I had the pleasure of visiting
Saga Cruise's Saga Ruby in New York on September 30th, 2008. The ship was
docked over-night in the port as a part of a 29-night round-trip
cruise from Southampton to Canada and New England.
The Saga Ruby has exceptional sea-keeping qualities, originally
designed for luxury world wide cruising, her deep hull provides stability in
Her modest size, just under 25,000 tons is refreshing when compared
to the mega-liners of today. The atmosphere is very simple and
sophisticated. She has a very spacious, uncrowned feel, almost yacht-like.
The decor is very basic and subtle. There is no neon, flashing lights and
unusual artwork - the ships is very traditional.
From the minute you board the ship, you feel like you stepped into the
classic age of cruising. The ship is rich in real wood paneling. The decor
is simple, classic and not flashy at all. Artwork onboard is simple
and complement the walls instead of overpowering them,
The ship's reception area, where the purser and concierge service is
located, is very simply decorated with a rich wood paneling faced front
and desk. The floor covering is beige and brown with a red swirling pattern.
Located in the center of the room is a
circular, red spiral couch.
Aft of the main lobby is the ship's main dining room. The room is
elegantly decorated and large enough to handle all passengers in a single
Moving up one deck to the Veranda Deck one will find a the majority of
the ship's public rooms. Forward on the deck is the Britannia
Lounge. The lounge has large windows providing a view of the ship's bow. The
Lounge is shaped in a semi-circle and has a bar and large dance floor.
Adjacent to the Britannia Lounge is the South Cape Bar. This long shaped
lounge, flanks the Theater and is decorated in dark, rich wood. The room is light and airy with many windows. During my visit, there
were numerous passengers gathering in the lounge, enjoying an afternoon
Next to the South Cape Bar is the Theater. While I was onboard,
passengers were enjoying a movie in the Theater, so I really could not see
the room well. The theater is quite large and a nice feature, since most
ships have eliminated a dedicated room for viewing movies.
Located on the other side of the theater is the Card Room and Library.
The Library has a nice selection of books, tables and very comfortable
chairs. The Card Room is an adequate size and has numerous tables for
enjoying a card game or board game.
The Veranda Gift shop has the basics and souvenirs.
The tour and travel desk in where you can have all of your tour and
excursion questions answered.
Moving further aft is the main show lounge - the Ballroom. This room
spans the full width of the ship and is the main gathering place for the
ship's nightly entertainment. The room has a main dance floor and ample
seating. Because the Saga Ruby does not carry a high number of passengers,
the room is arranged with tables and chair and not the stadium seating found
aboard most high-density cruise ships. The ceiling has a unique
pattern of circles which add depth and height to the room.
Located far aft is the Lido Cafe, which is utilized for lunch and
dinner buffets. When I was aboard the ship, preparation was beginning for
afternoon tea. The modestly sized area opens out to the Lido deck for
outdoor dining and sun bathing.
One deck up, on the Promenade deck is the Preview. This modest sized show
room, features decorative tables, chairs, a bar, band stand and small dance floor. This
room is ideal for an afternoon drink. It also offers additional seating for
the Lido Cafe.
On the Sun Deck is located the View. The View is an alternative dining
restaurant which offers a different menu than the main dining room. During
the cruise, each passenger is afforded at least one dinner in the View. This
intimate dining venue is situated high above the stern of the ship and
offers great panoramic view of the stern area, the sea and horizon.
The ship has a number of elevators to take passengers between decks. The
aft most elevator I found somewhat small, since it could only accommodate 4
people max. The other elevators are normal size. This smaller elevator was
part of an earlier refit when additional public room were added.
LIDO DECK - POOLS
The Saga Ruby, is one of the last ships boasting the traditional
architecture in ship design. The beautifully proportioned funnel is situated
mid-ship allowing for a wonderfully tiered stern, lido area and pool. The
aft decks provide ample deck space for the ship's 700 passengers. The
tiered, pool area features many reclining lounge chairs, a pool and
spaciousness to stretch out.
