ICE were honoured to be asked to work with Saga’s new build team on the most exciting ship to grace UK waters in recent years. The Saga Spirit of Discovery is the first in class ship from a British cruise line with a UK flag. Built in the Meyer Werft yards in Pappenburg she is a thing of beauty, elegance and boutique chic. Her God Mother, the Duchess of Cornwall named her earlier this month and I had the pleasure of attending the naming ceremony which included a night on-board whilst the ship was moored in the new Dover cruise terminal.
The new cruise terminal at Dover is a brilliant example of how a classic industrial building can be restored to be modern yet maintain so much of the original feel and features. Unsurprisingly the terminal is hired out for many corporate events and even large weddings.
The day was billed as an English garden party and the description was accurate. The team at the port of Dover did an amazing job of turning the quayside into an English garden not stopping at laying an actual garden with real turf. Following the drive down from London the parking was well managed and I was pleased to see that the technology all worked very smoothly at check-in (phew!).
The naming itself could only be described as the definition of English “pomp and ceremony” and it did not disappoint. A beautiful sunny Kentish afternoon, Royalty present, the Royal Marines military band on parade, Spitfires flying overhead and my personal stars of the show, the 72 piece Welsh male voice choir who literally sung their hearts out and brought tears to many eyes in the on looking guests and dignitaries.
The Spirit of Discovery is a very beautiful piece of naval engineering, from the outside she looks like an ocean liner in a throwback to golden ages of cruising. I’m so pleased that Saga have chosen design over cabin capacity, this translates into an amazing view from the aft looking back up at all the cascading decks and not something you ever see on a modern cruise ship. Stepping inside the vessel the first thing I noticed was the chic design and muted colours. It’s clear that a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the interior design of the ship, the artwork and space planning.
Following the naming of the ship everyone ventured on board for cocktails and an evening meal, the food, as expected was exquisite and my steak was perfectly cooked. The wine and conversation on our table flowed well right through to the dessert for which I was presented a chocolate dessert matched only in beauty by the ship itself.
Jools Holland and his big band rounded off the evening raucously with guest stars Ruby Turner and Selecta, by the end of his set the whole auditorium was either on their feet or dancing at the front of the stage with wild abandon. The entertainment continued through until early morning with bands and piano players in every hidden bar on the ship.
To take a Saga cruise there is requirement to be 50 years of age or over and I can honestly say for the first time in my life since I was a child that I wished I was 5 years older!