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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2012
From arriving at Dover to the train back home, Saga service was excellent. Once on board we had a pleasant surprise of a newcomers cabin credit of £100 which paid for most of our purchases on board includind wine at dinner. We had ... Read More
From arriving at Dover to the train back home, Saga service was excellent. Once on board we had a pleasant surprise of a newcomers cabin credit of £100 which paid for most of our purchases on board includind wine at dinner. We had an L grade outside double cabin with shower and a picture window on Deck B. Space was adequate and there was more than enough storage space. Additionally there was a fridge, safe and Freeview TV. The cabin was clean and well serviced. We used the main Restaurant for breakfast on sea days and all dinners We could not fault our usual waiter who addressed us by name. We used the Verandah indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant for breakfast on port days as well as for all of our lunches. The food here was the same as in the main dining room. Service was excellent too and waiters would bring your food to the table if you wanted. There were 4 excursions included in the cruise which ranged from poor (Finland) to good (Denmark and Sweden). One optional excursion was cancelled when the ship could not call at Visby or Ronne due to windy weather. This was refunded and a free excursion in Warnemunde substituted. There was always plenty to do on board with lectures, concerts, deck games and the best book/DVD library I have seen on board a cruise ship for its size. The Discovery lounge where entertainment (and afternoon tea) took place was unfortunately rather large, low ceilinged and had no raised stage. This, in addition to placement of pillar meant that many passengers had to watch shows on TV monitors towards the back of the room. Entertainment was heavily weighted to classics as promoted in the cruise literature. We also enjoyed daily quizzes in Shackleton's bar where a very talented pianist (Clive Carrington) played daily. Drink prices on board reflected English pub prices and the cocktail of the day was £2. As with the rest of the ship the bar was tip free. There is no embargo on bringing your own drinks on board and no corkage charge in the restaurant. You can have your fridge stocked up by the ship if you want though. At most ports of call we did our own thing using the free shuttle uses into town. These were really necessary in the smaller industrial ports situated outside town centres. Bearing in mind the age range of Saga passengers, we saw only 2 (collapsible) wheelchairs and no electric buggies on board. There were virtually no smokers either. Although Saga costs a bit more it is worth the extra and you don't need to spend another penny once on board if you don't want to. We will certainly use Saga again if going to the right destination. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
It didn't start off well, we flew into Gatwick from a middle of the night start at Newcastle - only milkmen and bakers call 4AM morning. Flybe arrived at Gatwick early but our driver, SAGA was providing a car to Dover, was nowhere to ... Read More
It didn't start off well, we flew into Gatwick from a middle of the night start at Newcastle - only milkmen and bakers call 4AM morning. Flybe arrived at Gatwick early but our driver, SAGA was providing a car to Dover, was nowhere to be seen. He said he was there but he was not! We eventually traipsed off to the SAGA meeting point in the North Terminal but again no one there. Phoned the Duty Officer at SAGA and eventually our driver phoned and informed me that he had been waiting for us at the arrivals gate at the South Terminal and would we please return there!! Oh dear how did I miss someone holding up a big board with my name on it and how did he miss our obvious SAGA luggage labels !!!! One of us needs to go to Specsavers and I was there last month! Our driver came over to the North terminal to collect us but we had to traipse back to the South terminal with all our luggage as he had left the car parked over there. Eventually arrived in Dover just after midday - could have flown to Florida quicker. Not a good start and frankly I don't need that kind of hassle on holiday. Boarding was quick and courteous and our cabin was roomy and comfortable with plain decor, nice roomy bathroom with a shower. Noticed a nasty smell of raw sewage in the corridor as we boarded and this seemed to pervade different parts of the ship at different times although it became less obtrusive as the cruise progressed. Lets get the bad bits over with first then we can concentrate on the good things. The cabin air conditioning did not cool and the first couple of days were fairly warm. Reported the problem twice to reception but no action was apparent so eventually escalated to the Hotel Director on board who promised a solution. The room thermostat was changed but by then the weather had cooled down so the matter became less urgent and anyway my wife was in no mood for a cabin change. Never received any promised feedback from the Hotel Director on any other issues I had raised at our meeting including noise from slamming doors (until 2 AM) in the crew quarters on deck 4, we were above on deck 5 so not exactly very restful. There seemed to be quite a few issues with heating and cooling in the cabins all over the ship and some cabins were provided with fan heaters because they were too cold. It was kind of obvious that things needed to be bedded down on this ship, in places it looked as if the makeover had been hasty with evidence of poor finishing and inadequate attention to detail and testing. Door closers needed to be adjusted as doors up on deck constantly slammed, the on board clocks did'nt work and WI-FI coverage was patchy and slow and very costly. The good things were very good. What a great crew from the captain downwards, always smiling and helpful. The food was first class and probably some of the best we have had on a cruise ship so you won't starve. Free room service is a bonus and service was fast with a huge menu choice or anything you fancied. For a gourmet treat the East to West restaurant is a must at least once on the cruise. On board entertainment was really good and intimate with a decent resident band and an on-board troupe of energetic and talented young dancers and vocalists. Guest artistes were aboard at different times and generally we enjoyed the entertainment. The theme of this particular cruise was "Dancing with the Stars" but our "stars" (from Strictly Come dancing) failed to make it to the ship until about day ten and despite their credentials we though their display dancing was a bit lacklustre and unglamourous compared to their TV performances. We failed to make a stop a Helsinki, port engine failure at Stockholm delayed our departure and therefore our whole schedule. So Helsinki was missed to get us to St. Petersburg on time. As someone commented on buying a second hand ship "would you buy a second hand French Car then take it to Italy to be serviced"? What makes this ship is the people, crew and passengers. Everyone talks to one and other and the atmosphere on board, apart from the smells, is great. A few things need to be sorted out but in the end I think Sapphire will be a great ship for SAGA. But please SAGA don't try and cram 700 passengers on her, it was about right with the 400 odd when we were aboard so maybe about 550 is right but any more and it would feel distinctly crowded. I cannot imagine the Britannia Lounge with 600 odd people trying to get a seat to see a star entertainer!! Disembarkation was good, well organised and I'm glad to say our car and driver were waiting to take us to Gatwick. We're back on Sapphire next February for a Northern Lights cruise so let's hope the problems have been resolved by then, or should I maybe check out other cruises just in case! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This was our first cruise and it surpassed our expectations. Enjoyed it immensly, even though the majority of the passengers were in their 60's and 70's, with a few in their 80's. There were not as many wheelchairs and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it surpassed our expectations. Enjoyed it immensly, even though the majority of the passengers were in their 60's and 70's, with a few in their 80's. There were not as many wheelchairs and walking sticks as I expected. The cabin was larger than expected and contained everything we needed, free water and fruit, plenty of wardrobe space, bathroom with large shower, plenty of space under the kingsize bed for suitcases. Lots of nooks and crannies and nice dressing table area with adjacent british socket for hairdryer. Bathrobes (but no slippers) and TV with integral DVD player. No tea and coffee facilities in room but this was not a problem as there was free room service. Good Sound insulation. Food was very good, excellent choice at breakfast. Look out for barbeque on Verandah if weather is good, as sometimes it is not advertised. The Grill is good for specialty breakfasts and light lunches, salads etc. East to West Restaurant is excellent (I am surprised they did not charge a supplement), this needs to be booked early on in the cruise as there are limited places. Times to book are advertised in the 'Today' newsletter. Excursions expensive but you are really looked after, with a driver, saga rep and also local guide. There are several grades of excursions from easy to strenuous and we heard of some people doing 6 mile hikes! Shows were excellent and the staff are fantastic, very friendly and cannot do enough for you. We met lots of friendly people and as it is a small ship you bump into the same people quite often and we struck up several friendships. Pick up chauffeur service was also excellent, we never touched the suitcases from leaving the house until they appeared outside our cabin. The driver was very courteous and friendly. Norwegian fjords are beautiful, we saw so many waterfalls. Be aware though that Norway is expensive and weather is not great. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
My wife and I(we)selected the Saga shared chauffeur I don't really want to drive for 4-5 hours when there is an option. We were originally due to be picked up at 10.10 on the Friday. A phone call from a Saga employee the day before ... Read More
