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Spirit of Discovery

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Five years in the planning, the 58,250-ton Spirit of Discovery is Saga Cruises’ first new build. The line’s mission was to create a luxurious, "boutique" ship for British cruisers, with a balcony for every guest and interiors inspired by hotel design. This is exactly what it’s done. Spirit of Discovery oozes class and, in many aspects, does feel more like a hotel than a cruise ship. There’s a real sense of space in the elegant cabins, the wide corridors and the light-filled lounges.

The exterior is smart-looking, too, with a navy hull and jaunty yellow funnel and lifeboats. Saga commissioned one design firm, SMC Design, to do all the interiors, which has paid off as there’s a pleasing theme of continuity onboard rather than a hotchpotch of different ideas, which can jar on some cruise ships. You’ll find nothing garish, no phoney themes and no gimmicks. Everything from the fabrics used to the 1,000-piece, £1million, art collection is a gentle celebration of things British. There’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia in some of Spirit of Discovery’s offerings, from the old-fashioned jars of liquorice and rum-and-butter boiled sweets lined up on the Lido Deck to the classic prawn cocktails on the menu. Factor in some of the guest entertainers -- DJs and TV stars from the 1970s, for example -- and, assuming you’re in the line’s target age range, you’re catapulted back through the decades and bathed in warm memories of youth. There are a few niggles, some of which can be put down to teething problems.

Service was pretty shaky in places on the maiden voyage, but there was clearly plenty of crew training going on. Passengers weren’t behaving in the way they had been predicted to, so although the ship has enough covers for everybody to eat at once, there was a rush for the Grand Dining Room at 6.45 p.m. every evening, when the restaurants opened, with queues forming. Entertainment had to be rescheduled quickly to distract people from early dining and ease the pressure. The same happened at breakfast, with overcrowding in The Grill, but plenty of space in the Grand Dining Room.

Finding your way through the deck naming system takes some getting used to, as well; some decks have names and letters, so A, B, C, D and E, as well as Main Deck, Promenade Deck, Lido Deck, Sun Deck and Observation Deck, rather than numbers. Of the lettered decks, A deck is the highest and E the lowest. If you’re trying to count the decks in your mind while trying to decide whether to take the stairs or wait for the lift, sometimes it’s easier to visualise them as numbers, E being deck 7, D deck 8 and so on.

Overall, though, Spirit of Discovery is a joy to sail on; soothing rather than cutting edge, and chic rather than flashy. The quality of the ship and the fact that so much is included makes Saga a serious competitor now to lines like Oceania Cruises, Viking Ocean and Azamara. Spirit of Discovery is not for party people, gamblers, fitness freaks or shopping addicts -- but the ship should serve Saga well, with plenty of appeal to Gen-Xers as they sail into their 50s and into the cruise line’s sights.

Daytime: Casual and comfortable; jeans, T-shirts and shorts are all fine, although it is expected that sunbathers will cover up swimwear when eating at the buffet at lunchtimes.

Evening: Either smart casual – open-necked shirts and smart trousers for men, and for women, anything you might wear to a good restaurant at home. There are usually two formal nights per week, which are fairly strict: tuxedo or dark suit for men, long dress or cocktail dress for women. This applies in all public rooms, including the buffet, from 6 p.m. There are occasional loose themes, like a White Night party.

Not permitted: Jeans, shorts and T-shirts anywhere on the ship after 6 p.m., regardless of the day’s dress code.

Inclusions

Gratuities are included in the cruise fare and are not expected. This includes tips for treatments in the spa and bar drinks; there’s no markup. Some passengers tip guides and coach drivers, but again, this is not expected.

Included with your cruise fare:

  • All dining, including speciality restaurants
  • Afternoon tea, including Prosecco
  • Wine with lunch and dinner – choice of three reds, two roses, three whites
  • Bottled water in the cabin
  • Tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin
  • Speciality coffee and tea
  • All shows in the theatre
  • All entertainment in The Club by Jools and the Britannia Lounge
  • All classes in the gym
  • Access to the thermal suite in the spa
  • WiFi
  • Gratuities
  • Taxi to and from the port, within 250 miles
  • Travel insurance (although you can opt out of this)

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Bar drinks (until Saga goes all-inclusive in 2020)
  • Personal training in the gym
  • Spa and beauty treatments
  • Shore excursions
  • Photos from the onboard photographers
  • Medical treatment

