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Ergates The Ant

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  1. Apologies from me, was just responding to a previous comment on the dining options. The lack of proper alternatives in the Grill was my biggest concern. Haven’t sailed on Oceania or Azamara, as not keen on older ships with less than up to date bathrooms. Sorry to have gone off topic.
  2. Agree with comments on the SoD food offerings. Haven’t sailed on her as yet, but it does sound as if the dining may be geared towards a much older clientele - I’m 68, and very surprised not to find vegetarian food as a bigger main stream choice, rather than something ‘weird’ requiring a special menu and advance notification! I’m not completely vegetarian, I do eat chicken, bacon and the occasional steak, but often choose a vegetarian option purely on the grounds that it sounds tasty and inventive, compared to meat and two veg. So the ‘choice’ of one vegetarian entree seems terribly old fashioned, and could be a deterrent to the ‘younger’ entrants to the Saga age range.
  3. Very pleased to hear this! I had only just read that Celebrity had started charging for movies, cross and disappointed, and lo and behold, they have reversed that decision. thanks to all who complained. The effect of this sort of penny pinching reflects very badly on the company. Im sure that most passengers will continue to socialise around the ship, and spend money, but it seemed particularly callous and conniving to deprive those of us who enjoy the occasional quiet couple of hours in the cabin. the availability of very recent movies, and the excellent system where one can start and stop the movie at will, was certainly a big plus on Celebrity. Some other lines had a useless system, where it was virtually impossible to find out what was on, when, and if you wanted to see a particular movie, you had to watch from start to finish. Did Celebrity actually check with customers and potential customers what impact this cost generating scheme would have, in terms of perceived value to guests? my opinion of Celebrity plummeted when I read of the introduction of the charges. I am very pleased it has been reversed, but the damage has been done.
  4. Kentchris, how alarming! I would have expected that if they weren’t prepared to cover your wife any more, that they should have at least offered you the option of cancelling the cruise with a full refund. Not what you would have wanted, I’m sure, but isn’t that one reason for taking out insurance in the first place? If you’re not fit to be insured, you are not fit to travel, and that’s what you paid for cover against! I’m aware that most companies will not insure you if you are awaiting surgery, or have been referred for further investigations, but it sounds as if you had booked the cruise and taken out the cover before this happened. so glad you had alternative arrangements organised, that was a real last minute headache you didn’t need.
  5. Thanks for posting the Grill menu. It seems that this is not a cruise line for vegetarians, so won’t be able to tempt my sister and her husband on board. Only one item actually noted as vegetarian, although it’s possible that the cauliflower soup and omelette parcels might also be, just not labelled as such. I wonder if Saga expect vegetarians to declare themselves in advance as a dietary requirement, like the ‘old days’. The last Royal Caribbean cruise I went on had very reasonable sections in the buffet for both gluten free choices, and vegan food. Sounds like the always available chicken is only in the MDR? The daily programme looks good and varied. I did despair on recent Celebrity cruises, where most of the activities seemed to centre on a sales opportunity for something of little interest. looks like there is a lot to like, as long as I can compromise on the food! To be honest, we don’t cruise for a gourmet experience, as we eat so well locally at home, with easy access to fresh produce and ethically produced free range meat. Just tiresome that the ‘buffet’ does not actually provide an alternative menu, just an alternative venue!
  6. Thanks for the update, Cinnamon. Certainly wouldn’t be my understanding of ‘snacks throughout the day’! it must sound as if I am a continual grazer, but it’s more that I like to be driven by my appetite, rather than be dictated to by a rigidly set meal pattern, especially when I’m on holiday. I don’t usually partake of afternoon tea either, as I prefer to eat dinner from 5.30 onwards, not a fan of a full stomach too near bedtime. However, with SoD timings, looks like I’d be indulging in scones after all! And deafening everyone with a rumbling tummy if I come back on board having missed tea and with a wait for dinner. All perfectly copeable with, but I suppose I’m surprised at the lack of flexibility I’ve come to associate with cruising.
  7. Kentchris, I’m just reading through my Saga cruises brochure. The Grill is described as an ‘alternative restaurant.....open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks throughout the day.’ I’d be interested what is on offer, and what timings, between meals. I was certainly getting the impression that the only time the Grill was open was for virtually the same meal times as the MDR including afternoon tea. hope you are having a great time so far
  8. That sounds very encouraging. Our medical issues sound very trivial in comparison, but we’ve certainly paid more for travel insurance in the last few years. Very glad your OH is now well enough to enjoy his travels again, long may that last! thanks very much for the information.
  9. What experience have other cruisers had with using the included insurance? Given that virtually all the passengers are over 50, and many a lot more mature than that, how many restrictions do they impose for pre existing conditions and the like? I’d be interested to know whether allowances are made for our ‘wear and tear’ or whether a high proportion of passengers are told to take the £22 and sort their insurance out elsewhere.
  10. Would also like to see some MDR menus if at all possible. Looking forward to another SoD cruise by proxy! All information gratefully received!
