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46 Saga Cruises Senior Cruise Reviews

I usually cruise with P&O or Cunard but thought I would give Saga a try on this beautiful new ship. Although Saga is advertised as for the over 50's, I would say it is more suitable for the over 75's (I'm 68). The ... Read More
I usually cruise with P&O or Cunard but thought I would give Saga a try on this beautiful new ship. Although Saga is advertised as for the over 50's, I would say it is more suitable for the over 75's (I'm 68). The ship is spacious with quality furnishings and fittings and plenty of seating. However, it does roll a bit, even in calmer waters and we were unlucky enough to suffer extremely rough seas on our return from the Canaries, which meant we could not get to Lisbon and spent 4 days at sea. Food is of a good standard, especially in the speciality restaurants, but these get fully booked within a couple of days, so book early! We particularly enjoyed the Club, excellent steaks. Entertainment and activities were aimed at the older age group: the Sid Lawrence Orchestra was very popular but there were no other well known entertainers. There was a Motown show which is more my era, but there were no afternoon concerts (I usually enjoy a classical guitarist or pianist). There were only 2 speakers for the whole 2 weeks, so not enough variety there either. Service was generally good, if slow a times. The staff are mainly Philipino or Indian but some seemed a little inexperienced. My cabin steward, Joel, was excellent. We visited 5 ports, and the weather there was very good, 28 degrees in Las Palmas! I went on 4 excursions, the one on Lanzarote to Teguise and wine and cheese at the Peoples Monument was very good, but the one on Tenerife to Taganana was very poor and we were refunded 25% of the cost due to complaints. Overall I enjoyed the time in the Canaries, but was a little bored on the sea days (thank goodness for the quizzes!). Embarkation: very slow, I had to wait one and a quarter hours. Disembarkation was even worse, I had to wait two and three quarter hours. This alone would put me off cruising with Saga again, apart from the lack of entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Initially my husband and I were very impressed with the interior of this modern ship. Cabins are a good size with fruit, carton of milk, water etc in cabin. Room service excellent. Service round the ship also excellent. Dining was ... Read More
Initially my husband and I were very impressed with the interior of this modern ship. Cabins are a good size with fruit, carton of milk, water etc in cabin. Room service excellent. Service round the ship also excellent. Dining was somewhat chaotic at times. We were given wrong meals on more than one occasion, two soups one night. Long queues at times for the buffet at breakfast and lunch. Pre-ordering veggie meal confusing and inconsistent. Food was the best I have had at sea. Buffet food was hot. Book speciality restaurants ASAP because they get booked up quickly. Chairs/settees in public areas are badly designed and uncomfortable - little or no back support . Lift buttons are also badly designed - they re very dark and difficult to read. Library is confusing - badly set out - like a maize. Labels indicating book categories are in very small print and difficult to read. No librarian in residence. Good coffee machine in library + tea etc. Unfortunately library is adjacent to open plan craft area and can get very noisy. Craft area is used as a cut through for people wishing to gain access to their cabins. Hand rails on one side only on interior decks. problem In rough seas. Shower door also a problem in rough seas as it swings inwards and outwards. The ship is like a mini block of flats- a lot on top but little underneath the water - shallow draft and prone to motion and judder in moderate seas. I can only suggest you try it as there are lots of positives as well as negatives. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
People here are wondering why nobody has yet reviewed the Christmas/New Year Spirit of Discovery cruise. It is probably because a high percentage of us found it disappointing. The ship made every port it was scheduled for, mainly on ... Read More
People here are wondering why nobody has yet reviewed the Christmas/New Year Spirit of Discovery cruise. It is probably because a high percentage of us found it disappointing. The ship made every port it was scheduled for, mainly on time, and the crew on board were as good as ever, but the overall experience was not up to the standards we expect from Saga. This is a shame, as Saga were always our first choice for cruises - not any more. Embarkation was a shambles, got on the ship and then big bottleneck of passengers just inside - Saga may need to rethink their system of escorting everybody to their cabin and just do people who want or need help, the rest of us can get there faster on our own. Can't talk about disembarkation, as we had our own car so could get off as soon as the ship clears. TIP - if you are doing this, sit by the gangway and watch