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42 Saga Cruises Dover Cruise Reviews

Saga Cruises have been on my radar for a while now. I have visited Saga Sapphire and overnighted on Saga Pearl II but my friend and I both felt we weren’t ready for the Saga experience at the time. However, the launch of the first of ... Read More
Saga Cruises have been on my radar for a while now. I have visited Saga Sapphire and overnighted on Saga Pearl II but my friend and I both felt we weren’t ready for the Saga experience at the time. However, the launch of the first of their two brand new ships, coupled with some health issues that forced the cancellation of a very long cruise earlier in the year, saw me booking a 10 night cruise on Spirit of Discovery around the Bay of Biscay Ports – yes, I know – a risky venture in October. Embarkation: One of the best things about Saga Cruises is the included transport to the port and return home. My shared car arrived 10 minutes early (the driver would have waited but I was ready). It was a smart leather-seated Mercedes people-carrier. Once I was settled and my luggage loaded, the driver checked I had my passport, gave me a bottle of water and explained we could stop anywhere for any reason should I request it. We set off to pick up another couple since I was outside the 75 mile limit in which you get a private driver/car. After a brief stop at Fleet Service (where the driver bought us coffee and cake) we arrived at Dover just over 4 hours later. I had booked a guarantee cabin so hadn’t received a cabin number but a lady with a clipboard was issuing these and marked up my luggage labels while I went into the small, charming cruise terminal. I had booked assisted embarkation so was shown where to sit and a lady came over to check me in. I got given my cruise card and deck plan as with other cruise lines, and after a very short wait, a man came with a wheelchair to talk me on board via a long zig-zag airbridge. Once on the ship I abandoned the chair and waited in a short line for a steward to take my hand luggage and show me to the cabin – just like my early Cunard cruises. So far so very good. It was around 2pm. Cabin: I had booked a standard single cabin on guarantee and ended up with a standard twin on E Deck. This is an all-balcony ship and I was impressed, with a few minor niggles. The beds were set up as a kingsize – it was huge! Bedside tables were good with two drawers, a middle shelf and the top surface. There was a bedside light plus a directable reading light plus a USB port for charging phone set. Being in this position meant you could still use your phone or table while it was charging. The wardrobe was reasonable with full length hanging on one side, with a slated shoe rack at the bottom, and half-length on the other side with two large drawers and the safe. The safe had a light and was huge – easily large enough for a laptop. In the wardrobe were the lifejackets, a lap blanket for use on the balcony, a golf umbrella and a basket with long-handled shoe horn, clothes brush, hair dryer, laundry bags for him and her and a pair of Olympus binoculars. The other furniture consisted of two comfy chairs, a coffee table, standard lamp and dressing table with illuminated mirror, kettle, teas and coffees, two shallow drawers and two deep drawers. A huge TV was at the food of the bed and offered Freeview channels, some films on demand, port lectures and, best of all, the shows in the theatre were broadcast live to your cabin. The bathroom was a good size with glass-doored shower, good-height toilet and basin. Under the basin were two large cupboards with shelves. The light around the mirror stays alight at a low level to provide a nightlight should you need the bathroom at night. There was also a very narrow fridge with a carton of UHT milk. The balcony had two rattan chairs and a small table. One minor niggle – no washing line in the shower but I understand this is being rectified. The cabin steward introduced himself and asked which fresh fruit I would like in the cabin. The apples and red grapes that arrived later were perfect and just ripe enough. Food: I usually ate breakfast in The Grill (buffet). You were shown to a table, each of which had number on. This was in case you ordered a hot dish cooked to order or for those few passengers who got lost! The tables were fully laid with milk and preserves. There was waiter service for teas, coffees and toast and, if asked they were happy to get you anything else too. The choice was very good with fresh and tinned fruits, meats, smoked salmon, cereals etc. As well as tea and coffee, fruit juice was available all day as was ice cream (either self-serve on Lido Deck or from The Living Room). In the main dining room breakfast was a mixture of buffet and menu items as was lunch. I had opted for the equivalent of Freedom/anytime dining but, as a solo, I could have had a dedicated table. Waiters offered you an arm as you were escorted to the table. Sizes varied from 2 to 10. Wine and beer at lunch and dinner was included (the ships will be all inclusive from Nov 2019) and was reasonable quality – mostly new world Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot. Good for me as I prefer Chilean or South African wines. There was red, white or rose. There is also a wine list if you want to pay for something else and again prices were very reasonable from around £12 a bottle. Spirits in the bars were £2.90, cocktails around £3.70. I found the food excellent quality and always very hot. One gala meal offered caviar on blini and roast venison that melted in the mouth. I gather the chefs are given full rein to develop dishes and fresh local food is brought on board – crates of fresh strawberries and peaches were waiting by the gangway in Bordeaux. As well as the main restaurant, there were three alternative restaurants – The Club (a steakhouse), Coast to Coast (seafood) and East to west (Asian fusion). All are included in the cruise price, but need to be booked. Plus the buffet. All except The Club and MDR have outdoor terraces should the weather be kind. Room service is free and in the evening you can choose from the MDR menu. Other passengers: I feel Saga has an image problem! Before I went I got the usual jokes about what SAGA stands for, don’t want to sail on a ship full of elderly people etc. However, I found fewer people with wheelchairs, scooters and mobility aids than on P&O (I should add I use a walker so am not discriminating here). Yes you need to be aged over 50 to travel (unless accompanying an older person as a carer) but tours generally catered for active and curious people. One tour was led by a celebrity chef (Daniel Galmiche) to a French market to choose foods to cook on board, others included hiking and cycling. Most were well-travelled, interesting to converse with and passionate advocates for Saga Cruises! Hand gel was well-used and well-policed! Entertainment: This was probably less than on other lines I have sailed with but since we only had two sea days may not have been typical of a longer voyage. Spirit of Discovery has a large theatre plus a show lounge. Shows were usually at 9.30pm and another performance – singer, magician etc – in the Britannia Lounge about 9.45. What I didn’t like was that the theatre doors are shut as soon as the show starts and you are not allowed in. As well as not disturbing the audience, this is also due ti health and safety as they don’t want people falling down the steps. This is where the live broadcast to the cabin comes in handy sometimes. There were port talks, free craft lessons, bridge, putting, table tennis, golf, quoits, shuffleboard, ring toss, darts, free bridge visits, cookery demos and quizzes. I attended four parties (with canapes and plentiful alcohol) – a welcome aboard, farewell, newcomers (to Saga) and a midday day one for solo travellers. A nice touch at the latter was waiters