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First time on Saga - information please.


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We are serial P&O cruisers and are seriously thinking about trying out Saga next year. In particular the cruise to Iceland in June 2022 onboard Spirit of Discovery.

We would be interested on hearing members views on the ship (good and bad).

There are three speciality restaurants. Can these be pre-booked online prior to departure? If not, how difficult is it to secure reservations. 

Do you have to book the included shore excursions prior to departure or can this wait until you are onboard?

We would be interested on hearing how any cruisers who have been on Saga and P&O compare the two.

Thank you

Peter

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Posted (edited)

There are quite a few reviews on this board, try searching for ‘spirit of Discovery’ on this board and you’ll find plenty of threads.

You will be unable to book the specialities prior to boarding.

I think trying to compare P&O with Saga is a little like comparing chalk to cheese 🤷🏼‍♀️ 

A good review below by Solent Richard 

https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/topic/2717195-spirit-of-discovery-comprehensive-cruise-review/?tab=comments#comment-58961569

 

Sorry not a review but contains a link to the review 🙂

Edited by Glenndale
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On 3/2/2021 at 2:49 PM, peeceecee said:

We are serial P&O cruisers and are seriously thinking about trying out Saga next year. In particular the cruise to Iceland in June 2022 onboard Spirit of Discovery.

We would be interested on hearing members views on the ship (good and bad).

There are three speciality restaurants. Can these be pre-booked online prior to departure? If not, how difficult is it to secure reservations. 

Do you have to book the included shore excursions prior to departure or can this wait until you are onboard?

We would be interested on hearing how any cruisers who have been on Saga and P&O compare the two.

Thank you

Peter

Hi peeceecee

There must be some telepathic vibes going on here. We are also inveterate P&O cruisers - been with them almost exclusively since 2007. We have been on Fred Olsen in the interim but were not impressed - mainly due to the cabin accommodation. Have also cruised on a Viking Ocean cruise but they almost exclusively involve flying to join or return from the ship (or both). The cruise was wonderful but struggling with airports/luggage/flights etc is just a bit too much to deal with in our view.

 

We have just had 2 P&O cruises cancelled for this year and have looked at SAGA as an alternative.

 

We are now booked on that very cruise in June 2022 (Icelandic Adventure) and we are also seeking information about how things are done on SAGA. Glenndale's comments about the speciality restaurants is helpful but we are also wondering about dress codes for various venues and dates. Do SAGA have specific "formal" nights (usually 4 on a P&O cruise of 14 nights duration). What level of formal is acceptable and how is the dress code imposed outside of the main dining room.

If you opt not to get "dressed up", where can you eat and are you restricted from visiting certain bars as a casual or semi-formal dresser?

I know these are relatively trivial points but they do impact significantly on your packing plans for a 2 week cruise

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I like you will be a Saga newbie in  May 22 , Baltic  sea , and had similiar questions.  99% of which I found answered on this forum, for example there is a thread on formal  nights and speciality restaurants  comes up in the threads on spirit  of discovery.  Most of the best threads were from October 2019 to March 20 when SOD was new and actually sailing.

 

Also for Solent Richards blog useful 

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As above, you will not be able to book the restaurants online, but booking on board is easy (if sometimes tedious) - just visit or telephone the Maitre'D to make a booking. The brochure from Saga previously said that bookings could be made for all 3 restaurants at reception - not possible when I was on board, but may be sorted now.

In order to make sure that everybody on the ship who wants to try them has the opportunity to do so, Saga do not allow anyone to make multiple repeat bookings in one go. Do try them - in addition to excellent food, they have a very special ambience all of their own.

Dress code - yes, they do have formal nights and formal wear is expected everywhere outside of your cabin after 6pm - but traditionally, they have always understood that not everybody has or wants the full formal bit  so basically as long as you have made an effort, (gentlemen make sure you have a suit of some sort with jacket and tie) (or a combination that could pass for a suit), you will be OK.

Formal night is meant to allow people to dress up and feel a bit special, it is not intended to make people feel uncomfortable or out of place.

