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kentchris

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About kentchris

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Overlooking the Straights of Dover
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Cunard, Saga

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  1. Early night tonight as our tour has an 08.00 departure in order to have enough time to see everything on tomorrow’s schedule. Note tomorrow’s late night Russian Buffet in the GDR for people on evening tours, and anyone else fancying a shot of vodka or two and some caviar...
  2. Michelle Dunne, not Kayleigh Lane who was named in our book. The Executive Chef was named as George Streeter: John McCerery is credited on board as running the show, so it’s anyone's guess who’ll turn up.
  3. Thanks Lincslady, that supports the impression I’ve got about how Saga do these things - ie that they’ll go a long way to keep their customers happy. Back to tonight: we got into Coast to Coast on spec, asked at the desk at 7.20 if any tables for two were likely to be free later, were advised to ask again in half an hour and to have a drink in the Club bar in case something came up. Just after our drinks arrived the maître d offered us two seats immediately at a table for four as there’d been a cancellation, which resulted in a very pleasant evening. And we’ve still got our table for two booked for Friday. The only upset was running foul of the ‘no entry after the show starts’ rule at the Playhouse where Peter Donnegan was performing. Wayne Sleep was just in front of us and wasn’t impressed by being turned away. The clocks go forward again tonight as we approach Helsinki, but after an intensive four days there, in SPB, and Tallin we’ll start getting the time back.
  4. We scored a fourth alternative restaurant visit in five nights by having a word on our way back from our afternoon in Stockholm with the maître d at The Club to see if he had a table for two tonight. He offered shared tables before 8pm, but when we said that was too early for us he suggested we call back at 8pm. We arrived at 7.50 and the earliest table due to be free was at 8.30, but we were only sat with a drink for 15 minutes before we had our 2-top. Another excellent meal and a win for flexibility on time. Tomorrow’s dailys - we’re getting so far ahead on the port talks that it’s difficult to relate to where we actually are on any day. At least previous talks are now on the TV under video on demand. BTW the rug/shawl was delivered as promised. It may as well be as new as the ones provided for all the difference we can see. That goes down as an above and beyond bit of customer service - we had happily accepted we couldn’t buy a rug so there was no need to give us one...
  5. As far as I can see Saga haven’t really changed the their offer at all, it’s always been priced at quite a premium above the mass market lines but not really in the ‘luxury’ market. A lot of people who previously wouldn’t have considered Saga because of the quirky old ships seem to have assumed that Saga have positioned themselves in a completely different market with the new all balcony ships. My impression is that they’re trying to do what they’ve always done, but on a slightly larger scale and without the constraints of the old hand-me-down ships. We had a chat at lunch with a couple of Saga first timers whose last cruise was on Silversea: they seemed happy with their experience. I realise people don’t necessarily open up their woes to complete strangers, but no newcomer to Saga we’ve spoken to has yet given any indication they’re unhappy about anything.
  6. Sapphire has (or had when we sailed on her four years ago) a whole vegetarian menu in addition to the regular menu. Did you not ask for it? It was mentioned on the ‘normal’ Sapphire menus. The online Concierge feature for existing bookings includes a text box to request special diets, and a dedicated radio button to tell Saga that one is a veggie. Even without having selected that I would always check with the maître d about extended options for veggies if the offer on the daily menu doesn’t suit.
  7. It feels a lot easier on board than it seemed from earlier descriptions. If you’re prepared to share you can get places more or less on spec as the alternative seats need to be used - the look of relief on the waitress’s face when we accepted the offered places in East to West yesterday was quite a picture. Perhaps too many people preferred lobster in the MDR on a formal night.