going round taking bookings for the other restaurants and making up solo tables – a nice way to meet others. Decks: There was plenty of open deck space with lots of sunbeds and garden style rattan chairs and sofas. Deck towels and blankets were available from lockers. All decks can be accessed by lift and automatic doors. A row of jars near the Grill offered free boiled sweets all day. Tours: I only did two tours. These were much as any other company except that as we returned on the coach, the Saga tour escort came round offering Werthers butterscotch sweets and hot or cold flannels sprayed with eucalyptus. The escorts also stayed at the back of groups to check no-one got left behind or lost. Disembarkation: Again I had booked assisted disembarkation so went to my allocated area to wait. Sensibly (and unlike P&O) people were taken off in tag order, not the order in which we arrived in the venue. We had all be allocated a number between 2 and 16) which went on luggage. Luggage had to be out from 9pm till retiring the last night). Crates were filled with luggage with the same numbered tags and stayed in this crates until shortly before that number was called to disembark. As well as a man with a wheelchair to take me off, I was given a crew member to carry all my hand luggage until we arrived in the baggage hall and a porter took over. Because some luggage was still in crates when I arrived, it was quick and easy to locate my case. My driver was waiting outside and soon I was on my way home. Would I travel with Saga again – absolutely. The new ships are a perfect size for me and offer all you need. The décor is subtle but classy. There is none of the hard sell other lines practise. For example, I had a manicure but that was it – no selling of products and no gratuity added either. I love the forward observation deck, unobstructed by tinted glass. Minor niggle – the decks are composite, not teak. The service was exemplary but subtle. You stood to pull a chair in and a waiter would appear behind you to help. Yes, the upfront cost appears on the high side, but it is a quality product with a lots of undefinable extras thrown in that would be charged for on other lines.I am now looking forward my cruise on her sister ship next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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
My husband and I are both in our seventies and we have never considered a cruise with Saga before. The last five cruises we have have taken have been with Azamara or Oceania, but we were attracted by the idea of sailing on the Spirit of ... Read More
My husband and I are both in our seventies and we have never considered a cruise with Saga before. The last five cruises we have have taken have been with Azamara or Oceania, but we were attracted by the idea of sailing on the Spirit of Discovery as she seemed to incorporate all that we like about a cruise ship. We were absolutely delighted with the 14 day cruise around the Iberian peninsular. The weather was wonderful and everything about the ship lived up to expectations. We were collected from our home and driven to Dover, where embarkation was swift and we were shown to our standard twin cabin, which was very near the stern of C deck. I was a bit concerned that being so far aft might not be ideal, but the ship is so quiet and smooth it was not a problem at all. The balcony was a good size and was furnished with two upright chairs with cushions and a small low table. We wondered if there would be enough drawer space in the cabin, but there is so much room in the wardrobe we just hung most things up, as there were fifty hangers. Anything we didn’t have room for in the drawers stayed in our suitcases as there was lots of room under the bed for those. The bed was extremely comfortable with good quality sheets etc. It was nice to have a USB port next to each side of the bed and also a good reading light. After the safety drill, which for us took place in the Club, we went to make our bookings at the speciality restaurants. (It is also possible to book these by telephone at certain times during the cruise). There seemed to be no problem getting a table for two at each of the three restaurants. We enjoyed all three dinners very much, but perhaps we liked Coast to Coast, the seafood restaurant, the most. All the other evenings we ate in the Grand Dining Room on Deck 5, where the food was also excellent. We were able to have a table for two every night except one, when we sat at a table of 10. Breakfasts was either in the Grand Dining Room or, when we were in more of a hurry, in the Grill or the Verandah. The food was the same in both locations, and was very good. When the weather became very hot we tended to have lunch in the grill, where there was a delicious choice of salads as well as all the hot food which was also available in the dining room. We managed to resist afternoon tea except on a couple of occasions, but it was delightfully served every day in the dining room with a choice of teas and a glass of sparkling wine, as well as sandwiches, cakes and scones. It was also available in the Grill. We didn’t see all the entertainment, but we did see all three shows performed by the Spirit of Discovery Show Company; we thought they were very good indeed, with superb sets. We also saw two different shows done by the Opera Boys, and one evening when Jools Holland performed - all marvellous. The Playhouse is a beautiful theatre with room for over 400 people; the only thing that worried me was that there were a lot of people on board who had walking difficulties and they struggled with the steps in the theatre; perhaps space should be reserved for them in the back few rows. We did attend the very good destination talks by Alistair Guthrie, wine tasting with Oz Clarke, talks by cookery writer Jennifer Deeprose and talks by coroner Dr Peter Dean. The ORCA team gave a presentation about the whales and dolphins we might see and then they were on the observation deck during the days we were at sea. We had three sea days at the start of the cruise which gave us a good chance to explore the ship. The spa is beautiful; although we didn’t have any treatments we did use the lovely hydrotherapy pool. One of our favourite places to sit and read was the Terrace, which is at the stern on the Promenade deck. You can chose to be in the sun or shade there, and there are machines to help yourself to coffee or fruit juice. The identical coffee machine is also to be found in the Grill and in the Library. I have never had such good coffee from a machine before! The Library is a nice place to sit, and so are the Living Room and the Britannia Lounge. In fact, there is a huge amount of space, both inside and out, with masses of chairs and loungers on deck, in both the sun and shade. Our ports of call were Gibraltar, Cartagena, Sete, Barcelona, Alicante and Lisbon. We did not join any of the ship's shore excursions, but walked and made use of hop-on hop-off buses. All very enjoyable, but hot! We were interested to hear that the vast majority of passengers on board were all long time Saga enthusiasts and I now understand why. The crew are fantastic and look after everyone superbly. We very much hope to sail on this ship again in the near future; it really is lovely. Read Less
Sail Date August 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 managed to get the last accessible cabin on this sailing. Even if you use a small foldable wheelchair, as I do, Saga insist that you have an accessible cabin (elf and safety), and there aren’t many. Chauffeured car to Dover was ... Read More
