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Sail Date: July 2019
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 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
4 Helpful Votes
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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would ... Read More
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would imagine would be difficult to find anywhere else. The age range was from mid 50’s with a large % in their late 80’s up to the grand age of 98. As with anything in life ‘money doesn’t buy manners’ and so sadly there were some sad miserable people who we quickly learnt to avoid! Their desire to talk loudly about how many nights cruising they had done soon ended as people were bored rigid about having to listen to this pretentious nonsense! There were also people who weren’t safe being there and whose families had obviously booked a cruise to escape from their relatives for a week. There were at least 2 people who didn’t even know what they were doing there. Saga need to somehow deal with this and ensure everybody is safe but equally neither they as staff or ourselves as fellow passengers should have to cope with this. The staff are caring NOT carers and the other passengers are on holiday. It is NOT a residential or nursing home and nobody should even consider going unless they are safe, independent and aware of why they are on a ship. We were disgusted that somebody’s relative had obviously considered this suitable for someone with advanced dementia but selfish people in life exist and money equally doesn’t buy common sense either! There were several people using walking sticks who would complain they couldn’t walk but kept their sticks at least 6 inches off the ground and as soon as they wanted to do something could mobilise like a 5 year old complaining loudly about younger disabled people who were slowing them down ! Again money doesn’t buy manners and they had no understanding that disabilities are nothing whatsoever about age ! A standard cabin is very nice and more than adequate for most people who use it to sleep in ! A small bathroom,, an upright chair next to a small desk and another chair were more than adequate for anything you might need. A very comfortable bed and excellent cabin service was very much appreciated. Dining was either a formal dining room or exactly the same food in a more relaxed atmosphere thankfully. The waiters and wine waiters learn people names and quickly they can manage to keep track of what you like/need and provide excellent care and attention to detail. A very nervous young waiter who was learning how to work there was the only time we had to wait and explain anything but he was very friendly and we expect the next time we see him he will be one of the best as had a fantastic smile too. People on special diets have amazing care and attention to detail if it is really required. Embarkation was ok although the lady didn’t seem to understand very much about the process or show interest in answering questions or talking to anybody. There are a wide range of activities although some of there were heavily about ‘up selling of expensive/extremely over priced goods or services in the salon or spa which is extremely poor. There were people employed to assist with crafts and some demonstrations about food etc. Some of these were good, some were excellent and some were at best chaotic and extremely poorly arranged- we are unsure if this was saga or the actual people they chose to employ! We suspect it is however the latter as saga seem to expect a very high standard for everything as it should be! Some of the entertainment was excellent and some favoured heavily the extreme upper end of the cruise ship age range. They need to remember something a 50 year old might enjoy would not be met necessarily by someone singing songs from the 40’s -60’s OR playing some game they haven’t even heard of ! Similarly they need to consider not everybody can cope with late nights and some fantastic entertainment doesn’t start until about 22.30. A lot of people who cruise sit in the same seats in the library and do nothing else. They glare at you if you speak and don’t want anything to do with other people. There’s a mixture of others who are fantastic fun and age is irrelevant. Be prepared for anything that happens is the best way to cope with this situation! The consumption of alcohol is encouraged heavily. People would buy drinks in the bar before their lunch, have 2/3 glasses of wine with their meal and then drink in the bar again! They would also be there again in the evening and repeat this process. After dinner there was also a push on buying more alcohol at your dinner table. Saga need maybe to consider the effects this can have on people especially after a week or more of this. Their responsibility for mature adults is zero but stupidity doesn’t also get covered by having money and inclusion of alcohol seems to mean a % of people will see it as their right to drink it all regardless of their health , wellbeing or the comfort and safety of other passengers too. One lady was ridiicculed by rude elderly lady who fancied herself as important because she chose not to drink. She was unable to drink due to medication but the elderly lady knew better evidently and was extremely rude and actually sadly offensively awful about how cruising was that important everybody had to drink especially with the captain! The captain was rather slow in talking and would talk a lot about the weather- all information you could get by looking out the window or seeing details on your cabin tv about wind speed or how many nautical miles we have traveled! There was a few things to do re fitness but the assumption seemed to be you were either super fit or helpless- we didn’t get to the small gym after hearing what