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CRUISE HOLIDAYS UK

Call Jon Fletcher on: (0161) 408-2161, or e-mail: jfletcher@cruiseholidaysuk.co.uk

 

WHAT MAKES SAGA CRUISES UNIQUE?

SAGA SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY

AN OVERVIEW

BY

JON FLETCHER

OF

CRUISE HOLIDAYS UK

 

I am sure if you, like me are over 50 years old, will be well aware of Saga.  The company is famous for their insurance and travel business. As well as organising package holidays and tours they also operate their own ocean cruise ships and river cruises.  Earlier in the year they launched their first purpose built new build ship called Saga Spirit of Discovery and in 2020 they will be launching a second new build ship.  Saga are a very unique cruise line and in this article I will tell you about their beautiful new ship and what makes Saga Ocean Cruises something really unique in the Cruise World.

So let me begin by exploding a few myths about Saga Ocean Cruises, and also tell you some of the unique and in my opinion great reasons for taking an ocean cruise with Saga. 

First of all Saga is the only cruise line to cater exclusively for the over 50s.  This means they are exclusively adult only.  The only exception to this is if a companion of a guest over 50 is at least 40 years old.  One of the big misconceptions of Saga Ocean cruises are that they are a "floating old folks home", certainly on the Saga cruise I was lucky enough to enjoy, it was anything but that.  I found it to be very relaxed and it struck me how my fellow travellers were a very active crowd and remarkably young in outlook.  I think this was partly because the guests were able to be themselves.

Another unique feature of the Saga Ocean cruises is that all guests within 250 miles of the Port can enjoy a door to door pick up service.  I was particularly impressed with this service as the driver literally picked up my cases at the door and the next time I touched them was when they arrived in my stateroom.  I also loved that our driver gave us a comfort break and chance to stretch our legs.  we certainly felt more relaxed when we arrived.  If you live further than 250 miles away you will be charged only the difference between the 250 miles and your home.  we found it was still cheaper than what we would have paid to get their by train or coach.

One of the things I found really helpful is that Saga include travel insurance, which is particularly helpful if you are more mature.  However if you have your own insurance you will be able to enjoy a discount on your cruise.

One of the other big advantages of sailing with Saga is that all their cruises sail from the United Kingdom, either from Dover or Southampton.  This means there is no need to fly. 

2019 saw the launch of Saga's new purpose built luxury ship called Spirit of Discovery.  She is generally described as a small ship with just 999 passengers.  She has 548 staterooms, all of which have balconies.  109 of these staterooms are for solo use.  10 of the staterooms are wheelchair accessible, they are larger to enable easy movement around the cabin and include features such as wider doors, wet room shower room which includes grab rails and a ramp to give access to the balcony. Another really good feature of these wheelchair accessible staterooms is that they feature a connecting door to an adjoining single stateroom allowing the disabled guest to enjoy greater privacy but allowing easy access for a carer to help the disabled guest.  As a wheelchair user myself I think this is a great innovation.

There are 8 different categories of twin / double stateroom ranging from a standard double through to the luxury suites.  One thing that impresses me is the size of the staterooms.  The Standard balcony stateroom starts at 245 square feet right up to the top grade suites at 730 square feet with a separate living room /dining room and bathroom. 

Solo travellers have a choice of 4 different grades from a Standard Balcony right up to a solo Suite. 

One of the first things you notice about Spirit of Discovery is the contemporary luxury feel to the interior design of the ship. This has been influenced by the style of design in luxury boutique hotels.  There are lots of nice touches that make the ship feel homely yet stylish like lots of artwork, some of it specially commissioned for the ship, also throws and cushions on  seats etc. 

One of the great things I love about Saga cruises is that all the dining on the ship is included in the price.  On the Saga Spirit of Discovery guests can dine in the Grand Dining Room for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The menu in the Grand Dining Room is British and European classically influenced.  When I sailed with Saga I found the main dining room menus to be really tasty and fabulous quality.  The decor of the Grand Dining Room is nicely bright and airy with colonnades and chandeliers that hark back to the glory days of cruising.  The Verandah and Grill offers a nice buffet at lunch times and made to order in the evening, where you can even watch the chefs prepare your food.  if you enjoy Jazz Music then you will love The Club by Jools Holland where you can enjoy entertainment curated by Jools Holland  and fabulous steakhouse fare including steaks and lobster.  One of the most popular of the speciality restaurants on Saga Sapphire was the Asian fusion restaurant called East to West.  Fans of Saga Sapphire will be pleased to hear they have brought this fabuous restaurant to their new ship.  I thoroughly enjoyed  my experience of this restaurant on the Saga Sapphire with its beautiful Asian inspired menu.  I have no doubt that this will continue to be a favourite on Spirit of Discovery.  To complement East to West there is a fabulous seafood restaurant called Coast to Coast.  As I said earlier all the dining venues are included in the price, but because they are so popular I would recommend that you make reservations in the restaurants you want to dine in prior to embarkation or as soon as you board. One other dining option available is the 24 hour room service which is free.  One very welcome change is from 2020 the Saga Ocean Cruises will be All Inclusive as opposed to just beverages at lunch and dinner. 

There are a good selection of public rooms on Spirit of Discovery.  These are both stylish and contemporary in feel.  The Britannia lounge is a bright and airy observation lounge to sit and relax and enjoy the views. It has a spacious feel to it, which is enhanced with the solarium style roof.  This is a great place to meet friends and socialise.  During the day it is one of the venues for enrichment talks and by night it is the place to dance the night away.  The Living Room is a homely space where by day you can relax with a coffee and a cake, do some shopping or catch up with friends and fellow guests.  In the evening the Living Room transform in to a relaxed champagne and cocktail bar. The Playhouse Theatre has 400 seats and offers nightly production shows and also doubles as a cinema.  If you are looking for a spot to catch up on that book you have always meant to read, then the Library is a great place to do that. It has over 3500 books.  There is also a craft room where you can learn a new craft or skill from onboard instructors and a Card room where you can play bridge or any card game you love.  One of the most popular bars on Saga Ruby has been reimagined on the Spirit of Discovery, the South Cape. 

If you are a sporty active person then you will be pleased to hear that there will be plenty to do.  There is a well equipped gym that offers pilates, yoga and exercise classes.  There is also a spa with a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room facilities.  Massage and treatments are also available at a supplement.  Ladies can also enjoy the services of a hairdresser and beauticians.  On the Lido Deck you will find an outdoor pool and 2 jacuzzis.  There is also an outdoor sports area and for the golfers there is a golf simulator.  One design feature I particularly like is that there is a lovely wide traditional promenade deck, that all too often on the modern ships is non existent, so if you enjoy a stroll you can walk a mile by doing 4 circuits of the Promenade Deck, a great way to lose those extra pounds gained with all the excellent food. 

Another feature I particularly like is the terracing at the bow of the ship where you can sit and watch the wake as you cruise to your next port.

As I said earlier in the article with the Spirit of Discovery, Saga have really thought about what they can offer the solo guest.  As well as the great choice of accommodation, solo guests can enjoy participating in a good programme of activities on board catering for the solo guest.  So no solo guest should feel alone unless that is their choice.

Finally while at first glance Saga ocean Cruise Prices may seem higher than some cruise lines, it is important to remember so much is included in the price of your holiday, which makes them great value.  I would thoroughly recommend Saga Ocean Cruises to anyone.

 

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