Mouth-wateringly tasty breakfast and lunch through to afternoon tea and dinner were all hard to resist. Even the room service was on a par and I was able to choose from the main menu and relax on the balcony while tucking into fine cuisine and some seriously good wine.
The Baltic cruise was busy, busy, busy with excursions so I chose casual dining on those days, while on sea days I opted for more leisurely waiter service.
In fact, on Sunday in St Petersburg (was that really only three days ago?) it was a trip to Catherine Palace, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for lunch, a visit to the Faberge Museum and back in time for afternoon tea. A dinner at the Captain's table - caviar, stroganoff and pavlova - topped the day of Anglo-Russian delights. It was a good job I was walking off the calories.
Within two days of my return Saga has released images of its new bars and restaurants on new ship Spirit of Discovery which will launch in summer 2019 and replace Saga Pearl II.
Spirit of Discovery will have a greater choice of restaurants but continue to serve locally sourced produce such as the fish and shellfish which I enjoyed during the spectacular Baltic banquet.
Coast to Coast will be Saga Cruises' first seafood restaurant while East to West, the popular Asian venue on Saga Sapphire, is being brought over to Spirit of the Discovery. Classic favourites with a contemporary twist, such as sizzling beef fillet in Balinese sauce and blackened tilapia with fennel will be on the menu. Brilliant.
Last week, eating al fresco added to the pleasure of mealtimes on Saga Pearl II. At every opportunity most passengers sat in the sunshine, so to see that Spirit of Discovery will have added an elegant garden area, in the shape of The Terrace, will no doubt be well-received.
The Terrace will offer easy access to Spirit of Discovery’s promenade which will encircle the ship – passengers like me will therefore have the chance to enjoy walks in the sea air and try to walk off the indulgences!
In a tribute to Saga’s cruising heritage, the ship’s main bar will be called South Cape Bar, after the same space on Saga Ruby, but echo the style of a top hotel bar. It's quite a tradition on Saga ships to meet friends at the bar before dinner so it's no wonder this venue has been incorporated into Saga Cruises' plans.
I understand that a large television screen will be switched on for occasional live sporting events, as well as a programme of light evening entertainment. That's a new idea but I would image that having the chance to watch the All-England Championships at Wimbledon and other world-class events will go down well.
So, while feeling a little sad that in a couple of years it will be time to say goodbye to Saga Pearl II, I can't help feel the excitement rising as Saga releases more and more information about the new all-balcony ship.
- Spirit of Discovery will be Saga Cruises’ first bespoke-built ship and will carry fewer than 1,000 passengers. Saga is offering 5 per cent discount when booking a first cruise on Spirit of Discovery. To book a place during the new ship’s first season call free on 0800 015 4310.