Saga Pearl II

Former names: Pearl II, Saga Pearl 2, Quest for Adventure, Astoria, Arkona, Astor

Specifications of Saga Pearl II

Year built1981  /  Age: 41
Builder(HDW) Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Kiel, Germany)
Building costUSD 55 million
Speed20 kn / 37 kph / 23 mph
Length (LOA)164 m / 538 ft
Beam (width)22 m / 72 ft
Gross Tonnage18627 gt
Passengers446 - 512
Crew252
Passengers-to-space ratio36
Decks7
Cabins253
Decks with cabins6
Last Refurbishment2017, Aliaga-scrapped in 2022
Sister-shipsCMV Astor
Former namesPearl II, Saga Pearl 2, Quest for Adventure, Astoria, Arkona, Astor
OwnerSaga PLC
OperatorSaga Cruises

Saga Pearl II Review

Review of Saga Pearl II

The 1981-built Saga Pearl 2 cruise ship was one of Saga UK's old vessels (together with the fleetmate Saga Sapphire) and had one sistership - CMV Astor (1987-built/2020-scrapped). Pearl 2 (auction-acquired in 2008) and Sapphire were both withdrawn from service (left SAGA's fleet) after the two newbuilds, respectively, Spirit of Discovery (2019) and Spirit of Adventure (2020) were commissioned.

In July 2020, Saga Sapphire was sold to / acquired by ANEX Tours (Turkey's largest travel agency/tour operator). The 39-year-old liner (renamed "Blue Sapphire") started operations for ANEX Tours in 2021.

In April 2019, Saga Pearl II was sold to Aqua Explorer Holdings Ltd (offshore/BVI-registered company), renamed "Pearl II" and relocated to Greece (Port Perama, near Piraeus-Athens). On July 23, 2022, after being laid up for ~3 years in Greece (due to the Coronavirus crisis), the 41-year-old ship was towed to Turkey, sold for scrap metal and on July 25th was beached for dismantling at Aliaga Turkey. The AIS transmitted for the last time on July 23rd, at 8:24 UTC.

The vessel (IMO number 8000214) was last Malta-flagged (MMSI 256878000) and registered in Valletta.

History - construction and ownership

Saga Cruises is a UK-based passenger shipping company and a division/subsidiary of Saga Group/SAGA UK. By purchasing Saga Rose, Saga Group started its passenger shipping operations. The boat operated as flagship until 2005 when was added Saga Ruby (bought from Cunard Line). For the 2003 summer SAGA chartered MV Minerva (1989-built), which was renamed "Saga Pearl". Saga Rose was retired after a final 37-night Mediterranean voyage. Subsequently, she was scrapped in China. Saga Ruby departed for Gibraltar out of Southampton for the last time on January 10th and was handed over to the new shipowner on January 13, 2014.

Saga Pearl II cruise ship

Saga Pearl 2 was named "MV Astoria until November 2009, when was acquired by Saga UK to replace MS Saga Rose (1965). The new shipowner spent over GBP 20 million on refits and renovations - the company's most expensive refurbishment project. In 2012, the vessel was renamed "Quest for Adventure", then "Saga Pearl 2" again in November 2013, when received the company's logo on the funnel.

Between 2005 and 2013, SAGA established a second travel brand - "Spirit of Adventure Cruises". Its fleet consisted of Spirit of Adventure (MS Berlin/now Dream Goddess) and Quest for Adventure (Saga Pearl 2).

The 600-passenger ship Saga Pearl II embarked on the Maiden Voyage for Saga Holidays in March 2010. In May 2012 she was renamed "Quest for Adventure", and in November 2013 back to "Saga Pearl II".

Under the new shipowner (Aqua Explorer Holdings), Pearl II was supposed to be resold to a Greek company to serve as a cruise ship or a floating hotel. Later was announced that the BVI-listed shipowner is controlled by Saudi Arabian interests (via Greek intermediaries) and planned to convert the ship into a private superyacht. However, this project failed as the vessel was delivered at the height of the Saudi Arabian purge (2017-2019) during which prominent princes, ministers, and businessmen were arrested by the anti-corruption committee led by Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, in tenure since January 2015)

Decks and Cabins

Saga Pearl II has a total of 253 cabins (of which 36 Suites, 20 Balcony, 60 Single) in 26 grades. 9 staterooms offer French verandas. A great selling point for solo passengers: Saga Pearl II has enormous single staterooms, which is nearly 25% of the total number of cabins.

