On 28 June, after almost four years of planning and construction, Saga Cruises’ first new cruise ship in its history debuted in her homeport of Dover. Spirit of Discovery is the first of two sisterships to be built by Meyer Werft at Papenburg Germany, and, at 58,119gt, is the smallest cruise ship to be built at that yard since Celebrity Cruises’ Zenith in 1992. As a result of the Saga order, Meyer reactivated the small building hall for ship building rather than module construction.
In its 22 years Saga has owned just five ships, all purchased second-hand, and chartered a sixth for a single season. The two new ships represent the largest investment ever made by the company, estimated at around £600 million. Saga passengers like ships small, so, although substantially larger than the ships that they replace, the new sisters have a passenger capacity of just 999, making them among the most spacious ships in the market.
The layout of Spirit of Discovery follows the modern trend of having most of the public rooms at the lowest levels, with cabins above. All cabins, the smallest of which measures 215ft2, have balconies, and around 20 per cent of them are designed for single occupancy. There is a full range of cabins, right up to suites of 855ft2.
For a modern ship, the British-registered Spirit of Discovery has pleasing lines, particularly at the stern, where, instead of cabins, there are deep-tiered open decks with plenty of seating. Internally the layout is not that dissimilar to the slightly smaller ships of Viking Ocean Cruises, although the décor is very different.
Spirit of Discovery has an amazing collection of artwork spread around the ship, focussing on all things British, from wildlife to architecture, landscapes to innovations. However, the crowning glory of the collection must be the bronze effect relief spanning four decks on the forward bulkhead of the Grand Atrium.
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