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Ship Visit to SAGA SAPPHIRE
Saga Cruises
Southampton - 6th May 2012

Report and Photos ©2012 Harry Spong
Additional Images ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE in the Solent - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman


   

2012 Visit Reports
Revisited ships will not be shown unless significantly revised since previous visit

Crystal Symphony
Refurbished 2012

Oceana

Saga Sapphire

Thomson Spirit



2011 Visit Reports

Athena

Azura

Crystal Serenity

Rotterdam

Saga Pearl II

Saga Ruby


 
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Atrium
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Drawing Room
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Aviators' Bar
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Aviators' Bar
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Britannia Lounge
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Britannia Lounge
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Britannia Lounge
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Britannia Lounge
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - The Pantry
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - East to West
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - East to West
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Cooper's
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Cooper's
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Cabin
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Standard Twin Cabin
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Standard Twin Cabin
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Verandah Grill
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Lifeboats
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Lifebelt
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Atrium & Reception
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong


SAGA SAPPHIRE was completed by Bremer Vulkan-Vegesacker, Germany, for Hapag Lloyd in 1981 as the EUROPA and at the time of her completion was described as the most luxurious cruise ship afloat. After spending almost 17 years under German ownership and cruising to all parts of the world she was replaced by a new and larger EUROPA in 1999. Sold to Star Cruises she became the SUPERSTAR ARIES. A transfer to Orient Lines in 2003 did not take place and later that year she was sold to Pullmantur and renamed HOLIDAY DREAM. Her name was changed to BLEU DE FRANCE when she was transferred to Croisieres de France. In autumn 2011 it was announced that Saga Cruises had purchased BLEU DE FRANCE with the intention of renaming her SAGA SAPPHIRE with her first cruise for them to commence in April 2012.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Aviators' Bar
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong


Saga took possession of BLEU DE FRANCE on November 4th 2011 in Palermo and for the first few weeks a vast amount of surplus material was removed from the vessel. Originally there was a self service restaurant on Deck 10, this was removed and replaced by a series of Balcony cabins prefabricated ashore and then lifted into place complete with fittings and utilities. At the same time preparations were made to create more balcony cabins on Deck 8, which involved cutting holes in the ship’s side. While all this was happening other parts of the ship were stripped of furniture and fittings in order to create new areas more in keeping with the Saga image. By mid December the ship was ready for dry-docking and repainting in Saga deep sea blue. Shortly before this, work commenced on creating an Atrium between decks 5 and 6. Christmas came and went, work continued apace, a hole was cut in the ship’s side in preparation for the removal of the old generator and the arrival of the new. On the 7th February the BLEU DE FRANCE was out of dry dock and officially renamed SAGA SAPPHIRE and registered in the ownership of Saga. During the next six weeks most of the work on board was completed and on March 22nd SAGA SAPPHIRE left the shipyard in Palermo en route to the UK arriving in Southampton on March 28th in preparation for her inaugural cruise.



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Britannia Lounge
Photo: ©2012 Harry Spong


Sunday May 6th was cloudy and overcast and when we arrived at Southampton at the requested time of 9.30am. Berth 101 was empty: where was the SAGA SAPPHIRE? The ship, which was just about to dock after arriving from Valencia, was partially hidden by the terminal building. We were due to board about 10.15am but owing to problems with the gangways boarding was delayed for about three quarters of an hour. The delay gave OLS members a chance to renew friendships and make new ones. Throughout this time we were kept fully informed of progress by the helpful Saga staff. About 11.00am we boarded the ship with our guide Gary a member of the Folkestone Shore Staff via the reception area on deck seven. Our attention was drawn to the writing on the screens surrounding the newly constructed Atrium. The delay in boarding caused the planned itinerary to be slightly altered. Instead of inspecting the public areas and cabins followed by lunch, we would have lunch and then visit the cabins. Our party was split into groups of about a dozen, luckily we had the pleasure of the company of members who had cruised on the ship when she was under French ownership. It was interesting to listen to their views on the changes which had been made.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Verandah Grill
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman


Eleven of the twelve decks have public access. After a short introductory talk we made our way to the Britannia Lounge situated on Deck 8, which is the main entertainment area in the evening and during the day is used for lectures, dancing and other activities. The tour of this deck was completed by a visit to Cooper's Bar (named after comedian Tommy Cooper) a venue for pre-show drinks and late night cocktails. Also on this deck are the shops and photo gallery. Next stop was the newly created informal Grill and Veranda areas on Deck 9 where there was previously a swimming pool complex. This is now an ideal venue for sampling a lighter type of meal and also for tasting a wide variety of cooking styles from both India and the Far East.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Verandah Grill
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman


On Deck 11 there is situated the Drawing Room, giving magnificent views both forward over the bow as well as to both beams through large observation windows. In this area is the very well stocked library as well as the Internet, i pads and also some computers. Also on this deck for those who fancy a chat and a tea and coffee, is the Pantry with cakes etc available on a self serve basis. Further aft on this deck there is a complex known as the Beach Club complete with swimming pool, sweet shop and ice cream shop. A fish and chip shop completes this unique venue. The highest deck on the ship Deck 12 has a mini-golf course known as St. Andrews as well as an Observation deck complete with sun loungers.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Cooper's
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman


We took the opportunity to view the Aviator Bar before proceeding for lunch served in SAGA SAPPHIRE’S main restaurant the Pole to Pole which can accommodate all the passengers on board at one sitting and serves dinner between 7.00pm and 9.00pm. After a first class lunch, with convivial company and served by attentive staff we left this venue to continue our tour. Unfortunately we only had the opportunity to view one of the Suites on Deck 9 before it was time to depart this gem in Saga’s crown.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Cooper's
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman


To sum up: a good visit, very good food, excellent wine and not a gambling machine or casino in sight. Thank you Peter and thank you Saga for allowing us to visit such a lovely ship, which in spite of her few teething troubles should in time, prove a highly successful vessel.


SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Beach House Pool
Photo: ©2012 Peter Godliman



SAGA SAPPHIRE - Photo: ©2012 Saga
SAGA SAPPHIRE - Official Postcard
Photo: ©2012 Saga















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