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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: June 2019
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to be wedged in a rickety old taxi. At the ship terminal we were met by Saga's ground staff, most of which matched the average age of our fellow passengers. Once we had checked in we joined the queue to get onboard, queuing must be an expectation of the older generation. We pay good money not to. The ship is very old, the average passenger age must be about 80 and modern standards of cruising are yet to be adopted. All of the non-officer staff are Philippino, they are perfectly friendly but their comprehension of English is sometimes lacking. Simple things like good coffee does not exist. We have 4 more days to survive before being shuttled home in a shabby old taxi. Note to self, stick with Seabourn if you want to be made to feel special and receive what you were promised. It will be interesting to see whether Saga's first time guarantee works as easily as their brochure implies. Read Less
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
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
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
Sail Date: July 2019
This was my first solo cruise and I chose Saga because I'd heard such good things about how they look after you, especially if you are travelling alone. Not so! I have no idea how many solo passengers there were because nothing was ... Read More
This was my first solo cruise and I chose Saga because I'd heard such good things about how they look after you, especially if you are travelling alone. Not so! I have no idea how many solo passengers there were because nothing was organised for us apart from a short get together in the lounge at the beginning of the cruise which not everyone attended. Meal times were especially excruciating where solos were seated with couples and not with other singles. In fact the whole thing seemed to be a shambles. I, with most of the other solo passengers, found myself wandering about the ship hoping to meet another lonely solo for some conversation. I made friends with couples mostly who seemed to feel a little sorry for me and some even took me under their wing. Overall I was very disappointed at the lack of social activity for the solo passengers, and I will never travel solo on a Saga cruise again for this reason. The ship, my cabin, food, service, excursions and entertainment were all great, but oh how I wished that I'd had someone to share it with. Solos beware! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent ... Read More
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent service from the onboard staff. Our A deck cabin was 2 berth, as are many on this ship, but large, with pleasant seating area, and decent size bathroom. The reception desk was close by as was the tiny, slow lift. On exploration we found to our surprise that there was no traditional, walk around promenade deck, but it was possible to walk right round the highest deck. Unfortunately access to that pleasant spot would have been difficult for many, as it involved climbing 2 outside stairways. The top deck had comfortable lounge chairs with soft cushions . Service from the staff was excellent, and they seemed to take care of all passengers very well. The meals were good, very traditional , with generous portions and varied menus, all offered with daily wine selections. As one port on our sampler cruise was cancelled, the captain declared that Saga would offer a much appreciated all inclusive service from the bar menu, as well as the daily lunch and dinner wines. There were two restaurants, both open seating, a more casual Verandah with wide choice, and the more formal dining room offering identical menus. Passengers seemed to divide equally into two groups as to which they chose. We preferred the former, and found the service pleasant and prompt. We loved the indoor heated swimming pool and sauna area , with nearby well patronised spa offering the usual type of beauty , massage and hair treatments. For entertainment we appreciated the live acts, from the enthusiastic house performers , and guest entertainers. The seating was comfortable, with good sight lines to the stage. There was a small cinema on board, and also live music for dancing or listening. We had been a little worried that we would find Saga a bit too staid, but we thoroughly enjoyed our short cruise, as did all the people we spoke to. It was good to see a company that seems to go out f it’s way to ensure that single, or elderly , or handicapped guests were all well cared for. We consider that the quality of cruise offered by this company far exceeds that of many of the big lines. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
As well travelled cruisers with several other companies we wanted to try out the SAGA experience so booked a superior cabin on their 17 day Scandinavian Christmas. My wife and I are in our early 70's so thought it would be a nice ... Read More
As well travelled cruisers with several other companies we wanted to try out the SAGA experience so booked a superior cabin on their 17 day Scandinavian Christmas. My wife and I are in our early 70's so thought it would be a nice change. To some extent there were parts of the cruise we enjoyed but to ever repeat the experience again regrettably it would not be for us. We paid for a superior cabin on Deck it with a Balcony and this was our first disappointment. We were surprised and disappointed how small this cabin was, it only had a low oval coffee table with one lounge chair and a dining chair at the other side of the bed as a result it was impracticable to have a meal in the cabin, which was one of the reasons for choosing the Superior cabin. The balcony of our cabin was so narrow it was impossible to sit down on the chairs provided. It could be better described as no bigger than a window box. We paid a total of almost 11K for this cruise we consider was grossly overpriced, despite the tips being included as well as a courier service to and from the ship. The one aspect we didn't like was the fact that the seasoned SAGA regulars become members of the Britannia Club after so many cruises and there are several perks these guys have over the remaining guests. The best dining options on board was the Thai East to West Restaurant which provided stunning cuisine