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Saga Cruises

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

Saga Cruises fleet

Review of Saga Cruises

Saga Cruises (Saga Shipping) is a British company, luxury cruise brand, and 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 Minerva (1989-built), 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 in 2010 scrapped in China. In 2014 was acquired Saga Ruby (former NCL ship MS Vistafjord, currently the hotel-ship Oasia), with the last voyage for Saga 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 January 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 fleet mate 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 to 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 a hotel ship.

Earlier in 2009, Saga UK acquired Astoria (Saga Pearl 2). Followed a GBP 14 million drydock refurbishment of the 1981-built vessel. The upgrades included new Veranda Restaurant; new balcony cabins; new Library Lounge; redesigned Spa, renovations to both swimming pools. The ship has 126 twin-bed cabins, 25 twin or king-bed cabins, 42 double-bed cabins. Of all staterooms, 20 are with balconies and 9 with French balconies. Saga Pearl 2 has 60 single cabins (almost 1/4 of all staterooms). Among Saga's signature trademarks are the shipboard Afternoon Tea service and ballroom dancing. Saga ships departure from UK ports (Southampton and Dover) on cruises to the Canaries, Baltic, and the Mediterranean. Itineraries range between 7- and 24-days in length.

NEWS: Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl 2 will both be withdrawn from service (leave the fleet) after the two new Saga cruise ships - Spirit of Discovery (2019) and Spirit of Adventure (2020) - are delivered. In August 2019 was announced that the cruise liner will be acquired by ANEX Tour (Russian company/travel agency) with offices in 30+ states in Central and Eastern Europe. The ship starts operations for ANEX Tour in mid-2020 under a new name (TBA). For its inaugural cruise season, Saga Sapphire will be homeported in Antalya Turkey (homeport) for roundtrips to Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea ports.

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 deliveries in 2019 July (Spirit of Discovery) and 2020 August (Spirit of Adventure). This is a new series of polar expedition ships with ice-strengthened hulls. Each vessel costs USD 350 million and has a total of 540 staterooms (cabins and suites), of 100 are single cabins (designed for solo travelers, no single supplement required), which is approx 20% of all cabins. The other staterooms are in categories Standard Balcony, Deluxe Balcony, Mid-Ship Suite and larger suites.

Saga Cruises new ship (The Living Room Bar Lounge)

Among the signature venues onboard 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)

At the end of March 2017 was announced 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

In mid-September 2018 was announced that starting January 2020, Saga's new ships deals will be all-inclusive. Fares include unlimited (shipboard served) house spirits, beers, wines (by the glass) and soft drinks. Company's packages also include:

  • UK travel package (to/from departure port), Shuttle bus transfer (to the nearest downtown from the port)
  • Onboard gratuities, Porterage
  • Onboard Welcome cocktail party
  • All onboard meals, afternoon tea, live entertainment
  • Unlimited tea and coffee (selected ship venues)
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • 24-hour room service
  • premium service (2 staff members for 3 passengers)

In early-March 2019, Saga announced that company's both newbuilds (the sisterships Adventure and Discovery) are all-inclusive cruise liners. This means that Saga cruise fares are inclusive of specialty restaurant dining, drinks (wine, beer, house spirits, soft drinks), 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi, gratuities, transfer (chauffeur service to/from homeport for cruise passengers based within 250 ml / 402 km distance). Shore excursions remain optional and at additional cost. The cruise company offers complimentary shuttle bus services in all ports where the town/city is over 0,5 km from the 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 a 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' cozy 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 evening 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. At formal nights (one for a week-long cruise, two for a 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 a waiter-served meal, the buffet onboard Saga Ruby, or eat out on deck. Opt for full English breakfast brought to the 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 for guests, as flexible arrangements make sure you dine at 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 the 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 mi (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 the 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.

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

08 DecDeparting from Southampton, England
12 DecFunchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
13 DecSanta Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands
14 DecSanta Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
15 DecLas Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
16 DecArrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
19 DecLa Coruna, Spain
21 DecArriving 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 NovDeparting from Southampton, England
25 NovFunchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
27 NovSanta Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
28 NovLas Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
29 NovArrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
01 DecCadiz, Spain
02 DecPortimao, Portugal
03 DecLisbon, Portugal
05 DecLa Coruna, Spain
06 DecAviles, Spain
08 DecArriving 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 NovDeparting from Southampton, England
05 NovFunchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
06 NovSanta Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
07 NovSanta Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands
10 NovMindelo, Sao Vicente Island, Cape Verde
11 NovPraia, Santiago Island, Cape Verde
14 NovArrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
17 NovLisbon, Portugal
20 NovArriving in Southampton, England

The Nov 1 voyage included a flight from the UK to Funchal (Madeira), boarding there Saga Pearl 2, and home flight from Lisbon back to the 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 center 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 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 the 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 GBP 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 the Italian way of life. You will stay in four throughout the tour - five-star hotels on a 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 GBP 949 and single staterooms – 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 unrivaled 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 was 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 Mystery Cruise

Captain Horne’s Mystery Cruise surprises up to 720 passengers every day for 3 weeks. The intriguing cruise aboard Saga Sapphire leaves Southampton UK in November 2018 with Captain Stuart Horne promising to keep "everyone guessing as long as possible." He added he would only tell his engineers and navigation team as much as they need to know for fuel management and route planning.

