Saga Pearl II

The cruise ship Saga Pearl II (formerly Astoria and Quest for Adventure) has been operating for more than 28 years, making cruises worldwide. Saga Cruises acquired the ship, at auction, in August 2009. Saga Pearl II effectively replaced the MS Saga Rose which was decommissioned in 2009. Both ships were formerly operated by Transocean Tours.

Saga Pearl II in Tallinn, Estonia, on 20 September 2014, with blue funnel.
  • 1981–1985: Astor
  • 1985–2002: Arkona
  • 2002–2010: Astoria
  • 2010–2012: Saga Pearl II
  • 2012–2013: Quest for Adventure
  • 2013-2019: Saga Pearl II
  • 2019-Present: Pearl II
Owner: Saga Cruises
Port of registry:
Builder: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, Werk Ross, Hamburg
Yard number: 165[1]
Laid down: 20 May 1980[1]
Launched: 16 December 1980[1]
Completed: December 1981
In service: 14 December 1981
Status: Out of service.
General characteristics
Class and type: cruise ship
Tonnage: 18,591 GT[2] → 18,627 GT[1]
Length: 164.35 m (539 ft)[1]
Beam: 22.6 m (74 ft)[1]
Draught: 6.2 m (20 ft)[1]
  • Sulzer-Wärtsilä diesel engines
  • 15,400 kW[2]
  • 21.4 knots (39.6 km/h; 24.6 mph) (maximum)
  • 20.3 knots (37.6 km/h; 23.4 mph) (cruising)[2]
  • 602 passengers (originally)
  • 449 passengers (currently)[3]
Crew: 252[3]

The ship was given the name Saga Pearl II before embarking on her first cruise for Saga in March 2010.

In May 2012, she was renamed as Quest for Adventure. In November 2013 the name reverted to Saga Pearl II. In 2019 Saga replaced Saga Pearl II with Saga Cruises' first ever new-build ship, the Spirit of Discovery. The other cruise ship, that Saga operates is the MS Saga Sapphire, this will be replaced in 2020 with another new build, the "Spirit of Adventure".



The ship was built in 1981 in the ship yard of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, Werk Ross, Hamburg, Yard no. 165. The builder was one of the highest quality builders of the time. The ship was ordered by the newly formed German company Hadag Cruise Line, but was quickly sold to South African company Safmarine, because the ship was not profitable enough.

However, Safmarine discovered that the Astor did not have enough speed to maintain the liner schedule.[4] So a new ship was ordered that could meet the required schedule and the Astor sold.


On 29 August 1985, the Astor was sold to Deutfracht Seereederei an East German shipping company. It was renamed the Arkona. The vessel was used to give favoured party officials, cruises for part of the year and was charterd to western operators for the rest of the year. After the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s the state shipping company was privatised and became DSR. DSR acquired Seetours of Bremen.[5]

Cruises on the Arkona were marketed under the Seetours franchise.[5]


P&O Princess Cruises acquired Seetours in 1999 (Seetours was rebranded as AIDA Cruises in 2004[6]). The Arkona was renamed Astoria in 2002 and bareboat chartered to Transocean Tours of Bremen. Under Transocean Astoria specialized in cruises to Norway and Europe. The vessel then operated closer to the shore, making low-cost cruises for German, Norwegian and Swedish passengers.

In November 2008, a world cruise had to be aborted after serious mechanical problems were identified during a refit in Barcelona. The ship remained laid up in Barcelona until June 2009 when she was towed to Gibraltar. Following an auction in August, Saga Cruises acquired the ship after an unsuccessful attempt to do so earlier in the year.

Saga Pearl II

In late 2009, the ship sailed to Swansea, Wales where she underwent a £20million three-month refit in the re-opened Swansea dry dock. She sailed on her first cruise as Saga Pearl II on 15 March 2010 to the Norwegian Fjords.[7][8]

MV Quest for Adventure

She was renamed MV Quest for Adventure in May 2012 and became the flagship for Saga's Discovery-style Adventure Cruises. She did not undergo a refit at that time but continued in her new role with the same facilities, captain and crew.

In December 2012, MV Quest for Adventure underwent a refit, where she received her new Saga livery funnel. This was like her fleetmate Saga Sapphire's funnel. However, the port side of the funnel was left blank and did not display the "SAGA" logo.

Saga Pearl II (again)

The Quest for Adventure had the name Saga Pearl II restored to it on 21 November 2013 and received the "SAGA" logo on the port side of her funnel. In 2018 Saga reverted to the traditional yellow funnel livery, Saga Pearl II was the second ship to receive the yellow funnel, in late 2018.

In 2019 Saga Pearl II will be replaced by the Spirit of Discovery, Saga's first new build. For her last voyage Saga Pearl II sailed from Portsmouth (UK) on 16 February 2019 for a 54-day cruise to South Africa. This was a coming-home cruise, as it is where the ship spent many of its earlier years, when it sailed the South Atlantic waters for Safmarine.[9]

Pearl II

In 2019 Saga Pearl II was sold to Aqua Explorer Holdings, who are located in the British Virgin Islands. Currently, she is based at the Greek port of Perama, where she is recorded as being laid up and also is now known as Pearl II.[1][10][11]


The ship has a length of 164.30 m (539.0 ft) and beam of 22.60 m (74.1 ft). She has capacity for a maximum of 449 passengers, served by 252 crew members.[3] In spite of the low ratio, the cruise ship offers a luxury service to its passengers. The gross tonnage of the vessel is 18,591 gross tons and this tonnage is driven by 4 Sulzer-Wärtsilä main engines with total power of 15,400 kW (20,700 hp). The maximum speed of the vessel is 21.4 kn (39.6 km/h; 24.6 mph).[2] Stabilization is provided by a Pinfabb Digital Stabilizers Control system [12]

See also



  1. "Pearl II (G16718)". DNV GL Vessel Register. Germanischer Lloyd. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. "Saga Pearl II". Ship Technology. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  3. "Our Ships - Saga Pearl II". Saga Cruises. Archived from the original on 23 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  4. Boyle, Ian. "Astoria". Simplon Postcards. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  5. Plowman. Australian Cruise Ships p.14
  6. "Seetours re-brands as Aida Cruises". FVV. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  7. "Saga replacing a Rose with a Pearl". Kentonline. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  8. "Astoria is new Pearl (Ships Monthly, October 2009)". Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  9. "Saga Pearl II to Leave Fleet in 2019". Cruise Industry News. 2 June 2017. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  10. "Pearl II". Vessel Tracking. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  11. "AA Casino Solutions". Malta. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  12. "Smart Stabilizers". Pinfabb. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.


  • Bröking, Klaus (2007). MS Astor – MS Astoria: eine deutsche Geschichte (in German). Königswinter: Heel. ISBN 9783898807951.
  • Plowman, Peter (2007). Australian Cruise Ships. Rosenberg Publishing. ISBN 9-7818-7705-850-9.
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