The Joy of Saga!

Saga Cruises, a name synonymous with ocean going voyages for far longer than many would think. In fact, it has been 18 years since the Saga Group ventured into what is now familiar territory. The first ship was Saga Rose and became a firm favourite among her passengers from 1996 until her retirement in December 2009.
Saga_Rose_16-12-05_02
Next came the first Saga Pearl, during a brief charter in 2003. A new chapter began when Saga Ruby entered service in February 2005, another becoming a much-loved favourite.
Saga_Ruby_15_4_05
These two little beauties were former fleet mates and in Southampton together 4 times for the beginning of their respective world cruises. This was always a late departure, with Saga pushing the boat out with fireworks at 9:30pm and celebrations aboard both ships so loud you could hear the passengers enjoying the atmosphere from land, making you wish you were onboard. Due to wind, I only have the first on video.

4th January 2006

4th January 2006



7th January 2007

7th January 2007


7th January 2007

7th January 2007


5th January 2009

5th January 2009


5th January 2009

5th January 2009


5th January 2009

5th January 2009


5th January 2009

5th January 2009


Saga Rose sails 5th January 2009

Saga Rose sails 5th January 2009


Saga Rose sails 5th January 2009

Saga Rose sails 5th January 2009


Meanwhile another chapter was beginning while Saga Rose was coming to the end of her career with the addition of Saga Pearl II, entering service in March 2010.
Saga Pearl II the day of arrival in Southampton 8th March 2010

Saga Pearl II the day of arrival in Southampton 8th March 2010


This was followed two years later by Saga Sapphire while Saga Pearl II had an 18 month foray as Quest For Adventure, her originally intended role.
Saga Sapphire arrives into Southampton 26th March 2012

Saga Sapphire arrives into Southampton 26th March 2012


This sadly spelled the end for Saga Ruby, who was sold in January 2014.

I first became more aware of Saga Cruises when Ruby arrived in Southampton fresh from refit and ready to join her sister. I loved these little liners enjoyed the rare times they were in together. I also froze for three of the four world cruise departures. I was away for 2008 but had the pleasure of seeing both in Funchal, Madeira on New Year’s Eve 2007. While Rose was a late post-dinner appearance, I had spotted Ruby from above in Monte, steaming towards her anchorage while on an excursion and decided I’d rather photograph her than what we’d stopped to see.

Saga Ruby arriving in Maderia 31st December 2007

Saga Ruby arriving in Maderia 31st December 2007


Saga Ruby anchored in Maderia 31st December 2007

Saga Ruby anchored in Maderia 31st December 2007


Saga Rose and Saga Ruby awaiting the fireworks in Maderia 31st December 2007

Saga Rose and Saga Ruby awaiting the fireworks in Maderia 31st December 2007


Saga Rose waiting to dock in Madeira once many of the other ships have left after seeing in New Year 1st January 2008

Saga Rose waiting to dock in Madeira once many of the other ships have left after seeing in New Year 1st January 2008


I also had the unexpected pleasure of seeing her in the North Sea from Discovery as she returned to Dover in September 2012 and passing her in the English Channel in December 2012, as I was returning aboard QM2. She had been late sailing and was heading to Le Havre.
Saga Ruby in the North Sea 2nd September 2012

Saga Ruby in the North Sea 2nd September 2012


Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012

Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012


Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012

Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012


Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012

Saga Ruby sailing to Le Havre from Southampton 15th December 2012


It was a cold and sad December day when Rose departed for the final time. Being under 50, I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance of sailing on either beauty, couldn’t visit without knowing someone and from reading the Captains cruise blogs, such as the mystery cruises, everyone sounded like they were having so much fun and I had to wait before I could too. Sometimes being young when you love ships and cruising can be depressing!
Saga Rose preparing to leave Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009

Saga Rose preparing to leave Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009


Saga Rose sailing from Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009

Saga Rose sailing from Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009


Saga Rose sailing from Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009

Saga Rose sailing from Southampton for the final time 7th December 2009


However, in January 2011, one dream came true. Southampton hosted 6 ships and my friend, the late journalist, Steve Read, decided to report on it and asked if I’d like to help him. Saga were the first to agree to him filming aboard Ruby. He loved that ship very much so would have been happy spending all day on her if two other lines hadn’t agreed at the last minute. As a result, she was the last we got to. Steve was like a big kid, proudly giving me a guided tour and explaining what he liked best about certain public areas and why the ship was perfect for him. I fully understood why. We finally had time for lunch, which turned out to be afternoon tea! As a seasoned cruiser, I was impressed with the vast choice on offer compared to other lines. There was even gluten free and diabetic.
Afternoon tea 5th January 2011

Afternoon tea 5th January 2011


5th January 2011

5th January 2011


5th January 2011

5th January 2011


5th January 2011

5th January 2011


It would have been marvellous to stay there until all ashore but we had to interview Captain Angove in his inner sanctum and leave.
5th January 2011

5th January 2011


Captain's Quarters 5th January 2011

Captain’s Quarters 5th January 2011


Presented to the Master of Saga Ruby from the last of her as Caronia and in the Captain's Quarters 5th January 2011

Presented to the Master of Saga Ruby from the last of her as Caronia and in the Captain’s Quarters 5th January 2011


5th January 2011

5th January 2011


While I would have liked one more time aboard her to say goodbye the day she left Southampton for her new life, I’m glad I only waved her off from Mayflower Park and Calshot because sadly, Steve Read died a month after our visit so memories may have been too overwhelming even three years on. Those couple of hours, however, made me want to experience a Saga cruise even more.