My wife and I(we)selected the Saga shared chauffeur I don't really want to drive for 4-5 hours when there is an option. We were originally due to be picked up at 10.10 on the Friday. A phone call from a Saga employee the day before informed me the ship had been delayed in Ireland due to bad weather and to prevent me being in Dover too early the pick up would be 12.10. On the Friday at 12.25 with the non arrival of the transport we rang Saga, a short delay and we were informed he would arrive at our address within 5-10 minutes . 5 minutes later it arrived. Drivers will note leaving the East Midlands area, heading to Dover, on a Friday is not the ideal time (even without the accidents) as the delay at the Thames crossing and the M20 proved, but we arrived at the Dover Cruise Terminal at 18.30. As most passengers (705 maximum)had already boarded our embarkation was extremely swift. Our cases arrived in our cabin (shortly after we practiced our sinkinh ship procedure before we left port)the last time I had handled them was putting them outside the door as the shared transport arrived. Our cabin was spacious, compared to our previous ones and this time we had a balcony - small, but serviceable, as long as you only want to sit in a chair and read. Free water and fruit and as previously mentioned (Diane) no kettle but FREE room service. This is a Saga cruise 50+. There were some older than us (57 and 61)but we met two older couples and due to the size of the ship encountered them often. They made our holiday. Not everyone has a stick or wheelchair. One of the benefits of the Sapphire is evening dining is between, 18.45 and 21.00. No sittings, arrive at the restaurant (Pole to Pole or The Verandah)and, seating available, eat. Should you want the East to West restaurant it has to be booked, asap is my advice (See the daily newspaper for times when you can do so) The food is excellent.On the excursions you are well looked after. No danger at all of beingf left behind in Norway. No they aren't cheap but excursions never are and you learn a lot more by going on them. Disembarkation was a dream. Your number was called (provided in a newsletter the night before) you went to the exit, pointed to your luggage, a porter placed it on a trolley and took it to your transport home, brilliant. We have cruised before on other Cruise lines(not them all certainly) This was our best yet. Did I mention the free "Mr Whippy" type ice cream cones on the pool deck where they also served fish, chips and mushy peas? Probably not, it was a memory of a marvellous holiday along with many more Saga provide this year. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
Departure Date: 11/09/2012 Cruise: Best of the Baltic Cabin Number: 10040 We booked by telephone. At the time of booking I asked for confirmation that all the problems the Sapphire was having were fixed. I was assured they were. ... Read More
Departure Date: 11/09/2012 Cruise: Best of the Baltic Cabin Number: 10040 We booked by telephone. At the time of booking I asked for confirmation that all the problems the Sapphire was having were fixed. I was assured they were. They weren't. The booking experience was acceptable. We did call the aftersales service and they were helpful. Level of booking service was good. Accuracy of information on cruise documents was poor as I had told them I am American and they put me down as British. Preholiday administration was ok after I got my nationality straightened out. Improvements could be made by paying closer attention to what the customers are telling you when they book. Also, don't confirm information unless you know it is true because it may come back and bite you in the behind. The Saga arranged travel was acceptable. We had a shared journey and the car was too small for four large people and lots of luggage. The driver was nice and the journey was ok but he drove too fast when he didn't need to. We sailed from Dover England and the port experience was acceptable. Opinion of Captains, staff and crew is that the ones we actually came in contact with (very few) were professional, the exception being Horst Pint, the hotel manager. He and I got into an altercation the first day, even before we sailed, when I most adamantly expressed my opinion of the exorbitant charge for the internet. We paid upward of £10,000 for this cruise and I would have expected the internet to be included or AT LEAST a more reasonable price. Mr Pint practically threw some vouchers at me and said to come back when I wanted more. Then, he made a rude remark about my being American. I was not impressed and this started my cruise off on a sour note. So far as the rest of the question, I don't agree with using cabin staff and stewards for entertainers. Some of them were woefully lacking. The Flanagan Trio were excellent as were the Perfect Mood. Rosalind Whyte was an excellent speaker; the other two were so-so. Haji and Michael in the computer room tried hard, but they are not instructors. Recommendations: Ask the staff not to pass the buck when asked to do something. So many times I was told, I will take care of that for your Madam, but that is so-and-so's job. Also, please ask the staff to stay out of the lifts during busy times. The lifts were slow enough without having a staff member dragging a heavy piece of equipment into it. I had to actually ask a young man to please exit the lift with his equipment so that a lady in a wheel chair and her husband could get on to go to dinner. I was almost knocked over by a maintenance man rushing out of the lift as I tried to get on it. Efficiency of embarkation was ok. The welcome on board and porterage of luggage was good. We had a superior deluxe stateroom and the standard of the room versus the money it cost us was very, very poor. The room was clean enough but the bathroom smelled strongly of sewage the entire time we were on board and one night it smelled so strongly of a chemical smell (hydrochloric acid or an acid drain cleaner) that I became ill with burning eyes and throat and a headache. Not very good health and safety for a ship like the Sapphire. The carpet in our room was bunched up in the middle of the room and for someone with difficulty walking such as me, it was dangerous. We called about it but they never did get it right. The air conditioning didn't work and the room was cold so they brought an oil heater. What a laugh. The bathroom stayed cold. The room had no soundproofing and we could hear people walking above us at all times during day and night. We could also hear the people in the next room when they used the toilet. Charming. Public rooms were mostly nice and the quality of the food was at times very good and at times barely acceptable. We seem to have the same items a lot with not that much variation. Coffee in the morning was so slow in coming that sometimes we had finished our breakfast before it was poured. I finally said something about it and the service did improve. Some of the dining staff were very nice, i.e., Dexter and Icy especially, but some were surly and unhelpful. The Computer Centre was ok but sadly underutilised due to the cost of using the internet. The lads who took the photos did an excellent job on the video and the photos they took seemed reasonably priced. The excursions were very expensive but that is to be expected. Local guides were mostly good. Copenhagen buffet lunch was a totally disaster as there were way too many people trying to get food, eat, have coffee and use the toilet in 45 minutes. Everyone was snatching and grabbing and gathered around the food five layers deep. It was a terrible experience. It certainly could have been better organised. Excursion staff were either very excellent or very dismal. We had both. General: The cruise overall was sadly lacking and does not compare to what was offered in the brochure. It seems as if Saga are cutting corners in the quantity of food offered, entertainment, daily programmes, etc. The hot tubs were never open when we went to use them. The Drawing Room was badly designed as people were all over each other and at times, could scarcely pass in the corridor. The acoustics in the Pole to Pole restaurant were terrible and one had to shout to carry on a conversation with one's tablemates. We definitely will not use Saga again for anything as I feel they really let us down on this cruise and definitely will not recommend Saga to anyone as a premium cruise company, quite the opposite. I know there are many people who swear by Saga, but I am not one of them. I think this memo explains the reasons why and there were other niggling things which I have omitted to include. This is not my first ocean cruise as I have cruised most of the oceans of the world with many different companies. This was the first and last time with Saga. Never again. The ship was tired looking and acting and we broke down once. Captain McClundie was brilliant and an excellent Captain; one of the best I have sailed with. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
Although we are regular SAGA Cruisers this was our first on Sapphire. Our review takes into account how sapphire compares with the other Saga Ships we have sailed on (Ruby Rose and Pearl 2) The ship rides better than the other ships ... Read More
