With just three weeks this Sunday until Saga Cruises returns to the ocean on Spirit of Discovery, the ship is a hive of activity as it prepares to relaunch.
Spirit of Discovery was initially launched on July 10, 2019 so had only recently taken to the waves when Covid-19 locked down the country. Her first sailing as restrictions lift will see her depart Tilbury on Sunday June 27 on a six-night Scottish Highlands and Islands cruise. It will then go on to complete two, six-night itineraries from the Northern Isles to the Fjords* on July 3 and 25 respectively, and in between will take in a Great British Isles Adventure cruise from July 11 for 14 nights.
Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: “We are so looking forward to welcoming guests on Spirit of Discovery on June 27 as we set off around the British Isles. We know how keen they have been to get on-board and our crew members are excited to give them an incredible cruise experience. We’ve all waited so long to cruise again, and we want to make this as special as possible for everyone.”
When she is at full capacity, Spirit of Discovery will accommodate 999 guests across 554 cabins, although this number is being capped further for these initial cruises to observe Covid protocols.
At this stage, the 540-strong crew are joining the ship over the coming days ahead. Many are returning crew members so regular guests will recognise friendly faces.
Once on-board the crew will re-familiarise themselves with the ship and their roles as well as go through extensive Covid-protocol training ahead of any guests arriving on board. The ship will also undertake a number of sea trials, which enable the crew to practice and refine key elements like breakfast, lunch and dinner service, theatrical performances, the daily cleaning routine, and restocking at ports.
And they’ll need to be well practised, as it takes nearly five days to load the ship with all the supplies needed for her first cruise around the British Isles. During a normal port of call, restocking of the ship takes around 10 hours as food, drink and supplies are brought on board.
While she was in dock over the past year, the maintenance crew also took time to invest in further improvements including the installation of handwashing stations at the entrance to all the restaurants.
Spirit of Discovery and its brand-new sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, which will leave on its inaugural cruise on July 26, are both small by today’s ship standards but clever design and the limited number of guests combine to give a real feeling of space and comfort to guests.
Designed with a modern, contemporary look with a muted, sophisticated palate and every design element carefully thought-through, Spirit of Discovery offers a host of ways for guests to while away their cruise. There are five restaurants including The Grand Dining Room, The Grill, Coast to Coast (seafood speciality), East to West (Asian fusion) and The Club by Jools (steakhouse), all of which are complementary to dine in.
The Living Room offers coffee, snacks and a full bar service and South Cape Bar is the ship’s main bar. Outdoor facilities include an observation deck, full wraparound promenade and terrace, pool, sports court and deck games. Entertainment and wellbeing facilities include The Playhouse (a 444-seat theatre with complete unobstructed views seating, home to Saga Cruise’s resident performance company), the signature Britannia Lounge with a dance floor and live entertainment, The Library with refreshments, craft and card rooms, The Spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam and treatment rooms, The Salon, a gym, shop and medical centre.
Art lovers are also in for a treat as specially commissioned artwork by British and British-based artists and design studios that draws inspiration from the geography, landscapes, and palette of the British Isles is to be found around the ship.
Did you know?
- Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is Spirit of Discovery’s Godmother. The naming ceremony took place in Dover, Kent, on 5 July 2019 and Spirit of Discovery was the first cruise ship to be named there for over a decade.
- Spirit of Discovery weighs 58,230 gross tonnes, is 774.3 feet long and 102.4 feet high.
- Spirit of Discovery has 10 passenger decks, with a capacity of up to 999 guests so each guest has approximately a double-decker bus worth of space onboard. (N.B. Saga has capped this even lower for these initial cruises to follow strict Covid protocols). It has 540 crew and 554 cabins, of which 109 are single cabins,
- Saga Cruises has been awarded Lloyd’s Register Shield+ accreditation for health and hygiene – the ships actually exceed the levels required to receive the award.
- All Saga Travel guests are required to have had both Covid-19 vaccines at least 14-days ahead of departure and Saga Cruises has strict protocols including pre-board testing, enhanced cleaning regimes on-board, social distancing that feels discreet onboard the ship and enhancements to the state-of-the-art air conditioning.
- All guests are invited to enjoy complementary UK travel to and from the port including a shared door-to-door chauffeur service up to 250 miles each way, car parking near the port, domestic flights, rail or coach travel.
- There are no hidden costs on-board – Saga Cruises come with all dining and house drinks including a selection of wines with lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi, on-board gratuities, fitness facilities, 24-hour room service, sightseeing tours in selected ports, entertainment (from lectures to recitals), porters for luggage, shuttle buses to nearest town centres and travel insurance with up to £5m coronavirus cover included.
- Saga offers a price promise, which means that should they ever reduce their prices or bring in a new special offer after a customer has booked, they will calculate the difference and automatically pass the saving back. And in the unlikely event a customer doesn’t love their holiday by day two, Saga will give them a return flight and full refund.