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14 Saga Cruises Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

We chose this short taster cruise to see if we liked the Saga experience and were most pleasantly surprised. The welcome on board was amazing with a beautiful spread of food laid out and beverages served by the staff (the cakes were ... Read More
We chose this short taster cruise to see if we liked the Saga experience and were most pleasantly surprised. The welcome on board was amazing with a beautiful spread of food laid out and beverages served by the staff (the cakes were amazing). Then came the sail away, with drinks flowing against a backdrop of live French music and singing, cosy throws set out if you felt a little chilly. Here we got to know some of the more regular Saga cruisers and enjoyed the enthusiasm they had for the Saga experience. Our cabin was beautiful and we were given fruit of our choice in the cabin which was topped up during our stay. The service, helpful staff and the food were in our opinion second to none, making our cruise a very special one. We have been on 5 previous cruises and although they have been enjoyable in their own way, Saga obviously believe in making the holidaymaker feel special. We found the whole holiday very reasonably priced as everything is included. We do not drink much alcohol and so the included wine with meals were almost as much as we needed so our spending was way below what we are used to spending. The Captains gala night was amazing and drinks flowed once again. The choice and standard of the meals were wonderful. They even had a choice of plain food, this could be perhaps steak and chips or omelette and chips etc and it is just that - for anyone who is on a special diet or who just does not like fancy food. The cabin and all of the ship was spotlessly clean. Beautiful toiletries in the bathroom. The entertainment would be a little low key for some but was carried out well just the same. Films were shown in the cinema and in the cabin if you wanted a little down-time. Getting on and off the ship was made easy and help was with you right away to take luggage or give a helping hand. We are so pleased with our little trip that we have now booked another cruise for 15 nights to the arctic circle, feeling absolutely sure that we will be well looked after. We took an amazing trip to monet's garden, which we enjoyed immensely, we had a Saga assistant, who was most helpful and pleasant, however, we also had a local guide who, despite being told by many that they could not here her comments, would not wear the headgear properly which was relaying the comments to the headphones we were wearing, and changed the pick up point resulting in the people who could not hear the instruction ending up waiting at a different place to those who had, she also pushed on with walking at times and some less able passengers were trailing behind. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
First cruise. What I do find misleading you see the adverts from.....we paid double and more. I wish they would set a price. Some back to back (people who were on previous or later tour) were 'phoned up and given a good discount ... Read More
First cruise. What I do find misleading you see the adverts from.....we paid double and more. I wish they would set a price. Some back to back (people who were on previous or later tour) were 'phoned up and given a good discount for including the mini break. We were told they did not discount..........mmmmm Still good holiday, first time cruisers, lovely, lovely staff, happy. Wish I was back. The Reception staff, not tour booking. I found when I asked a question I was told in your Ship's newsletter, we had not been cruising before. They could have told us there and then. They did their job, but listening to how they dealt with older people, got the impression not a happy group. Perhaps need fresh people....sign on desk, this ship is full, no change of cabins. Fortnately we were pleased with our cabin. On a tour, a guide told us that a ship is never fall. Little negatives....which let down the otherwise lovely, happy and excellent team. Saga get your pricing realistic to the cost.....the from........hearing don't do discounts but two couples told us they stayed on because they were given a deal.......make all staff happy. Lovely to deal with. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and tilbury. we went on the excursion to amsterdam river trip which was fantastic, and the highlight was Keukenhof gardens we spent 6 hours there and it was brilliant .The food was excellent, the cabin was great and the staff looked after us well,the ship was well keeped and spotlessly clean, the cabaret was brilliant.Embarkation was ok and disembarkation was covered very well no rushing to get off the ship, we were given a number and when they called that number it was our turn to disembark.. we now have the cruising bug and after this cruise hopefully we will cruise with saga again. We recommend saga cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Sail Date April 2018
This was booked only 5 weeks beforehand and was our only option for a short cruise over Easter, departing from Southampton. As we had never cruised with Saga beforehand, we had no real idea what to expect but we were very pleasantly ... Read More
This was booked only 5 weeks beforehand and was our only option for a short cruise over Easter, departing from Southampton. As we had never cruised with Saga beforehand, we had no real idea what to expect but we were very pleasantly surprised with the experience. Boarding at Southampton was very quick - possibly an advantage with a smaller ship - and we were able to access our cabin immediately. We then went to the Britannia Lounge for a very early afternoon tea - at 2pm. The food was excellent but we found this very strange, having been used to having a "proper" lunch with other cruise lines. However, we enjoyed it. We ate in Pole to Pole the first evening but from then on ate in the Veranda where the food was excellent - and the service second to none. The staff couldn't do enough to please and the Manager, Mark, was exceptional. The entertainment in Britannia lounge was excellent, especially The 4Tunes, four very talented young men with Operatic/West End Musicals experience. It was also wonderful to have 'live" music throughout the ship. We had already decided not to do any excursions as we both needed this to be a restful cruise but, in view of the wet and cold weather, we felt it was just as well. Of course, the weather is out of everyone's hands but we were disappointed not to be able to go to Guernsey and, although the captain managed to arrange for us to visit Cherbourg, it's a port which I can happily miss - best driven through quickly from the ferry to more pleasant places in France. Unfortunately, the Ratings section on here doesn't appear to have a facility to show "not used" so I've had to give "average" ratings for Enrichment, Fitness and Excursions. So, overall, an excellent experience and we would definitely cruise again on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