Although we are regular SAGA Cruisers this was our first on Sapphire. Our review takes into account how sapphire compares with the other Saga Ships we have sailed on (Ruby Rose and Pearl 2) The ship rides better than the other ships Certain things are better We very much liked the Drawing Room although the passage ways leading to it through the excellent library are narrow. The East to West restaurant was superb unfortunately you are only officially allowed one visit per cruise (we managed 2 as one night they had a cancellation). The waiting staff are very good and attentive many of them recognising us from previous cruises. The standard of some was not up to the required SAGA standard. There were occasions when then reached across in front of the diners, Coffee and tea were sometimes slow, and toast was very difficult to obtain in the morning. We didn't like the system in the Verandah /grill. We would have preferred Self Service for Breakfast and Lunch , as on Ruby and Pearl 2. I tried one day in the grill for a traditional English but was told i could only have one of the two items which were on the menu that Morning. After this we had all our breakfasts in Pole to Pole. The Beach Club on Deck 11 was also excellent. They severed Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas or a Steak Burger, from 12 till 3 also the self service Ice Cream was there. In addition a large selection of Boiled Sweets were available to help your self. The entertainment was mixed, We thought the Explosive Productions team very poor. The singers shouted and the Girls did the same routine each show, only the costumes changed. The Classical Flanagan Trio were very good as was the Pianist You Chiang Lin ,(when she stopped talking and played the Piano). The lectures were varied. Keith Pritchard , the destinations lecturer was good as was the Art Lecturer Rosemary. The Classical Music lectures were not up to standard, He was to technical at times and is voice sent the audience to sleep. We were very impressed with the Cabins and although ours was an inside one on deck 6 it was the same size as all the others (Suites excepted). There was a hint of Sewage smell on most of the ship which we understand SAGA are trying to cure. Fortunately not in our Cabin. Most of the problems seemed to have been with the Cabins on deck 10 Captain McLundie was again very good as was the Cruise Director John Parton. Some of his back up staff were notable by their absence, Resty , Fernando, Carol and Ed excepted Embarkation was very smooth and simple as was the shared Car Service to and from Dover. The disembarkation was very long winded at Dover on our return. The ship managed to Dock at 9:30 and it was 2:50 before we got of the ship. There were some problems with the wind and baggage unloading, which had to be done manually by the Filipino Crew.One contribution to the Delay appeared to be the lack of Porters at the Dock. All together a very enjoyable cruise , but alas not one of the best Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
Like the Spirit, Sapphire was built as a dedicated cruise ship. The big advantage over Spirit and Ruby are the size of the cabins, At last a decent table and small sofa in all cabins except the smallest on deck 4. Very pleasant watching ... Read More
Like the Spirit, Sapphire was built as a dedicated cruise ship. The big advantage over Spirit and Ruby are the size of the cabins, At last a decent table and small sofa in all cabins except the smallest on deck 4. Very pleasant watching the sea go by sitting in an armchair with a pot of tea and the sun just above the horizon. On the Spirit and Ruby, the public rooms tended to be on the same deck which made for quick transfers between rooms except when side doors closed when show in progress. The Sapphire has public rooms and restaurants on separate decks which can cause congestion with the lifts. These need integrating so that one is going up as the other descends. As it was, they both tended to arrive at once. As always, the crew could not be faulted. Perfect service at all times. However, the ship still prone to problems. We were stranded in Cadiz for an extra day awaiting a spare computer part to arrive from Norway. We did not mind as Cadiz worth an extra day. We had noticed the engine noise and we were delayed in departure from Cartagena while an engine bearing was replaced. This meant less time in Gibraltar and because of strict scheduling at Rome, we had to miss Crete. We had previously enjoyed rapid buffet service, but the Grill/Verandah restaurant was waiter service only. This caused long delays at breakfast and lunch when everyone tended to arrive at the same time. We were told that choice of buffet or waiter will be introduced. I had enjoyed the awning on the Spirit which extended as far as the pool. That on the Ruby was useless as only a metre deep. On the Sapphire, they have used strips of netting which are as much use as a chocolate teapot at shielding from strong sun or rain. A shame, as the horseshoe shaped area would have made a splendid sheltered area. The East to West restaurant was exquisite. On the first night, the queue for the dining room was long so we thought to try the Grill. We lost our way and found an empty restaurant with several waiters to attend to us. We found that often a table is vacant and enjoyed the East to West four times during the voyage. Another problem is lack of a launderette. That on the Ruby was perfect. Most ladies like to wash their 'smalls' themselves and a launderette really essential on a long voyage, Summing up, The Sapphire just needs minor niggles to be ironed out and then it will be ideal. We intend to enjoy cruising on her again. johnep Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
This old and tired ship is well past its sell-by date and unbelievably Saga are renaming it back to Pearl 2 which it was before it became Quest for Adventure. I booked the holiday as Saga usually have special events to introduce solo ... Read More
This old and tired ship is well past its sell-by date and unbelievably Saga are renaming it back to Pearl 2 which it was before it became Quest for Adventure. I booked the holiday as Saga usually have special events to introduce solo travellers - not this time sadly and it was the subject of many complaints. Having paid a great deal for an outside cabin, the window was caked with dried salt and never cleaned the whole cruise. This applied to large picture windows in the library area as well. That is normal routine cleaning on all ships but not this one. I found the amenities sadly lacking and the small swimming pool with rusty steps very uninviting. The main sunbathing deck was under the funnel which sometimes belched out filthy black smoke, depositing soot particles on the sunbed cushions below. Entertainment apparently had to be provided by the wonderful overworked crew and it was embarrassingly amateurish. Saga need to pay for real entertainers as there were only 2 singers and 2 pianists provided. The Discovery Lounge is not designed to watch shows as there is no raised stage or tiered seating. Views are also blocked by pillars. The cinema was a joke as the small screen could not show widescreen films and only basic seating provided. "Free" seating for dinner meant singles were put on whatever table had space and was not what I envisaged when booking as usually singles are put together. Food was mediocre and nothing like the quality enjoyed on most cruise ships these days. The fresh fruit at breakfast and lunch was cut into small pieces and both pineapple and banana were often brown and overripe. The casual "Verandah" dining area for lunch and breakfast was very badly arranged and involved a lot of walking from one corner to the other and then to the middle etc. Not diner friendly and it could have been much better set out. Shore excursions were quite expensive and,since there were no singles meetings, it was not possible to arrange our own tours which I had always done with my late husband. We had an expensive tour supposedly to see Bequia and Mustique by catamaran but this in no way accorded to the description given and the travel desk did not want to know about us on our return, telling us to write to head office. We had paid £99 for this trip that turned out to be 2 hours on a catamaran and being physically hauled ashore at Mustique as there was no gangway provided. Embarcation and disembarcation was very well organised at all times. The flight back with Monarch was dreadful and, looking at airline reviews,their reputation says it all. Saga need to change their charter airline. Obviously, I will not cruise with Saga again and have passed on my comments to their Head Office. I am still waiting for the results of their "investigation". Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I had shared transfer to Southampton travelling from Yorkshire in 6 hours with two stops.Check in was excellent and a short wait to board and taken to cabin on 6 deck in LS grade (single standard).The cabin was small and basically equipped ... Read More
I had shared transfer to Southampton travelling from Yorkshire in 6 hours with two stops.Check in was excellent and a short wait to board and taken to cabin on 6 deck in LS grade (single standard).The cabin was small and basically equipped with shower over bath,large wardrobe space,bedside table,table by a two light window with lamp,small TV,fridge and shelving-with a single bed with duvet.This is Saga:no children!The immediate impression was of a crew who cared and wanted you to enjoy the Saga experience:they were all polite,smiling especially the waiters in the Verandah where I was to dine most evenings preferring it to the low ceiling and noise level of the main Pole to Pole.I had breakfast in the main restaurant or the Verandah Grill.The menus were always interesting although there was less choice in the Verandah.I did not try East to West restaurant although it did provide steaks. This was the Christmas & New Year cruise of 18 nights and visiting 10 ports - Lisbon,Casablanca,Agadir,Arrecife Lanzarote,Las Palmas Gran Canaria,Santa Cruz Tenerife,San Sebastian La Gomera,Santa Cruz La Palma,Funchal Madeira,El Ferrol Spain.The ship was well decorated for Christmas and we were able to decorate the main tree outside the Britannia Lounge during the provision of mince pies and mulled wine.The Captain was David Warden-Owen and Cruise Director Tanya Whitehurst:they both seemed to enjoy their jobs. Christmas Day Formal Lunch was excellent:although Saga had taken away the one time included wine.The standard of the production shows was frankly amateurish,too loud and worth leaving to the Cooper Bar or Drawing Room for more laid back musical entertainment.The main lounge had poor sight lines especially from the back and suffered from poor design with ramps and steps throughout including the entrances. The highlight for me personally were the two trivia quizzes run by cruise staff although Saga had made cut backs with no prize points awarded anymore:they added more fun and competition.There were musical highlights,perhaps not to everyones taste but I thought that the musicians set a high standard and variation of their mainly classical repertoire.The cocktail pianist was excellent and appeared at tea time in the Britannia,Coopers Bar and Drawing Room throughout a busy day.There were a few deck games arranged and some internal games but with an absence of points there were not as many takers as there had been on Ruby a few years ago. The cruise benefitted from excellent sunny weather,calm seas although a lack of working whirlpools on open deck and in the inside Spa was disappointing.The jacuzzi in the Spa only worked on 5 days of the whole cruise.The Beach Club by the open pool served afternoon fish and chips in a Saga Times or Beefburgers and fries;there were also help yourself sweet and ice cream points by the pool:these were very popular. There were four formal nights and the others a mix of Informal and Casual.There were two main visiting speakers on natural history and transport together with port talks:these were mainly an advert for the tours. The 9 days at sea passed slowly at times although the fireworks for the New Year at Funchal were still exciting and beautiful to watch from the open deck. Overall I enjoyed Saga Ruby for the ship design and the friendliness of a smaller ship:Saga Sapphire had 631 paying passengers and a total of 706. It is worth mentioning that the ship was clean,tried hard to please although the race from Drawing Room the length of the ship and down two decks in the evenings proved too much for a holiday atmosphere.I liked the provision of teas and coffees most of the day in the Drawing Room together with freshly baked cakes:very enjoyable. A thought:why spoil a cruise with the provision of the smallest soap tablets I have ever seen on a cruise ship and not providing shoe cleaning equipment. Well Done Saga for insisting on an extended safety drill prior to sailing and the hand sanitizers which were everywhere.Disembarkation was early and smooth with a one stop transfer back home.Following a comment letter to Saga they phoned me at home to discuss the comments:good for them. I am going this year with Silversea and giving Saga a rest:what a shame that Ruby's final voyage is later this year.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
