Cruise History: Classic liner makes final world cruise. The Saga Rose (formerly the Sagafjord) sailed Monday from Southampton on her last world cruise. The famous ship has made 44 voyages circumnavigating the globe.



The sleek and stately Saga Rose (formerly the Sagafjord).

The cruise ship Saga Rose, one of the oldest cruise ships in the world, sailed Monday (Jan 5th) on an historic voyage from her home port in Southampton – its 44th (and final) round-the-world-cruise, more than any other cruise ship including the recently retired QE 2.


The elegant and dramatic dining room.

The voyage is a whopping 32,499 miles that will take 104 nights, 39 port visits and passage through both the Suez and Panama Canals.  The 620 ft. ship, formerly known as Sagafjord, was built in 1965, and has been operating as Saga Rose since 1996.

Video of the Saga Rose sailing from Southampton in 2007.

As the Norwegian American Line’s Sagafjord, the ship was originally designed for trans-Atlantic service during the summer months from New York to Scandinavia.  The remaining months of the year it cruised out of New York.  In January of each year she would sail from New York on a world cruise.


As the Sagafjord on a world cruise in the 1960s. 

Jets and the decline of liner service across the Atlantic resulted in the ship sailing exclusively on cruises.  The sailings to Scandinavia from New York were terminated.  The ship had been designed for two classes on these liner voyages.  One of the reasons for the many public rooms and two large dining rooms.

When Cunard took her over Sagafjord as a late replacement for the Caronia, the ship continued world cruises.  Many passengers preferred the smaller and more sleek ship to the QE2.

Considered by many as far more stylish than the QE2, it is easy to see why when looking at her public rooms.

sr018.jpgMany of the Saga Rosa’s public rooms are far more elegant than the recently retired Cunard QE2.

The QE2 which really never had a design theme that didn’t appear to be a hodgepodge of decor cursed by a trendy and quickly dated late sixties “hipness” that lingered with the ship until she was retired.

sr008.jpgThis 44th voyage round-the-world sailing of the Saga Rose will mark 1 for every year in operation.

The Saga Rose is a ‘classic liner’ cruise ship operated by Saga Cruises of the United Kingdom.

sr010.jpgWell-maintained and known for its stately interior and classical swept bow.

The ship has operated recently worldwide on cruise tours targeted at the senior market.

sr009.jpgIn 1996, Sagafjord was chartered to Transocean Tours as part of a 6 month deal.   Under Trans-Ocean she operated as Gripsholm. During this time she was damaged by fire.

She was sold to Saga Holidays in 1997 where she was given a refurbishment.

sr002.jpgThe Saga Rose is to be retired from service in October 2009.

Plans for her to be turned into a floating hotel are still in discussion.

Will she join the Queen Mary and QE2 as a landlocked resort?



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…