Turnaround day aboard Saga Sapphire

Ben Gibson

Turnaround day on Saga Sapphire in Dover or Southampton is a busy time, as staff prepare for the next cruise and new passengers.

Turnaround day, and it’s a hive of activity when Saga Sapphire docks in Dover or Southampton. Passengers disembark, new guests arrive, and there’s a lot of work to be done preparing for the next cruise…

For Horst Pint, Saga Cruises’ Hotel Operations Director, it’s the most important part of the working week. No matter what the day or time, he’ll be at the dock with his eagle eye, ensuring everything from food deliveries to cabins and furnishings are absolutely right and ready to greet our next intake of passengers.

Horst explains “I do this potentially every week, and at weekends, even if sometimes it means getting up at four in the morning. A ship never stops, it’s 365 days a year. It’s not just checking the ship’s infrastructure, it’s also very much about staff. If our crews don’t feel supported and loved, they won’t perform at their best, and turnaround days are the only time I get to talk to them, praise them, and even sometimes reprimand them!”

This very personal contact is rare or unknown on large cruise lines. “In a bigger cruise line the crew wouldn’t see any office staff. They’re on their own. Here it’s different: we want them to be part of our business, we love to do that, and they feel included. He takes time to meet as many as possible, from the Captain to the most junior staff, and loves to see the uplift on their faces when they’ve received a fantastic score from the passengers.

Communication is the key

In the little time allowed, Horst admits he has to run around all day just to get everything done. “I go and say hello to the Captain, check if he’s had any issues with crew or passengers. I’ll speak to the Executive Chef, to see if he’s got any problems with deliveries or anything else. I congratulate them on how good they are looking, and they all smile!

Everything must be right in the restaurants…

In addition to getting ready for the next cruise, turn around day is also the opportunity for guests to come and have lunch on board. So one important task on Horst’s list is to check that the food is of the usual very high standard.

…. and in the cabins

Next on the list is a spot check of the cabins, their furnishings, fittings and cleanliness. He may find things that need mending or improving. Standards must be maintained at all times.

Say hello to old friends

With his engaging personality and long years of service, it’s no surprise that Horst counts many friends among past passengers. So there is one time during this super-active day when Horst can take a breather and meet up for a coffee and a chat with Saga’s loyal customers.

The role of the port agents

Horst’s regular trips to Southampton and Dover is also the perfect opportunity meet with our port agents. The agency ensures everything is in place for when the ship docks: the cranes, the gantries, the stevedores and porters… everything has to be ready to ensure a quick and efficient turnaround.

“The work of the agents is crucial and we’re very lucky to have such trusted ones. Just the simple fact of having all the porters ready to offload luggage efficiently means passengers are not delayed in getting off themselves, which means arriving passengers can board as soon as possible. It’s a chain reaction and every part has to work. So having a quick chat with the agents is crucial to avoid or anticipate problems. They are part of the Saga family,” said Horst.a

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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