11 July 2019, 12:51


Dover’s Western Dock to be transformed

Following the recent announcement that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will become the Godmother to Saga Cruise’s new boutique cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, more details have today (Monday 24th June 2019) been unveiled about the Naming Ceremony which will take place at the Port of Dover, Kent, on 5th July 2019.   Following the successful completion of her sea trials, Saga has also today announced that it has officially taken ownership of Spirit of Discovery from ship builders Meyer Werft.

The Spirit of Discovery’s Naming Ceremony will see 500 invited guests joining HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Saga management team, crew and employees to pay homage to one of the great British traditions of summer;  a contemporary Garden Party. The extensive 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 Port of Dover quayside will be transformed, with grass grown in Yorkshire. There will be traditional bunting and table settings, stunning foliage, florals, trees and parasols. Guests will be served Spirit of Discovery sparkling wine, specially blended by Kent vineyard Hush Heath for the ship, and Anno Kent Gin, from nearby Marden.  

The celebration cake, a two metre long replica of Spirit of Discovery, will be designed and made by Mark Tilling, winner of Bake Off Crème de la Crème, and cut by The Duchess of Cornwall. During the official naming ceremony, guests will be entertained by the Royal Marine Band and the Welsh Male Voice Choir and the ship will be blessed by The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, before being christened by The Duchess of Cornwall with a Jeroboam of the specially-created Hush Heath Spirit of Discovery English sparkling wine.

Saga confirmed that it has now taken ownership of Spirit of Discovery, the first of two British boutique cruise ships they commissioned from world-leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft.  Robin Shaw, CEO, Saga Travel signed the official documents with Meyer Werft’s Managing Director, Tim Meyer, marking the formal handover.

Robin Shaw, CEO, Saga Travel said: “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.  As far as we’re aware, this is the first time any ship naming ceremony has been celebrated in this way.  This unique afternoon will symbolise a key moment in both the history, and the future, of Saga. We couldn’t be more honoured than to have HRH The Duchess of Cornwall joining us for this prestigious day.”

Doug Bannister, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover said: “We are really proud to be hosting the naming ceremony for Saga’s first ever new build ship, twenty years after Saga cruises officially launched here in Dover. This momentous occasion is testament to the outstanding partnership we have built with Saga and represents an exciting future for us as a Port, as we take a step closer to fully unveiling our Western Docks redevelopment.”  

Following her ‘First Arrival’, on 28th June, Spirit of Discovery will become the first cruise ship to be named at the Port of Dover for over a decade, and the first to be docked at Berth 4 in the recently developed £250m Dover Western Docks Revival.

Before the afternoon’s formal proceedings, The Duchess of Cornwall will be given a tour of the ship, which epitomises the best of British contemporary boutique hotel style and elegance. Her Royal Highness will view some of the 1,000 artworks on board, many of which have been created by artists working in Britain, as well as the suites named after the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast.  The Duchess of Cornwall will meet Captain Burgess and his officers and crew as she tours the impressive new British boutique hotel at sea.    

Saga has already shown its firm commitment to Britain as Spirit of Discovery has been registered in the UK and will proudly display London as her port of registry on her stern.  The ship will sail 999 guests around the world, flying the Red Ensign, and her sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, will also fly the Red Ensign when she launches in August 2020.  The arrival of Spirit of Adventure next year will mark the realisation of a £600million+ investment in both ships, underlining Saga’s position as the British company creating distinctly British boutique cruising.

The inaugural cruise of Spirit of Discovery, A British First, will depart from Dover on 10th July and sail around the British Isles. 


Issued on behalf of Saga Cruises by Embolden. For further information please contact: Rhona Gardiner, PR Manager +44 (0)7740410052 rhona.gardiner@embolden.agency  - Media who are keen to cover the Spirit of Discovery Naming Ceremony on 5th July 2019 should also contact Rhona Gardiner on these details.



Alex Brazier

Notes to editors

Spirit of Discovery

Spirit of Discovery is the first of two new passenger ships being constructed for Saga at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Spirit of Discovery will arrive in Dover on 28th June 2019 and will be named at the Port of Dover on 5th July 2019. The keel was laid for the second ship, Spirit of Adventure, on 3rd June 2019 and she will enter service in 2020. Both ships will host 999 guests and 523 crew members. Spirit of Discovery is a 58,250 gross tons vessel measuring 774.3ft in length and with a maximum beam of 102.4ft.

For further information please visit the Spirit of Discovery’s webpage.

About Saga

Saga is a specialist in the provision of products and services for life after 50. The Saga brand is one of the most recognised and trusted brands in the UK and is known for its high level of customer service and its high quality, award winning products and services including cruises and holidays, insurance, personal finance and publishing. Visit saga.co.uk.