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Herbert Meisen

Age: 69

Occupation:Retired Fire Officer

Number of Cruises: 12

Cruise Line: Saga Cruises

Ship: Saga Rose

Sailing Date: September 11th, 2001

Itinerary: The Baltic

We boarded the Saga Rose in Dover just as news was being received of the horrific events in our home state New York. Our bus carried 56 Americans to the ship and a crew member advised us of the tragedy in New York. We tuned in CNN as soon as we arrived in our cabin and were shocked to see the Twin Towers collapse. A sad way to begin a cruise. We understand that the Americans leaving the ship that day were stranded in London for 8 days. Fortunately, Saga Holidays provided them with hotels until they could arrange flights home. The British, who made up 90% of the passengers were wonderful and so sympathetic to the Americans on board.

The crew was very helpful in getting us information about our relatives back home and even waived some of our E-mail fees. The Captain Alistair McLundie held a moving memorial service on Sept. 14th attended by almost all the passengers and crew which concluded with them all singing the Star Spangled Banner which left many in tears. If we had to be on a cruise during these difficult times, we couldn't have picked a better ship than Saga Rose.

Our category "G" cabin was small but comfortable and well maintained by our cabin steward. The food in the single seating dining room was uniformly good, especially the unique appetizers offered nightly by the French head chef. As requested we had a good table for two and the dining staff celebrated our wedding anniversary at our table. The ship also presented us with a bottle of wine and a photo portrait for our anniversary. We had almost all meals in the main dining room although breakfast and lunch were served in the Lido buffet. We did enjoy an occasional barbecue and Sunday Roast at the Lido. Due to the fact that there was only a single seating for dinner, the service was a little slower than we would have liked.

We enjoyed dancing nightly before dinner in the beautiful Britannia Lounge to an excellent trio. A full orchestra provided dance music in the Grand Ballroom following each evenings entertainment. The shows were very good and geared towards the audience of all over 50 passengers. The theme of the cruise was classical music and an excellent quartet provided nightly concerts.

We were very pleased with the ports-of-call and enjoyed each of the Scandinavian capitals which we toured on our own with the shuttle bus the ship provided at each port. The only excursions we took were in St. Petersburg to Catherine's palace, Peterhof and Pavlosk as we had no visa for independent touring in Russia. We also saw a Folkloric Dance concert in the evening. All these excursions were well run. We especially enjoyed walking through the picturesque German town of Warnemünde as we skipped the long excursion to Berlin. Weather was good and surprisingly warm in all the cities except for some rain in Helsinki.

Considering the sad timing of our cruise, we must say the Captain, crew and passengers went out of their way to make our cruise as pleasant as possible under the circumstances. We really liked the Saga Rose and hope to sail on her again. She is a classic cruise liner, formerly Cunard's Sagafjord. Saga Holidays, which caters exclusively to travelers over 50, did a good job in arranging our flights from New York and all transfers. Retired cruisers would enjoy the Saga Rose.

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