Saga Cruises hints at more to come as it starts to build its second new ship, Spirit of Adventure. Jane Archer joins the keel-laying ceremony in Germany
The first two new ships commissioned by Saga Cruises could be “just the start” of a larger fleet, according to the over-50s specialist’s new-build director, David Pickett.
Speaking at the keel-laying ceremony for new ship Spirit of Adventure at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, Pickett did not rule out building more if demand for the brand continues to grow.
Spirit of Adventure is the second of two new ships being built by Saga. The first, Spirit of Discovery was christened in Dover on July 5 by the Duchess of Cornwall.
At 58,250 tons and with capacity for 999 passengers, Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure are identical. They will each have 517 crew and 99 cabins for solo travellers, but their interior designs are quite distinct.
“We wanted Spirit of Adventure to be different, to have its own character. We can’t call our ships boutique and have them look and feel the same,” said Saga hotel design manager Andrew Porter.
The design is the work of London-based AD Associates, which has gone for bold patterns and stripes on the carpets and furnishings, and a tasteful colour palette combining various hues of green, gold, brown, grey and blue.
Among other differences, Spirit of Adventure has three times more cabin categories than Spirit of Discovery, while Italian and Nepalese restaurants, The Amalfi and Khukuri House, replace the seafood and Asian eateries on the first ship.
The layout of the Supper Club is also changing to provide more useable space and a larger bar. On Spirit of Discovery, the room has a 1950s cabaret feel and has been created in partnership with pianist and composer Jools Holland, who will be playing on selected cruises. On Spirit of Adventure, the room has a jazz club feel and will have different, yet-to-be-announced live entertainment, Porter said.
Art around the ship will be the work of British-based artists, and there will be outdoor yoga and games areas. In a hobby and crafts room, half-day classes are planned with artists, photographers and other experts.
In what Saga Group CEO Lance Batchelor called an “emotional day”, two coins stamped with the ship’s name and the date of the keel-laying were placed under the first of the 54 blocks that will be used to build the vessel.
“Her older sister is very beautiful, so this moment is even more poignant than before as we know what she will look like,” said Batchelor, who is leaving the company in January 2020.
Spirit of Discovery has remained in Dover since the naming so agents and potential passengers can have
a look around. It departs on its maiden voyage, a cruise around the UK, on July 11.
It will spend the rest of the year sailing to the Norwegian fjords, Mediterranean and Canary Islands, while 2020 highlights include a seven-night Scenes of Dunkirk voyage timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo in May 1940, when hundreds of thousands of British troops were evacuated from the Dunkirk beaches to escape advancing German troops.
There is also a 16-night cruise to Monaco and St Tropez departing October 15, 2020 that will feature an onboard Hollywood film festival showing movies from the ’50s and ’60s, a pop-up casino and French language classes.
Spirit of Adventure is due to launch in August 2020, and will sail an inaugural cruise to the Baltic round-trip from Dover, followed by voyages to the Norwegian fjords, around Britain and to the Mediterranean. A 31-night voyage to the West Indies from Southampton departing November 15, 2020 ticks off eight Caribbean Islands.
David Pickett said: “Spirit of Adventure is designed for all ages, but there are details to suit our older guests such as having a restaurant on one level and ensuring dining areas are light enough to read the menus.”
Both ships have been snapped up by past Saga Cruises’ passengers, but Pickett reported that they are also attracting business from new customers who have never cruised before. “The cruise industry is so diverse now. Saga is not alone in starting to draw passengers from land-based holidays.”
He cited the ‘friendly’ size, high standards of service and Britishness as key areas of appeal for clients. “There is one crew member for every two guests. It is luxury, but at a value-for-money level,” he said. When Spirit of Adventure enters service in summer 2020, fares will cover unlimited drinks, as well as the gratuities, wifi, UK port transfers and travel insurance included now.