as the ship will NOT announce when it has been cleared and you'll wait forever otherwise. Ignoring the nasty chest infection that was going around the ship (still going around on the following cruises, too, apparently) one thing that was evident was the heavy hand of head office and the failure of head office, on-board tours teams or local agents to check anything. The pre-cruise information given by Saga was a joke, (very little of it was correct). Tours - the on board tours team relayed information without checking (how can the timing of a 2 hour tour be from 10:00 to 16:00?) A change of port in Dominica, yet nobody bothered to check if tour times were still accurate. Tours sold as 45 minutes each way to the destination turned into 90 minutes each way because of the change of port so 4 hour tours became 6 hours. Others had it much,much worse but as they are not my stories I will not mention on an open forum. The tours personnel themselves were lovely, they laid on a free orientation walk from the ship to Barbados town centre, which was very nice. Would have been even better if the leader did not have to keep stopping to ask people for directions..... The last cruise port was Bermuda to see the New Year fireworks. Unfortunately, the only person on Bermuda with a licence to set off fireworks had retired earlier in the year, so no fireworks (Bermuda was still very much worth the visit, though). The ship did not lay on anything in particular to replace, so we went to bed early - like many others. Saga are still struggling with learning how the new ship AND the extra passengers work, and there was a distinct impression of costcutting in some areas. We have 2 cruises on the Adventure (all were booked before either ship was built) so maybe that will be better, although Saga head office really need to get their act together and start checking information before they send it out. Others have commented the lack of comfort in the public seating areas (sofas and chairs evidently all chosen for looks, not comfort). There was also a plumbing situation going on, as not only were various public toilets getting blocked up, there was also a rather strange smell of stale standing water in the forward lower deck corridors. The cleaners were using deodorisers, but when the scent wore off the stale smell returned. Some like the ship, others do not like the ship - but we have not yet met anyone who thinks this is a wonderful ship. The really rave reviews seem to be written by (a) critics who have walked around the ship and then recycled whatever Saga have told them, (b) critics who had a free cruise and want another on the new ship, (c) people with shares who are bumping Saga cruises big time, and (d) loyal Saganauts who regard Saga as their own personal cruise line and get very angry if anyone dares to criticise Saga. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We joined Saga Sapphire for her Volcanic Isles cruise in November. We have cruised many times but this was our first on a Saga ship. Saga Sapphire is shortly leaving their fleet which we feel is a great shame as she is a lovely ship with ... Read More
We joined Saga Sapphire for her Volcanic Isles cruise in November. We have cruised many times but this was our first on a Saga ship. Saga Sapphire is shortly leaving their fleet which we feel is a great shame as she is a lovely ship with comfortable public rooms and an intimate feel. For the first time in many years we booked an inside cabin and this turned out to be large with a separate seating area and table. It was also very quiet and comfortable and kept spotlessly clean by our steward. The staff were universally friendly and helpful, the food was very good and the included drinks were of a decent quality. The entertainment was very acceptable with the lively Show Company in good form and there were some interesting lectures. On sea days we also enjoyed energetic, seated, work-outs with Derrick Evans aka Mr Motivator who was great fun. Saga Sapphire was late into Southampton on embarkation day as the Port had kept her waiting off the Isle of White for several hours. As a consequence the ship was late departing and with bad weather through the Bay of Biscay arrival in Funchal was also delayed. So the cruise was slightly rescheduled with an overnight stay there rather than in Santa Cruz, La Palma. We had been to all ports previously apart from Agadir and Casablanca in Morocco which we found of interest. Our return was overshadowed by the first named storm of the winter forecast to arrive at the same time as the ship in the English Channel. Captain Kim Tanner decided the best course of action was to sail at full speed back through the Bay of Biscay and then to hug the English coastline before entering the Solent via the Needles Channel some twelve hours early. As a result we just missed the storm and had a comfortable last night docked in the Port of Southampton. The weather could have been warmer in all ports of call. Nevertheless we enjoyed the cruise and the little extras that Saga offer and also met some very nice folks along the way. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I looked forward to the Spirit of Discovery, after cruising on the Saga Sapphire, I was interested in a cabin with a proper balcony. The Discovery has by desgn a positive tick, being all balcony. Also having on all decks a large stern ... Read More
