Saga Cruises

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

Saga Cruises fleet

Review of Saga Cruises

Saga Cruises (Saga Shipping) is a British company, division of Saga Group. With the purchase of Saga Rose (former NCL ship MS Sagafjord), in 1997 the company started passenger shipping operations under the brand name "Saga Cruises". Saga Rose was the flagship until 2004 when Saga Ruby was bought from Cunard Line (previously named MS Caronia).

For the 2003 summer Saga Holidays chartered mv Minerva (built in 1989), which sailed as Saga Pearl. Saga Rose was retired in 2009 after a final 37-night Mediterranean voyage. Subsequently, the ship was laid up in Gibraltar and later scrapped in China. In 2014 was acquired Saga Ruby (former NCL ship MS Vistafjord, currently hotel-ship Oasia), which last voyage for Saga was in January 2014.

Saga Cruises logo

Company history

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 introduced the "Spirit of Adventure Cruises" brand. In March 2006, MV Spirit of Adventure (former Orange Melody) entered into service. In 2013, Saga sold the brand.

  • Currently, Saga Holidays operates two 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 it to Saga. It was operated until 2014 as "Saga Ruby". In 2014, the vessel was sold to a Chinese company, renamed Oasia and is currently operated as hotel ship.

Earlier in 2009, Saga UK was scheduled to take ownership of Astoria. The refurbishment of Astoria, built in 1981, underwent GBP 14 million before re-lounched as Saga Pearl 2. The upgrades included new Veranda Restaurant; addition of new balcony cabins; creation of a library; redesigned spa, two swimming pools renovations. The ship provides 126 twin cabins, 25 twin or king-bed cabins, 42 double cabins. Of all staterooms, 20 are with balconies and 9 have French balconies.

The greatest selling point for solo travelers is that Saga Pearl 2 has 60 single cabins (almost 1/4 of all the 253 cabins). Amng Saga UK's signature trademarks are the onboard afternoon tea and ballroom dancing. Saga ships offer departures from UK ports (Southampton and Dover) offering cruises to the Canaries, Baltic and Mediterranean with itineraries between 7- and 24-nights in length.

New ships

In 2017, Saga UK ordered two new cruise ships with capacity under 1000 passengers, each vessel with a total of 540 cabins and suites. The shipbuilder is Meyer Werft (Papenburg Germany). Unlike all previous Saga ships, these two are fully-owned by the company.

new Saga cruise ship design

The vessels were scheduled for delivery in summer 2019 (Spirit of Discovery) and 2020 (Spirit of Adventure). This is a new series of polar expedition ships with ice-strengthened hulls. Each vessel costs USD 350 million and offers a total of 540 cabins and suites, of which over 100 are single cabins (designed for solo travellers, no single supplement required), which is approx 15% of its total stateroom capacity. The rest of the staterooms are in categories Standard Balcony, Deluxe Balcony, Mid-ship Suite and larger panoramic suites.

Saga Cruises new ship (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 has two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor).

Saga Cruises new ship (The Verandah restaurant)

In the end of March 2017 was annonced the name selected for the first ship - "Spirit of Discovery" (scheduled delivery June 2019). The second vessel was ordered in September 2017 - "Spirit of Adventure" (scheduled delivery August 2020).

Saga Cruises new ship

Saga Holidays ocean- and river cruising experience

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.

Saga passengers 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 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 select cruise itineraries 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 Saga ship you choose (ocean or river), 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 - 9 pm.

Saga Cruises customers

The Saga cruise line targets 50-and-older customers and is kids-free. The company sells directly to public, not counting on travel agents. Allowing traveling companions who are 40+ years old is beneficial to couples who want to cruise together with grown-up families and in-laws, and also to those who need assistance and personal care. Saga's customers are elderly and almost exclusively British, with occasional passengers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, rarely Japan. Saga provides free chauffeur service (door-to-door) for passengers who live within 75 ml (120 km) of cruise departure ports, and also shared chauffeur for up to 250 ml (400 km) homeport distances. Alternatives include coach and rail transportation, or domestic flights (from UK) which can be fare-included. Saga also offers free parking to all its cruise passengers.

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.

Saga Holidays fly-cruise deals

For the end of 2017 (November and December), Saga Cruises offered 3 fly-cruises. The 8-, 11- and 12-night itineraries were available for booking with all-inclusive prices starting from around GBP 114 per person. Saga's "flight and cruise" deals are inclusive of airport and seaport transfers, all onboard meals, alcohol (wine by the glass / at lunch and dinner, house-brand spirits, cocktails, draught beers, lager), also soft drinks, afternoon tea, free Wi-Fi and, all onboard gratuities.

The Saga Sapphire ship's 8-night "Canary Island Medley" cruise (prices from GBP 897) departed from Southampton on December 8, 2017.

08 Dec Departing from Southampton, England
12 Dec      Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal   
13 Dec      Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands   
14 Dec      Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands   
15 Dec      Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands   
16 Dec      Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands   
19 Dec      La Coruna, Spain   
21 Dec       Arriving in Southampton, England   

The Saga Pearl II ship's 11-night "Jewels of the Canary Islands" cruise (prices from GBP 1516) departed from Southampton on November 20, 2017.

20 Nov Departing from Southampton, England
25 Nov      Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal   
27 Nov      Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands   
28 Nov      Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands   
29 Nov      Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands   
01 Dec      Cadiz, Spain   
02 Dec      Portimao, Portugal   
03 Dec      Lisbon, Portugal   
05 Dec      La Coruna, Spain   
06 Dec      Aviles, Spain   
08 Dec Arriving in Southampton, England

The Saga Pearl II ship's 12-night "Contrasts of the Canary Islands and Cape Verde" cruise (prices from GBP 1980) departed from Southampton on November 1, 2017.

01 Nov Departing from Southampton, England
05 Nov      Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal   
06 Nov      Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands   
07 Nov      Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands   
10 Nov      Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island, Cape Verde   
11 Nov      Praia, Santiago Island, Cape Verde   
14 Nov      Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands   
17 Nov      Lisbon, Portugal   
20 Nov Arriving in Southampton, England

The Nov 1 voyage included flight from UK to Funchal (Madeira), boarding there Saga Pearl 2, and home flight from Lisbon to UK.

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 cruisetour 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.

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