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Ancient Wonders Of The Black Sea. May 2022


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I’ve just checked the info on the Limassol website and I note that it was last updated on 19th March. It’s been updated since then.

Spirit of Adventure does not now appear in the Limassol visits.

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1 hour ago, Banjo an said:

I’ve just checked the info on the Limassol website and I note that it was last updated on 19th March. It’s been updated since then.

Spirit of Adventure does not now appear in the Limassol visits.

Are you checking 2022 or 2023? I can see it on the 7th of June 2022.

Mine also last updated on the 19th of March.

I don't know...

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Earlier this week our travel agent received the following information from Saga:

 

  1. Shore excursions for this cruise will not be available until at least 2-3 weeks before departure. I understand that this is now standard practice for Saga cruises despite the fact that the documents we received stated that details of shore excursions would be available approximately 10 weeks prior to departure.
  2. Neither of the Saga staff to whom our agent spoke was aware of the visit to Limassol on 7th June or the change to our planned visit to Piraeus on 31st May. They were adamant that there have been no changes to our current itinerary and that we would “definitely” be in Sinop on 7th June. (I therefore assure that Head Office is in the process of making contingency plans of which their agents are unaware).
  3. We were told that the sudden availability of approximately 82 cabins is due to the fact that Saga have allowed some passengers to transfer their booking to another cruise and are not due to cancellations. We were reminded of the financial consequences resulting from cancellation.

 

I am sure we are all following events in Eastern Europe with great interest and obvious concern but also wondering how they might impact our cruise. One must always be mindful of the fact that the first casualty of a war is the truth. Nonetheless, we understand from the media that there are currently upwards of 21 Russian warships and 4 submarines operating in the Black Sea. We have seen videos and photographs of Russian warships firing missiles into Ukrainian territory from the Black Sea and more recently it would appear that NATO air forces have reinforced Romanian airbases close to the Black Sea. During the last week we have read stories of 400 plus mines adrift in the Black Sea and how some of those mines have been sighted off Istanbul and Romania. We understand that a freighter was sunk off Romania after hitting a mine and some crew members are still missing. We also understand that for a while the Turkish authorities closed part of their seaways as a precaution because of the mines and the Bulgarian authorities have warned their domestic fishing fleet not to go to sea. There have also been notices to mariners to watch out for mines in the Black Sea.

 

Working on the premise that there is no smoke without fire I am quite shocked that Saga are actively advertising a cruise to the Black Sea which is departing in just seven weeks time. I can only assume that Saga and their insurers either don’t see the situation as I do or else they are aware of information that we do not have.

 

I found the following articles to be of particular interest:

 

https://www.novinite.com/articles/214374/Bulgarian+Fishermen+should+not+Enter+the+Sea+because+of+Dangerous+Mines+in+the+Water

 

https://crisis24.garda.com/alerts/2022/03/western-black-sea-heightened-risk-of-naval-mines-in-western-black-sea-through-at-least-mid-april-update-1

 

https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/03/opinion-is-there-a-serious-sea-mine-threat-in-the-black-sea/

 

I note that it was only when the Spirit of Adventure set sail on Tuesday that passengers were informed that they would not be allowed ashore unless on an organised Saga excursion. Surely this decision must have been made prior to departure? Why were passengers not informed prior to boarding? Was it really a decision taken by management at the very last moment?

 

It is my understanding that Saga’s current position is that the Sprit of Adventure will enter the Black Sea as planned.  However, It is my fear that, as previously happened with other cruise lines, Saga might be working on a contingency plan which would be sensible but then not announce the change until we are on board. This would be completely unacceptable.

 

The silence from Saga is deafening. They really need to “up their game” and keep their passengers properly informed. Conjecture and rumour does not ease minds.

 

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I agree it would be fraudulent for Saga to leave announcements till we board

 

Primarily of Not going to black sea

 

Secondly and perhaps more important to me (but not to everyone of course) of no independent excursions. We arent great fans of coach trips like to wander round, wouldn't want to pay all that money and not see ports as we like.