I looked forward to the Spirit of Discovery, after cruising on the Saga Sapphire, I was interested in a cabin with a proper balcony. The Discovery has by desgn a positive tick, being all balcony. Also having on all decks a large stern verandah. I chose the October 18 day cruise to the Med. My review summarises the good and not so good. The good, plenty of space, both in public areas and corridors. Dining choices, at no extra charge. Of special mention breakfast and lunch in the Grill, especially Sunday roasts. Evening meals above average in the Club, rack of lamb, the best. Interested to have on board working wifi at no extra charge. I also liked the arts and crafts sessions. For the first time on a cruise no long waits for lifts. Now for the not so good. The hardest bed I have slept on, even 2 overlays did not help , so 18 nights without proper sleep. Very poor embarkation over 2.30 hours wating time, and disembarkation, a shambles 3 hour wait and then they could not find the driver. Entertainment unsatisfactory. Theatre not designed to cater for 6ft plus passengers. Quality of entertainments, not good except for the quartet. Missed the after diner drinks with soft music, such as guiter, piano or the quartet. The Brittania lounge after dinner was deserted with no atmosphere. Finally October sailing we met gales going and coming back in the Bay, so would I go again on Saga? No, I think the negatives outway the positives when one considers the cost. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
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
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
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would ... Read More
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would imagine would be difficult to find anywhere else. The age range was from mid 50’s with a large % in their late 80’s up to the grand age of 98. As with anything in life ‘money doesn’t buy manners’ and so sadly there were some sad miserable people who we quickly learnt to avoid! Their desire to talk loudly about how many nights cruising they had done soon ended as people were bored rigid about having to listen to this pretentious nonsense! There were also people who weren’t safe being there and whose families had obviously booked a cruise to escape from their relatives for a week. There were at least 2 people who didn’t even know what they were doing there. Saga need to somehow deal with this and ensure everybody is safe but equally neither they as staff or ourselves as fellow passengers should have to cope with this. The staff are caring NOT carers and the other passengers are on holiday. It is NOT a residential or nursing home and nobody should even consider going unless they are safe, independent and aware of why they are on a ship. We were disgusted that somebody’s relative had obviously considered this suitable for someone with advanced dementia but selfish people in life exist and money equally doesn’t buy common sense either! There were several people using walking sticks who would complain they couldn’t walk but kept their sticks at least 6 inches off the ground and as soon as they wanted to do something could mobilise like a 5 year old complaining loudly about younger disabled people who were slowing them down ! Again money doesn’t buy manners and they had no understanding that disabilities are nothing whatsoever about age ! A standard cabin is very nice and more than adequate for most people who use it to sleep in ! A small bathroom,, an upright chair next to a small desk and another chair were more than adequate for anything you might need. A very comfortable bed and excellent cabin service was very much appreciated. Dining was either a formal dining room or exactly the same food in a more relaxed atmosphere thankfully. The waiters and wine waiters learn people names and quickly they can manage to keep track of what you like/need and provide excellent care and attention to detail. A very nervous young waiter who was learning how to work there was the only time we had to wait and explain anything but he was very friendly and we expect the next time we see him he will be one of the best as had a fantastic smile too. People on special diets have amazing care and attention to detail if it is really required. Embarkation was ok although the lady didn’t seem to understand very much about the process or show interest in answering questions or talking to anybody. There are a wide range of activities although some of there were heavily about ‘up selling of expensive/extremely over priced goods or services in the salon or spa which is extremely poor. There were people employed to assist with crafts and some demonstrations about food etc. Some of these were good, some were excellent and some were at best chaotic and extremely poorly arranged- we are