in a very conducive environment but regrettably we were only able to dine there twice during our 17 day cruise. We spoke to a couple who were gold Britannia members who were able to dine there on six occasions. Whilst the food was reasonably good with good choices the Thai restaurants was certainly the finest dining experience. The very best feature of this service was undoubtedly the Thai service staff who were all impeccable throughout. They were personable, extremely efficient and helpful, hard working and were responsive to our every need. We dearly hope that SAGA pass on ALL the included service tips to theses dedicated and loyal individuals. The second part of this cruise involved us spending four days on the ship cruising from Stockholm to Bremerhaven and during this time all the public areas became unbearable to spend time in due to the fact of being confined inside with limited seating space being available. In this last few days most passengers had developed coughs and sneezes and we and several others left the ship with a serious chest infection mainly due to this confinement. Whilst a small ship has its advantages it also has its limitations as well. The entertainment on board was variable with the usual song and dance troop the best features were the classical guitarist and the banjo playing comedian both of which proved very popular. Likewise most of the guest speakers were informative and presented well one in particular a marine so called expert was utterly boring in reading for almost an hour from a rigid script. One night a magician was the guest artist and this show was very amateurish or perhaps we were sitting to close to the action to see all his many failings. He only made one appearance of a planned repeat performance. This whole experience was memorable for the wrong reasons which of course we shall not be repeating. The so called SAGA Britannia family has a masonic feel to it which offered these regular cruises the many advantages mentioned. We didn't feel that several advantages were offered to these individuals after we paid highly for supposedly the same experience. We shall in future stick to what we know and like and therefore will not be pursuing any more SAGA nights towards Britannia Membership. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous ... Read More
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous size. Our first shock was, when booking, to find that two days after receiving the brochure we found that prices has been increased by 10% - all cabins as offered were already sold. We almost cancelled, but decided we liked the itinerary so confirmed the booking. Not a good start,however, and not handled very diplomatically by Saga staff. The staff on board were from many countries - the captain and the "cruise director" were British; deck and engineering officers of various European nationalities; catering and "hotel" staff mostly Filipino; entertainment by performers from several European countries. Some aspects of the cruise were as we had expected from previous experiences with Saga. Filipino staff all friendly and diligent - no reason to fault them. Food generally good, but let down by some very poor meals - consistency not as good a we had been used to. Bars and (free) wine with meals - no problems. Entertainment was mixed, however. Some good performers were overwhelmed by the resident backing "orchestra" - pianist and guitar drowning out the voices, violin soloists etc. No attempt to mix sound properly. And there didn't appear to be anyone taking an interest in resolving the problem - the "Cruise Director" was busy telling us all how wonderful it was, with no time it seemed, to check it was as good as he believed.. (We have over fifty years of experience in musical shows so know good from bad..) Then we were very disappointed to be given some basic info about towns we were to visit, but barely anything about the fjords - which was the basic reason for coming on the cruise. In the event we saw no fjords in normal daytime hours except on excursions. When we were due to see fjords at night (in daylight still, of course) there was inadequate (or no) guidance on when to be on deck so we missed them. We also found that, particularly in Bergen, the ship was allocate a berth four miles form the town centre. Saga does not rate highly with the port, it seems. Finally, it took us four hours from berthing at Dover before we left the port. We saw no evidence of any supervision of the multitude of staff rushing around; embarking crew were mixed up with disembarking passengers; our taxi driver had himself been waiting over four hours. Chaos reigned. We gained the impression that Saga is now a very small outfit trying to punch above its weight in a very competitive market. In the past they appeared to keep going. On this performance they failed to provide the vision, the management or the supervision that are needed to survive in the same league. We will not be cruising with them again. Read Less
35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
For our 40th wedding anniversary we decided on a cruise and as it was our 1st time we chose Saga because of their reputation and smaller ships. When we spoke to the sale advisor's we emphasized why we were booking the holiday and ... Read More
For our 40th wedding anniversary we decided on a cruise and as it was our 1st time we chose Saga because of their reputation and smaller ships. When we spoke to the sale advisor's we emphasized why we were booking the holiday and requested a larger Superior cabin with a balcony as this was a special occasion. Their brochure quotes “Larger cabins up to 270 square feet”. When calling their office regarding other queries we double checked that this cabin would meet our requirements and was assured this was the case. 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 an intimate meal, 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. A travel lodge room is bigger than this cabin with 2 proper chairs. We later discovered from visiting a fellow cruiser’s standard outside cabin on deck 6 was larger and more like a “large hotel room than a ship cabin” as quoted in their brochure. At no point whilst speaking to the sales advisor's was this explained nor does it show this in the brochure or on line. Had we been informed at the time of booking of these differences we would not have chosen a Superior cabin with a balcony. Having paid £754.00 extra for a smaller cabin with a balcony of little use seems excessive at least. We would also comment on the dining arrangements, these were advertised as being available in the evenings from 6:45pm until 9:00pm as a single sitting, after arriving back from a trip late one evening we went down to dinner only to find we were rushed at every stage from order to dessert Norway was a lovely country but our experience of this cruise was spoilt by the comments above and found the cruise was certainly not value for money. Don't get sucked in to higher priced cabins unless you are fully aware of what is on offer, as all is not as it appears. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