  11. Thanks again, Cinnamon, for your very useful blog. It was invaluable to get the up to date, on board reports you have provided. Like any review, it is up to the reader to differentiate between what is of direct personal interest to them, and what isn’t, and the most important factor is that you have provided a wealth of information for us to sift through, and decide whether a Saga cruise is likely to be a good fit. So far, the ship itself sounds lovely, with suitably spacious cabins and decent bathrooms. A major plus for us, as we do like to escape for some peace and quiet. The smoking policy was a very big factor for us, having suffered the irritation of large no go areas of ships because of the smell. I was very excited at the thought of daily walks round the promenade deck, without one half of the deck being rendered very unpleasant by sometimes only one or two smokers, using a stupidly positioned area upwind on the deck! I shall be very put off if the efforts to provide a more user friendly area for smokers, result in a negative impact on other areas of the ship. This needs to be carefully thought out, with contributions from both smokers and non smokers, to ensure that those who smoke can do so comfortably without impacting on the enjoyment of other passengers. The food offerings are also still causing concern. It does sound regimented and restricted, and not particularly conducive to a relaxing holiday if one has to clock watch, or risk going hungry. the room service and lido menus look like good fall backs if needed. Having identical menus in both MDR and the buffet does seem bizarre to me. A very poor restriction in choice. One of several things I didn’t like on P and O, was the themed evenings in the buffet. At least you had a choice if you didn’t like the MDR offerings, but woe betide you if you were not a fan of tonight’s theme. Mexican or Seafood meant exclusively that and virtually nothing else. I was going to say that the cruise sounds a bit like a P and O experience at Azamara prices, which is a real shame, as the itineraries look varied and interesting, and a great opportunity to draw in repeat cruisers. I have shortlisted at least three cruises I’d like to do next year, if Saga can deliver an acceptable experience on board. it does appear that we may need to make our own travel arrangements though, as it sounds as if the Saga offering is very unlike my expectation of a chauffeur transfer! Sorry for such a long post, and thanks for your patience if you got to the end of it!
  12. Although disembarkation is a small part of the cruise package, being the last thing passengers experience before heading for home, it can have a relatively big impact on one’s overall impression of the holiday. We have certainly downgraded some cruises as a result of sitting twiddling our thumbs in a crowded lounge. Especially when one darent leave to visit the loo, or try to find somewhere to get a drink, in case your number is called! Some of our past cruise experiences have been given higher ratings by us, for the ease with which we got off! On one ship, we were notified of our leaving time at least a day in advance. We didn’t have to assemble in any specific room, just head to the gangway at the appropriate time, from wherever you were. As passengers were spread around the ship, there was no log jam between the assembly area and the gangway. Our timings even worked for us so that we were able to stay in our stateroom, and head straight from there to the exit. With less than 1000 passengers on board, Saga should be able to do a lot better. Just from a Health and Safety point of view, assembling large groups of people, many of us elderly, with all our carry on bags and coats etc, and then expecting us to vacate the room all at one time, seems pretty short sighted. Getting along the rows of seats and up the aisle in a theatre was bad enough, making our way round the tables in a dining room was even worse. A particularly bad bit of planning, which I have seen on other cruises, is when the assembly room is not on the same level as the gangway! Queues for the lifts, a crush on the stairways, people getting their feet trodden on and getting accidentally jostled by bags and sticks - you get the picture! Not the best final memories of an otherwise relaxing cruise! And Saga should be fully aware of the disproportionately negative vibes this creates.
  13. The disembarkation sounds a bit of a fiasco! Saga have had a week to coordinate passengers and transport, very much takes the edge off the much hyped included transport to the port! Were there are passengers disembarking without Saga transport? Were they having to wait for hours as well? i would certainly prefer to drive to Southampton and park, and was initially pleased to see that Saga cruise parking is provided by my preferred parking company. Then very disappointed to discover that unlike the self parking / keep your car keys arrangement we usually have with Celebrity and RCCL, Saga has a meet and greet system. Not happy with that, don’t like handing over keys for someone to take our car off site. One of several reasons why we gave up sailing with P and O!
  14. Thanks again, Cinnamon, for the detailed reports. It certainly provides a good picture of the on board experience, and what one might actually expect, compared with the glossy brochure slant. May I ask how well the smoking policy worked on board? It took me quite a while to find the details hidden away under a slightly obscure heading. Unless I’ve read it wrong, it appears that smoking is permitted only at the back of Deck 15, (although the decks are shown by letter on the deck plan!), there is no smoking on balconies, and - a HUGE plus for us, the entire promenade deck is smoke free! Is this the case, and was the policy enforced? Smooth sailing into Southampton!
  15. Poor Tigrou, that does sound very trying, and I would have been very irritated. I cannot imagine going into any restaurant in the UK, and being expected to share a table with strangers, or having them join me after I had sat down. I’m sure there is plenty of opportunity to make the acquaintance of others around the ship, and then decide to have a meal together, rather than the other way round! I’m pretty sure that in Saga Magazine’s relationship advice, it suggests that ‘first dates’ or meetings, are planned round a short coffee or tea, to allow a quick get away if you find you have nothing in common! Not quite the same thing, I know, yet on their newest ship, they seem to have expected you to commit to up to a three course meal with strangers, rather going against their own very sensible advice! Thanks for the information on the food offerings, it’s certainly given me plenty to consider. It remains to be seen whether or not the restricted opening times for dining, and the seeming limited choices, would make my ‘young’ and active (70+) OH feel as if he has paid good money to stay in a nursing home rather than a luxurious floating hotel.
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