And if you really cannot bear the thought - room service is included in your fare, and the menu is pretty good.

 

 

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2 hours ago, nosapphire said:

As above, you will not be able to book the restaurants online, but booking on board is easy (if sometimes tedious) - just visit or telephone the Maitre'D to make a booking. The brochure from Saga previously said that bookings could be made for all 3 restaurants at reception - not possible when I was on board, but may be sorted now.

In order to make sure that everybody on the ship who wants to try them has the opportunity to do so, Saga do not allow anyone to make multiple repeat bookings in one go. Do try them - in addition to excellent food, they have a very special ambience all of their own.

Dress code - yes, they do have formal nights and formal wear is expected everywhere outside of your cabin after 6pm - but traditionally, they have always understood that not everybody has or wants the full formal bit  so basically as long as you have made an effort, (gentlemen make sure you have a suit of some sort with jacket and tie) (or a combination that could pass for a suit), you will be OK.

Formal night is meant to allow people to dress up and feel a bit special, it is not intended to make people feel uncomfortable or out of place.

And if you really cannot bear the thought - room service is included in your fare, and the menu is pretty good.

 

 

Hi nosapphire

Tks for taking the time to respond. Am I correct in interpreting your comments on formal nights to mean that formal attire is expected everywhere on the ship after 6pm. I had thought that perhaps the Grill and/or Veranda self-service restaurants might allow a more relaxed dress code for those who do not particularly want to "dress up". Would smart casual be allowed in any of the dining venues on a formal night?anywhere

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The procedure in the far distant days of December 2019 (sigh... how long ago) was as below (this is taken from the on-board paperwork).

QUOTE: The following is clarification of our dress codes applicable from 6.00 pm in all public rooms.

Formal Attire Ladies: Long or short evening dress, or other elegant outfit.
Formal Attire Gentlemen: Tuxedo.dinner jacket or dork lounge suit & tie.
Smart Casual Ladies: Casual dress or trousers.
Smart Casual Gentlemen: Open-neck shirt and smart casual trousers.
T-shirts,jeans and shorts are not permitted in restaurants after 6.00 pm END QUOTE:

The daily programme stated what the evening dress code would be for that day, and it would be either smart-casual or formal - no overlap.

BUT - looking at Saga's current website (link below) makes me wonder if they are changing it to make formal optional.

It certainly does not specify that formal wear is expected in all public rooms on formal nights, so seems there is a good chance that smart casual will be acceptable outside of the main dining room.

Maybe ask them directly.

https://travel.saga.co.uk/cruises/ocean/the-saga-experience/what-to-wear.aspx

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10 minutes ago, nosapphire said:

The procedure in the far distant days of December 2019 (sigh... how long ago) was as below (this is taken from the on-board paperwork).

QUOTE: The following is clarification of our dress codes applicable from 6.00 pm in all public rooms.

Formal Attire Ladies: Long or short evening dress, or other elegant outfit.
Formal Attire Gentlemen: Tuxedo.dinner jacket or dork lounge suit & tie.
Smart Casual Ladies: Casual dress or trousers.
Smart Casual Gentlemen: Open-neck shirt and smart casual trousers.
T-shirts,jeans and shorts are not permitted in restaurants after 6.00 pm END QUOTE:

The daily programme stated what the evening dress code would be for that day, and it would be either smart-casual or formal - no overlap.

BUT - looking at Saga's current website (link below) makes me wonder if they are changing it to make formal optional.

It certainly does not specify that formal wear is expected in all public rooms on formal nights, so seems there is a good chance that smart casual will be acceptable outside of the main dining room.

Maybe ask them directly.

https://travel.saga.co.uk/cruises/ocean/the-saga-experience/what-to-wear.aspx

You may well be right. Saga appears to have moved up market with their new ships and in direct competition with the likes of Viking, Oceania and Azamara. All these lines have a smart casual dress code with no formal nights and whilst some potential customers may welcome formality many may not. Saga may need to go with the flow if it wishes to take passengers from these lines.