We managed to get the last accessible cabin on this sailing. Even if you use a small foldable wheelchair, as I do, Saga insist that you have an accessible cabin (elf and safety), and there aren’t many. Chauffeured car to Dover was easy, with a short comfort stop on the way. Our cabin was lovely and comfortable, but with limited storage space. We could have done with a larger dressing table and more drawers; more space for toiletries in the wet room and a grab rail by the basin, but these were minor niggles. We were impressed with the technology in the cabin. Automatic entrance door to the cabin, small reading light and usb plugs by the bed, push button for ‘make up room’ and ‘do not disturb’ and lots of three pin plugs, best of all was the dimmed light around the bathroom mirror, very useful for trips to the bathroom in the night. The huge bed was one of the most comfortable that I have slept in, the pillows were soft and squishy and the towels huge. Lots of extras such as tea and coffee making with a carton of milk in the fridge; two large glass carafes of water, renewed daily, about fifty proper hangars in the wardrobe, not those silly things you have to unhook before using, large glass quality toiletries in bathroom, shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and hand wash, bathrobes, slippers, a rug which many people used on deck when it was chilly. There was also a shoe horn and pair of binoculars in the wardrobe. A safe was in our cupboard along with the fridge. We mostly ate in the Grand dining room, where the food was very good and excellent quality. We had difficulty booking the speciality restaurants, but managed to eat in the Club one evening. Steak was beautifully tender. Don’t know why, but we were invited to dine one evening with the Hotel Manager, Jan, sorry don’t know his surname. Had a very pleasant evening with three other guests. Had lunch one day on veranda, tasty fish in tempura batter and chips. Wine was available at lunch and dinner (we weren’t all inclusive), a limited selection, but very acceptable and constant top ups. The drinks were reasonably priced, cheaper than our local pub. There was plenty of entertainment, both during the day and in the evening, not all to our taste, but we did enjoy the Egyptian sisters and their musical prowess and a song and dance show. Our favourite however was Stuart Anderson, who played the guitar and keyboard. He seemed to cover most genres of popular music and had a unique sense of humour. The staff in general were friendly and helpful. A mention for the lovely young Carlo in the South Cape Bar who always brought me a cup of milk at the end of our evening and Hilary, think she was the Guest Relations officer was always friendly and had time to chat to most passengers. The Captain held a couple of relaxed question and answer sessions, he was seen regularly around the ship and the pastor was also readily available for those who needed him. The ship was always clean and tidy with classy decor and artwork. Lifts were fast and rarely crowded. Our fellow passengers were, in the main, friendly and polite. You always get one or two moaners. No pushing, shoving, seat hogging or drunkenness on this ship. We had three stops, Bergen, where we used a ship’s tour encompassing the main sights and a trip on the fununcular where the views were fantastic at the top. Geiranger, which was an easy tender port, even with my wheelchair. We took another ship’s tour driving up into the mountains, again spectacular views then on to a little wooden church for a music recital. The Captain paused the ship for about an hour in Geiranger fjord and turned it slowly 360 degrees so everyone had a chance to take photos of the seven sisters waterfall (there were only two because of the time of year, but it was still very impressive). In Stavanger we just wandered round on our own, looking at the pretty wooden houses and a lake with water birds and a fountain in the middle. We couldn’t go to the old town as the streets were too steep and cobbled for my wheelchair. In the afternoon I had a nap while my partner went back into town and found the Oil Museum, which he said was interesting. To sum up this was a ship that oozed quality with staff to match. So much so that we have booked the new Spirit of Adventure fo 2021 to the Canaries. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we hadn't seen Norway. As it was only £65 per day less than a recent Seabourn cruise we expected similar standards. It is not. Starting with the chauffeur-driven transport, we expected better than to be wedged in a rickety old taxi. At the ship terminal we were met by Saga's ground staff, most of which matched the average age of our fellow passengers. Once we had checked in we joined the queue to get onboard, queuing must be an expectation of the older generation. We pay good money not to. The ship is very old, the average passenger age must be about 80 and modern standards of cruising are yet to be adopted. All of the non-officer staff are Philippino, they are perfectly friendly but their comprehension of English is sometimes lacking. Simple things like good coffee does not exist. We have 4 more days to survive before being shuttled home in a shabby old taxi. Note to self, stick with Seabourn if you want to be made to feel special and receive what you were promised. It will be interesting to see whether Saga's first time guarantee works as easily as their brochure implies. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as ... Read More
We had actually never heard of Saga until we did an internet search, but this cruise seemed to fit the bill because we wanted an enjoyable way to see the Northern Lights of Norway. Saga made the booking process very difficult for us as we live in Australia. We had to use a particular travel agent which meant lots of filling forms and emails back & forth. Then we couldn't use their My Saga application because it wouldn't recognise our postcode. So, more printing out pdfs and emails to book excursions. Very frustrating for us folk who are used to making online reservations. But, we did enjoy the cruise. Firstly, Saga offer a complimentary limo service to the port which was very convenient. Then we found Saga Sapphire to be well laid out and not as ostentatious as some of the ships we've been on. It's small, but our cabin was comparatively large and well equipped. Our only disappointment with the layout was the fitness centre which was small and on a lower deck. Not so good in rough seas. And we couldn't walk around the decks most days because of ice and snow. The food and service were very good, as was the range of entertainment and speakers. The ship only has two main restaurants, both of which serve the same food, so there wasn't a huge variety of flavours on offer. They do, however, turn one section into a specialist restaurant which we had to book. This particular cruise had quite a few problems along the way. We encountered large winter storms which caused us to take a slower route. Plus the ship's propeller was caught in fishing lines. Both of these factors meant we missed two of the scheduled ports. But they tried to make it up to us by adding more entertainment for the passengers. Again, being winter, some of the passengers came down with a bug, but the crew were fastidious about cleanliness and hygiene everywhere on the ship. There were quite a few older passengers who were likely more susceptible. The excursions we went on were well organised and interesting. Unfortunately we didn't see the lights on the evening tours, but did manage to see them from the deck when we were at sea. Artic Norway is stunningly beautiful and we're very glad we chose this time of the year to visit. It was VERY, VERY cold, but Saga provided us with arctic jackets and snow grips for our shoes. And we needed them several times. The Sage Sapphire is in its last season and is to be replaced by a brand new ship. But we really enjoyed the cruise and would certainly consider Sage again. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that ... Read More
