I first saw Saga Ruby under her original name Vistafjord when she called in Durban many years ago. In those days she was owned by Cunard, and bore a grey hull with a Cunard funnel livery. She arrived on one of those ugly grey Durban days so the images I have of her are not great at all.
Cunard Line postcard
Between then and now she has gone from being one of the top ships in the world into being one of the real classics still afloat. Her fleetmate and near sister Sagafjord was broken up a number of years ago, but Saga Ruby has soldiered on, and this is probably her last year in service. Currently operated by Saga Cruises, she has been slated for disposal, and these calls in Southampton will probably be amongst her last.
She arrived at just before 07H00, the sun was just starting to wake up, but it was very chilly at Town Quay, a reminder that winter is not far off.
She had two tugs with her, Wyestorm and Lomax. Lomax was a bit of a surprise as she normally hangs out at the refinery. It is a reminder that this is a ship from a different age, although she does have a bow thruster she does not have the manoeuvrability that modern cruise ships have.
She was due to berth at City Terminal, port side to, so I had a chance to move from Town Square to Mayflower Park before she came alongside.
Modern ship designers please note: This is what a ship is supposed to look like! End of rant.
The detritus from the boat show is still being dismantled, ruining photography at this area of the harbour.
It was a long process to swing her about her axis and then push her alongside, but the light kept on improving, but still with the pink/orange glow that sets off a white superstructure really nicely.
And then her lines were going ashore and she was safely alongside. It had been quite a good morning from a photography point of view, I did shoot some video too, but it will take awhile before I process it through. She is sailing at 16H00 this afternoon, so I will be there to see her go. It is probably the last time I will see this beautiful classic too.
Sailaway. 16H00 10/10/2013.
What a pleasure it is to watch a ship sail on time. With a minimum of fuss Saga Ruby slipped her lines and was swung by the same pair of tugs from earlier in the morning. Much to my dismay she did not even blow her hooter, but then there was nobody else to reply to it anyway.
It did seem as if she had a list to starboard, but it could just be the effect of the tugs pulling her away.
And then she was past the boat show detritus and sailing on her own, and she really looked beautiful. This livery suits her so much better than the grey I had seen her in originally.
And then she was past me, and I could glimpse the glassed in windowed area that was a really beautiful space on her and Sagafjord. I think it was a club or bar, and when we went through it was filled with the yuppie crowd. I hope that they didn’t change that on her.
And that was Saga Ruby. One of the few ships from my past that is still afloat, and one which looks so much nicer now than she did back then. The ship does have limited time left though, which is a shame, but it is also an inevitability. Classic vessels like her will be sorely missed when they are no longer with us, so seeing her really made taking a day off work worthwhile.
On 12 April 2017 the former Vistafjord was beached at Alang for demolition. It was the end of an era.
DRW © 2013-2021. Images recreated 13/04/2016, updated 12/04/2017