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hermioneb

Saga vs Oceania and Azamara

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There has been some discussion on another thread on this board about the description of luxury cruising.  I was reading this article https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/articles.cfm?ID=2816 and it defines Azamara and Oceania as “upper premium/luxury lite”.  I personally feel that the new Saga ship fits perfectly into this category and wonder what other people think.  Having now cruised on the ships from all three, I think that the Spirit of Discovery compares well on several points, particularly the comfort of the lowest grade of cabin.

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I agree as far as the ships are concerned.   Have also cruised on both plus the somewhat similar Viking Ocean ships. The cabins are excellent, much better than on Azamara.

However, I think that Saga must improve the seating in the Grill, and upgrade the offerings in the MDR to get close to the others for dining.  

3 choices for the main course is not enough.  I know there is an always available section but that is the same on the other lines too. Presentation not exactly 'fine dining'   However we thought the specialities were good.

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I agree with Mrs Miggins.  We haven't sailed on Oceania but can make comparisons with Azamara. We’ve also not been on any of the true luxury lines like Regent or Seabourn. Way over our budget. 

SOD compares very favourably with Azamara in terms of cabins (especially bathrooms), public rooms, library, craft and card rooms and general space. Plus I loved the aft terraces. The entertainment was mostly a bit better too, partly due to having a proper theatre, not just a show lounge. The White Night on Azamara is wonderful though. There were no similar ‘parties’ on SOD that I was aware of although we had cold North Sea crossings when we could have been outdoors more had the weather been better. 

 

However, the food was much less varied (geared to British rather than International tastes). I don’t think they’re appealing to the Baby Boomers who have to be their future market. 

We also missed the International feel in the crew but service levels were similar. 

We don’t want to stick to sailing from the UK at present and will watch out to see if they start fly cruises once SOA is established. 

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25 minutes ago, cinnamon said:

I agree with Mrs Miggins.  We haven't sailed on Oceania but can make comparisons with Azamara. We’ve also not been on any of the true luxury lines like Regent or Seabourn. Way over our budget. 

SOD compares very favourably with Azamara in terms of cabins (especially bathrooms), public rooms, library, craft and card rooms and general space. Plus I loved the aft terraces. The entertainment was mostly a bit better too, partly due to having a proper theatre, not just a show lounge. The White Night on Azamara is wonderful though. There were no similar ‘parties’ on SOD that I was aware of although we had cold North Sea crossings when we could have been outdoors more had the weather been better. 

 

However, the food was much less varied (geared to British rather than International tastes). I don’t think they’re appealing to the Baby Boomers who have to be their future market. 

We also missed the International feel in the crew but service levels were similar. 

We don’t want to stick to sailing from the UK at present and will watch out to see if they start fly cruises once SOA is established. 

Agree with the previous two posts. We have cruised a lot with Oceania and we feel O’s food is so much better in terms of quality, variety and presentation.  Although we don’t drink a lot I like a cocktail on holiday and the one I tried on SOD was dreadful but cheap!

There were lots of things I liked better on SOD though.  There were really good lectures on board, I enjoyed the crafts which were free, the entertainment was varied, the library the best I’ve ever seen.  I loved the design of the ship, the feeling of spaciousness and the variety of the different seating areas.  Like Cinnamon I really enjoyed the aft terraces particularly for our Scandinavian cruise.  

Saga could so easily improve their food offerings.  To fill the two new ships they will have to appeal to a much broader (and younger) market. 

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Agree with comments on the SoD food offerings. Haven’t sailed on her as yet, but it does sound as if the dining may be geared towards a much older clientele - I’m 68, and very surprised not to find vegetarian food as a bigger main stream choice, rather than something ‘weird’ requiring a special menu and advance notification!

I’m not completely vegetarian, I do eat chicken, bacon and the occasional steak, but often choose a vegetarian option purely on the grounds that it sounds tasty and inventive, compared to meat and two veg.

So the ‘choice’ of one vegetarian entree seems terribly old fashioned, and could be a deterrent to the ‘younger’ entrants to the Saga age range.

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Ergates - I do not agree with your take regarding vegetarian dishes and Saga.   Most cruise lines we have been on - quite a few - only offer one vegetarian dish as a main.  I am told that the special menus are very interesting,  and the people I met, strict vegetarians, were more than happy with the huge amount of choice they were offered, and I  am not sure that this would apply to other lines.  If we had been at the next table to them, rather than one removed, I might have asked to join in!  I have no idea if other lines are as accommodating.  Also there are usually more than one suitable starter and pudding.   Perhaps you will come back with comments when you have sailed on SOD.

