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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 standard. ... 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
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. ... 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
MelissaB, Customer Relations @Saga Cruises has responded
Thank you for your review, I'm very sorry your first experience on board wasn't as good as you were hoping for. I've noted your areas of concern and will pass the feedback on to the relevant areas of the business. If you have not made contact with us directly but would like us to investigate your comments further please don't hesitate to contact us at customer.relations@saga.co.uk. It remains my hope that you may cruise with us again sometime in the future and we can provide you with a more enjoyable experience.
4 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
12 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
16 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 ... 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
3 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 best. ... 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was our first cruise with Saga .What a wonderful time we had.every aspect of the cruise was great from the time we shut our front door until we arrived back home it was so well organised . The cabin was nice .the food was first class ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Saga .What a wonderful time we had.every aspect of the cruise was great from the time we shut our front door until we arrived back home it was so well organised . The cabin was nice .the food was first class a great selection to choose from.the entertainment was most enjoyable. Best of all were the STAFF on board from the cabin attendants right up to the Captain they were all so nice We will cruise with saga again in the future . sadly we were unable to go to Guernsey due to the high winds but we went to Boulogne-sur-mer instead which was interesting Rouen was a nice place to visit as was Falmouth .I would say to anyone thinking about cruising with Saga just do it . a great time is waiting to be had .I must add the booking staff at the Saga center are also very good . Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The wife and I travelled for the first time with Saga on its Northern Lights Adventure cruise for the first two weeks of March 2017. It was a fabulous cruise, and we were INCREDIBLY lucky with the weather, which gave us wonderful ... Read More
The wife and I travelled for the first time with Saga on its Northern Lights Adventure cruise for the first two weeks of March 2017. It was a fabulous cruise, and we were INCREDIBLY lucky with the weather, which gave us wonderful sunshine for all our shore excursions, and the best night of the Northern Lights themselves (7th March) for ten years. I cannot speak highly enough of Saga. They understand their market (over 50s, with a preponderance in their 60s and 70s) very well, and provide faultlessly for it. Your adventure starts in being picked up from your home by a car or minibus and driven to the ship. No stress. No anxiety. On arrival at your UK port (ours was Southampton) your bags are unloaded from the car and spirited away by a crew member. You’re invited to step aboard, check in, find your cabin, and go for a luscious tea in the Discovery Lounge, after which, “newbies” like us are given a tour of the ship so that one knows where to go for the numerous activities on board. Most Brits of a certain age require three essential things; good food, good service, and good value for money. They get these things in bucketloads from Saga. The food was of a very high standard. Michelin star quality, I’d say. Wine or beer provided free at lunch and dinner. There’s a rough ratio of two crew to three passengers. That’s a lot of service! And it’s NOT provided by “slave labour”. Virtually all the crew are Filipinos, but whereas with some other cruise lines they depend on tips for their income, Saga’s are well paid and very well looked after. This of course results in a lot of happy people, and you feel that happiness radiating from them. Watching them glide around the dining room is awe-inspiring. My wife could manage only liquids, and was provided with two bowls of specially-prepared soup for lunch and dinner without any fuss. The crew is extraordinary at recognising their guests and identifying any individual requirements. On days at sea, Saga provides many on-board games and activities, and on visits to ports, a selection of (optional) shore excursions. And they don’t rip you off in the bar. A post-prandial cognac costs £3.75 and a G&T £4.15. And when you arrive back, there’s a car or minibus waiting to take you home! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Never judge a book by its cover. The mere mention of ‘Saga’ conjures up elderly, ‘Countdown’ watching cruisers who totter around the Med or the Caribbean clutching their gin and tonics. Yes, everyone is over 50 ... Read More
