First pictures of Saga Pearl II

//First pictures of Saga Pearl II

IMG_1948.jpgSaga Pearl II is scheduled to embark on her maiden voyage today, following a £20 million conversion and re-fit which was still not quite finished when I had a look round the ship yesterday.
There might have been workmen beavering away at every turn, but Saga Travel boss Susan Hooper and Captain David Warden-Owen were confident that all would be ready for this afternoon, although there is no firework farewell planned, and the ship will head for the Norwegian fjords without fanfare.
The conversion from MS Astoria, originally built in 1981, has been carried out over three months in dry-dock at Swansea. Passenger capacity has been reduced from a potential 602 to just 446, and a quarter of the cabins are now for singles.
The number of crew has been increased from 220 in its former guise to 252, ensuring more personal attention – a Saga signature.
IMG_1925.jpgThe biggest changes have been in opening up the public rooms. On the Promenade Deck (which does not actually have a walk-round outdoor promenade) the Discovery Lounge at the bow, and the main dining room aft are both light and airy public spaces, with a clear connection to the sea thanks to the large windows.
IMG_1905.jpgIn between is Shackleton’s Bar and a new library containing 3,400 books and four computer screens for passengers to access the internet.
New teak decking has been laid around the swimming pool on boat deck, and a lovely open-air relaxing area has been created one deck up, aft of the new Sundowner Bar.
IMG_1864.jpgThe whole look is very contemporary, with a nod to the sophisticated style of Celebrity’s ships while retaining a traditional feel which Saga’s over-50s passengers will find comfortable and reassuring.
They might be alarmed, however, by the restaurant arrangements. Not so much because of the fancy uplighters which could almost have come from the drawing board of Carnival’s crazy ship designer Joe Farcus, but by the fact that for the first time, Saga are introducing open seating.
Instead of being allocated the same table – and the same waiters – at a fixed time each evening , passengers will be able to arrive for dinner when they want. And if their preferred choice is the main dining room, they may have to get there early; it’s not big enough to accommodate everyone at once, so the Verandah buffet restaurant will also be used for waiter-service dinners, and is even fitted out with an alternative Captain’s Table.
Aficionados of Saga Rose, which was retired last year and which Saga Pearl II replaces, may take some getting used to the changes. But passengers switching from Spirit of Adventure, operated by an affiliate company, will be quite familiar with the system.
They will also find the cabin decor, with its blue-and-white striped blinds and bed linen, and some of the furniture in the Discovery Lounge has a familiar ring.
Some familiar faces might turn up in the crew as well – many have switched from the Rose, sister ship Saga Ruby, and from Spirit.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:32+00:00 15 March 2010|Cruise Ships|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. dave 13 September 2010 at 9:30 am - Reply

    looks a fantastic ship

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