Shipboard facilities and amenities

Brought to the dining table is the taste of all Saga Holidays destinations, as experienced chefs shop all fresh ingredients while in port, in order to serve fantastic food with local flavour. The Dining Room features ocean-view picture windows, restful decor and dark wood panelling. There is a single, open seating at tables for 4, 6 or 8. Two small wings, each with one 12-seat table, can be used for small groups. Self-serving buffets for breakfast and lunch, as well as a casual alternative to dinner in the Main Dining Room, can be enjoyed in the Verandah Restaurant, which overlooks the open deck area and the aft pool.

Saga Pearl II cruise ship

Saga Pearl II's dining venues included Main Dining Room (MDR), Verandah Restaurant (alfresco venue open for buffet-style breakfast and lunch, and waiter-served dinner), and two private dining rooms (Chart Room and Ward Room, capacity 14 seats each) where dinners are attended by the Captain and senior officers.

SAGA's shore excursions include scuba diving and snorkeling (along coral reefs), exploring archeological sites and ancient ruins, desert safari adventures, cultury-themed tours. Some land tours are included on each voyage, in addition to optional excursions and independently booked ashore travel. Mountain bikes are complimentary provided while the ship is berthed in port. The onboard entertainment includes guest speakers and expert lecturers.

SAGA's travelers are in the 50+ age group, and mainly British. This typical "UK ship" was operated as an adults-only, providing a child-free environment.

Saga Pearl II cruise ship

Follows the complete list of Saga Pearl II lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.

  • Discovery Lounge (enjoy afternoon tea with sugar sculptures and crafted cakes; dance classes; presentations)
  • Sundown Bar; Shackleton's Bar (live music)
  • The Discovery Lounge; Shop; Library; Card Room; Chart Room; Ward Room; Cinema
  • SPA and Treatment Rooms; Hair & Beauty Salon; Sauna; Indoor Pool; Outdoor Pool; Gym
  • The aft-positioned Sun Deck is on two levels (decks 6-7) and has outdoor games (shuffleboard, deck quoits, short tennis court) and BBQ/Barbecue Area (for alfresco dining)
  • On Sports Deck (top deck) is the midship positioned Short Tennis Court.

The Gym (open between 7 am - 7 pm) is with floor-ceiling mirrors and fitted with 3x treadmills, 2x static cycles, a rowing machine, cross-trainer, exercise balls, ballet-style barre (along two of the walls), stretching mats, free weights. A large TV is mounted on the wall. Bottled water and towels are provided complimentary.

The Cinema (20-seat) is free of charge (available on a first-come-first-served basis) and also used for quizzes and exercise classes. It typically screens 2 films per day.

On Lobby Deck (A-Deck) is the midship Lobby Hall housing Tours Office (Saga Cruises' excursions and tours booking and information) and Reception Desk (24-hour guest assistance, also offers currency exchange service).

Briefing Room contains a large selection of DVDs. Card Room is stocked with board games, cards, jigsaw puzzles. The Library (divided into several areas) is with panoramic windows and stocked with 3000+ books.

The Duty-Free Shop sells brand perfumes, jewelry, watches, fashion accessories, clothing, everyday and travel necessities.

Discovery Lounge doubles as the ship's Theatre (main show lounge) and is the focus of nightly entertainment with a live show (starting at 9:30 pm). After the show, there are live music performances for dancing (by Saga Orchestra). The Lounge has capacity to seat all passengers on rows of cream and blue chairs. The seating is banquette (at either side of the room), with small tables (for drinks). Large TV screens are positioned around the walls for everyone to get close-up views of the action onstage. Waiter service drinks are provided between 8:30-11:30 pm.

Shackleton's Bar (opens from 10:15 pm) is a lively lounge perfect for after-dinner cocktails, with a mix of live music (from a resident pianist) and recorded pop music (hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s).

The Sundowner Bar (open from 10:30 am to 1 am) is an intimate venue, best for pre- or after-dinner cocktails. Sundowner is accessible via indoor stairs (from Bridge Deck) and outdoor stairs (from Sun Deck). The Bar features floor-ceiling windows (with great views over the stern).

Itineraries

Saga Pearl II's itinerary program was based on roundtrips from UK homeports (Dover and Southampton) visiting ports in Europe (Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Norway's Fjords) and even Africa and South America via relocation Transatlantic crossings (RepositionCruises.com).

The ship's last cruise for Saga was a 54-night voyage to Africa, leaving from Portsmouth UK on February 16, 2019. Among the visited African ports were Banjul, Luanda, Luderitz, Maputo, Walvis Bay.

