By Nicole Feriancek
THE DIGBY COURIER
The cruise ship that sailed through the Annapolis Basin last week is an elite, high-class ship, filling a niche market. It specialises in taking Brits in their silver years on adventures to uncommon places—places like Digby.
The ship is different from most cruise ships because everything is included in the (high) price tag, says Jonathan Neil, the cruise director. Instead of dancers and entertainers, there are intellectual lectures and one of the largest libraries on the seas.
“It’s a very low key pace,” says Neil. “They are paying a lot, a very high ticket price compared with other cruise ships. This is one of the most up scale cruise ships, and it operates on a very different model.”
On board, there are ten decks, large cabins with balconies, fancy dining rooms, a late night jazz club, a spa, a shopping store, a tour registration desk, an on-deck pool, tennis and basketball courts, shuffleboard, daily entertainment shows and lectures.
For some, this ship actually is home says Neil.
“We have some guests who actually stay on board for six months, going from cruise to cruise,” he says. “They go home for holidays, and then come back.
“It’s also interesting because there is no home port. Were all over the place. Every two weeks it’s a different itinerary.”
The ship’s captain, David Warden-Owen has been at sea for almost 50 years and says one challenge at the helm of the Adventure is going into new places and new ports that may not be ideal for large cruise ships.
“But that’s the idea of adventure cruising,” said Warden-Owen. “You go to places where a cruise ship typically would not be able to. I’ve been pretty much everywhere, but I’ve never been to Digby.”
The Quest for Adventure was built in 1981; Saga cruise line bought her in 2008. They had the ship completely refurbished and reduced the occupancy load from 660 to 440 to create bigger, more luxurious suites, and cabins with balconies.
Only 310 passengers were on board the ship, not many by today’s cruise ship standards, where ships average more than 1000 passengers.
“It does have the unique atmosphere,” says Warden-Owen. “That’s the advantage of a small ship. It’s an exclusive club. Almost like a family.”
The Saga brand of cruise ships specializes in targeting niche markets. Originally, the company only allowed those over the age of 60 on board, says Warden-Owen.
“We’ve spent an awful lot of time building up the clientele, then as we evolved we went onto this adventure cruising branch. And this has turned out to be a great success, despite what everybody says—that it’s for geriatrics.”
Warden-Owen said the biggest problem with the visit to Digby, was that it was only half a day.
One visitor felt the same, as he boarded the tender boat to return to the ship.
“Well I can’t smile for your picture, because I’m sad to be leaving,” he said.
The ship sailed out of the Annapolis Basis last Wednesday night, heading to Saint John, and a few more ports in New Brunswick before visiting the warmer waters of the Bahamas and Cuba.