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Spirit of Discovery - Comprehensive Cruise Review


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Good morning.

 

I have just published my comprehensive review our our recent 16 Night cruise onboard Spirit of Discovery. 

 

The review is illustrated with over 100 photographs and covers both the ship and the itinerary ports.

 

I'd be delighted to answer any questions members may have on the aspects I have covered.

 

Here is the link...

 

https://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2019/12/17/sagas-spirit-of-discovery-16-night-cruise/

 

I'd be delighted to answer any questions you may have.

 

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Suite A526...

 

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Edited by Solent Richard
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Wow, that is certainly a comprehensive review!   Many thanks - I have not yet had time to read it and look at the pics.  thoroughly, and don't need to ask questions, as I am already convinced I would like Discovery.  I am sure others will find it helpful (though we can't all manage a suite).  I think some of the people who have already been on board have made a few invidious comparisons with other lines, such as Oceania and Azamara, but you certainly seemed to like almost everything.  I see that you are a Cunard and P and O cruiser - do you think you prefer Saga to either of these?

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Thanks Solent Richard. This is certainly a very helpful review.  We spent a week on SoD in September and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We had a standard cabin but found the storage space rather limited, especially in the wardrobe where the life jackets etc took up the space normally used  for shoes.  We ended up having to put our shoes under the bed!  We are considering booking a higher grade cabin next time to get the extra space.  How did you rate the mid-ship suite?  The bedroom area looks rather small, but this may be due to the angle of the photo.  Did you have the opportunity to view a deluxe cabin whilst on board, and if so, how did it compare?

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Another vote of thanks here - we're booked to sail in October next year, and your review has certainly whet the appetite!  If we have any questions, we'll take up your kind offer of help.

Thanks again, 

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Thank you - another great review (have already read many of your previous ones!)  It confirms what I've been thinking for a while, Saga isn't for us at the moment - too formal and too 'British'. 

Even though I've recently turned 70, I still don't feel old enough for it.  We'll stick to Viking for the time being. 

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I am surprised to read that people who are 70-ish don't feel old enough for Saga, but if it is the certain amount of formality and Britishness putting them off, I fear that may not change for some time.  Certainly there are plenty of activities on board for those who are active, and some challenging shore excursions as well.

 

It would be interesting to hear what demographic Discovery is attracting - hopefully more 'young' ones.   Maybe Solent Richard or the cruiser currently on board who started this thread could give an opinion?

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I was on SOD in September.  When I describe my cruise to friends I say "The ship is lovely, the food is fine (with some highlights), entertainment good, activities good BUT not sure we are old enough !"  I am 70'sh.  

The large number of people sleeping in the library, the many table companions who said they preferred the older ships and weren't sure about SOD since they couldnt find their way around, the time it took to load the lifts since many had no idea where they were going or what floor they needed.  I applaud the many who were treating their parents to cruises.  I applaud the determination to keep on cruising despite decreasing mobility and age related problems.

We all had to do a step test to see if we could stand up and step over 2 tape lines on the floor.  Nobody could get off the ship onto a tender if they could not do this since staff were not allowed to help.  On our other cruises some people have indeed been helped on and off tenders where there was a swell.  So I was surprised Saga said they would not help.  As it happens we were never asked to show our piece of paper which confirmed our ability to walk one step.  Seems a little silly as the biggest problem is surely being able to step up or down rather than make one step on a flat dance floor.

I may be ready in a few years because the onboard staff were certainly lovely and very caring.

 However Saga have new ships to fill and somehow they must I think find a slightly younger (in mind)  demographic.

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23 hours ago, Bloodaxe said:

Excellent review, Saga is seriously under consideration for a future cruise, this has wetted our appetite but I do have similar concerns to the previous poster.

 

It's not so much the age thing that's concerning me, I am over 70 and my Wife'is almost, it's more that we are used to the international feel of Azamara which we really enjoy.

.

Edited by Bloodaxe
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I hear where you are coming from, as they say.  I would say that for those who have previously enjoyed the likes of Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania,  Azamara etc. they are likely to find that if/when they no longer feel like flying to board a ship then the Saga ships are the nearest thing to what they have enjoyed  - apart from the international clientele.

 

We have always enjoyed being on 'international' ships - except when one nationality was in a huge majority,  but if that majority is Brits. it is easier to tolerate, for us anyway.

 

So I suppose it is likely that they will be older - and therefore pleased to have a car from and to home, and luggage taken care of.

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If it is important to you - it is to me - there is no nickel and diming on Saga.  I know you can get this with some other lines, where you can have a drinks package, etc. etc.  Although the wines etc. on Saga are not exceptional, there is plenty included which would sit most people, and poured generously.  And the same applies to other drinks.  It is not that one necessarily drinks a lot, just nice to feel that you are treated completely as a guest, no signing or showing cards etc.

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2 hours ago, lincslady said:

If it is important to you - it is to me - there is no nickel and diming on Saga.  I know you can get this with some other lines, where you can have a drinks package, etc. etc.  Although the wines etc. on Saga are not exceptional, there is plenty included which would sit most people, and poured generously.  And the same applies to other drinks.  It is not that one necessarily drinks a lot, just nice to feel that you are treated completely as a guest, no signing or showing cards etc.

 

Are drinks not charged extra at other times apart from wine with dinner?.