**Theatre**

The high-tech Playhouse theatre seats 444 and offers everything from lectures to full production shows. It’s a lovely space, pillar-free, with a marble art deco surround framing the stage. This is the first time a Saga ship has had a proper theatre and the entertainment has been ramped up considerably, with sophisticated sound and light systems and a stage rigged for aerial circus-style performances. A new partnership with production company Live Business has brought high-quality song-and-dance shows to Saga. The themes are still essentially songs from the shows, but they’re energetic, slick and professional. There’s just one show a night, usually at around 9.30 p.m., which means you have to time if carefully if you like to eat late and see the entertainment, too. Other entertainment was superb, with lyricist Richard Stilgoe performing with his son, Joe, a virtuoso jazz musician performing two nights, and a talk from DJ Tony Blackburn, followed by a sixties set in the Britannia Lounge. Lecturers included Professor Lord Robert Winston and former BBC 4 presenter and comedy writer Alfie Moore. Jools Holland will join four cruises a year and will play in the theatre (rather than the supper club he has endorsed) with his band. Saga treats the theatre like a proper venue ashore, so there’s no walking in halfway through a show, and no waiters squeezing along the rows serving drinks in the dark. Some may see this as a negative, but it means the audience is more polite, arriving on time and staying until the end.

Daily Fun

On port days, the vast majority of passengers go ashore and onboard activities are limited, mainly to exercise classes, quizzes and spa promotional talks. Sea days are packed with entertainment, from gentle fitness classes to dance lessons in the Britannia Lounge, hosted bridge in the Card Room, craft classes, quizzes, shuffleboard and table tennis contests. There’s a resident chaplain on the ship who hosts informal chats and religious services. Solo travellers are well cared for, with coffee morning get-togethers, hosted tables at dinner and an informal buddy system for people who want a companion to join them on shore excursions. On the ship's ORCA-themed sailings, passengers will find the marine conservation charity with four wildlife guides available to point out whales and dolphins and log them as part of an ongoing survey. Several of these take place every year, offering passengers the chance to become citizen scientists.

At Night Evenings on Spirit of Discovery follow a fairly predictable pattern: early ballroom dancing and cocktails in the Britannia Lounge, early dinner, a bit more dancing afterwards, or a show in the theatre, then bed. There’s no nightclub or casino. Most venues are deserted by midnight. This is not really a ship for night owls but then, you wouldn’t expect it to be. While the Lido Deck is mercifully quiet during the day, sail-away parties are held on occasion, with great razzmatazz where it’s fitting -- The Mersey Beatles did a set when the ship sailed from Liverpool, for example.

 

Spirit of Discovery Bars and Lounges

The Living Room (Deck 5): The gorgeous Living Room on is a stroke of design genius; it’s the first public space you see on boarding the ship, at the bottom of a three-deck atrium, and a grand, sweeping staircase with a vast bronze as a backdrop, which creates a sense of drama. A central bar serves tea and coffee with pastries in the morning, at no charge, and alcoholic drinks at any time. This is a popular gathering place in the evenings, with live music, either from a piano player or a classical duo. A word about the drinks menu, which is the same in all the bars. Drinks are cheap (£1.90 for a shot of gin, £1 for the tonic, or £3.40 for a pint of Whitstable Bay Pale Ale). But the list is limited and the waiters struggle to price cocktails that are beyond the formulaic offerings programmed into the small tablet devices on which they take orders. For example, there’s no pre-programmed martini, so you pay for a shot of gin and a shot of Martini Bianco, and even then, you don’t get the Gordons or Beefeater gins displayed behind the bar, but some cheap house brand that’s whipped out from under the bar. In 2020, Saga becomes all-inclusive, which is probably a good thing.

The South Cape Bar (Deck 6): While it’s pleasantly decorated, with brown leather seating and art deco-style chandeliers, the space seems strangely quiet and unused, facing away from the music that drifts up from the Living Room below. A few people gathered here before dinner but, with no entertainer and depressingly slow service -- which will probably have improved by now -- it lacked atmosphere, which is a shame, as it’s a genuinely elegant space.

The Club by Jools (Deck 6): The space has two parts; the bar and stage area and the steakhouse. You don’t have to eat in the steakhouse to use the bar, which is an intimate little space made all the more atmospheric by the classy jazz duo that plays before and after dinner. This is a great place for drinks before and after dinner, mainly because of the music.

