Saga’s first new cruise ship Spirit of Discovery made history as she sailed into the Port of Dover today (Friday, June 28).

Set against the backdrop of White Cliffs and Dover Castle, a water cannon and flotilla of small craft welcomed the 999-passenger ship as the first vessel to sail into the port’s new Berth Four.

A welcoming party on the harbourside cheered and waved as the ship sounded her horn, and the elegant vessel looked resplendent with a navy hull, golden yellow funnel and red ensign flag.

Saga Spirit of Discovery
Saga’s CEO Lance Batchelor and Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister celebrate with captain Julian Burgess. Credit: Keoghan Bellew

 

After five years of planning, Saga Travel CEO Robin Shaw was visibly excited and said: ‘This ship is transformational for us.  Our customers will experience a boutique ship like no other ­­– she is absolutely stunning.

“Our passengers do want a big ship so we have built Spirit of Discovery for a British market with London hotel-style speciality restaurants, a superb spa, a theatre and an Art Deco-influenced Lido area.

“She is stylish, even a little quirky, and filled with stunning artwork by British-based artists, which we are sure our customers will love. The centrepiece, a magnificent bronze relief spanning three decks of the atrium depicts scenes of the British Isles, including the Saga head office in Folkestone!”

Saga Spirit of Discovery grand dining room
Spirit of Discovery‘s grand dining room. Credit: Keoghan Bellew

 

The ship also has a huge wrap around promenade and the Britannia Lounge, always a favourite spot on a Saga ship, honours its heritage with huge light-filled space with plenty of room for relaxing by day which transforms into a generous dance floor – complete with giant glitterball – for evening entertainment.

Spaces that were tucked away on former Saga ships, such as the spa and gym, are now exceptional areas; the gym takes a prime position overlooking the sea while the spa, just off the atrium, is huge with a hydro-pool, heated lounge chairs, treatment rooms and a sauna big enough for a party!

Master of the ship, Captain Julian Burgess, who sailed the ship from Meyer Werft shipyard, in Germany, to Dover said his new vessel “was like driving a Rolls-Royce”.

Saga Spirit of Discovery
The ship’s gleaming new lido. Credit: Keoghan Bellew

 

After cutting the ribbon to welcome the first visitors on board the 58,250 GT ship he said: “Spirit of Discovery handles beautifully; she has the latest technology with a superb manoeuvring system and I feel very honoured to be master of such a superb ship.”

Berth Four is a 300-metre multiple-purpose berth, the longest at Dover and Barbara Barbara Buczek, Port of Dover’s chief commercial officer said: “The berth is the first part of the port’s £250m regeneration programme and it is tremendously exciting to welcome Spirit of Discovery as we have such a great connection with Saga Cruises, who are based in Kent.

Saga Spirit of Discovery
The red ensign flying to show Spirit of Discovery‘s registry port as London. Credit: Keoghan Bellew

 

“Saga’s first ship, Saga Rose, first sailed from here 20 years ago, so we have had a long relationship with the cruise line. This new British ship sailing into the new berth made this a historic day.”

Spirit of Discovery will be christened by godmother HRH the Duchess of Cornwall on Friday, July 5. The inaugural cruise, A British First, departs on 10 July for a 13-night sailing around the British Isles and Ireland.

  • Spirit of Discovery is the first of two ships being built for Saga Cruises. Sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, will enter service in summer 2020. Both ships have an overall length of 236 metres with a breadth of 31.2 metres.
  • Visit saga.co.uk for more information.