I enjoyed the Cruise, and have just booked another one in July on Saga Pearl, The only thing I would say is, as I was Travelling on my own, it would have been nice, if all single travelling passengers could have an introduction when we ... Read More
I enjoyed the Cruise, and have just booked another one in July on Saga Pearl, The only thing I would say is, as I was Travelling on my own, it would have been nice, if all single travelling passengers could have an introduction when we board the ship, as I found I was on a table with couples, and didn't have anyone to pal up with. Also I was not keen on the loud speaker in the morning to wake you up. Otherwise everything was lovely. Could people that are travelling alone not be put on a table with other single people , maybe this is something you could look at. I went down for breakfast one morning just after 9.Oclock to find the restaurant closed, there was another one where you helped yourself, but the table service restaurant closed , not good for the people that are not early risers. S. Webster 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
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
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
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: 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as ... Read More
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as we live in Australia. We had to use a particular travel agent which meant lots of filling forms and emails back & forth. Then we couldn't use their My Saga application because it wouldn't recognise our postcode. So, more printing out pdfs and emails to book excursions. Very frustrating for us folk who are used to making online reservations. But, we did enjoy the cruise. Firstly, Saga offer a complimentary limo service to the port which was very convenient. Then we found Saga Sapphire to be well laid out and not as ostentatious as some of the ships we've been on. It's small, but our cabin was comparatively large and well equipped. Our only disappointment with the layout was the fitness centre which was small and on a lower deck. Not so good in rough seas. And we couldn't walk around the decks most days because of ice and snow. The food and service were very good, as was the range of entertainment and speakers. The ship only has two main restaurants, both of which serve the same food, so there wasn't a huge variety of flavours on offer. They do, however, turn one section into a specialist restaurant which we had to book. This particular cruise had quite a few problems along the way. We encountered large winter storms which caused us to take a slower route. Plus the ship's propeller was caught in fishing lines. Both of these factors meant we missed two of the scheduled ports. But they tried to make it up to us by adding more entertainment for the passengers. Again, being winter, some of the passengers came down with a bug, but the crew were fastidious about cleanliness and hygiene everywhere on the ship. There were quite a few older passengers who were likely more susceptible. The excursions we went on were well organised and interesting. Unfortunately we didn't see the lights on the evening tours, but did manage to see them from the deck when we were at sea. Artic Norway is stunningly beautiful and we're very glad we chose this time of the year to visit. It was VERY, VERY cold, but Saga provided us with arctic jackets and snow grips for our shoes. And we needed them several times. The Sage Sapphire is in its last season and is to be replaced by a brand new ship. But we really enjoyed the cruise and would certainly consider Sage again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and ... Read More
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and from Dover was very appealing and worked perfectly. The cabin was very spacious and comfortable (without balcony - but that was our choice and they are a lot less of them on the Saga ships). The steward was attentive and looked after our cabin well throughout the cruise. The dining experience was excellent throughout. Lunch and dinner were accompanied by good wines so that it was not necessary to purchase off the wine list. I was most impressed that the evening when "reserved" table service was suspended due to planning for a late night buffet after the return of those passengers who had attended the Edinburgh tattoo, but the maitre d' approached us and kept our table for us (we had chosen to dine on a smaller table for each meal). Very relieved and amazed that he remembered to do this for us. A great plus. WE didn't attend much of the "formal" entertainment: though some of it happens more casually around the ship during the "Edinburgh Fringe" theme of the cruise. What we saw and heard was very good - just not our "social scene". My gripe about all the cruises we have been on - the dress code is clearly explained both before and during the event. At least one evening is "formal" - so why can't people abide by this rule? Evening dress means evening dress - not just a jacket with a bow-tie! The ladies (generally) make the effort - why can't the men? Even on the less formal nights, I feel it would be polite to wear a jacket even if no tie is worn. Saga doesn't have a policy of certain parts of the shop being free from these rules (unlike Cunard) so people ought to come prepared for the whole "experience". The trips we went on were well organised, and well executed with some excellent guides (esp. the trip to see Hadrian's Wall and Chesters). Saga didn't make much of visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia as we were docked right by it. But we made a private visit and it is well