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About Londoner51

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Isle of Thanet, England
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity, Cunard, P&O

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  1. For us, the system of booking these restaurants still leaves much to be desired. We were on Norway Rocks and were able to book only one restaurant at a time. After queuing, we managed to book Coast to Coast for the first night but were told we couldn't book another until we'd eaten in the first one. Therefore after eating in Coast to Coast we went and asked to book for the Club on the last night and we were told that we couldn't book, only be wait-listed. We were added to the list and heard no more until we asked at reception and they assured us we would get a table on the last night, which we did get eventually. We twice tried to get a table on the night at East to West but again were told it was full (fair enough) and we'd have to be wait-listed. It was all a bit frustrating. I read a post on another site that people on the current 4 night cruise were able to book any, or all, of the three restaurants when they arrived at Dover, before embarking. This also doesn't seem a good way of doing it as it favours the early arrivers and penalises those who arrive later only to find all the restaurants fully booked. I don't have a solution, but I do think that Saga needs to have a good think about how the system should operate to be both fair and simple. As an aside to this issue, which I'm sure is just another of the ship's minor teething problems, this was our first Saga cruise and we loved it. We thought the food in the MDR and particularly in the Grill and Coast to Coast was very, very good as was the service in all three of these restaurants.
  2. Thank you for this information, greatly appreciated. I must admit we didn’t fancy self disembarkation but as we live close to Dover and volunteer for the National Trust at the lighthouse at Dover, it would be odd to be so close to home yet so far!
  3. We’ve opted to park on the quayside, so can we opt to take our luggage ashore ourselves rather than wait on board for hours? I really don’t fancy sitting around for ages at the end of a holiday.
  4. I’m also a little surprised that they don’t offer hot food apart from a soft boiled egg (I’m assuming the hard boiled one is served cold!). We’ve sometimes enjoyed breakfast in our cabin or on our balcony when we’ve had a scenic sail-in to a port. Breakfast (scrambled eggs & bacon, as I recall) on our balcony on the Celebrity Eclipse as we sailed through the archipelago to Stockholm was one of the best cruise experiences ever.
  5. We’re sailing on the SoD on Thursday, our first Saga cruise. Does Saga offer a room service breakfast, and if so is it just continental or do they offer cooked items too, please? We sometimes enjoy having a quiet, leisurely breakfast in our cabin.
  6. Oh dear. It sounds rather grim, not an enjoyable way to end a happy holiday. It does sound like Saga needs to do some re-thinking about disembarking this ship. Expecting people to sit outside because of insufficient space inside whilst waiting is far from ideal. A few years ago we sailed on P&O’s Britannia in her first season. Disembarkation was a nightmare and we decided to never go back (we weren’t too keen on the ship either!). I’m sure they’ve since resolved their problem but our first impression was so disappointing that we didn’t want to risk another bad experience. Hope you’re having a good journey home!
  7. Many thanks for this information. I like to be appropriately dressed but not over-dressed. 11.40am sounds a rather late “release” time! We’re used to disembarking by 9.30am latest on most cruises. Are refreshments provided, i.e. coffee/tea? 11.40am is well past our usual coffee time 😀
  8. A question about the dress code: on formal nights did ladies wear long dresses or cocktail dresses? I’ve got plenty of both types, but it’d be good to know what to pack.
  9. Cinnamon, I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. It’s been very informative and good to get such detailed information. We’re joining the ship on 26 September for 7 nights to Norway - “Norway Rocks”, and look forward to it. However, I’m concerned about how late we’re due to be picked up - 3pm. In theory we only live 40 minutes from the port but it seems to be cutting it fine for a 5pm sailing, and very late for checking in and unpacking before we sail. Still, I guess the ship will wait for us if we’re delayed as it’s their transport. Your Information about the speciality restaurants has been invaluable. You’re right, the reservation system does look like it needs to be improved. We want to eat in all three of them but having to book each one separately and only one at a time and only after you’ve eaten in the first one seems a cumbersome system (unless they think that we’re all so old that we shan’t remember what we’ve booked!). It’ll be our first time on Saga, so we’ll be seeing how it compares to the other cruise lines we use: Cunard, P&O, Fred Olsen & Celebrity. Thank you again for such great information.
  10. Our cruise information booklet and luggage tags for our 26 September cruise arrived today. Very impressed with the amount of information that Saga provides, especially the detail they go into for their excursions, plus confirmation that we book the specialty restaurants once on board. It all bodes well for our first Saga cruise!