Our arrival at Barbados was handled smoothly an the tours and port stops in Grenada and Trinidad were very good. We thought the ship was looking its age and not suprised is was due a refit.The food quality was average but service very ... Read More
Our arrival at Barbados was handled smoothly an the tours and port stops in Grenada and Trinidad were very good. We thought the ship was looking its age and not suprised is was due a refit.The food quality was average but service very good. The trouble started when we headed for South America. We were late arriving in Surinam due to Tides. I would have thought the tides would have been known in advance. The next stop was cancelled because of rough sea (I think mainly late arrival). In Belem we moored in the middle of the river using local boats as tenders. Our trip to shore was hampered by sitting on plastic patio chairs which moved about on deck due to the swell, two persons fell off on the return journey. An excursion to the rain forest for three and a half hours ended up taking over seven hours due to late leaving, towing in a broken down tour boat and the captain of the tender refusing to tie up to the ship as his boat had been damaged earlier. The next tour also was delayed. At a stop at a native village we were told we could take pictures of the children with their pets, this turned out to be baby animals from the jungle,(peccaries, sloths, cayman, lizards etc. So much for conservation, Saga should not encourage this. The flight back to UK was delayed with little information why. On complaining to Saga we had a very dismissive letter saying it was all beyond their control. My second letter to them was not answered. My first and last Saga cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
My husband and I have sailed several times on Saga Ruby and this was our first cruise on Sapphire. The layout of Sapphire is easy to learn as all the cabins are in the front half of the ship and the public rooms are in the rear, apart from ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed several times on Saga Ruby and this was our first cruise on Sapphire. The layout of Sapphire is easy to learn as all the cabins are in the front half of the ship and the public rooms are in the rear, apart from the Drawing Room which is at the front. The cabins was enormous with plenty of hanging space, a good-sized table and sofa, plus armchair. The bathroom was a reasonable size and the layout including the shower was good - with pleasant toiletries. The cabin was well insulated so you couldn't hear your neighbours. However, we did not like the main dining room - too noisy and too rushed. We preferred to eat in the Grill Restaurant which was more relaxed, but as it had doors to the outer decks, could be chilly. Access to the outer decks was limited - Deck 8 was only down the sides of the ships and at the rear (not linked, then deck 11 (Beach Club) and the only place you could walk right round was Deck 12. The location of the Crazy Golf was wasted - right at the front of the ship on Deck 12, so as it was the windiest place, could only be used when in port. If the weather is poor, the amount of seating space is severely restricted as the Ballroom was often in sue for lectures. The pools could not be used unless the sea was dead calm, as the water was prone to throwing itself across the decks. The ship does NOT travel well in rough seas - we had a force 11/12 gale after leaving Lisbon and the ship suffered extensive damage, having to seek shelter in Vigo overnight. However, all the staff on board provided excellent care and service all the time and as a smallish ship, you do get to be known by the crew, cruise staff and officers. When we encountered the rough weather, all meals were provided as room service only for safety and the crew all checked passengers to ensure that they were OK and happy to sit down and talk to any who were worried or distressed. The Beach Club is enjoyable, especially the fish and chip bar and the ice cream, but hardly anyone used the sweet shop. There was a good selection of onboard activities and certainly all the deck games sessions were always well attended. All in all a good cruise, and the Sapphire is a nice ship, but some of the quirky features take away from the ambience of the ship. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2013
I have travelled with Saga on many holidays and almost 100 nights of cruising. We wanted to see the Northern Lights so we booked a cruise that started on 26th February 2013. Because of previous experiences we had confidence that this ... Read More
I have travelled with Saga on many holidays and almost 100 nights of cruising. We wanted to see the Northern Lights so we booked a cruise that started on 26th February 2013. Because of previous experiences we had confidence that this would be a great holiday. How wrong we were! The newly refurbished Saga Sapphire has very little to show for all the work. The public rooms are too small for the number of passengers and the strangely decorated Drawing room looked like an airport lounge when all the flights were delayed. People walking around trying to find somewhere to sit . The dining room (Pole to Pole) was divided up in to smaller areas making the noise levels and temperature levels too high for comfort. Because the main restaurant did not have enough seats for everybody, on some nights, usually the formal nights people were being turned away to eat in the smaller cafeteria type eatery called The Grill. Gone is the Silver Service when a waiter would bring the vegetables to you , different every night, and you could make a choice. Now the meal is put in front of you complete with vegetables, every day the same, carrots and broccoli, it became very boring. The quality of the food has dropped and cut backs are too obvious. Saga cruises were never cheap, but the prices remain the same and standards have dropped. Even the cocktail of the day is missing, there was always two and on a cold cruise one would be hot. Afternoon tea has become very predictable with only one special Viennese Tea that really seemed like the standard. The old practice of specials has gone. The special buffet lunches are also a thing of the past, more cut backs. We stayed in a suite that looked like it still had the original decor, maybe new furniture. What happened? I thought all the cabins were to be refurbished. The destinations and trips were of a very high standard, but apart from one, were also very expensive extras. To top this experience off, on the last day of the cruise I felt unwell and on returning home I was suffering severe gastric problems. My doctor arranged for tests and I was diagnosed with Campylobacter (food poisoning). As this has an incubation period of 2 to 11 days I could have only got this whilst on the cruise. Having not eaten ashore there are not many conclusions I could come to as of the cause. Sorry Saga you have lost us as customers. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
This will be the second time we have used this ship as the food and the staff very good. It is for a maturer crowd but this time round it was like being on a hospital ship. Wheelchairs and walking sticks everywhere. We felt sorry for ... Read More
This will be the second time we have used this ship as the food and the staff very good. It is for a maturer crowd but this time round it was like being on a hospital ship. Wheelchairs and walking sticks everywhere. We felt sorry for the staff as they seemed to have to work as carers for a lot of the passengers. We are both retired ourselves but felt uncomfortable due to the disabled on the ship. We presume the infirm go on the ship because of being looked after. Not having a go at the disabled but the ship was not like this last time. The show lounge "Britannia" is where the shows are held is unsuitable for the amount of people. It is not laid out as a theatre due to the size of the ship so if you ate late as we did, you did not get a good view. Acts were so so but nothing to write home about and have seen a lot better. Most of the passengers seem to want to eat early so they could get to the show lounge early and grab the front seats which is so irrating. These would be the same people who hogged the sun loungers and left their personal belongings on the chairs whilst eating or going ashore. All in all not a quality ship. The cabin was fine. Do not bother paying extra for a balcony unless you are on Deck 10 as the balconies on Deck 8 are not worthing paying for. This time we had the extra space inside the cabin and a big window instead which was a lot better. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers, toiletries. Steward attentive. Fresh fruit left in your room every couple of days. This time we noticed when having coffee after a meal in the Pole to Pole Restaurant, you got a cup and saucer, yet upstairs in the Veranda Restaurant you got mugs, even in the evening which was a bit tacky. Cannot comment on afternoon tea as there is only so much you can eat but looked plentiful and packed out with passengers who did not manage to eat enough at lunch! The same with midnight buffet. We |have tried to find out numerous times what percentage of the holiday cost is paid to the staff in tips but Saga will not answer that question. Every cruise company mentions the amount given except Saga, so they must be hiding something. We should know as the staff work very hard and go home once a year to their families. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
