Saga Sapphire

Former names: Bleu de France, Holiday Dream, SuperStar Aries, SuperStar Europe, MS Europa

Saga Sapphire current position

Saga Sapphire current location is at North Sea (coordinates 51.45859 N / 0.34150 E) cruising en route to GB TIL. The AIS position was reported 3 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of Saga Sapphire

Year built1981  /  Age : 39
Flag state Malta
BuilderBremer Vulkan Werft (Bremen, Germany)
Building costUSD 120 million
OwnerSaga PLC
OperatorSaga Cruises
Speed21 kn / 39 kph / 24 mph
Length (LOA)199 m / 653 ft
Beam (width)28 m / 92 ft
Gross Tonnage37049 gt
Passengers706 - 748
Crew415
Passengers-to-space ratio45
Decks12
Cabins382
Decks with cabins10
Last Refurbishment2015
Former namesBleu de France, Holiday Dream, SuperStar Aries, SuperStar Europe, MS Europa
Saga Cruises Coronavirus update

Saga Sapphire Review

Review of Saga Sapphire

Launched in 1981, Saga Sapphire cruise ship is one of Saga Cruises vessels - together with the fleet mate Saga Pearl 2. The vessel was transferred to Saga Holidays (UK) in 2011 and inaugurated in March 2012.

NEWS: Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl 2 will both be withdrawn from service (leave the fleet) after the two new Saga cruise ships - Spirit of Discovery (2019) and Spirit of Adventure (2020) - are delivered.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 38-year-old 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.

History - construction and ownership

Saga Cruises (Saga Shipping) is an UK-based company, division of Saga Group. 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 Cruises chartered mv Minerva (built 1989), which was renamed to Saga Pearl. Saga Rose was retired after a final 37-night Mediterranean voyage. Subsequently, the ship was scrapped in China. Saga Ruby departed for Gibraltar out of Southampton for the last time on Jan. 10 and was handed over to the new shipowner on January 13, 2014.

Saga Sapphire cruise ship

Saga Sapphire was originally built for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as ms Europa (link to the HP ship). "MS Europa" was the 5th ship for Hapag-Lloyd with that name. Through the years, the vessel was renamed several times -  SuperStar Europe (1999-2000, owner Star Cruises Asia), Superstar Aries (2000-2004, owner Star Cruises Asia), ms Holiday Dream (2004-2008, owner Club Vacaciones), Bleu de France (2008-2011, owner Pulllmantur-CDF). In November 2010, the ship was bought by Saga UK but remained on charter by CDF-France (Pullmantur subsidiary) for the next year. After an extensive refit in 2012, the ship received the name "MS Saga Sapphire".

The 37,049-ton, 752-passenger cruise ship Saga Sapphire was launched as the line’s new flagship in March 2012. Saga Sapphire is the largest ship operated by Saga Group company - a corporate giant, providing financial services and running travel company for people older than fifty.

In November 2011 Saga Holidays took ownership of Pullmantur CDF’s Bleu de France, immediately beginning a multimillion drydock refurbishment of the 706-passenger vessel. The vessel changed hands a few times since its debut in 1981 as Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa. Saga Cruises successfully created a stylish but contemporary ship with lovely British touches. A part of the refurb was the stunning 7-metre installation of 1,395 stainless steel fishes - this is the centrepiece of the atrium lobby. Saga Sapphire gained 46 balconies, added to the cabins on Deck 8. This way the number of balcony cabins became 65. Amenities include a personal safe, DVD player, flat-screen TV, direct-dial telephone, hairdryer, mini-fridge, air-conditioning. Public spaces were redesigned and include the use of iPads and Wi-Fi connectivity - the first for Saga.

Cruise itinerary program

Saga Sapphire itinerary program is based on round-trip cruises from the UK ports Dover and Southampton to the British Isles, Norway Fjords, Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Canada/New England and the Caribbean with round-trip Transatlantic crossings.

