Fodor’s Expert Review
Saga Holidays, a U.K.-based travel and tour company, was founded in 1951 to offer vacation packages to mature travelers. It’s cruise program started in 1975 with charter sailings. Saga purchased its first ship in 1996, the venerable Sagafjord, and renamed it Saga Rose. Following the success of Saga Rose, her former sister ship Vistafjord was acquired in 2004 and sails as Saga Ruby, though that ship will be retired in 2014. Itineraries brim with longer sailings to far-flung corners of the globe, making Saga voyages destination oriented.Read More
Classic cruisers in every sense of the word, Saga’s passengers are travelers who expect inspiring itineraries coupled with traditional onboard amenities and comfortable surroundings. In the style of Saga Holidays’ land-based tours, Saga Cruises takes care of the details that discerning passengers don’t wish to leave to chance—from providing insurance and arranging visas to placing fruit and water in every cabin. For passengers embarking in U.K. ports (and almost all passengers are British), round-trip private car transfers are offered, or if a passenger lives more than 250 km from the port of embarkation, domestic U.K. flights. But passengers can also get rail travel or parking if they wish to travel more independently.
Activities and entertainment range from dance lessons to presentations of West End–style productions, from Internet lessons to lectures on wide-ranging topics. Wine tasting, deck game competitions, classical concerts, and even Bingo are found on the daily programs. Both ships have card rooms, but you won’t find casinos. With numerous accommodations designed for solo cruisers, Saga Cruises are particularly friendly for senior singles. Especially convenient on lengthy sailings, each ship features complimentary self-service launderettes and ironing facilities. In port, the line offers complimentary shuttle transfers to the town center from the cruise pier.
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What to Expect on Board
In addition to offering a wide selection of dishes to appeal to a variety of discriminating tastes, many British favorites find their way onto menus in the main restaurants.
Ingredients are high in quality, well-prepared, and served in a single leisurely seating. Vegetarian, sugar-free, and healthy selections are always alternatives. A traditional English tea is served every afternoon, and midnight buffets are set up in the Lido restaurants. While alcoholic beverages and wine are not included in the fare, bar and wine list prices are quite affordable.
Professional dancers, musicians, and cabaret artists entertain in the lounge every evening.
Passengers can also dance to live music in the ballroom, enjoy strolls on the decks, or sit peacefully in the library or variety of bars. The library lends DVDs to enjoy in the privacy of your cabin, or you can head to the cinema for a full wide-screen experience. Convivial bars promote relaxing conversation with fellow passengers.
Gentle exercise classes tailored to different levels of ability and fully equipped gyms are available for active seniors, and each ship has two swimming pools, one outdoors and one indoors.
Passengers can work on their golf swing at the practice nets, jog on deck, or book a fitness session with a personal trainer. Each ship has a hair salon, as well as a full-service spa with a broad menu of massages, facials, and aromatherapy treatments, including procedures tailored especially to mature cruisers.
Key cruising tips
Saga Cruises are exclusively for passengers age 50 and older; the minimum age for traveling companions is 40. On a typical cruise—particularly one of the longer itineraries—the average age of passengers may be quite a bit higher than 50. The overwhelming majority of passengers are from Great Britain, with a sprinkling of North Americans in the mix.
Dress on Saga ships is very traditional. While the requested attire on board is generally casual during the day, including sea days, by night there are three dress codes—formal, informal, and smart casual.
There are no programs since children are not allowed.
The warm and friendly service staff provides polished, yet unobtrusive, service.
Gratuities are included in the fare, and additional tipping is not expected.
The Britannia Club is Saga’s own loyalty program that offers exclusive benefits to regular travelers. There are four different membership levels within the club based on the number of nights cruised: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Sapphire each offer an increasing number of benefits to enjoy including special on-board cocktail parties, exclusive discounts and even a free cruise.