Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
Cruising with Saga
Is it just for the really old?
The name Saga has always been associated with the elderly, and now that we are over 50 we wanted to see for ourselves if this cruise line is really just for the very old. We contacted Saga and they kindly invited us to visit the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship when the ship was docked in Dover, England.
We were met by Deborah, who showed us around the ship. She was good company, very knowledgeable and a great host. Here are our observations and thoughts.
We were very impressed by the attentiveness of the staff on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
As you walk onto the ship you are welcomed into the reception area. Here you will find a very impressive 7 metre tall Shoal of Fish column with 1400 stainless steel fish, it spans three decks and is surrounded by meaningful quotes. Watching embarkation we noticed that as soon as the passengers arrive, a staff member is allocated to each guest. They help carry any hand luggage and escort the passengers to their cabin. This was such a great welcome and something we have never experienced on the numerous cruises we have been on.
Our visit coincided with a overnight maintenance stop in Dover so there were no passengers to disembark but there some passengers around who were doing back to back cruises. We found out that there are 720 passengers with 415 crew on board, so customer service is obviously very important to Saga. Talking to some of the guests they really did sing the praises of the staff and were very complimentary about the service that they had received. It also appeared that staff turnover was low with crew working for this company for years.
We also had the privilege of meeting Captain Julian Burgess who was visible throughout our visit. He was constantly walking around the ship talking to the different guests, and he took the time to speak to us too. He has previously worked on Princess, P&O and Cunard and did tell us that this was the best company he had worked for.
Saga has a loyal following including our aunt and uncle who have cruised with them many times. Saga do have a loyalty programme called the Britannia Club and once you have cruised 35 nights you become a member. There are 5 levels and each has it’s own merits. There is a board on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship acknowledging those that have the most loyalty points. there is one lady who has cruised for 2000 nights which is equivalent to 6 years at sea, how amazing is that!
Food options on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
Afternoon tea is held every day in the Britannia Lounge and we had heard through our aunt and uncle that it was superb, unfortunately we were to early to sample these delights.
Homemade snacks can be found all day in the Drawing Room, a really comfortable lounge which had a quirky design. The lampshades are styled with trumpets and pirate boots. This looked a great place to sit and natter, particularly with some snacks and beer in hand!
East to West is a speciality Asian Fusion restaurant that does need to be booked in advanced but at no extra cost. It made a refreshing change to see all speciality restaurants and afternoon tea are all included in the initial price you pay. In our experience other companies do charge extra for these, it does appears there are very few hidden costs with Saga.
We were treated to lunch in the Pole to Pole restaurant. We really liked that the tables were set apart with plenty of room so you didn’t feel to close to the next table.
The food and service that we received was superb. We chose the grilled fillet of angus beef with foie gras, glazed shallot, merlot sauce, roast carrot puree and gratin potato, the grilled line caught sea bass with scallops, tiger prawns, saffron bisque, and sauteed red skin potatoes, finished perfectly with a warm chocolate bailey’s fondant with Madagascan vanilla ice cream.
The feeling of space on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
Even though this is a small ship in comparison to the mega ships out there, it really had a great sense of space and felt very open. The majority of areas were spacious, with plenty of room between chairs and tables. Saga really do seem to value your personal space.
The theme of spaciousness continued with the cabins. We were shown around a variety of cabins, which we would of happily stayed in. The size of the standard inside cabin was particularly impressive.
The indoor pool and solarium of the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
We really liked the indoor pool and hot tub, we could imagine spending a lot of time here just chilling out. This was attached to the gym, beauty salon and hairdressers but could be used by anyone at no extra change.
There is also a swimming pool on deck 11 with plenty of comfortable sunbeds surrounding it. Here there is also a beach club where you can get sweets, drinks and even fish and chips!
The various options of outside space on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
It was so good to see various options of outside space on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship. Keeping with the theme of this ship there seems to be an endless amount of outside space too. There was a seating area on deck 12 which used to be the mini golf, however we would agree that this is a better utilisation of prime space.
We loved the aft space outside the Verandah restaurant and grill. We could see ourselves eating our breakfast here and in the evening enjoying a cocktail or two!
A particular favourite place for us to spend time watching a sunset is on a promenade deck and we were pleased to see that the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship had two of these.
The Cooper Lounge on the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
There is a lounge dedicated to the comedian Tommy Cooper which looked like a fun place to spend some time. Photos of older comedians from that era are all over the walls with cushions stating some of his favourite sayings. We were told this was a very popular place that also had live entertainment.
There seemed to be so many places to sit with views of the sea, which may sound strange but on some ships it seems you are always looking in. We really liked that there were many options.
Our verdict of the Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship
We must admit prior to our visit, we thought a Saga ship was going to be old, dated and very fuddy duddy. However, what we found was a ship that was immaculate inside and out, with an excellent use of space and an element of quirkiness and fun.
The Saga fleet consists of smaller ships that offer some really interesting itineraries. Since our visit we have cruised on Saga’s brand new ship the Spirit of Discovery, and you can read our review here. Another new ship the Spirit of Adventure will be completed in 2020, so it really is exciting times for Saga.
Our aunt and uncle have cruised with Saga for many years and now we can understand why. Their door to door service is a real attraction, with staff and customers staying very loyal to Saga, we watched passengers being welcomed back on board like old friends. If you are in your early 50’s like us don’t dismiss considering Saga they have one of the highest repeat passenger rates and here we discuss why.
If you are after a traditional smaller ship cruising experience then Saga could be the cruise company for you. For more information about Saga and their cruise ships do visit their website here.
Check out our Saga Sapphire Video tour too!
Have you sailed with Saga? Do let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
To read more about our cruising experiences then do visit our cruising pages.
We stayed at the St Margarat’s Hotel near Dover for our visit and you can have a look at our stay here on our You Tube Channel.
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We were hosted by Saga for our day visit on the Saga Sapphire Ship, however our opinions remain honest and a true reflection of our experience.
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