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After sailing with Cunard for well over 20 years {Platinum Members} and with Celebrity for around 6 years, the Saga Pearl II Christmas market cruise 2017 was a first for us but it won't be the last vacation we take with Saga. Although Cunard ships and Celebrity ships have the glitz and glamour the ambience on Cunard isn't what it used to be, folks in track suit bottoms, Man U shirts and {can you believe} mothers in pyjama's chasing screaming kids takes the shine from the elegance of the ships, what you see depicted in the brochures isn't what you'll get on-board the ship. Cruising on the Pearl II is more like staying at an elegant / refined Country Club, a relaxed atmosphere for the over 50's, it hardly matters where the ship is going, just that you are on it. A good number of the folks we met on the Pearl had sailed on her 10 or 15 times or more, many were doing back to back cruises, they don't want to get off, we can see why, it's pity we didn't discover Saga cruises years ago. As mentioned the Pearl might not have the glitz and glamour of the QM2, but it doesn't have 2,695 passengers either. The 3:30 line up at the Kings Court buffet on the QM2 sees folks jockeying for position waiting for the tape to go up, it's like the start of the Grand National. It's certainly more like Aintree than what you'd expect {or got years ago} on a Cunard ship, then it's musical chairs trying to find a table. Standards are high on the Pearl, the public areas, the décor, the food, the service from cabin staff to restaurant and bar staff were equal to if not better than any ship we have sailed on in the last 25 years. Unlike Cunard and most other lines on Saga ships the tips are included in the price but the service we had from the cabin staff and others was exceptional so we tipped them to show appreciation for the respect, regard and level of service they gave us and all the passengers on the Pearl. The food in the restaurants was second to none, the presentation on the plate showed that the kitchen staff take pride in their work, the waiters/waitresses were friendly and attentive. I guess it helps that even when the Pearl is fully booked there's less than 500 passengers aboard, the whole experience is more Boutique than Butlin's. Onboard purchases are in £'s rather than US$'s so you know exactly what you are paying without having to calculate the £ vs $ rate, add to that drink prices in the bars aren't extortionate either. The entertainment was excellent, especially The Four D's, they put on a couple of great shows, the enrichment programs were "par for the course" much the same as any ship. Included in the price is Travel Insurance, chauffeur pick up if you live within 250 miles of Southampton, if you live further than that there's a small fee for the extra miles, or if you chose to travel by train the return ticket is provided, what more could you ask for. I could go on to say how the Pearl was equal to {or more often} better in all aspects than the other ships we have sailed on, but I'll leave that for my review of the QM2. We had a great time, made many new friends and learned a lot from them about Saga vacations. All in all we couldn't fault any aspect of the cruise, the next cruise we take will be with Saga, we didn't know what we were missing !!!

We didn't know what we were missing !!!

Saga Pearl II Cruise Review by Cantbebad

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Europe
After sailing with Cunard for well over 20 years {Platinum Members} and with Celebrity for around 6 years, the Saga Pearl II Christmas market cruise 2017 was a first for us but it won't be the last vacation we take with Saga.

Although Cunard ships and Celebrity ships have the glitz and glamour the ambience on Cunard isn't what it used to be, folks in track suit bottoms, Man U shirts and {can you believe} mothers in pyjama's chasing screaming kids takes the shine from the elegance of the ships, what you see depicted in the brochures isn't what you'll get on-board the ship.

Cruising on the Pearl II is more like staying at an elegant / refined Country Club, a relaxed atmosphere for the over 50's, it hardly matters where the ship is going, just that you are on it. A good number of the folks we met on the Pearl had sailed on her 10 or 15 times or more, many were doing back to back cruises, they don't want to get off, we can see why, it's pity we didn't discover Saga cruises years ago.

As mentioned the Pearl might not have the glitz and glamour of the QM2, but it doesn't have 2,695 passengers either. The 3:30 line up at the Kings Court buffet on the QM2 sees folks jockeying for position waiting for the tape to go up, it's like the start of the Grand National. It's certainly more like Aintree than what you'd expect {or got years ago} on a Cunard ship, then it's musical chairs trying to find a table.

Standards are high on the Pearl, the public areas, the décor, the food, the service from cabin staff to restaurant and bar staff were equal to if not better than any ship we have sailed on in the last 25 years.

Unlike Cunard and most other lines on Saga ships the tips are included in the price but the service we had from the cabin staff and others was exceptional so we tipped them to show appreciation for the respect, regard and level of service they gave us and all the passengers on the Pearl.

The food in the restaurants was second to none, the presentation on the plate showed that the kitchen staff take pride in their work, the waiters/waitresses were friendly and attentive. I guess it helps that even when the Pearl is fully booked there's less than 500 passengers aboard, the whole experience is more Boutique than Butlin's.

Onboard purchases are in £'s rather than US$'s so you know exactly what you are paying without having to calculate the £ vs $ rate, add to that drink prices in the bars aren't extortionate either.

The entertainment was excellent, especially The Four D's, they put on a couple of great shows, the enrichment programs were "par for the course" much the same as any ship.

Included in the price is Travel Insurance, chauffeur pick up if you live within 250 miles of Southampton, if you live further than that there's a small fee for the extra miles, or if you chose to travel by train the return ticket is provided, what more could you ask for.

I could go on to say how the Pearl was equal to {or more often} better in all aspects than the other ships we have sailed on, but I'll leave that for my review of the QM2. We had a great time, made many new friends and learned a lot from them about Saga vacations.

All in all we couldn't fault any aspect of the cruise, the next cruise we take will be with Saga, we didn't know what we were missing !!!
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