The Britannia Lounge (Deck 12): The star of the ship’s public areas is the bright, airy Britannia Lounge, on Lido Deck. This space serves as a reading and dozing area, a dance floor, a bar, and a venue for quizzes, live music and other entertainment acts and cocktail parties. Double height glass at the front provides stunning panoramic views and a real sense of drama, although you don’t have to watch the dancing; there are cosy niches along the sides, with soft furnishing in soothing shades of cream, burnt orange and teal and shelves of ornaments separating clusters of seating.

Outside, forwards, there’s a terrace with some large sculptures. Inside, contemporary lighting and a nod to the seventies with a disco glitter ball over the dance floor complete the picture. Needless to say, the dance floor is big enough for proper ballroom dancing, with a live band playing every night.

Activities in the Britannia Lounge tend to revolve around dancing, with cha cha cha and mambo classes hosted by the guest dance duo (former champions Ryno and Elena on our cruise) and early evening and late night dancing to a live band, with gentleman hosts keeping single ladies on their toes. Ryno and Elena put on a couple of sultry, sizzling performances, too, coming to life after what must be a tedious business, teaching basic cha cha steps to retirees. There are classical recitals, too, and on one night, a Scottish cèilidh group had everybody up dancing.

 

Spirit of Discovery Outside Recreation

Pools

There’s one main pool on Lido Deck that’s generously sized and overlooked by two hot tubs. There’s a small stage at one end of the pool for sail-away parties and, in warmer climates, outside musical entertainment, but by day, the pool area is quiet and restful. No penny-pinching here; fluffy, yellow-and-white striped towels are freely available, as is infused water. A row of old-fashioned sweet jars to one side of the pool area serves as a nod to the traditional beach hut on Saga Sapphire.

Recreation

 Ping pong tables, shuffleboard and deck quoits are all available on Deck 13, aka The Sun Deck. There’s a golf simulator here, The Fairway, into which you can program different courses from around the world. You'll find occasional power walkers doing circuits on Deck 13, although the Promenade Deck is better for this, as it encircles the entire ship (3.9 laps is one mile). There’s a basketball and short tennis court on the Observation Deck, but it’s reserved for the crew; frankly, it’s hard to imagine Saga passengers shooting hoops in any case. Smokers are limited to one area on the port side of Deck 13; otherwise, the ship is smoke-free.

Sun Decks

 Sunbathing space is generous on the Lido Deck, around the pool, with plenty of loungers, rattan-effect sofas and chairs, with occasional shaded areas created under white sail-like structures. There's a wraparound deck on Deck 13, overlooking the pool, with loungers. Higher still, the Observation Deck, one deck up, has more loungers and sofas. Further outside seating, which most people don’t seem to discover, is The Terrace, aft on the Promenade Deck outside East to West and Coast to Coast. This is a quiet little nook with comfortable seating and a touch of greenery from a "living wall" -- although sadly, the plants are plastic. There’s outside seating on A, B, C, D and E decks above this, too – just a couple of chairs on the raked decks aft of the cabin areas, blissfully peaceful.

 

Spirit of Discovery Services

The Reception area is tucked away behind The Living Room on Main Deck, opposite the Explore Ashore desks. Explore Ashore is a new concept for Saga, a kind of concierge service that helps passengers arrange individual tours or reservations (although you would pay direct for anything they book). The staff are cheerful, helpful and well-informed and occasionally, representatives of local tourist boards sit at the desks, dispensing information. On the same deck is The Shop, a modest emporium selling tax free goods, a few clothing and logo items and everyday essentials.

One deck up, on Promenade Deck, is Saga World, the ship’s future cruise sales office, and a small office where the ship’s photographers are based. Photos are displayed electronically and the whole setup is very discreet; we barely saw the photographers during our cruise. All the way forward on this deck, before the entrance to the Playhouse theatre, are two slightly mysterious areas. One, The Gallery, is a pleasant little exhibition space displaying paintings by some of the many artists who were commissioned to produce work for the ship. We tried to buy one, but nobody could help us. Perhaps this area will be further developed in future. Next door, is the Chart Room, used for meetings, some of the beauty seminars and religious services (there is a chaplain on board), but it’s not signposted and is virtually impossible to find.

More encouraging is the beautiful library on Deck 7, or E deck, wrapping around an atrium open to The Living Room below. This really is a lovely space, with an extensive collection of books as well as games and puzzles. It’s done out in soothing shades of cream, yellow, blue and teal, with plantation shutters at the windows where the view is obscured by lifeboats. There’s an espresso and cappuccino machine alongside some cookie jars and lots of comfortable seating, some in a sociable arrangement, some in quiet corners for curling up with a book. On the port side, there’s a well-used card room for informal play or hosted bridge sessions, and a craft room that seats around 40, where free classes include making necklaces, bunting and feathered hairpieces. The Library also has four computer terminals for anybody who hasn’t brought their own device -- and WiFi is free, if slow. There’s also a Medical Centre on Deck 4.

