Saga Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

Saga Cruises fleet

Review of Saga Cruises

Saga Cruises (Saga Shipping) is a British based cruise line, division of Saga Group. By purchasing Saga Rose, the Group decided to start operations of holiday branch. The ship operated as Saga Cruises flagship until in 2005 her similar ex-fleetmate Saga Ruby was bought from Cunard Line. For the 2003 summer Saga Cruises chartered mv Minerva (built in 1989), which sailed as Pearl. Saga Rose was retired after her final 37-night Mediterranean voyage. Subsequently, the ship was laid up at Gibraltar and later scrapped in China.

Saga Cruises logo

While on her final cruise in the Caribbean, Saga Ruby had one of her generators fail which disabled vessel's air-conditioning plant. Then it was decided to cancel the sailing and head for a Western Mediterranean itinerary. Saga Ruby returned to Southampton on Jan. 9, 2014 due to bad weather. While in Funchal, Madeira the ship met up with Saga Sapphire for New Year's Eve fireworks display. Saga Ruby then departed for Gibraltar out of Southampton for the last time on Jan. 10, and was handed over to her new owners on Jan. 13, 2014.

In 2005 Saga Cruises formed the Spirit of Adventure Cruises brand. In March 2006, mv Spirit of Adventure, ex-Orange Melody ship, set out on her first voyage. In 2013 Saga sold Spirit of Adventure marking the end of the brand.

  • Currently Saga Holidays operates two cruise ships under charter - Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II.
  • The former fleetmate Saga Ruby was built and launched under the name Vistafjord for the Norwegian America Line. In 1983, the ship was sold to Cunard, and in 1999 was renamed Caronia. In 2004, Cunard sold the vessel to Saga, and it was operated until 2014 as "Saga Ruby". In 2014, the vessel was sold to a Chinese company, renamed Oasia and operated as a hotel ship.

Earlier in 2009, Saga cruise line was scheduled to take ownership of Astoria. The refurbishment of Astoria, built in 1981, underwent £14 million pound, before reborning as Saga Pearl II. The upgrades include a new Veranda Restaurant; addition of new balcony cabins; creation of a library; makeover of spa and two swimming pools; uphip provides 126 twin cabins, 25 twin or king-size cabins, 42 double cabins. Twenty of the cabins are with balconies; nine cabins feature French balconies.

The greatest selling point for travelers who are solo: Saga Pearl II has sixty single cabins - almost a quarter of the total cabins’ number (253). The vessel reflects Saga Cruises trademark ambiance and style with traditions as afternoon tea and ballroom dancing. The cruise ship maintains residency in Southampton and Dover, offering cruises to the Canaries, Baltic and Mediterranean of seven to twenty-four nights.

Saga Cruises offers both Ocean and River cruise travel vacations. All the company's vessels are chartered. The cruising experience is classic, elegant and comfortable. Passengers are able to choose from today’s amenities such as modern spas, Internet cafes, alternative dining in intimate restaurants. Do not expect shopping centers, casino or lustrous shows - Saga passengers like the relaxed and good-mannered social life. Traditional English tea is served each afternoon; ballroom dancing is presented nightly.

Many of Saga’s passengers are frequent repeaters - they are more adventurous than it might be imagined. They seek for high level of comfort and service while they are careful not to squander pensions on gambling (the reason why there are no casinos on Saga’s ships). They also demand fine food, that is well-prepared, from varied menus. Some of the mainstream cruise lines may get away with fortnightly or weekly menu cycles. That wouldn’t be welcomed by Saga Cruises customers who are free to stay onboard for back-to-back cruises.

When you are not out or it is one of those lazy days at sea onboard Saga’s ships, you will be surprised by the great number of onboard activities. You will have the opportunity to join painting or computer classes, keep fit with Pilates and yoga, enjoy swimming, attend a talk from guest speakers. Relax with new and old friends, or look for some quiet time in ships' cosy areas. Other diversions include the beauty salon and spa - go for a pampering treatment or a massage or try the gym - go for a refreshing yoga course. A well-stocked library with thousands of books is also provided. Another choice is using one of the computers and keep in touch with family and friends.

In the evenings onboard Saga cruise ships, while heading to the next destination before dining, enjoy an aperitif in ships’ bars, or work up with pre-dinner dance classes. In formal nights (one for a week-long cruise, two for 14-night cruise) enjoy the feeling of occasion. Later take your seat for a show, go dancing, watch a film or socialize with friends - you may even enjoy a nightcap accompanied with live music in the inviting lounges and bars.

On some of the selected Saga cruises you will be entertained by celebrities. But the best part of all is that with no children on board, kids’ games arcades or clubs taking up space, everything aboard is designed for your pleasure.

