Saga Sapphire Review

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If you are at least 50 and like quirkiness on an older, mid-sized ship, the Saga Sapphire may be your perfect nautical getaway. The 12 decks of the streamlined Saga Sapphire house an eclectic interior with bold colors, an assorted blend of styles, funky decorations one might find at an oddity shop, and "crazy golf." The pure British flavor runs deep throughout dining choices, funny entertainment programming, and friendly service. Afternoon tea and the pub-like atmosphere in bars marry with spacious modern cabins for a traditional full cruising experience. A hive of activity buzzes around the poolside Beach Club for snacks and sweets. Do six circuits around the promenade deck—you will have walked a mile! Do your homework before taking the ship: the Saga Sapphire had a recent spate of engine trouble with breakdowns at sea.

Originally built in 1981 for German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and named MS Europa, the ship was sold to Star Cruises in 1999 and called the MS SuperStar Europe and later MS SuperStar Aries. Pullmantur Cruises bought her and she sailed under the name of MS Holiday Dream. After having a French identity as Bleu de France under the ownership of CDF Croisieres de France in 2008, she finally received her current name, transferring to Saga Cruises in 2011. A series of refits and refurbishments added new cabins and balconies, updated interior decor, overhauled machinery, and repaired and repainted the hull. A key feature in the boat’s construction keeps cabins in the front, farthest away from engine noise, and ceilings higher than standard heights. Details like soundproofed walls, a domed pool, and illuminated closets improve the ship’s more recently inconsistent standing as a seaworthy vessel.

Indoor pool. Outdoor pool. Spa. Casino. Bars. The Saga Sapphire has everything one might expect from a traditional cruise ship and more. Head to the St. Andrew’s Deck for a round of “crazy golf” with its twisting miniature greens. Read or be connected on an iPad in the library. The child-free, adult-exclusive ship offers 5- to 35-night cruises departing from Southampton or Dover. Expect British, international, and Asian fusion flavors with a choice of self-service buffet or sit-down waiter service. The Beach Club is the casual meeting point to evoke a British seaside resort. Play a game of table tennis at the Clubhouse or watch a feature film in the brisk air at the outdoor cinema. A magnificent contemporary sculpture adorns the triple-level atrium lobby. From modern to classic, the Saga Sapphire appeals to all tastes.

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