Spa

The spa, located forward on Deck 5 (Main Deck), is impressive, done out in natural stone colours and textures and exuding an air of serenity, as a spa should. It’s operated by Time To Spa, a division of Steiner Leisure, but there’s none of the pushy after-care patter associated with Steiner on other ships. Prices are fairly standard for cruise ships, a 50-minute Aroma Stone massage starts at £79 and a BIOTEC facial is from £80. There’s a resident acupuncturist who offers 50 minute treatments for £99. The adjacent Salon does hair and nail treatments at reasonable rates -- a polish change, for example, is only £9. Best of all is the thermal suite, which costs nothing to use. In addition to five treatment rooms and well-equipped locker rooms, there’s a big hydrotherapy pool, traditional and infrared saunas and a spacious steam room.

Fitness

The gym, up on Deck 13, the Sun Deck, has a range of treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines, as well as free weights. Personal training can be booked at £47 per hour. Next door is a light-filled studio where free yoga, stretch and Pilates classes take place. There’s also an array of the usual seminars on offer peddling cures for bloating and hip pain.

Dining is a real highlight on Spirit of Discovery, with a choice of beautifully designed restaurants where there’s no extra charge to eat. The chefs really seem to care; they’ll come out after dinner and do the rounds, chatting to guests. There’s ample provision for special diets, including a big selection at the buffet of gluten-free and sugar-free items. Wine is poured generously with lunch and dinner -- three whites, including a chardonnay, a pinot grigio and a sauvignon blanc; two rosés, a sickly Zinfandel and a better Chilean; and three reds, a shiraz, a merlot and a tempranillo. There’s a wine list if you want something different, with decent quality wine starting at around £19. The cheeseboard, featuring around 60 cheeses from Britain and France, is arguably the best at sea.

The three speciality restaurants are more intimate spaces, with individual decor, and all located on Deck 6; East to West and Coast to Coast side-by-side aft, and The Club by Jools directly over the Grand Dining Room. All offer open seating. The reservations system, though, needs work. You have to turn up in person, which savvy cruisers do as soon as they embark, and stand in line. You can only book each restaurant once to start with. You can’t make reservations on the phone, except during a half-hour window at 6 p.m. every night, or again, by turning up in person at this time. All three, though, are worth the effort, particularly as there is no charge to eat in them, and as the week went on, it wasn’t too difficult to get in at the last minute.

 

Free Dining

Grand Dining Room (Deck 5): The double-height Grand Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving modern British fare. Breakfast (typically 8 a.m. to 9.30 a.m.. but varies according to the port of call) is less busy than The Grill, the ship’s buffet, which gets very crowded. There's a buffet station offering hot and cold dishes and items such as pastries and cold cuts. The menu then consists of hot dishes made to order. Lunch, again, varies according to when the morning’s shore excursions are returning, but is generally from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Expect a wide range of salads and cold cuts from the buffet and, usually, a choice of two soups. Mains range from traditional roasts to vegetarian dishes, while there’s a choice of four or more desserts and ice cream or sorbet.

Dinner (6.45 p.m. to 9 p.m.) is a grand affair, with five courses on offer: starters, soups, salads, mains and desserts. There’s always one vegetarian dish (the curries are especially good) and one "simple fare" offering of comfort food, like kedgeree. A pork medallion, chicken breast or salmon fillet with sauce is always available from the grill, and simpler or smaller versions of all dishes can be requested. We would have liked to have seen a greater choice of vegetarian dishes, though; if you don’t like the one dish on offer, there’s no "always available" alternative, like pasta.

Desserts on Spirit of Discovery were consistently outstanding. There’s a choice of three, usually with twists on classics, as well as ice creams, sorbets and a sugar-free option. A daily highlight is the superb cheese trolley, with dozens of cheeses from Britain and France. Some, like the Isle of Wight Blue, have been sourced from small producers and all carefully chosen and served at the right temperature. You can have afternoon tea in the Grand Dining Room, too, from 4 p.m. to 4.45 p.m., which is a real treat.

