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OnboardSaga Cruises offers a classic cruising experience that is elegant, yet informal and comfortable. Passengers will find today's expected amenities such as Internet cafes, modern (but small) spas with hair salons and fitness centers, and even alternative dining in Saga Ruby's intimate View restaurant that accommodates only 30 passengers each evening. But do not expect a casino, shopping malls or lavish shows because Saga passengers like low-key entertainment, libraries, games of all sorts and a relaxed yet good-mannered social life.
A traditional serenaded English tea is served every afternoon in two locations, and ballroom dancing and cabaret-style entertainment is presented nightly.
About Saga HolidaysThe Saga Group, based in the United Kingdom, was founded in 1951 as a privately owned tour company offering vacation packages within the U.K. to travelers ages 60 and over. Saga soon expanded their offerings to include European destinations and later in Asia. In 2011, Saga celebrated its Diamond Anniversary and nowadays, Saga bills itself as a cruise, tour and resort company "for today's over 50's" (the qualifying age dropped from 60 to 50 in 1995).
In 1975, Saga Holidays offered its senior customers a world cruise for the first time, and began to build a portfolio of at-sea offerings. But it wasn't until almost 20 years later in 1996 that Saga bought its first wholly owned cruise ship -- Cunard's Sagafjord, which was renamed Saga Rose. In 2003, Saga doubled its fleet with the purchase of a second and similar cruise ship -- Cunard's Caronia (formerly Vistafjord), which is now known as Saga Ruby. The line added Saga Pearl II in 2010. In 2012, it will introduce Saga Sapphire, which debuted in 1981 as Hapag-Lloyd's Europa. (An extensive refit will precede the launch). Shortly thereafter, the line will transfer Saga Pearl II to its Spirit of Adventure sister brand.
Saga Holidays is part of the larger Saga Group, which provides various services to seniors in the U.K. In addition to its travel division, Saga Group offers flexible and affordable healthcare and insurance options, and its own magazine geared toward a more mature audience. But it is Saga Cruises that will interest North Americans most.
Saga Holidays FleetSagafjord and Vistafjord sailed as "sister ships" for Cunard, though they were built eight years apart, in 1965 and 1973 for Norwegian America Line. Cunard bought the ships form an interim company -- Norwegian America Cruises -- and they are close, but not entirely identical in design. They were then reunited as siblings under Saga's flag as Saga Rose and Saga Ruby.
However, Saga Rose was not able to comply with SOLAS regulations post 2010 and therefore left the fleet in 2009.
The 24,492-ton, 655-passenger Saga Ruby is considered on the small side of mid-sized by current cruise standards. The group has announced that the ship –– the last to be built in the U.K. –– will be retired at the start of 2014.
In 2006, the Saga Group began operating the 352-passenger Spirit of Adventure (Deilmann's former Berlin), for those 21 and over. The cruises, with a strong enrichment program hosted by expert lecturers, explore the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Middle East, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.
Saga Pearl II joined the fleet in October 2009. That ship was formerly known as Astoria and sailed with Transocean Tours. Saga Sapphire started sailing in March 2012, and a few months later Saga Pearl II transferred to Saga's Spirit of Adventure sister brand as the Quest for Adventure.
However, Saga has now announced that Quest for Adventure will revert back to its former name of Saga Pearl II once its published cruise calendar is complete in 18 months' time, and no longer offer adventure itineraries. It also means the fleet will revert back to just two ships in 2014.
Fellow PassengersSaga's ships are operated exclusively for passengers over the age of 50 (and a minimum age of 40 applies for all traveling companions). On a typical two-week cruise, the average age will be more like 70, with most still quite active, eager to see the world and to travel with like-minded souls. North American passengers are welcome onboard, but because the line was not marketed to them until recently, the vast majority of passengers are still British. Cruise and Tour Reservations, a division of U.S.-based Yankee Holidays, Inc., handles Saga cruise reservations exclusively for North American passengers.