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No, they are all included - quite good brands, like Tio Pepe sherry, Campari, etc.  And at least one bar will be open from 10 a.m., so anyone who wishes could get completely sozzled.  (Never seen that happen!)  Wine with lunch and dinner, or indeed at any time.  I am not sure if  single malts are included, for example, but apart from the fact that there is a limited choice of wines, usually four reds, four whites, and one or two roses, IMO the choice and generosity is excellent.  Recently I said after dinner | did not drink coffee, so the wine server said 'why not have a Baileys on ice', something I had never done before, and actually enjoyed it and had one each evening, in fact she brought it without being asked.

 

Regarding mixing with people at meals, if you prefer to dine a deux or just with friends you can ask to have a set table every evening, including for two, and still go in for dinner whenever you like during opening hours.   We tend to do this being both a bit deaf and finding large tables difficult.

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20 minutes ago, lincslady said:

I should have said that the above applied to Sapphire earlier in the year - I doubt if it has changed for Discovery, but hopefully if it has someone will chime in and report.

 

Thank you for all the useful information, I am almost convinced to give Saga a try, I will reported back if we book.

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On 12/22/2019 at 1:39 PM, Glenndale said:

All future cruises on Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure are all inclusive.

I'm not sure if any 'top shelf items' are extra, maybe SolentRichard could advise.

 

Yes, there is a small price for the 'Premium Selection' drinks...

 

828296104_PremiumSelection.JPG.7e45890c92f7e1f21f9d031d03411f03.JPG

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We have just returned from an all inclusive Christmas Markets cruise on Saga Sapphire and have another booked for next March on the same ship. 

We previously cruised this time last year on the Saga Pearl which we found too small and too formal for our taste. 

Happily only being six days last weeks cruise on Sapphire did not have a formal night so smart casual was the order of the day. 

I must say we do not enjoy waiter service, I am diabetic and a self service option in one of the dining rooms would save me a lot of explaining at table. 

Also as many of our younger age group we do not enjoy formality particularly if it is enforced for the whole evening, dress up by all means if you want to but don't force it on the rest of us, smart casual is just fine if like us that is what you prefer. 

I also wonder if Saga has priced itself out of its own market of middle income pensioners with the two new ships, expensive outside cabins with balconies are fine for the summer or the tropics but what use in the winter when it's dark by 5.00pm.

Likewise the added benefits of endless coffee and cake, ice cream machines, pick and mix sweets or added excursions at every port, all well and good but these few benefits don't justify such a massive price increase as the new ships come into service. 

Speaking to other passengers we found many of the same opinion that the added benefits of the new ships did not justify the new far higher fares. 

I fear we are unlikely to be cruising with Saga once the new ships come into use. 

Edited by JMyrtle
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JMyrtle - a shame you did not like Saga Sapphire - and from your profile have gone off Fred Olsen also.  You say 'once the new ships come into use' - obviously as you can see from this thread,  Spirit of Discovery is already sailing, and the other new ship will be launched in a few months.

 

Hope you will find a cruise line you can enjoy.

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You misunderstand, we were quite happy on Sapphire other than the dress code but when we go to Denmark in March we don't intend to comply😊

We are also more than happy with "Fred" but we have sailed with them so often we have been everywhere they sail from Dover in 2020 except one cruise to Seville in April which we have already booked thru Saga and going all the way to So'ton is a bit of a route march. 

I have a firm rule that I will not pay more than £1000.00 each for a week or £1500.00 for a fortnight and for that price I would expect all inclusive or at the very least a drinks package. 

As far as I am aware Sapphire is still in service until I think September but we already have four cruises booked on various lines for next year so as I have already said once both new ships are in service I have no desire to spend several thousand pounds more  in 2021to achieve the same number of weeks away so I guess it will be "Fred"  C&M or maybe even three weeks somewhere on land in the Med for one of the four. 

My pensions took many years to achieve and I'm not about to waste the money on outside cabins and balconies I will never use, meals I can not eat and excursions I don't want to go on. 

Saga needs to re-think as I know I am not alone in this thought. 

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Saga seem to be moving with the times in the hope of attracting more customers than they loose.

I for one have only been considered booking with them since the new ships came on the scene.

They have now entered a very competitive more upscale market, only time will tell how it works out.

Edited by Bloodaxe
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I hope you are right as cruises from Dover are very limited, we have no airport in East Kent and Gatwick is a lottery as to getting on your flight because of delays on the M2/M25 so fly cruises are  out unless we take up Saga's suggestion to go up the night before and stay over, hey that's a thought🤔

It looks like cruises will be "Fred" from Soton or C&M from Tilbury unless Saga lowers their prices substantially or "Fred" comes up with better choices from Dover for 2021.

Edited by JMyrtle
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Yes, I am afraid that the days of a cheap inside cabin on Saga are nearly over, and they have moved up a notch in the 'luxury' or premium stakes.  Sadly, of course, they are the company who will get you to Southampton or Dover ports door to door, which I don't think any other cruise line does - certainly not included.  For myself, I find the 'extras' Saga include, like the drinks, tips and  insurance as well as transport, do add up to being worthwhile and help with no bill at the end, unless you have taken excursions.  But the initial cost is naturally more, especially with all cabins being fairly large and with a balcony.

 

 

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2 quick comments. For Gatwick flights, we always stay the night before at the Premier Inn Gatwick North. The restaurant food is quite good and it's a 2 minute walk to the terminal, and a quick train shuttle to the other terminal. Secondly Saga does door to door transfers for other cruise lines booked via them, eg Fred, CMV and Azamara.

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