worth seeing. Perhaps the ship ought to make more of this - by planning "blocked booking" for the ship's passengers as clearly it gets very busy and the queues looked long at times (luckily we went first thing in the morning). Overall. a very good experience - though (personally) I did find the age-profile rather higher than I was expecting and it did slow-up (particularly) the trips on coaches on days in port. Some people had clearly not read the notification that there was walking involved. Getting (older) people on and off coaches takes time (and effort): so planning for a "ten minute stop" to see one site actually took thirty minutes!! This timing needs to be built into the programme as at times things seemed rushed. Some of the passengers were disappointed about the Edinburgh Tattoo - expecting to be able to obtain tickets - either privately or via Saga - only to find they were sold out. A shame if this was the sole reason who had come on this particular cruise. But we enjoyed what we saw and experienced. Thank you. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Having spent previous Christmas & New Years in warmer climes, we thought it would be good to go to the snow. Not Saga's fault but we only got a mere sprinkling in Oslo. The cabin, service and food were up to the usual high ... Read More
Having spent previous Christmas & New Years in warmer climes, we thought it would be good to go to the snow. Not Saga's fault but we only got a mere sprinkling in Oslo. The cabin, service and food were up to the usual high standard. For a festive cruise the entertainment was only average with less than average cruise directors (they swapped part way through). Some partying on deck was not well publicised and the first we knew of it was in a video shown at the final cocktail party. A previous reviewer criticised the benefits given to Britannia Club members. These include a bottle of sparkling wine, a cocktail party and some discount on on board purchases but not preferental access to the East to West restaurant where, by the way, the staff are Filipino, not Thai. We have certainly never found any hint of it being a clique. There was a cough spreading through the ship and, yes, some passengers, including my wife and her friend, were still suffering after our return. Friends who have just returned from the Caribbean on P&O Britannia were suffering even more. We are not put off but will take greater precautions against picking up ship's bugs. I'm told that saline spray and Vaseline smeared inside the nose cavities is a help. As usual the staff were beyond first class but the captain lacked the persona of those we have met before. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the ... Read More
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the way back. Luggage transfer is smooth - once it is in the car you won't have to haul it around anywhere. We had a balcony cabin - not worth it on the ship as the balconies are about as wide as a window box. The cabin was a good standard, very clean with comfortable bed and a walk in shower. Ship has main Pole to Pole restaurant, Verandah casual (but menu same as Pole to Pole at night), East to West which is extra so we did not try, fish and chips by the pool and afternoon tea in two of the lounges. Food was really excellent - a talented chef on board - amd with plenty of choice. Dinner seven courses if you wanted it - with included house wine which was OK, lunch at Veranda either a choice of three cooked things, barbecue grill or an extensive cold buffet. Very pleasant eating outside here. Saga makes much of tables for two being available - but in reality there are very few. We were lucky, being put with two other people we really got on with. We sat together thoughout There is no tipping on Saga ships.Staff mainly Filipino and apart from odd language problems excellent. If wi fi is important to you avoid this ship as mainly it does not work and the so called computer exper is clueless. Two pools -outdoor very chilly, indoor quite warm. Tea and coffee is help yourself from a machine - which we did not like much. Drawing Room a very nice place to sit. Plenty of loungers around the ship. Clientele definitely on the elderly side - bit like a seagoing care home. Entertainment a bit on the seaside concert party side - and is in one of the large lounges as this ship does not have a theatre. A good choice if you want an easy trip and need to be looked after. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, ... Read More
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, rates a series of general aspects, like dining. Helpful though these scores are, they do not allow for specific aspects of the service, some of which may be poor and some excellent. Our ratings are repeated below and followed by an attempt to explain why the overall rating is not the whole story. Background information We are experienced travellers but have previously only cruised three times, twice with P&O and once with Thomson. We are English (as were nearly all our fellow passengers) and now comfortably meet Saga’s over 50 requirement. Our reasons for selecting Saga and the “Celtic Charms” cruise were for the lack of children, the included door to door travel, the included tips and the itinerary. We wanted to see Guernsey and Ireland and this cruise included St Peter Port and five ports in Ireland. It really did offer to go where other cruise lines don’t. Ship information Saga Sapphire is a proper cruise ship as distinct from a giant floating tower-block. It seemed similar in size to P&O’s Artemis and Thomson’s Spirit but smaller than P&O’s Canberra. It lacks a wrap-round promenade. The prom on deck 9 is in two bits but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top. It has ten passenger decks but two of these, decks 2 and 4 are only partly public, housing an indoor pool, beauty treatment and a lecture room. The Beach Club on deck 11 is worth a mention. It offers self-service ice-cream and sweets, fish & chips, a pool, and deck-chairs, all free but you need to go into the adjoining Drawing Room to find a bar. The ship has a friendly, club atmosphere and as with all Saga, is child free and for the over 50’s (see Onboard Experience). The whole ship was always clean and tidy. Even the public loos looked and smelt like they had not been used. Table cloths were always spotless. We did not normally see any cleaning