When Saga started ocean cruising in 1996, the ships had dark hulls with yellow funnels. After purchase of Bleu de France in 2011, they decided to go with a light blue funnel, the new logo spread across both sides, despite renderings for Saga Sapphire having the original.
When their newbuild Spirit of Discovery was announced in September 2015, the yellow was back!
Saga Sapphire had been with us in Barcelona and followed when we got back to Southampton on the 13th November. She sailed to Bremerhaven for her annual refit that afternoon.
She returned on the 2nd December, proudly sporting her new livery plus name plate and new font with her name on the bow and stern as Saga begins their latest branding change. Her original noon arrival had been changed numerous times from 12pm to 9am to 10.30pm to 8.30pm and finally 9pm, but she docked for 10pm so you couldn’t see her in all her glory, but at least her funnel shone brightly, taking you back in time.
She is due to return to service on the 3rd and will meet Saga Pearl II in Southampton on the 8th, the final time these two will be together in the port as SP2 will be finishing her career from January 2018 to April 2019 in Dover and Portsmouth.
I have been a huge fan of this ship since first seeing her as Europa in 1987 and have followed her closely since being handed over to Saga. She’s one of a handful who make me excited each time I see her or know she’ll be nearby. I’ll freeze and get soaked for her as much as I did for her predecessors. It’s always been a dream to sail on her but as I’m not quite 50, rich or media, know there’s zero chance. Thanks to Saga though, I have visited her twice and she was more fabulous than I’d imagined. I understood how the late journalist Steve Read felt when he behaved like an excited kid showing me around Saga Ruby the month before he died in 2011. Some ships get under your skin. But then, like him, I’m just someone who loves ships, cruising and experiencing what the product has to offer, though resigned to the fact she’ll have to be another that got away like Canberra, Norway, Saga Rose and Saga Ruby.
I expect she’ll be sold when the new Spirit of Adventure enters service in 2020 and that will be a very sad day. Saga Sapphire will be 39 then and with the market for older ships rapidly dwindling, my chances of sailing on her are even less. C’est la vie! Until that inevitable day comes, thousands of lucky people can continue to enjoy their cruises and the love Saga lavish on her.