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Saga Pearl II Wiki

The vessel was launched (floated out from drydock) on December 16, 1980, delivered (as Astor) in December 1981 and entered service on December 14, 1981. During its service history, it was operated under the names Astor (1981-85, for HADAG Seetouristik und Fahrdienst AG), Arkona (1985-2002, for Safmarine Container Lines NV), Astoria (2002-2010, for Transocean Tours), Saga Pearl II (2010-2019, for Saga Cruises). In the period May 2012  through November 2013, the cruise ship was named "Quest for Adventure" and operated by Saga's new brand Adventure Cruises.

The shipbuilder HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft) is currently part of TKMS (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems) - a subsidiary company fully-owned by ThyssenKrupp AG (German corporation specializing in industrial engineering and steel production). Howaldtswerke (1838-founded shipyard in Kiel Germany) in 1968 merged with Deutsche Werft (Hamburg) forming today's HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft).

The cruise liner is powered by 4 Sulzer-Wartsila marine diesel engines, with total output 15,4 MW. To reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gases (carbon footprint), the vessel's hull was coated with special silicone paint. The ship's last Captain for Saga Cruises was Nick Sunderland.

The last drydock refurbishment in April 2017 was at Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen (Holland). The drydocking included extensive hull and superstructure (exterior) maintenance and also repainting. Interior renovations included new carpeting in all public areas. Renovations and upgrades were also done in the galley (kitchen and storage areas), engine room, the electrical system.

In early-June 2017, Saga confirmed that Pearl 2 leaves the fleet in 2019. Saga Pearl II's last voyage was the 54-night "Around Africa" leaving out of Portsmouth (England UK) on February 16, 2019.

Next is shown Pearl 2's last cruise with Saga - the 14-day "Canary Island Delights", with prices from GBP 2300 pp (double occupancy).

04 JanDeparting from Portsmouth
07 Jan 13:00 - 23:00Lisbon, Portugal
10 Jan 08:00 - 22:00Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
11 Jan 08:00 - 18:00Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canaries
12 Jan 08:00 - 23:00Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Canaries
13 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canaries
16 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Ferrol, Spain
18 JanArriving in Portsmouth

Saga Pearl 2 had 3 other scheduled cruises in 2019, but they were all cancelled:

15-days "Spanish Morocco and Andalusia" - prices from GBP 2175 pp

18 JanDeparting from Portsmouth
22 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Ceuta, Spanish Morocco
23 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Melilla, Spanish Morocco
25 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Palma de Mallorca, Majorca Island, Balearic Spain
26 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Algiers, Algeria
27 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Cartagena, Spain
28 Jan 08:00 - 17:00Malaga, Spain
30 Jan 09:00 - 17:00Vigo, Spain
02 FebArriving in Portsmouth

13-days "The Canaries in Bloom" - from GBP 1980 pp

02 FebDeparting from Portsmouth
06 Feb 08:00 - 17:00Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
07 Feb 12:00 - 20:00Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canaries
09 Feb 08:00 - 18:00Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canaries
10 Feb 08:00 - 17:00Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canaries
13 Feb 09:00 - 18:00La Coruna, Spain
15 FebArriving in Portsmouth

54-days World Cruise from UK ("South African Farewell Adventure") with prices from GBP 9650 pp

16 FebDeparting from Portsmouth
20 Feb 08:00 - 13:00Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
21 Feb 09:00 - 16:00Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canaries
24 Feb 08:00 - 18:00Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island, Cape Verde
26 Feb 08:00 - 18:00Banjul, Gambia
05 Mar 08:00 - 18:00Luanda, Angola
10 Mar 07:00 - 10 MarCape Town, South Africa
13 Mar 08:00 - 18:00Port Elizabeth, South Africa
14 Mar 08:00 - 18:00East London, South Africa
16 Mar 08:00 - 14:00Maputo, Mozambique
17 Mar 07:00 - 22:00Richards Bay, South Africa
18 Mar 08:00 - 13:00Durban, South Africa
23 Mar 08:00 - 16:00Luderitz, Namibia
24 Mar 09:00 - 18:00Walvis Bay, Namibia
28 Mar 08:00 - 18:00Jamestown, Saint Helena Island UK
03 Apr 08:00 - 18:00Dakar, Senegal
06 Apr 08:00 - 18:00Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canaries
09 Apr 12:00 - 20:00Ferrol, Spain
11 AprArriving in Portsmouth

After the vessel left SAGA's fleet, its MMSI number (and flag-state) was changed from 311348000 (Bahamas) to 256878000 (Malta).

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