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that was the right decision, we fancied a winter Norwegian Cruise, and one which specifically aimed at experiencing the Northern Lights seemed an exciting prospect As ever every detail was taken care of, from being picked up at your front door with your luggage through a seemless boarding process at Dover all promised a wonderful holiday experience,which is exactly what we got An upgrade to deck 10 was an unexpected bonus,but all passengers got the same attentive service wherever their cabin was. The whole cruise was ammended to all inclusive which was another nice touch,and we opted for fixed dining which was a delight. The food on this ship is awesome, and the after dinner cheeseboard is the best we have ever experienced anywhere Evening shows were professional and Ancora joining the cruise for week two ensured some never to be forgotten performances, the whole entertainment package was outstanding for a relatively small ship Lectures from accomplished speakers about destinations and other related subjects were interesting and thought provoking, and the library would meet anyone’s taste, complete with librarian. This is proper cruising, no razzmatazz or gimmicks, just traditional formal nights, sumptuous food and well chosen wines and a feeling everyone simply wanted you to enjoy yourselves Saga Sapphire is an old ship, but she is immaculately kept and polished to within a inch of her life morning, noon and night. At every port a free shuttle bus service to the town is available unless the berth is literally in the town centre We were incredibly lucky to see the Northern Lights on three separate nights due to high levels of sunspot activity and on our official included trip to “hunt” the Lights in a dark sky area we were treated to an hour long display of the Northern Lights which were absolutely breathtaking Overall we had a wonderful cruise, seeing the Lights was the proverbial icing on the cake Let’s be clear, Saga isn’t the cheapest cruise provider, but the quality of their cruise experience is truly 5star and on an all inclusive cruise like this you genuinely don’t need to spend any money for the whole cruise unless of course you choose to go on optional excursions The real test is would we Cruise with Saga again; in our case the answer is definitely yes. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and ... Read More
A first experience of a Saga cruise - for a child-free quiet holiday. Much enjoyed. The standard and quality of the ship and what it offers compares well with our experience of Cunard. The incentive of chauffeur-driven transport to and from Dover was very appealing and worked perfectly. The cabin was very spacious and comfortable (without balcony - but that was our choice and they are a lot less of them on the Saga ships). The steward was attentive and looked after our cabin well throughout the cruise. The dining experience was excellent throughout. Lunch and dinner were accompanied by good wines so that it was not necessary to purchase off the wine list. I was most impressed that the evening when "reserved" table service was suspended due to planning for a late night buffet after the return of those passengers who had attended the Edinburgh tattoo, but the maitre d' approached us and kept our table for us (we had chosen to dine on a smaller table for each meal). Very relieved and amazed that he remembered to do this for us. A great plus. WE didn't attend much of the "formal" entertainment: though some of it happens more casually around the ship during the "Edinburgh Fringe" theme of the cruise. What we saw and heard was very good - just not our "social scene". My gripe about all the cruises we have been on - the dress code is clearly explained both before and during the event. At least one evening is "formal" - so why can't people abide by this rule? Evening dress means evening dress - not just a jacket with a bow-tie! The ladies (generally) make the effort - why can't the men? Even on the less formal nights, I feel it would be polite to wear a jacket even if no tie is worn. Saga doesn't have a policy of certain parts of the shop being free from these rules (unlike Cunard) so people ought to come prepared for the whole "experience". The trips we went on were well organised, and well executed with some excellent guides (esp. the trip to see Hadrian's Wall and Chesters). Saga didn't make much of visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia as we were docked right by it. But we made a private visit and it is well worth seeing. Perhaps the ship ought to make more of this - by planning "blocked booking" for the ship's passengers as clearly it gets very busy and the queues looked long at times (luckily we went first thing in the morning). Overall. a very good experience - though (personally) I did find the age-profile rather higher than I was expecting and it did slow-up (particularly) the trips on coaches on days in port. Some people had clearly not read the notification that there was walking involved. Getting (older) people on and off coaches takes time (and effort): so planning for a "ten minute stop" to see one site actually took thirty minutes!! This timing needs to be built into the programme as at times things seemed rushed. Some of the passengers were disappointed about the Edinburgh Tattoo - expecting to be able to obtain tickets - either privately or via Saga - only to find they were sold out. A shame if this was the sole reason who had come on this particular cruise. But we enjoyed what we saw and experienced. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
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
This trip called on ports where larger ships would only attempted by tender. Other cruise companies would not be interested in calling to these places. The theme was Wine Tapas ans Walking in Western France and Northern Spain in the Bay of ... Read More
This trip called on ports where larger ships would only attempted by tender. Other cruise companies would not be interested in calling to these places. The theme was Wine Tapas ans Walking in Western France and Northern Spain in the Bay of Biscay area. Saga produce may be costly but in return they give you a 5 star service. We were picked from our home in Southampton to Dover, but it took double the time because of the traffic on the motorways, also the approach to Dover due the Channel Tunnel and Cross Chanel ferry problems which was due to industrial action in France. We got there in the end and sailing was delayed. The service on board was brilliant. The meals were of good meal choice and generous portions with free wine wine with your meals. The waiting staff made there extra mile for any extras or problems. If you want to compare with P&O they were miles ahead! I think the accountants are in charge and reducing the portions and using the quantity controlled to make more profit for the punters. Saga beats the others on all fronts. Saga give a very personal service. Most days the Captain came down most for a cup of coffee and cruises could ask question about the cruise. Wines with your meal are free so is coffee during the day and ice cream which you help you self. If you want to buy at the bar you have to pay. This particular them cruise was brilliant, we had excellent lectures about wine appreciation, Spanish tapas cooking demos and the cruise goer's were good compamy. We have book again. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole ... Read More
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole experience was way above our expectations.Embarkation was quick and easy, cabin very clean and bigger than expected with more than enough storage space. The food was of a very good standard, with plenty of choice. Entertainment overall was good.The service throughout was excellent,with all the crew being very polite and helpful. although the sapphire is classed as a small ship, it certainly didn't feel like it to us . Disembarkation was very slick and smooth, yes, there is a waiting time, but you know in advance your app. time to go. all in all a very enjoyable holiday, and yes we will go with saga again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the ... Read More
