Spirit of Discovery blog
Today we were in Funchal Madeira, berthed along the breakwater inner berth. Along this breakwater are dozens of ships’ visitations stamped in paint! A stroll into the past and the discovery of 3 ships from Saga’s history.
Saga Sapphire was built in 1981 in Germany for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as the Europa. By the time she was acquired by Saga in 2011 she had sailed for 4 more cruise lines under 4 different names! She completed a thorough refit in Italy where the interior was refurbished, adding new balcony cabins, and an overhaul of her machinery. She returned to service with a capacity of 748 passengers and 415 crew, flying the Saga flag for a further 9 years before being replaced by our Sister ship, Spirit of Adventure.
She was sold in June 2020 at the height of the pandemic and, despite the uncertainty facing the industry, was one of the only cruise ships to make the voyage to Turkey that didn’t end on a beach, being cut up for scrap. After her 7th renaming, and another refit, she continues to cruise the Eastern Mediterranean for ANEX Tours as the Blue Sapphire homeported in Antalya, Turkey. Her story continues, 42 years and counting!
Saga Pearl II
Saga Cruises acquired Saga Pearl II at auction in August 2009 and completed a £20 million three-month refit before her inaugural cruise to Norway in March 2010 with 449 passengers and 252 crew.
She was renamed Quest for Adventure in May 2012 and became the flagship for Saga's Adventure Cruises. From 2013 she sailed again as Saga Pearl II, cementing her reputation as one of Saga’s most popular ships. At 42 years of age she was replaced by Spirit of Discovery, Saga's first new build ship. For her last voyage Saga Pearl II sailed a 54-day cruise to South Africa. This was a coming-home cruise, as it was where she spent many of her earlier years as the Astor, when it sailed the South Atlantic for Safmarine.
After starting her career with Norwegian American Line and later Cunard Line as the Caronia, Saga Rose was acquired by Saga in 1997 where the ship was refurbished prior to entering service with her new owners. She enjoyed a vibrant 12 year career and to this day holds the record for the most world cruises ever completed by a ship with a total 44 circumnavigations, even surpassing the legendary Cunarder Queen Elizabeth 2.
Saga Rose was retired from service in October 2009, at 58 years old she was unable to fulfil the requirements of the new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) 2010 regulations and gave way for Saga Pearl II.
Saga Rose and her sister ship Saga Ruby are two of the most well-loved of Saga’s former fleet, and to reflect this a piece of their legacy remains onboard with us: Eagle eyed guests may spot that the date of establishment of the South Cape Bar on Deck 6, far predates the launch of Spirit of Discovery, and some of you may well remember the views to be had from original!
Captain Darin Bowland, MSc
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