  11. We’re not big drinkers, usually a G&T before dinner, glass of wine with dinner and a drink after dinner. We certainly don’t need alcohol to help us socialise and be friendly, however having seen that a G&T on Saga is just £2.90 we might push the boat out and have two G&Ts - amazing value. We’ve just returned from a cruise on QM2 and two G&Ts cost us $26 including the 15% service charge levied on all drinks, including bottles of water. We’re taking our first Saga cruise on 26 September on the Spirit of Discovery. I suspect we’re going to become Saga converts.
  12. I’m really pleased to see this Saga forum. As some previous posters have already said, I don’t think many British people know about Cruise Critic and that’s a shame as it’s a wonderful place to get information about all sorts of cruise related topics, to arrange private tours and meet & mingles. Having cruised 45+ times before, we’ve booked on our first ever Saga cruise on the Spirit of Discovery sailing on 26 September. My sister and brother-in-law were lucky enough to be on the shakedown cruise and they said that it’s a beautiful ship. We’re so looking forward to it. However, I have a frustration with Saga. We booked through a travel agent, which is how we usually book. With all the other cruise lines we cruise with - Celebrity, Cunard, P&O - we can access our booking online and enter all our personal information (passport details, etc) and view and book excursions. When I tried to do this for this cruise I couldn’t access our booking. When I phoned Saga to ask why, I was told that online access was only for people who’d booked directly with Saga. I had to provide all our personal information direct to our travel agent. I find this to be a very odd way for them to operate. As I can’t access our cruise online, I’m assuming that at some point we’ll be sent information about excursions prior to our cruise, or do we have to wait until we’re on board? Experienced Saga cruisers, I’ll welcome the benefit of your experience.
  13. I love the Penhaligons toiletries provided, plus they come in very cute shaped bottles (sad, I know). I have very fine hair and find that the shampoo and conditioner work well for me. The body lotion is a bit thin, so it’s worth taking your own favourite brand to supplement the ones in the cabin, or buy some on board to save luggage space - all the top brands of product are sold in the beauty shop and the spa. The fragrance is Penhaligons unisex Quercus, and I love the smell so much that, after our first Cunard cruise, I treated myself to their shampoo (£19 for 300ml) and body wash (£32 for 300ml); they aren’t cheap products. I couldn’t detect any difference in the smell of the Cunard products and the products I bought from the Penhaligons shop. We’re on QM2 in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to that lovely smell again!
  14. We always drive down the day before our cruise and have stayed in a number of hotels, all centrally located for Southampton city centre, including the Mercure Dolphin, Holiday Inn, Novotel and Ibis. We also like to stay at the Mercure in Winchester, which is just a 25 minute drive to the port and a really lovely place to stay. For our upcoming 21 night cruise, our pre-cruise night is a Saturday and we’ve found the central Southampton and Winchester hotel prices to be much, much higher than usual, probably as there are several other large cruise ships in port with us the same day. This time we’re staying at the Holiday Inn Express Southampton West at Adnac Park and we’ve booked the cruise parking package. We’ve stayed at this hotel before. It’s fairly basic, but more than adequate for a pre-cruise stay and absolutely fine if you just want to turn up in the evening, have a meal and then transfer to the port in the morning. If you want to have a day out in Southampton you’d need to either drive into the city centre and park, or park at the Holiday Inn and get a bus or taxi into the centre. The cruise parking deal is a little odd. You park at the hotel for your overnight stay, then on cruise day you drive to an off-site car park. We’ve been booked by the hotel into Penguin Parking, located in Marchwood. Penguin will then take us to the ship and bring us back to our car on our return. I think the cruise parking package works out a little cheaper than booking the hotel and parking separately. We’ve parked in Marchwood before, with a different parking company. It worked out well, and it’s cheaper than parking on the dockside. The downside of not parking on the dockside, whether you get a taxi transfer or a shuttle bus transfer, is that the whole parking / car collection process takes longer so you need to weigh up the convenience of having your car parked just a short walk from the ship or saving money on the parking and taking a transfer. Depending on when you’re cruising, to get a good deal it might be worth exploring accommodation a little further away from the port, e.g. Salisbury and Winchester, and then booking cruise parking with someone like Penguin Parking (there are several companies to choose from if you just Google “Southampton Cruise Parking”). Good luck with finding what you’re after, and enjoy your cruise!
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