The naming ceremony of any new ship is special, but some are more special than others and such was the case at Dover on the 5th July 2019.
Early afternoon, the sun beating down from an azure blue sky upon a Garden Party and Afternoon Tea on a quayside laid with rich green Yorkshire turf transforming it into something more akin to Ladies Day at Ascot rather than a port quayside, the start of the Naming Ceremony celebrations for Saga’s new ship, Spirit of Discovery. Scones, Cream and Strawberry Jam, washed down with sparkling white wine, music from a quartet sets the atmosphere, amidst up to 500 guests socialising in the warm summer sunshine. Time to take our seats for the main ceremony heralded by music from The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood, musicians resplendent in red tunics, instruments glinting in the sunlight as they march in perfect step along the quayside. This is followed by songs delivered by the 78 man Morriston Orpheus Choir, their songs expressed in deep, tuneful, harmonious chorus has the crowd lavishing upon them long and loud applause.
So comes the main part of the ceremony, a hush falls upon the excited audience as Captain Burgess, Reverend Willmott and Archdeacon Hawes take to the dais for the blessing of this new ship, Saga’s new ship, Spirit of Discovery, it’s a first in so many different ways. The first London registered cruise ship to be named at the Port of Dover, Saga’s first luxury all balcony cruise ship, the usual bottle of Champagne replaced by a Jeroboam of Sparkling white wine from the Kent vineyards of Hush and Heath and the ceremony attended by a member of the Royal Family. Finally, the Godmother, no other than HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall dressed serenely in blue, accentuated by white necklace and hat, ascends the dais, says the age old words, ‘I name this ship’ followed by Spirit of Discovery and presses the button, the bottle smashes on the side of the ship, confetti falls from the sky as a quiet crowd burst into riotous happiness, cheering and clapping as a Spitfire in tribute makes two passes in true British tradition.
Ceremony over, time to return to the ship, and what a ship. This is a product that has had much thought put into it.
Starting with my cabin D002 a standard twin on deck 8. Bathroom with large bottles of quality toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser, cleansing hand wash, a glass shower cubicle with powerful shower, large thick soft towels, an anti-slam toilet seat, face cloth’s, tissues, razor/hair dryer point, even handles placed discreetly to assist the less able, nothing has been forgotten.
The cabin area exhibits a very large double bed, not two singles pushed together accompanied by bedside lights, British style 3 pin power sockets, plus small powerful spot reading lights. Dressing table fronted by illuminated mirror and a bonus for most passengers, 3 more electrical British 3 pin design electrical sockets , goodbye to adapters. 2 comfortable chairs, flat screen wall mounted tv, hairdryer, binoculars, tea making facilities, clothes brush, shoe horn, dressing gown, slippers, cold cabinet, the list is endless. Two large sliding doors conceal a wardrobe with enough hanging space for a long voyage, also home to the safe. A glass sliding door leads to the large balcony equipped with table and chairs. The balcony is glass fronted to ensure a perfect view when looking out from a seated position.
The public areas scream luxury, soft comfortable chairs, tastefully co-ordinated decor in bright spacious areas where pastel shades abound, perfectly arranged display cabinets home to colour contrasting articles. The Britannia Lounge on Lido Deck, at night, dance the night away whilst during the day, order a drink from the large bar and gaze through a 270 degree vista afforded by the floor to ceiling windows. The same deck is home to the Lido comprising of swimming pool, sun bathing area and stage whilst moving further along this deck brings you to The Grill, the well laid out buffet area where certainly at breakfast the choice is sufficient to satisfy the most discerning stomach. The Grand Dining Room on Main Deck is all waiter service except breakfast where like some other cruise lines you collect your own fruit, cereal etc. and order your main breakfast from the waiting staff.
In addition to the above the ship boasts a well equipped gymnasium, sauna, steam room, Spa, Hydrotherapy Pool, golf nets, outdoor games area and for the evening, The Playhouse, the ships large theatre offering shows, cabaret and other quality entertainment.
So, who will this ship appeal to, certainly loyal Saga customers will love it but it will also appeal to the cruiser who is looking for luxury at an affordable price where a balcony cabin is standard.
Alan Fairfax -
is a travel writer for
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for
Atlantic Print Media with regional papers across Kent with high circulations and regular holiday & travel sections
in all editions
Plus Your Holiday & Cruise Magazine
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Published August 2019