Saga Cruises will be busy in the next few months, introducing one ship, transferring a second from one brand to another, and disposing of a third. As reported in June’s SM, Royal Caribbean’s subsidiary, CDF Croisieres de France, has sold Bleu de France (1981/37,301gt), Hapag Lloyd’s former Europa) for a reported US$55 million to Saga and she will enter service as Saga Sapphire on 26 March 2012 after a major refit.
Her inaugural voyage will be a 23-night Mediterranean cruise round-trip from Southampton. Shortly afterwards, at the end of May, the 446-passenger Saga Pearl II (1981/18,591gt), introduced just over a year ago after a £14 million refit, will be transferred to Saga’s subsidiary, Spirit of Adventure, and will be renamed Quest for Adventure, replacing the line’s smallest ship, the 352-passenger Spirit of Adventure (1980/9,570gt). Quest’s inaugural cruise will be an eight-night sailing roundtrip from Dover, visiting the Isle of Man, Londonderry, Isle of Mull, Dublin, Cobh and Guernsey.
Spirit of Adventure’s scheduled 14-night Relics of Rome cruise on 29 April, which included port calls in Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, was cancelled because of the unrest in North Africa. Instead, she was drydocked in Gibraltar for a refit, before embarking passengers in Malaga on 13 May for an 11-night cruise to Leith in Scotland. Plans forSpirit of Adventure’s future have notbeen revealed, but it is believed she will be sold.