MS Spirit of Discovery cruise ship is the first of two identical polar expedition vessels built for Saga Cruises at Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Papenburg Germany. Spirit of Discovery (scheduled delivery on June 28, 2019) has one sistership – Spirit of Adventure (August 2020).
Saga Cruises is a UK company, division of Saga Group. With the purchase of Saga Rose (former NCL ship MS Sagafjord), in 1997 Saga Holidays started passenger shipping operations under the brand name “Saga Cruises”. Unlike Saga’s old fleet of the operated under charter Saga Sapphire (now Blue Sapphire) and Saga Pearl 2), the new ships are fully owned by Saga Group and replaced the two chartered vessels.
The vessel is owned by Saga Group and operated by the UK-based cruise company (via Saga Holidays) exclusively. The shipowner Saga plc is a British travel company and cruise brand targeting mainly UK travellers in the 50+ age group. Saga UK annually serves around 2,7 million customers. The company is LSE-listed (on London Stock Exchange) under the stock symbol (ticker) SAGA.
Saga Spirit of Discovery itinerary program offers both cruises leaving roundtrip from UK ports and UK fly-cruise deals. Ship’s both homeports are in England (Dover and Southampton). Dover roundtrips visit ports in Baltic Sea (Scandinavia and Russia, Norwegian Fjords, Germany and Belgium). Southampton roundtrips visit ports in the Mediterranean Sea (Spain, France, Italy) and the Canary Islands with Madeira. The ship also operates on roundtrip UK (Southampton) Transatlantic crossings to Caribbean and USA ports.
The inaugural cruise was initially scheduled for July 23, 2019 (themed “Channel Island Hop Cruise”), with next voyages, themed “Gourmet Spain” (August 3) and “Natural Scandinavia” (August 17). However, as the liner was delivered earlier (in June instead of July 2019), the maiden voyage was re-scheduled for July 10 (themed “A British First”) – see more in the ship’s WIKI section.
Saga Cruises’ new ships are operated with all-inclusive package deals. Fares include unlimited (shipboard served) house spirits, beers, wine (by the glass) and soft drinks. Packages also include:
- UK travel package (to/from departure port), Shuttle bus transfer (to the nearest downtown from homeport)
- Onboard gratuities, Porterage
- Onboard Welcome cocktail party
- All onboard meals, afternoon tea, live entertainment
- Unlimited tea and coffee (selected ship venues)
- Free Wi-Fi
- 24-hour room service
- premium service (2 staff members for 3 passengers)
Decks and Cabins
Saga Spirit of Discovery staterooms (540 total) are all with private step-out balconies, which also means that the ship has no Inside cabins. Cabin categories include Standard Balcony, Deluxe Balcony, Midship Suites and larger Panorama Suites. 100 single cabins are specifically designed for solo travellers (can be booked with single-occupancy rates and without single supplement), which is approx 20% of the ship’s total capacity.
Staterooms as decors and colour schemes are in three styles. First group’s design features garden-like elements with light timbers, pastel-green colours, beautifully embroidered fabrics. Second group’s design incorporates the more sophisticated grey with a dark-timber scheme, with pink-orange accented furnishings and carpet and upholstered headboard. Third group’s colours are most calming, in neutral sunset tones with burnt oranges.
All cabins offer as standard (complimentary) amenities smart HDTV (infotainment system – Internet, on-demand movies, ship info channel, real-time camera views from the Bridge), direct-dial phone, large wardrobe, electronic safe box (in the closet), hotel-type beds (two twins, convertible double beds or fixed double beds with headboards), luxury bedding and pillows, bedside cabinets, wall-mounted reading lamps, mirrored dressing table (writing desk) with chair and magnifying mirror, separate lounge area (low table with two comfortable armchairs), en-suite bathroom (WC, glass shower, single-sink vanity with under sink storage), private step-out balcony (with table and deckchairs), individually controlled air-conditioning, LED lighting, keycard room access.