but when we did, they were taking extra trouble for example, on their knees, vacuuming the cracks in the grating where the lifts join the floor. There were hand cleaning machines and sprays everywhere and they were greatly used. There was quite a lot of banging on the second night. Reception, next morning, offered no explanation and said that we should have reported it at the time. Other passengers more helpfully suggested that it was waves hitting the ship. There was some swaying from side to side the following day but things settled down after that. It’s difficult to compare different ships in different conditions but we’ve had worse in the north sea and in the bay of Biscay. It was our impression that this ship rode rough waters better than some. Cabin Our Rating - Average A review of the cabin is in CruiseCritic’s separate section. Dining Our Rating - Excellent - but Saga Sapphire has two main restaurants but there is little difference between them. The bigger “Pole to Pole” on deck 7 is slightly more formal with a slightly more comprehensive waiter service. The alternative “Grill” on deck 9 has an out-side option, the “Verandah”, weather permitting. There is also a speciality Asian restaurant, “East to West”, also on deck 9 which is free but we had to queue at specific times to get a booking. We only ate there once at a table for two in a spacious, peaceful room with an interesting menu and excellent service, let down a little by the request at the end to say how good it was on our end-of-cruise survey. Dining times could be better. Breakfast often ended at 9:30. With two restaurant options, it should be possible to offer breakfast till at least 10am and preferably 11am. Dining times for lunch and dinner were similarly limited and changed from day to day but we did not find this a problem. There was no late night buffet and the unappetising late bites (hors d'oeuvres) offered in some of the bars were no substitute. Dining arrangements were better than expected and better than other ships we have tried. Although we did not apply for an optional fixed table, we were often able to get a table for two on arrival at “Pole to Pole”. Otherwise, there were usually options to join tables for four, six or eight. At some of the tables, the seating was quite close but we have experienced worse. Only once, did we find ourselves dining in poor company and on that occasion we were soon joined by another couple who lightened the atmosphere. The overall atmosphere in both main restaurants was generally hectic rather than relaxed. There were some quiet areas but mostly waiters and fellow passengers were coming and going around the tables all the time. It was never quiet and the temperature got quite high in some places. On our cruise, heat was not a problem. It did not get warm enough to use the “veranda”. The speciality “East to West” was more spacious and much more peaceful. Restaurant service was consistently polite and attentive. We usually did not have to wait long, either to be seated or at any stage during meals. Aspects of the service were, however, confusing. We could order from a menu, but it was never clear what else was available from the buffet (both restaurants) or even where the buffets were. Waiters would explain, but some of them, presumably because of limited English, gave misleading or unhelpful responses. Sometimes the wrong meal was delivered and when offered coffee and requesting tea, we were likely to get another waiter offering coffee again before tea turned up. Menu choices were good. For breakfast, we have not seen more options anywhere else. Lunch and dinner menus changed daily but it was not clear how many courses there were supposed to be. Soups and salads were all listed under starters and it was not clear which of the main meals needed additional potatoes or vegetables. The waiters would, however, without question, bring anything ordered including items not on the menu. For breakfast, toast, like tea, coffee and fruit juice, was waiter served with a choice of white or brown. It turned up somewhat randomly, before of after what you wanted it with and it was never hot. None of the above points prevented us from getting what we wanted at meal times and all the food was really good. Free wine (reasonable quality red or white with lunch and dinner) and water were topped up regularly and there was tea or coffee with sweeties to finish. The food was, if anything, better than we have had from P&O and much better than Thomson. Finally, further comments about other food and drink options are under “Service” below. Embarkation - including travel to embarkation port Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. Travel or parking are included in the cost of a Saga cruise. The people carrier arrived at our home a little early. There were already a couple in it, so we got the rear seats - spacious but not as comfortable as the middle seats or a car. The driver loaded and unloaded our four cases. The journey should only have taken two and a half hours but our fellow travellers wanted to stop once and then the driver wanted to stop again, only half an hour from the port. On arrival, there was a ten minute queue of vehicles waiting to be unloaded. At the head of this queue, on leaving the people carrier, neither the driver nor anyone else were able to advise us, so we followed our luggage. This turned our to be wrong and we were re-directed to another queue. After another few minutes, as we got closer to the head of the queue, it became apparent that it was only for optional photo’s. We then walked straight to a reception desk. Embarkation - Our Rating - Excellent Having got past the unnecessary delays, check-in and boarding were instant. We exchanged our passports for plastic cards, signed a health disclaimer and walked on to the ship. A girl immediately escorted us to our cabin. Here the welcome news-sheet explained what was on, how to register our ship’s cards to our bank card (or credit card for a 1.5% charge) and most importantly where to find the welcome buffet. This was extensive with more than we needed for lunch. There was ample seating, waiters regularly re-filled tea and coffee cups and a string quartet entertained us. On returning to our cabin, two of our cases had arrived and the other two followed within half an hour. Because of bad weather, muster, shortly after returning to our cabin, occurred in the public rooms