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
Sail Date June 2017
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the ... Read More
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the best. They are rightly famous for their food and their was no disappointments here, with sumptuous afternoon teas being a particular highlight. Only a short 6 days cruise but were trated to some high quality entertainment. For example, I believe I am right in thinking a brand new cast joined the same day as us. For a new team, some of whom were experienced but some new, it was thrilling to watch even though they only performed 2 shows. For my wife's friend who loves ABBA it was such a thrill to see their show. Also praise for the 'orchestra' working every night backing all sorts of material in the week. There was something for everyone on board. As well as the great entertainment, there is also a library as well as a spa, more than adequate for the size of the ship. We had 2 sea days whcih were filled with lectures and activities and flew by. And although the weather wasn't great at the start of the cruise you couldnt feel a thing. Overall highly recommended and will cruise again. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was our first cruise with Saga .What a wonderful time we had.every aspect of the cruise was great from the time we shut our front door until we arrived back home it was so well organised . The cabin was nice .the food was first class ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Saga .What a wonderful time we had.every aspect of the cruise was great from the time we shut our front door until we arrived back home it was so well organised . The cabin was nice .the food was first class a great selection to choose from.the entertainment was most enjoyable. Best of all were the STAFF on board from the cabin attendants right up to the Captain they were all so nice We will cruise with saga again in the future . sadly we were unable to go to Guernsey due to the high winds but we went to Boulogne-sur-mer instead which was interesting Rouen was a nice place to visit as was Falmouth .I would say to anyone thinking about cruising with Saga just do it . a great time is waiting to be had .I must add the booking staff at the Saga center are also very good . Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise because it sailed round the u.k. without stopping which suited our purpose because my wife has severe walking problems. The embarkation was superbly handled, the cabin was large, comfortable and clean, the food on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it sailed round the u.k. without stopping which suited our purpose because my wife has severe walking problems. The embarkation was superbly handled, the cabin was large, comfortable and clean, the food on board was superb and the staff and crew could not have been more helpful. Unfortunately, our cabin was on the wrong side of the vessel for sightseeing so had to go on deck for all viewing which, due to the somewhat misty weather at some ports was not the greatest for viewing. This, of course, was nothing to Saga's detriment. We had early morning tea delivered to the cabin, and were invited to the captain's table on the second night. The only drawback was disembarkation at Dover which resulted in us having to wait 3-1/2 hours before a chair could be found for my wife, this was all ordered at the time of booking but, unlike embarkation when people arrived in dribs and drabs, everyone was disembarking at the same time in Dover. Having said this we are booking another cruise next year and have asked for the same cabin. must say one final word which is about a crew member named Jemma who could not have been more helpful and was always cheerful and ready to assist when required. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We boarded the Saga Pearl 11-with a little trepidation as we are Silversea and Seabourn regular cruises but my wife no longer can fly with her medication so of to Dover we went. First let me say the dining was very good indeed,and the ... Read More
We boarded the Saga Pearl 11-with a little trepidation as we are Silversea and Seabourn regular cruises but my wife no longer can fly with her medication so of to Dover we went. First let me say the dining was very good indeed,and the small but perfectly formed library we spent many lazy days in there! The service overall was good too.We especially enjoyed the interesting port lectures . However for us (and as it turned out for a great many other passengers too!) the entire highlight of the cruise was the star comedy impressionist ! Normally we avoid. This type of entertainment but we missed his first show and everyone was talking about how clever and accurate his mimics of the great comedy icons were So we went along with the ENTIRE ship to see his 2nd show of the cruise, We were so very,glad we did it truly made our cruise ,my wife hasn't been in the best of health but to see her Really laugh out loud and enjoy herself was just priceless to me, especially when he did a superb Eric Morecambe and all our favourite stars WOW! this guy must be a big star on Cruiselines Because he was genuinely funny WITHOUT it being at the expense of mocking the guests as we have witnessed on other cruises! He was CLEAN and non offensive ,it was no exaggeration to say when he ended his show he received a well deserved standing ovation and the morning after (Debarkation day ) EVERYONE was asking for comment cards to say how excellent his show was, There were other entertainers onboard too a musical duo and a pleasant classical ensemble.we are now going to try the other ship Saga Sapphire and find out if Christopher Gee will be performing again -fingers crossed! We will be booking our next 3 cruises with Saga - just proves it can be done no smut and FUNNY Comedy I know it's an old fashioned word but we really had such. FUN- WELL DONE SAGA! Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date May 2014