Never judge a book by its cover. The mere mention of ‘Saga’ conjures up elderly, ‘Countdown’ watching cruisers who totter around the Med or the Caribbean clutching their gin and tonics. Yes, everyone is over 50 and I was possibly the youngest passenger but to be honest by the end of the first night’s dinner, the scales had been shed from my prejudiced eyes. This is the Ulysses Generation who have amassed adventures and experiences to match anyone half their age. All I knew is that I wanted to be like them. Everyone is made to feel welcome regardless of age, disability or single/married and what I liked was the happy family community atmosphere. I could recommend this ship for anyone who is single and doesn’t want to feel lost in one of those monster cruise ships with their thousands of passengers and sense of anonymity. Within a week, we had made friends and there was always someone to talk to. The ‘Grand Caribbean Adventure’ was a 6 week all-inclusive cruise that joined up all the island dots in the Caribbean in a fest of exploration. You are pampered from the minute that your chauffeur arrives to take you to the ship, to the speedy check in and they start with Afternoon Tea. You get the picture very quickly. A Saga cruise is about indulgence and it takes enormous restraint to ignore the heaving but delicately arranged feast. The evening meal, which is after a welcome glass or two of champagne, measures up to all the hype in their advertising and they offer 6 courses. Every night. It’s the same high standard at lunchtime whether it is the restaurant or BBQ. And if you didn’t fancy the cuisine offered, then we found that we could order a steak or something more simple and it was no problem. For a 6 week cruise you don’t need as much as I packed (there is a free laundry) but here is a typical run down of what I would pack when we do it again Nightwear x 1 (they provide a dressing gown) One week’s underwear 2 long dresses / one DJ suit 2 cocktail dresses / 3 smart shirts 4 smart casual outfits eg smart tops with skirts or leggings/trousers 4 t-shirts max 2 swimming costumes Aqua shoes for excursions Plimsolls or trainers for excursions Jeans x 2 4 jumpers as it gets cold on the way over the Atlantic Pashminas Sun hat, suncream, sunglasses, flipflops, waterproof Evening shoes Camera, chargers, underwater camera and batteries Ipad and charger Basic medication (they provide sea sickness tablets if necessary) There is free wifi but it is dependent on the weather and satellites and certain sites are blocked eg YouTube as it takes up too much bandwidth. We took our own ipads as did most of the other passengers. At every port, you have a choice: go on a planned and sometimes expensive excursion or just get off and do your own thing. We did a mixture of the two and one of the best unplanned trip was at Barbados where we walked to the local beach, paid $20 each to get admission into ‘The Boatyard’ bar which gave us beach loungers, umbrellas, one free drink, non-motorised watersports and one trip to swim with the turtles on the next bay. A bargain. The alternative would have been £74 to swim with turtles on a planned excursion. However the other best excursion that we took was in Tobago where we took the full day Island Girl catamaran for £114 each and saw dolphins, swam in lovely clear warm seas and had an on board fish BBQ. The staff onboard the Saga Pearl 2 are well trained, attentive and always smiling. In one sense, if they weren’t, the whole cruise would have lacked the personality that it had and that was most obvious in the impromptu beach BBQs and the Crew Show they put on in the last week. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 ... Read More
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 and, not long after clearing Dover harbour, we were treated by Saga to a 15 minute flying display by two Spitfire fighter aircraft from Biggin Hill. Amazing! This was our third voyage on Saga Sapphire in 2 years, and it was rather nice to see familiar faces amongst the staff and to be greeted by name. Our prior (excellent) experiences were repeated on this 15 day voyage.....excellent service, good food and quality complimentary wines. If you wished, you could order wines from the standard wine list, with a £10 per bottle discount,but the complimentary wines were so good that this would only be necessary for celebrating a very special occasion. We visited seven ports, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallin, Ventspils, Gdansk and Wismar.....all interesting destinations although Ventspils is probably still climbing the learning curve for tourism. It was our second visit there and my wife and quite like its quirkiness (especially the bovine street art!) We were also impressed with the flower displays all around town. With calm seas and slight winds for the whole voyage, we could not have wished for better on this cruise holiday. Just a few spots of rain for 20 minutes in St Petersburg, and that was the totally of 'bad' weather. I have to mention the efforts of the catering staff and the hard work they put in for lunchtime events outdoors on the Verandah terrace, and for the fabulous Russian Buffet that was put in place in the Pole to Pole restaurant on our overnight stop in St Petersburg. The entertainment was of high quality. We enjoyed the Greek classical guitarist, Dimitris Davakallis, and the Polish violinist. Michael Bacala who each gave two excellent performances. Also aboard were the Think Pink Duo (Marta and Gabi Onali) from Rumania and, along with many other guests, enjoyed dancing to their music late at night in the Drawing Room. They very kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga.y kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga. Read Less
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