where we took rather than wore our life-jackets. This was a good deal more civilised than mustering on deck. Activities (enrichment or otherwise) Our Rating - Poor There were some but that is not what were were looking for or expecting from this cruise. We did attend one of the lectures for a bit but it was so uninteresting, we can not even remember the subject. Entertainment Our Rating - Average - just None of the entertainment was annoying and some of it did entertain. The “cruise director”, Jo Boase, did a good job of compering and informing us of what was on. The shows were not as good as on other cruise lines, not helped by the lack of a proper theatre. Irish dancing where the audience can not see the dancers feet is pointless although the music and energy were good enough and there were TV screens dotted around. The “Saga Orchestra” seemed to comprise five musicians - not really enough for a band let alone an orchestra. The sound was quite good but the single saxophone stood out with no other wind instruments. Similarly, the second main act, the “Ocean Duo” relied on one good female voice backed by recorded tracks and an unimpressive male singer-guitarist. This duo might be more entertaining if their repertoire was not so limited. We heard many numbers more than three times. The “cocktail pianist”, Stuart Anderson was entertaining. If anything, too entertaining for a cocktail pianist, especially as he played mostly in “Coopers” bar which is really too small for entertainment. Saga would have done better to deploy Stuart in place of the Ocean Duo and add a pianist to play the untouched grand pianos which were all over the ship. In addition to these acts, there was a classical string quartet, “the Pier” who were good and “Mr Yalba” a speciality music act. His first show was good but not good enough for us to want to see the second. Fitness & Recreation Our Rating - Average This may not be a fair rating as we did not look for or use any fitness facilities. There was some equipment and an indoor pool in the bowels of the ship on deck 3. There were also some recreational classes, notably exercising, crafts, dancing and bridge but we did not join in. The promenade on deck 9 is in two bits so you can not promenade around the ship but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top, where there is crazy-golf and other games. Onboard Experience Our Rating - Good - but In at least two places there were lingering bad smells of drains and or fuel. Fortunately this did not affect our cabin or the public rooms. Each morning, “Today” a four page what's-on plus a four page newspaper summarising UK and world events were delivered to our cabin. “Today” was a great help in planning each day. We were treated to three “cocktail parties” where bubbly or soft drinks flowed and staff officers circulated. They were pleasant enough get-to-gethers but there were no actual cocktails. We are in our seventies but our fellow travellers seemed old. Walking sticks and walking frames were everywhere. This did make progress slow on the gangways and shuttle buses but having said that, there was normally no problem getting around the ship. When the weather was bad, staff helpfully escorted the numerous, partially disabled around and this did slow things down. There were, however, none of the crushes to get to the best seats that we have experienced on other ships. Our cruise seemed more like a floating care home than a floating holiday camp. The passengers were universally polite, good humoured and not down market. We developed quite close relationships with several passengers and had interesting conversations with many more. Public Rooms Our Rating - Average Saga Sapphire has two large public rooms, the Britannia Lounge on deck 8 and the Drawing Room on deck 11 plus two smaller rooms, the Aviator Lounge on deck 7 and Coopers Bar on deck 8. There is also an under cover outside bar at the Verandah on deck 9. The Britannia Lounge has assorted comfortable seating mostly with tables. There is no tiered seating, the stage is not very high and much of the entertainment uses the dance floor. So, it’s good for listening to shows but not so good for seeing them. Afternoon tea and the “cocktail parties” are held here when waiters serve the drinks. There is no bar. The Drawing Room is very multi-purpose. Basically it is an observation lounge but it has a library; board games and jig-saws set at small tables; self-service cakes and hot drinks; a bar and a dance floor plus doors out to the forward deck and to the Beach Club. It hosts daytime and evening entertainment. The seating is all upholstered but mixed. There are some comfy armchairs, some less comfortable fitted sofas with too few cushions and other fixed sofas facing the wrong way, away from the windows, dance-floor and performance area - there is no stage. There are some tables but also some space wasting large upholstered boxes which are neither tables nor stools. This room is very different at different times. Mostly, it’s a peaceful observation lounge. Sometimes, when the self-service is available, it’s a busy tea-room. Sometimes it’s an entertainment venue, including classical concerts, quizzes and evening dancing or shows. It was popular and at times difficult to find a seat. The Aviator Lounge is split into two parts with the reception and tour desks in-between. One part has a bar and waiters try to service both sides. The seating is mostly near to windows and comfortable with tables. Coopers Bar is next to the Britannia Lounge. It is small but despite this, on our cruise, was a popular entertainment venue. Waiters imported extra seating and the room became very crowded when Stuart was performing. At other times, it was peaceful and the seating (apart from the bar stools) was comfortable. It was good to find draft real ale, Shepherd Neam’s Spitfire, in all the bars. Service Our Rating - Excellent - but The staff were mostly Filipino and they were universally polite, helpful and friendly. Once or twice, it was not clear whether our request had been understood. For example, meal orders were not always repeated back to us but this is really a minor quibble. We would be pleased to get such good service in England. We did not try the launderette, partly because the laundry service charges were reasonable. £1.50 for a shirt from memory. The results were more than acceptable but the ultra-fussy may want to do