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21 Saga Cruises Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

My wife and I have frequently sailed with Saga and much enjoyed the charm of her smaller ships, Pearl and Sapphire so it was, with some uncertainty, that we sailed on her new Ship Spirit of Discovery. As we approached her berth I wasn’t ... Read More
My wife and I have frequently sailed with Saga and much enjoyed the charm of her smaller ships, Pearl and Sapphire so it was, with some uncertainty, that we sailed on her new Ship Spirit of Discovery. As we approached her berth I wasn’t initially enthused by her look, but gradually, throughout our back to back cruise, she grew in stature and even majesty. With a bigger ship one wondered whether Saga would retain the warm community feel of her earlier vessels. They had. Immediately one boarded one saw the smiles of the staff and to be frequently greeted by name was astonishing. Cabins (ours was a Standard Cabin) are very comfortable with a pleasing balcony and pleasant sitting area. The one limitation is the gap between the end of the bed and the cabin wall/television which is fairly narrow. But you make it work. The bathroom is neat and compact with a very fine shower. Dining has always been a great delight aboard Saga ships. The new Grand Dining Room though large is separated into sections which, though part of a grand whole, appear as individual restaurant areas. The food is as always a delight. On the ship there are three speciality restaurants. Coast to Coast, a fish restaurant, produces outstanding dishes and the The Club Restaurant, a steak house, provides succulent and large steaks. There is an East to West restaurant, but my wife has some dietary difficulties thus we declined that experience, though told it is very good. My wife’s dietary limitations were always well catered for: she receives the dinner menu a day early to assist. Even the wine offered at lunch and dinner has slightly improved..... still some way to go. Public areas are a joy. The Living Room is at the centre of the ship, busy and a great place to have the free coffee. The Library is a delight but crowded, too crowded. It is close to the Craft rooms which are good to see, but enthusiastic Passengers mean that classes are still too big for the amenities. On Saga Ships the Britannia Lounge has always been very important. It is a splendid space but, during the day, it is hardly used and we found it quieter than the Library, just how we like it. All these public rooms have coffee facilities linked and bars. In addition there is the South Cape Bar, stylish and very busy before dinner. At the rear of the Ship that are terraces on every deck encouraging passengers to relax and be lazy, while the Lido area is a magnet for many with a reasonable size pool. A first for Saga is the Playhouse, seating approximately 450. Watched a film there with 11 other people! It does allow performers greater opportunity but seats can sometimes be at a premium. Entertainment quality is mixed. The permanent Company are more mature performers than on previous ships and it shows. The guest performers vary in quality: haven’t yet seen a successful Comedian/Magician. There seems to be a penchant for flashing lights and excessive noise. Some like it, but not my cup of tea. Give me the Classical Quartet which provides talent and pleasure. They were challenging and very musical. Activity on board seems less than on the older ships and some passengers missed the variety of competitions. The Excursion team do a great job, though the value for money aspect of some of the excursions needs consideration. We had an evening excursion in Copenhagen, same as an afternoon trip, but we did have some peanuts and a glass of “bubbly, but it cost £20 extra. A poor excursion. The great joy of travelling with Saga are the Staff and Officers, all of whom seem truly interested in your well being. It is a superb ship, but even so there is a list of oddities. No washing line in Cabin Bathrooms. I think this is being addressed. The Fridge in the Cabin is ridiculous and noisy. A delightful television but on a 19 day cruise we had programmes for only about 7 days (and we were sailing relatively close to U.K.). Post the Captain’s Cocktail Parties the Grand Dining Room is overwhelmed and has problems coping with seating. Throughout the ship there are wonderful and many varied chairs and settees, but I do wonder whether anyone sat on them before purchase. One needs to be 6ft 3 ins to be comfortable in most. The disembarkation process was more chaotic than usual. Too many people were herded into the Britannia Lounge to await disembarkation....... with not enough seating. For many regular Saga passengers some comment that now they have to walk further. True, the Ship seems larger but the additional distances are not great. I love the Ship and the experiences. Counting the days to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date July 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
Sail Date June 2019
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin ... Read More
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin was large, (inside deck 7) bigger than the normal cruise liners we have sailed on like HAL, RCL etc. Decor not quiet up to a brand new cruise ship but plenty of space for hanging clothes and draws . Shower and toilet efficient and clean if a little smaller than the top cruise liners. Dining and entertainment were superb. Top quality, attentive and pleasant staff and all inclusive in restaurants and drinks. The Sapphire was above the mainstream cruise liners and just below the six star Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking cruises which we have done. Value for money, quality, ambiance and enjoyment made for a memorable cruise. Not the last time we will sail with Saga, who have two new ships coming into service. Do not let Saga’s reputation for catering for the very old put you off, this is not true. Whilst it is for the over 50’s the age profile was no different to those other lines like Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking. It did cater very well for those with mobility issues, but I have seen many more mobility scoooters on Caribbean cruises. Lots of people got up dancing to great dance music in both the main Britannia lounge and the Drawing Room. Sunday lunchtime was just fabulous. Lunchtime jazz in the drawing room followed by transitional sunday lunch in the main dining room. Just idyllic. Entertainment was outstanding. Great lectures by Gary Fildes on the Northern Lights and astronomy in general. Had 700 pax enthralled. The cruise was well worth the money just to listen to him speak. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would ... Read More