A friend and I are considering a cruise next year to the Fjords, we'd like to sail from the UK, so when this offer of one night in Southampton on Saga Sapphire came up I decided to try it. I had been a few years ago on a RCCL ship in ... Read More
A friend and I are considering a cruise next year to the Fjords, we'd like to sail from the UK, so when this offer of one night in Southampton on Saga Sapphire came up I decided to try it. I had been a few years ago on a RCCL ship in the Caribbean. I travelled with my partner who had never been on a cruise ship before. I cannot help but compare Sapphire to Serenade of the Seas, which is the only other ship I have been on. Some negative but many positive. Embarkation: As we were only staying one night we drove to Southampton and found the car park easily with instructions sent by Saga. There were a lot of staff to direct us to the ship and give us instructions. All were friendly and courteous. We had been advised just to take hand luggage. We had to wait just a short while in the terminal before embarking. It was a very long walk along the covered bridges to get to the ship. First impressions: A funny little old fashioned ship. But staff were delightful and ship very clean. Cabin: Very clean, comfortable beds and pillows, good quality bed linen. Fairly small and not that well planned, especially the wardrobe area which was right alongside one of the beds, thereby making it difficult for two people to access it. Bedside lights were not well-planned and would disturb your partners sleep. Balcony was very narrow. Only room for two chairs and no table. Bathroom was huge, bath with shower over. Lots of room for personal toiletries. Large bottles of complimentary toiletries supplied. Lots of grab rails and a rubber bath mat, ideal of older people. Shower was a bit complicated to operate but OK when you got the hang of it. Tea and coffee making facilities supplied and also a hairdryer. We had afternoon tea on arrival, very pleasant but they seem to use UHT milk as opposed to fresh. Then a tour of the ship, one of the directors was our tour guide, very pleasant man but tour not well planned as we didn't start on one deck and work our way up but dotted from deck 2 to 5 then back to 3 and so on. Parts of the ship were closed for refurbishment including the buffet restaurant. Time to change before the Captains cocktail party, with free champagne, g and ts or fruit punch. Once again staff were very welcoming, with the European officers being much in evidence. Dinner was excellent with free wine. We had a speciality coffee after which was served with flair by the delightful Filipino staff. Onto the show lounge for the entertainment which was Motown with singers and dancers. OK but not first class. They then had a Beatles tribute band which was well received with many people getting up to dance. We finished the evening in Coopers Bar, which was welcoming with a couple of Saga staff socialising with passengers. Thanks James and Mel. Breakfast was menu or self service, but after such a late night I didn't want much. Disembarkation very easy, with lots of staff on hand to wish us a good journey and hope we enjoyed ourselves. To sum up: I loved the British atmosphere of the ship, the reasonable pub prices for drinks, the food and wonderful smiling staff. On a proper cruise there is also the advantage of included insurance, the free car to the port and no extra gratuities. But I felt it lacked the sumptuous decor of the US ships and it also seemed quite crowded in the public areas. My partner was not so enthusiastic as he felt claustrophobic, but to be fair I don't think cruising is his thing. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
I got an email from SAGA CRUISES for a 2nt cruise on QUEST FOR ADVENTURE. As saga are a bit expensive in my opinion i decided to try it as not done this ship before. PRE CRUISE I forgot my debit card and had to go back for it so i ... Read More
I got an email from SAGA CRUISES for a 2nt cruise on QUEST FOR ADVENTURE. As saga are a bit expensive in my opinion i decided to try it as not done this ship before. PRE CRUISE I forgot my debit card and had to go back for it so i called SAGA to tell them i would miss the train but they said they would pick me up from WEYMOUTH STATION. I managed to pick theb train up going a different way and called saga to tell them. I got to WEYMOUTH to find no REP or indeed a TRANSFER BUS to take me to PORTLAND. Another couple who did not have a free rail ticket got into a taxi. I called SAGA and waited an hour fpor it to get there! I went through xray and even though no sound was madfe i was still searched!! EMBARKATION I was shown to my cabin 461 on b deck. CABIN It was an ourtside cabin with 2 windows it was quite hard to open the curtains to see out. I had a good bathroom and shower with lots of oils. A fidge with nothing in it and no ice in the bucket this was never filled as i never really saw my steward. FOOD I webnt to the DINING ROOm for lunch the food was good and sat with the SINGER at the show. I was the only one who had got on at the table. As the lifeboat drill was soon it was a real rush having lunch i was not offered and wine that was supposed to be free! The other meals Lunch was ok but only 1 choice of dessert. ENTERTAINMENT Strange for a 2 night cruise both nights were the same singer though she was good. EXCURSIONS only had one and the 2 excursions was onlty 1 and was in MILFORD HAVEN of PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH at Â(EURO)44 was not bad but we never saw FIGHGUARD and only saw a bit of the coast, We went to ST DAVIDS managed to do the CATHEDRAL but it was quite a walk there and they were asling to pay Â(EURO)2 for a permit to take pictures there. After that it was a bit of a rush looking at the shops before we left. THINGS TO DO I didnt really think there was enough activities to do on this ship. SPECIAL DINNER I was invited tlo dine with the DIRECTOR OF SAGA SHIPPING in the WARD ROOM it was the highlight of the cruise conversation was really good. DISEMBARKATION As i was getting a car to the HILTON for 2 nights i could leave my luggage inside the cabin rather than put it out the night before. I was going with the DIRECTOR'S wife in the car but there was no sign of it so we had to pay Â(EURO)50 for the taxi i know we got it back but i would'nt have done it if i was on my own. FINAL THOUGHTS It was nice to try this ship out but i don't really think it was worth the money i could have done a transatlantic for the same price. SAGA is ok but io could'nt do a longer cruise because of the price and the transfers never happened!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
We had reservations about travelling with Saga but upon recommendation decided to give it a try. The shared car travel to Dover was excellent, booking in was OK and the cabin one of the best we have ever been in - lots of space and a ... Read More
We had reservations about travelling with Saga but upon recommendation decided to give it a try. The shared car travel to Dover was excellent, booking in was OK and the cabin one of the best we have ever been in - lots of space and a superb bathroom. The first meal was OK but nothing outstanding. We prefer a fixed table as my husband is in a wheelchair and I had to queue to following day to have this privilege. The start of many rules and regulations. At the second port there was a problem with the engine which we told about at dinner after an excursion. This was Saturday evening and we were told a part was being flown in the following day. We should have realised that this would not happen as it was a weekend and a public holiday in Norway. In the event we spent 3 days in port - complimentary excursions were arranged but not everybody wanted to spend time on a coach. We eventually set sail for Spitsbergen but were advised that 2 ports would be missed out on our return journey - notably Tromso and Gerainger fjord (this to me was the highlight of the holiday). We then learned that several people had been on the equivalent cruise last year and spent 4 days in Tromso becaused of engine problems. In addition to this an afternoon cruise in Longyearben was altered to 7.15am and our time in Bergen was cut from all day to 4 hours. The return cruise from Spitsbergen involved 3.5 days at sea, a 4 hours stop and then a further 2.5 days at sea, back to Dover. Because of the weather many outdoor activities could not be carried out and the talks were specific to certain interests - not helped that they took place in the Britannia Lounge which is cramped and has poor acoustics and visibility. Another complaint is the extortionate price of wifi. We purchased 2 packages and had a total of wifi use for 6 days. When I queried this with a member of staff who supposedly assisted with computer problems I was accused of not logging off after using my email. As my husband used to run an IT company this was hardly likely to be the case. Back to the food - breakfasts were buffet style and could not be faulted, however the choice at lunch and dinner became monotonous and the fact that virtually every meal was served with broccoli and carrots says it all. The food was very bland and in our opinion catered for the elderly palate. Not everyone over the age of 65 wants boring safe food. The exception to this was our visit to East and West which was superb. For anyone thinking Saga would be geared up to help the disabled - forget it. We have never experienced any problem with getting my husband on and off a ship in his wheelchair but Saga says it is against health and safety to take someone down the gangway in a wheelchair! Additionally the only disabled toilets were on Deck 5 - the restaurants are on Decks 7 and 9. On our return we were offered a refund which we accepted. However I still await a response to my letter giving constructive criticism. Needless to say we will never travel with Saga again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
Having enjoyed more than 350 days at sea on various SAGA vessels and thus being a long standing and very satisfied customer it is sad to report the gradual and irritating continuing reduction in standards (not reflected in the continuing ... Read More