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the way back. Luggage transfer is smooth - once it is in the car you won't have to haul it around anywhere. We had a balcony cabin - not worth it on the ship as the balconies are about as wide as a window box. The cabin was a good standard, very clean with comfortable bed and a walk in shower. Ship has main Pole to Pole restaurant, Verandah casual (but menu same as Pole to Pole at night), East to West which is extra so we did not try, fish and chips by the pool and afternoon tea in two of the lounges. Food was really excellent - a talented chef on board - amd with plenty of choice. Dinner seven courses if you wanted it - with included house wine which was OK, lunch at Veranda either a choice of three cooked things, barbecue grill or an extensive cold buffet. Very pleasant eating outside here. Saga makes much of tables for two being available - but in reality there are very few. We were lucky, being put with two other people we really got on with. We sat together thoughout There is no tipping on Saga ships.Staff mainly Filipino and apart from odd language problems excellent. If wi fi is important to you avoid this ship as mainly it does not work and the so called computer exper is clueless. Two pools -outdoor very chilly, indoor quite warm. Tea and coffee is help yourself from a machine - which we did not like much. Drawing Room a very nice place to sit. Plenty of loungers around the ship. Clientele definitely on the elderly side - bit like a seagoing care home. Entertainment a bit on the seaside concert party side - and is in one of the large lounges as this ship does not have a theatre. A good choice if you want an easy trip and need to be looked after. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, ... Read More
This review has sections for each of CruiseCritic’s “ tips for writing a great review” except “hotel information” and “children's clubs” which do not apply. CruiseCritic’s scoring, like most review questionnaires, rates a series of general aspects, like dining. Helpful though these scores are, they do not allow for specific aspects of the service, some of which may be poor and some excellent. Our ratings are repeated below and followed by an attempt to explain why the overall rating is not the whole story. Background information We are experienced travellers but have previously only cruised three times, twice with P&O and once with Thomson. We are English (as were nearly all our fellow passengers) and now comfortably meet Saga’s over 50 requirement. Our reasons for selecting Saga and the “Celtic Charms” cruise were for the lack of children, the included door to door travel, the included tips and the itinerary. We wanted to see Guernsey and Ireland and this cruise included St Peter Port and five ports in Ireland. It really did offer to go where other cruise lines don’t. Ship information Saga Sapphire is a proper cruise ship as distinct from a giant floating tower-block. It seemed similar in size to P&O’s Artemis and Thomson’s Spirit but smaller than P&O’s Canberra. It lacks a wrap-round promenade. The prom on deck 9 is in two bits but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top. It has ten passenger decks but two of these, decks 2 and 4 are only partly public, housing an indoor pool, beauty treatment and a lecture room. The Beach Club on deck 11 is worth a mention. It offers self-service ice-cream and sweets, fish & chips, a pool, and deck-chairs, all free but you need to go into the adjoining Drawing Room to find a bar. The ship has a friendly, club atmosphere and as with all Saga, is child free and for the over 50’s (see Onboard Experience). The whole ship was always clean and tidy. Even the public loos looked and smelt like they had not been used. Table cloths were always spotless. We did not normally see any cleaning but when we did, they were taking extra trouble for example, on their knees, vacuuming the cracks in the grating where the lifts join the floor. There were hand cleaning machines and sprays everywhere and they were greatly used. There was quite a lot of banging on the second night. Reception, next morning, offered no explanation and said that we should have reported it at the time. Other passengers more helpfully suggested that it was waves hitting the ship. There was some swaying from side to side the following day but things settled down after that. It’s difficult to compare different ships in different conditions but we’ve had worse in the north sea and in the bay of Biscay. It was our impression that this ship rode rough waters better than some. Cabin Our Rating - Average A review of the cabin is in CruiseCritic’s separate section. Dining Our Rating - Excellent - but Saga Sapphire has two main restaurants but there is little difference between them. The bigger “Pole to Pole” on deck 7 is slightly more formal with a slightly more comprehensive waiter service. The alternative “Grill” on deck 9 has an out-side option, the “Verandah”, weather permitting. There is also a speciality Asian restaurant, “East to West”, also on deck 9 which is free but we had to queue at specific times to get a booking. We only ate there once at a table for two in a spacious, peaceful room with an interesting menu and excellent service, let down a little by the request at the end to say how good it was on our end-of-cruise survey. Dining times could be better. Breakfast often ended at 9:30. With two restaurant options, it should be possible to offer breakfast till at least 10am and preferably 11am. Dining times for lunch and dinner were similarly limited and changed from day to day but we did not find this a problem. There was no late night buffet and the unappetising late bites (hors d'oeuvres) offered in some of the bars were no substitute. Dining arrangements were better than expected and better than other ships we have tried. Although we did not apply for an optional fixed table, we were often able to get a table for two on arrival at “Pole to Pole”. Otherwise, there were usually options to join tables for four, six or eight. At some of the tables, the seating was quite close but we have experienced worse. Only once, did we find ourselves dining in poor company and on that occasion we were soon joined by another couple who lightened the atmosphere. The overall atmosphere in both main restaurants was generally hectic rather than relaxed. There were some quiet areas but mostly waiters and fellow passengers were coming and going around the tables all the time. It was never quiet and the temperature got quite high in some places. On our cruise, heat was not a problem. It did not get warm enough to use the “veranda”. The speciality “East to West” was more spacious and much more peaceful. Restaurant service was consistently polite and attentive. We usually did not have to wait long, either to be seated or at any stage during meals. Aspects of the service were, however, confusing. We could order from a menu, but it was never clear what else was available from the buffet (both restaurants) or even where the buffets were. Waiters would explain, but some of them, presumably because of limited English, gave misleading or unhelpful responses. Sometimes the wrong meal was delivered and when offered coffee and requesting tea, we were likely to get another waiter offering coffee again before tea turned up. Menu choices were good. For breakfast, we have not seen more options anywhere else. Lunch and dinner menus changed daily but it was not clear how many courses there were supposed to be. Soups and salads were all listed under starters and it was not clear which of the main meals needed additional potatoes or vegetables. The waiters would, however, without question, bring anything ordered