 

I just hope it doesn't go that way. If  "no independent excursions" are announced  as we board and before Gibraltar I will exercise the clause for first time Saga cruisers " love it first time or get a full refund and we will organise return travel".  I will also use this as my get out of jail free card,  if they announce no independent excursions  before we go but dont think its serious enough to offer a refund.  Just have to tell them in first 72 hours.  Just hope it doesn't come to this.

 

In this case silence, is the worst policy. Why not simply say situation is  fluid and they may have to change, but promise a decision by say May 1st

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

There is something very wrong with the way decisions are made and communicated within Saga HQ.  We were on the Classic Canaries cruise on SofA at the beginning of the year.  Quite a number of passengers had also booked the next cruise, and the Captain held a cocktail party for them on the penultimate evening.  Unfortunately the next morning they received a letter in their cabin from HQ advising that they could not stay on board!  As you can imagine, they were not best pleased, having been given less than 24 hours notice of disembarkation.   Excuse given was the need to reduce COVID rates, but this should have been communicated to them earlier in the cruise.  The Captain hadn’t been informed either!
 

This is just one example of the way decisions are communicated to passengers.  If Saga are working on an alternative itinerary, they should let their customers know now, and not leave it to the last minute.

Edited by LandC
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I agree with absolutely everything just posted. We would be with you Windsurfboy in using the “love it first time option” too.

I do hope that Saga management is reading all these posts.  They will lose a lot of custom if they are not completely up front with passengers in good time.

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Nothing new there... when I asked Saga (phone and then live chat) whether the inaugural cruise for the SoA would go ahead as scheduled (that is the first inaugural cruise...) I was assured that yes it would be.

At the same time as this assurance, international press was reporting that the shipbuilders Meyer Werft had pretty much stopped, and the ships being built would be severely delayed. The SoA was mentioned by name in several reports as one of those that would not be delivered on time, but the poor Saga customer-facing staff had to carry on pretending that everything was on schedule.

Would have been so much better to let them simply say, "possibly not - we'll update you when we know for sure".

I tried to explain to management that a good example is a commuter on a train that comes to an unexpected stop between stations; commuter sits fuming about the lack of information.

But if the driver comes on and says, "sorry about this, I have no idea why the lights are red, I'll let you know as soon as I find out why" - we all stop fuming. The train still does not move, we still do not know the reason - but there is communication - makes so much difference.

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5 hours ago, Windsurfboy said:

I agree it would be fraudulent for Saga to leave announcements till we board

 

Primarily of Not going to black sea

 

Secondly and perhaps more important to me (but not to everyone of course) of no independent excursions. We arent great fans of coach trips like to wander round, wouldn't want to pay all that money and not see ports as we like.

 

I just hope it doesn't go that way. If  "no independent excursions" are announced  as we board and before Gibraltar I will exercise the clause for first time Saga cruisers " love it first time or get a full refund and we will organise return travel".  I will also use this as my get out of jail free card,  if they announce no independent excursions  before we go but dont think its serious enough to offer a refund.  Just have to tell them in first 72 hours.  Just hope it doesn't come to this.

 

In this case silence, is the worst policy. Why not simply say situation is  fluid and they may have to change, but promise a decision by say May 1st

 

In the meantime, some of us will be needing or will be advised by our GPs to get vaccinations/boosters at least 4 weeks before travelling, to protect against certain diseases when travelling almost anywhere abroad, and some may have to pay for those to be done privately, depending on local facilities. My husband has already been given his GP appointment to discuss this. (I'm with a different surgery, and still waiting to hear.) 

 

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We're also with you Windsurfboy, we don't mind the occasional excursion but we prefer to explore under our own steam. We shall also use the first time cruise clause if Saga spring any nasty surprises once we have set sail.

I truly never expected treatment like this from Saga, we have been so looking forward to this cruise since October 2020 but can honestly say that all this uncertainty has taken the shine off it and, let's not forget that we're not talking of a bargain break type of holiday here!

Wake up Saga and talk to your customers PLEASE!

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Saga needs to do a few  things

 

Firstly  talk to passengers. 

 

Before this work out intinerary based on

 

-  Black sea or no black sea.

