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Canaries to Casablanca with Saga Sapphire


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Last week my colleague and I were on board Saga Sapphire for the second half of her Canaries to Casablanca cruise. We waved goodbye to a cold and drizzly Thursday morning in Manchester and arrived in a sunny Las Palmas early afternoon, boarding Saga Sapphire after a short transfer from the airport to the port.

First Impressions

 

As we pulled up to the ship in port, I was quite surprised to see how small Saga Sapphire looked having previously visited P&O Cruises’ Britannia and Holland America’s MS Koningsdam. The staff were very efficient and quick to greet us as we came off the coach, taking our luggage off our hands, leading us up on deck and showing us our way to the reception so we could grab our cruise cards before showing us to our stateroom.

Before boarding Saga Sapphire, I had imagined the décor to be quite dated and perhaps chintzy given Saga’s target audience and I was actually quite surprised to find that this was not the case. The décor was contemporary and modern and one thing that instantly caught my eye when we made our way up to the reception, were the hundreds of floating stainless steel fish that dropped down from the top of deck 8 (If I remember rightly) down to deck 5.

A heads up for any forum members who may be travelling with Saga Sapphire, be sure to keep a look out for the Saga fish eye… It’s not easy to find, but once you spot the fish with the eye it’s not to see again.  

Elsewhere on board there were loads of nice little touches around the ship from modern artwork and ornaments to quirky lamps and light fittings in the likes of the Drawing Lounge, Britannia Lounge, Coopers etc.

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Cabins

 

A steward showed us our way to our stateroom which was a superior outside on deck 6 and was very good in size. Our room had two full length wardrobes, one with a narrow chest of drawers inside. Both of the wardrobes were spacious and offered plenty of room for full length dresses, trousers and suits. Our cabin also had a vanity area, a chest of drawers, two plug socks by the bed, one by the vanity area (all UK pin plugs) with a European plug behind the TV. We did however hear from others that they didn’t have so many plugs or they weren’t in such convenient places like ours. Our cabin also came with a small desk area, two leather sofas and table for in room dining. The bathroom was also reasonable sized, with a shower and bath, though we heard  that others that their cabins only had showers. There were plenty of hand rails in the bathroom to steady yourself if needed, but one thing that is worth mentioning is that there was no emergency pull cord.

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Edited by AbbieS
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Drawing Room

 

Perfect spot to spend a lazy day at sea, the Drawing Room was quiet, cosy and comfortable with many passengers opting to come here for a game of scrabble, chess, a spot of reading or snoozing. Here there was a small daily supply of fresh cakes and biscuits to choose from, including a gluten free or sugar free option. Guests could help self to tea and coffee from one of the two machines in here, though you could order cold drinks from the bar or wait for the staff to come to you to take your order.

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Cooper’s Bar

 

Probably my favourite venue on board, Cooper’s was small and intimate and did tend to fill up pretty quickly during the evening. Quirky artwork lined the walls, fez-shaped lamps were dotted around the room with plenty of comfotable chairs and sofas to opt for. The only negative I’ve got to add about Cooper’s was the size, it was a popular venue and could’ve done with being slightly bigger.

 

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Britannia Lounge

The Britannia Lounge offered plenty of seating, including wheelchair accessible tables. Though the stage was on the small-ish side, the Britannia Lounge was always full and at no time did we hear any complaints from guests saying they struggled to see what was going on in the show in the evening. For anyone who may have had an obstructed view during the show, could watch the show from one of the TV’s down the side of the ship where the shows were projected onto.

Daily afternoon tea was also held in here and was very popular with guests especially for the Chocolate Afternoon Tea. There was everything from fruit/plain scones, cake, fruit, small sandwiches and more with two separate tables which held a generous spread of gluten free and sugar free treats for guests with dietary requirements on board.

In a small nook to the side of the Britannia Lounge, The Card Room proved to be popular with guests during the evenings.

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Edited by AbbieS
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Beach Club and Pool

A small but spacious space, the Beach Club and pool area proved to be very popular by the day with most of the sun lounges taken from early morning to late afternoon before the weather turned cool. We only spotted the odd few passengers using the pool and the hot tub on sea days, with most of the passengers preferring to lounge in the sun reading.

