Southampton Shipwatch 05: Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire is one of my favourite cruise ships. I first saw this beaut in the early 1990’s when she was in Durban as Europa for Hapag Lloyd. In those days she had a white hull and was still rated as one of the top ships in the world.

Hapag Lloyd official postcard of Europa

Hapag Lloyd official postcard of Europa

Since then she was usurped by a smaller Europa which in turn has been superseded by a newer Europa and ended up in some backwater and her reputation declined. However she has since been bought by Saga and after some rework entered service, although her engine troubles did delay her debut considerably. She ended up in Southampton towards the end of my first week here and finally upped her lines and sailed on the 14th. 

She is still a very good looking vessel, although her lines have been altered by inserting “balcony cabins”. In fact it was nice to see a “familiar face”. She was the first to sail on the 14th of April, and she belched lots of black smoke when they started her engines.

The same thing had happened before, when she had had engine trouble, so let us just hope it is toast being burnt and not something serious. 

She is still a very handsome ship and looks good from all angles, initially I wasn’t too keen on that funnel colour, or the dark hull, but they do suit her. 

Then she was past me and heading towards the open sea. It was good to see a real ship once again. She has no sisters and is a one off, one of the few classic modern cruise ship still afloat.

Some other images of her.

A publicity pic of her as Europa with Hadag’s Astor, taken in Italy during the early 1980’s.

The Europa that replaced Europa. (Hong Kong 2008)

Alongside at City Terminal

Alongside at City Terminal

Alongside in Durban 1991

Alongside in Durban 1991

* Update 01/06/2018 *

While visiting Liverpool in 2018, Saga Sapphire called at the passenger terminal while I was there, and I was able to get some images of her.

DRW © 2013-2022. Images recreated 30/03/2016, images from Liverpool added 05/06/2018

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