Saga Cruises has confirmed that it is retiring its class cruise ship Saga Pearl II from the fleet in 2019 after 202 sailings.
The British cruise line, specialising in cruises for passengers over the age of 50, will send Saga Pearl II down the coast of Africa and across the coast of South Africa on a special 54-night farewell cruise.
The cruise is expected to sell out fast when it goes on sale. Highlights of the voyage include wildlife adventures in Kruger National Park with a two-night overland game safari shore excursion, a special celebration during overnight mooring in Cape Town and a call the remote island of St Helena.
A signature photo opportunity for cruise passengers will also be the ship’s navigation around the Cape of Good Hope.
The cruise line is calling the 54-night grand voyage ‘The South African Farewell Adventure’.
During the voyage, the ship will call in Namibia and Mozambique in addition to South Africa and the remote Atlantic island of St Helena, the final resting place of Napoleon.
Saga Pearl II will depart from Portsmouth on February 16th, 2019, beating out into the Western Approaches and sailing across the Bay of Bengal before visiting Funchal in Madeira, Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.
There’s going to be plenty of fun with a Crossing the Line ceremony and cruise-goers who have never sailed across the Equator can expect the japes of King Neptune, Davy Jones and their sidekicks in a riotous event.
She’ll then make her first West African landfall with a port call in Banjul, in Gambia, where guests can take a tour of the Oyster Creek mangroves to look for birdlife such as red-throated bee-eaters.
The next port of call will be oil-rich Luanda, the capital of Angola, where guests can explore the history of this fast-expanding city with visits to the San Miguel Fort and the Agostinho Neto Mausoleum.
Pearl II will then cruise south for Cape Town, spending five nights at sea, before arriving in the Mother City, where the big farewell celebration of the cruise will take place during her overnight port call.
Whilst in Port Elizabeth, guests can try to spot the ‘big five’ in the Pumba Game Reserve or take a 4×4 ride through Addo Elephant Park.
She’ll then visit East London at the mouth of the Buffalo River, where shore excursions will take passengers to the unique Eastern Cape kudu, to be seen on an optional tour to Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve.
From Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, there’s an opportunity to join a two-night overland excursion to Kruger National Park for afternoon and early morning safaris before re-joining Saga Pearl II in Durban.
A further optional tour takes guests to Tala Game Reserve to go in search of giraffe, antelope and buffalo.
Saga Pearl II is very much a small, classic cruise ship, in the pic above, she’s dwarfed by P&O’s Ventura.
Richards Bay is also on the itinerary and in Hluhluwe Game Reserve there’s a kayaking safari into the wetlands of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, home to turtles, crocodiles, hippo and hundreds of birds.
From Richard’s Bay, Saga Pearl II will cruise down the South African coast and back around the Cape of Good Hope to Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia. During this leg of the cruise passengers can look out for seals, penguins, flamingos and rare white pelicans.
From Namibia Saga Pearl II will head east out into the deep of the South Atlantic, spending four days at sea en-route to St Helena, a 47 sqm UK Overseas territory, one of the most remote communities in the world.
French-speaking Dakar, in Senegal, is next on the itinerary with excursions to Gorée Island or the Pink Lake, where salt is harvested by locals.
On Saga Pearl II’s 202nd sailing she also calls into Porto Grande in Cape Verde; Funchal, Madeira; Santa Cruz, Tenerife and Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. The last port is Ferrol, the gateway to Galicia and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
When she returns to Portsmouth, Saga Pearl II will be retired from the Saga Cruises fleet, ending a cruising career with Saga that has spanned 202 cruises over the course of ten years.
The ship itself is 28-years-old, built in 1981 for the newly formed German company Hadag Cruise Line, but was quickly sold to South African company Safmarine, because the ship was not profitable enough.
Safmarine deployed her on a Southampton-Cape Town liner service, but she was under-powered and was sold a year later to a German shipping company that used her for long-term charter contracts.
Saga Pearl II joined the Saga fleet in 2010 but is being retired as Saga embarks on a program to modernise its fleet. Saga Cruises’ new 999-guest, all-balcony ship Spirit of Discovery will come into service during summer 2019.
She is Saga’s first-ever new build cruise ship.