 

However, I do agree with what others are saying about the menu choice in general.  I am surprised to find that it is still geared to the older British taste - although pretty well 100% on board are Brits, hopefully there will be more slightly younger ones in the future.  The choices of starters and puddings is usually pretty good, but for mains, at dinner, it is a fish, usually a 'fowl' and a meat, plus a different veggie one each night.  There is always a 'simple' dish, like sausage and mash or steak pie, and some regular offerings, like chicken breast, steak, or salmon - not very exciting, the same each night and with a choice of sauces.  I feel sure Saga read these comments, and so hope that they will think about including, perhaps, one special dish each night, maybe something 'foreign' for instance.  The mains do often include something we enjoy, like coq au vin or boeuf bourgignon, but too often are a bit boring.  The vegetables, however, are well cooked, and varied, and almost too many on your plate, 3 or 4 small portions plus a different style of potato each night.

 

 

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Unfortunately Ergates has taken this thread off course on only the 5th reply. 

If they have sailed on the three ships mentioned then it would be interesting to hear their comparison.

I'll let you have mine in a couple of weeks when I get back from SoD

Edited by Glenndale

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Apologies, Glenndale - I am a bit apt to go off-piste (though I did not start it).  I can't join in a comparison with Oceania or Azamara as I have not sailed either of them, so I had better keep schtum on this thread!  Just felt the need to come back on the previous post.

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10 minutes ago, lincslady said:

Apologies, Glenndale - I am a bit apt to go off-piste (though I did not start it).  I can't join in a comparison with Oceania or Azamara as I have not sailed either of them, so I had better keep schtum on this thread!  Just felt the need to come back on the previous post.

Sorry didn’t mean to come over as ‘schoolmarmish’ .

No need for an apology, maybe we need another thread for what kind of cruise food we enjoy 😉

Thread drift tends to happen but not usually so quickly.

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Apologies from me, was just responding to a previous comment on the dining options. The lack of proper alternatives in the Grill was my biggest concern.

Haven’t sailed on Oceania or Azamara, as not keen on older ships with less than up to date bathrooms.

Sorry to have gone off topic.

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33 minutes ago, Ergates The Ant said:

Apologies from me, was just responding to a previous comment on the dining options. The lack of proper alternatives in the Grill was my biggest concern.

Haven’t sailed on Oceania or Azamara, as not keen on older ships with less than up to date bathrooms.

Sorry to have gone off topic.

Although I would agree that the R ships are older and have small bathrooms, Oceania Marina and Riviera are not that old, and are roughly a similar size, which is why they are a fair comparison to the Saga ship.  I thought the SoD is a beautiful ship.   I understand the worry that Saga offer a more limited menu, although there was only one evening during our fourteen night cruise when I couldn’t find something that I thought was delicious. 

Edited by hermioneb
.

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OK here goes.
Oceania Riviera/ Marina 

Standard Verandah / Concierge Cabins slightly larger than Saga standard with better hanging space and a sensible sized fridge.

Azamara standard balcony cabins smaller but with better fridge than Saga.

Beds on Oceania very comfortable on Saga comfortable, Azamara first cruise with them the bed was dreadful, hard and sunken in the middle. They were swapping out the mattresses as we left but they should have been replaced long before. Subsequent cruises beds much better.

 

Bathrooms best on Oceania standard cabins have shower and bath, beautifully appointed with Bulgari toiletries.

Azamara bathrooms small with dreaded shower curtain, toiletries last time I was on were called ‘About Rose’ and were not a favourite.

Saga bathrooms nicely appointed, lovely toiletries.

 

Food on Oceania very good and on Saga very good.

Azamara food good, specialities very good.

Buffet in the evening on Oceania and Waves grill during the day hard to beat.

Included bean to cup coffee available on all lines

For a first timer on Oceania there is included WiFi and a choice of cabin credit, wines, beer etc. with meals or included excursions 

For a first timer on Saga drinks with meals and in the bars included along with included WiFi.

 

Azamara includes wine with lunch and dinner and spirits, some cocktails but you need to specify to bartender to make them with included spirits otherwise they are chargeable.

 

Gratuities on Oceania $16 pp per day, included on Saga, included on Azamara.

 

Flights included in price on Oceania, transport to port included on Saga within 250 miles - no fly cruises at the moment. Azamara did not include flights last time we travelled with them (3 1/2 years ago) might have changed.

