Northern Lights Cruise with Saga – Chapter 3

Swallows and Amazons for the over 50s

Does SAGA stand for ‘send a granny abroad’? Just wondered because there are plenty on this cruise. Granddads too. It is easy to see why. SAGA PEARL II is a wonderful ship. It kind of gives everyone a warm hug. People love this ship- they really do. Just look at the faces of fellow silver travellers and staff. Glowing with pride. Staff are clearly happy in their job. Smiles everywhere and every time.

Saga Pearl II SAGA runs a slick operation. Repeat bookings are phenomenal. No wonder. They feel totally at home – snug as a bug in a rug. Staff remember faces and names and even what a passenger likes to eat and drink. It is this attention to detail that is a winning combination. Happy staff and happy passengers lead to a happy ship. Simple really. How can this type of cruise fail?

Many on board are single, some recently bereaved. From the free chauffeur service from home the company throw a protective blanket around each individual. It works. It makes everyone feel secure. It is this service that separates SAGA from the rest of the cruise companies. And it is this security which enables people to have a spirit of adventure.

Life is short so they don’t just sit. No they get out and do as much as they can. They don’t want to end up in a scare home. As Mollie said on our first meeting “the greatest danger in life is to not take the adventure”.

Stir deep the cocktail of life but make sure that you avoid the dregs. You will not find dregs on this ship. It is a five star air-conditioned floating palace.

Saga Pearl II - dining room Fellow passengers don’t want to cruise on a 83-storey high mega city. No so impersonal. Why would we want to slide down a 3 mile water flume that winds itself around a ship and then end up in a lukewarm paddling pool? Dodgems – you can keep them. Casino, kids. No thanks. No those on this ship want peace and quiet. Englishness on sea. And that’s what they get.

Many have finished their bucket list. But wonderfully they keep going, emptying the bucket a little and adding new adventures. It is wonderful to be on this ship – so graceful, stylish and such a warm atmosphere. And unlike on large ships everyone on board wants to talk.

Every passenger comfort. Elegant impeccable service. The personal touch so often lacking in this crazy hurried life. SAGA PEARL II is easy to navigate. No irritating queues. No waiting 20 minutes for a lift to arrive.

We had two days at sea before we hit Norway’s coast. Plenty of time to discover and enjoy the ship. A daily pot pourri of optional events are listed in the daily bulletin delivered to the cabin the night before. You will never get bored. Do as much or as little as you wish. No pressure. Read, drink, chat, sleep and unwind.

Saga Pearl II - cabin Ten laps around the deck is one mile. Off we went every day after breakfast. Many people are power walking- even at their age!  We dawdled. Well it is a holiday after all. At the end of the day muscles unused for a while ached and protested.

Film of the day ‘Operation Avalanche’. Probably not the best choice for our winter sport destination. Fancy bridge? – absolute beginners, improvers and duplicate. Dancing in and out of line. Trivia quizzes, Beetle drive (old folks love a Beetle drive), sudoku, jigsaws (no pieces missing), skittles, quoits whatever the weather-inside and out.

Fancy making jewellery? The Northern Lights necklace is on day 12. Camera instruction, IT help. Sit and be fit – a gentle keep fit class all from the comfort of a chair. My kind of exercise. Tone up bums and tums. Virtual golf and ten pin bowling. Virtual archery. The art of Zen colouring clashed with a meal. Well maybe next life.

Saga Pearl II - pool & spa Just before we left home I read a comment by someone in a national paper who said that people don’t go on a SAGA cruise for the entertainment! Well that is absolute rubbish. Britain has talent and this ship has some truly wonderful entertainers.

Stuart Anderson was a favourite of ours. Mr Piano Man. Great voice, reminding me of Elton John in his mellow period. He performed every day in Shackleton’s bar and rapidly had a loyal following. I challenge everyone to listen to his self-penned song about the loss of his dad and not be moved.

I miss you more as the years go on
Even though the memories fade
I know by now that you would have been gone
But that doesn’t stop the pain
That’s how I miss you
by Stuart

Saga Pearl II - nightly show He was witty too. An example. His friend Gavin died the day we set sail. Took an overdose of a popular pink indigestion mixture. Can’t believe Gav is gone.

The young show time resident group were amazing. Singing and dancing so good that all could be on the West End stage. Their ‘Music of the Night’ show celebrating Lloyd Webber masterpieces was superb – a perfect showcase for their talent. Special mention to male vocalist Jonathan Graham. Such astonishingly mature performances from such a youngster. Great promise, star potential. Watch this space – Jonathan will go far.

Saga Pearl II - Verandah restaurant SAGA are praised for the quality and presentation of the food on board. Quite simply the best food we have ever had on a cruise. Our taste buds in a state of joyful panic. Which flavour to savour first. Oh that’s nice but this is even better. The sticky toffee pudding took stickiness to another level. Oh the tiramisu. Oh the shepherds pie. Party time in the mouth. Food 24 hours a day if you wished. Steak is my favourite animal so it appeared large on my wish list. The minute steak i had a breakfast wasn’t small it was full size and perfectly cooked too.

The North Sea was playing its unpredictable card. Often a disorderly sea, uncompromising waves and swells. The horizon often looked lumpy and unsettled. But the plucky PEARL sped on, fearless in her pursuit of the happiest country in the world. Tomorrow Bergen and the start of our Norwegian odyssey.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Saga Holidays

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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