Having enjoyed more than 350 days at sea on various SAGA vessels and thus being a long standing and very satisfied customer it is sad to report the gradual and irritating continuing reduction in standards (not reflected in the continuing high prices). Without exception the crew are magnificent and the cleanliness and appointment of the public rooms and my cabin could not be faulted. However:- Although we enjoy priority embarkation it was over 5 hours before our baggage was delivered to our cabin - almost 2 hour after sailing. A formal complaint on board and later to the Chief Executive produced the same lame excuse - such a lot of passengers!!! Presumably the vessel has been loaded before! After 7 days our chosen wine ran out, 7 days later our second and third choices also ran out. (Same experience on Quest for Adventure in June). Also, unbelievably, ran our of cheese biscuits after 14 days. Table steward unable to bring the cheese trolley to our table "because of the step/ramp" but this did not prevent the Sommelier wheeling his drinks trolley around the tables. Apart from the classical quartet the professional entertainment was very second rate. Port visits were too short on most occasions and excursions expensive for what they were. Chauffeur car arrangements excellent but an untraceable and seemingly unnecessary Answerphone message 24 hours before departure advising an unacceptable timing change did cause concern and necessitate several telephone calls to confirm the original agreement. The inclusive Travel Insurance is ridiculously restrictive and inflexible with no exclusions allowed. Judging by the age and physical/medical state of many of the passengers there must be a lot of undisclosed pre-exisiting conditions. Why oh why must we endure the same mixture of vegetables and almost every meal. Despite these criticisms we have two cruises booked for 2014 and two advanced reservations for 2015 so SAGA must be doing something right!!!!! We love the convenience of UK departures and the friendliness of the crew, many of whom we have known for several years Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
My Husband and I decided to have Christmas away this year and choose a cruise. From the minute we arrived at Southampton docks we were looked after by the Saga reps who are on hand to help you. We were early and one of the first passengers ... Read More
My Husband and I decided to have Christmas away this year and choose a cruise. From the minute we arrived at Southampton docks we were looked after by the Saga reps who are on hand to help you. We were early and one of the first passengers to board. We were shown to Reception and very helpful staff there took us to our cabin. The cabin was nice and plenty of room for all our clothes and things we had bought with us (two large suitcases, two large holdalls) The steward, Willy was a great help and took our empty cases to his store room. You could not fault Willy he had the cabin looking great every time we went for breakfast. Fresh fruit every day and a smile on his face when ever we saw him. The girls on Reception were outstanding and nothing to much trouble. Their names were Sarah, Demelza and Cana. We went on a couple of trips, one to Rome, which the young lady photographer came with us as we went off on our own to see the sites. The other was to Pisa and the receptionist Sarah was also tour guide. She was so helpful and kind to one of the passengers who was having trouble keeping up as he couldn't walk very fast she walked with him and didn't once try to hurry him up. We loved the food such a choice. The waiters were very quick with your food. We were never waiting long between courses in the Dining Room at night. During the day we used the Verandah for breakfast and lunch. I think we both gained weight. You couldn't fault the food. The entertainment was very good. John the compere was very funny. The only bad thing was a comic that did one night only, thank god for that as he was so bad. They replaced him with better entertainment. The crew show was one of the best. We had two extra nights in Lisbon as the Captain had heard that the weather was going to be really bad so we stayed the extra nights till the storm had passed. One old passenger said she was going to complain about the extra days but I pointed out to her that there would be a lot of people suffering sea sickness or worse fall over and break limbs. She said, you are right but she was still going to complain. Well we had a really good time and would recommend this lovely little cruise ship to anyone. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
My second Canary Christmas cruise started with an early shared transport pick up at home and after 5 hours arrival at Southampton after two short stops.I had immediate boarding and delivery of luggage was quick to a cabin on M grade deck ... Read More
My second Canary Christmas cruise started with an early shared transport pick up at home and after 5 hours arrival at Southampton after two short stops.I had immediate boarding and delivery of luggage was quick to a cabin on M grade deck 5.Ferdinand introduced himself as my cabin steward for this cruise:he was friendly and efficient:I ordered tea each morning and it came despite the rough seas.The ship was full with over 700 passengers with an average age of 76.The captain Phlip Rentell said that the sea down to Lisbon would be "lumpy" although I thought that pretty rough was more appropriate.It turned out to be uncomfortable across the dreaded Bay of Biscay.We were offered sea sickness tablets which I gratefully accepted.The first full day at sea was memorable for the high seas-nothing like the height en route home.The third night was devoid of sleep until dawn and I was grateful for the cruise staff providing a variety of deck games to keep me awake in the morning.Liusbon at last and a walk from the shuttle bus to explore this delightful city and flowers.We had several concerts by the excellent Trinity Trio and the piano playing of Martin soothed the pains of travel,which had already included an ill passenger being helicoptered off the ship to hospital. Sunny in Casablanca and a good walk from the shuttle to the partly restored church with its impressive stained glass.I had been here before so I was soon back on the ship and next day bound for Agadir where I stayed in the ship.Enjoyed the sun of Arrecife Lanzarote and a stroll along the long clean beach. Next day was Christmas Day and the ship looked really good with all the decorations and an excellent formal Christmas lunch:I had this in the Veranda as I have never really enjoyed the main restaurant.The Queen's Speech and a Trivia Quiz completed my day.Boixing Day was at Tenerife and my only booked Saga coach trip:exoensive but a chance to see three lovely gardens in fine warm weather.Next was Gran Canaria and a very short walk to a so-called market and back to the ship for a tour of the Bridge:the ship had been built for a German company as Europa and is 32 years old already.So to La Gomera although it was at a berth in the main town and not as advertised.I enjoyed my 3rd visit here to visit the old keep,two churches and the Columbus house:it was lovely warm weather.We could not leave port that evening due to excessively high winds and we stayed at berth until the morning of the next day.We were on our way to see the fireworks at Funchal across increasingly rough seas and high winds which rolled the ship and also at one stage brought much water from the pool over passengers enjoying the sun and fish & chips.New Year's Eve and calmer waters to berth at Funchal-the programme suggested a tender transfer.I had a visit by service bus to the beautiful Botanic Gardens with superb views over the bay.That evening it was formal again for New Year and the haggis was piped around as a wonderful firework display appeared over the town and surrounding hills of Funchal.Memorable as always.We then sailed for Leixos Portugal in choppy seas again:you woulkd imagine we should be used to these conditions but Mother Nature had a surprise in store.A 4 mile shuttle took us into Porto on the Douro river:I had a river cruise here a few years ago.I enjoyed a red top bus tour before returning to the ship. The next intended stop was La Corunna BUT we were told that we were to miss this for a direct sailing to our home port due to the very low pressure system coming from the Atlantic.We entered the Bay of Biscay during the night and I was thrown out of bed by the very high swell and ship movement:we heard that the two other Saga ships were staying in Lisbon-but we rolled on in seas that became very uncomfortable and resulted in much illness and the hope of Southampton as soon as possible.I had meals in the evening in the cabin.Next morning I managed to get to the restaurant when the ship lurched again and deposited broken crockery and food all over passengers and floor.What a holiday! Saturday and a day away from home port:we had a quieter day and enjoyed the talks,games and quizzes.A sunny Sunday in Southampton:thank goodness that journey was all over-I have even cancelled my Saga cruise next Christmas,although naturally it could be fine. The highlights for me were the excellent friendly crew,the cruise staff who looked after the activities (thank you Jay and Resty),the recitals in both Drawing Room and main Lounge,excellent display at Afternoon Tea with music (Perfect Mood and Martin).   Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
I have only just found this site or I would have posted this earlier. The details of this voyage are given in a previous post and I would like to add my comments as to the way I was treated by Saga after booking my fourth cruise in 12 ... Read More