In addition to the stern sunning areas, the Saga Ruby features a wide
wrap-around Promenade deck, Here many passengers have positioned their
lounge chains in the alcoves between the lifeboat davits to enjoy the
sunshine and seascape. Forward on the promenade deck, passengers can enjoy
beautiful sights as you look at the ocean over the traditional, streamline
The promenade also provides an excellent jogging/walking track for those
wishing to stay fit,
The outdoor areas of the ship are definitely one of the ship's strongest
The Saga Ruby features mostly inside and outside cabins. There are a
limited number of balconies and two suites. Warm woods
and rich fabrics add to the comfort of accommodations in all categories.
Each cabin has ample closet and storage space, a vanity/desk,
flat-screen television, DVD player, and hairdryer. Most have a bathtub in
addition to a shower. All cabins have lower berths. Some cabins and suites
have balconies and refrigerators.
The suites are located on the Bridge Deck (Upper & Lower Level) and offer
substantial living space including an outdoor veranda. The Suites are two
stories and offer a unique cruising experience. Each have
their own whirlpool bathtub, private sauna, and exercise equipment.
The standard cabins are spacious and offer adequate storage space. The
bathrooms are compact but functional. The Saga Ruby features 92 single
cabins, for those travelers sailing alone.
Six cabins are wheelchair accessible.
The Saga Ruby is marketed to cruise passengers age 50 and above. If
two people are traveling together, one must be at least 50 and the second
can be in their 40's.
Children are not allowed onboard.
The dining experience is high quality and sophisticated. Not quite white
glove service but very close. The dinner menu offers various sections,
including beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian selections. The formal dining
room is reminiscent of traditional dining experiences of yester-year.
For those wanting a less formal dining experience, eating at the
Lido Cafe is an option. At the Lido Cafe, the selection is different than in the main dining room and
food is served buffet style.
The specialty restaurant - the View, offers a passengers an alternative
dining experience with a special menu. During each cruise passengers are
allowed at least one evening of dining at this special venue.
Entertainment onboard appeals to the more mature audience. The Saga Ruby
often features famous name entertainers. Shows are traditional Las Vega
type entertainment. Supplemented with comedians, dancers, singers, piano
players, live music and more.
There are also educational speakers, who may provide travel and tour
discussions for the port being visited.
During the day, bands and singers are available on deck to provide
SPA AND GYMNASIUM
Located high above the ship is the Gymnasium which offers all of the
traditional exercise equipment including treadmills, weights and more. The
room is also large enough to hold aerobics or meditation classes.
The room offers floor to ceiling windows to incorporate the ocean views
into your workout.
Located on Deck C is the beauty salon. Spa and indoor pool. The Saga Ruby
is one of the few ships featuring an indoor pool.
The Saga Ruby offers traditional spa treatments and features a sauna,
changing rooms and individual treatment rooms.
Spa treatments and beauty salon services are available at an extra
The Saga Ruby is rich in history, having sailed for a number of
The Saga Ruby was originally built as Norwegian America Line's
Vistafjord in 1973. At the time she was introduced, she was built for the
luxury market, geared toward worldwide travel and the affluent.
In 1983, the Vistafjord was sold to Cunard Line and operated for them
until 1999. In 1993 Cunard renamed the ship Caronia.
In 2005, the ship was sold to Saga Holidays and underwent a major, $17
Million Dollar refit which saw most areas of the ship upgraded.
The Saga Ruby is a very unique ship in a number of ways:
- She is a classic liner.
- She caters to cruise passengers age 50 and over.
- She has many single cabins.
- Because of her size, about 1/3 the size of many new cruise ships, she
has a yacht like feel.
While I was onboard, her passengers were taking advantage of the nice
weather sunning themselves on he expansive aft lido decks.
All of the passengers that I met, seemed extremely happy and were
enjoying both their cruise and the time spent ashore in New York. The
passengers all seemed very relaxed and at ease. This is a cruise ship to
relax and enjoy yourself with the simple pleasures of life.
The mainly Philipino crew, always greeted me with a smile and warm welcome
The ship caters mainly to British clientele, but US passengers are
welcome and encouraged. The US agents are Cruise and Tour Reservations and
they can be reached at 800-343-0273.