 

-  choosing ports and countries without onerous Covid requirements for ships. If they have to adopt  a near zero Covid strategy to allow ship to dock , it will result in a pretty miserable cruise. The current restrictions,  no independent excursions, continuous in and out of lockdown , excessive use of quarantine are not conducive to an enjoyable cruise

 

 

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Spoke to customer services at Saga again who were very helpful.

Reassured me that any changes to the itinerary would be notified to all passengers before sailing and it would not be sprung upon us after we’d embarked.

They also confirmed that the current Saga ban on going ashore independently is a temporary measure for April sailings only at the moment and will hopefully not apply to this cruise.

The problem on board their ships at present would appear to be caused by a minority of passengers refusing to wear masks so infections are spreading.

However, Saga are considering ways to deal with this,  possibly including disembarkation of offenders.

I don’t know what to be more concerned about now, the possible itinerary changes or covid related issues!

We will just have to wait and see what happens in the next six weeks.

 

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41 minutes ago, Banjo an said:

Spoke to customer services at Saga again who were very helpful.

Reassured me that any changes to the itinerary would be notified to all passengers before sailing and it would not be sprung upon us after we’d embarked.

They also confirmed that the current Saga ban on going ashore independently is a temporary measure for April sailings only at the moment and will hopefully not apply to this cruise.

The problem on board their ships at present would appear to be caused by a minority of passengers refusing to wear masks so infections are spreading.

However, Saga are considering ways to deal with this,  possibly including disembarkation of offenders.

I don’t know what to be more concerned about now, the possible itinerary changes or covid related issues!

We will just have to wait and see what happens in the next six weeks.

 

Thank you very much for sharing that information. 

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48 minutes ago, Banjo an said:

Spoke to customer services at Saga again who were very helpful.

Reassured me that any changes to the itinerary would be notified to all passengers before sailing and it would not be sprung upon us after we’d embarked.

They also confirmed that the current Saga ban on going ashore independently is a temporary measure for April sailings only at the moment and will hopefully not apply to this cruise.

The problem on board their ships at present would appear to be caused by a minority of passengers refusing to wear masks so infections are spreading.

However, Saga are considering ways to deal with this,  possibly including disembarkation of offenders.

I don’t know what to be more concerned about now, the possible itinerary changes or covid related issues!

We will just have to wait and see what happens in the next six weeks.

 

 

Thank you. 

 

I'm  more concerned about the covid restrictions ruining holiday. I'm happy to have a change in intinerary.  Hope Saga relaxes restrictions 

 

I'm not sure I believe that the problems on board are due to a minority of passengers not wearing masks. The problems in hospitality settings is that the majority of places passengers spend the majority of their time you do not legitimately need to wear a mask. 

 

Take a typical sea day. If it's fine I sit outside to read , or bad weather in cabin.

 

The amount of virus I breathe out directly proportional to time with mask off.

 

Walk to breakfast  5 mins mask  on

Breakfast  45 mins mask off

Walk back 5 mins mask on

 

Walk for coffee 5 mins mask on

60 mins having a couple of coffees and chatting mask off 

5 mins back mask on

 

Lunch 5 mins there mask on

60 mins mask off

5 mins back mask on

 

Dinner 5 mins going mask on

120 mins mask off

5 mins mask on

60 mins in bar mask off or 60 mins in theatre mask on

5 mins back mask on.

 

So even obeying rules spend 85% of time with mask off. So those who disobey rules have little effect. It's just that hospitality settings are inherently good  for spreading covid. It's suits Saga to blame a minority of passengers not wearing masks rather than just accept it's inherent in ships (and hotels,  restaurants,  pubs as well)

 

 

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I'm pretty sure we won't be going to black sea, the war will now be getting worse in the South East and black sea coast. It doesn't look like ending soon.  

 

As I've said I would be happy with a new intinerary,  but not happy with no independent excursions at ports, and the accompanying on board covid restrictions.  The later would ruin our cruise.

 

As people have said a black sea cruise that doesn't go to black sea must be grounds for cancellation.

 

When I get the official notification giving me the option to cancel.  I ask for them to agree to my terms in writing.  A)  That if they reintroduce no independent excursions before I sail I  will have right to cancel and a full refund.  B) if they reintroduce no independent excursions whilst on the cruise, I will  have right to a full refund from then on. I very much doubt they will agree but can only ask. If not I will cancel.