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would imagine would be difficult to find anywhere else. The age range was from mid 50’s with a large % in their late 80’s up to the grand age of 98. As with anything in life ‘money doesn’t buy manners’ and so sadly there were some sad miserable people who we quickly learnt to avoid! Their desire to talk loudly about how many nights cruising they had done soon ended as people were bored rigid about having to listen to this pretentious nonsense! There were also people who weren’t safe being there and whose families had obviously booked a cruise to escape from their relatives for a week. There were at least 2 people who didn’t even know what they were doing there. Saga need to somehow deal with this and ensure everybody is safe but equally neither they as staff or ourselves as fellow passengers should have to cope with this. The staff are caring NOT carers and the other passengers are on holiday. It is NOT a residential or nursing home and nobody should even consider going unless they are safe, independent and aware of why they are on a ship. We were disgusted that somebody’s relative had obviously considered this suitable for someone with advanced dementia but selfish people in life exist and money equally doesn’t buy common sense either! There were several people using walking sticks who would complain they couldn’t walk but kept their sticks at least 6 inches off the ground and as soon as they wanted to do something could mobilise like a 5 year old complaining loudly about younger disabled people who were slowing them down ! Again money doesn’t buy manners and they had no understanding that disabilities are nothing whatsoever about age ! A standard cabin is very nice and more than adequate for most people who use it to sleep in ! A small bathroom,, an upright chair next to a small desk and another chair were more than adequate for anything you might need. A very comfortable bed and excellent cabin service was very much appreciated. Dining was either a formal dining room or exactly the same food in a more relaxed atmosphere thankfully. The waiters and wine waiters learn people names and quickly they can manage to keep track of what you like/need and provide excellent care and attention to detail. A very nervous young waiter who was learning how to work there was the only time we had to wait and explain anything but he was very friendly and we expect the next time we see him he will be one of the best as had a fantastic smile too. People on special diets have amazing care and attention to detail if it is really required. Embarkation was ok although the lady didn’t seem to understand very much about the process or show interest in answering questions or talking to anybody. There are a wide range of activities although some of there were heavily about ‘up selling of expensive/extremely over priced goods or services in the salon or spa which is extremely poor. There were people employed to assist with crafts and some demonstrations about food etc. Some of these were good, some were excellent and some were at best chaotic and extremely poorly arranged- we are unsure if this was saga or the actual people they chose to employ! We suspect it is however the latter as saga seem to expect a very high standard for everything as it should be! Some of the entertainment was excellent and some favoured heavily the extreme upper end of the cruise ship age range. They need to remember something a 50 year old might enjoy would not be met necessarily by someone singing songs from the 40’s -60’s OR playing some game they haven’t even heard of ! Similarly they need to consider not everybody can cope with late nights and some fantastic entertainment doesn’t start until about 22.30. A lot of people who cruise sit in the same seats in the library and do nothing else. They glare at you if you speak and don’t want anything to do with other people. There’s a mixture of others who are fantastic fun and age is irrelevant. Be prepared for anything that happens is the best way to cope with this situation! The consumption of alcohol is encouraged heavily. People would buy drinks in the bar before their lunch, have 2/3 glasses of wine with their meal and then drink in the bar again! They would also be there again in the evening and repeat this process. After dinner there was also a push on buying more alcohol at your dinner table. Saga need maybe to consider the effects this can have on people especially after a week or more of this. Their responsibility for mature adults is zero but stupidity doesn’t also get covered by having money and inclusion of alcohol seems to mean a % of people will see it as their right to drink it all regardless of their health , wellbeing or the comfort and safety of other passengers too. One lady was ridiicculed by rude elderly lady who fancied herself as important because she chose not to drink. She was unable to drink due to medication but the elderly lady knew better evidently and was extremely rude and actually sadly offensively awful about how cruising was that important everybody had to drink especially with the captain! The captain was rather slow in talking and would talk a lot about the weather- all information you could get by looking out the window or seeing details on your cabin tv about wind speed or how many nautical miles we have traveled! There was a few things to do re fitness but the assumption seemed to be you were either super fit or helpless- we didn’t get to the small gym after hearing what was there . Wait and see if the new ships will be better for younger but sadly disabled people. Not everybody who has limitations is 99 !!!!!! Saga don’t seem to grasp this at all from our experience with this cruise. The public rooms were excellent and the library was large and spacious with a wide selection of books magazines and information. The bar and other rooms have a wide range of chairs and were clean bright and very well maintained considering how old the ship is. The shop staff seemed less interested tha. Anybody else about anything. Be warned- it is ridiculously expensive and a can of deodorant was £5 !!! Don’t forget yours if you use it! Cabin service is fantastic and all other aspects of service were excellent too. Some people complaining made it dull but you learnt how to avoid them quickly so your holiday wasn’t ruined! Remember to pack some basic first aid supplies and your medication! Medical care is expensive and we were shocked at how some people had used this service and had massive bills without having had more than some very basic first aid care. Several people seemed very unwell and again please take into consideration your health and well being before deciding on a cruise holiday. talking to some people it seems their health isn’t very important until they are there , away from home and forgetting the sea happens to have a naughty habit of moving but they didn’t pack anything to assist them with sea sickness or know how they would cope with poor mobility when the ship was moving through rough seas ! Equally they didn’t have a clue about the currency they would need or where they were in the world ! It has a bit of a habit of being cold in Norway in winter and also dark by mid afternoon | makes sense to research the cruise holiday you will be going on and what to expect from the areas before complaining its cold or dark etc etc. Someone was moaning they almost fell over on the ice ! That was not SAGAS responsibility! In the main the shore excursions were excellent. The level of walking isn’t always accurate but sadly maybe people have no idea what people can manage. Don’t book tours unless you are really certain you can manage the coach steps and this means getting on AND off the coaches without ANY help or ANY support whatsoever- there isn’t anything saga or the coach staff can or will do to assist you. Rudeness was again heard from the selective few who were so affected by their snobby views about people being slow, we even heard one lady said maybe if they lost weight the coach would not have been so slow- be prepared for anything that anybody might come out with. There were some lovely people who were ready for a good time with their new friends. It is at risk of being a floating residential home and this is a concern. We had several people who were taken to hospital and sadly even on the day of disembarkation someone was very poorly. A lady who was waiting for assistance was complaining about delays as she was a special level with priority for everything! We just quietly said ‘be thankful that you are going home and think about other people for a second’ she just said she would be complaining and demanding to know what happened to stop her disembarking before other people were going! Unbelievable that level of ignorance exists. Overall thank you saga. You are not responsible for the rudeness of a small minority of ignorant and rude elderly people especially it seems ladies who almost sound like they will choke themselves when they speak. We just spoke to everybody in our normal voice about life. Some very odd people exist in this Country and we just hope they weren’t so rude when on land if they bothered to get there. A % never ever get off the ship and evidently never ever do on any cruise they do as they go for the food and fact they aren’t alone or having to cook at home !! Extremely expensive for that service! There were a lot of people on their own. They had a special meeting so they could get them together and stop them crashing in on couples time together thankfully. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The ship. Our previous cruise was aboard the Astoria (Cruise Maritime Vessels), a good comparison being about the same size. The Astoria is a bit smaller in dimensions and weight, but has a larger draught. The Pearl II has a knot or ... Read More
The ship. Our previous cruise was aboard the Astoria (Cruise Maritime Vessels), a good comparison being about the same size. The Astoria is a bit smaller in dimensions and weight, but has a larger draught. The Pearl II has a knot or two extra in top speed, and carries 45 odd fewer passengers (512 vs 556). Both ships give the benefit of small ships to those that prefer this; no great hikes to get from one place to another, plenty of sitting places, no long queues, interesting layout that feels like a ship rather than a shopping centre. The Pearl has gangway entrances on two decks and when the gangway was used from deck A it never seemed as steep as Astoria. Perhaps the decor on the Pearl was marginally better (say 9/10 rather than 8.5/10), but this depends on personal preference so lets say they are equal. We had an inside cabin on A deck, which was small but adequate. The shower is a bit tricky until you realise the doors open both ways; inwards and outwards. If you open them outwards, it is a tight squeeze to get between them. If you open them inwards, it isn't easy to close them behind you. The trick is to open one inwards and one outwards, then it is a piece of cake. Having now experienced Saga, we have booked on Saga Sapphire for next year, "Stylish Scandinavia", visiting Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We were told our cabin 6576 on deck 6 will be nearly twice as big as our current one on Saga Pearl II. Our current cabin (311) is not in the best location as it is under the Discovery lounge with lots of bumping when they rearrange the seating for afternoon tea, and thumping from the bass when they have music during showtime. We always bring a small torch (as insurance against emergencies), but we found one (with a luminous casing to find it in the dark) provided in the cabin. This is a useful safety feature which should be provided on all ships (Safety at Sea need to get up to date). Saga also provided a pair of binoculars and two bathrobes, chocolates on the pillows with the turn down service, petit fours after every evening meal (not just formal nights), free wine at lunch and dinner. The TV includes a DVD player with DVDs on loan (from the Internet help desk). Saga seem to include little extras with basic cabins that only come with higher grades on other lines. They also provide free Wifi from the public areas. It is not officially available in the cabins, but we found it did work at quiet times. This might depend on your cabin location. Layout of the ship The library was good, a decent size with plenty of books and seating, but like many ships it suffered from poor placement, being between the main dining room and the show lounge and thus was a main thoroughfare. Many people, particular those with loud penetrating voices liked to stop on the way through if they meet someone and have long conversations, often accompanied by raucous laughter, while others were trying to read or concentrate on emails. I have found this to be a problem on all ships unless the library is properly located. Another problem on the Pearl, which I have met before is the siting of a bar with live music in the middle of the library, with the doors propped open. When not used for music they have functions like exercise classes and quizes in there. The Saga ships up until now have been bought second hand and so ship design, although it can be tinkered with on a refit, is pretty much baked in. Placement of the library looks better on the deck plans for the new Sprits. I understand that people are on holiday and want to enjoy themselves and conversation with others and shared laughter is an important part of this, but there does need to be a quiet place on every ship where people can go to relax, read a book or sleep. If the library can't provide this function then another place needs to be found for it. It is worth studying the ships deck plan that you get given on boarding as some places are not easy to find. The Sundowner Bar is such a case, and as many people never find it, it can be a nice quiet relaxing place. We went there for a pre dinner cocktail once to be told there would be a private function starting in quarter of an hour, for the first time travellers. Since we were first time travellers we qualified anyway. Travel service, embarkation/disembarkation, muster drill. Saga provide a choice of chauffeur travel or free parking. We chose chauffeur, but were given a limit of one case and one carry on per person. We have since found this is only a default limit, it can be exceeded if you arrange this when you book, and they will allocate a people carrier rather than a car. A benefit of this service, (like ship excursions) is that if anything goes wrong, Saga will sort it out. If you travel under your own steam and have a breakdown, it is up to you to catch the boat up if it leaves without you. It could be a benefit to use your own car and park if you bring your own wine (allowed on Saga - although free wine is provided with meals). We found embarkation a doddle, we arrived at the scheduled time and went straight through the check in process and boarded straight away, no different to other lines, except there was no waiting. They retained passports at check in, a process we do not like. We got our passports back after Norway, but with the usual paper labels stuck on; at least these were done neatly and were easy peel. Disembarkation was an improvement over CMV, much the same except that you were given numbers rather than colours and had to vacate cabins by 9:00 rather than 7:00. The disembarkation ran to schedule except for a ten minute delay between 1 and 2, which was never caught up, but no more was lost. We were scheduled for 10:00, called at 10:10 and drove out of the terminal at 10:25. As you come out, you queue up to get a porter, he loads your cases on to a trolley and a man at the gate reads out your name for your driver to step forward from the waiting queue. and he shows us all to the waiting car. It worked very well. The Mercedes people carrier was very comfortable. Muster drill was well organised like Princess lines. A seated affair in the muster station with instruction by tannoy and demonstration by the staff. No traipsing out on deck for a roll call