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When Saga had the old Spirit of Adventure there was a choice of dress code on formal nights between formal dress in the main dining room or smart casual elsewhere. This worked perfectly well as it enabled those who wished to dress up to do so, while not compelling those who didn’t. Dining was perfectly civilised, whatever people chose to wear. The food was the same in both restaurants so no one missed out by not choosing the main dining room. My husband and father in law, having worn suits and ties for every day of their working life, had no wish to do so on holiday.so were very happy to cruise on this ship. 
Having cruised on both Oceania and Viking we found it very refreshing to sit down to fine dining without dressing formally to do so.

 

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The only problem I forsee with that may be on formal nights a semi-empty dining room and even longer queues at peak dinner time for the other venues.

 I suspect that if a poll was carried out among Saga guests (past and potential), there would be a majority in favour of abandoning formal dress code in favour of smart-casual - (with it being enforced to make sure it was smart-casual, not just casual).

One cruise (Saga Pearl II) a vote was taken whether Christmas Day should be formal, as per tradition, or smart casual, the vote was overwhelmingly for smart casual.

 

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Perhaps it’s the opportunity now for Saga to move with the times and update their policies, although there seems to be a fear of upsetting those who like dressing up. We were disappointed to see that Saga ‘s dress codes had become even more formal on SOD with polo shirts banned on casual nights. As a polo shirt worn with a jacket is fine at Claridges, what’s wrong with it on SOD?

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30 minutes ago, Kohima said:

Perhaps it’s the opportunity now for Saga to move with the times and update their policies, although there seems to be a fear of upsetting those who like dressing up. We were disappointed to see that Saga ‘s dress codes had become even more formal on SOD with polo shirts banned on casual nights. As a polo shirt worn with a jacket is fine at Claridges, what’s wrong with it on SOD?

Agreed. I cannot see the logic behind that decision. It means that I am perfectly OK with my slightly tatty Primark shirt that cost £5 two years ago, whereas someone wearing a £100+  Ralph Lauren polo shirt (other brands are available!) will be chucked out. Unbelievable. 

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, wowzz said:

Agreed. I cannot see the logic behind that decision. It means that I am perfectly OK with my slightly tatty Primark shirt that cost £5 two years ago, whereas someone wearing a £100+  Ralph Lauren polo shirt (other brands are available!) will be chucked out. Unbelievable. 

Indeed. This attitude always reminds me of the Inbetweeners episode in which the lads go for a night out in a London disco. One of them is wearing his brand new expensive trainers, but when they get to the door he is refused entry; "no trainers". In a nearby alley there is a tramp wearing a delapidated pair of conventional shoes, so in desperation he offers his new trainers in exchange for them and is promptly admitted. Even though it is obvious that the tramp has recently urinated on them!

Edited by Denarius
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My concern relates primarily to the luggage requirements if several formal nights are mandated. 

As regular P&O cruisers we have become used to dressing up on up to 4 nights and have packed formal wear and any accompanying accessories (mainly shoes for Mrs Arlo) accordingly.

This was no real hardship as we normally drove to Southampton with an overnight stop near Newbury. Our luggage consisted of 2 medium suitcases for all other clothing, 1 medium case for the formal bits and a "shoe bag" (hold-all type).

With SAGA we will be taking advantage of their chauffeur service (shared in our case due to living outside the 75 mile radius from Dover) but I can see an issue if we stick with our normal luggage profile. 

We could of course ditch our medium cases and purchase 2 large cases that will hopefully accommodate everything. However I'm loathe to add to our existing complement of luggage if possible. Also the medium cases are a convenient size for sliding under the beds in the cabin to provide a bit of extra storage. I'm not sure if that would be possible with the larger cases.

 

If we can get away with smart casual in one or more of the speciality restaurants or the self-service Grill on formal evenings then that could solve the problem.

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I hope they keep the main restaurant and the speciality restaurants  formal. Especially the club, a nice meal listening to live music whilst dressed up is something special. 

 

Yes there  should be somewhere for those who don't like formal to eat and drink. I also would like the idea that on formal nights that half the grill is self service, the other half waiter service for those who want smart causal not formal but like waiter service at dinner. If the grill is smart  casual then the nearest bar is the Brittania. 

