Whether you’re an experienced cruiser, or a first-timer, you have to try this ship! This Spirit of Discovery cruise was, for my wife and I, unbelievably good!
I’ve read the reviews on Silver Traveller by Alan Fairfax (on the naming ceremony and description of the ship), and by David11 and his description of his short cruise, so what I would like to describe is our personal view of the trip we had. And what an experience! It’s a new ship, it’s quiet, and it doesn’t rattle! The cabins and public spaces are modern, luxurious and everything works! We loved the attention to detail, including the small things like the fresh milk provided in our fridge, the self-serve ice cream machine by the pool, and the free tea, coffee and pastries all day.
What struck us most was the quality and friendliness of the staff, whose service was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble, especially the attention paid to anyone with mobility issues – they were at pains to help in any way they could. For guests with walking sticks, frames or mobility scooters (and there were several of them) on such a Saga holiday, this really illustrates how well you are looked after. The staff, whether serving, cleaning or generally assisting, could not have been more welcoming, helpful and courteous. We couldn’t fault them – they made this cruise the success it was! Gratuities were included in the price, but we are sure the staff deserved extra recompense.
A further highlight was the entertainment, not just the full daily programme of activities, talks and sessions to suit all tastes, but the musical accompaniment (of different styles) at virtually all times of the day. The evening entertainment was of excellent quality, with Jools Holland’s two concerts being the high spot. He will apparently be appearing on further cruises in the future. We also enjoyed the celebrity appearances by Oz Clarke (and a hilarious wine-tasting session) and Kevin Woodford (with an equally amusing cookery demonstration).
My wife and both put on a few extra pounds during the fortnight, as the provision for eating (and drinking) was five-star! We had breakfast and lunch in the Grill restaurant on an upper deck, which is either waiter or self-service, and you can eat either inside or out. Marvellous! Equally good was the standard of the main Grand Dining Room (which is very grand!) where we ate most nights, but it also possible for guests to choose a meal in one of the speciality restaurants at no extra cost. We ate twice in The Club (a steakhouse), and once each in Coast To Coast (fish) and East To West (Asian). All were of the highest quality, with as much wine to accompany as you wish!
As with every holiday, there were some less good points – but not with the ship directly. Firstly, there was a good range of excursions available at each of our ports of call, but all were very expensive and some certainly over-priced. At all our stops – Gibraltar, Cartagena, Sete, Barcelona, Alicante and Lisbon, it was possible to walk into the town as we docked so close. Pre-cruise information does not tell you this (although it should) as they want guests to purchase an excursion. One example is that in Sete, my wife and I walked into the town centre and took a ride on the ‘petit train’ which cost 7Euros. That trip from the ship cost £34. My tip is not to book any excursion until it’s clear it’s something you cannot do independently. Secondly, the door-to-door taxi service is not always of the same high quality. Our pick-up the day before the cruise, and journey to an overnight hotel, was perfect. The day of the cruise, however, they failed to pick us up from the hotel to go to the ship! Further, the demand for the taxi service on return means that the designated Saga transport doesn’t stretch to everybody, resulting in the need to use other firms like Addison-Lee, who in our experience are not as efficient or reliable.
None of this spoiled a great cruise, however. We remember especially the surprises – the pop-up tapas provided during a day at sea, accompanied by flamenco dancing; the range of musical performances put on all round the ship; the supply of cocktails at the sail-away parties; the midnight party around the pool. Our only regret was that we had eaten so well, we could never manage to make the most of the afternoon tea!
As I said at the beginning, if you like cruising you won’t be disappointed. Just be prepared to go on a diet when you get home!
“Link to Saga holiday page”:https://travel.saga.co.uk/cruises/ocean/our-ships/spirit-of-discovery.aspx