Two beach shacks also sat by the side of the pool grill, and from the shacks you could help yourself to traditional boiled British sweets and ice cream from the other. The Beach Club served Fish and Chips, burgers and steaks.

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Verandah/ Grill

We dined on the Verandah during out first evening on board with a BBQ Beach Party which overflowed with seafood, meats, cheese, desserts and had just about everything you could possibly imagine. The hardest part was choosing what to eat first!

The Verandah was popular with passengers and we tended to dine on here for lunch, opting to sit outside in the sun and make interact with the passengers on board. Most days there was a BBQ on deck (weather permitting) with everything from barbequed meats to salads, cold meats, quiche, sandwiches, plus the option to order from the menu. The sail away and deck parties were also held here and they proved to be very popular, with most of the passenger up dancing and really getting into it.

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East to West

The only speciality restaurant on board, East to West, is an Asian fusion restaurant set just aside from the Verandah, holding only 62 passengers at any one time. Guests can dine in here once per cruise though a reservation needs to be made first. The maître d’ did however happily tell us that they can often accommodate guests to dine in here on more than occasion should they wish.

We ate in here on the Sunday, and it was one of the best meals on board. I opted for Chicken Dim-Sim as my starter, steak with wasabi mash for my main and coconut rice pudding topped with meringue for dessert.  During our meal in here, one table was celebrating a birthday that evening, and the staff went out of their way to make a fuss over them singing a birthday song with a couple of musical instruments in tow. 

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Pole to Pole

Pole to Pole is the main restaurant on board, accommodating 620 diners at any one time. With open-seating dining, guests can dine when and where they wish, though a small number of tables can be reserved for a fixed dining time for those who prefer this dining option. A self-service buffet is available during breakfast with waiter-service for tea, coffee and cooked items. Waiter-service is also provided for lunch and dinner.

 

Edited by AbbieS
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Entertainment

Day

Daily entertainment ranged from early morning fitness classes where you could participate in yoga, join one of the crew members on the prom deck to ‘walk a mile’ or join in a friendly game of table tennis and connect 4. Daily quizzes took place in the Drawing Room early afternoon, choir classes and ukulele classes took place in The Academy and for those who wanted a leisurely morning/ afternoon in their cabin could make the most of the daily film was on show and available to watch in your cabin at numerous intervals. There were plenty of books and magazines to pick from in the library for those who wanted a leisurely afternoon in the Drawing Room/Library, along with four or five chess tables for those who fancied a game or two of chess or scrabble.

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Evening

Evening entertainment was low-key with short performances in the Britannia Lounge from the dancers and singers, with two performances from the magician and comedian. The shows were shorter than I had expected, and most of the guests preferring to sit and watch the shows rather than sing, clap and dance to the music. 

After the evening show had finished we often then made our way over to the Drawing Lounge, for ‘easy-listening’ music from Zoltan and Lily. Though the music was not to my taste and mainly consisted of pre-60s music, it was very popular with the older passengers on board, with many getting up on the stage for a spot of ballroom dancing. Those who didn’t opt to retire to the Drawing Room tended to make their way over to Cooper’s, a Tommy Copper themed venue, for friendly chats with fellow with like-minded passengers and easy-listening piano music or make the most of a quiet drink in the small but comfortable Aviator’s Lounge.

General Comments

A couple of points that did come across in the majority of the conversations we had with guests on board was how much they loved that Saga took care of everything. Many of the passengers who had previously cruised with other cruise lines had commented how difficult they had found it to be to sort their own insurance out once they got past a certain age, and how they’d also worry about the transport to and from their cruise. Cruising with Saga meant that they didn't have to worry about all of that as it’s all taken care of by Saga without any hassle.

The general views many have when they think of a Saga cruise are usually the ‘fuddy-duddy’ and dated views. As Saga’s target audience is 50+ there was a mixed bunch of passengers on board and though there are plenty of aids for those who need it, there was also many who were able-bodied and not afraid to get on the dance floor for a spot of ballroom dancing. We also heard from one guest on board that there was a 99-year-old man, who up until recently was walking with a stick and very rarely used it to help himself get from A to B.

 

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