was there . Wait and see if the new ships will be better for younger but sadly disabled people. Not everybody who has limitations is 99 !!!!!! Saga don’t seem to grasp this at all from our experience with this cruise. The public rooms were excellent and the library was large and spacious with a wide selection of books magazines and information. The bar and other rooms have a wide range of chairs and were clean bright and very well maintained considering how old the ship is. The shop staff seemed less interested tha. Anybody else about anything. Be warned- it is ridiculously expensive and a can of deodorant was £5 !!! Don’t forget yours if you use it! Cabin service is fantastic and all other aspects of service were excellent too. Some people complaining made it dull but you learnt how to avoid them quickly so your holiday wasn’t ruined! Remember to pack some basic first aid supplies and your medication! Medical care is expensive and we were shocked at how some people had used this service and had massive bills without having had more than some very basic first aid care. Several people seemed very unwell and again please take into consideration your health and well being before deciding on a cruise holiday. talking to some people it seems their health isn’t very important until they are there , away from home and forgetting the sea happens to have a naughty habit of moving but they didn’t pack anything to assist them with sea sickness or know how they would cope with poor mobility when the ship was moving through rough seas ! Equally they didn’t have a clue about the currency they would need or where they were in the world ! It has a bit of a habit of being cold in Norway in winter and also dark by mid afternoon | makes sense to research the cruise holiday you will be going on and what to expect from the areas before complaining its cold or dark etc etc. Someone was moaning they almost fell over on the ice ! That was not SAGAS responsibility! In the main the shore excursions were excellent. The level of walking isn’t always accurate but sadly maybe people have no idea what people can manage. Don’t book tours unless you are really certain you can manage the coach steps and this means getting on AND off the coaches without ANY help or ANY support whatsoever- there isn’t anything saga or the coach staff can or will do to assist you. Rudeness was again heard from the selective few who were so affected by their snobby views about people being slow, we even heard one lady said maybe if they lost weight the coach would not have been so slow- be prepared for anything that anybody might come out with. There were some lovely people who were ready for a good time with their new friends. It is at risk of being a floating residential home and this is a concern. We had several people who were taken to hospital and sadly even on the day of disembarkation someone was very poorly. A lady who was waiting for assistance was complaining about delays as she was a special level with priority for everything! We just quietly said ‘be thankful that you are going home and think about other people for a second’ she just said she would be complaining and demanding to know what happened to stop her disembarking before other people were going! Unbelievable that level of ignorance exists. Overall thank you saga. You are not responsible for the rudeness of a small minority of ignorant and rude elderly people especially it seems ladies who almost sound like they will choke themselves when they speak. We just spoke to everybody in our normal voice about life. Some very odd people exist in this Country and we just hope they weren’t so rude when on land if they bothered to get there. A % never ever get off the ship and evidently never ever do on any cruise they do as they go for the food and fact they aren’t alone or having to cook at home !! Extremely expensive for that service! There were a lot of people on their own. They had a special meeting so they could get them together and stop them crashing in on couples time together thankfully. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We have only cruised once before with another small ship line. We were impressed from the start with the private car door to door service, fast efficient check in and boarding took about ten minutes. The crew and entertainers, guest ... Read More
We have only cruised once before with another small ship line. We were impressed from the start with the private car door to door service, fast efficient check in and boarding took about ten minutes. The crew and entertainers, guest lecturers were all top drawer. The food was much, much better than we expected with a wide variety that catered for all. Entertainment was important for us and we particularly enjoyed listening, Danciing and singing along with Stuart in the lounge bar. Afternoon tea was a treat where none of our fellow passengers was ever lonely because the crew, entertainers also attended and mingled with solo cruisers, fantastic job Saga (and no extra charge for the tea). Saga includes so much more than we had previously experienced- free WiFi chauffeur service and porterage, no service charge, afternoon tea,port transfers, entertainers and dancers up dancing with passengers in the evenings - it was just so much fun, cant wait to do it again, thank you Saga. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this short taster cruise to see if we liked the Saga experience and were most pleasantly surprised. The welcome on board was amazing with a beautiful spread of food laid out and beverages served by the staff (the cakes were ... Read More