unsure if this was saga or the actual people they chose to employ! We suspect it is however the latter as saga seem to expect a very high standard for everything as it should be! Some of the entertainment was excellent and some favoured heavily the extreme upper end of the cruise ship age range. They need to remember something a 50 year old might enjoy would not be met necessarily by someone singing songs from the 40’s -60’s OR playing some game they haven’t even heard of ! Similarly they need to consider not everybody can cope with late nights and some fantastic entertainment doesn’t start until about 22.30. A lot of people who cruise sit in the same seats in the library and do nothing else. They glare at you if you speak and don’t want anything to do with other people. There’s a mixture of others who are fantastic fun and age is irrelevant. Be prepared for anything that happens is the best way to cope with this situation! The consumption of alcohol is encouraged heavily. People would buy drinks in the bar before their lunch, have 2/3 glasses of wine with their meal and then drink in the bar again! They would also be there again in the evening and repeat this process. After dinner there was also a push on buying more alcohol at your dinner table. Saga need maybe to consider the effects this can have on people especially after a week or more of this. Their responsibility for mature adults is zero but stupidity doesn’t also get covered by having money and inclusion of alcohol seems to mean a % of people will see it as their right to drink it all regardless of their health , wellbeing or the comfort and safety of other passengers too. One lady was ridiicculed by rude elderly lady who fancied herself as important because she chose not to drink. She was unable to drink due to medication but the elderly lady knew better evidently and was extremely rude and actually sadly offensively awful about how cruising was that important everybody had to drink especially with the captain! The captain was rather slow in talking and would talk a lot about the weather- all information you could get by looking out the window or seeing details on your cabin tv about wind speed or how many nautical miles we have traveled! There was a few things to do re fitness but the assumption seemed to be you were either super fit or helpless- we didn’t get to the small gym after hearing what was there . Wait and see if the new ships will be better for younger but sadly disabled people. Not everybody who has limitations is 99 !!!!!! Saga don’t seem to grasp this at all from our experience with this cruise. The public rooms were excellent and the library was large and spacious with a wide selection of books magazines and information. The bar and other rooms have a wide range of chairs and were clean bright and very well maintained considering how old the ship is. The shop staff seemed less interested tha. Anybody else about anything. Be warned- it is ridiculously expensive and a can of deodorant was £5 !!! Don’t forget yours if you use it! Cabin service is fantastic and all other aspects of service were excellent too. Some people complaining made it dull but you learnt how to avoid them quickly so your holiday wasn’t ruined! Remember to pack some basic first aid supplies and your medication! Medical care is expensive and we were shocked at how some people had used this service and had massive bills without having had more than some very basic first aid care. Several people seemed very unwell and again please take into consideration your health and well being before deciding on a cruise holiday. talking to some people it seems their health isn’t very important until they are there , away from home and forgetting the sea happens to have a naughty habit of moving but they didn’t pack anything to assist them with sea sickness or know how they would cope with poor mobility when the ship was moving through rough seas ! Equally they didn’t have a clue about the currency they would need or where they were in the world ! It has a bit of a habit of being cold in Norway in winter and also dark by mid afternoon | makes sense to research the cruise holiday you will be going on and what to expect from the areas before complaining its cold or dark etc etc. Someone was moaning they almost fell over on the ice ! That was not SAGAS responsibility! In the main the shore excursions were excellent. The level of walking isn’t always accurate but sadly maybe people have no idea what people can manage. Don’t book tours unless you are really certain you can manage the coach steps and this means getting on AND off the coaches without ANY help or ANY support whatsoever- there isn’t anything saga or the coach staff can or will do to assist you. Rudeness was again heard from the selective few who were so affected by their snobby views about people being slow, we even heard one lady said maybe if they lost weight the coach would not have been so slow- be prepared for anything that anybody might come out with. There were some lovely people who were ready for a good time with their new friends. It is at risk of being a