No guarantee where the captain sails but there are all-inclusive drinks and tours as well as entertainment from Syd Lawrence Orchestra on 6 nights. VIP Chauffeur service is guaranteed to and from the port, all included in the fare, along with travel insurance. Another surprise is the array of mystery celebrities/VIP guests on Saga Sapphire.

Saga Sapphire cruise ship

Ports of call are announced once the ship is berthed, but there is a shore trip included in every port.

The adventure is the last mystery cruise aboard Saga Sapphire and features a choice of table wines at lunch and dinner, as well as house-branded spirits, soft drinks, draught beer, and lager. Afternoon tea, unlimited tea, and coffee in selected venues, welcome cocktail party, free wifi, onboard gratuities, and 24-hour room service are also included.

Saga Sapphire departed Southampton on November 27, 2018. Prices for the 21-night cruise started from GBP 3,090 pp (based on 2 people sharing a twin cabin).

Saga Cruises Canary Islands Itineraries

Three Canary Islands itineraries on Saga Pearl II and Saga Sapphire feature themed voyages from fitness to crime fiction with a wealth of adventure tours. Prior to leaving Saga service, Saga Pearl II makes her last trip to the Canaries, while the cruises aboard Saga Sapphire offer great value with complimentary drinks.

  • 14-night "Sunshine in the Canaries" onboard Saga Sapphire, departing Southampton November 13, 2018 (prices from GBP 2,590 per person): The guest star is TV detective Stephen Tompkinson. Passengers can join a mystery-themed book club, screenings of crime movies, visits to the haunts of J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie. Four Canary Islands ­are featured: El Hierro, La Palma, Lanzarote and Tenerife plus Leixoes and Madeira, in Portugal.
  • 14-night "Canary Island Delights" onboard Saga Pearl II, departing Portsmouth January 4, 2019 (prices from GBP 2,300 per person): A Pilates class against a volcanic backdrop and a visit to aloe vera farm are two of the activities during the cruise, which also includes a host of health, fitness and food workshops. Tours include Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. Further ports include Lisbon and Fuerteventura. The final call to Ferrol offers the chance to walk along part of Way of St James, in the footsteps of the pilgrims who visit the holy Santiago de Compostela city.
  • 16-night "Treasures of the Canaries & Morocco" onboard Saga Sapphire, departing Southampton January 21, 2019 (prices from GBP 2,540 per person): Photography lessons help passengers capture memories of the Canaries, Madeira’s mountains and Casablanca skyline. Tours include Tenerife, Madeira, and Funchal. In Lanzarote, passengers can visit the garden of artist Cesar Manrique, Gran Canaria and the port cities of Agadir and Vigo are also on the itinerary.

Prices include UK travel package to/from the port, welcome cocktail party, all meals, choice of table wines with lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, entertainment, 24-hour room service, unlimited coffee and tea in selected venues, onboard gratuities, free wifi, porterage, free shuttle bus to the nearest town centre, optional travel insurance along with additional cancellation rights (or a discount in case passenger has own insurance). All shore excursions are optional, at additional cost, subject to availability and change.

"The Chic Mediterranean Cruise" on Spirit of Discovery

The passengers on Saga Cruises' new luxury ship Spirit of Discovery can now immerse themselves in Spanish speaking, paella-making, and flamenco dancing during The Chic Mediterranean cruise scheduled for October 2019. Highlights of the trip include Spain’s sun-blessed coast and the breathtaking Cote d’Azur of the French Riviera with visits to Barcelona, Saint Tropez, Valencia, Gibraltar, Cartagena, Malaga, Ibiza, Majorca, Toulon, Ferrol.

During the 18-night itinerary from Southampton UK, art-lovers are able to explore the haunts of Cezanne, Gaudi, and Picasso, as well as enjoy the street art of Valencia. In Palma, they can meet local sculptors and painters. Tours also include a recital on Rock of Gibraltar by Aaron Monteverde, a visit to Spanish liqueur factory, as well as a chance to explore the countryside of Ibiza by 4X4/2CV, and an 8-kilometer walk along Caminito del Rey in Malaga, while learning about local wildlife, flora, and geology.

The 18-night cruise is from GBP 3,999 per person (based on 2 people sharing the lowest available grade) departing from Southampton UK, October 17, 2019. Fare includes UK travel package to/from Southampton UK, welcome cocktail party, all meals, table wines with lunch and dinner, 24-hour room service, afternoon tea, unlimited tea & coffee in selected venues, entertainment, free wifi, onboard gratuities, free shuttle bus to the nearest town centre, porterage, optional travel insurance, additional cancellation rights, or a discount in case the guest has own insurance. All excursions are optional, at additional cost, subject to availability and change.

Saga river cruises 2018-2019-2020 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 "The 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 travelers, Saga offers numerous single cabins (with no supplements required). The company also will operate 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 tour 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 stays in Transylvania is also listed in Saga's 2018 river cruise program.
  • 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 travel insurance.

The list of Saga-operated (chartered) riverboats includes Regina Rheni 2, Filia Rheni 2, Amadeus Royal, Amadeus Symphony, Douro Queen (Douro River, Portugal), Johannes Brahms, Rex Rheni and Dutch Melody (fka River Melody, since 2020).

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