The Grill and The Verandah (Deck 12): The Grill is the ship’s main buffet restaurant, serving the same British cuisine as in the Grand Dining Room, just more casual. The Verandah is its outside section. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are served here at tables for two, four or six. The layout is such that the serving area is almost completely separate from the seating area and, while this takes away the canteen feel you get at some cruise ship buffets, it’s all too easy to get lost once you’ve got your food. A lot of waiters seemed to spend their time escorting people back to their seats. Breakfast, usually 7.30 a.m. to 10 a.m., is a huge spread of typical hot and cold items -- pastries, cereals, cold cuts and the kind of fry-up loved by Brits. Omelettes are made to order. Waiters circulate with pots of tea and coffee, and speciality coffees like cappuccino, are quick to arrive. There’s a strange system for getting toast, though; instead of a toaster, waiters wander round with baskets of brown and white toast, shouting "toast", which is all very well, but sometimes involves a long wait as your eggs get cold.

Lunch (12 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.) includes a large salad bar and assorted cold cuts. There’s always a choice of two soups and a sandwich of the day. Three or four mains are served buffet style and one is usually a roast. Five different desserts are on offer, as well as a choice of ice creams and sorbets. Waiters circulate with red, white and rose wine, which are poured generously. There is always a choice, but you sometimes have to request, say, the sauvignon blanc if the day’s wine is the chardonnay.

Afternoon tea is served from 4 p.m. to 4.45 p.m. and dinner from 6.45 p.m. to 9 p.m. A couple of chef’s specials are served at the table, like freshly cooked pasta with scallops, king prawns and mussels, or pork medallions. Alternatively, five or so mains are buffet service. Again, though, there’s only one vegetarian dish. Three or four desserts are on offer, as well as ice creams and the usual spectacular cheese board.

The Verandah (Deck 12): Outside The Grill, there’s a separate lunch menu of salads, various burgers, sausages, sea bass and pork chops, all made to order and served al fresco in a sunny spot overlooking the ship’s wake.

The Club by Jools (Deck 6): This is a new venture for Saga, a 1950s-style grill and supper club in association with musician Jools Holland. While Jools Holland isn’t a chef, he has allowed his name to be used to brand the club -- and one of the steaks on the menu -- as part of a five-year partnership with Saga. The restaurant wraps around a balcony area on Deck 6, looking down into the main dining room. At one end, there’s a dark, cosy bar with a small stage, where visiting jazz acts perform (Holland himself will put on shows in the main theatre four times a year, although there’s always hope of an intimate, late-night session in here). There’s music before and after dinner, although not during.

The menu is as you might expect from an upmarket steakhouse, including a full selection of steaks, other cuts of meat and some shellfish and seafood. Starters include a retro prawn cocktail, or some excellent Cornish crab cakes or a three-onion soup. Mains feature four different steaks, including a massive Tomahawk for two to share, and Jool’s "signature", a New York striploin. There’s also lamb, chicken, a fish of the day and a baked aubergine vegetarian dish. Of the three desserts, the warm apple tart has to be tried; with calvados and a honeycomb crunch, it’s exquisite. You can finish with the usual sumptuous cheeseboard.

Coast to Coast (Deck 6): This restaurant is another departure for Saga, serving high-class seafood dishes in a light, elegant setting.

East to West (Deck 6): The ship’s Asian restaurant offers more high-class cuisine: Asia fusion similar to that in the eponymous restaurant on Saga Sapphire. The menu is fairly short, but imaginative (think dishes like soft shell crab and grilled scallops or Himalayan-spiced rack of lamb). There are two vegetarian options, but when we went back a second time, we asked (on the chef’s recommendation) for something different and was presented with a wonderful dal and vegetable curry. Among the four desserts, the chocolate and chilli tart won our vote.

Room Service: There’s a decent room service menu, available at no extra charge. You can order anything from the Grand Dining Room menu during the restaurant’s opening hours, and at other times, salads, soups, wraps, toasted sandwiches, burgers, steaks, chicken curry or omelette with chips are available. What’s good about this ship is that the cabins are somewhere you really could enjoy a quiet dinner, given how spacious they are and the fact that each one has a balcony. There’s an array of desserts -- and a selection from the cheeseboard. There’s also a breakfast menu, served between 7 a.m. and 9.45 a.m. that features fruit, cereals, meats and cheeses and baked goods. Passengers in suites can order room service from any of the speciality restaurants, too.  