No matter which of Saga’s ships you choose - each mealtime is going to be an exciting dining experience. Good breakfast is essential when you have a day full of activities - plenty of choices await for you for the day ahead. Choose from waiter-served meal, the buffet onboard Saga Ruby, or eat out on deck. Opt for full English breakfast brought to cabin. There are plenty of things to tempt you at lunchtime: choose from the buffet or enjoy a cooked-to-order lunch in the main restaurant.

Afternoon tea is a cruising tradition on Saga cruise ships with tempting cakes, pastries, sandwiches… really hard to resist. Dinner is usually the highlight of the day - it is always waiter served, one sitting, sometimes offering six courses - distinctly refined. A talented team led by Executive Chef is available onboard Saga cruise ships, so you can look forward to tempting meals prepared with the finest ingredients.

Delicious wines from well-stocked ‘cellars’ are recommended from sommeliers who are also on hand. Main courses, including game, fish, meat, vegetarian dishes, are followed with desserts from a selection of soufflés, tarts, pavlovas, exquisite petits fours. The best of all is that you will never feel rushed to end your meals or have to wait guests, as flexible arrangements make sure you dine any time between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Saga cruise line is 50-and-older and kid-free. The company sells directly to public, not counting on travel agents. Traveling companions who are forty or older are allowed onboard - this is beneficial to couples who want to be onboard together with grown-up families and in-laws, or those who need assistance and personal care. Clientele are elderly and exclusively British, with occasional passengers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, rarely Japan. Saga Cruises provide free chauffeur service, door-to-door, for passengers who live within 75 miles of departure ports, and also shared chauffeur for up to 250 miles distances. The alternative is coach, rail transport, or domestic flight which can be fare-included. Saga Cruises offers free parking to passengers who choose driving.

New Saga ships

In 2017, Saga UK ordered two new cruise ships with capacity under 1,000 passengers in a total of 540 cabins and suites. The shipbuilder is Meyer Werft (Papenburg Germany). Unlike all other ships in the Saga fleet, these two will be fully-owned by the company.Saga Cruises new ship design

The vessels were scheduled for delivery in summer 2019 and 2021. Each ship also offers over 100 single cabins (designed for solo travellers, no single supplement required) which is approx 15% of the ship's total stateroom capacity. The rest of the accommodations will be in categories standard balcony cabin, deluxe balcony cabin, mid-ship suite and larger suites.Saga Cruises new ship design (balcony cabin)

Among the onboard signature venues are the Britannia Lounge (2-level Atrium bar lounge), The Verandah (specialty restaurant) and an outdoor alfresco dining restaurant. Each vessel also features two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor).Saga Cruises new ship design (The Verandah restaurant)

In the end of March 2017 was annonced the name selected for the first ship - Spirit of Discovery.Saga Cruises new ship design

Saga Cruises enjoys a high repeat booking rate (about 75%). To attract first-timer cruisers, since 2016 Saga offers "Love it First Time". By this initiative, a full cruise full refund is guaranteed to anyone who doesn't enjoy the company's cruising vacation product. The cruise line guarantees that if passengers find that the experience is not for them, they can leave the cruise ship at the next available call port. The "Love it First Time" offer applies only to new bookings and first-time customers.

Itinerary of Saga Cruises

Saga Holidays cruise Itineraries are specialized in travel for the over 50s. The company has more than 60 years’ holiday travel experience in Europe.

Saga free shuttle bus service is available if you want to explore independently - the shuttle will take you to the nearest city centre or town. The service is offered if the distance between Saga ship and the city is over 500 yards. At ports of call you will have a choice of exciting optional excursions. Saga representatives accompany cruisers on the coach. Saga Cruises company is sending a detailed booklet a few weeks before the cruise which gives the chance for pre-booking. If you prefer so, you can also visit the Tours and Travel Office onboard and Saga staff will book the preferred tours for you, if available.

The organized tours are a great way to see the sights. Saga excursions include transport, entrance fees, services of English-speaking guide. Lunch and refreshments are sometimes also included, so you will enjoy without worrying about costs. All excursions are optional, an additional cost will be added to your account. They are a subject to change and availability. Among the highlights detailed on Saga cruises are some that may be seen only by exploring independently or on optional excursions.

"Discovering St James’ Way" itinerary

A discovery of ancient pilgrims’ route is the highlight of one of Saga’s holidays - it runs from southern France over Pyrenees, ending in Santiago de Compostela. Discover St James (Camino de Santiago) way with Saga. Along the Way, visit ancient cities and villages; do not do the hard work, walking in pilgrims’ footsteps. Look out for highlights as Gaudi’s fairytale Episcopal Palace; stay in Pamplona - evoked by Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises; taste wine in La Rioja’s bodega; see the cathedral cities of Logroño, Burgos, León. For 12 nights, prices start at £899. Among the many inclusions are additional cancellation cover and travel insurance, all breakfasts, ten dinners. You will be accompanied by experienced Saga manager throughout.

