Saga has today announced that the official naming ceremony of Saga Cruises’ first new-build ship Spirit of Discovery will be held at the Port of Dover on July 5, 2019 – the first ship to be named at Dover following the completion of stages 1& 2 of the £250m redevelopment of Dover Western Docks.
“As the place that Saga’s first cruise ship set sail from more than 20 years ago, Dover was ‘the natural choice”, revealed chief operating officer Nigel Blanks, in London, on 18th September at an exclusive event with Jools Holland – the face of The Club by Jools’ on board Spirit of Discovery, the only small ship currently being built for a British Market.
“With Saga’s Group headquarters based in Kent, we felt it only right that we name our first brand new, purpose-built cruise ship in Kent and what better way to do that than with the iconic White Cliffs of Dover as a backdrop. Spirit of Discovery will be the first cruise ship to be named in the port for more than a decade and the first following the regeneration of the Western Docks. We are already planning a few surprises, and will no doubt add a few more before next year, so save the date, as we christen the first of our new-build fleet” Blanks added.
Spirit of Discovery’s maiden voyage will sail from Dover on July 10, 2019. The 999-guest luxury boutique ship will circumnavigate the British Isles.
“We are really excited about her first cruise as it’s a great way to show-off our first new boutique cruise-ship to the British market as we call in to iconic ports such as Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool,” said Blanks.
The inaugural cruise has already sold out and most other 2019 itineraries are well ahead of expectations with the 109 single cabins proving extremely popular. Spirit of Discovery’s destinations throughout summer 2019 include Spain, Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as a four-night mini-cruise to Holland, Germany and Belgium.
In addition, Saga recently announced the company’s strategic decision to move to all-inclusive cruising as standard from 2020. Nigel Blanks said “the decision to go all-inclusive in 2020 had been made to distance ourselves further from the competition and mass cruise market”. He said: “I firmly believe this will not only sit very well alongside our ‘Boutique Cruising’ proposition but will reaffirm our position as Britain’s niche luxury cruise operator’.
Port of Dover Head of Cruise, Sonia Limbrick said: “It is a great honour, and we are thrilled that Dover Cruise has been chosen as the venue for the momentous naming ceremony of Saga’s new ship Spirit of Discovery.
“Having first sailed from Dover back in 1997 with the Saga Rose, their magnificent cruise ships have been a welcome feature of the historic Western Docks for over 20 years. With our exciting £250m redevelopment well underway, ‘Dover Western Docks Revival’ will offer a uniquely enhanced experience to the ship when she calls in 2019 and we are greatly looking forward to greeting her in Dover.”