Cabins are a big selling point of Spirit of Discovery, not least because they’re all generously sized and all have balconies. Essentially, there are no bad cabins. Some 109 cabins are for single occupancy -- 20 percent of all accommodation, which is practically unheard of in cruising. All the cabins have been done out like stylish hotel rooms, with lots of thoughtful touches, among them colourful throws, classy leather-effect headboards, bright cushions and features like a silver woodpecker adorning the bedside light, following the theme of birds that runs throughout the ship.

All cabins come with Sailaway mattresses, custom-designed for Saga by Sealy and extremely comfortable (beds can be two twins pushed together to create a king-size or separated); British plugs with USB sockets and further European sockets; kettle with tea and coffee making facilities; bathrobe and slippers; safe; hairdryer; minibar; daily bottled water; binoculars (one pair); TV with a wide selection of free movies and British channels, as well as bridge-cam and shore excursion information; big bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the marble-lined bathroom. One small touch we especially liked was a perspex magazine rack fixed to the wall -- the perfect place to stash the daily programmes.

All cabins have a balcony, although, suites aside, you’ll get two cushioned chairs and a table rather than loungers. Occupants of suites get extra perks. These include: butler service, a morning wake-up tray, afternoon tea in the suite, fresh fruit daily, newspaper daily; espresso machine. In the eight aft suites and the four big forward suites, further extras include fresh flowers, a customized minibar and an extended room service menu from which you can order from any restaurant on the ship.

Standard Singles: Located on A, B, C, D and E decks, these are an impressive 185 square feet in size (excluding the balcony), which is 85 percent of the size of the Standard Twins. They come with a double bed, armchair, coffee table and vanity desk and represent a whole new level of comfort for solo cruisers.

Superior Singles: Set on A, B and D decks, these are 220 square feet in size, with the same amenities as Standard Singles, although they have two armchairs and king-sized beds.

Standard Twin with Balcony: Also 220 square feet in size, these are located on A, B, C, D and E decks as well as the Sun Deck -- handy if you’re likely to spend time in the gym.

Deluxe Singles: Available on C and D decks and the Sun Deck, these are the same size as the Deluxe Doubles and, suites aside, are the poshest grade of single cabins, with 279 square feet of space. Essentially, you’re paying for a bit more room, a better location on the ship and the walk-in wardrobe. The balconies are wider, too; as well as the main double glass doors leading out to the balcony, there’s a second panel of floor to ceiling glass that floods the cabin with light.

Twin Deluxe Balcony: These cabins are the highest grade of the standard cabins. Measuring 279 square feet in size, they’re on A, B, C, D and E decks. They’re the same layout as the Deluxe Singles. The king-sized bed can be split into two singles if required, and there are two armchairs, a coffee table, vanity desk and a walk-in wardrobe.

Single Suite: One of a kind on the ship, this suite, on B deck, comes with a king-sized bed, butler service, a separate lounge area, walk-in wardrobe and bathroom with separate shower and bath tub, as well as suite perks like a wake-up tray and in-suite afternoon tea. It’s the same size as the Midship Suites at 374 square feet.

Midship Suites: Serving up 374 square feet of space, these come with a separate lounge area, butler service, espresso machines and, in the bathrooms, a separate shower and tub. One king-sized bed can be split into two singles. They’re on decks A, B and C.

Aft Suites: Located on A, B and C decks, the eight aft suites (446 square feet) come with extras like fresh fruit, espresso machines, butler service, fresh flowers and a customised minibar. These suites have a separate living room with full-sized dining table, bathroom with whirlpool bath and a double-width balcony. They’re named after areas made famous by the Shipping Forecast, like Fair Isle, Lundy and Trafalgar.

Forward Suites: The four Forward Suites are the most luxurious accommodation on the ship, measuring up to 745 square feet and each one custom-designed, with completely different décor and mood. The Josef Meyer Suite (745 square feet and named after the founder of the shipyard, Meyer Werft, where the ship was built), is all soft greys and dreamy aquamarine shades. The Sidney De Haan Suite (745 square feet), named after Saga’s founder, is more art deco in look, with a colour scheme of soft pink and cream against dark wood. The Rose Suite (660 square feet), named after Saga’s first ship, Saga Rose, is gold, saffron and burgundy, with a big whirlpool bath, while the Ruby Suite (660 square feet), in honour of the venerable Saga Ruby, is more masculine, with dark wood, olive and gold tones. Each one has a separate guest toilet. Perks for passengers in these suites include a morning wake up tray, evening canapes, private afternoon tea and in-cabin dining from any of the speciality restaurants.

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