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Spirit Of Discovery Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
22 Reviews

Disappointing - we really had hoped to like it!

Spirit Of Discovery Cruise Review by Altaj Maroj

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: Europe

We always try to take a break at this time of the year to avoid some of the UK winter. We chose this trip as it included 4 ports we'd never been to to while also visiting ports that would be likely to be overcrowded later in the year. We chose Saga Spirit of Discovery because the ship was new and the size seemed a good compromise between passenger numbers / port access and variety of on board facilities.

Embarkation didn't go well as they had no cruise cards for us and from the running to & fro and the whispering we overheard, we formed the opinion that they'd given our cards to two other passengers! Sure enough, after we'd been escorted aboard and new cards issued to us, we found two passengers in our cabin (although our luggage was waiting outside!). The Saga crew supervisor who went into the cabin to sort it out appeared not to understand / or be understood and after 10 mins we pushed our way in and straight away identified who the other passengers were and thus where their cabin was.

We very much liked the layout of the ship, we thought the food in all the restaurants was great and the service was superb, however the cruise was very much spoilt for us because piped music was played constantly in virtually all the public areas. As is usual, when we asked for quiet so we could concentrate on reading, chatting to other passengers (almost all hard of hearing), or just watching the sea and daydreaming, we were told that other passengers wanted the music. When asked how the crew / staff knew this, as no-one had ever asked us in 50+ cruises, they were unable to say. We could say however, that no passenger (in our age group) we've ever spoken to, has said they liked someone else's choice of half-heard, distorted music played everywhere at a volume decided by a young crew member. As a result of the inescapable row, we could only sit in the library or on deck on the warmer days. As we paid £10,000+ to have this row forced on us we have complained and await Saga's response.

Although we have been in the North Atlantic in hurricanes and the Bay of Biscay in winter storms, we have never experienced such an uncomfortable ride as there was at times on this cruise - was it particularly bad sea or is the ship a poor storm rider? It didn't help in the last week that a significant proportion of passengers had norovirus (not us luckily!) resulting in the entertainment being abandoned and the library (the only music free area!) being closed. The last week was the worst week (of 200+) we've ever spent at sea. To be fair to Saga & the S.o.D, we ought to give it another chance, but we won't be doing that unless Saga stopped polluting our on board personal environment with inescapable piped music.

Altaj Maroj's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

The cabin and balcony were a good size, in immaculate condition and clean. The wardrobe was a good size, but could have done with a few more drawers and a shelf which might have given us somewhere to put the life jackets! We just had to leave them on the floor of the wardrobe and balance shoes on top. Of course this meant our longer clothes were resting on our shoes. The bedhead had dedicated readings lights - brilliant! (and they were). There were also 2 bedside USB sockets - while this is 2 better than any other ship we've been on, we actually had 11 devices between us needing USB supplies, luckily we also take multi outlet USB chargers.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Adamstown (Pitcairn Island)

Of course the first port of call wasn't Pitcairn Island, it was Huelva Spain, but the Cruise Critic port list does not acknowledge or accept the existence of Huelva.

We took a ship's tour to El Roccio and a winery which we enjoyed, so can't comment on the port itself.

Malta (Valletta)

Always worth having a walk around Valetta and we've done many tours in the past. The only criticism we have is that it was necessary to walk around a km to get out of the port and to the elevator up to the town - when the elevator was actually only a few metres from where we were moored! We know several elderly and partially handicapped passengers who tripped on the walk or just couldn't make it.


Pleasant little place, but the fog came down. In the end we were surprised we managed to sail away.

Enjoyed the drive around and walking tour of the old town apart from lingering far too long at some religious building. The included lunch was a nice surprise.

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We like Cagliari, Some excellent walks around the old fortifications and some modern shops and cafes / wine bars all accessible close to the port.


We were refused entry to Gibraltar because of the on-board norovirus outbreak. Not really a problem for us as we have visited many times before.

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Altaj Maroj
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