MS Sagafjord was an ocean liner built in 1965 by Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée for Norwegian America Line as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship. Between 1983 and 1996 the Sagafjord was operated by Cunard Line. In 1996–1997 she was briefly operated by Transocean Tours as MS Gripsholm prior to being sold to Saga. She was last owned and operated by Saga Cruises on worldwide cruises targeted at the senior market out of the United Kingdom, known as the MS Saga Rose .[2] She was retired in 2009 and scrapped in 2010.

Sagafjord in Vancouver
  • 1965–1996: Sagafjord
  • 1996–1997: Gripsholm
  • 1997–2009: Saga Rose[1]
Port of registry:
Ordered: 1962-09-24
Builder: Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, France
Cost: $30 million
Yard number: 1366
Laid down: 21 June 1963
Launched: 13 June 1964
Maiden voyage: 1965
In service: 1965
Out of service: October 2009
Identification: IMO number: 6416043
Fate: Scrapped in 2010
General characteristics
Tonnage: 24,528 GRT
Length: 189 m (620.1 ft)
Beam: 24.4 m (80.1 ft)
Draft: 8.25 m (27.1 ft)
Capacity: 584 (double occupancy), 620 (full occupancy)
Crew: 350
Notes: Data from 'Cruise Reviews'[2] and 'Passenger Ship Society'[3]

Concept and construction

The Sagafjord was built by Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, France, who received the original plans and specifications for the vessel from the Norwegian America Line during the summer of 1960. The build contract was undertaken on 24 September 1962 and the keel finally laid on 21 June 1963 before her launch on 13 June 1964.[4] She underwent sea trials from May until September in 1965 and was finally christened Sagafjord on 18 September 1965 in Toulon. The construction of the Sagafjord was so expensive that it put the shipyard out of business.

Service history

The Sagafjord undertook her maiden voyage from Oslo to New York City on 2 to 11 October 1965. At the time she was built to set the mark of luxury. She sailed with Norwegian America Line until 1980. Cruise services operated a loss in the late 1970s and were restructured with the two cruise ships Sagafjord and Vistafjord passing to a new company, Norwegian America Cruises, in 1980. The two ships were sold in 1983/84. The company was taken over by Cunard Line. The ship retained her original name throughout her service with Cunard. Sagafjord was awarded a 5 Stars Plus rating by the Berlitz Cruise Guide and consistently voted amongst the 10 best cruise ships in the world until the early 1990s.

In 1996–97 the Sagafjord was chartered to Transocean Tours as part of a six-month deal.[5] While in service with Transocean Tours she was renamed MS Gripsholm. During this time, she damaged a screw after grounding not far from Copenhagen. She was sold to Saga Shipping in 1997 and renamed MS Saga Rose. The ship was refurbished prior to entering service with her new owners.[3]

On 11 June 2008, during a visit to Southampton, the second bosun died after entering a ballast tank which had a reduced oxygen atmosphere due to corrosion.[6]

The Saga Rose was retired from service in October 2009 due to her not fulfilling the requirements of the new SOLAS 2010 regulations[7] and was left with an uncertain future.[8]

On 21 February 2010 Saga Rose was reported as setting out from Gibraltar, where she had been laid up since her final cruise with Saga Cruises, with her destination listed as Kenya. Rumours circulated about a possible sale for use as an accommodation ship. The stories proved false, as the ship was merely repositioned to a new anchorage and remained in Gibraltar.

In early April, Saga Rose finally put to sea, with Port Elizabeth, South Africa, listed as her destination. Once again, rumours of a conversion to a hotel ship circulated. On 29 April, Saga Rose docked in Durban for refuelling, and was under-way again with her destination now reported to be Maputo, Mozambique. Rather than dock again in Africa, Saga Rose next headed into the Indian Ocean, with Saga Cruises refusing to comment on the ship's possible sale for scrap or any other use. By 23 May, the ship was off the Taiwanese coast with her destination being reported as Japan.

On 27 May, Saga Rose reached the harbour of Shanghai, China. After a few days at anchor, she continued further inland up the Yangtze River, docking in the Jiangyin district on 29 May, seemingly confirming speculation that the ship had been sold for scrap, as Jiangyin is home to the Changjiang Ship Recycling Yard, China's largest ship dismantling facility.

The Saga Rose currently holds the record for the most world cruises ever completed by a ship with 44 altogether, of which most were achieved under her original name Sagafjord, even surpassing the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.[9][10]

In the pilot episode of HBO drama series The Sopranos, Tony Soprano attempts to gift Artie Bucco two tickets for a cruise with the Sagafjord.


  1. Asklander, Micke. "M/S Sagafjord (1965)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  2. Saga Rose Cruise Reviews Archived 8 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine (from the '' website. Accessed 19 February 2008.)
  3. Saga Rose Statistics Archived 19 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the '' website. Accessed 19 February 2008.)
  4. "Sagafjord (6416043)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  5. Sagafjord
  6. Report on the investigation of the fatality on board passenger cruise ship Saga Rose in Southampton, England on 11 June 2008 (PDF). Southampton, UK: Marine Accident Investigation Branch. January 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  7. Reinikainen, Kari (28 February 2009). "At least 7 old cruise ships face uncertain future due to SOLAS 2010". Cruise Business Online. Cruise Media Oy Ltd. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  10. Updated, Last. The Sun. London Missing or empty |title= (help)
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