We chose this short taster cruise to see if we liked the Saga experience and were most pleasantly surprised. The welcome on board was amazing with a beautiful spread of food laid out and beverages served by the staff (the cakes were amazing). Then came the sail away, with drinks flowing against a backdrop of live French music and singing, cosy throws set out if you felt a little chilly. Here we got to know some of the more regular Saga cruisers and enjoyed the enthusiasm they had for the Saga experience. Our cabin was beautiful and we were given fruit of our choice in the cabin which was topped up during our stay. The service, helpful staff and the food were in our opinion second to none, making our cruise a very special one. We have been on 5 previous cruises and although they have been enjoyable in their own way, Saga obviously believe in making the holidaymaker feel special. We found the whole holiday very reasonably priced as everything is included. We do not drink much alcohol and so the included wine with meals were almost as much as we needed so our spending was way below what we are used to spending. The Captains gala night was amazing and drinks flowed once again. The choice and standard of the meals were wonderful. They even had a choice of plain food, this could be perhaps steak and chips or omelette and chips etc and it is just that - for anyone who is on a special diet or who just does not like fancy food. The cabin and all of the ship was spotlessly clean. Beautiful toiletries in the bathroom. The entertainment would be a little low key for some but was carried out well just the same. Films were shown in the cinema and in the cabin if you wanted a little down-time. Getting on and off the ship was made easy and help was with you right away to take luggage or give a helping hand. We are so pleased with our little trip that we have now booked another cruise for 15 nights to the arctic circle, feeling absolutely sure that we will be well looked after. We took an amazing trip to monet's garden, which we enjoyed immensely, we had a Saga assistant, who was most helpful and pleasant, however, we also had a local guide who, despite being told by many that they could not here her comments, would not wear the headgear properly which was relaying the comments to the headphones we were wearing, and changed the pick up point resulting in the people who could not hear the instruction ending up waiting at a different place to those who had, she also pushed on with walking at times and some less able passengers were trailing behind. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This trip called on ports where larger ships would only attempted by tender. Other cruise companies would not be interested in calling to these places. The theme was Wine Tapas ans Walking in Western France and Northern Spain in the Bay of ... Read More
This trip called on ports where larger ships would only attempted by tender. Other cruise companies would not be interested in calling to these places. The theme was Wine Tapas ans Walking in Western France and Northern Spain in the Bay of Biscay area. Saga produce may be costly but in return they give you a 5 star service. We were picked from our home in Southampton to Dover, but it took double the time because of the traffic on the motorways, also the approach to Dover due the Channel Tunnel and Cross Chanel ferry problems which was due to industrial action in France. We got there in the end and sailing was delayed. The service on board was brilliant. The meals were of good meal choice and generous portions with free wine wine with your meals. The waiting staff made there extra mile for any extras or problems. If you want to compare with P&O they were miles ahead! I think the accountants are in charge and reducing the portions and using the quantity controlled to make more profit for the punters. Saga beats the others on all fronts. Saga give a very personal service. Most days the Captain came down most for a cup of coffee and cruises could ask question about the cruise. Wines with your meal are free so is coffee during the day and ice cream which you help you self. If you want to buy at the bar you have to pay. This particular them cruise was brilliant, we had excellent lectures about wine appreciation, Spanish tapas cooking demos and the cruise goer's were good compamy. We have book again. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The ship. Our previous cruise was aboard the Astoria (Cruise Maritime Vessels), a good comparison being about the same size. The Astoria is a bit smaller in dimensions and weight, but has a larger draught. The Pearl II has a knot or ... Read More
The ship. Our previous cruise was aboard the Astoria (Cruise Maritime Vessels), a good comparison being about the same size. The Astoria is a bit smaller in dimensions and weight, but has a larger draught. The Pearl II has a knot or two extra in top speed, and carries 45 odd fewer passengers (512 vs 556). Both ships give the benefit of small ships to those that prefer this; no great hikes to get from one place to another, plenty of sitting places, no long queues, interesting layout that feels like a ship rather than a shopping centre. The Pearl has gangway entrances on two decks and when the gangway was used from deck A it never seemed as steep as Astoria. Perhaps the decor on the Pearl was marginally better (say 9/10 rather than 8.5/10), but this depends on personal preference so lets say they are equal. We had an inside cabin on A deck, which was small but adequate. The shower is a bit tricky until you realise the doors open both ways; inwards and outwards. If you open them outwards, it is a tight squeeze to get between them. If you open them inwards, it isn't easy to close them behind you. The trick is to open one inwards and one outwards, then it is a piece of cake. Having now experienced Saga, we have booked on Saga Sapphire for next year, "Stylish Scandinavia", visiting Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We were told our cabin 6576 on deck 6 will be nearly twice as big