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ONGOING SAGA; OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW......

ONGOING SAGA; OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW......

For UK based cruise passengers in the over 50's bracket, there's no doubt that Saga Cruises has been one of the most consistently popular brands for some time now. The line's ethos of providing near all inclusive fares- including round trip transport to and from the port- aboard a handful of smaller, more intimate ships has struck a chord with a whole generation that is becoming increasingly less enchanted by the mega liners that seem to be everywhere these days.

There's a curiously old world, genteel feel about the product, without it ever quite slipping over into Hinge and Brackett territory. It's familiar yet fun, well fed and served without feeling overly fussed and stiff upper lip. While other lines race pell mell into the future with newer, more amenity laden ships that resemble small towns, the Saga product tends to evolve gradually, at a sedate place. And, after all, if it isn't broke, then why fix it?

But change is afoot at Saga, all the same. 2019 will see the departure from the two ship fleet of the 20,000 ton, 500 passenger Saga Pearl II. The ship is still hugely popular with loyal passengers- Saganauts, as they are known- but she is perhaps a touch to small to allow the brand to grow and, as such, she will be replaced by a new, 60,000 ton ship currently under construction in Italy- the Spirit of Discovery.

The new ship is totally retro in appearance, with a gracefuly raked bow and proud, single funnel that make her very reminiscent of a 1930's transatlantic liner. In fact, her profile is more than a passing, familar nod to the former, much loved Saga Ruby. Inside, the new ship maintains the theme of a genteel country house afloat, with public rooms that offer space,style and a sense of elegant largesse, But at the same time, this new ship will be strikingly up to date in terms of it's on board hardware and safety systems.

Inevitably, the new ship will have more balcony cabins than Saga Pearl II, and even more than the current fleet flagship, the very popular Saga Sapphire. But I think that anyone who fears a drastic signal of course change with this new ship is going to be pleasantly surprised. 60,000 tons is still small for a new ship these days, and the whole ethos of enhanced on board amenties and dining venues is more about fine tuning of the popular on board product. It's evolution, not revolution, and a whole legion of devoted Saganauts will soon be toasting that aboard this wonderful new ship.

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