 

But if there is to be formal it should be enforced 

 

We have some large hard luggage cases, just open them up and they slide under any bed. Plenty of room for multiple large cases under the super king beds in the cabins .  In other ships we've  fitted 3 large cases plus two carry on  sized cases under the bed

 

4 hours ago, nosapphire said:

 

 I suspect that if a poll was carried out among Saga guests (past and potential), there would be a majority in favour of abandoning formal dress code in favour of smart-casual - (with it being enforced to make sure it was smart-casual, not just casual).

 

 

I'm not sure which way the vote would go. I would hope they'd  do it before any changes. Given they have e-mail address  of passengers, it would be very easy to canvass everyone . In fact I'd really  encourage them to do it and also publish the results.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This dress issue is always going to be divisive. However if Saga wishes to broaden its clientele, picking up such as Oceania, Azamara and Viking guests, it may need to be more flexible. Formal dress requirements have been mentioned as reasons not to cruise with Saga. Equally, it could be the other way around?? Surely, with a bit of tolerance all round, everyone’s preferences can be accommodated?

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I have a feeling (with no proof) that how formal the cruise is depends on the Captain. Certainly one Captain seemed to be very keen on formal nights, and as he was very much involved in the development of the new ships it could explain why the dress code became apparently stricter on the Discovery. (Maybe we were supposed to fit in with the posh furniture).

There was a disparity between head office information and ship board information - head office were telling people that nothing had changed, and then when on board the information was that they were "tightening up" and "raising standards".

The standards were always kept high - the Maitre'D was a positive (discreet) bloodhound for spotting people trying to get into dinner unsuitably dressed - but the main criteria was to look as if you had made an effort, and the full "kit" was not an essential.

But on the Discovery, some longstanding Saganauts were suddenly being told that the attire that had been accepted at dinner on every previous Saga ship right back to the Rose was no longer acceptable on the Discovery.

Interestingly, it was suggested that if they did not have "right" kit, they had dinner in the Club (steakhouse) instead.

On formal nights our dinner companions in the MDR were always absent.

 

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The formal dress situation seems more of an issue for the men than the women. Although a smallish number of women are in the ball gown category on formal nights, most women wear clothes that are interchangeable with smart casual nights. It’s more difficult for the men who are forced to wear suits and ties of some sort.

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My partner really enjoys formal nights. He’d never worn a tux before we started cruising. He bought one before our first 3 nighter. I think it’s a James Bond thing. He thinks he’s the bees knees when he wears it.

To be fair he looks really good in it and makes me fancy him all over again.

 

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23 hours ago, Kohima said:

This dress issue is always going to be divisive. However if Saga wishes to broaden its clientele, picking up such as Oceania, Azamara and Viking guests, it may need to be more flexible. Formal dress requirements have been mentioned as reasons not to cruise with Saga. Equally, it could be the other way around?? Surely, with a bit of tolerance all round, everyone’s preferences can be accommodated?

 

I think it may be the other way round, even if only 10% of the small, more up market ships (Oceana, Viking, Azamara, Seabourn etc ) clientele miss formal nights but dont like big Cunard ships, then this will be a considerable boost to Saga with it's two ships . Saga will be the only smallish ships with formal nights.

 

Many people don't think they'd like  formal  until they try it, and for men Bring out inner James Bond

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/15/2021 at 9:49 AM, Host Sharon said:

I am a long-time P&O cruiser who has been totally converted to Saga. You can read my blog on Spirit of Discovery in 2019 here. http://sharonp-shipsinmylife.blogspot.com/2019/

 

 

Thank you Sharon. Your blog was really interesting because we were on the same cruise, but did different things. It was a lovely itinerary.

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Having sailed on the Spirit of Discovery, I can recommend anyone who hasn’t sailed with Saga before to read Sharon’s blog as it really gives a good flavour of the new ships, with lots of detail about the cabin. The overwhelming feeling on the ship is of spaciousness everywhere, especially on the outside decks.

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