The ship’s 4 top-tier suites (Forward Balcony Suites categories AA and BB) are named Rose Suite (after the Saga Rose liner / 1965-2010 scrapped), Ruby Suite (after the Saga Ruby liner / 1973-2016 scrapped), Sidney De Haan Suite (after Sidney Isaac De Haan / 1919-2002, Saga Group’s founder) and Joseph Meyer Suite (after Josef Lambert Meyer / Meyer Werft’s founder).
The ship’s 8 top-tier suites (Aft Balcony Suites categories CC and DD) are named after regions and islands in the UK – Bailey Suite, Fair Isle Suite, FitzRoy Suite, Hebrides Suite, Humber Suite, Lundy Suite, Thames Suite, Trafalgar Suite.
The boat has 10 decks, of which 6 are with cabins.
Shipboard dining and entertainment options
Spirit of Discovery has 4 restaurants (3 specialty, 1 Dining Room), several bars and lounges (indoor and outdoor), wellness complex (Fitness, Spa, Hydrotherapy Pool, 5 treatment rooms, 2 Saunas, Steam Room, Beauty Salon, Sports Court), Boutique Shop, Library, Lobby area (Reception, Tour Desk), 2 swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), Promenade Deck (wraparound), Sun Deck (with comfortable seating, outdoor gym equipment), laundrettes (on all cabin decks). The ship has all 6 elevators (2 clusters of 3 lifts).
“Saga Discovery” ship features all-balcony staterooms, modern hotel amenities, British-style themed onboard activities, professional and traditionally attentive service. There is a choice of dining experiences, bars and entertainment venues, including speciality (one of which Asian, serving complimentary wines), outdoor Lido Deck (with open-air/alfresco dining space), Saga’s signature Britannia Lounge, theatre lounge, central hub (named “The Living Room”).
The cruise liner also has a modern wellness complex and 2 swimming pools (outdoor and indoor). The Spa complex consists of Beauty Salon, Hydrotherapy Pool, Salt-Steam Room, 2 Saunas (one infrared), 5 treatment rooms (for massages, latest beauty treatments and therapies). Library Lounge offers coffee and fresh cakes and one of the best-stocked book collections at sea. The 430-seat Playhouse Theatre has tiered seating and hosts grand-scale evening show productions, cinema screenings, live music performances.
Ship’s team of Executive Chefs serves the all 5 onboard restaurants. Grand Dining Room (main restaurant) serves the best of British-influenced cuisine specialities. The chefs use locally produced food sources (based on cruise itinerary/destination) and create menus of ever-changing dishes. Passengers are able to make a reservation and eat in any of the other 4 restaurants at no extra cost. House wines from the ship’s cellar are complimentary and served in every restaurant.
On Lido Deck is The Verandah Restaurant that consists of Bar and Grill with separate indoor and outdoor seating areas. These are actually two restaurants combined into one, with self-service buffet lunch and waiter-served dinner. Open-kitchen allows passengers to watch ship’s chefs preparing the food during their galley (kitchen) show.
In June 2018, Saga Cruises signed a partnership deal with Jools Holland (English pianist, singer, BBC TV presenter) for “The Club by Jools” steakhouse restaurant. By the 5-year partnership deal (until 2024), at the Jools restaurant will be performed live music and its bar will be designed like a cabaret lounge from the 1950s. The dinner-only restaurant’s menu features classic steaks (fillet, T-bone, ribeye, tomahawk steaks), live music performances (by resident and guest musicians) and premium cocktails.
In December 2018, Saga Cruises signed a partnership deal with Hush Heath Estate (Kent England wine producer, Staplehurst-based winery) to blend a new wine label specifically for Saga’s new liner Discovery. The project was coordinated by Owen Elias (Hush Heath Estate’s consultant winemaker), who worked with cruise company’s executive chefs to create Saga’s exclusive sparkling wine label “Spirit of Discovery”.