EXCLUSIVE: Saga’s new cruise ship, due to debut in summer 2019, is to be called Spirit of Discovery. The name is a change of direction from the tradition of current vessels Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl 2 and Saga Cruises chief executive Robin Shaw says the name reflects a transformation in the expectations of the over-50s specialist’s customers.
“The idea of a cruise being for people to get a suntan, lie on a deckchair and eat lots of food is gone,” he said.
“Our customers have a desire to explore and engage with new experiences, whether that’s destinations, culture, food or whatever.
“We are proud of what we have achieved over the past 20 years but the way we have been working is to take older ships and adapt them to the Saga lifestyle.
“Spirit of Discovery is the start of a new era for Saga Cruises. This is a new chapter. The ship is a very luxurious product and will completely change what people expect from us.
“The name evokes the adventurous nature and new experiences that cruise customers desire. Spirit of Discovery is going to set a new benchmark for UK cruising.
“We are known for our quality of service on board and with Spirit of Discovery we will set out to improve the excursion experience.” He added that the company will soon launch a portfolio of adventures under the brand “Explore Ashore.”
The name also harks back to the short-lived Saga cruise brand Spirit of Adventure, which employed a single smaller ship to visit out-of-the-way destinations – and on which I visited the Black Sea and places such as Eritrea and Sudan which rarely feature on the cruise atlas in 2017.
Shaw was reluctant to confirm that the second newbuild from Germany’s Meyer-Werft yard, for which it has an option, will be called Spirit of Adventure. He said that “Spirit of” works well with a number of other words – so be prepared for anything.
Construction work on Spirit of Discovery begins next year. When it is launched it will replace the smaller Saga Pearl II. Shaw said there were no plans to move away from Saga’s over-50s policy.