The Sagafjord was built by Societe Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranee, France, who received the original plans and specifications for the vessel from Norwegian America Line during the summer of 1960.

The build contract was signed on 24 September 1962 and the keel laid on 19 June 1963 before her launch on 13 June 1964. She underwent sea trials from May until September in 1965 and was finally christened on 18 September 1965 Sagafjord in Toulon.

The Sagafjord undertook her maiden voyage from Oslo to New York on 2 October to 11 October 1965. At the time she was built to set the mark of luxury. She sailed with Norwegian America Line until 1983, when the company was taken over by Cunard Line. The ship retained her original name through-out her service with Cunard.

Between 1996/97 Sagafjord was chartered to Transocean Tours as part of a 6 month contract. While in service with Transocean Tours she was renamed MS Gripsholm. During this contract she was damaged by fire. She was sold to Saga Cruises in 1997, who renamed her MS Saga Rose. The ship was refurbished prior to entering service with her new owners.

As Saga Rose she was joined in 2004 by her former fleet mate Vistafjord (later Caronia), who was renamed Saga Ruby. Saga Rose was retired in late 2009.