Over the next eighteen months, Saga Cruises will see two exciting new build cruise ships join its fleet. The first, Spirit of Discovery, which is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and is set to launch in June 2019.
A second new build ship, Spirit of Adventure is expected to debut in summer 2020. We took the opportunity to invite Nigel Blanks, Chief Operating Officer, Saga Cruises to take part in this exclusive CRUISE Q&A, to talk more about Saga Cruises and the exciting new ships!
Can you give us a brief overview of Saga?
Our approach has always been to listen to our customers and design products and services that truly enable them to do the things they love. This simple approach over the past 65 years has enabled us to become the UK's leading provider of products and services to people aged over 50 in the UK. The Saga brand is one of the most recognised and trusted brands amongst UK consumers in this demographic and is renowned for its high quality, award winning products and services, which include cruises and holidays, insurance, personal finance and the Saga Magazine. In addition, we recently launched our new membership programme, Possibilities, and already have more than a million Saga Members.
Can you tell us a bit about Saga's first new-build, Spirit of Discovery?
Spirit of Discovery will be our first ever new-build ship, and the first small ship built for the British market designed with guests in mind. With all-balcony luxury cabins, of which over 100 are single cabins, her design has been inspired by some of the best hotels, yet with a quintessentially British feel. From bow to stern, every aspect of our luxury, boutique-style ship has been designed to surprise and amaze. Featuring design cues from the finest hotels, she will be spacious, modern, contemporary, and packed with places to get active, relax and indulge. It will be a distinctly British cruise experience.
What facilities will Spirit of Discovery offer guests?
Her tasteful spaces include the Britannia Lounge, the Living Room and the Spa, where you guests can relax and unwind. Lovers of the arts and literature can enjoy the Library or take in a performance in the Playhouse theatre or participate in live learning experiences. And it’s not just relaxation that’s on offer on board. The Club by Jools will be our unique steak restaurant and bar in exclusive partnership with the man himself, Jools Holland. This partnership will bring the music aficionado’s love of live music to the sophisticated restaurant and bar inspired by the great cabaret lounges of the 50s. In addition, Spirit of Discovery boasts an array of restaurants from the Grand Dining Room, to Oriental, to seafood. With cuisines from all over the world, they will be a match for London's finest restaurants. Best of all, our guests can eat whenever and wherever they choose. It is absolutely true that guests complain that the food on our ships is so amazing they put on pounds while on board, so fear not, we also have a state-of-the-art gym and two pools to help burn off those pounds.
What will the accommodation be like?
At the heart of every luxury boutique hotel are the bedrooms. Guests will have their own haven to relax in while enjoying their own, personal space. And with an average floor plan of 215 square feet as standard, there’s quite a bit of space to enjoy. Taking their design cues from some of London’s top hotels, each cabin will be styled to showcase the best in contemporary, yet classic British design. Best of all, every cabin has a balcony, so guests can enjoy their own outside space too.
Can you tell us a bit about ‘The Club by Jools Holland’?
The Club by Jools will be one of Spirit of Discovery’s three speciality restaurants, serving a choice of sumptuous meals to appeal to all tastes, but will specialise in classic steaks from fillet and t-bone to sirloin, plus more unusual cuts such as tomahawk. But it’s much more than a restaurant, it’s another of the ship’s vibrant and fun entertainment venues too – the place to enjoy live music and cocktails in the evenings, with resident and guest musicians entertaining until late. Book soon if you want to be there!
Where will Spirit of Discovery offer cruises to?
Spirit of Discovery’s inaugural season is jam packed with exciting itineraries which will kick off with a tour of the British Isles, very apt for the first small ship built for the British market this millennium, and she will make calls in to iconic cities such as Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool! Spirit of Discovery’s destinations throughout summer 2019 include Spain, Scandinavia, the Baltic, as well as a four-night mini-cruise to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
Why has Saga chosen to christen Spirit of Discovery in Dover?
With Saga’s Group headquarters based in Kent, we felt it only right that we name our first brand new, boutique-style cruise ship in Kent, and what better way to do this than with the iconic White Cliffs of Dover as a backdrop. Dover is where, over 20 years ago, we set sail on our first cruise, so how fitting we start a new era where it all began. Spirit of Discovery will be the first cruise ship to be named in the port for over a decade, and the first following the regeneration of the Western Docks. We are already planning a few surprises, and will no doubt add a few more before the big day!
Why did Saga choose to build two brand new cruise ships?
The cruise market is booming with more people seeing the benefits of changing landscapes and destinations every day, but with the benefit of the same luxurious, boutique-style accommodation throughout. To future-proof our product we felt the need to build ships with today’s over 50s in mind. With my generation living longer, having a life-long thirst for learning, and the opportunity to now do all those things we didn’t have the time to do in our youth, I am delighted we have been able to reflect this passion for Discovery and Adventure in our new ships.
Our first cruises on Spirit of Discovery sold out in record time, so the decision to announce a second new-build Spirit of Adventure, was a logical one. Bringing two new ships to the market by 2020 will not only be truly transformational for us as a business, but genuinely give our guests that modern British boutique-style cruise experience they simply can’t get elsewhere.
Will Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure be identical?
The best way to describe our new ships is as sisters, but not identical twins! From the outside they will look identical, however once you step onboard each will have her own individual personality, while sharing the same high levels of boutique-style luxury. Of course, I can’t tell you too much about Spirit of Adventure yet but watch this space!
What makes Saga and the new ships stand out from other cruise lines and new-builds?
As well as having all the high-end features you’d expect from larger cruise ships…ours are in fact, smaller. And small is definitely beautiful, with the recent survey of cruise passengers by Which rating small ships far above the larger ships on offer. Their chic size has another distinct advantage. They can slip right into the heart of ports, giving our guests easy access to more of the world’s great destinations, as they get closer to the ports that larger ships are, quite simply, unable to.
Our Explore Ashore team will be on board all of our ships from 2019. This bespoke concierge service heralds a brand-new way for our guests to plan and enjoy their time ashore, tailored exactly how they want it, and at no extra charge of course! We also include VIP chauffeur transfer to and from your UK departure point, meaning luxury starts from the very beginning of the holiday.
We’ve spent more than 60 years fine-tuning how to be the perfect hosts, and nowhere is this better reflected than on our award-winning small ship cruises. In fact, we’re so confident you’ll love your first cruise with us, that, if you don't, we'll happily refund your fare!