Like a new house, or a car fresh from the showroom, there’s something quite thrilling about a brand new ship. And stepping aboard Saga’s eagerly awaited debutante in Dover before her regal christening by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall (the ship’s prestigious godmother, no less), I couldn’t wait to see how she shaped up.

Spirit of Discovery, Saga cruises
Spirit of Discovery sails into Dover

 

Taking five years from conception to launch, Spirit of Discovery promises a modern, luxurious environment with a distinctive British feel. So how does she look? First impressions count, and it’s immediately clear that interior design company SMC has done a fantastic job.

With smart teal and bronze tones complemented by warm neutrals, the boutique cruise ship feels like a floating five-star hotel, with plenty of sofas and chairs dotted around for guests to sit and watch the sea go by. The materials are top-notch, too, with stylish carpets throughout, in suitably British tartans and tweeds, and plenty of leather, copper and glass. If, like me, you’re a design lover, you’ll be desperate to copy the look at home.

The interiors team has also harnessed the glamour of Art Deco throughout Spirit of Discovery – especially in the Living Room, on the main deck, and in the show-stopping atrium. The latter spans three decks, so guests can admire the view from many different locations about the ship, including the Library and the South Cape Bar. The space is dominated by a beautiful 26ft bronze-coloured centrepiece on the stairs – a great focal point and the ideal spot to meet family and friends, old and new.

South Cape Bar, Spirit of Discovery, cruise ship review
Enjoy a tipple at the swanky, Art Deco style bar

 

The Deco theme continues in the double-height Grand Dining Room (with its crisp white tablecloths and marble pillars, this is definitely worth dressing up for), as well as
in the 444-seat Playhouse Theatre and the gloriously fun Lido pool.

Saga were determined to pull out all the stops on Spirit of Discovery, and The Club by Jools (where Jools Holland will give exclusive performances) on the Promenade Deck is a stroke of genius. Designed in the style of a 1950s cabaret club, it’s a great place to tuck into a steak supper before settling in with a bourbon on the rocks to enjoy an intimate jazz session.

The food and drink offering is first class throughout the ship, with two speciality restaurants – Coast to Coast (for fish and seafood) and East to West (modern Asian) – both equally worth booking as soon as you board. Top marks, too, to the talented bartenders, who know just how to mix the perfect martini.

Grand Dining Room, Spirit of Discovery, cruise ship review
The ship’s double-height Grand Dining Room is a must for elegant evenings

 

One of my favourite spots on the ship is the luxurious spa, which boasts five treatment rooms as well as a sauna and hydrotherapy suite. It’s the perfect place for a bit of ‘me time’ when you’re at sea.

And the cabins? Well, I’ve saved the best for last. There are no fewer than nine categories, but every single one has a private balcony. Some of the bigger suites have baths, with the Forward Suites boasting their own whirlpools. But whichever grade you book, you’ll be seriously impressed by the size (an average 215sq ft) and the luxurious furnishings.

Suite, Spirit of Discovery, cruise ship review
Every stateroom gets a private balcony – and tasteful contemporary decor

 

In the style of a luxury boutique hotel, the beds are super comfy, there are plenty of places to sit and read a book, the showers are great and the plugs are British (hurrah!). Suffice to say, I enjoyed a blissful night’s sleep in my cabin and was very disappointed when it was time to leave.

Saga has a lot riding on this small ship, so is she worth the hype? The answer is a big ‘yes’ from me. I was blown away by the beauty and elegance of her design, and I’d have to say that Spirit of Discovery offers boutique cruising at its best. Book now before she sells out.