including items not on the menu. For breakfast, toast, like tea, coffee and fruit juice, was waiter served with a choice of white or brown. It turned up somewhat randomly, before of after what you wanted it with and it was never hot. None of the above points prevented us from getting what we wanted at meal times and all the food was really good. Free wine (reasonable quality red or white with lunch and dinner) and water were topped up regularly and there was tea or coffee with sweeties to finish. The food was, if anything, better than we have had from P&O and much better than Thomson. Finally, further comments about other food and drink options are under “Service” below. Embarkation - including travel to embarkation port Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. Travel or parking are included in the cost of a Saga cruise. The people carrier arrived at our home a little early. There were already a couple in it, so we got the rear seats - spacious but not as comfortable as the middle seats or a car. The driver loaded and unloaded our four cases. The journey should only have taken two and a half hours but our fellow travellers wanted to stop once and then the driver wanted to stop again, only half an hour from the port. On arrival, there was a ten minute queue of vehicles waiting to be unloaded. At the head of this queue, on leaving the people carrier, neither the driver nor anyone else were able to advise us, so we followed our luggage. This turned our to be wrong and we were re-directed to another queue. After another few minutes, as we got closer to the head of the queue, it became apparent that it was only for optional photo’s. We then walked straight to a reception desk. Embarkation - Our Rating - Excellent Having got past the unnecessary delays, check-in and boarding were instant. We exchanged our passports for plastic cards, signed a health disclaimer and walked on to the ship. A girl immediately escorted us to our cabin. Here the welcome news-sheet explained what was on, how to register our ship’s cards to our bank card (or credit card for a 1.5% charge) and most importantly where to find the welcome buffet. This was extensive with more than we needed for lunch. There was ample seating, waiters regularly re-filled tea and coffee cups and a string quartet entertained us. On returning to our cabin, two of our cases had arrived and the other two followed within half an hour. Because of bad weather, muster, shortly after returning to our cabin, occurred in the public rooms where we took rather than wore our life-jackets. This was a good deal more civilised than mustering on deck. Activities (enrichment or otherwise) Our Rating - Poor There were some but that is not what were were looking for or expecting from this cruise. We did attend one of the lectures for a bit but it was so uninteresting, we can not even remember the subject. Entertainment Our Rating - Average - just None of the entertainment was annoying and some of it did entertain. The “cruise director”, Jo Boase, did a good job of compering and informing us of what was on. The shows were not as good as on other cruise lines, not helped by the lack of a proper theatre. Irish dancing where the audience can not see the dancers feet is pointless although the music and energy were good enough and there were TV screens dotted around. The “Saga Orchestra” seemed to comprise five musicians - not really enough for a band let alone an orchestra. The sound was quite good but the single saxophone stood out with no other wind instruments. Similarly, the second main act, the “Ocean Duo” relied on one good female voice backed by recorded tracks and an unimpressive male singer-guitarist. This duo might be more entertaining if their repertoire was not so limited. We heard many numbers more than three times. The “cocktail pianist”, Stuart Anderson was entertaining. If anything, too entertaining for a cocktail pianist, especially as he played mostly in “Coopers” bar which is really too small for entertainment. Saga would have done better to deploy Stuart in place of the Ocean Duo and add a pianist to play the untouched grand pianos which were all over the ship. In addition to these acts, there was a classical string quartet, “the Pier” who were good and “Mr Yalba” a speciality music act. His first show was good but not good enough for us to want to see the second. Fitness & Recreation Our Rating - Average This may not be a fair rating as we did not look for or use any fitness facilities. There was some equipment and an indoor pool in the bowels of the ship on deck 3. There were also some recreational classes, notably exercising, crafts, dancing and bridge but we did not join in. The promenade on deck 9 is in two bits so you can not promenade around the ship but you can walk right round on deck 12 at the top, where there is crazy-golf and other games. Onboard Experience Our Rating - Good - but In at least two places there were lingering bad smells of drains and or fuel. Fortunately this did not affect our cabin or the public rooms. Each morning, “Today” a four page what's-on plus a four page newspaper summarising UK and world events were delivered to our cabin. “Today” was a great help in planning each day. We were treated to three “cocktail parties” where bubbly or soft drinks flowed and staff officers circulated. They were pleasant enough get-to-gethers but there were no actual cocktails. We are in our seventies but our fellow travellers seemed old. Walking sticks and walking frames were everywhere. This did make progress slow on the gangways and shuttle buses but having said that, there was normally no problem getting around the ship. When the weather was bad, staff helpfully escorted the numerous, partially disabled around and this did slow things down. There were, however, none of the crushes to get to the best seats that we have experienced on other ships. Our cruise seemed more like a floating care home than a floating holiday camp. The passengers were universally polite, good humoured and not down market. We developed quite close relationships with several passengers and had interesting conversations with many more. Public Rooms Our Rating - Average Saga Sapphire has two large public rooms, the Britannia Lounge on deck 8 and the Drawing Room on deck 11 plus two smaller rooms, the Aviator Lounge on deck 7 and Coopers Bar on deck 8. There is also an under cover outside bar at the Verandah on deck 9. The Britannia Lounge has assorted comfortable seating mostly with tables. There is no tiered seating, the stage is not very high and much of the entertainment uses the dance floor. So, it’s good for listening to shows but not so good for seeing them. Afternoon tea and the “cocktail parties” are held here when waiters serve the drinks. There is no bar. The Drawing Room is very multi-purpose. Basically it is an observation lounge but it has a library; board games and jig-saws set at small tables; self-service cakes and hot drinks; a bar and a dance floor plus doors out to the forward deck and to the Beach Club. It hosts daytime and evening entertainment. The seating is all upholstered but mixed. There are some comfy armchairs, some less comfortable fitted sofas with too few cushions and other fixed sofas facing the wrong way, away from the windows, dance-floor and performance area - there is no stage. There are some tables but also some space wasting large upholstered boxes which are neither tables nor stools. This room is very different at different times. Mostly, it’s a peaceful observation lounge. Sometimes, when the self-service is available, it’s a busy tea-room. Sometimes it’s an entertainment venue, including classical concerts, quizzes and evening dancing or shows. It was popular and at times difficult to find a seat. The Aviator Lounge is split into two parts with the reception and tour desks in-between. One part has a bar and waiters try to service both sides. The