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Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby Arizona » 09 Nov 2019 18:56

The first thing to say is that this new ship is really beautiful: traditional, yet modern. It is so spacious, especially on the outside decks where there are endless numbers of chairs, sofas and loungers. A particular feature is the terraced stern with seating areas on every level. Equally, inside there are more than enough varied spaces for everyone to find somewhere to their liking. This does not feel like a ship with around 950 passengers aboard.
As far as the interior design goes, not everyone is going to like everything but it is clear that the furnishings and artworks are of a very high quality. The varied decor works very well in some areas but in others is a bit dull. Our favourite area was the Grill on Deck 12 with a lovely light, airy feel and fabulous views. Our least liked was the Dining Room with a dark, corporate hotel feel and no sense of being at sea; even during the day the curtains were only half open.
However, wherever you choose to eat, the range and quality of the food is excellent. The 3 included speciality restaurants are a welcome addition too. Our favourite was Coast to Coast (seafood) where we were able to dine 3 times. The waiting staff are as professional and friendly as ever, with the new ones learning fast. Obviously Saga must treat them well as some of them have been with the company for more than 15 years. We enjoyed chats with some of them about events and mishaps on the old Spirit of Adventure many years ago, especially as it steamed past us in the Med with its current name of Berlin.
The theatre is way better than many in London although the steps can be difficult to negotiate for some. It’s obviously very high tech, enabling very professional productions. Some excellent films were shown there but with an 11pm start only insomniacs would have been watching! As usual on Saga, an extensive range of books and games are freely available in the library, along with self service refreshments. The purpose built areas for arts and crafts, cards, gym, spa and even golf seemed good too. Some of the design features which have been found to work better on the drawing board than in practice are to be changed on the second ship. We were told that the Club restaurant will be fully enclosed rather than looking down onto the Dining Room to avoid the noise issue.
Obviously there will be people who love and miss familiar features of the old Saga ships (even though not having travelled with Saga for some years, we are among them!) but there is overall much more good than bad about this new ship.
A good initiative is Explore Ashore, aiming to facilitate independent travelling rather than just to promote ship’s tours. This is still in its early stages but could have real potential. Maps and information sheets were always available the day before arrival in port but need some improvement to be really useful.
As far as the Saga atmosphere and experience is concerned, there was the same conviviality amongst the passengers at mealtimes but not yet generally in the entertainment venues or bars. There seems to be a need for more imagination and dynamism in the cruise director department, alongside the experience, personality and professionalism needed to make an impact. We booked this cruise to try the new ship and were really impressed with it so we live in hope that there will be positive developments. At present Saga is heavily reliant on repeat customers, many of whom would never travel with any other company and are travelling more for the excellent hotel experience rather than the destinations. There is a difficult balance in keeping them happy with traditional entertainments but at the same time bringing in new saganauts who may prefer dancing on deck to a song by the Killers! However if in future Saga is to attract the new and repeat business needed to fill 2 new ships it does need to look at all aspects of what makes a cruise a special experience, not just a voyage on a beautiful ship.
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Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby judgegeoff » 09 Nov 2019 20:00

Many thanks for a most interesting and instructive review. I might very well become a Saganaut in the future.
Geoff

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"Marella Dream" - Turkey, Greece and Israel 2019
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020
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Re: Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby Arizona » 09 Nov 2019 20:43

Don’t be put off by thinking that Saga is only for the very elderly. Yes, many passengers are on the older side but most cruise line passengers are on the older side anyway. At least you don’t have to contend with drunks or bad behaviour, despite the free flowing drink. Also on the plus side the crew are really kind and thoughtful in meeting the needs of people who do need more help.
Yes the prices are on the high side but you do get a lot for your money. If you don’t live near Dover or Southampton the included taxi service is a big plus. There’s always a free shuttle bus in ports too.
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Re: Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby judgegeoff » 09 Nov 2019 21:59

Arizona wrote:Don’t be put off by thinking that Saga is only for the very elderly. Yes, many passengers are on the older side but most cruise line passengers are on the older side anyway. At least you don’t have to contend with drunks or bad behaviour, despite the free flowing drink. Also on the plus side the crew are really kind and thoughtful in meeting the needs of people who do need more help.
Yes the prices are on the high side but you do get a lot for your money. If you don’t live near Dover or Southampton the included taxi service is a big plus. There’s always a free shuttle bus in ports too.


I am quite elderly Arizona (75 years young actually), so would fit in with Saga I should imagine. I fell out with Saga many years ago when I tried to book flights through them. They told me that they could give me a booking, but not my wife, as she was too young - however, they could give me the details of a reputable agent who would be able to book her flight. I believe that such an age restriction no longer applies with Saga. We have two cruises booked, but will certainly consider Saga in the future.
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"Marella Dream" - Turkey, Greece and Israel 2019
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020
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Re: Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby rdw123 » 10 Nov 2019 08:31

Thanks for your very interesting review. I shall be onboard at the end of January so itching to see what she is like. Saga are between a rock and a hard place. They need to keep their repeat cruisers happy but also attract new cruisers to fill the boats. Personally I don’t think the prices are dear when you add up all that you get. I love being picked up from the door and they also include my insurance, both of which for me would be very expensive. I find I spend very little onboard. Will let you know my thoughts in February.
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Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby grannyM » 10 Nov 2019 11:07

Thank you Arizona for this very clear and positive review. I have never sailed with Saga but from what you say I think I would really like this new ship. Although, like Geoff, being a splightly :think: ? 73 year old I would very much look forward to dancing on deck to The Killers given the chance. ;) :D
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Re: Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby Seamouse » 10 Nov 2019 17:01

Good to hear your thoughts on the new ship. We have done a Saga ships' visit, and were very impressed on the whole, but have not as yet sailed on one. Maybe one to consider for the future, especially when we have to give up driving!! Dover is our Port of choice, as we live so near.
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Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby newmember » 11 Nov 2019 18:47

grannyM wrote:Thank you Arizona for this very clear and positive review. I have never sailed with Saga but from what you say I think I would really like this new ship. Although, like Geoff, being a splightly :think: ? 73 year old I would very much look forward to dancing on deck to The Killers given the chance. ;) :D


Well, let's hope that the new ships continue the Saga tradition of deck parties and dancing on deck - it is something they have always excelled in.
Stopovers in warmer climes usually mean a local band (flamenco, steel-pan, etc) and the decks turns into barbecue, band and boogie. If no local band, then the Saga band plays instead. One of the nicest aspects is that the entertainers, both guest and resident, join in with gusto, and the Saga deck party is usually one of the liveliest in port - other ships seem quite boring by contrast. (And the Saga barbecues are the best anywhere).
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Re: Spirit of Discovery: The Chic Mediterranean Oct2019

Postby Arizona » 11 Nov 2019 20:26

The deck parties, especially accompanied by a barbecue, are something we have always enjoyed on Saga. We did have a tapas and Sangria lunch party on this cruise but it wasn’t a patch on Spanish fiestas of the past where the waiters all dressed up, the bunting was out and the atmosphere hummed. There was one evening session of dancing on deck which was well attended but not as much fun as when the waiters used to join in - they were such good dancers too! We had no local entertainers, even though we were in port late and overnight several times. We had thought there might be some kind of fun Halloween event but, apart from carved pumpkins around the ship, there was nothing.
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