Saga Pearl II - Ship Visit and Photo Tour

Today Saga Pearl II called into Bergen, marking the start of the 2015 season. I went on board to visit the ship. Scroll down to see the full photo tour of her passenger facilities.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
Saga Pearl II alongside at Bontelabo, Bergen
Saga Pearl II was built in Germany in 1980, entering service as Astor the following year. She has taken several names during her career, which in 2009 saw her finally bought by Saga Cruises. With a tonnage of 18,500 and a length of 164m she accommodates around 520 passengers (double occupancy), served by a crew of 220.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
Saga Pearl II, with the bridge wing extending over the forward superstructure
She underwent a £20million refit in Swansea, before joining the fleet as Saga Pearl II. In 2012 she was transferred to Saga's short-lived 'adventure cruising' venture, and was renamed Quest for Adventure, before being returned to the traditional Saga brand, under which she now sails.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
The mooring lines hold Saga Pearl II securely in place
Saga Pearl II has an attractive design and a well-balanced profile. She had experienced some heavy seas on her way over to Bergen, which was showing on her slightly weather-beaten exterior paintwork.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
Saga Pearl II was one of the earlier cruise ships to be built using a modular construction technique
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
The view up from the quayside to Saga Pearl II's navigational equipment
Today Saga Pearl II was berthed at Bontelabo. A shuttle bus into the centre was provided for passengers. This berth is just a short walk from the city centre, which would be easily manageable for anyone who is able to negotiate the very steep gangway.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II in Bergen, Norway
Crew can be seen conducting a full safety drill whilst alongside
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II Gangway
The steep gangway leads to the ship
INTERIORS

I was greeted on board by Saga Pearl II's Social Hostess, Carol Curling. She was incredibly helpful, and provided a wealth of information during the tour. We met in the reception area on A Deck, adjacent to the gangway.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Reception Area
The Reception Desk
This area is pleasantly decorated, with comfortable seating in the centre. The reception desk is open 24-hours, and sits next to the Tour Sales desk.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Reception Area
Comfortable seating in the reception area
We headed down to B Deck, which predominantly consists of passenger cabins. As this cruise was fully booked, it was unfortunately not possible to photograph any of the cabins during this visit.

B Deck contains the Hair and Beauty salon, as well as the multi-purpose cinema/lecture hall/exercise class space, which feels a little out of place. This facility was included to satisfy passengers who enjoyed the well-equipped cinemas on the older Saga Rose and Saga Ruby.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Cinema & Lecture space
The unusual multi-purpose cinema space feels a little bit forgotten
Heading down one more deck to C Deck brought us to the Spa and Fitness facilities. One very nice feature is Saga Pearl II's (small) indoor pool, which sits adjacent to the spa treatment rooms (visible behind the glass screens to the left of the following photo).

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Indoor Pool and Spa
The indoor pool in the Spa area
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Indoor Pool and Spa
Fresh towels are provided for passengers using the facilities
Also in this area is a small gym with a good selection of equipment.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Gym and Fitness Centre
The Gym in the spa and fitness area
After a look around the spa, we went back up to Promenade Deck, which contains the majority of Saga Pearl II's public spaces.