I have only just found this site or I would have posted this earlier. The details of this voyage are given in a previous post and I would like to add my comments as to the way I was treated by Saga after booking my fourth cruise in 12 months. This was my first trip on the Sapphire after enjoying lovely times on what was then "Quest for Adventure" (Now Saga Pearl II). I booked very early in 2012 for the Christmas 2013 cruise. This being my first trip on this ship I asked the booking clerk for advice on the best single standard outside cabin available, assuming at that early stage I would be given the best price and a good cabin. Imagine my dismay to be shown into a gloomy cramped cabin on Deck 10 with a lifeboat completely covering the window, and the smallest en suite bathroom I have ever seen. However, I made my way down for afternoon tea and there met up with a friend I had met on previous holidays. She came to look at my cabin and could not believe I had been palmed off with such awful accommodation. She had booked only three months previously and had been allocated a beautiful standard outside cabin on Deck 6, very spacious and light and with a beautiful large en suite bathroom. To add insult to injury she had only paid £3,600 to my £6,200!!! Despite a notice at the (very unhelpful) reception desk I persisted in my request to speak to the officer in charge of guest accommodation who said that the ship was fully booked but he would look into my complaint. He then rang me to say that he could move me when we arrived at Lisbon and an entertainer vacated the cabin. I had no option but to accept this offer and spent three very uncomfortable nights in the high seas and gales described earlier hanging on to the sides of my very small "double" bed.. The en-suite was so tiny that when trying to use the toilet in a lull I was suddenly knocked off my feet and landed in the shower trays there was only a plastic curtain and no proper shower enclosure. I was unable to use the shower at all as there were no safety grab rails at all in that cabin. I asked in reception if I could make an entry in the accident book, and was told that they did not keep a record of accidents - and (!) did I have a witness!!!! Single cabin, toilet - would anyone have had a witness I wonder? I was pleased to be re-homed into a lovely cabin but many issues of pricing policies, fairly patronising bordering on insolent comments by some of the waiters in the main restaurant, and general inequalities of treatment kept cropping up during the 3 awful Bay of Biscay days out and the even worse weather on the return I remember thinking that the waves were taller than my two-storey house and were hitting my window on Deck 5. There were lots of accidents - some quite severe. I couldn't help thinking that Saga with its "Niche Market" boast i.e lots of very elderly, some quite severely disabled, clientele should rethink its policy of selling holidays with winter crossings of the infamous Bay of Biscay. There insistence on not using flights to join the ship is slanted towards the less able, but surely a choice could be offered? And what about the pricing policy???? There were those who had booked cheaper inside cabins and claimed always to have been allocated outside cabins and a lady, also on Deck 10 who had paid over £7000 a year earlier for a similar miserable cabin to the one I had complained of. (Lower decks were marginally more comfortable in adverse conditions.) My friend, who had spent most of 2013 cruising with Saga, when asking for an earlier disembarkation as she had a 5-6 hour journey home and was on the last departure time, was told "We have 420 Platinum and Gold passengers on board - YOU are ONLY Silver. Charming when we had received letters advising us that our humble status as regular cruisers had entitled us to priorities also! I did complain to Saga when I returned home only to receive a totally smug and unhelpful reply. I certainly will not be travelling with this company again. Even my journey from ~Suffolk to Southampton was uncomfortable because the vehicle sent for four people only had three comfortable seats. The occupants already installed were elderly and disabled to the extent it took two of us to reseat one lady after a comfort stop, so I ended up on an uncomfortable bench of a seat in the back. We had plenty of time to chat due to our enforced sea days and came to the conclusion that it was better to book late on special offers to get a good price, you never get a refund because they can skew the conditions, and even if you book early and request a specific cabin you probably won't be allowed to book it as not all cabins are available at one specific time, and are released gradually deck. by deck, over time. Bye Bye Saga. You won't be seeing me again even though Saga Sapphire is a lovely vessel.   Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
On April 11th 2014 I boarded Saga Pearl II with some trepidation: it was not only my first cruise with Saga but my first cruise alone. I needed not to worry from the embarkation onwards every thing was fine. The staff were incredible, so ... Read More
On April 11th 2014 I boarded Saga Pearl II with some trepidation: it was not only my first cruise with Saga but my first cruise alone. I needed not to worry from the embarkation onwards every thing was fine. The staff were incredible, so efficient and friendly, the cabins and public rooms spotlessly clean and the food was indeed some of the best I have had. This was Captain Dunlop's Mystery Cruise, and soon the Captain was referred to as Captain 'Devious' Duncan as he had most of us puzzled as to where he was going to, for one thing he changed direction in the early hours of the morning so we may have gone to bed thinking North but waking up to find he had gone South! There were 10 ports of call, 5 I had been to on other cruises and 5 new ones to me. As this was an all inclusive as well as being a mystery cruise, a half day tour was included in the price paid. One or two people complained about the choice of ports/tours but the majority of people were very happy. On the basis of this one trip I have now booked three other cruise with Saga, as I now travel alone I find this is by far the best cruise line for me Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
After a short journey to the ship,the boarding process was easy and quick. My first reaction was to a strong unpleasant smell,this smell persisted all over the ship and the whole of the cruise.The cabin was larger than I have experienced ... Read More
After a short journey to the ship,the boarding process was easy and quick. My first reaction was to a strong unpleasant smell,this smell persisted all over the ship and the whole of the cruise.The cabin was larger than I have experienced before,clean but very Spartan in décor,the bed was comfortable,plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space. In the veranda restaurant the seating is uncomfortable and far too low for the tables.Many of the staff here,though polite and helpful spoke very poor English which does not help. The pole to pole restaurant is so much better in term's of seating and communication,so we chose this after two days.One is able to book a table also which can be an advantage when one is tired of listening to those who plague their fellow cruisers with tales of all the cruises they have been on. Entertainment is not of very high standard and even the lectures were mediocre. However,we did find our niche in the Coopers bar,where there was a very fine pianist each night, The excursions with Saga are way over priced compared to other companies,we took the trip to Fram railway which cost £74 each,it took us half way up the line,others who made their own arrangements journeyed to the top for £40 each.The "free" wifi is so bad that it was mostly a waste of time trying to connect even when sitting almost next to the ships main public computers.Add the fact that we were woken every morning at around 7.45am by announcement by the captain,so no chance of sleeping in. Do not think we will be cruising with Saga again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
As I was unsure about a cruise I decided to start with a short one. Suffice to say the next one will be longer! As a treat for our 50th birthday (making us just old enough to qualify) my twin sister and I cruised the beautiful Norwegian ... Read More
As I was unsure about a cruise I decided to start with a short one. Suffice to say the next one will be longer! As a treat for our 50th birthday (making us just old enough to qualify) my twin sister and I cruised the beautiful Norwegian Fjords from Dover, calling at Bergen, Olden, Flåm, and Stavanger. From the outset this was a hugely enjoyable Saga experience. From being picked up (and dropped off) from my home address, the check-in procedure, embarkation, excursions, disembarkation and everything between, Saga had it all covered and it went like clockwork. Having no preconceived idea of what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin. It was well-appointed, with ample room for two people. It comprised of twin beds, a triple wardrobe (with shelving & hanging, long enough to accommodate full length gowns), a chest of drawers, dressing table, plus a table and seating by the window, TV / DVD, mini fridge and a great shower room. One minor point to note is that there was only one three pin socket - the rest were the continental two pin variety. However, this wasn't a problem as we took travel adapters. The Saga Sapphire is beautiful, and what I call an 'old fashioned' shape ship. The public areas are well thought out and easily accessible by stairs or lift. The interior decor is tasteful, with themed areas, such as Cooper's Bar and The Aviator Lounge. There are some truly stunning pieces of art on board, the best being the fish sculpture (by the reception desk) on deck seven descending to deck five. There are three 'eateries' - the main restaurant, Pole to Pole, the intimate East to West, serving a fusion of Oriental / Asian dishes and The Grill & Verandah Restaurant, where you can dine alfresco if you wish and weather permits. Most seating is open, although there is a small amount of reserved seating in the Pole to Pole restaurant. We tried each one - The Grill & Verandah being a firm favourite where we ate most of our meals. I cannot fault the food that was served. There was plenty to choose from - starters, salads, soups, mains and desserts, plus petit fours to round the evening meal off. The ship's staff were a fantastic, polite and happy crew, from Captain Rentell down. They were all very attentive, be it helping wheelchair bound passengers disembark, to carrying a plate of food to a table during self service meals, to opening doors. All this was done with the minimum of fuss, and with dignity and respect, even towards the very small number of people who were (in my opinion) unforgivably bad mannered., and in some cases downright rude. Our cabin stewardess was lovely and I don't think she ever stopped smiling! Saga, the staff on Sapphire are a credit to you. We partook of three of the optional excursions on offer, the all day Geiranger Fjord trip, the half day Flåm Railway trip and a half day excursion round the old part of Stavanger and the Cathedral. All were thoroughly enjoyable, with some excellent English-speaking Norwegian tour guides. We were blessed with (in the main) superb weather, considering it was early May. We left Dover in very calm seas, which stayed with us during the whole cruise. We were told Bergen was the rain capital of Europe, having on average, 230 days of rain per year. Having looked around Bergen during the morning, we returned to the ship for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon sunning ourselves on the Verandah deck (not swimsuit weather, but pleasant enough to sit in a t-shirt). One thing I hadn't realised was how noisy and 'alive' a ship in motion can be. This is not a criticism, and after the first night, I didn't notice the noise at all. However, if you are a first time cruiser like me, please take note! If there is one area that could be addressed, this would be a passenger laundry room. As we were on a short cruise, this didn't affect us at all, but it would be a great benefit on a longer cruise. To summarise, a fantastic first cruise. Norway is stunning, and being able to berth in the heart of the cities and villages due to the depth of the Fjordland water made sightseeing very easy. Saga certainly have the cruise know how, and I am now saving for the next one!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
