Saga Cruises much-loved cruise ship Saga Pearl II has now been retired after travelling on over 200 cruises. The farewell voyage was an epic 54-night sailing to Africa in Febraury 2019.
The ship is being replaced with the new Spirit of Discovery, the first time that Saga Cruises has built a cruise ship.
The smaller of the line’s two ships, Saga Pearl II offers an informal and enjoyable way to cruise, effortlessly taking you to a host of destinations. With no more than 449 passengers on board, the atmosphere is relaxed and sociable, and despite being small, she still manages to pack in a surprising array of features.
Saga Pearl II’s smaller, sleek, yacht-like ambience makes for an especially welcoming cruise experience. Looking every inch like a ‘real’ ship, she has plenty of outside space, teak decks and a classic funnel. Designed with flair throughout, her interior décor reflects the nautical nature of the ship.
Upon arrival at Dover or Southampton, all guests are warmly welcomed on board, with the crew lined up in the entrance hall. This is the start of getting to know everyone on board – Saga’s crew are well known for remembering names and favourite drinks from the bar. While their luggage is taken to the cabin, guests can settle in to the relaxed way of life on board, and will soon be invited to the sailaway party with free drinks. Then the small-ship adventure really begins!
Fine cuisine is a big part of the Saga cruise experience. The Executive Chef is given free reign to create the menus and shape the dining experience to reflect the areas visited on the itinerary. This means rather they can head ashore in the mornings to buy fresh, local ingredients, which are served just hours later for dinner.
The ship offers four dining options: the main Dining Room, Verandah, 24-hour room service or the Chart and Ward Rooms. The latter offer a private dining room experience, where guests can dine with the Captain or Senior Officers, ordering from an exclusive menu in the company of just 12 other guests.
Saga follows an ‘open seating’ approach in all venues, where guests can enjoy socialising and meeting new guests, sitting on a different table each night. If preferred, fixed tables can be requested for dinner with the Maître d’.
Afternoon tea is one of the timeless classic cruise traditions, and is also included every day – a spread of beautifully-crafted cakes and savoury snacks, served with a choice of teas and coffee.
Saga Pearl II may be a smaller ship, but that doesn’t mean there’s a compromise on personal space – and it’s surprising just how light, bright and well designed the cabins are.
There is a great selection of inside and outside grades, Superior rooms and accommodation especially for solo travellers – these are limited, so they tend to sell out fast. There’s also a selection of spacious Suites complete with butler service.
Fitness and relaxation
Designed for pure pampering, the ship’s Spa offers a varied menu of tempting treatments, all using premium essential oils and natural ingredients from top brands Decléor and Carita. This includes facials, massages, manicures, hairdressing, tailored wellbeing programmes and special treatments just for gentlemen.
Free-to-use facilities include the indoor and outdoor pools, gymnasium, sauna, and a range of classes such as keep fit, yoga, Pilates, dancing, plus the daily ‘walk a mile’ around the deck.
Other ship facilities
At the heart of the ship is a glorious library, lined with picture windows and stocked with over 3000 books, which is also a fantastic space to relax. Wi-Fi is free to use in selected areas. A new Sun Deck at the top of the ship is perfect for relaxing alfresco in good weather. The ship also has the Sundowners Bar, outside deck and barbecue area, a shop, card room, briefing room and medical centre. There are three passenger lifts to all floors. Saga Pearl II was last refurbished in 2015.
A Daily Programme is delivered each evening, detailing the full range of on-board activities available the following day, and it’s fairly extensive! A day at sea could include talks from expert lecturers, quizzes, cocktail parties, sports, fitness classes, painting, photography and craft classes, jewellery making, computer lessons, deck games, bridge, whist and more – but guests are left completely free to choose how much they want to do.
Evening entertainment in the Discovery Lounge is a mix of in-house productions from the ship’s resident theatre company, along with specially-invited entertainers, celebrity guests, singers, comedians, magicians, dancers and more. Every cruise also sails with a classical ensemble to enhance afternoon tea, days at sea and as a gentler alternative to the main entertainment programme. There is a resident pianist playing most evenings in the main bar, Shackleton’s.
There are also films screened in the small cinema each day, a mix of brand new releases and classics, which are also available to watch in the comfort of the cabin on Saga’s free movie channel. All cabins also have flat-screen TVs and DVD players, plus a free-to-borrow library of DVDs.