Cabins

Saga Sapphire is not a cruise ship with identical, production-line cabins. There is a range of 25 categories - standard inside singles, 6 Royal Suites, 1 Owner’s Suite, 3 rooms categorized as suites, standard outside cabins (a singular Grand Suite, 2 singles, 21 doubles) with views that are obstructed by the lifeboats. 6 of the cabins are for passengers with special needs. 179 of the 374 staterooms are accommodated with baths, 20 of them also have showers. There are a total of 58 single cabins; 2 balcony cabins are for single occupancy. The 65 balconies are quite narrow for stretching out in the sun but big enough for sitting, reading, enjoying a cocktail. 24-hours room service is available at no extra charge. The televisions are flat-screen, equipped with DVD players - films are available from the Academy, free of charge.

Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks

Dining venues on Saga Sapphire are fare-included. Saga Sapphire’s main Pole to Pole restaurant is situated on Deck 7, accommodating a maximum of 620 people. Pole to Pole is split into separate themed areas on seven continents, with intimate impression. The windows are down each of the room’s sides and geographical variation is provided by enlarged photographs. Dinner is open-seating. It is served between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The passengers choose to dine as couples or join a table of four or six. Traditionalists prefer eating at the same table, at the same time and with the same companions each day. They can be accommodated by speaking to the maitre d’ on request on cruise’s first day and are expected to use the same table throughout the cruise.

Each morning, a continental buffet is being set out in the restaurant, with waiter service for tea and coffee, fresh toast or cooked items. Waiter-service lunch is provided also in Pole to Pole. The Grill is Saga Sapphire’s alternative dining area on Deck 9. Full waiter service is also available throughout the day, with self-service salad section during lunch. At lunchtime, if weather permitting, a barbecue grill is being set up on the Verandah. The Grill stays open 30 minutes after Pole to Pole at breakfast. Continental buffet and daily cooked specialities are served at breakfast. Saga Cruises has decided to increase the number of self-serve buffet offerings. Make a reservation for speciality restaurant East to West at no extra charge. The restaurant offers Asian fusion menu of Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan and Indian. Lunchtime burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, are served poolside at the Beach Club, which also offers unlimited soft ice cream.

Saga Sapphire cruise ship

Follows the complete list of Saga Sapphire restaurants and food bars.

  • Pole to Pole Restaurant (Main Dining Room)
  • East to West Restaurant (Asian cuisine)
  • The Grill (alternative dining area)
  • The Verandah.

Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport

The Drawing Room up on Deck 11 provides computers for travellers’ access to the Internet. Wi-Fi is also available. The Academy on Deck 4 is used as an addition to Brittania Lounge for onboard lectures. There and in the library are many books to borrow, as well as DVDs and iPads. The two shops on Deck 8 supply formal wear, resort clothes, confectionery, souvenirs, travel necessities, pharmaceuticals.

Daytime lectures and evening shows are held in Britannia Lounge which is on Deck 8. It serves also as the meeting point for the departures to shore excursions, afternoon teas and cocktail parties. Britannia Lounge is furnished with soft chairs and sofas - it is Saga Sapphire’s main entertainment venue with an array of musicians and cabarets in the evening, hosting lectures and dancing lessons throughout the day. To the opposite is situated the Card Room, decorated in gold leaf, open to Saga Sapphire’s card-game enthusiasts. The Drawing Room up on Deck 11, with expansive observation windows and panoramic views, is furnished with furniture eclectic collection and knick-knacks - an entertainment venue that is alternative with vessel’s second dance floor. The Drawing Room is also a perfect place for daytime retreat. Cooper’s Bar on Deck 8 is a popular pre-dinner bar, themed around the comedian Tommy Cooper. The flat-screen TV is used for half-hour comedy shows.