It’s very rare for two Saga ships to be in port together not for a world cruise but they were a few times and I even saw them in Dover.

Saga Rose slips past Saga Ruby as she sails from Southampton 23rd April 2006

Saga Rose slips past Saga Ruby as she sails from Southampton 23rd April 2006


Saga Rose & Saga Ruby Southampton 23rd April 2006

Saga Rose & Saga Ruby Southampton 23rd April 2006


Liberty of the Seas dwarfs Saga Rose and Saga Ruby in Southampton 26th April 2007

Liberty of the Seas dwarfs Saga Rose and Saga Ruby in Southampton 26th April 2007


Saga Pearl II sails past Saga Ruby in Southampton 6th January 2012

Saga Pearl II sails past Saga Ruby in Southampton 6th January 2012


Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II in Southampton 29th March 2012

Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II in Southampton 29th March 2012


Saga Pearl II ends her final cruise under that name while Saga Sapphire arrives.  Southampton 6th May 2012

Saga Pearl II ends her final cruise under that name while Saga Sapphire arrives. Southampton 6th May 2012


Saga Pearl II ends her final cruise under that name while Saga Sapphire arrives.  Southampton 6th May 2012

Saga Pearl II ends her final cruise under that name while Saga Sapphire arrives. Southampton 6th May 2012


Saga Pearl II has become Quest For Adventure while Saga Sapphire sails.  Southampton 6th May 2012

Saga Pearl II has become Quest For Adventure while Saga Sapphire sails. Southampton 6th May 2012


Saga Pearl II has become Quest For Adventure while Saga Sapphire sails.  Southampton 6th May 2012

Saga Pearl II has become Quest For Adventure while Saga Sapphire sails. Southampton 6th May 2012


Saga Sapphire sails from Southampton as Saga Ruby is undergoing repairs.  22nd January 2013

Saga Sapphire sails from Southampton as Saga Ruby is undergoing repairs. 22nd January 2013


Saga Ruby and Saga Sapphire in Dover 4th July 2013

Saga Ruby and Saga Sapphire in Dover 4th July 2013


Saga Sapphire sails past Saga Ruby in Dover 4th July 2013

Saga Sapphire sails past Saga Ruby in Dover 4th July 2013


Saga Sapphire sails past Saga Ruby at Dover 4th July 2013

Saga Sapphire sails past Saga Ruby at Dover 4th July 2013


Saga Ruby in Southampton for the final time, joined by Saga Pearl II.  10th January 2014

Saga Ruby in Southampton for the final time, joined by Saga Pearl II. 10th January 2014


Saga Ruby sails from Southampton for the final time, leaving Saga Pearl II.  10th January 2014

Saga Ruby sails from Southampton for the final time, leaving Saga Pearl II. 10th January 2014


Saga Pearl II arrives into Southampton, sailing past Saga Sapphire 11th March 2014

Saga Pearl II arrives into Southampton, sailing past Saga Sapphire 11th March 2014


Saga Pearl II arrives into Southampton, sailing past Saga Sapphire 11th March 2014

Saga Pearl II arrives into Southampton, sailing past Saga Sapphire 11th March 2014

So to the future and Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II are continuing the great Saga tradition. Another dream came true when I visited Sapphire. She has undergone a few changes over the years, including the addition of balconies, but still looks fabulous. Saga themselves have taken a ship slightly larger than Rose and Ruby and altered a couple of places, but as soon as you set foot aboard, even as a visitor, you get that same Saga feeling. I really loved the Verandah and the Drawing Room and like the fact the cabins are all a decent size. I’ve been in some tiny ones on large ships.

Saga Sapphire afternoon tea 25th February 2013

Saga Sapphire afternoon tea 25th February 2013


Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013

Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013


The Verandah, Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013

The Verandah, Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013


The Drawing Room, Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013

The Drawing Room, Saga Sapphire 25th February 2013


In October 2014, I also visited Pearl and found her just so adorable. She feels larger than she is and also has some wonderful public rooms, including the very spacious Discovery Lounge.
Dining Room, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014

Dining Room, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014


Shackleton's, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014

Shackleton’s, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014


Discovery Lounge, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014

Discovery Lounge, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014


Sun Deck, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014

Sun Deck, Saga Pearl II 30th October 2014


Some major cruise lines have removed the little, personal touches while still promoting themselves as luxury. Saga have retained them plus giving you much more, which really makes all the difference to your average cruiser. There is also a lot to be said for small ship and adults only cruising, of which Saga are the leaders for both. Being on a small ship is a much more friendly and relaxing experience than large ones and when gratuities are included, you know the crew are genuine. Sapphire and Pearl now have their loyal passengers and one of these days I hope to be one!

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