floating residential home and this is a concern. We had several people who were taken to hospital and sadly even on the day of disembarkation someone was very poorly. A lady who was waiting for assistance was complaining about delays as she was a special level with priority for everything! We just quietly said ‘be thankful that you are going home and think about other people for a second’ she just said she would be complaining and demanding to know what happened to stop her disembarking before other people were going! Unbelievable that level of ignorance exists. Overall thank you saga. You are not responsible for the rudeness of a small minority of ignorant and rude elderly people especially it seems ladies who almost sound like they will choke themselves when they speak. We just spoke to everybody in our normal voice about life. Some very odd people exist in this Country and we just hope they weren’t so rude when on land if they bothered to get there. A % never ever get off the ship and evidently never ever do on any cruise they do as they go for the food and fact they aren’t alone or having to cook at home !! Extremely expensive for that service! There were a lot of people on their own. They had a special meeting so they could get them together and stop them crashing in on couples time together thankfully. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We have only cruised once before with another small ship line. We were impressed from the start with the private car door to door service, fast efficient check in and boarding took about ten minutes. The crew and entertainers, guest ... Read More
We have only cruised once before with another small ship line. We were impressed from the start with the private car door to door service, fast efficient check in and boarding took about ten minutes. The crew and entertainers, guest lecturers were all top drawer. The food was much, much better than we expected with a wide variety that catered for all. Entertainment was important for us and we particularly enjoyed listening, Danciing and singing along with Stuart in the lounge bar. Afternoon tea was a treat where none of our fellow passengers was ever lonely because the crew, entertainers also attended and mingled with solo cruisers, fantastic job Saga (and no extra charge for the tea). Saga includes so much more than we had previously experienced- free WiFi chauffeur service and porterage, no service charge, afternoon tea,port transfers, entertainers and dancers up dancing with passengers in the evenings - it was just so much fun, cant wait to do it again, thank you Saga. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
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
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was excellent we were treated like royalty the staff were fantastic.We were well fed and watered , we were picked up at the door and dropped back to our door.we went to le harve, belgium, holland and tilbury. we went on the excursion to amsterdam river trip which was fantastic, and the highlight was Keukenhof gardens we spent 6 hours there and it was brilliant .The food was excellent, the cabin was great and the staff looked after us well,the ship was well keeped and spotlessly clean, the cabaret was brilliant.Embarkation was ok and disembarkation was covered very well no rushing to get off the ship, we were given a number and when they called that number it was our turn to disembark.. we now have the cruising bug and after this cruise hopefully we will cruise with saga again. We recommend saga cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent ... Read More
We wanted to sample the well praised cruises of Saga. The arrangements were good, a chauffeured service to and from the port, all transfer and porterage, and easy embarkation. The ship is elderly, but well cared for with excellent service from the onboard staff. Our A deck cabin was 2 berth, as are many on this ship, but large, with pleasant seating area, and decent size bathroom. The reception desk was close by as was the tiny, slow lift. On exploration we found to our surprise that there was no traditional, walk around promenade deck, but it was possible to walk right round the highest deck. Unfortunately access to that pleasant spot would have been difficult for many, as it involved climbing 2 outside stairways. The top deck had comfortable lounge chairs with soft cushions . Service from the staff was excellent, and they seemed to take care of all passengers very well. The meals were good, very traditional , with generous portions and varied menus, all offered with daily wine selections. As one port on our sampler cruise was cancelled, the captain declared that Saga would offer a much appreciated all inclusive service from the bar menu, as well as the daily lunch and dinner wines. There were two restaurants, both open seating, a more casual Verandah with wide choice, and the more formal dining room offering identical menus. Passengers seemed to divide equally into two groups as to which they chose. We preferred the former, and found the service pleasant and prompt. We loved