At the forward end of this deck is the Discovery Lounge. This is the largest passenger space on board, and is used throughout the day for a variety of events.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Discovery Lounge
The Discovery Lounge
Afternoon Tea is served in the Discovery lounge every day, with a selection of cakes, scones and pastries, and with waiters on hand for any passengers who require assistance.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Discovery Lounge
Taking a seat in the Discovery Lounge, with the stage area visible all the way forwards
In the evenings, the lounge is the venue for the production shows, performed by Saga Pearl II's resident singers and dancers. The ship also carries an orchestra, which often performs here, allowing passengers to make good use of the large wooden dance floor. A number of dance hosts travel on each cruise, providing partners for any solo passengers.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Discovery Lounge
Seating in the Discovery Lounge
The Discovery Lounge has been very pleasantly decorated and furnished. As it was not originally intended for large-scale productions, the sight lines are obstructed in several locations. Television screens are fitted along the sides of the room which live-broadcast the performance, for anyone who doesn't feel like craning their necks.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Discovery Lounge
The lounge is light and comfortable, and is used for activities throughout the day
Moving aft along Promenade Deck brings you to the Library. On the way, the small Briefing Room is neatly tucked away. This is a multi-purpose space, and can be booked for private receptions on board. Several laptops are here (not connected to the internet) for any passengers to use for writing, etc. It is worth noting that wifi is free to use for all passengers throughout the ship; a nice touch in an industry still know for incredibly high internet usage costs.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Briefing Room
The Briefing Room
The library itself is nicely appointed, and spreads throughout much of the port side of Promenade Deck. The area contains a wide selection of books and magazines. Daily trivia and crossword puzzles are also provided here.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Library
Just a small section of the books available in the extensive library
Internet-connected PCs are available to use (at a cost) for passengers without a wifi-enabled device. Comfortable seating throughout the library offers an inviting place to sit back and relax.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Library & Internet Centre
Lots of wood panelling gives the library a real warmth
In one corner of the library is the future cruise sales desk - a popular option with Saga's many repeat passengers, who take the opportunity to book their next trip before even disembarking.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Library & Future Cruise Sales Desk
The future cruise sales desk is tucked away into the corner, next to the large world map.
At the aft end of Promenade Deck is the Dining Room. This attractive space is consistent with the rest of Saga Pearl II's interiors, with rich woods and calming colours. The Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a full waiter service at each meal.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Main Dining Room
Tables are laid ready for service in the Dining Room
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Main Dining Room, Captain's Table
Some passengers will be lucky enough to receive an invitation to dine at the captain's table
At the forward end of the Dining Room are two smaller spaces, which are often used for Officers' dining, but which can also be used for private functions and group events.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Ward Room Dining Area
The Ward Room is an additional dining area on the port side of Promenade Deck
The Card Room is the location for regular bridge classes and tournaments, as well as offering a variety of board games for passenger use. A large, smiling portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is prominently displayed; Saga is proud of its British heritage.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Card Room
The Queen looks down over the Card Room
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Board Games in the Card Room
A selection of board games in the Card Room
The main bar on Saga Pearl II is Shackleton's, situated right in the centre of Promenade Deck. This room is used for trivia contests during the early evening, and is a popular location in the evenings, with the fully stocked bar and a stage area with a grad piano for live music. We stopped back here after completing the tour, and I enjoyed a very good G&T.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Shackleton's Bar
Shackleton's Bar
Up on Boat Deck is the Verandah Restaurant. This is the ship's secondary dining venue, with self-service stations located in the centre of the room. It is worth noting that passengers choosing to have dinner here are still required to adhere to the on board dress code each evening.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Verandah Restaurant Lunch Menu
A menu for lunch in the Verandah Restaurant
The Verandah Restaurant does feel like a cut above the equivalent casual buffet restaurants on some larger ships I have been on; the area has a very attractive decor, the tables are laid, and there are no cantine-style plastic trays.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Verandah Restaurant
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Verandah Restaurant Drinks Station
Seating in the Verandah Restaurant. Hot drinks are available at the self-service stations.
Tucked away up on Bridge Deck is the Sundowner Bar. With views out over Saga Pearl II's tiered aft decks, this is a charming little space, and would make a great location for pre-dinner drinks.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Sundowner Bar
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Sundowner Bar
The cosy Sundowner Bar on Bridge Deck
OPEN DECKS

Saga Pearl II has a good selection of outside spaces. The swimming pool on Boat Deck is a great facility, with awnings above providing shade (for when the weather is a little less wet).


Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Outdoor Pool
The aft end of Boat Deck, with views out to the Askøy Bridge
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Outdoor Pool
The outdoor pool may be more inviting in nicer weather
Just aft of the Verandah Restaurant is an outdoor seating area, which allows passengers in warmer climes to enjoy dinner in the open air.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Verandah Restaurant Outdoor Seating
Outdoor seating for the Verandah Restaurant
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Aft Decks
Large areas of teak deck are something sadly lost on many modern cruise ships
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Aft Decks
Saga Pearl II's aft decks
Another larger outdoor seating area is situated up on Bridge Deck. This acts as an extension to the Sundowner Bar, and as the name suggests, is a good location for cocktails as the sun sets over the ship's wake.

Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Outdoor Seating for Sundowner Bar
The large outdoor deating area behind the Sundowner Bar is also used for barbeques
Cruise Ship Saga Pearl II - Aft Decks
Screens provide shade for the pool area below
FINAL IMPRESSIONS

I really enjoyed my tour of Saga Pearl II. She is a surprisingly attractive ship, and recent refits have given her very tasteful interiors. She is nicely maintained, and wears her 35 years of service well. It is easy to see why she is popular with the targeted over-50 market, with cruisers looking for a more relaxed small-ship experience. Her welcoming crew really add to the atmosphere (as I walked around with Carol she was greeting many passengers by name - something difficult to achieve just 3 days in to a cruise on a larger ship).

With Saga Cruises' parent company having recently floated, there is the real possibility of serious investment on the horizon. With the refurbishment of Saga Pearl II and her fleetmate Saga Sapphire creating two very popular ships, it seems the ambition and means are now there to expand the fleet with newbuilds, targeted to the preferences of their customer base and moving the company forward considerably. These look like exciting times for Saga.

Comments

  1. Great info and photos. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem, I'm glad you enjoyed them! I'll be visiting her fleetmate Saga Sapphire in a couple of weeks, so check back for the photo tour which I'll post soon afterwards.

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