by name; you give your cabin number on arrival and get checked off. One thing that was unique in my experience, was that as soon as the captain started to speak, every one fell silent and paid attention. It makes a change from the normal case of people talking over important announcements. Once muster drill was over we were ready to leave, but Sapphire, at terminal one went first, and we followed after, using the same tug to spin us round. The staff and service I find that staff are generally friendly on all cruise lines, sometimes you get a brusque receptionist (bad choice by management), but no complaints on this occasion. Other passengers have reported being greeted by name, from cruises 3 to 20 years ago. The waiters are attentive and keep you topped up. Dining is open seating but you can request fixed seating if you prefer that. Most passengers seem to prefer open seating, and if you need a quick meal the waiters, on request, will not leave you waiting while others have every course going. We did find that the normal start time of 7:00 p.m. was rather late for us. Our cabin stewardess, Juliette, was very efficient, with our cabin always ready for us after breakfast and evening meal. One suitcase, which opens flat went under the bed, but the other was too fat to go underneath the other bed, so we left it in our cabin while we went for our evening meal, meaning to ask when we came back if there was somewhere it could be stored. When we returned it had already been taken care of. It reappeared, as if by magic, on the evening before packing without us having to ask. The passengers I have seen complaints on Cruise Critics that the passengers on Saga are geriatric. I found them no worse than other lines who have their mix of walkers, sticks and zimmer frames. In fact I have seen no wheelchairs on this cruise, but they have been common place on other ships. I do find that there are more open minded passengers on Saga, interesting to talk to and enjoy their cruising, though there are always some bigoted, insular people complaining about foreigners. I can never understand people going on a cruise and then expecting everything to be the same as at home. If you don't like foreign food and new experiences, then take a holiday in your own country. The food Like most ships there are two restaurants, the main dining room which is waiter service, and the buffet higher up which is self service. There are no speciality restaurants. The food is of a high standard and served hot, with the exception of the salads and chilled soups of course. Saga are still serving chilled soups (unlike HAL who have recently abandoned them), with a different chilled soup on each day's menu. To be honest they are often more like smoothies than soups, but they come with the soup course and can serve as a refresher, like a sorbet, between courses. Formal nights include a sorbet between the soup and main course. One of the ways I judge a ship's catering ability is by the Fish and Chips they produce. I have had them with slimy fish and soggy batter, or rock hard batter that is difficult to cut (would be good for resoling shoes). The Pearl Chefs passed my test, crispy, crunchy batter, but easy to eat, good quality haddock, mushy peas made with petits pois rather than the traditional marrowfat peas, so they actually tasted like fresh peas. Equal to the best that England can produce. The chips were not quite up to the Belgian thrice fried standard, but were good, and hot. Later on another test was passed, poached pear which was just right. I have had this in France which was so hard it was difficult to cut with a knife. Start with a juicy pear and it ends up as mush. The Tarte Tatin was not so good, and not tradionally made. They have a huge range of cheeses, a different selection every night of around eight to ten cheeses, many of which I had never heard of, and we do have a good cheese shop in Colchester. Not just the Brie, Cheddar and Edam that you can get offered each night on other lines. A welcome change was the absence of Baked Alaska on the last night. We had the chef and waiter parade but that is an opportunity for us to show their work is appreciated. The itinerary and cruise Our first stop was Arendal in Norway followed by Sasnitz in Germany but the rest were in Sweeden. Marriehamn is actually Finland but the island of Åland is culturaly Swedish. Some of the excursions were better than others; we particularly enjoyed the Tall Ships Experiwence on Mercedes at Sasnitz, and the visit to the Elk farm at Umeå. We also found Marriehamn a charming place and enjoyed that execursion. If you want more detail of the excursions, with Google maps of the tracks and pictures you can refer to my cruise blog at http://sturnidae.com/cruises/201806%20Bothnia/index.htm. The last part of the cruise was a daylight transitof the Kiel Canal. This is a wonderful experience in fine weather. Unfortunately not the best for us this time, they put on a German lunch with Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer which made an enjoyable occasion using the outside decks at the aft of the boat and bridge decks; and the rain held off until lunch was over. There were three formal nights, being a 2 week cruise. Saga seem to be still hanging on to the old outdated traditions and expect formal wear in the bars and buffet. They have relaxed a bit as they used to have three dress codes, but now only have two. My view is that if you want to get dressed up, do so, but don't expect everyone else to do so as well. If you want to be surrounded by pretentious people then travel on Cunard. Smart should be good enough for anyone nowadays, you don't get togged up in dress suits to go out to a local restaurant in the evening. Not everywhere has to be like Glynebourne. Before travelling on Saga I asked for opinions on Cruise Critics and was told they may look up market but are not really any better than the basic lines. From my experience of one cruise with them I disagree. I have not travelled with Azamara or Oceania so may be they are better, but they are expensive. Saga look expensive at first sight, but you get a lot of extras included which you have to pay for in your onboard account on other lines. We will be travelling with them again and have two more cruises booked now. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
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
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
Sail Date December 2017
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 ... Read More
