We chose to go with Saga for the first time because of their 2 new 'Boutique' ships which are more the size we like (50k tonnes and under 1000 passengers). For a new vessel the Spirit of Adventure lacks any 'WOW' factor, everything is just 'nice'. It's best feature is the stern of the ship with a winding staircase that runs down from deck 12 (outside Veranda) to deck 6 with seating and standing areas on each deck allowing uninterrupted views from the back of the ship. The same cannot be said for the Bow where viewing is limited and very restricted. The public areas are 'nice' as are the restaurants and bars. The best is probably the Supper club for atmosphere. Food was 'nice' ranging from ordinary to very good although we found the evening menu in the main Dining room and Grill limited. Amalfi, the Italian restaurant, was very good as were breakfast and lunch in the Grill with a reasonably choice of dishes. Due to the pandemic buffet service in these restaurants was always served, which we liked and may this continue. You can only 'officially' visit one of the 3 speciality restaurants once on a 7 day cruise (not made very clear in Saga blurb), this is supposed to give everyone a chance to eat there. It is possible to eat at more than one but you need perseverance. The main lounge is the 'Britannia' which is large and spacious with lots of seating, however there were lots of complaints re the chairs and settees, some of which were uncomfortable to sit on for a long time. There were many that were comfortable so choose wisely? The Entertainment was patchy with limited day time activities, although the Pandemic and social distancing could be why. The evening shows were not to our taste, why are Saga trying to emulate larger cruise lines with 'show spectaculars' that included poor dancing and mediocre productions. Stick to the small speciality entertainment, these were much better. The Britannia lounge is great at night with a variety of music including some of the Saga entertainment staff who were very talented but sadly misused in the 'show spectaculars. Lastly drinks and all-inclusive. There is a limited range of all-inclusive alcoholic drinks, with a much larger selection of paid for ones, however there was enough for most palettes with the included wines surprisingly drinkable. Being new the ship was spotless and was being regularly cleaned during the time onboard. One thing that did stand out was the poor repair of the wooden rails around deck 6, 11 and 12. Many were already showing signs of flaking lacquer and discolouration and there had been repairs made already even though this ship only saw service from August this year. Staff were very friendly, considerate and attentive, much as on any other cruise ship and finally the shore excursions. These were limited to included bus trips but only on 2 of the 3 port days with a number of paid ones on 3, you could not go ashore unless on an organised trip but we knew this before sailing , but we are still in a Pandemic situation so it was not unexpected that these were limited . So the bad bits that only give this holiday a 3* rating. Firstly you have to book directly with Saga to be able to access the MYSaga account section and book excursions online, if not you have to wait for snail mail, then ring Saga (which can be a saga in itself) only to be told by the Saga representative that the tours are full. We did manage to get on 2 included tours but only because I rang early. Also you have to wait until you board before you can book a speciality restaurant meaning queueing at each, again why cannot these be booked in advance - other cruise lines do this successfully. Next we received minimal paperwork for boarding, we did get all the Covid stuff but things like pick-up times, what is meant by 'all-inclusive' (yes you do have to pay for somethings) and the standard stuff you would expect to receive before boarding a cruise ship were missing. We did get some luggage tags 2 days before we sailed. Transport, Saga make a big play on transporting you to the ship but this seems to be a lottery of when you may get there. Some people arriving at 1pm to board and enjoy the ship and the provided lunch where we were not scheduled to get onto the ship until around 17:00, 1 hour before sailing despite being only 25 mins away. I did contact Saga once I found this out but they were unable (or unwilling) to help. Embarkation on this cruise was a nightmare with some sort of computer hiccup and the Norwegian Government requirement for electronic Covid vaccination data. Left with hundreds of others, sat in a car for 3 1/2 hours, no water brought out, limited information and drivers wondering when they would get away. I am sure this could have been avoided by asking all passengers to have electronic versions of the Covid vaccine letter before arriving. A few small things on the ship that were an annoyance, announcement were patchy and unless you went into the corridor from your room you could not hear what was being said, paperwork delivered to your cabin often had the previous cruise title on or embedded in the text (sorry I do like attention to detail) and no final survey form which was supposed to be emailed on the final days for you to fill in and enter a prize draw, did not receive this despite 2 trips to reception. Also at disembarkation we felt like we were leaving a ferry, no senior crew or cruise management at the exit gangway just a few crew who directed you to a ramp and that was it left to get our cases and find our driver - disgusting. So would we travel on a Saga cruise again , probably not whilst they make people who book through an Agent feel like 2nd class citizens and until they understand that if they want to attract and retain new customers from other cruise lines they need to address the business model which seems to have been transposed from their older and smaller fleet. If this was school report it would read - Could do Better.
We decide to book a Mid-Ship Suite for our first cruise with Saga and this was our highlight. The suite was lovely, well equipped and spacious. The bathroom had a full size bath along with a walk-in shower and twin sinks. The bedroom featuring a large kingsize bed and the lounge a dining table along with coffee table and settee. The balcony had 2 chairs a table and a lounger. There was plenty of hanging space in the walk-in wardrobe and lots of drawers and cupboards. There was also a mini bar stocked with soft drinks and 3 bottles of spirits on a shelf above. The only issue was the position of the USB ports - why are these not next to the bed, they were tucked under a small shelf in the dressing table and difficult to get at. With this suite you get the services of a Butler and ours was brilliant, but you pays ya money and take ya chance.
Lovely sail in and out of Geiranger Fjord and we were lucky to have beautiful weather on our outward voyage.
Not an inviting disembarkation down a draughty, windy tunnel and into a concrete shed. Glad to get out and into the car. Needs major renovation.