  8. My wife has fallen in love with the woollen shawls/small blankets provided for warmth when sitting on the balcony. We asked at Reception if they were available to buy and were told ‘no’. When we returned to our cabin after lunch our steward explained again that they’re not available for sale, but that he could give us a used one which was very sweet. On a different note, we were issued with interim questionnaires yesterday to be returned by tomorrow. We managed to fill the blank side with overflow comments so it’ll be interesting to see what if anything changes: this morning the TV service was upgraded to give a live feed from the Playhouse for shows and lectures. We we had lunch yesterday with a couple of long-standing Saganauts (nearly Diamond level BC members) who’d been on the maiden voyage. The main issues they mentioned, which have been resolved since, were waiters unable to read the small screens of the iPod sized tablets used for taking orders, and excursion stickers being issued in the Playhouse (a carry over from the system on Sapphire) which led to chaos with too many people trying to get in and out at the same time. There’s still been some congestion getting excursions off as excursion passengers are now being asked to arrive at the gangway at the exact time given in ‘Today’, rather than turning up early and getting in the way of people who need to get off. It sounds like that system is still a bit of a work in progress.
  9. They appear to be fine with conditions declared when taking out the policy, but my wife had a GP appointment to discuss some scans on the Friday before we sailed. She couldn’t reach Saga that afternoon so on Monday she called to tell them amongst other things that her scans had shown a probably benign condition unrelated to the reason for the scans, and that her GP was going to refer that to a specialist in the unlikely event that it needed a followup. Even though her GP had not advised against travel (and was aware of our cruise), Saga’s insurance cancelled all cover for my wife on the basis of the undiagnosed condition. They were unable to explain this over the phone in any detail, even when escalated to a manager, so we’re expecting to find a written response when we get home. Fortunately we had alternative cover in place, but we were shocked by Saga’s inability to alter their policy to work around a condition declared after the cover started, eg by excluding any condition related to that particular organ, or by charging extra for cover, either of which are what one would normally expect from a travel policy.
  10. I didn’t see tonight’s MDR menu but our lunchtime dining companions said it involved lobster and steak as tonight was a formal night. We had lunch in The Grill: our wine waiter was the same person who’d touted East to West on our first night. She asked if we’d got anything special arranged and when we said ‘no’ offered us a shared table at East to West this evening so that sorted another evening, so on our fourth night we’ve eaten dinner once in the MDR (which last night was as good as the best MDR meal we’ve had elsewhere). The earliest Coast to Coast could offer us a table for two was Friday which we booked, but flexibility about table size seems to ensure one or other or the alternative restaurants available on the day. We’ve now dined with a couple of people who have declared dietary restrictions to Saga: as one would expect they are able to plan their eating in advance, which includes multiple alternative restaurant bookings. As far as I can tell they’re the only people who are able to make multiple alternative restaurant bookings as they need to be certain what will be on their plates.
  11. We’ve only eaten in the MDR once so far and didn’t photo the menu, although I belatedly remembered when we passed the Grill. The same food is served in The Grill in the evenings, plus or minus one or two items ie steak, chicken and salmon are always available in the MDR. All MDR dishes are available in smaller portions, prepared more simply, or with more potatoes and/or veg. The Stockholm Style Liver was excellent, I don’t remember ever eating such tender liver, and the menu demonstrates Saga’s tendency to tailor menus to where the ship is, rather than work through a rigid weekly rotation which is all we’ve experienced on other lines.
  12. I’m not sure it’ll be necessary: on re-reading the onboard information pack it appears that non essential announcements should only be heard in cabin if the TV is set to the ship’s map channel (which ours was yesterday when we were in receipt of unnecessary updates). I haven’t been able to confirm this as we haven’t been in our cabin at the right times today to confirm either way, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
  13. After a busy port call to Gothenburg yesterday, and a surprisingly busy sea day today, here are the latest couple of dailys:
  14. No sign of that being possible. Given the way people are reacting to the current system there’d be uproar if online booking prior to the cruise was possible - it’s cause of some grief on the Viking Ocean forum because they operate a priority system for pre cruise bookings based on cabin grade.
  15. What the letter from Saga doesn’t mention is that phone bookings are accepted on embarkation day, as made clear in the welcome aboard edition of ‘Today’. I rang the booking number just after 3.30 and got through immediately to The Club to make my reservation. After the first day you can book in person or by phone between 17.30 and 18.30. Last night we saw people making bookings as they left The Club while there was someone on the front desk.
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