Best of the Baltic cruise, Saga Sapphire, 8th - 23rd September, 2016 Checked in at 3.15 in Dover. A very nice outside cabin, 7038, and just a short walk to Reception, the Aviators bar, and the Pole to Pole restaurant. We sailed at 4.00 and, not long after clearing Dover harbour, we were treated by Saga to a 15 minute flying display by two Spitfire fighter aircraft from Biggin Hill. Amazing! This was our third voyage on Saga Sapphire in 2 years, and it was rather nice to see familiar faces amongst the staff and to be greeted by name. Our prior (excellent) experiences were repeated on this 15 day voyage.....excellent service, good food and quality complimentary wines. If you wished, you could order wines from the standard wine list, with a £10 per bottle discount,but the complimentary wines were so good that this would only be necessary for celebrating a very special occasion. We visited seven ports, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallin, Ventspils, Gdansk and Wismar.....all interesting destinations although Ventspils is probably still climbing the learning curve for tourism. It was our second visit there and my wife and quite like its quirkiness (especially the bovine street art!) We were also impressed with the flower displays all around town. With calm seas and slight winds for the whole voyage, we could not have wished for better on this cruise holiday. Just a few spots of rain for 20 minutes in St Petersburg, and that was the totally of 'bad' weather. I have to mention the efforts of the catering staff and the hard work they put in for lunchtime events outdoors on the Verandah terrace, and for the fabulous Russian Buffet that was put in place in the Pole to Pole restaurant on our overnight stop in St Petersburg. The entertainment was of high quality. We enjoyed the Greek classical guitarist, Dimitris Davakallis, and the Polish violinist. Michael Bacala who each gave two excellent performances. Also aboard were the Think Pink Duo (Marta and Gabi Onali) from Rumania and, along with many other guests, enjoyed dancing to their music late at night in the Drawing Room. They very kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga.y kindly burnt us a CD of some of their recordings so that we can continue enjoying their music post-cruise. This was a truly enjoyable holiday. Thankyou Saga. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Although my wife and I had sailed many times on the mail ships of the long defunct Union Castle Line between Southampton and Southern Africa we had never contemplated taking a cruise, per se. What changed our minds were the many ... Read More
Although my wife and I had sailed many times on the mail ships of the long defunct Union Castle Line between Southampton and Southern Africa we had never contemplated taking a cruise, per se. What changed our minds were the many recommendations from friends who had cruised on smaller ships under the Saga and Fred Olson flags. The final factors were being picked up from home and returned thereto by a an efficient chauffeur service; sailing from a 'home port' (Dover); the number of passengers being limited to 450 and the cruise itself (the Baltic via the Kiel Canal, visiting Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Copenhagen and Wismar). Embarkation to the Saga Pearl 2 via the Dover Cruise terminal was speedy and efficient and a warm personal welcome awaited us in the Ship's Reception area. Our luggage awaited us at our cabin (an outside cabin on A deck). The cabin itself was perfectly adequate and spotlessly clean but the bathroom was small and getting in and out of the shower would have been an impossibility for some of our 'larger' fellow passengers. However, we did not spend much time in the cabin, but we did appreciate the large window. I don't think we could have coped with an 'inside' cabin with no natural light! The ship itself was very comfortable and had the atmosphere of an up-market country house hotel. The shipboard administration was extremely efficient and I have to say that if I had to choose just one factor which enhanced our enjoyment of the cruise it has to be the predominantly Filipino crew (waiters, cabin stewards, catering staff and cleaners). They were invariably cheerful, very polite and well trained/efficient. Nothing was ever too much trouble and the service we received in either of the two restaurants couldn't be faulted. Moreover, our cabin was maintained at a level we've never previously experienced in any previous form of accommodation. The food could have graced any 5 star hotel dining room and with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a 'midnight feast' - as well as other 'one off' treats - we had to watch our calorie intake!!! We had a look around the 'galley', which was impressively spotless and an absolute hive of activity. The Executive Chef in charge has to be congratulated for overseeing the production of so much high quality, imaginative, tempting food on what is virtually a production line basis. We elected to go on a 'fixed' table for dinner but all other meals were on an 'open seating' (But very well controlled/administered) basis. Mealtimes (with complimentary wine at lunch and dinner) were fun occasions where we enjoyed meeting a variety of very nice, interesting people. Being 79 and 80 respectively, my wife and I thought we would be in the older echelons amongst the passengers (all of whom have to be over 50 anyway) but this was not the case! We also noticed that there were quite a few people with mobility problems, necessitating use of sticks, 'walkers', wheelchairs and (surprisingly) a battery scooter. Fortuitously, sea conditions for the entire cruise were very good and the absence of any untoward movement in the ship was uncanny, but of benefit to those unsteady on their feet. The entertainment was of a very high, professional , standard and there were enough lectures and other activities laid on to keep a wide variety of personal tastes satisfied. The resident band deserves special mention - especially the 20 year old very versatile pianist (a university economics student!) - and the professional troupe of dancers/singers were consistently excellent - supported by well known professional singers, a magician and a classical string quartet. Boredom was not an option on this cruise, although the excellent library and computer room provided a calm and peaceful environment, if required. A very wide variety of shore excursions were available, covering all the ports visited, and all could be booked on board. These excursions were very efficiently organised and managed - with the exception of our first day in St Petersburg when heavy rain and Russian immigration bureaucracy conspired to cause a degree of chaos on the dockside. This was in no way the fault of the Ship's admin team. Transiting the Kiel canal in daytime sunshine on the return leg of our voyage was tantamount to an 'add-on' river cruise and was an enjoyable experience. During the cruise we received a very informative daily newsletter with details of all shipboard activities, together with a separate ' Daily News' sheet covering world news etc. Disembarkation back at Dover was like an efficient military operation and we were seamlessly reunited with our main luggage (packed the previous evening) and connected to our driver for the journey home. The collapse of the footbridge onto the M20 the day before, combined with August Bank holiday traffic, made our journey home somewhat tedious, but would have been much worse but for the professionalism (and sat-nav) of our driver. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Saga Cruise experience' which was specifically designed to cater for over 50's. It is nice to be pampered and I would recommend any cruise involving the Saga Pearl 2 and its excellent Captain, Officers and Crew. Oh, before I forget - the Ship's Doctor and medical Staff were brilliant too ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Recently returned from Baltic Capitals cruise on board Saga Sapphire which was our first experience with Saga. Everything from being collected at the door to returning home was extremely well organised and went smoothly. The cabin on deck ... Read More
Recently returned from Baltic Capitals cruise on board Saga Sapphire which was our first experience with Saga. Everything from being collected at the door to returning home was extremely well organised and went smoothly. The cabin on deck 10 which was adapted as I am a wheelchair user was a good size with a large wet room and balcony, ideal! The food, and there is plenty of variation, was excellent and always served with a smile. Entertainment was in the main of a high standard and there were plenty of activities on board. Shore excursions are not cheap but are well organised, but there are shuttle buses in the ports that are for the passengers who wish to adventure on their own.Saga Sapphire is a lovely ship with a very happy helpful crew who make sure your cruise is a happy one. All in all a wonderful experience and looking forward to our next cruise on Sapphire. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
