Having cruised quite extensively with Cunard, Royal Caribbean, P&O and MSC etc my wife and I were drawn to the idea of a smaller all-inclusive ship and thought we’d try a taster cruise with Saga and grin and bear the jokey remarks from our younger friends. (I am 75 btw)
We booked a four night cruise from Southampton to Rouen but due to weather conditions we were diverted to Honfleur (which we found delightful)
I’m not going to rehearse the multitude of benefits and facilities that the spirit of discovery offers, we thought it was all brilliant. What was also amazing was that nobody tried to sell me anything during the whole trip, no drinks packages, no Wi-fi, no lengths of gold chain, no art pictures, no handbag sales nights etc !!
Oh and if you want an English pub (maybe you haven’t got one at home) or a casino then choose another ship.
Naturally all reviews are influenced by your cabin choice we were exceptionally lucky to be upgraded from a deluxe cabin to a midships suite - we took full advantage of its amenities.
Now this is the first time I’ve ever written a review about a holiday we’ve taken and the principal reason for doing so this time is to highlight the disappointing disembarkation procedures which are clearly a knock-on effect from virtually everybody opting to take chauffeur driven transport to and from the port.
Saga schedule 4 1/2 hours for the max 999 passengers to get off, you are split into 20 groups from say 8 am to 12:30 pm!!
The reason for this soon becomes apparent when your group finally emerges from the cruise terminal the chauffeurs are waiting with placards bearing your name. Clearly managing 4-500 chauffeurs is going to present a challenge and this is the cause of slower than normal debarkation.
I am unaware of any way of getting priority when leaving the ship other than by dispensing with the chauffeur service and driving yourself in which case you could walk straight off.
If anybody knows any different I’d love to hear it.
We were assigned group 19 out of 20 so you can understand why I’ve taken to my keyboard.
A couple of final observations:-
1. A fair number of change averse saga passengers like whingeing about almost anything but chiefly how they preferred the older ships.
I am reminded of an Australian observation that they can always tell when the plane lands in Sydney from London because the whining continues after the engines have been switched off !!
2. if you put nearly 900 old people together for a few days in the winter it’s obvious quite a number going to get ill
3. Lastly the captain and crew reacted swiftly and effectively to changes necessitated by ‘Storm David’
Superb, particularly liked the shower controls (drench and hand held)
Needed a longer cruise to take advantage of the range of drinks and to fully exercise the services of butler Bryan