles. Unfortunately, someone (possibly in the Turkish security service) decided that 604 pensioners posed a threat so we were ordered to anchor off Helles Point, the site of the British contingents landing grounds, until 1300 hours, after which we could go to ANZAC Cove. We watched the very special Dawn Sevice on a broadcast by the Autralian Broadcasting Service, about 300 of decamping to the main Britannia Lounge. It was very moving. This was followed by rum & milk, with ANZAC biscuits, and an early breakfast. After breakfast an onboard memorial service was held, led by the SAGA chaplain. The names of all the relatives of the passengers who taken part in the campaign were read out, and wreaths laid. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa led the singing of National Anthems before the service ended. After lunch, we weighed anchor and cruised up the Gallipoli peninsula from S Beach at Helles as far as Sulva Bay, the most northerly landing ground, with the military historians and the UK brigadier providing informed commentary all the way. In keeping with Aussie ANZAC day tradition, post-lunch they played Two-Up, a gambling game that is illegal in Australia except on ANZAC Day. Even though it was just paper Monopoly notes being used, it all got rather raucous for an hour or so.....much drinking and lots of laughter. After Suvla we turned south, heading for Crete, and then finished the day with a fantastic Gallipoli Centenary Dinner. Head Chef Thierry pulled out all the stops for this. I would also mention that SAGA does listen to passenger feedback: 1. A request for a passenger laundry resulted in a new laundry being installed on Deck 6. Swish machines, and detergent provided. 2. The funny odour problem has been completed resolved. 3. A Tasmanian guest asked for Limoncello one evening. This wasn't on the drinks menu. Two days later, after calling into Cagliari, Limoncello was on the menu (gratis). I was impressed, as was John, the Tasmanian! This was a very special cruise and has provided lots of wonderful memories for my wife and I. Thank you again SAGA! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our second Saga cruise and easily met our expectations. I should say that my wife and I were looking for relaxation and not necessarily with the need to go ashore at each port visited. The trip itself was not without problems but ... Read More
This was our second Saga cruise and easily met our expectations. I should say that my wife and I were looking for relaxation and not necessarily with the need to go ashore at each port visited. The trip itself was not without problems but this made no difference to our personal enjoyment of the holiday. Saga offer an inclusive taxi collect from home and this helps make the embarkation experience so, so much easier. The Dover operation was pretty slick and we were quickly in our cabin ready for the off. Day 2 of the voyage was a sailing day (Dover - Mantoir (for St. Nazaire)) and this is where the only problem of the voyage arose. One of the engines was found to have water in the sump and required to be shut down hence an extended voyage time which affected the whole itinerary. Day 3 in Mantoir. We, as planned, stayed on board which was just as well. The temperature was around the 32 centigrade mark and most unpleasant and other passengers told is that it was extremely unpleasant on the excursion buses. I had looked at Mantoir on Wikipedia and a one line description informed it to be a port handling liquid methane - nothing else in the description. Confirmed as a pretty depressing place. Day 4 should have been a visit to La Pallice for La Rochelle but the engine problem caused a delay so this visit dropped off the itinerary and the ship sailed direct to Bordeaux. In fairness to Saga, as compensation to their passengers, free wine (plus beer and soft drinks) was given at lunch and dinner. I do not think that you can be fairer than that! Day 5 in Bordeaux. There was the small issue here of insufficient draft for the Sapphire due to unusually low water levels in the river. Shuttle bus service to Bordeaux town was efficient but unfortunately only went to the commercial area and not to the historic area of the city. This was the nearest Saturday to the Bastille Day celebrations so the parades could only be seen from the bus. Bordeaux itself on a Saturday afternoon is, sadly, not a lot different to any large town in the UK. The shops are pretty much the same (chain shops prevalent) and the area full of teenagers. Day 6 sailing Bordeaux to Guernsey. Day 7 spent in St Peter Port, Guernsey. This was our first experience of transfer to shore by tender which I have to say was run extremely well with passenger safety paramount. It was only the passengers that made it difficult. Day 8 arrival at Dover. Again, a slick operation for disembarkation with breakfast to taxi in about 2.5 hours.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Saga Sapphire Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.3
Family N/A 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.4

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