Saga Sapphire cruise ship

The Aviators Bar is one deck down, adjacent to Reception Desk. Drinks are available also from the Beach Club on Deck 11, by the pool. The Clubhouse is adjoining pool area - an indoor room with games like table football and tennis. A small troupe of singers and dancers are available onboard the Saga Sapphire. They perform productions of show tunes that are popular. The afternoon tea is accompanied by classical trio or string quartet, playing for pre-dinner dancing. Comedians, guest singers, virtuoso instrumentalists take part in cabaret performances, although Saga Sapphire is not a late-night clubbing vessel.

Sapphire’s outdoor cinema “View from the Top” is situated above the Beach Club. It is first of the kind for Saga Holidays. The mini-golf course St Andrews is on Deck 12, at front of the ship. Saga Cruises pays much attention to vacation shore excursions. Trips are usually led by local guides and they prove to be popular because of the reasonable price.

The Saga Sapphire beauty and spa salon is situated deep down on Deck 2. Alongside the hair salon and the treatment rooms are the steam room and the sauna. A rudimentary gym also awaits for you. There are a whirlpool bath and a heated indoor pool. The main pool is situated on Deck 11 and it is surrounded by sun loungers and deckchairs. Saga Sapphire View from the Top is an outdoor cinema above the Beach Club - the first of the kind for Saga Cruises. Also on Deck 11 is a small golf course, called St Andrews.

Saga Sapphire cruise ship drydock refurbishment

Saga Cruises passengers are not comfortable with the concept “resort casual”. Saga Sapphire is not dedicated to 21st-century fashion. Most of the men wear ties and jackets even on casual evenings; suits are for informal nights. Also frequently used are the cravats and blazers, particularly among Britannia Club members. Women usually wear blouse-and-skirt combinations, dresses, light and airy or elegant cocktail outfits. The seven-night cruises have two formal nights; the two-weeks voyages have three.

Tips for cabin stewards and waiters are included in fares. There are no gratuities added automatically to bar bills or spa treatments. The pound sterling is the currency on board.

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

  • The Academy (hosts lectures)
  • Aviator's Bar; Cooper's Bar
  • Photo Gallery & Shop
  • View from the Top
  • Britannia Lounge; The Drawing Room; Library; Card Room
  • The Beach Club; The Club House
  • Aqua Spa; Treatment Rooms; Hair&Beauty Salon; Sauna; Steam Room; Indoor Pool; Outdoor Pool; 2 Hot Tubs; Gym
  • Sun Deck with outdoor games (shuffleboard, deck quoits)
  • St Andrews (mini-golf course).

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Saga Sapphire was originally built for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as ms Europa (link to the HP ship). "MS Europa" was the 5th ship for Hapag-Lloyd with that name. Through the years, the vessel was renamed several times - SuperStar Europe (1999-2000, owner Star Cruises Asia), Superstar Aries (2000-2004, owner Star Cruises Asia), ms Holiday Dream (2004-2008, owner Club Vacaciones), Bleu de France (2008-2011, owner Pulllmantur-CDF). In November 2010, the ship was bought by Saga UK but remained on charter by CDF-France (Pullmantur subsidiary) for the next year. After an extensive refit in 2012, the ship received the name "MS Saga Sapphire".

Saga cruise passengers are 50-60+, mainly British and repeaters (known as "saganauts"). This typical UK cruise ship is adults-only (child-free environment). Ship's last Captain (for Saga) was Julian Burgess. While operated by Saga UK, the ship was Malta-flagged (MMSI 256208000) and registered in Valletta.

In 2018, Saga Sapphire passengers had the unique opportunity to visit the Meyer Werft shipbuilding yard (in Papenburg Germany) and see the construction of Saga's new ship Spirit of Discovery. The location was part of organized from Bremen cruise tour itinerary during the 6-night "Easter Getaway" cruise (March 28, 2018). The shipyard's guided tour enabled guests to see the vessel's construction progress and learn about its design and the shipbuilding process itself. The unique 6-night cruise itinerary was priced from GBP 968 pp departing from Southampton England. The UK travel package (to and from Portsmouth) included all meals, table wines (at lunch and dinner), afternoon tea, 24-hour room service, unlimited tea/coffee (selected venues), free Wi-Fi internet, onboard gratuities, porterage, free shuttle bus transfer (to nearest town).