Naples to Apulia itinerary

Saga Cruises offer is colors of the South 90-night tour. You will travel from Naples to olive groves of Puglia; stay on Ischia island with subtropical foliage. Discover the beautiful scenery of towns along the way; gain a wonderful insight into Italian way of life. You will stay in four throughout the tour - five-star hotels on half-board basis. Enjoy the glorious views of the bay while in Naples; visit Unesco World Heritage; listed dwellings in Apulia region; enjoy naturally heated spa thermal waters at Ischia hotel. As on many Saga holidays, prices start at £949 and single rooms – available on selected dates – no extra cost! Join Saga Cruises’ team and enjoy tours of Romania, Portugal, the Baltic; go shopping in Greece; join a tour in Croatia; discover Italian Lakes… Additional cancellation cover and travel insurance are one of money-saving elements that are included in Saga holidays.

Saga Cruises tours in USA, Mozambique and Japan

Let your year to embark on one of the most memorable journeys with Saga Cruises experts. The chances Saga Cruises has the right trip you have been looking for, are quite big. Wherever you want to go in the world and however you want to travel, there’s a good chance that Saga Cruises will help. Unlock Japan’s mysteries. Stay in Mozambique’s authentic bush camps, dare to look over the edge of South Rim in Grand Canyon. Saga Holidays seeks for new destinations and new experiences for the over 50s audience - such are these exciting new tours.

Trans-frontier Trail – Mozambique to Kruger

This 12-night tour will make you discover Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Park and the rich Portuguese. The three national parks in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, are protected and form a territory of 36,000 square miles. Mozambique’s most beautiful beaches on the Indian Ocean are the place you could swim off, stay in comfortable bush camps and venture bush walks and safaris- for unrivalled opportunities for spotting wildlife. The size of the group is limited to twenty people. Of course, you will be fed well too - seven lunches, all breakfasts and dinners are price included.

South West Iconic Parks of America

Wide-open spaces, fresh air and relax. Each of the national parks is more spectacular than the last one; the rock formations are impossibly beautiful and multi-colored. Experience Mother Road and what has left of Las Vegas Route 66 - The Strip is the one place to stay if you travel through Nevada. The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is to stay in the park, close to South Rim. Since you will be in the Wild West, probably you will wish to experience the badlands of Painted Desert; see the Sedona formations of red rocks; enjoy scenic cruising along Antelope Canyon; see the limestone spires in Monument Valley.

Saga's "Mystery Cruise"

In 2016, for the first time, Saga offered a "Mystery Cruise" with an announced 24-night itinerary on Saga Sapphire. The list of ports of call and the destination itself was unknown to the passengers, and also to most of the ship's crew - excepting only the Captain (Philip Rentell), the chief purser, the watch-keepers and the shore excursion personnel.

Even the ship's electronic charts (located in public areas) were switched off so each port of call came as a total surprise.

  • The 24-night "Saga Holidays" cruise departed from Southampton UK on November 7th and lasted through December 1st.
  • The Mystery Cruise was not even listed in the ship's official 2016 schedule, which showed only the previous itinerary (Oct 24-Nov 7) and the next one (Dec 1-15).

Saga river cruises 2018 itineraries

Saga launched a river cruise itinerary program with 12 new itineraries in 2018. The majority of itineraries are Saga-exclusive. Cruise fares started from GBP 400 pp per day.

For the first time, Saga cruise passengers can book river travel vacations in Germany, Holland and Austria. Several voyages mark special events, among which Haarlem Flower Parade (April 2018, on the route from Noordwijk to Haarlem) and "Rhine in Flames" (August 2018 festival).

New special river cruise itineraries include "arts and gardens" themed cruises with tailor-made tours and port talks. An all-inclusive "mystery cruise" will offer a fun way to experience river cruising.

  • For solo travellers, Saga offers numerous single cabins (with no supplements required). The company also will operated three exclusive single cruises - "Springtime Colours" (Rhine RIver), "Majesty of the Middle Rhine" and "Douro Discovery" (Portugal).
  • Cruise and Stay: Saga also offers more 2-night hotel inclusive river cruise package deals in Prague, Dresden, Berlin, Budapest, Salzburg and Vienna, and also on the Black Sea resorts in Bulgaria - Albena and Bourgas. A 3-night hotel stay in Transylvania is also listed in Saga's 2018 river cruise program.
  • Early booking (by April 28, 2017) offered savings of up to GBP 500 per voyage, plus included VIP door-to-door travel on 2018 cruises 11+ nights in length.
  • Saga river cruise deals are inclusive of UK travel package (return flights with transfers, or bus travel from Folkestone) - depending on the itinerary. The list of inclusions also has full onboard dining, free bar, welcome aboard cocktail party, porterage, beverages (unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during lunches and dinners). Optional is the travel insurance.

The list of Saga-operated (chartered) river cruise ships includes Regina Rheni 2, Filia Rheni 2, Amadeus Royal, Amadeus Symphony, Douro Queen (Douro River, Portugal), Johannes Brahms and Rex Rheni.

Saga Cruises related cruise news