a bit of re-ironing. Other aspects of service were not quite as good. Meal times were restricted, particularly breakfast, as mentioned above but on top of that, the availability of other options was unclear. The hot drink machines had restricted hours and the free room service was limited. We did not try ordering food from room service, just late night hot drinks. We could have tea, coffee and biscuits but not a cappuccino. It took two ‘phone calls to establish that cappuccino was only available “when the bar was open” and even then we would have had to pay although a cappuccino would only cost £0.95. Shore Excursions Our Rating - Average - and expensive Because of bad weather, we first went to Cherbourg instead of Guernsey. We then went round Ireland the opposite way, calling at all five ports but in reverse order. Finally, we called at Portland (Weymouth) instead of Ilfracombe before returning to Dover. Captain Julian Burgess was very informative, especially about the changes, saying that we were on a magical mystery cruise. We considered three options for the ports we were to visit, Saga’s optional excursions, booking advance tickets or making our own way (d.i.y.). We settled for two of Saga’s excursions and d.i.y. on the day for the rest. Just as well we did not book advance tickets as we did not visit two ports and the other five were all on different dates. We had been tempted by an on-line 15% discount for advance booking of the Dublin hop-on-hop-off bus but glad we did not. On excursions generally, there were always queues to get on or off the ship, not helped by the slowness and disability of some of the passengers. Saga should and could do things to improve this. 1 - Cherbourg This was in place of St Peter Port, Guernsey, where we planned d.i.y. visits to Castle Cornet, the Union Street pillar box, German Naval Signals HQ and possibly Guernsey Museum. We did not get off at Cherbourg. 2 - Cobh (Cove in English) As a result of the re-scheduling, we arrived here a day early at 7:30pm. We took advantage of this and went ashore after dinner. A couple of hundred yards from the ship we found an Irish pub in the town square with three musicians, bagpipes, flute and squeeze-box, sitting round a table, playing jigs. With a pint of Beamish it was an enjoyable Irish experience. There was no singing but we left fairly early. Next day Saga suggested getting the train to Cork but we stayed in Cobh visiting St Colman’s Cathedral, well worth the climb as others have remarked, and the Titanic Experience. Although tiny compared with the Belfast version this guided tour of the original White Star ticket office cost just €8 each (about £6.80) and was almost as interesting. 3 - Dublin Here, because of the re-scheduling, we did not stay as long as planned, arriving at 11:15pm, a bit late to go ashore that night. Next day, we had nothing booked so took the free shuttle-bus into central Dublin. A lot of Dublin seems to be being dug up for a new tram system. We walked past the Molly Malone statue and the parliament building to the GPO where we bought tickets for the Witness History experience at €8 each. There was a film re-enactment of the revolution in a small cinema; small screens showing learned people explaining the revolution plus displays of a few artefacts. It was not anti-British and interesting to learn how loss of empire started almost accidentally. Compared with other capital cities, we were not impressed by what we saw of Dublin. 4 - Belfast We had pre-booked Saga’s “Birthplace of the Titanic” tour for £59 each. It’s an impressive building and exhibition complete with a ride through a simulation of the construction, a film show and a multi-screen reproduction of the Titanic’s luxurious interior. Arguably as interesting were the original slip-way and sole remaining White Star Line ship outside. We did not see any artefacts although there was not enough time to see everything properly. The tour bus then took us past some of Belfast’s sights including the Falls and Shanklin roads - interesting. Overall the tour lasted four hours. As there seemed to be no queue for tickets on the day for the Titanic Experience and it was only about two and a half miles from the ship, it probably would have been better and cheaper to take a taxi and spend more time there. The tickets do, however, cost £14.50 each, more than twice the price of the Cobh exhibition. Perhaps because of the limited bus tour, Belfast was more impressive than Dublin. 5 - Killybegs Saga’s tour to the Belleek Pottery was already fully booked when we booked the cruise. We registered our interest on boarding at Sapphire’s tour desk and subsequently got tickets at £49 each. This tour was better value. It included an extensive trip through County Donegal and a stop at Donegal town as well as the pottery. We also passed some small cells “Killybegs” in Galic, claimed to have been occupied by monks who gave the place it’s name. It would have been difficult for us to independently get to and from the pottery, some thirty-six miles away. Donegal is quite a pretty little town with some touristy shops and what they call a castle but not a lot else to see or do. The Belleek Pottery guided tour was interesting and comprehensive with plenty of time after to browse the displays and shop or use the cafe. After returning to the ship and a late lunch, we went ashore again, taking the shuttle bus less than a mile into Killybegs village. Here we looked at the completely and impressively refurbished church, St Mary’s and walked back via St Catherine’s Well, on a small hill overlooking the harbour. It was all interesting enough so we did not mind not finding the Maritime & Heritage Visitor Centre. Irish sign-posting seems to be comprehensive but not necessarily accurate. 6 - Glengarriff We had nothing booked here. We went ashore mid-morning by tender and walked about half a mile into the village. There was not much to see. A few shops and a few pubs half of which were closed on a Tuesday lunch-time. We went in one to try the local Guinness. The pub had, if anything, less atmosphere than your average English local and to non-Guinness drinkers, it tasted the same as it does at home. 7 - Portland This was in place of Ilfracombe and again we did not go on an excursion. We took the shuttle-bus into Weymouth, walked through this picturesque sea-side town and took the bus back to the ship. Disembarkation (and Return Travel) Our rating would be Good. Disembarkation was if anything smoother than embarkation but took much longer. Our cases had to be packed and put outside the cabin before we went to bed. Breakfast was early as we had to be out of the cabin by 8am. We then had a long wait in the Drawing Room for our number to be called. At least the hot drink machines were working and there were Danish pastries. Our call came on time just after 11am. Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. The travel service home was better than coming. On leaving the ship, we pointed to our cases and a porter trolleyed them first to our driver and second to his people carrier. As before, there was a (different) couple already in the middle seats. This time the journey was direct, first to their home in Colchester and then on to ours. A private limousine would make this service much better. Value for Money Our Rating - Poor - but Saga cruises are expensive. Set against that are the free travel service; included tips; free wine with meals and bubbly at parties; free shuttle buses; free room service; free fruit in the cabin (though not daily) and free to book the speciality restaurant. Bar prices are also a little below the on-shore average. £3.20 for a pint of real ale, £1.50 for Pepsi. A 175cl glass of wine cost from £3.70 to at least £4.70. In addition the food was excellent. From memory, better than we had on P&O’s Artemis some years ago and significantly better than we got on Thomson’s Spirit, four years ago. If you take off all the extras, it is likely that a Saga cruise would still be a little more expensive than others but there is probably not much in it. A more subtle benefit is that with so much thrown in, there less to worry or think about. On that basis Saga cruises probably are value for money. Summary Our Rating - Very Good Saga’s package is impressive. In many ways the cruise was excellent. Our little niggles were not enough to spoil a great experience. The service and food stand out for commendation. We had particularly wanted to see Guernsey but did not. We also wanted to see Ireland and did, though from what we saw, we are in no rush to return. It was good to see but now we’ve seen it. The itinerary changes were a disappointment but Saga went to some trouble to re-arrange things to cope with the weather conditions. This too deserves commendation. Of the niggles mentioned above, the early breakfast times and lack of a late buffet were the most annoying. Also, the travel service could be better and the entertainment should be better but what got nearest to spoiling our holiday was the number of passengers with significant disabilities. Their age was not a problem. For complex personal reasons we booked this Celtic Charms cruise after booking Saga Sapphire’s “Continental Christmas Markets” which sails on 4 December 2017. Our experience of the Celtic Charms cruise has convinced us not to cancel the second cruise, even though we will be cruising twice in the same year. We hope that this shorter shopping cruise will attract a higher proportion of mobile passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
Having travelled on the Saga Ruby a few years ago to the Baltics, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to the much smaller ship, Saga Pearl 11. Our trip was for four nights and we wondered if this would be long enough to get the ... Read More
Having travelled on the Saga Ruby a few years ago to the Baltics, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to the much smaller ship, Saga Pearl 11. Our trip was for four nights and we wondered if this would be long enough to get the taste for sailing again. We need not have worried. The Saga arranged taxi, was on time and we were in Dover mid afternoon. The staff on arrival were efficient and we were shown quickly to our cabin. We had asked for a standard outside cabin and found it to be larger and more comfortable than the Saga Ruby. There was the usual emergency drill to go through and then the welcome treat of drinks as we sailed from Dover. By this time most passengers were on the decks outside but to the delight of us all, Saga had arranged for a spitfire from Biggin Hill to escort us for part of the way. This was a surprise and with the backdrop of Dover it was an event not to be forgotten. Thank you Saga. Our first port of call, next day, was Jersey. We had opted for a round the island excursion in the morning and a second trip in the afternoon to a vineyard. We knew that we would be having a tender boat to take us into St Hellier but had not been told that we could not get back in time for lunch on the ship. Saga had the foresight to leave a menu in our cabin the night before for us to order a packed lunch. Up to a point we enjoyed our day but found at times the incessant information from our coach driver telling us at each section of the island that there was a church, pub and school, rather tedious. I am sure that there is a wealth of history that we could have been told but alas this was not conveyed to us. The following day we docked at Honfleur and went to The Bayeux Tapestry and the Cathedral. We were mainly on motorways and for all its history we had not known how lovely the area of Normandy is. This was to be the highlight of our holiday. Our guide was very informative but when we reached Bayeux we felt rushed. I would advise those interested in the tapestry to look at other reviews. We felt we were on a conveyor belt, quickly being taken along. I have to say that we are glad to have seen it. Our last day was Zeebrugge for Brugge or Ypres. We chose to revisit Brugge and opted out of the escorted tour. I would advise when planning trips to choose carefully. They tend to be overpriced, but on most you do have the comfort knowing that you will be escorted.. As for our the crew on our ship, as you would expect from a Saga holiday, the crew were very attentive. The food was plentiful and enjoyable but we both had difficulty at times with the dinner menu. If the menu is not to your liking there is always Salmon and chicken on offer. On the whole this was a very enjoyable holiday but we felt that we were asked to pay higher prices than were warranted. Would we be tempted to go with Saga again? Probably. 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
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
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