as our current one on Saga Pearl II. Our current cabin (311) is not in the best location as it is under the Discovery lounge with lots of bumping when they rearrange the seating for afternoon tea, and thumping from the bass when they have music during showtime. We always bring a small torch (as insurance against emergencies), but we found one (with a luminous casing to find it in the dark) provided in the cabin. This is a useful safety feature which should be provided on all ships (Safety at Sea need to get up to date). Saga also provided a pair of binoculars and two bathrobes, chocolates on the pillows with the turn down service, petit fours after every evening meal (not just formal nights), free wine at lunch and dinner. The TV includes a DVD player with DVDs on loan (from the Internet help desk). Saga seem to include little extras with basic cabins that only come with higher grades on other lines. They also provide free Wifi from the public areas. It is not officially available in the cabins, but we found it did work at quiet times. This might depend on your cabin location. Layout of the ship The library was good, a decent size with plenty of books and seating, but like many ships it suffered from poor placement, being between the main dining room and the show lounge and thus was a main thoroughfare. Many people, particular those with loud penetrating voices liked to stop on the way through if they meet someone and have long conversations, often accompanied by raucous laughter, while others were trying to read or concentrate on emails. I have found this to be a problem on all ships unless the library is properly located. Another problem on the Pearl, which I have met before is the siting of a bar with live music in the middle of the library, with the doors propped open. When not used for music they have functions like exercise classes and quizes in there. The Saga ships up until now have been bought second hand and so ship design, although it can be tinkered with on a refit, is pretty much baked in. Placement of the library looks better on the deck plans for the new Sprits. I understand that people are on holiday and want to enjoy themselves and conversation with others and shared laughter is an important part of this, but there does need to be a quiet place on every ship where people can go to relax, read a book or sleep. If the library can't provide this function then another place needs to be found for it. It is worth studying the ships deck plan that you get given on boarding as some places are not easy to find. The Sundowner Bar is such a case, and as many people never find it, it can be a nice quiet relaxing place. We went there for a pre dinner cocktail once to be told there would be a private function starting in quarter of an hour, for the first time travellers. Since we were first time travellers we qualified anyway. Travel service, embarkation/disembarkation, muster drill. Saga provide a choice of chauffeur travel or free parking. We chose chauffeur, but were given a limit of one case and one carry on per person. We have since found this is only a default limit, it can be exceeded if you arrange this when you book, and they will allocate a people carrier rather than a car. A benefit of this service, (like ship excursions) is that if anything goes wrong, Saga will sort it out. If you travel under your own steam and have a breakdown, it is up to you to catch the boat up if it leaves without you. It could be a benefit to use your own car and park if you bring your own wine (allowed on Saga - although free wine is provided with meals). We found embarkation a doddle, we arrived at the scheduled time and went straight through the check in process and boarded straight away, no different to other lines, except there was no waiting. They retained passports at check in, a process we do not like. We got our passports back after Norway, but with the usual paper labels stuck on; at least these were done neatly and were easy peel. Disembarkation was an improvement over CMV, much the same except that you were given numbers rather than colours and had to vacate cabins by 9:00 rather than 7:00. The disembarkation ran to schedule except for a ten minute delay between 1 and 2, which was never caught up, but no more was lost. We were scheduled for 10:00, called at 10:10 and drove out of the terminal at 10:25. As you come out, you queue up to get a porter, he loads your cases on to a trolley and a man at the gate reads out your name for your driver to step forward from the waiting queue. and he shows us all to the waiting car. It worked very well. The Mercedes people carrier was very comfortable. Muster drill was well organised like Princess lines. A seated affair in the muster station with instruction by tannoy and demonstration by the staff. No traipsing out on deck for a roll call by name; you give your cabin number on arrival and get checked off. One thing that was unique in my experience, was that as soon as the captain started to speak, every one fell silent and paid attention. It makes a change from the normal case of people talking over important announcements. Once muster drill was over we were ready to leave, but Sapphire, at terminal one went first, and we followed after, using the same tug to spin us round. The staff and service I find that staff are generally friendly on all cruise lines, sometimes you get a brusque receptionist (bad choice by management), but no complaints on this occasion. Other passengers have reported being greeted by name, from cruises 3 to 20 years ago. The waiters are attentive and keep you topped up. Dining is open seating but you can request fixed seating if you prefer that. Most passengers seem to prefer open seating, and if you need a quick meal the waiters, on request, will not leave you waiting while others have every course going. We did