seating is mostly near to windows and comfortable with tables. Coopers Bar is next to the Britannia Lounge. It is small but despite this, on our cruise, was a popular entertainment venue. Waiters imported extra seating and the room became very crowded when Stuart was performing. At other times, it was peaceful and the seating (apart from the bar stools) was comfortable. It was good to find draft real ale, Shepherd Neam’s Spitfire, in all the bars. Service Our Rating - Excellent - but The staff were mostly Filipino and they were universally polite, helpful and friendly. Once or twice, it was not clear whether our request had been understood. For example, meal orders were not always repeated back to us but this is really a minor quibble. We would be pleased to get such good service in England. We did not try the launderette, partly because the laundry service charges were reasonable. £1.50 for a shirt from memory. The results were more than acceptable but the ultra-fussy may want to do a bit of re-ironing. Other aspects of service were not quite as good. Meal times were restricted, particularly breakfast, as mentioned above but on top of that, the availability of other options was unclear. The hot drink machines had restricted hours and the free room service was limited. We did not try ordering food from room service, just late night hot drinks. We could have tea, coffee and biscuits but not a cappuccino. It took two ‘phone calls to establish that cappuccino was only available “when the bar was open” and even then we would have had to pay although a cappuccino would only cost £0.95. Shore Excursions Our Rating - Average - and expensive Because of bad weather, we first went to Cherbourg instead of Guernsey. We then went round Ireland the opposite way, calling at all five ports but in reverse order. Finally, we called at Portland (Weymouth) instead of Ilfracombe before returning to Dover. Captain Julian Burgess was very informative, especially about the changes, saying that we were on a magical mystery cruise. We considered three options for the ports we were to visit, Saga’s optional excursions, booking advance tickets or making our own way (d.i.y.). We settled for two of Saga’s excursions and d.i.y. on the day for the rest. Just as well we did not book advance tickets as we did not visit two ports and the other five were all on different dates. We had been tempted by an on-line 15% discount for advance booking of the Dublin hop-on-hop-off bus but glad we did not. On excursions generally, there were always queues to get on or off the ship, not helped by the slowness and disability of some of the passengers. Saga should and could do things to improve this. 1 - Cherbourg This was in place of St Peter Port, Guernsey, where we planned d.i.y. visits to Castle Cornet, the Union Street pillar box, German Naval Signals HQ and possibly Guernsey Museum. We did not get off at Cherbourg. 2 - Cobh (Cove in English) As a result of the re-scheduling, we arrived here a day early at 7:30pm. We took advantage of this and went ashore after dinner. A couple of hundred yards from the ship we found an Irish pub in the town square with three musicians, bagpipes, flute and squeeze-box, sitting round a table, playing jigs. With a pint of Beamish it was an enjoyable Irish experience. There was no singing but we left fairly early. Next day Saga suggested getting the train to Cork but we stayed in Cobh visiting St Colman’s Cathedral, well worth the climb as others have remarked, and the Titanic Experience. Although tiny compared with the Belfast version this guided tour of the original White Star ticket office cost just €8 each (about £6.80) and was almost as interesting. 3 - Dublin Here, because of the re-scheduling, we did not stay as long as planned, arriving at 11:15pm, a bit late to go ashore that night. Next day, we had nothing booked so took the free shuttle-bus into central Dublin. A lot of Dublin seems to be being dug up for a new tram system. We walked past the Molly Malone statue and the parliament building to the GPO where we bought tickets for the Witness History experience at €8 each. There was a film re-enactment of the revolution in a small cinema; small screens showing learned people explaining the revolution plus displays of a few artefacts. It was not anti-British and interesting to learn how loss of empire started almost accidentally. Compared with other capital cities, we were not impressed by what we saw of Dublin. 4 - Belfast We had pre-booked Saga’s “Birthplace of the Titanic” tour for £59 each. It’s an impressive building and exhibition complete with a ride through a simulation of the construction, a film show and a multi-screen reproduction of the Titanic’s luxurious interior. Arguably as interesting were the original slip-way and sole remaining White Star Line ship outside. We did not see any artefacts although there was not enough time to see everything properly. The tour bus then took us past some of Belfast’s sights including the Falls and Shanklin roads - interesting. Overall the tour lasted four hours. As there seemed to be no queue for tickets on the day for the Titanic Experience and it was only about two and a half miles from the ship, it probably would have been better and cheaper to take a taxi and spend more time there. The tickets do, however, cost £14.50 each, more than twice the price of the Cobh exhibition. Perhaps because of the limited bus tour, Belfast was more impressive than Dublin. 5 - Killybegs Saga’s tour to the Belleek Pottery was already fully booked when we booked the cruise. We registered our interest on boarding at Sapphire’s tour desk and subsequently got tickets at £49 each. This tour was better value. It included an extensive trip through County Donegal and a stop at Donegal town as well as the pottery. We also passed some small cells “Killybegs” in Galic, claimed to have been occupied by monks who gave the place it’s name. It would have been difficult for us to independently get to and from the pottery, some thirty-six miles away. Donegal is quite a pretty little town with some touristy shops and what they call a castle but not a lot else to see or do. The Belleek Pottery guided tour was interesting and comprehensive with plenty of time after to browse the displays and shop or use the cafe. After returning to the ship and a late lunch, we went ashore again, taking the shuttle bus less than a mile into Killybegs village. Here we looked at the completely and impressively refurbished church, St Mary’s and walked back via St Catherine’s Well, on a small hill overlooking the harbour. It was all interesting enough so we did not mind not finding the Maritime & Heritage Visitor Centre. Irish sign-posting seems to be comprehensive but not necessarily accurate. 