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nosapphire

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  1. They do usually have a full day in Madeira, yes it does seem a bit mean to just have an afternoon there. Although if the weather turns and they have to skip the Azores on the way out, you may call at Madeira then instead. It was the other direction for us, Madeira 08:00 - 17:00, 6 full days at sea, Barbados 08:00 day 7. Maybe it takes longer on the way back to account for the extra half day at sea?? I am more intrigued by the fact they have included Puerto Rico. Everyone will have to have an ESTA (or visa) and the entire ship will have to clear USA customs - seems odd to have just one USA port after going through all that. ++ Drinks - the branded spirits and speciality coffees will be extra, as will premium brand wines, sparking wines etc. Prices are very reasonable, and the included wines are very drinkable. If my memory is correct (rarely is, these days) the included lager is Heinekin - it was certainly a regular brand, anyway.
  2. Well, P&O pinched Saga's Captain Wesley Dunlop, so is only fair to retaliate.😁. (although P&O did give Captain Julian Burgess to Saga in exchange).
  3. Seems unlikely, as the original owner has come back on the board (along with a hefty financial contribution) and he has been quoted as saying that Saga had lost track of it's core customer group. Although I think he may have been referring to the insurance side more than the cruise and travel side.
  4. Space per passenger also depends on how it is arranged. My personal opinion is that the inside space on the new Saga ships has not been laid out very well at all (plus most of the seats themselves have been chosen for looks, not comfort). We thought that P&O Britannia felt much less crowded inside than the Discovery - the only times we realised how many passengers were on board was when the shows turned out, and on disembarkation. On the Discovery, we were very aware how many passengers were on board every time we tried (often without success) to find a seat in the bar, library or living room. Outside is much better, access to the outside decks is very good, wonderful wide wrap-around promenade with plenty of doors to pop in and out, stairs at the stern leading from the promenade to the top with direct access from every passenger deck, and another walking area at the top. Now - if they can just stop people reserving sun loungers for the entire day ... it is amazing how many are occupied by a hat, bag, sunglasses and paperback while the owner of said items is having breakfast, lunch,afternoon tea, and taking in a lecture or two.
  5. Think that somebody also said they thought the brandy was OK, so it maybe that Saga have several different brands used as house-brand. Or it could be that, as I have found with wine, one person's "rough" is another person's "full bodied".
  6. Link to Saga's latest information on their website. It certainly states pre-departure testing at home, and again at the cruise terminal. https://travel.saga.co.uk/travel-updates/coronavirus-cruise-passengers.aspx
  7. Not sure why you say "with only 2 ships" - they have never had more than 2, apart from a short period when they also had a separate arm called Spirit of Adventure with 2 small fly-cruise ships, Quest for Adventure and the original Spirit of Adventure. "Boutique" is just a buzz-word, and currently very annoying (It always means to me something pretentious, expensive and impractical) and there is no evolution in this, just a marketing ploy. It is not really ALL-inclusive. Selected drinks are included, others are at cost. Sight-seeing tours will be included in selected ports, others are at cost. Transfers to and from the ship are if you live within 250 miles. Having said this, their included wines are still very, very good. Space wise, the new ships should feel more spacious than the old ones - but the Discovery actually felt more cramped in the general passenger areas. Unlike all of their old ships, there is no one lounge big enough to take all passengers for one-off events. This in turn means that a lot of the ambience on the old ships has been lost, and Saga seem to have abandoned the spontaneity of "lets have a ....." that they used to do so well. Same applies to the breakfast, lunch and dinner - at popular times there will be queues at both the main dining and the buffet waiting for tables to come available (and with social distancing in operation, that is going to get worse). Like most ships and lines, there are a lot of things to like, and also some things to dislike. Saga will have to change, they have bigger ships to fill, big mortgages to repay on both ships, and a lot more competition. They were trying to run the new ships in the same way as they ran their old ships, and it all still feels slightly disorganised. A good example, with three (extremely good) speciality restaurants, the assumption would be that passengers can make bookings from one point. Instead, each restaurant has to be visited or telephoned separately during Maitre'D hours to book - and it was quite irritating to queue to book, then discover that the available slots clashed with a booking for one of the others, so had to go back to the other to try and rebook... the food was worth it, though. The "handbook" did state (for both our cruises on the Discovery) that you could book at reception, so they may have sorted this out by now - along with all the other things the handbook said you could do that you can't when on board. And the brochures still keep saying "library with cafe" which really bugs me, as it is self-service coffee machine with 3 jars of biscuits. That is not a cafe!.