the indoor heated swimming pool and sauna area , with nearby well patronised spa offering the usual type of beauty , massage and hair treatments. For entertainment we appreciated the live acts, from the enthusiastic house performers , and guest entertainers. The seating was comfortable, with good sight lines to the stage. There was a small cinema on board, and also live music for dancing or listening. We had been a little worried that we would find Saga a bit too staid, but we thoroughly enjoyed our short cruise, as did all the people we spoke to. It was good to see a company that seems to go out f it’s way to ensure that single, or elderly , or handicapped guests were all well cared for. We consider that the quality of cruise offered by this company far exceeds that of many of the big lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
After sailing with Cunard for well over 20 years {Platinum Members} and with Celebrity for around 6 years, the Saga Pearl II Christmas market cruise 2017 was a first for us but it won't be the last vacation we take with Saga. ... Read More
After sailing with Cunard for well over 20 years {Platinum Members} and with Celebrity for around 6 years, the Saga Pearl II Christmas market cruise 2017 was a first for us but it won't be the last vacation we take with Saga. Although Cunard ships and Celebrity ships have the glitz and glamour the ambience on Cunard isn't what it used to be, folks in track suit bottoms, Man U shirts and {can you believe} mothers in pyjama's chasing screaming kids takes the shine from the elegance of the ships, what you see depicted in the brochures isn't what you'll get on-board the ship. Cruising on the Pearl II is more like staying at an elegant / refined Country Club, a relaxed atmosphere for the over 50's, it hardly matters where the ship is going, just that you are on it. A good number of the folks we met on the Pearl had sailed on her 10 or 15 times or more, many were doing back to back cruises, they don't want to get off, we can see why, it's pity we didn't discover Saga cruises years ago. As mentioned the Pearl might not have the glitz and glamour of the QM2, but it doesn't have 2,695 passengers either. The 3:30 line up at the Kings Court buffet on the QM2 sees folks jockeying for position waiting for the tape to go up, it's like the start of the Grand National. It's certainly more like Aintree than what you'd expect {or got years ago} on a Cunard ship, then it's musical chairs trying to find a table. Standards are high on the Pearl, the public areas, the décor, the food, the service from cabin staff to restaurant and bar staff were equal to if not better than any ship we have sailed on in the last 25 years. Unlike Cunard and most other lines on Saga ships the tips are included in the price but the service we had from the cabin staff and others was exceptional so we tipped them to show appreciation for the respect, regard and level of service they gave us and all the passengers on the Pearl. The food in the restaurants was second to none, the presentation on the plate showed that the kitchen staff take pride in their work, the waiters/waitresses were friendly and attentive. I guess it helps that even when the Pearl is fully booked there's less than 500 passengers aboard, the whole experience is more Boutique than Butlin's. Onboard purchases are in £'s rather than US$'s so you know exactly what you are paying without having to calculate the £ vs $ rate, add to that drink prices in the bars aren't extortionate either. The entertainment was excellent, especially The Four D's, they put on a couple of great shows, the enrichment programs were "par for the course" much the same as any ship. Included in the price is Travel Insurance, chauffeur pick up if you live within 250 miles of Southampton, if you live further than that there's a small fee for the extra miles, or if you chose to travel by train the return ticket is provided, what more could you ask for. I could go on to say how the Pearl was equal to {or more often} better in all aspects than the other ships we have sailed on, but I'll leave that for my review of the QM2. We had a great time, made many new friends and learned a lot from them about Saga vacations. All in all we couldn't fault any aspect of the cruise, the next cruise we take will be with Saga, we didn't know what we were missing !!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
After some 40 cruises, from the sublime(Seabourn) to the gorblimy (Soviet Black Sea Fleet) I can only say that Saga now holds premier place in my estimation. We are a couple and this was a 25 day jaunt around the Mediterranean at a time ... Read More