In 2018, the ship had scheduled "Isle of Man and the TT" (motorcycle race) themed cruise (7-day itinerary May 29 - June 5) leaving roundtrip from Dover to Dublin, Liverpool, Isle of Man (Douglas, June 2) and Isle of Portland (June 4). The all-inclusive ticket prices started from GBP 1000 pp (double-occupancy Inside Cabin fare). Saga Cruises all-inclusive deals on the voyage included UK land travel (to / from homeport Dover), 24-hour room service, welcome aboard cocktail party, onboard meals and entertainment, table wine (at lunches and dinners), house-brand alcohol, cocktails, beers, mixers, soft drinks (all served complimentary in onboard bars and lounges), Afternoon Tea service, unlimited tea and coffee, Wi-Fi, all gratuities, porterage, free transfers (shuttle bus to / from the ship in call ports).

Saga Sapphire cruises 2020 (last voyages for Saga UK)

Next tables show the ship's last cruises for Saga Group.

16-day "Norwegian Fjords" from Southampton to Dover

Date / TimePort
21 FebDeparting from Southampton, England
24 Feb 08:00 - 17:00Bergen, Norway
25 Feb 08:00 - 16:00Alesund, Norway
27 Feb 10:00 - 28 Feb 16:00Tromso, Norway
29 Feb 08:00 - 01 Mar 15:00Alta, Norway
04 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Kristiansund, Norway
06 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Stavanger, Norway
08 Mar 08:00Arriving in Dover, England

7-day "Irish Coasts and Cities" roundtrip from Dover

Date / TimePort
08 Mar 16:00Departing from Dover, England
10 Mar 05:00 - 20:00Liverpool, England
11 Mar 10:00 - 12 Mar 16:00Dublin, Ireland
13 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Cobh-Cork, Ireland
14 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Isle of Portland, Dorset, England
15 Mar 08:00Arriving in Dover, England

8-day "Scandinavian Vistas" roundtrip from Dover

Date / TimePort
15 Mar 16:00Departing from Dover, England
17 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Kristiansand, Norway
18 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Goteborg, Gothenburg, Sweden
19 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Aarhus, Denmark
20 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Copenhagen, Denmark
21 MarKiel Canal, Germany
23 Mar 08:00Arriving in Dover, England

19-day "Tastes of Spain and Portugal" roundtrip from Dover

Date / TimePort
23 Mar 16:00Departing from Dover, England
25 Mar 08:00 - 17:00La Rochelle, France
26 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Bilbao, Spain
28 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Porto-Leixoes, Oporto, Portugal
30 Mar 08:00 - 17:00Cadiz, Spain
31 Mar 09:00 - 17:00Casablanca, Morocco
02 Apr 08:00 - 17:00Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
03 Apr 08:00 - 21:00Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
04 Apr 08:00 - 21:00El Hierro, Puerto de la Estaca, Canary Islands
07 Apr 08:00 - 12:00Lisbon, Portugal
11 Apr 08:00Arriving in Dover, England

(last voyage for Saga UK) 15-day "UK and Ireland" from Dover to Southampton

Date / TimePort
21 Apr 16:00Departing from Dover, England
23 Apr 08:00 - 17:00Newcastle upon Tyne, England
24 Apr 04:15 - 13:00Leith-Edinburgh, Newhaven, Scotland
26 Apr 08:00 - 17:00Kirkwall, Orkney Island, Scotland
28 Apr 08:00 - 17:00Fort William, Scotland
29 Apr 08:00Belfast, Northern Ireland
01 May 08:00 - 17:00Liverpool, England
02 May 08:00 - 19:00Dublin, Ireland
04 May 08:00 - 17:00Guernsey Island, St Peter Port, Channel Islands
05 May 08:00 - 19:00Poole, England
06 May 08:00Arriving in Southampton, England

Unfortunately, due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, all the March-April voyages were cancelled.

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