I got an email from SAGA CRUISES for a 2nt cruise on QUEST FOR ADVENTURE. As saga are a bit expensive in my opinion i decided to try it as not done this ship before. PRE CRUISE I forgot my debit card and had to go back for it so i ... Read More
I got an email from SAGA CRUISES for a 2nt cruise on QUEST FOR ADVENTURE. As saga are a bit expensive in my opinion i decided to try it as not done this ship before. PRE CRUISE I forgot my debit card and had to go back for it so i called SAGA to tell them i would miss the train but they said they would pick me up from WEYMOUTH STATION. I managed to pick theb train up going a different way and called saga to tell them. I got to WEYMOUTH to find no REP or indeed a TRANSFER BUS to take me to PORTLAND. Another couple who did not have a free rail ticket got into a taxi. I called SAGA and waited an hour fpor it to get there! I went through xray and even though no sound was madfe i was still searched!! EMBARKATION I was shown to my cabin 461 on b deck. CABIN It was an ourtside cabin with 2 windows it was quite hard to open the curtains to see out. I had a good bathroom and shower with lots of oils. A fidge with nothing in it and no ice in the bucket this was never filled as i never really saw my steward. FOOD I webnt to the DINING ROOm for lunch the food was good and sat with the SINGER at the show. I was the only one who had got on at the table. As the lifeboat drill was soon it was a real rush having lunch i was not offered and wine that was supposed to be free! The other meals Lunch was ok but only 1 choice of dessert. ENTERTAINMENT Strange for a 2 night cruise both nights were the same singer though she was good. EXCURSIONS only had one and the 2 excursions was onlty 1 and was in MILFORD HAVEN of PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH at Â(EURO)44 was not bad but we never saw FIGHGUARD and only saw a bit of the coast, We went to ST DAVIDS managed to do the CATHEDRAL but it was quite a walk there and they were asling to pay Â(EURO)2 for a permit to take pictures there. After that it was a bit of a rush looking at the shops before we left. THINGS TO DO I didnt really think there was enough activities to do on this ship. SPECIAL DINNER I was invited tlo dine with the DIRECTOR OF SAGA SHIPPING in the WARD ROOM it was the highlight of the cruise conversation was really good. DISEMBARKATION As i was getting a car to the HILTON for 2 nights i could leave my luggage inside the cabin rather than put it out the night before. I was going with the DIRECTOR'S wife in the car but there was no sign of it so we had to pay Â(EURO)50 for the taxi i know we got it back but i would'nt have done it if i was on my own. FINAL THOUGHTS It was nice to try this ship out but i don't really think it was worth the money i could have done a transatlantic for the same price. SAGA is ok but io could'nt do a longer cruise because of the price and the transfers never happened!! Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I(we)selected the Saga shared chauffeur I don't really want to drive for 4-5 hours when there is an option. We were originally due to be picked up at 10.10 on the Friday. A phone call from a Saga employee the day before ... Read More
My wife and I(we)selected the Saga shared chauffeur I don't really want to drive for 4-5 hours when there is an option. We were originally due to be picked up at 10.10 on the Friday. A phone call from a Saga employee the day before informed me the ship had been delayed in Ireland due to bad weather and to prevent me being in Dover too early the pick up would be 12.10. On the Friday at 12.25 with the non arrival of the transport we rang Saga, a short delay and we were informed he would arrive at our address within 5-10 minutes . 5 minutes later it arrived. Drivers will note leaving the East Midlands area, heading to Dover, on a Friday is not the ideal time (even without the accidents) as the delay at the Thames crossing and the M20 proved, but we arrived at the Dover Cruise Terminal at 18.30. As most passengers (705 maximum)had already boarded our embarkation was extremely swift. Our cases arrived in our cabin (shortly after we practiced our sinkinh ship procedure before we left port)the last time I had handled them was putting them outside the door as the shared transport arrived. Our cabin was spacious, compared to our previous ones and this time we had a balcony - small, but serviceable, as long as you only want to sit in a chair and read. Free water and fruit and as previously mentioned (Diane) no kettle but FREE room service. This is a Saga cruise 50+. There were some older than us (57 and 61)but we met two older couples and due to the size of the ship encountered them often. They made our holiday. Not everyone has a stick or wheelchair. One of the benefits of the Sapphire is evening dining is between, 18.45 and 21.00. No sittings, arrive at the restaurant (Pole to Pole or The Verandah)and, seating available, eat. Should you want the East to West restaurant it has to be booked, asap is my advice (See the daily newspaper for times when you can do so) The food is excellent.On the excursions you are well looked after. No danger at all of beingf left behind in Norway. No they aren't cheap but excursions never are and you learn a lot more by going on them. Disembarkation was a dream. Your number was called (provided in a newsletter the night before) you went to the exit, pointed to your luggage, a porter placed it on a trolley and took it to your transport home, brilliant. We have cruised before on other Cruise lines(not them all certainly) This was our best yet. Did I mention the free "Mr Whippy" type ice cream cones on the pool deck where they also served fish, chips and mushy peas? Probably not, it was a memory of a marvellous holiday along with many more Saga provide this year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
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