This was my third cruise with Saga and one that I had been looking forward to for over a year. It was ‘Captain Rentell’s Final Mystery Cruise’ and it was promised to be an exciting 24-night voyage to … who knew where! It was also my first mystery cruise experience, so it was all new for me.
As Saga Sapphire sailed from Southampton, the chatter among the Saganauts was going in every direction – some were convinced we were going north towards Norway, others had a strong feeling that we would be heading south and then possibly west across to the Caribbean. After three days at sea, we were all sure that as the air temperature was increasing, we were heading south.
Our first port of call was Cadiz in Spain and that was followed by Motril, Spain; Tangier, Morocco; Lanzarote, Canary Islands; Fuerteventura, Canary Islands; Santiago, Cape Verde; Sao Vicente, Cape Verde; Tenerife, Canary Islands; Madeira and then Lisbon, Portugal. It wasn’t quite the itinerary that I had expected, but I did thoroughly enjoy it and I found the suspense and excitement addictive. Every day was quite literally a new adventure because you never really knew what was going to happen.
I am sure you are wondering how tours work on a mystery cruise, well, let me tell you how they worked for us. On this voyage, every passenger (Saganaut) was offered 1 included tour in each port and it was entirely up to the individual whether they joined it or not. The tours (aside from the one in Tangier) were staggered either by cabin number or the first letter of your surname, so roughly half of the passengers were leaving the ship at the same time – half in the morning and half in the afternoon. It was so swift and efficient. I think the longest I waited to leave the ship was 15 minutes! In Tangier, the entire ship went on tour at the same time and even this went smoothly. In fact, I think the 15-minute wait that I spoke about above was that very morning. Everything was planned very well and then executed seamlessly – the crew did a superb job!
This cruise was, in many ways, just like any other, but some things were missing, things that on a normal cruise you often take for granted: weather updates, noon nautical updates and port presentations. Simple things that until they are taken away from you, you don’t always miss. As we didn’t know where we were or where we were going, we couldn’t be privy to such basic information because even that could give the game away. Like any other cruise, we received a daily paper in our cabins each evening for the following day, but even if we were in a port, the paper didn’t tell us which port it was, nor did it disclose what the included tour would be. We didn’t find out anything until we had docked. Even the Captain’s announcements were full of mystery and surprise – and the occasional deliberate interference! I observed Captain Rentell walking around the decks carrying various books, including those about the Caribbean, Canary Islands, Croatia and Pompeii – all were ways of throwing us off our own course, I’m sure. We couldn’t even have honest weather updates, instead we got things like this:
Wind: Gone With The | Sky: Up | Temp: 90C
Wind: Windy | Sky: Present and Correct | Temp: El Scorcho
Wind: Breezy | Sky: Chance of Snow | Temp: 24C
Wind: Blow Dry | Sky: Wet Rain | Temp: Gas Mark 7
One of the most impressive things about Saga is the food. I have been on many cruises with many cruise lines and the food on Saga is some of the best (if not THE best) that I have ever eaten. The choice is fantastic and the FREE specialty restaurant – East to West – is superb. Even a BBQ is a grand affair on Saga, with rib-eye steak and barramundi outshining basics such as burgers and ribs. You won’t find any of that on this grill, but worry not, you might find a burger at The Beach Club on Deck 11, and some delicious fish and chips.
Overall the entire experience was wonderful and I would recommend it as a cruise option with a difference. If you sit back and just go with the flow, it becomes such an exciting way to travel and a way to step outside the comfort of a planned itinerary and do something entirely different.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Saga Holidays