After some 40 cruises, from the sublime(Seabourn) to the gorblimy (Soviet Black Sea Fleet) I can only say that Saga now holds premier place in my estimation. We are a couple and this was a 25 day jaunt around the Mediterranean at a time of year when things can get a bit hairy. It was the sort of itinerary that we like, sea days mixed with ports two of which, Venice and Valletta.and a third one, Gibraltar, which was not scheduled, were overnight. I have nothing but praise for their organisation both on boarding at Southampton and leaving there. Very different from the shambolic experience of some other Cruise Lines at that port. Saga Pearl 11 is now a bit of a museum piece compared with bigger competitors and will leave service next year but you would never guess that from her appearance. She is immaculate. She was fully booked but there were only 26 new boys on board. All the others were regulars. That says a lot. The crew would bear favourable comparison with any other outfit, The hotel staff are almost entirely from the Philipines and are always cheerful, welcoming and unbelievably efficient. An unusual touch was that the (very young) dance group socialised with the passengers at teatime. I have never seen that before. The Cruise Director, Joanne, is superb. The Captain was always around and a most efficient and engaging character he was. Altogether, a most impressive bunch. Entertainment was of a very high quality with some excellent enrichment lectures. The library - sorry Cunard - was the best I have ever seen. WiFi is free!!! I suppose I should really keep away from the computer on holiday but there you go. The passengers. Ah. Saga only sell to the over-50s but on that cruise add another couple of decades. Not a tattoo or a face piercing among them. We had 3 taken off by chopper that trip but the determination of some of those less-than-virile people is most impressive. The food was very good indeed, not too "cheffy" but of a high standard and an excellent list of choices. The pastry chef needs special mention - I have never seen anything that standard on other ships. All in all, an excellent ship . Azamara should be looking over their shoulders. Would I go with them again? I am already booked on their new ship Spirit Of Discovery. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the ... Read More
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the way back. Luggage transfer is smooth - once it is in the car you won't have to haul it around anywhere. We had a balcony cabin - not worth it on the ship as the balconies are about as wide as a window box. The cabin was a good standard, very clean with comfortable bed and a walk in shower. Ship has main Pole to Pole restaurant, Verandah casual (but menu same as Pole to Pole at night), East to West which is extra so we did not try, fish and chips by the pool and afternoon tea in two of the lounges. Food was really excellent - a talented chef on board - amd with plenty of choice. Dinner seven courses if you wanted it - with included house wine which was OK, lunch at Veranda either a choice of three cooked things, barbecue grill or an extensive cold buffet. Very pleasant eating outside here. Saga makes much of tables for two being available - but in reality there are very few. We were lucky, being put with two other people we really got on with. We sat together thoughout There is no tipping on Saga ships.Staff mainly Filipino and apart from odd language problems excellent. If wi fi is important to you avoid this ship as mainly it does not work and the so called computer exper is clueless. Two pools -outdoor very chilly, indoor quite warm. Tea and coffee is help yourself from a machine - which we did not like much. Drawing Room a very nice place to sit. Plenty of loungers around the ship. Clientele definitely on the elderly side - bit like a seagoing care home. Entertainment a bit on the seaside concert party side - and is in one of the large lounges as this ship does not have a theatre. A good choice if you want an easy trip and need to be looked after. Read Less
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
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
The wife and I travelled for the first time with Saga on its Northern Lights Adventure cruise for the first two weeks of March 2017. It was a fabulous cruise, and we were INCREDIBLY lucky with the weather, which gave us wonderful ... Read More
The wife and I travelled for the first time with Saga on its Northern Lights Adventure cruise for the first two weeks of March 2017. It was a fabulous cruise, and we were INCREDIBLY lucky with the weather, which gave us wonderful sunshine for all our shore excursions, and the best night of the Northern Lights themselves (7th March) for ten years. I cannot speak highly enough of Saga. They understand their market (over 50s, with a preponderance in their 60s and 70s) very well, and provide faultlessly for it. Your adventure starts in being picked up from your home by a car or minibus and driven to the ship. No stress. No anxiety. On arrival at your UK port (ours was Southampton) your bags are unloaded from the car and spirited away by a crew member. You’re invited to step aboard, check in, find your cabin, and go for a luscious tea in the Discovery Lounge, after which, “newbies” like us are given a tour of the ship so that one knows where to go for the numerous activities on board. Most Brits of a certain age require three essential things; good food, good service, and good value for money. They get these things in bucketloads from Saga. The