Spirit Of Discovery
Spirit Of Discovery sailed from Emden to IJmuiden as her first port of call after her delivery to the company and she entered port at the morning of the 26th of june in 2019.
Since the late 1970's, Saga Holidays offered cruises for their clientele on several chartered ships. In 1997, the company bought their first ship Saga Rose, which was the former Norwegian America Liner Sagafjord, later well-known as a ship from Cunard Line. The ship was an instant succes for Saga Holidays, that founded another arm of their business as Saga Cruises. They started to buy more ships, mostly classic oldies which were perfectly adapted for their also older demograph and this worked perfectly fine through the late 1990's, early 2000's and 2010's. But those ships of course now started to age themselves and it became more difficult to find adaptable second-hand tonnage from the mid 2010's onwards. To renew their fleet and to be able to continue and refine their style, Saga decided to order a ship instead from the Meyer Werft at Papenburg, Germany and with this, they kinda surprised the industry as they had never done so. The order was placed in september of 2015 and a sistership was taken also an option. With 55.000 tons, the ship was easily going to be the largest ship ever owned by Saga, although still of manageble size.
When the name for the new ship was announced, also there came a surprise as the company re-introduced the 'Spirit' name which they had used earlier within their Spirit Of Adventure brand. This brand had been formed in 2003 to sail cruises that were not only meant for their standard 50+ age-group. This sub-brand was discontinued in 2012 but now the name for the new ship would become Spirit Of Discovery, followed in 2020 by the now firmly ordered sistership Spirit Of Adventure. Originally, it was meant for the ship to get the name Saga Olympic, but this was altered during the early stages of development. From 2019, the fully-owned new ship replaced the smaller and chartered Saga Pearl II in the Saga Cruises fleet. It is expected that when her sistership starts her sailings, also the other ship Saga Sapphire will be replaced.
Construction and general statistics
The first steel for the new Saga ship was cut at the 28th of february in 2018 and on june 28th, the first block for the new ship was lowered into position at the Meyer Werft. Also on this day, the traditional coin-ceremony was carried out in which a coin was welded into the keel to provide the ship with extra good luck. The ship was to become 236 meters long and 31,20 meters wide. Her total tonnage measurement was 58.250 and she was built to accomodate 999 passengers and 530 crew. The ship has a total of ten decks and can sail at a speed of 23 knots.
At the 12th of may 2019, the ship flowated out of her buildingshed, after which she was towed over the river Ems towards the Dutch Eemshaven where she was completed.
Design and style
The ship is designed by the London-based company SMC Design. She features only outside cabins and all 540 of those have their own private balcony. Some 100 cabins are single staterooms (around 20% of the total) and for those, single passengers do not have to pay the sometimes standard singel-supplement. Saga Cruises has many single passengers and this way, they really serve them well. Rooms are designed in three colourscemes, one is garden-style with light timbers and pastel-green, the second style is more sophisticated grey with darker woods and pink-orange accents and the last style is more calming with sunset orange colourations.
Onboard, there are five restaurants, one main diningroom and four speciality restaurants. All of those are served by the same team of Executive Chefs and food is normally bought in locally and so can be different on different itineraries. For the speciality restaurants, a reservation is to be made, but at no extra cost. The house-wines are available in every restaurant and are complimentary to the overall cruise-price. The Verandah Restaurant on Lido Deck has seperate indoor and outdoor seating and feature an open-kitchen concept so passengers can really see what the Chefs are doing. For the steakhouse restaurant, Saga has a deal with Jools Holland (BBC personality/ singer) so the restaurant is named 'The Club By Jools'. Here, live music will also be performed in the style of his popular BBC show 'Later with Jools Holland' and the bar is designed like a 1950's cabaret-lounge. The company also brands its own sparkling wine from the Hush Heath Estate from Kent, England under the name of Spirit Of Discovery.
Next to the restaurants, there are several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, quite an expansive wellness area, a wrap-around promenade deck, a traditional library and two swimmingpools. In the restaurants most is complimentary, even in the Asian speciality restaurants the wines are inclusive. The onboard activities are British-themed as most of the clientele with Saga is British. Although the company is specially meant for passengers in their so-called 'grey-years', they are really not approached like that and that is something the Saga passenger really appreciates. Although you are aboard with an older demograph, you will not feel as such although of course the shows and music aboard, as well as the activities are catering especially for an older clientele. This also comes back in the colours used in the design of the ship. It is toned down, but not too classic looking and quite modern. Central space is the so-called Living Room, a true space to meet fellow passengers and created in a very contemporary style with uses of mint-cream, creme and brown. The ships Playhouse Theater is with 430 seats large enough to host several grand-scale shows, as well as live-music performances and cinema screenings.
Spirit Of Discovery was officially delivered to Saga Cruises at the 24th of june in 2019 at the German port of Emden. During her departure from Emden, the ship collided with several bollards, which were badly damaged. The ship itself suffered just some light scratches and superficial damage, but was anchored close to Helgoland for inspections. Able to sail, she left her mooring the next day for her first port of call, IJmuiden in The Netherlands. Her arrival here was delayed with a few days due to her slight problem in Germany, but she came in in the late morning of june the 26th.
Originally, her first cruise was to be starting at july the 23rd, but due to the fact that she was delivered earlier then expected, the Maiden Voyage was resceduled for july 10th so one extra cruise was added. Her normal itinerary scedule is a combination between sailings from England, where her home-ports are Dover and Southampton and UK fly-cruise deals for sailings in the Caribbean and Mediterranean during northern wintertime. She will also sail roundtrip transatlantics from Southampton to the Caribbean.
On july the 5th, the ship will be named by HRH Camilla, the Dutchess of Cornwall in Dover.