 

If they don't think a black sea cruise that doesn't go to the black sea is grounds to cancel, only thing left is resort to "love it" clause

 

By the way noticed number of available cabins on sale has stayed same, but number standards cabins available gone up by ten , number of suites available down by ten. I wonder if they are incentive people who want to move/cancel with upgrades.

 

Of course our worries are trivial compared to what's happening. 

 

 

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I think you have set the template for others, certainly us. The TA (who I cannot name on this site) has not got back to me with any information I asked for last week. If and when I get any, and its worth passing on, I will.

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Contacted Saga today via the feedback form, phoned back by a pleasant lady late today. I asked if we could move to a cruise next year and was told at this stage NO.

We could have moved to a different one this year but their is nothing of interest.

She stated that they are now writing to late April cruisers and should be writing to May cruises back end of next week. When this happens in her worlds “you will have a number of possibilities”

 

I stated that if we were forced to cruse we could use the love it policy for first time Saga cruises and she agreed this would be within our rights

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3 hours ago, Nelson PK said:

Contacted Saga today via the feedback form, phoned back by a pleasant lady late today. I asked if we could move to a cruise next year and was told at this stage NO.

We could have moved to a different one this year but their is nothing of interest.

She stated that they are now writing to late April cruisers and should be writing to May cruises back end of next week. When this happens in her worlds “you will have a number of possibilities”

 

I stated that if we were forced to cruse we could use the love it policy for first time Saga cruises and she agreed this would be within our rights

 

This sounds like a general covid letter, not specifically about black sea

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On 3/24/2022 at 1:43 PM, Nelson PK said:

Phoned Saga earlier today, no waiting answered straight away. Asked when the excursions would be released, she stated within the next ten days.

Also asked about the Black Sea situation,  stated we would receive a phone call to discuss the cruise itinerary soon.

I am curious to know whether Nelson PK received details of the shore excursions within 10 days of his call to Saga or the promised phone call to discuss the itinerary. Based on our own experience with regard to getting information from Saga - I suspect not. 

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Despite assurances from Saga that the itinerary for this cruise has not changed I can’t help but feel I am being misled. Limassol port is apparently expecting the Spirit of Adventure to visit on 7th June and Piraeus is now expecting the Spirit of Adventure on 2nd June. I am told that this is simply Head Office “contingency planning” but if that were the case why does the Piraeus port calendar no longer show the Spirit of Adventure’s scheduled visit for 31st May? Why has that been deleted and why won’t Saga “come clean” about what is happening with this cruise. Saga’s passengers are not children and I resent being treated like one.Athens.thumb.png.e034b65a7059329c335109e485bf3d96.png

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Posted (edited)

It's a case of , the Prime Minister has great confidence in X , until the moment their sacked.  Similarly the intinerary won't be changed until it is.

 

However the longer they leave it, the more desperate they will be for people not to cancel. The can't 're-sell effectively  a new cruise to new people in a few weeks. So you have the upper hand, depending what you want. Mine is guarantee of independent excursions at ports. 

 

Of course if a black sea cruise doesn't go to black sea you must have right to cancel. If they say not, go to credit card company, use section 25 , goods not as described. 

Edited by Windsurfboy
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7 minutes ago, Windsurfboy said:

It's a case of , the Prime Minister has great confidence in X , until the moment their sacked.  Similarly the intinerary won't be changed until it is.

 

However the longer they leave it, the more desperate they will be for people not to cancel. The can't 're-sell effectively  a new cruise to new people in a few weeks. So you have the upper hand, depending what you want. Mine is guarantee of independent excursions at ports. 

 

Of course if a black sea cruise doesn't go to black sea you must have right to cancel. If they say not, go to credit card company, use section 25 , goods not as described. 

You are right of course but I am afraid that it has been my experience that sometimes the announcement of bad news (ie not actually going into the Black Sea) has been so last minute that the passengers only find out once they are on board. It is then too late to cancel. A classic example of this was the timing of the announcement with regard to not being allowed off a ship unless on a Saga shore excursion. 

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