find that the normal start time of 7:00 p.m. was rather late for us. Our cabin stewardess, Juliette, was very efficient, with our cabin always ready for us after breakfast and evening meal. One suitcase, which opens flat went under the bed, but the other was too fat to go underneath the other bed, so we left it in our cabin while we went for our evening meal, meaning to ask when we came back if there was somewhere it could be stored. When we returned it had already been taken care of. It reappeared, as if by magic, on the evening before packing without us having to ask. The passengers I have seen complaints on Cruise Critics that the passengers on Saga are geriatric. I found them no worse than other lines who have their mix of walkers, sticks and zimmer frames. In fact I have seen no wheelchairs on this cruise, but they have been common place on other ships. I do find that there are more open minded passengers on Saga, interesting to talk to and enjoy their cruising, though there are always some bigoted, insular people complaining about foreigners. I can never understand people going on a cruise and then expecting everything to be the same as at home. If you don't like foreign food and new experiences, then take a holiday in your own country. The food Like most ships there are two restaurants, the main dining room which is waiter service, and the buffet higher up which is self service. There are no speciality restaurants. The food is of a high standard and served hot, with the exception of the salads and chilled soups of course. Saga are still serving chilled soups (unlike HAL who have recently abandoned them), with a different chilled soup on each day's menu. To be honest they are often more like smoothies than soups, but they come with the soup course and can serve as a refresher, like a sorbet, between courses. Formal nights include a sorbet between the soup and main course. One of the ways I judge a ship's catering ability is by the Fish and Chips they produce. I have had them with slimy fish and soggy batter, or rock hard batter that is difficult to cut (would be good for resoling shoes). The Pearl Chefs passed my test, crispy, crunchy batter, but easy to eat, good quality haddock, mushy peas made with petits pois rather than the traditional marrowfat peas, so they actually tasted like fresh peas. Equal to the best that England can produce. The chips were not quite up to the Belgian thrice fried standard, but were good, and hot. Later on another test was passed, poached pear which was just right. I have had this in France which was so hard it was difficult to cut with a knife. Start with a juicy pear and it ends up as mush. The Tarte Tatin was not so good, and not tradionally made. They have a huge range of cheeses, a different selection every night of around eight to ten cheeses, many of which I had never heard of, and we do have a good cheese shop in Colchester. Not just the Brie, Cheddar and Edam that you can get offered each night on other lines. A welcome change was the absence of Baked Alaska on the last night. We had the chef and waiter parade but that is an opportunity for us to show their work is appreciated. The itinerary and cruise Our first stop was Arendal in Norway followed by Sasnitz in Germany but the rest were in Sweeden. Marriehamn is actually Finland but the island of Åland is culturaly Swedish. Some of the excursions were better than others; we particularly enjoyed the Tall Ships Experiwence on Mercedes at Sasnitz, and the visit to the Elk farm at Umeå. We also found Marriehamn a charming place and enjoyed that execursion. If you want more detail of the excursions, with Google maps of the tracks and pictures you can refer to my cruise blog at http://sturnidae.com/cruises/201806%20Bothnia/index.htm. The last part of the cruise was a daylight transitof the Kiel Canal. This is a wonderful experience in fine weather. Unfortunately not the best for us this time, they put on a German lunch with Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer which made an enjoyable occasion using the outside decks at the aft of the boat and bridge decks; and the rain held off until lunch was over. There were three formal nights, being a 2 week cruise. Saga seem to be still hanging on to the old outdated traditions and expect formal wear in the bars and buffet. They have relaxed a bit as they used to have three dress codes, but now only have two. My view is that if you want to get dressed up, do so, but don't expect everyone else to do so as well. If you want to be surrounded by pretentious people then travel on Cunard. Smart should be good enough for anyone nowadays, you don't get togged up in dress suits to go out to a local restaurant in the evening. Not everywhere has to be like Glynebourne. Before travelling on Saga I asked for opinions on Cruise Critics and was told they may look up market but are not really any better than the basic lines. From my experience of one cruise with them I disagree. I have not travelled with Azamara or Oceania so may be they are better, but they are expensive. Saga look expensive at first sight, but you get a lot of extras included which you have to pay for in your onboard account on other lines. We will be travelling with them again and have two more cruises booked now. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 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
7 Helpful Votes
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent ... Read More