6 - Glengarriff We had nothing booked here. We went ashore mid-morning by tender and walked about half a mile into the village. There was not much to see. A few shops and a few pubs half of which were closed on a Tuesday lunch-time. We went in one to try the local Guinness. The pub had, if anything, less atmosphere than your average English local and to non-Guinness drinkers, it tasted the same as it does at home. 7 - Portland This was in place of Ilfracombe and again we did not go on an excursion. We took the shuttle-bus into Weymouth, walked through this picturesque sea-side town and took the bus back to the ship. Disembarkation (and Return Travel) Our rating would be Good. Disembarkation was if anything smoother than embarkation but took much longer. Our cases had to be packed and put outside the cabin before we went to bed. Breakfast was early as we had to be out of the cabin by 8am. We then had a long wait in the Drawing Room for our number to be called. At least the hot drink machines were working and there were Danish pastries. Our call came on time just after 11am. Travel Service - our rating would be Good - but it could be better. The travel service home was better than coming. On leaving the ship, we pointed to our cases and a porter trolleyed them first to our driver and second to his people carrier. As before, there was a (different) couple already in the middle seats. This time the journey was direct, first to their home in Colchester and then on to ours. A private limousine would make this service much better. Value for Money Our Rating - Poor - but Saga cruises are expensive. Set against that are the free travel service; included tips; free wine with meals and bubbly at parties; free shuttle buses; free room service; free fruit in the cabin (though not daily) and free to book the speciality restaurant. Bar prices are also a little below the on-shore average. £3.20 for a pint of real ale, £1.50 for Pepsi. A 175cl glass of wine cost from £3.70 to at least £4.70. In addition the food was excellent. From memory, better than we had on P&O’s Artemis some years ago and significantly better than we got on Thomson’s Spirit, four years ago. If you take off all the extras, it is likely that a Saga cruise would still be a little more expensive than others but there is probably not much in it. A more subtle benefit is that with so much thrown in, there less to worry or think about. On that basis Saga cruises probably are value for money. Summary Our Rating - Very Good Saga’s package is impressive. In many ways the cruise was excellent. Our little niggles were not enough to spoil a great experience. The service and food stand out for commendation. We had particularly wanted to see Guernsey but did not. We also wanted to see Ireland and did, though from what we saw, we are in no rush to return. It was good to see but now we’ve seen it. The itinerary changes were a disappointment but Saga went to some trouble to re-arrange things to cope with the weather conditions. This too deserves commendation. Of the niggles mentioned above, the early breakfast times and lack of a late buffet were the most annoying. Also, the travel service could be better and the entertainment should be better but what got nearest to spoiling our holiday was the number of passengers with significant disabilities. Their age was not a problem. For complex personal reasons we booked this Celtic Charms cruise after booking Saga Sapphire’s “Continental Christmas Markets” which sails on 4 December 2017. Our experience of the Celtic Charms cruise has convinced us not to cancel the second cruise, even though we will be cruising twice in the same year. We hope that this shorter shopping cruise will attract a higher proportion of mobile passengers. Read Less
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
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
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous ... Read More
We have cruised with Saga several times before, enjoying their small ship atmosphere, and were keen to visit the Norwegian Fjords. Saga Sapphire is a spacious ship and the cabins (we were in an outside cabin on level 5) are a generous size. Our first shock was, when booking, to find that two days after receiving the brochure we found that prices has been increased by 10% - all cabins as offered were already sold. We almost cancelled, but decided we liked the itinerary so confirmed the booking. Not a good start,however, and not handled very diplomatically by Saga staff. The staff on board were from many countries - the captain and the "cruise director" were British; deck and engineering officers of various European nationalities; catering and "hotel" staff mostly Filipino; entertainment by performers from several European countries. Some aspects of the cruise were as we had expected from previous experiences with Saga. Filipino staff all friendly and diligent - no reason to fault them. Food generally good, but let down by some very poor meals - consistency not as good a we had been used to. Bars and (free) wine with meals - no problems. Entertainment was mixed, however. Some good performers were overwhelmed by the resident backing "orchestra" - pianist and guitar drowning out the voices, violin soloists etc. No attempt to mix sound properly. And there didn't appear to be anyone taking an interest in resolving the problem - the "Cruise Director" was busy telling us all how wonderful it was, with no time it seemed, to check it was as good as he believed.. (We have over fifty years of experience in musical shows so know good from bad..) Then we were very disappointed to be given some basic info about towns we were to visit, but barely anything about the fjords - which was the basic reason for coming on the cruise. In the event we saw no fjords in normal daytime hours except on excursions. When we were due to see fjords at night (in daylight still, of course) there was inadequate (or no) guidance on when to be on deck so we missed them. We also found that, particularly in Bergen, the ship was allocate a berth four miles form the town centre. Saga does not rate highly with the port, it seems. Finally, it took us four hours from berthing at Dover before we left the port. We saw no evidence of any supervision of the multitude of staff rushing around; embarking crew were mixed up with disembarking passengers; our taxi driver had himself been waiting over four hours. Chaos reigned. We gained the impression that Saga is now a very small outfit trying to punch above its weight in a very competitive market. In the past they appeared to keep going. On this performance they failed to provide the vision, the management or the supervision that are needed to survive in the same league. We will not be cruising with them again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We wanted to visit the fjords and see the Midnight Sun and wanted to cruise on Sapphire again, so of course opted for this cruise. It was excellent from start to finish. Booking was easy over the phone. The door to door transport was ... Read More
We wanted to visit the fjords and see the Midnight Sun and wanted to cruise on Sapphire again, so of course opted for this cruise. It was excellent from start to finish. Booking was easy over the phone. The door to door transport was really good and embarkation simple and quick. In no time at all we were on board and shown to our cabin which was as expected. We felt at home straightaway and headed on up to our favourite bar where we were greeted by the same smiling bar staff from our previous cruise. It was the same for the rest of the cruise. We chose to eat mainly in the waited-on restaurant, Pole to Pole, and as we prefer to eat alone in the evening were given a fixed table for two. However the table was not to our liking, but, no problem, the Maitre d' Kirsten changed it for us to one we were completely happy with. We had lovely food, not a bad meal all the way through, ,and a good choice of courses. The waiting staff were excellent, nothing was too much trouble, and we were greeted by the same friendly faces as last year. Show entertainment is not our thing so we preferred to go up to the drawing room after dinner for quiet drinks, laid back music and quizzing! Service all through the ship was excellent, we wanted for nothing, from the early tea-tray brought by the steward to the turned down bed at night with the chocolate on our pillows. The ports we visited were interesting, although we feel some of the excursions were too expensive for what they were. It was good to have the free shuttle bus service at the ports where we had not booked a trip. Unlike a previous reviewer we felt we had enough information about the itinerary and we did get to see the fjords and the Midnight Sun. In fact it seemed as though the previous reviewers had been on a different cruise to us! We have already put our names down for another cruise on Sapphire in 2018 and eagerly await the new brochure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
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