Where can I start! A truly magical holiday, made even more so by the (mostly) fabulous weather, magnificent scenery, beautiful ship and very attentive staff and the food, oh the food - wonderful! Our cabin (5072) was very well appointed ... Read More
Where can I start! A truly magical holiday, made even more so by the (mostly) fabulous weather, magnificent scenery, beautiful ship and very attentive staff and the food, oh the food - wonderful! Our cabin (5072) was very well appointed and much bigger than we had imagined it would be. Plenty of room to move around easily, even in the bathroom. Lots of storage space in the triple wardrobe and chest of drawers. The in cabin fridge is an excellent feature if you want to keep your mini bar gin cold! A point to note about the cabin is there was only one three pin plug socket so if you need to plug in more than one electrical item you'll need to bring an adapter or borrow one from reception. Norway is not a destination we had really considered cruising to but are so glad we did. The stunning scenery and being able to berth in the heart of some lovely cities and Fjordland villages was a pleasure. Not an industrial dock in sight! I know Saga can't lay claim to providing great weather and calm waters (though I'd like to think they can!) but it was a wonderful added bonus to the cruise. Who'd have thought we'd be sitting out on the Verandah deck in the sunshine in early May with just a cardigan on - not us! A particular favourite destination was Flåm. We had a fantastic trip on the Flåm Railway and took some fabulous photographs of the Fjords that were perfectly mirrored in the flat calm water of Aurlandsfjord on our departure. The Saga Sapphire is a lovely ship with very good, well thought out public areas. The decor is very tasteful with some beautiful features and quirky art work. The fish sculpture at reception on deck 7 descending to deck 5 is unusual and delightful and a great focal point. We only just qualify by age to cruise with Saga and though we didn't need any assistance at all, the staff bend over backwards to help. We witnessed several passengers being helped whether it was with a mobility problem, a query or even carrying a plate of food or a drink. Saga should be very proud that their staff treat these elderly customers with dignity and respect. Our cabin stewardess was a delight, always smiling whenever we saw her. And now for the food! Absolutely superb. Every meal was delicious and it was a pleasure to ask for a medium and medium rare steak and get just that! It was very difficult to choose from the delicious starters, salads, soups, main courses and deserts. The petit fours at the end of dinner every night are a must and a lovely touch - just remember to leave a little room for them! The only improvement to the Sapphire would be a passenger laundry room. Not a problem on a short cruise but from experience it would be an asset on a longer one. All in all a brilliant cruise and now looking forward to saving for the next one. Well done Saga!   Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
This was my first cruise with Saga, a 2 week voyage around the Baltic. I had read earlier postings about this ship, both positive and negative, but approached the journey with an open mind about what to expect. The review is from a ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Saga, a 2 week voyage around the Baltic. I had read earlier postings about this ship, both positive and negative, but approached the journey with an open mind about what to expect. The review is from a fit-and-able 69 year old travelling with his wife, and with a first career as a merchant navy deck officer. We did not use the door to door chauffeur service, but drove to Dover arriving a few minutes after the 1.00 pm earliest check-in time. After dropping off the luggage with a porter, and parking the car 50 metres from the check-in area, we took the escalator to the first floor of the terminal building, were photographed and issued with our cruise card, and waited about 10 minutes to be called forward for boarding. This process was leisurely, smooth and hassle free……..quite unlike our experience 3 weeks earlier with P&O at Southampton on a seventeen-night Med cruise, when the process was like a cattle market! On boarding we were met and welcomed by one of the housekeeping staff who showed us to our cabin and settled us in. We had an outside cabin on Deck 5 – well equipped and spacious. There were no tea-making facilities (which we wouldn’t normally use anyway) but with room-service available there was no need for this, and of course it removes a health and safety hazard. I was conscious of earlier reviews about smells and, yes, the atmosphere has a taint to it…….but the Sapphire does not qualify for the title of “Auld Reekie”! The ship is over 30 years old, a little bit worn, but is well-looked after (a bit like me I guess) but the deck and housekeeping staff work hard to keep the premises in very good condition. Some days you won’t notice the smell. The public rooms are fine. Deck 11 has the Drawing Room which is very popular as you can easily make yourself a cuppa and have a piece of cake or a biscuit throughout the day. Because it is popular you may not always be able to find a seat if you are in a group. Quizzes and entertainment take place there too, both on sea and port days. Deck 8 has the Britannia Lounge, used for lectures, port talks, shows, and afternoon tea at 4.15. Unlike the monster cruise ships there is no space for a purpose-built theatre with all the bells and whistles that you’ll find on Cunard ships and the larger P&O vessels. The Britannia is multi-purpose so compromises have to be expected. The entertainment on this voyage was fine. I saw the Rossina Quartet, the resident Duo, and the Stars on Strings (marionettes) show. All were very good. There were other shows (dance and vocalist team, a violinist, magician) and I heard positive feedback about them. The theme for this cruise was Art and Antiques – my daughter suggested that I might be the antique – and on board were three of the experts from the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, with their wives. Passengers had been invited to bring along a family treasure for evaluation, and a couple of clinics were set up in the Drawing Room. These clinics were well-subscribed, with the more interesting of the items being used for a presentation by the team on the homeward leg of the voyage. It was a successful formula and it worked well. My only criticism was that the 3 couples stuck together like limpets when on board, eating together at all mealtimes rather than circulating and talking with passengers informally. Others in the entertainment team did that, and it was much appreciated. The dining experience and environment was excellent. George Streeter, the Executive Chef, put on great menus with excellently prepared food. He was noticeable by his visibility around the restaurants, ensuring that all was well. Towards the end of the cruise there were mixed comments that I heard about the itinerary, which had one variation to the advertised programme, due to a problem with an electrical generator that resulted in a delay in being given permission to enter the Kiel Canal on the outward journey. From my perspective, this was serendipity at work. Instead of a night-time transit we actually went through the canal during daylight hours, far, far more interesting, especially as the weather was hot and sunny. OK, it meant that the time in Stockholm was curtailed and we had just an afternoon in Stockholm. But that was just fine, too, because we did the Archipelago pilotage into Stockholm on a clear hot morning. Absolutely beautiful. Because of the unforeseen changes to the itinerary, Saga made arrangements for passengers to have some free ‘benefits in kind’ as compensation for any disappointment caused. I thought the whole situation was handled very well indeed. Excursion options were plentiful. We generally do excursions under our steam, but for St Petersburg this was not practicable – a Russian visa is required to tour independently. We did two half day trips at £49 per head and thought that we had good value for money. The tour guides on both trips were knowledgeable, solicitous, and were clearly understandable…..although a cruise companion had the opposite experience on the Hermitage evening tour. The tour escorts (members of the entertainments team) also did a good job in rounding up stragglers and ensuring that nobody got lost or left behind! Finally, our experience with the staff in the restaurants, bars and housekeeping was very positive. The barkeeper at the Aviators Bar put it like this: “My job is to give you joy; if you have no enjoyment then you won’t come with us again and then I may have no job”. I don’t know how other crew members saw their roles, but I have to say that the Filipino staff were the embodiment of customer service……attentive, caring, friendly, cheerful….there was nothing that was too much trouble. Maybe it helped that I knew (and used) a few words and phrases of Tagalog, but I don’t feel that we were singled out for any extra attention. I am now an Ambassador for Saga Cruises.   Read Less
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