Garden party naming for Saga's newly delivered Spirit of Discovery

Saga's Robin Shaw, left, takes delivery of Spirit of Discovery from Meyer Werft managing director Tim Meyer Saga's Robin Shaw, left, takes delivery of Spirit of Discovery from Meyer Werft managing director Tim Meyer

Saga's Spirit of Discovery was handed over by Meyer Werft Monday, ahead of its first UK arrival to Dover on June 28. The ship is due to be officially named by Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, at the Port of Dover on July 5.

'Ultimate British summertime event'

'Now we have completed the formal ownership handover of Spirit of Discovery, we cannot think of a better way to mark the launch of our pioneering new boutique cruise ship than with the ultimate British summertime event: a garden party with a sumptuous afternoon tea,' Saga Travel CEO Robin Shaw said.

Five hundred guests are invited to the naming ceremony, where afternoon tea will be prepared by Saga’s celebrity chef Kevin Woodford, working with Selwyn Stoby, the former executive pastry chef at Buckingham Palace, and Paul Gayler, the former executive chef of the Lanesborough Hotel.

The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood and the Morrison Orpheus Choir are scheduled to entertain, and the ship will be blessed by Trevor Willmott, the bishop of Dover, before The Duchess of Cornwall smashes a jeroboam of the specially-created Hush Heath Spirit of Discovery English sparkling wine on the hull.

Firsts in Dover

Spirit of Discovery will become the first cruise ship named at Dover in more than a decade, and the first to dock at Berth 4 in the recently developed £250m Dover Western Docks Revival.

‘We are really proud to be hosting the naming ceremony for Saga’s first ever newbuild ship, 20 years after Saga cruises officially launched here in Dover,' said Doug Bannister, CEO of the Port of Dover.

Spirit of Discovery was designed to epitomise a British contemporary boutique hotel in style and elegance and is registered in the UK.

Royal tour

Before the afternoon’s formal proceedings, The Duchess of Cornwall will tour the ship and meet Capt. Burgess and his officers and crew. She also will view some of the 1,000 artworks on board, many created by artists working in Britain, and the suites, named after the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast.

Spirit of Discovery's inaugural cruise is scheduled to depart Dover July 10 and sail around the British Isles.

This is the first of two newbuilds for Saga commissioned from Meyer Werft. The keel was laid June 3 for the second ship, Spirit of Adventure, and it is due to enter service in August 2020.

Posted 25 June 2019

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Michelle Winny

Deputy Editor, Seatrade Cruise News/Seatrade Cruise Review