  8. Oh, come on - give us a clue..😉.. solution to what??
  9. - I am certainly not laughing at those who are realistically hopeful of being able to cruise again next year. - I am not laughing at those who are hopeful of a vaccine - the reports are very good, and I expect there will soon be several in real life operation. - I am not laughing at any person. But some of the posts are so much along the lines of, - next year we can all get vaccinated and have vaccination certificates and everything will be back to normal again -, that it is a case of laugh in disbelief or weep in sorrow. - I expect that vaccination programmes will start no later than the beginning of next year. - I expect more cruise lines will start sailing again sometime next year. - It is unlikely that wanting to go on a cruise will move anyone to the top of the vaccination list I do NOT expect cruises themselves to be anything like the "normal" of last year for a few years yet. Why? First, vaccination itself is not a magic bullet, but mainly no country will be so complacent about a pandemic again, everybody will be on high alert for anything that could be a new virus starting up. So I still think there will be a lot of restrictions for some time yet, as preventative measures, vaccine or no vaccine.
  10. some of the posts on this thread do make me laugh. A vaccine - OK, great. When one (hopefully, several) are approved for use, all that then has to be done is the manufacture, purchase, distribution and application. So we can all get vaccinated and go on holiday. That is, provided there are unlimited supplies of the raw materials for both the vaccines and the vials, unlimited transport and storage facilities for the raw materials, unlimited laboratory facilities and staff to produce the vaccine and vials from these raw materials, unlimited supplies of vaccine, unlimited transport and storage facilities for the vaccine, and unlimited staff to vaccinate everybody. This all has to be on a worldwide basis, not just in one country. I suspect people who want a vaccine simply to go on holiday - even people who can pay privately - will be a long way down the chain. Yes, I'll have the vaccine - but I am not expecting to be offered it for a couple of years yet. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54371559
  11. Well, full marks to Saga this time. Got the phone call about the cruise (Inaugural), I said that I wanted a full refund, told no problem at all, will be returned to the cards that were used to pay, excepting one that had expired so I would get a cheque in the post for that one. She also said that the letter from the holidays section had indeed been sent out in error to every cruise customer..
  12. Repeating my message yesterday. That letter is from Saga Holidays. Saga holidays and Saga cruises are two separate departments within the same company, and if you have a holiday (i.e, land based or river cruise) then there will be an automatic refund unless you contact the holidays department to transfer it to another land based holiday or river cruise. The cruise department is not giving automatic refunds, they are contacting people in order to find out whether or not they want to transfer, take an FCC, or have a refund. The Chris Simmonds letter has been sent out to cruise passengers by mistake - their IT dept and post room combined are not the most efficient - and it is doubtless causing a lot of extra work for an already very stretched call staff.
  13. That letter and email is about Saga holidays, not about Saga cruises. People booked on holidays get the automatic refund, unless they contact Saga to rebook. People booked on cruises will wait for the telephone call from Saga, and will have to ask for a refund if they don't want to rebook or take the FCC. Not sure why I got the letter & email from Saga holidays, as I do not have any land tours booked. And wonder why they are telling their shareholders via trade news that all holidays (land based) are cancelled until April, but telling their customers only until February.
  14. I'm one of those who will not even be considering a cruise until 2022. That is my decision. Others will cruise again as soon as possible. That is their decision. The majority of posts I have seen from people who intend to be back on board as soon as possible make it clear they have considered the risks, factored in the possibility of ports being closed, limited excursions, and restrictions on board, and decided they will still enjoy being back on board. What on earth is there to criticise about that? Those of us who are not ready to cruise will find something else to keep us occupied. Those who are ready to cruise will still have a good time, and good sailings to them all, I say.
  15. Well, I was wrong about the timing 😁We got the letter this morning - along with a brochure introducing the Adventure's arrival into the fleet this month... In my opinion (after 2 cruises on the Discovery with about 850 passengers) social distancing at 80% capacity is not going to be subtle, or even possible. The people who write this have obviously never seen the scrum outside the dining areas and bars at popular times. We'll be taking the refund - I cannot see that the Inaugural cruise is going to sail in February 2021, either, and think I would prefer my money back under my control now.
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