I’m back on dry land following yet another outstanding cruise aboard Saga Sapphire, and now I’m going to tell you all about it! This will be in several parts, so just sit back, relax and enjoy.
I joined the ship in Dover and was onboard within 15 minutes of arriving at the port. My first stop was at my cabin, a double outside on Deck 9. I opened the door and was greeted with the most beautiful sight, a rather large bed that was covered in fresh white linens and it was screaming my name. I’ve only ever had single beds on previous Saga sailings, so it was a welcome surprise, as was the spacious walk-in shower in the bathroom, as opposed to a shower over the bath. Yes, I was quite content and simply happy to be back aboard one of my favourite ships.
Our first sea day was glorious! The sun was shining, and the air temperature was mild. There was a swift breeze across the open decks, but I wasn’t complaining, I was back at sea! I spent most of the morning chatting with other passengers and watching the fighter jets tearing through the skies above, the noise was incredible, they were so close to the ship and frightened the life out of several people.
As the sea days went on, I started getting involved with other things onboard, including the quizzes, talks and lectures, and some evening entertainment in the Drawing Room. Cooper’s is my favourite bar on Saga Sapphire, but I was almost 2 weeks into the cruise before I spent an evening in there. I know, I could hardly believe it either, but I’d been doing so many other things and chatting with so many people in various public areas throughout the ship.
There really was so much going on during our transatlantic crossing, not a soul on the ship could find themselves bored. There were French classes, craft classes, numerous lectures and gaming activities and, of course, a variety of nightly shows and musical options. The ORCA team were also onboard for this sailing and they could be found on the open decks on most sea days. They spotted numerous birds and marine life, including the common dolphin, sperm whale, curviers beaked whale, fin whale, minke whale and beaked whale. I liked to pop into the Drawing Room every day to see what they’d added to the ‘sighting’ list.
I spent a lot of time down on Deck 2, that’s where the spa area is and the indoor pool. I liked it in there, it was warm (as was the pool), it smelt good and the music was very calming. On rougher days, the water in the pool would be swishing from side-to-side, which made my swim more difficult, and more fun. I’d spend around 30 minutes in the pool and then end my visit with a 20-minute jacuzzi, it was blissful. I’ve always loved swimming, but rarely do I find myself taking a dip, I definitely made up for it on this cruise. I did pop my head in the sauna, steam and Hammam rooms a few times, but they’re not for me, I couldn’t settle. The jacuzzi was definitely my little spa treat.
There were numerous speakers and lecturers onboard the cruise, including Dame Esther Rantzen. She held several talks and I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I hadn’t expected to engage with her talks as much as I did, I only went along to her first one to take some photographs and I found myself staying until the end. She was very funny, and I had no idea she’d once been arrested. It was a privilege to have been in her presence, she’s done a lot over the years for various charities and organisations and of course, she founded Childline back in 1986. She is also the founder of The Silver Line, a confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK. The service launched in November 2013 and to date has received more than 2 million calls. It’s there for older people who may be lonely, isolated or feel confused, and most of their calls are received in the evenings and at weekends. I personally think it is a fantastic charity and we need more like it.
Aside from giving talks, Dame Esther also wrote a short poem about Saga and it went like this…
And so, the end is near
We’ve nearly crossed
The whole Atlantic
My friends, I start to fear
With fog and ice, we’re like Titanic
But you can trust the crew
Will sail us safely to Canada
Keep calm there’ll be no harm
Sailing with Saga
Yes, there were times
I lost my trust
I ate so much
My corset’s bust
I’ve had such fun this lovely trip
I never want to leave the ship
I’m in the mood
To stay for good
Sailing with Saga
I don’t know about you, but I’d have been quite happy never leaving the ship. I felt like my heart was being wrenched from my chest when I disembarked yesterday, but now I’m starting to get ahead of myself – back to the begging of the cruise we go!
A lady named Hazel Griffiths was also onboard for this sailing and she’s a fantastic destination speaker. She’s clear, engaging and a fountain of knowledge. I enjoyed several of her talks, as they allowed me more insight into my tours before I’d been on them and, in some cases, they made me realise I’d probably made the wrong decision on some tours to begin with, so I then went along to the Explore Ashore desk and switched to something that was more along the lines of what I was looking for. Hazel also spoke about the general history of the places we were going to visit, so those opting to explore independently could still get some useful tips on things to see and do, and places to go. I really did find the talks helpful and would suggest that if you’re ever travelling on a sailing with Hazel, you do go along and listen to her, you’ll not be disappointed.
As mentioned, there were craft classes held in the mornings and afternoons on most sea days and they were always full. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything worse than a craft class, it’s really not my thing at all, but before I knew it, I’d signed up to make a Kumihimo bracelet. The Supercrafters – several delightful men and women – holding the classes were brilliant. They were patient with those who were complete beginners and had options adventurous enough for those who were die hard crafters. Those who signed up to join a class could make everything and anything from a table lantern to a piece of stained glass.
I said I couldn’t think of anything worse than a craft class, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time making the bracelet and it wasn’t anywhere near as hard as I’d thought it would be. In fact, I was the first to finish. The classes were all free and in the case of the kumihimo bracelet making, passengers could take the remaining materials in their individual kits away with them, including the Kumihimo disk, and make 2 additional bracelets in their own time. This turned out to be slightly addictive for me and I quickly went back to the class and purchased more materials to make more bracelets. I then started passed them to several crew members as gifts. Since the class, I’ve also now mastered making Kumihimo keyring’s and my next task is to try making them whilst threading in small beads. Yes, that’s me, the non-crafty person.
The ‘Supercraft Cruise’ is the brainchild of Julie Peasgood and she is on a mission to spread the word about how fun, stress-reducing and therapeutic craft classes can be, for men and women! There was a variety of people at each class and they were always full. In my opinion, people enjoyed them so much because of the variation in what they could make – they weren’t just your typical craft classes, they were exciting! I know because that’s the reason I signed up, because it wasn’t just sewing bits of material or painting an object in the middle of the table. Lookout for the Supercrafters! I’m sure they’ll be coming to a ship near you very soon…
Food filled several hours of each day and as it always has been on Saga Sapphire, every dish was a masterpiece. I had fish and chips at the Beach Club, simple sandwiches for lunch, a variety of evening meals in The Verandah and the highlight of any Saga cruise, an outstanding culinary treat in East to West. I’d met several people at the beginning of the cruise, and we were all virtually attached at the hip, we did everything together, but there was one lady in particular whom I spent a lot of time with and her name was Pauline. She was travelling on her own and after telling her how good East to West was, she couldn’t wait to try it for herself, so I booked us a table. We indulged in scallops, prawns and beef, and it was fabulous. I was so full by the time we left, I could barely talk, or breathe for that matter. We both had to skip dessert.
Everyone onboard was getting settled into their daily activities and evening social gatherings, but it wouldn’t be long before we spotted land, and another form of life, after several days crossing the Atlantic Ocean…