 

Oceania everyone gets at least one meal at each of the 4 speciality restaurants, Saga having problems sorting out allocation to their 3 speciality restaurants. This is due to some shorter cruises on Saga and 1 fewer speciality restaurant. Oceania also turn tables whereas Saga don’t. If they extended opening hours by 1/2 hour each end this could help.

Azamara speciality restaurants are paid for unless you are in a suite, this tends to dampen demand.

 

Staff on all lines very friendly and helpful, Azamara fans often talk about officer interaction but this is not a consideration for me when I book a cruise.

Azamara seem to have developed a habit of cancelling cruises for charters after taking bookings, if they did this to me I wouldn’t give them a second chance.

 

After sailing on all 3 lines, 10 times on Oceania, 3 on Azamara and 3 on Saga, my favourite is Oceania, with Saga 2nd followed by Azamara.

Of course this is a subjective choice, how could it be otherwise?

 

It would be interesting to find 3 similar cruises on each line and do a cost comparison.

Anyone willing?

 

 

 

 

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I think that for me the itinerary is very important. One benefit of Azamara is that they rarely repeat the same itinerary over and over.  I like cruising the Mediterranean and whilst Azamara do go to the usual suspects then there are always slight differences which mean there are generally ports that are new to me.  Recently We have visited Syracuse, Port Vendres, Sete and Sibenic.  On our B2B next year Portovenere, Porto Torres, Calvi and a return to lovely Sanary sur Mer were the deciding factors on booking.

Unlike many others I do not like sea days so a UK departure is also not that appealing to me.

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14 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

I think that for me the itinerary is very important. One benefit of Azamara is that they rarely repeat the same itinerary over and over.  I like cruising the Mediterranean and whilst Azamara do go to the usual suspects then there are always slight differences which mean there are generally ports that are new to me.  Recently We have visited Syracuse, Port Vendres, Sete and Sibenic.  On our B2B next year Portovenere, Porto Torres, Calvi and a return to lovely Sanary sur Mer were the deciding factors on booking.

Unlike many others I do not like sea days so a UK departure is also not that appealing to me.

Hi MrsM, For me it was always itinerary but after nearly 70 cruises and other travels, whilst I still seek new places my comfort and convenience are becoming more important.

Saga does attempt to introduce different ports into its itineraries, our next Baltic cruise is visiting Skagen, Saaremaa and Esbjerg, ports not on the schedule of mainstream lines.

I enjoy sea days too as I get older, and love just being on the sea.

When I first started cruising, a port every day would have been ideal.

Flying too has become a chore and a hardship, maybe if I wasn't too mean to pay for 1st class I may enjoy it more, but being picked up and driven to the port and back home is a plus for me.

Maybe Saga isn't my first choice but it's rapidly becoming a 2nd choice above Cunard and Azamara.

 

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Yes its great when a couple of the ports are new, but I also love to revisit some old favourites.  Last time in Livorno, having done Florence, Pisa and Lucca several times, we got the bus into a lovely seaside town called Castiglioncello.  Absolute bliss, lovely lunch, surrounded by locals.  We are back in Livorno in June and I expect we will take the local bus again.

Havent tried Cunard as not sure it would suit us.  Only done one Oceania, which was good except everyone went to bed at about 10 - ship deserted after that.  I am sure we will try them again as I did love the speciality restaurants.

I think Saga may well be a good fit for us in a couple of years.  Also I think some of the small wrinkles that we found onboard will soon be ironed out.  Saga do seem to understand there are one or two teething problems.

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Most posters here have cruised quite a lot - us included.  I think Saga may well become everyone's second choice to start with, and when you can't/don't want to fly any more, it would likely become the first.  The options from the UK are, at least to me, nothing like as good - i.e. Cunard, P and O and Fred Olsen basically.  Oh, plus MSC - not most people's choice when you have been used to something with a few more stars.

 

Our favourite for quite a few years has been Seabourn, but having cruised with them and other lines in most parts of the world, now that we don't fly, Saga is our number one choice.  Sorry to miss out on the far flung countries, but we are lucky still to be able to cruise, and in particular to have the door to door transport, insurance, and a pretty high standard of ship.  I don't  know Oceania and Azamara, but from what I have read, both are pretty good and I can understand why some of you would like to continue with them, and other lines, until you find yourselves 'grounded'.

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5 hours ago, lincslady said:

Most posters here have cruised quite a lot - us included.  I think Saga may well become everyone's second choice to start with, and when you can't/don't want to fly any more, it would likely become the first.  The options from the UK are, at least to me, nothing like as good - i.e. Cunard, P and O and Fred Olsen basically.  Oh, plus MSC - not most people's choice when you have been used to something with a few more stars.