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. ... Read More
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 service. Food excellent and very varied menu. Opted for the 'open dining' option and found this the best way to meet people. Entertainment generally very good, with the 4 piece string quartet and pianist in the bars excellent. Organisation from collection from home to return first rate. Shore excursions were very well organised and advance informative talks given 1-2 days before arrival. Lots of lectures on various subjects to keep you occupied during at sea days. Very good on-board library. WiFi on board free through-out the ship, but can be a bit slow due to being on a satellite link. Best port of call was Arendal, only small but very interesting and easy to get to without need of shuttle bus. Except for St Petersburg (due to visa requirements) shuttle bus for port best option. Tallinn was crowded, but 3 other cruise ships docked at same time. Enjoyed the galley tour with George Streeter the chef - very informative. The weather was generally good, and the captain gave advance notice of some slightly choppy waters after Stockholm so everyone was prepared. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
First time cruisers, our trip to the Baltic capitals was the most wonderful experience and excelled our expectations. The staff were wonderful and they made us feel comfortable at all times, welcoming us back on board after each trip on ... Read More
First time cruisers, our trip to the Baltic capitals was the most wonderful experience and excelled our expectations. The staff were wonderful and they made us feel comfortable at all times, welcoming us back on board after each trip on land and entertaining us when we were at sea. The food was wonderful and so were the nightly shows and the lectures on the places to visit very informative. If you are reasonably active and confident, most of the cities visited can be explored with a good travel book as there are shuttle buses that run frequently to the city centres and you can explore at leisure. You do need to go ashore as an organised group in Russia because of visa requirements. Although expensive, we thought the Exclusive Hermitage excursion at night one of the highlights of our trip; a magical experience! The 40 piece St Peterburg orchestra were fantastic and the glass of champagne an added bonus. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
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
Sail Date May 2014
Where can I start! A truly magical holiday, made even more so by the (mostly) fabulous weather, magnificent scenery, beautiful ship and very attentive staff and the food, oh the food - wonderful! Our cabin (5072) was very well appointed ... Read More
Where can I start! A truly magical holiday, made even more so by the (mostly) fabulous weather, magnificent scenery, beautiful ship and very attentive staff and the food, oh the food - wonderful! Our cabin (5072) was very well appointed and much bigger than we had imagined it would be. Plenty of room to move around easily, even in the bathroom. Lots of storage space in the triple wardrobe and chest of drawers. The in cabin fridge is an excellent feature if you want to keep your mini bar gin cold! A point to note about the cabin is there was only one three pin plug socket so if you need to plug in more than one electrical item you'll need to bring an adapter or borrow one from reception. Norway is not a destination we had really considered cruising to but are so glad we did. The stunning scenery and being able to berth in the heart of some lovely cities and Fjordland villages was a pleasure. Not an industrial dock in sight! I know Saga can't lay claim to providing great weather and calm waters (though I'd like to think they can!) but it was a wonderful added bonus to the cruise. Who'd have thought we'd be sitting out on the Verandah deck in the sunshine in early May with just a cardigan on - not us! A particular favourite destination was Flåm. We had a fantastic trip on the Flåm Railway and took some fabulous photographs of the Fjords that were perfectly mirrored in the flat calm water of Aurlandsfjord on our departure. The Saga Sapphire is a lovely ship with very good, well thought out public areas. The decor is very tasteful with some beautiful features and quirky art work. The fish sculpture at reception on deck 7 descending to deck 5 is unusual and delightful and a great focal point. We only just qualify by age to cruise with Saga and though we didn't need any assistance at all, the staff bend over backwards to help. We witnessed several passengers being helped whether it was with a mobility problem, a query or even carrying a plate of food or a drink. Saga should be very proud that their staff treat these elderly customers with dignity and respect. Our cabin stewardess was a delight, always smiling whenever we saw her. And now for the food! Absolutely superb. Every meal was delicious and it was a pleasure to ask for a medium and medium rare steak and get just that! It was very difficult to choose from the delicious starters, salads, soups, main courses and deserts. The petit fours at the end of dinner every night are a must and a lovely touch - just remember to leave a little room for them! The only improvement to the Sapphire would be a passenger laundry room. Not a problem on a short cruise but from experience it would be an asset on a longer one. All in all a brilliant cruise and now looking forward to saving for the next one. Well done Saga!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was my first cruise with Saga, a 2 week voyage around the Baltic. I had read earlier postings about this ship, both positive and negative, but approached the journey with an open mind about what to expect. The review is from a ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Saga, a 2 week voyage around the Baltic. I had read earlier postings about this ship, both positive and negative, but approached the journey with an open mind about what to expect. The review is from a fit-and-able 69 year old travelling with his wife, and with a first career as a merchant navy deck officer. We did not use the door to door chauffeur service, but drove to Dover arriving a few minutes after the 1.00 pm earliest check-in time. After dropping off the luggage with a porter, and parking the car 50 metres from the check-in area, we took the escalator to the first floor of the terminal building, were photographed and issued with our cruise card, and waited about 10 minutes to be called forward for boarding. This process was leisurely, smooth and hassle free……..quite unlike our experience 3 weeks earlier with P&O at Southampton on a seventeen-night Med cruise, when the process was like a cattle market! On boarding we were met and welcomed by one of the housekeeping staff who showed us to our cabin and settled us in. We had an outside cabin on Deck 5 – well equipped and spacious. There were no tea-making facilities (which we wouldn’t normally use anyway) but with room-service available there was no need for this, and of course it removes a health and safety hazard. I was conscious of earlier reviews about smells