Saga’s first new-build cruise ship Spirit of Discovery will be christened in Dover on July 5 next year before sailing its maiden voyage from the historic port.
The announcement brings Saga full circle after launching its first ship from Dover 20 years ago. It will become the first ship to be christened in Dover for more than a decade.
“With Saga’s group headquarters based in Kent, we felt it only right we name our first brand new, purpose-built cruise ship in Kent - and what better way to do that than with the iconic white cliffs of Dover as a backdrop,” said Blanks.
Discovery’s maiden voyage, entitled A British First, will sail from Dover on July 10 and will see the 999-guest ship - designed specifically for the British market circumnavigate the British Isles.
Calls will include Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool.
The inaugural cruise is already sold out, and Saga says most of Discovery’s other 2019 itineraries are already “well ahead of expectations”, including bookings for the ship’s 109 single cabins.
Other 2019 destinations include Spain, Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as a four-night mini-cruise to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
Sonia Limbrick, Port of Dover head of cruise, said it was a “great honour” to host the christening of Discovery.
“Having first sailed from Dover back in 1997 with the Saga Rose, their magnificent cruise ships have been a welcome feature of the historic Western Docks for over 20 years,” said Limbrick.
Saga recently announced it would move to all-inclusive cruising as standard from 2020, a move Blanks said would distance the line from competition and the “mass cruise market”.
He added the decision would “reaffirm Saga’s position and Britain’s niche luxury cruise operator”.