 

Our favourite for quite a few years has been Seabourn, but having cruised with them and other lines in most parts of the world, now that we don't fly, Saga is our number one choice.  Sorry to miss out on the far flung countries, but we are lucky still to be able to cruise, and in particular to have the door to door transport, insurance, and a pretty high standard of ship.  I don't  know Oceania and Azamara, but from what I have read, both are pretty good and I can understand why some of you would like to continue with them, and other lines, until you find yourselves 'grounded'.

 

We are long time Azamara cruises who have been considering Saga for the reasons many people have mentioned.

I thought that I would point out that Azamara do have several round trip Southampton cruises planned for 2020.

Edited by Bloodaxe

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15 minutes ago, Bloodaxe said:

 

We are long time Azamara cruises who have been considering Saga for the reasons many people have mentioned.

I thought that I would point out that Azamara do have several round trip Southampton cruises planned for 2020.

What are the prices like ? 
We found that the prices on Azamara started rising and for us the value wasn’t there.

We could go in QG on Cunard for more or less the same price on Azamara.

Funnily enough we often receive emails from Azamara trumpeting last minute reductions, but of course by then we have made other plans.

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34 minutes ago, Glenndale said:

What are the prices like ? 
We found that the prices on Azamara started rising and for us the value wasn’t there.

We could go in QG on Cunard for more or less the same price on Azamara.

Funnily enough we often receive emails from Azamara trumpeting last minute reductions, but of course by then we have made other plans.

 

Azamaras prices have risen considerably that's one reason we are considering our options.

Future Saga prices also seem to be on the increase, probably a sign of the times.

Edited by Bloodaxe

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Glendale suggested that someone should compare the costs of similar cruises of the 3 lines.  I thought I would have a go. It was difficult to find anything very similar, so I looked at cruises between May and September next year, all of which depart and return to either Southampton or Dover and were between 10 and 17 nights duration. Looking at the cheapest available balcony cabins on Azamara and Oceania and adding the cost of gratuities and all inclusive drinks to Oceania, the figures per day worked out as follows:  Azamara between £309 and £350 per day.  Oceania between £393 and £448 per day.  Saga between £259 and £294 per day, priced as available now.  I hope I have worked it out correctly!

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Well done for spending your time on behalf of everyone!

 

I am surprised that Azamara and Oceania are so expensive - about as much as Seabourn .  And I wonder if you included for insurance and door to door travel??  That does make quite a difference.  In any case, Saga does not now sound as pricey as we had thought.

 

 

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No, you are quite right, I forgot about insurance and door to door travel, though perhaps that would be included with azamara if booked through Saga?  I suppose the American lines are looking much more expensive now, with the current dollar to pound exchange rate.

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18 hours ago, hermioneb said:

No, you are quite right, I forgot about insurance and door to door travel, though perhaps that would be included with azamara if booked through Saga?  I suppose the American lines are looking much more expensive now, with the current dollar to pound exchange rate.

 

We have booked Azamara cruises through a travel agent that is part of the Saga group and did get home pick up and some other extras but not travel insurance.

Has you point out those extras can make a difference to the overall value when making comparisons.

Edited by Bloodaxe

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Thanks Hermione, as you have proved comparisons are difficult.

For instance, on O we are silver status and get our gratuities included.

On our next O cruise it was designated O life ultimate after we booked (there was no problem getting this awarded retrospectively) so we have 4 included excursions each, included drinks with meals and a total of $1300 OBC which not including the extras (excursions and drinks) comes out at approx £232 per day.

This is a 15 night cruise which has an extra night in Miami East hotel and includes all transfers. 

Just to say the excursions are not mere walking tours but full day tours.

We will no doubt have a $0 bill at the end of it.

This is in a B3 extended balcony for comparisons sake.

 

Edited by Glenndale

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Glendale, it sounds as if you have got a good deal! It seems that Oceania are offering several cruises with their O Life Ultimate perks for next year, but I haven’t seen any for ex -UK cruises yet.  Today I received notification of a couple of Mediterranean cruises which work out at about £320 per day with O Life Ultimate.  You are quite right that comparisons are difficult as there are a limited number of Azamara and Oceania cruises departing from UK ports.  As we are still happy to fly to the Med., but no further, I will go on looking at Azamara and Oceania in case a good deal comes up, but would be very happy if Saga have some fly cruises in the future, as I think the Spirit of Discovery is a lovely ship.

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