and, yes, the atmosphere has a taint to it…….but the Sapphire does not qualify for the title of “Auld Reekie”! The ship is over 30 years old, a little bit worn, but is well-looked after (a bit like me I guess) but the deck and housekeeping staff work hard to keep the premises in very good condition. Some days you won’t notice the smell. The public rooms are fine. Deck 11 has the Drawing Room which is very popular as you can easily make yourself a cuppa and have a piece of cake or a biscuit throughout the day. Because it is popular you may not always be able to find a seat if you are in a group. Quizzes and entertainment take place there too, both on sea and port days. Deck 8 has the Britannia Lounge, used for lectures, port talks, shows, and afternoon tea at 4.15. Unlike the monster cruise ships there is no space for a purpose-built theatre with all the bells and whistles that you’ll find on Cunard ships and the larger P&O vessels. The Britannia is multi-purpose so compromises have to be expected. The entertainment on this voyage was fine. I saw the Rossina Quartet, the resident Duo, and the Stars on Strings (marionettes) show. All were very good. There were other shows (dance and vocalist team, a violinist, magician) and I heard positive feedback about them. The theme for this cruise was Art and Antiques – my daughter suggested that I might be the antique – and on board were three of the experts from the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, with their wives. Passengers had been invited to bring along a family treasure for evaluation, and a couple of clinics were set up in the Drawing Room. These clinics were well-subscribed, with the more interesting of the items being used for a presentation by the team on the homeward leg of the voyage. It was a successful formula and it worked well. My only criticism was that the 3 couples stuck together like limpets when on board, eating together at all mealtimes rather than circulating and talking with passengers informally. Others in the entertainment team did that, and it was much appreciated. The dining experience and environment was excellent. George Streeter, the Executive Chef, put on great menus with excellently prepared food. He was noticeable by his visibility around the restaurants, ensuring that all was well. Towards the end of the cruise there were mixed comments that I heard about the itinerary, which had one variation to the advertised programme, due to a problem with an electrical generator that resulted in a delay in being given permission to enter the Kiel Canal on the outward journey. From my perspective, this was serendipity at work. Instead of a night-time transit we actually went through the canal during daylight hours, far, far more interesting, especially as the weather was hot and sunny. OK, it meant that the time in Stockholm was curtailed and we had just an afternoon in Stockholm. But that was just fine, too, because we did the Archipelago pilotage into Stockholm on a clear hot morning. Absolutely beautiful. Because of the unforeseen changes to the itinerary, Saga made arrangements for passengers to have some free ‘benefits in kind’ as compensation for any disappointment caused. I thought the whole situation was handled very well indeed. Excursion options were plentiful. We generally do excursions under our steam, but for St Petersburg this was not practicable – a Russian visa is required to tour independently. We did two half day trips at £49 per head and thought that we had good value for money. The tour guides on both trips were knowledgeable, solicitous, and were clearly understandable…..although a cruise companion had the opposite experience on the Hermitage evening tour. The tour escorts (members of the entertainments team) also did a good job in rounding up stragglers and ensuring that nobody got lost or left behind! Finally, our experience with the staff in the restaurants, bars and housekeeping was very positive. The barkeeper at the Aviators Bar put it like this: “My job is to give you joy; if you have no enjoyment then you won’t come with us again and then I may have no job”. I don’t know how other crew members saw their roles, but I have to say that the Filipino staff were the embodiment of customer service……attentive, caring, friendly, cheerful….there was nothing that was too much trouble. Maybe it helped that I knew (and used) a few words and phrases of Tagalog, but I don’t feel that we were singled out for any extra attention. I am now an Ambassador for Saga Cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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
Sail Date June 2013
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 September 2012
Although we are regular SAGA Cruisers this was our first on Sapphire. Our review takes into account how sapphire compares with the other Saga Ships we have sailed on (Ruby Rose and Pearl 2) The ship rides better than the other ships ... Read More
Although we are regular SAGA Cruisers this was our first on Sapphire. Our review takes into account how sapphire compares with the other Saga Ships we have sailed on (Ruby Rose and Pearl 2) The ship rides better than the other ships Certain things are better We very much liked the Drawing Room although the passage ways leading to it through the excellent library are narrow. The East to West restaurant was superb unfortunately you are only officially allowed one visit per cruise (we managed 2 as one night they had a cancellation). The waiting staff are very good and attentive many of them recognising us from previous cruises. The standard of some was not up to the required SAGA standard. There were occasions when then reached across in front of the diners, Coffee and tea were sometimes slow, and toast was very difficult to obtain in the morning. We didn't like the system in the Verandah /grill. We would have preferred Self Service for Breakfast and Lunch , as on Ruby and Pearl 2. I tried one day in the grill for a traditional English but was told i could only have one of the two items which were on the menu that Morning. After this we had all our breakfasts in Pole to Pole. The Beach Club on Deck 11 was also excellent. They severed Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas or a Steak Burger, from 12 till 3 also the self service Ice Cream was there. In addition a large selection of Boiled Sweets were available to help your self. The entertainment was mixed, We thought the Explosive Productions team very poor. The singers shouted and the Girls did the same routine each show, only the costumes changed. The Classical Flanagan Trio were very good as was the Pianist You Chiang Lin ,(when she stopped talking and played the Piano). The lectures were varied. Keith Pritchard , the destinations lecturer was good as was the Art Lecturer Rosemary. The Classical Music lectures were not up to standard, He was to technical at times and is voice sent the audience to sleep. We were very impressed with the Cabins and although ours was an inside one on deck 6 it was the same size as all the others (Suites excepted). There was a hint of Sewage smell on most of the ship which we understand SAGA are trying to cure. Fortunately not in our Cabin. Most of the problems seemed to have been with the Cabins on deck 10 Captain McLundie was again very good as was the Cruise Director John Parton. Some of his back up staff were notable by their absence, Resty , Fernando, Carol and Ed excepted Embarkation was very smooth and simple as was the shared Car Service to and from Dover. The disembarkation was very long winded at Dover on our return. The ship managed to Dock at 9:30 