An Asian speciality restaurant, Apple iPads and wi-fi will be on Saga Cruises’ new Saga Sapphire when it enters service on March 26 2012.

It’s all exciting new stuff for the over-50′s cruise specialist and a bit of a surprise. Not so much the speciality restaurant maybe, which is a great addition but something I have heard them talk about before, but definitely the new technology given Saga has always told me their passengers don’t want wi-fi.

That was the line I was spun when when I was struggling to write and post blogs on Saga Pearl II while in the Caribbean in February and March this year. After that, I, for one, am delighted they have changed their mind.

The multi-million pound refurb planned for this 37,301-ton ship, currently sailing as Bleu de France for Croisieres de France, one of the cruise brands owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, starts in November 2011.

They will be adding a new balcony deck and redesigning all public areas and spaces. Highlights include a new Drawing Room and Pier, which will have a British seaside feel with fish and chips and an ice-cream parlour.

I love this area with the red chairs and the floor-to-ceiling French windows that open out to the open deck.

There’ll also be an open-air cinema and hot tubs, three places to eat including that Asian speciality restaurant – Saga tells me there will be no charge to eat there – a grill and Pole to Pole, the main dining room.

They say that will be themed around the seven continents, so I imagine one corner will have icebergs and penguins to replicate the South Pole!

As I thought, the inaugural cruise is going south – a 23-night voyage from Southampton to the Med on March 26 2012 that costs from £2,306 per person for an inside cabin and £2,989 per person for an outside room.

I don’t have all the itineraries yet, but I am told that’ll be followed by a seven-night cruise to Norway in May, a five-night minicruise to Ireland in August and a 31-night voyage to the Caribbean on November 17.

The rest will be on the website in time for April 3, when Saga Sapphire goes on sale.

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