Saga’s New Ship Spirit of Discovery – First Impressions

Peter Morrell and his wife are highly impressed with this brand-new ship, the first to be named at the Port of Dover for over a decade

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Spirit of Discovery is the first ship that Saga has built from scratch. This has given the company the opportunity to create a ship based on feedback from their passengers with input from marine architects, interior designers and art curators.

The guiding principle throughout the design process was to create a classic contemporary feel on the ship that would give passengers a boutique cruise experience. The ship itself is large, 236 metres (775 feet) long and 31 metres (102 feet) wide. What is small is the number of passengers, just 999 in total. This means that there is plenty of space available for everyone without it feeling cramped or crowded.

My wife and I watched the quayside naming ceremony of Camilla, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall christened the ship with a jeroboam of Hush Heath English sparkling wine (read about the ceremony here… and the Hush Heath wine here…) As the final notes of the Royal Marines Band faded we went back onboard to enjoy an evening of food, drink and entertainment and an overnight stay to experience one of the cabins, all of which have a private balcony.

Our cabin was very well appointed with a large double bed and sophisticated décor that exuded a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The bathroom was fully equipped with a walk-in shower and designer fitments.

Thoughtful extras included in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities, a hair drier, safe and that most modern-day necessity, a bedside USB charger plug.

Thoroughly impressed with our cabin got ready to spend an evening taking a look at the bars, restaurants and entertainment on offer. Walking through the ship and when we arrived at the main bar, the Britannia Lounge we were struck by the décor. Like the cabin, it was cool, modern and punctuated with unique artworks. There are more than 400 works on board that have been specially commissioned. All the artists have got their inspiration from the UK and the works of art have added to the ship’s quintessentially British feel. (read about the artists and their work here…)

The Britannia Lounge itself is an impressively large space stretching across the entire width of the ship, with huge multi-deck height windows making it almost cathedral-like. A stage, dance floor and large bar make it the ideal venue to relax and have fun. If you want a more intimate experience then the South Cape bar is smaller with the ambience of a London club.

The food on Spirit of Discovery is one of its keynotes. There are specialist restaurants catering for seafood lovers and aficionados of Asian cuisine, and the laid back Grill. The Grand Dining Room, where we ate was an elegant double-height room and a comfortable, relaxed space to enjoy the food.

Our meal was superb, the starter was a medley of lobster served three ways with Sevruga caviar. The soup course was a powerfully flavoured heirloom tomato consommé and that was followed by the main. My wife chose the fillet of Angus beef and I had steamed Dover sole and Rye Bay scallops with crisped Whitstable oysters. Both of these dishes were superb, the beef had great depth of flavour and my fish was light and delicate. The pudding of chocolate and hazelnut parfait with Grand Marnier jelly was a real pleaser and the finale an impressive plate of international cheeses.
By any measure on land or sea, this was a first-class meal that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Our evening was far from over, we hot footed it over to the Ship’s theatre, the 440 seat Playhouse, eagerly anticipating the star attraction, Jools Holland and his Big Band. Jools is in partnership with Saga and his Club by Jools on Spirit of Discovery is a steak restaurant and 50s style club. Jools himself will feature on selected sailings.

The show was beyond good and featured guests like Ska duo Pauline Black and Arthur Hendrickson. Boogie Woogie piano, wailing saxophones and top-rate soul and blues singers soon had people bopping in the aisles. The entire performance was electric.

After the excitement of Jools Holland we wanted to relax, so went back to the Britannia Lounge to catch the performance of a smooth soul singer from Los Angeles. We sipped a cocktail while be soothed by the sounds of The Drifters – being taken effortlessly from Under the Boardwalk to Up on the Roof. A great end to a spectacular day.

Next morning we were up bright and early to sit on the balcony and breath in some of that refreshing sea air before indulging in a satisfying ‘Full English’ breakfast.

Time had not allowed us to fully explore the ship but there is a lot more to discover on Spirit of Discovery. There is a Fitness Room to work off all those calories, the Spa for some serious pampering, the library to relax, the Lido if swimming is your pleasure and the Terrace to just sit and watch the waves go by.

The other factor that made life on board so enjoyable was the crew, they were all unfailingly friendly and helpful and are a great asset to the ship.

Our first impressions were all positive. The décor, the works of art, the comfort of the cabins, the bars, the cuisine, the entertainment, the facilities and the crew will make your cruise holiday on Spirit of Discovery a memorable one.

For more information and to book go to