Saga’s second river ship, Spirit of the Danube, will join the over-50s specialist’s river fleet next year.
A keel-laying ceremony was held at Serbia’s Vahali shipyard on Wednesday (10 February) marking the start of construction.
The new 190-guest ship, sister to Spirit of the Rhine, will sail its inaugural cruise from Amsterdam.
Future destinations will include Budapest, Vienna, Rousse and Tulcea.
Saga said the ship’s design had been inspired by the culture and landscape found along the Danube.
Facilities include a lounge, library, bar and two restaurants, one of which will serve a Mark Sargeant signature dish – with the celebrity chef set to join a number of the ship’s itineraries once it enters service.
Other departures will see Spirit of the Rhine host natural historian and TV presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff; Antiques Roadshow expert Eric Knowles; and horticulturalist Sir Roddy Llewellyn.
Chris Simmonds, Saga Holidays chief executive, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve been focused on redefining river cruise range to provide a Saga designed experience for our guests.
"Spirit of the Danube joining the fleet marks an exciting milestone in this journey, and we cannot wait until she joins her sister ship Spirit of the Rhine next year."
Saga is hopeful Spirit of the Rhine will yet be able to sail its inaugural cruise in May. Further details of new programmes to be launched onboard Spirit of the Danube will be announced later this month.
Last month, the line announced it would be making full Covid vaccination mandatory for all guests.
"This decision was taken with the health and safety of customers as the number one priority," said Saga.
"The new vaccination policy will be in addition to the detailed arrangements we have already put in place for when operations can restart."