The Britannia Lounge on Deck 8 is the main venue for evening shows and daytime lectures. It also serves as the meeting point for shore excursion departures, afternoon teas and the captain's cocktail parties. It is furnished with soft sofas and chairs, and occasional tables, rather than theatre-style seating.
Up on Deck 11, The Drawing Room, furnished with an eclectic collection of furniture and knick-knacks, is an alternative entertainment venue with the ship's second dance floor. It's also a peaceful daytime retreat, except when hosting events like the popular trivia quizzes. As well as finding space for the Larder (see Dining).
The most popular pre-dinner bar appears to be Cooper's on Deck 8, themed around comedian Tommy Cooper, with his trademark red fez incorporated into lampshades and a selection of his one-liners embroidered onto the scatter cushions. The walls are adorned with photographs of the man himself, together with a collection of other comedians down the years. Half-hour comedy shows are occasionally shown on the bar's flat-screen TV.
One deck down, at the entrance to the Pole to Pole restaurant and adjacent to the Reception Desk, is Aviators Bar. Like almost everywhere else on the ship, it has an obvious theme -- begging the question as to why it was not named after Capt W E Johns' fictitious hero, Biggles.
Drinks are also available from the Deck 11 Beach Club by the pool.
Adjoining the pool area is a small indoor room, The Clubhouse, which has games like table tennis, table football and a huge Connect 4.
Saga Sapphire carries a small troupe of dancers and singers who perform unexceptional productions of popular show tunes. A string quartet or classical trio accompanies afternoon tea and plays for pre-dinner dancing. Guest singers, comedians and virtuoso instrumentalists are flown in for cabaret performances, but this is not a ship for late-night clubbing. "Saganauts" (as regulars are affectionately known) may be intrepid, but they also like to be tucked up in bed soon after dinner.
One member of the team deserving a special mention is Resty Sacador; a former TV performer in the Philippines, he began work with Saga as a deckhand and then served as a waiter and a sommelier before joining the entertainment crew. Now he is proving a popular attraction as a cabaret crooner.
Saga pays particular attention to its shore excursion programme, and while the trips are not tailor-made, they are usually led by the best local guides available. Prices are reasonable, and the tours are popular. A Saga representative (one of the shorex staff, one of the entertainment team or a gentleman host, for example) travels on every tour bus and is on hand to distribute hot or cold towels and handfuls of Werther's Originals on demand.
Saga Sapphire Public Rooms
Editor Rating Public Rooms
Up on Deck 11, The Drawing Room accommodates computers for passenger access to the Internet (Wi-Fi also available) and -- irritatingly split between port and starboard sides -- the well-stocked library. In The Academy, down on Deck 4 -- also used in addition to the Brittania Lounge as a venue for onboard lectures -- there are more books (mainly of the reference and travel varieties) to borrow, as well as iPads and a collection of DVD's.
There are two shops on Deck 8 supplying a selection of resort clothes and formalwear, souvenirs, confectionery, pharmaceuticals and travel necessities. There is no passenger launderette.
Saga Sapphire Spa & Fitness
Editor Rating Spa & Fitness
The spa and beauty salon deep down on Deck 2 is an in-house operation, offering Decleor treatments, rather than those from a franchise like the ubiquitous Steiner. Alongside the treatment rooms and hair salon are a steam room and sauna, and a rudimentary gym. There's a heated indoor pool and a whirlpool bath.
The main pool is on Deck 11, surrounded by deckchairs and sun loungers. Above the Beach Club is Sapphire's "View from the Top" outdoor cinema, the first of its kind for the line. On the same deck, at the bow, is a small crazy golf course, ambitiously called St Andrews.
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016
Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 ...
Our first ever cruise and couldn't fault it. So good we've booked another cruise on Saga Sapphire for May next year whilst on board.
Spotlessly clean cabin on arrival and our cabin steward kept is so for all the cruise. Exemplary ...
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