Welcome to the Saga Juniors

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Cruising among the Norwegian fjords on board Saga Pearl II in early May has two great advantages over visiting at peak season on one of today’s mega-ships.
For a start, the 400 passengers on board have not had to fight through crowds to get to the major sights and attractions ashore. We have been the only ship in port at each day’s stop.
And at just 18,500-tons Pearl is small enough to visit destinations which are off-limits to some of the bigger vessels, and we have been able to go alongside at each port, rather than having to tender ashore.
Having said that, disembarkation is not without its problems, as passengers have to negotiate a 32-step gangway from two decks above the quayside – not always easy for those with mobility problems.
Fortunately, plans are already in hand to improve access to and from the ship.
Floro is one of the towns which is not yet on the map for Norwegian cruises. It had only two cruise ship calls in 2009 and is expecting 13 this year. Pearl was making her second visit to the port – she was here in March on her inaugural voyage.
The most westerly town in Norway, Floro has become an important supply base for the North Sea oil industry, and its fascinating coastal museum has informative displays of the oil and gas fields alongside historical artefacts such as wooden boats and fishermen’s homes.
The history here goes much further back, and we saw some incredible Stone Age rock carvings at nearby Ausevik.
Judging by the images which have survived for almost 4,000 years, the prehistoric ancestors of the Vikings took a great interest in red deer and fish, together with a possibly religious fascination with mazes and labyrinths.
Back on board after a day’s exploration – and before a dinner menu just as likely to feature venison and fresh fish – members of Saga’s Britannia Club for regular passengers gathered for their own exclusive cocktail party.
Well maybe not quite so exclusive, because they make up more than half of the total passenger complement on board, and many are veterans with many cruises on Saga Ruby and the now-retired Saga Rose behind them.
Captain David Warden-Owen explained why it had not been possible to keep the much-loved Rose in service, and with tongue slightly in cheek, but perhaps with a touch of frustration, spoke about unfulfilled hopes to get enough backers together to buy the ship and transform it into a private yacht.
He said that having been taken out of service late last year, the ship had been in Gibraltar for three months, and was currently in South African waters, being shown off to potential buyers who had expressed an interest.
Saga Pearl II is a more contemporary ship than the Rose and the Ruby, and may not find favour with all the diehard Saganauts.
They still have the Ruby, however, and the Captain hinted that Pearl will grow its own legion of fans. I’m sure he is right, and I even have a label for them.
Welcome to the Saga Juniors.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:28+00:00 11 May 2010|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

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.

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