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent service from the onboard staff. Our A deck cabin was 2 berth, as are many on this ship, but large, with pleasant seating area, and decent size bathroom. The reception desk was close by as was the tiny, slow lift. On exploration we found to our surprise that there was no traditional, walk around promenade deck, but it was possible to walk right round the highest deck. Unfortunately access to that pleasant spot would have been difficult for many, as it involved climbing 2 outside stairways. The top deck had comfortable lounge chairs with soft cushions . Service from the staff was excellent, and they seemed to take care of all passengers very well. The meals were good, very traditional , with generous portions and varied menus, all offered with daily wine selections. As one port on our sampler cruise was cancelled, the captain declared that Saga would offer a much appreciated all inclusive service from the bar menu, as well as the daily lunch and dinner wines. There were two restaurants, both open seating, a more casual Verandah with wide choice, and the more formal dining room offering identical menus. Passengers seemed to divide equally into two groups as to which they chose. We preferred the former, and found the service pleasant and prompt. We loved the indoor heated swimming pool and sauna area , with nearby well patronised spa offering the usual type of beauty , massage and hair treatments. For entertainment we appreciated the live acts, from the enthusiastic house performers , and guest entertainers. The seating was comfortable, with good sight lines to the stage. There was a small cinema on board, and also live music for dancing or listening. We had been a little worried that we would find Saga a bit too staid, but we thoroughly enjoyed our short cruise, as did all the people we spoke to. It was good to see a company that seems to go out f it’s way to ensure that single, or elderly , or handicapped guests were all well cared for. We consider that the quality of cruise offered by this company far exceeds that of many of the big lines. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 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
25 Helpful Votes
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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
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. ... Read More
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 !!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
After some 40 cruises, from the sublime(Seabourn) to the gorblimy (Soviet Black Sea Fleet) I can only say that Saga now holds premier place in my estimation. We are a couple and this was a 25 day jaunt around the Mediterranean at a time ... Read More
After some 40 cruises, from the sublime(Seabourn) to the gorblimy (Soviet Black Sea Fleet) I can only say that Saga now holds premier place in my estimation. We are a couple and this was a 25 day jaunt around the Mediterranean at a time of year when things can get a bit hairy. It was the sort of itinerary that we like, sea days mixed with ports two of which, Venice and Valletta.and a third one, Gibraltar, which was not scheduled, were overnight. I have nothing but praise for their organisation both on boarding at Southampton and leaving there. Very different from the shambolic experience of some other Cruise Lines at that port. Saga Pearl 11 is now a bit of a museum piece compared with bigger competitors and will leave service next year but you would never guess that from her appearance. She is immaculate. She was fully booked but there were only 26 new boys on board. All the others were regulars. That says a lot. The crew would bear favourable comparison with any other outfit, The hotel staff are almost entirely from the Philipines and are always cheerful, welcoming and unbelievably efficient. An unusual touch was that the (very young) dance group socialised with the passengers at teatime. I have never seen that before. The Cruise Director, Joanne, is superb. The Captain was always around and a most efficient and engaging character he was. Altogether, a most impressive bunch. Entertainment was of a very high quality with some excellent enrichment lectures. The library - sorry Cunard - was the best I have ever seen. WiFi is free!!! I suppose I should really keep away from the computer on holiday but there you go. The passengers. Ah. Saga only sell to the over-50s but on that cruise add another couple of decades. Not a tattoo or a face piercing among them. We had 3 taken off by chopper that trip but the determination of some of those less-than-virile people is most impressive. The food was very good indeed, not too "cheffy" but of a high standard and an excellent list of choices. The pastry chef needs special mention - I have never seen anything that standard on other ships. All in all, an excellent ship . Azamara should be looking over their shoulders. Would I go with them again? I am already booked on their new ship Spirit Of Discovery. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the ... Read More
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the best. They are rightly famous for their food and their was no disappointments here, with sumptuous afternoon teas being a particular highlight. Only a short 6 days cruise but were trated to some high quality entertainment. For example, I believe I am right in thinking a brand new cast joined the same day as us. For a new team, some of whom were experienced but some new, it was thrilling to watch even though they only performed 2 shows. For my wife's friend who loves ABBA it was such a thrill to see their show. Also praise for the 'orchestra' working every night backing all sorts of material in the week. There was something for everyone on board. As well as the great entertainment, there is also a library as well as a spa, more than adequate for the size of the ship. We had 2 sea days whcih were filled with lectures and activities and flew by. And although the weather wasn't great at the start of the cruise you couldnt feel a thing. Overall highly recommended and will cruise again. Thank you Read Less
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