and it was 2:50 before we got of the ship. There were some problems with the wind and baggage unloading, which had to be done manually by the Filipino Crew.One contribution to the Delay appeared to be the lack of Porters at the Dock. All together a very enjoyable cruise , but alas not one of the best Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This was our first cruise and it surpassed our expectations. Enjoyed it immensly, even though the majority of the passengers were in their 60's and 70's, with a few in their 80's. There were not as many wheelchairs and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it surpassed our expectations. Enjoyed it immensly, even though the majority of the passengers were in their 60's and 70's, with a few in their 80's. There were not as many wheelchairs and walking sticks as I expected. The cabin was larger than expected and contained everything we needed, free water and fruit, plenty of wardrobe space, bathroom with large shower, plenty of space under the kingsize bed for suitcases. Lots of nooks and crannies and nice dressing table area with adjacent british socket for hairdryer. Bathrobes (but no slippers) and TV with integral DVD player. No tea and coffee facilities in room but this was not a problem as there was free room service. Good Sound insulation. Food was very good, excellent choice at breakfast. Look out for barbeque on Verandah if weather is good, as sometimes it is not advertised. The Grill is good for specialty breakfasts and light lunches, salads etc. East to West Restaurant is excellent (I am surprised they did not charge a supplement), this needs to be booked early on in the cruise as there are limited places. Times to book are advertised in the 'Today' newsletter. Excursions expensive but you are really looked after, with a driver, saga rep and also local guide. There are several grades of excursions from easy to strenuous and we heard of some people doing 6 mile hikes! Shows were excellent and the staff are fantastic, very friendly and cannot do enough for you. We met lots of friendly people and as it is a small ship you bump into the same people quite often and we struck up several friendships. Pick up chauffeur service was also excellent, we never touched the suitcases from leaving the house until they appeared outside our cabin. The driver was very courteous and friendly. Norwegian fjords are beautiful, we saw so many waterfalls. Be aware though that Norway is expensive and weather is not great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
It didn't start off well, we flew into Gatwick from a middle of the night start at Newcastle - only milkmen and bakers call 4AM morning. Flybe arrived at Gatwick early but our driver, SAGA was providing a car to Dover, was nowhere to ... Read More
It didn't start off well, we flew into Gatwick from a middle of the night start at Newcastle - only milkmen and bakers call 4AM morning. Flybe arrived at Gatwick early but our driver, SAGA was providing a car to Dover, was nowhere to be seen. He said he was there but he was not! We eventually traipsed off to the SAGA meeting point in the North Terminal but again no one there. Phoned the Duty Officer at SAGA and eventually our driver phoned and informed me that he had been waiting for us at the arrivals gate at the South Terminal and would we please return there!! Oh dear how did I miss someone holding up a big board with my name on it and how did he miss our obvious SAGA luggage labels !!!! One of us needs to go to Specsavers and I was there last month! Our driver came over to the North terminal to collect us but we had to traipse back to the South terminal with all our luggage as he had left the car parked over there. Eventually arrived in Dover just after midday - could have flown to Florida quicker. Not a good start and frankly I don't need that kind of hassle on holiday. Boarding was quick and courteous and our cabin was roomy and comfortable with plain decor, nice roomy bathroom with a shower. Noticed a nasty smell of raw sewage in the corridor as we boarded and this seemed to pervade different parts of the ship at different times although it became less obtrusive as the cruise progressed. Lets get the bad bits over with first then we can concentrate on the good things. The cabin air conditioning did not cool and the first couple of days were fairly warm. Reported the problem twice to reception but no action was apparent so eventually escalated to the Hotel Director on board who promised a solution. The room thermostat was changed but by then the weather had cooled down so the matter became less urgent and anyway my wife was in no mood for a cabin change. Never received any promised feedback from the Hotel Director on any other issues I had raised at our meeting including noise from slamming doors (until 2 AM) in the crew quarters on deck 4, we were above on deck 5 so not exactly very restful. There seemed to be quite a few issues with heating and cooling in the cabins all over the ship and some cabins were provided with fan heaters because they were too cold. It was kind of obvious that things needed to be bedded down on this ship, in places it looked as if the makeover had been hasty with evidence of poor finishing and inadequate attention to detail and testing. Door closers needed to be adjusted as doors up on deck constantly slammed, the on board clocks did'nt work and WI-FI coverage was patchy and slow and very costly. The good things were very good. What a great crew from the captain downwards, always smiling and helpful. The food was first class and probably some of the best we have had on a cruise ship so you won't starve. Free room service is a bonus and service was fast with a huge menu choice or anything you fancied. For a gourmet treat the East to West restaurant is a must at least once on the cruise. On board entertainment was really good and intimate with a decent resident band and an on-board troupe of energetic and talented young dancers and vocalists. Guest artistes were aboard at different times and generally we enjoyed the entertainment. The theme of this particular cruise was "Dancing with the Stars" but our "stars" (from Strictly Come dancing) failed to make it to the ship until about day ten and despite their credentials we though their display dancing was a bit lacklustre and unglamourous compared to their TV performances. We failed to make a stop a Helsinki, port engine failure at Stockholm delayed our departure and therefore our whole schedule. So Helsinki was missed to get us to St. Petersburg on time. As someone commented on buying a second hand ship "would you buy a second hand French Car then take it to Italy to be serviced"? What makes this ship is the people, crew and passengers. Everyone talks to one and other and the atmosphere on board, apart from the smells, is great. A few things need to be sorted out but in the end I think Sapphire will be a great ship for SAGA. But please SAGA don't try and cram 700 passengers on her, it was about right with the 400 odd when we were aboard so maybe about 550 is right but any more and it would feel distinctly crowded. I cannot imagine the Britannia Lounge with 600 odd people trying to get a seat to see a star entertainer!! Disembarkation was good, well organised and I'm glad to say our car and driver were waiting to take us to Gatwick. We're back on Sapphire next February for a Northern Lights cruise so let's hope the problems have been resolved by then, or should I maybe check out other cruises just in case! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
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