food was of a very high standard. Michelin star quality, I’d say. Wine or beer provided free at lunch and dinner. There’s a rough ratio of two crew to three passengers. That’s a lot of service! And it’s NOT provided by “slave labour”. Virtually all the crew are Filipinos, but whereas with some other cruise lines they depend on tips for their income, Saga’s are well paid and very well looked after. This of course results in a lot of happy people, and you feel that happiness radiating from them. Watching them glide around the dining room is awe-inspiring. My wife could manage only liquids, and was provided with two bowls of specially-prepared soup for lunch and dinner without any fuss. The crew is extraordinary at recognising their guests and identifying any individual requirements. On days at sea, Saga provides many on-board games and activities, and on visits to ports, a selection of (optional) shore excursions. And they don’t rip you off in the bar. A post-prandial cognac costs £3.75 and a G&T £4.15. And when you arrive back, there’s a car or minibus waiting to take you home! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Never judge a book by its cover. The mere mention of ‘Saga’ conjures up elderly, ‘Countdown’ watching cruisers who totter around the Med or the Caribbean clutching their gin and tonics. Yes, everyone is over 50 and I was possibly ... Read More
Never judge a book by its cover. The mere mention of ‘Saga’ conjures up elderly, ‘Countdown’ watching cruisers who totter around the Med or the Caribbean clutching their gin and tonics. Yes, everyone is over 50 and I was possibly the youngest passenger but to be honest by the end of the first night’s dinner, the scales had been shed from my prejudiced eyes. This is the Ulysses Generation who have amassed adventures and experiences to match anyone half their age. All I knew is that I wanted to be like them. Everyone is made to feel welcome regardless of age, disability or single/married and what I liked was the happy family community atmosphere. I could recommend this ship for anyone who is single and doesn’t want to feel lost in one of those monster cruise ships with their thousands of passengers and sense of anonymity. Within a week, we had made friends and there was always someone to talk to. The ‘Grand Caribbean Adventure’ was a 6 week all-inclusive cruise that joined up all the island dots in the Caribbean in a fest of exploration. You are pampered from the minute that your chauffeur arrives to take you to the ship, to the speedy check in and they start with Afternoon Tea. You get the picture very quickly. A Saga cruise is about indulgence and it takes enormous restraint to ignore the heaving but delicately arranged feast. The evening meal, which is after a welcome glass or two of champagne, measures up to all the hype in their advertising and they offer 6 courses. Every night. It’s the same high standard at lunchtime whether it is the restaurant or BBQ. And if you didn’t fancy the cuisine offered, then we found that we could order a steak or something more simple and it was no problem. For a 6 week cruise you don’t need as much as I packed (there is a free laundry) but here is a typical run down of what I would pack when we do it again Nightwear x 1 (they provide a dressing gown) One week’s underwear 2 long dresses / one DJ suit 2 cocktail dresses / 3 smart shirts 4 smart casual outfits eg smart tops with skirts or leggings/trousers 4 t-shirts max 2 swimming costumes Aqua shoes for excursions Plimsolls or trainers for excursions Jeans x 2 4 jumpers as it gets cold on the way over the Atlantic Pashminas Sun hat, suncream, sunglasses, flipflops, waterproof Evening shoes Camera, chargers, underwater camera and batteries Ipad and charger Basic medication (they provide sea sickness tablets if necessary) There is free wifi but it is dependent on the weather and satellites and certain sites are blocked eg YouTube as it takes up too much bandwidth. We took our own ipads as did most of the other passengers. At every port, you have a choice: go on a planned and sometimes expensive excursion or just get off and do your own thing. We did a mixture of the two and one of the best unplanned trip was at Barbados where we walked to the local beach, paid $20 each to get admission into ‘The Boatyard’ bar which gave us beach loungers, umbrellas, one free drink, non-motorised watersports and one trip to swim with the turtles on the next bay. A bargain. The alternative would have been £74 to swim with turtles on a planned excursion. However the other best excursion that we took was in Tobago where we took the full day Island Girl catamaran for £114 each and saw dolphins, swam in lovely clear warm seas and had an on board fish BBQ. The staff onboard the Saga Pearl 2 are well trained, attentive and always smiling. In one sense, if they weren’t, the whole cruise would have lacked the personality that it had and that was most obvious in the impromptu beach BBQs and the Crew Show they put on in the last week. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
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