Saga Cruises has paid tribute to the strength of trade support as its newest ship, Spirit of Adventure, was named in an intimate and emotional ceremony in Portsmouth on Monday (19 July).
Speaking to TTG before the ceremony, head of trade sales Iain Powell praised the “exceptional” backing the company had received from agents over the past 15 months, pointing out that in the last three years, trade bookings had nearly tripled to 20% of the line’s business.
“Agent support for us has been unbelievable and unwavering,” he added.
Monday’s naming of the 999-passenger Spirit of Adventure coincided with the lifting of lockdown restrictions across the country, marking the first christening of a new ship at the Hampshire port.
It was also the first major in-person ship launch at a UK port since Saga’s sister, Spirit of Discovery, was christened by the Duchess of Cornwall in Dover nearly two summers ago.
Spirit of Adventure had been due to be named last year, but arrangements were put on ice due to the pandemic.
The relief among Saga Cruise executives and ship crew that it was finally taking place was obvious to the small socially distanced audience seated on the quayside.
“Today has been a long time coming for everyone, so it feels symbolic that our brand new cruise ship Spirit of Adventure will be part of such a historic day for the UK,” said Saga Travel chief executive Nick Stace.
He admitted the proceedings had brought a lump to his throat, adding: “This is an incredibly emotional day for us.”
Godmother Commodore Inga Kennedy, recently retired head of the Royal Navy Medical Service, paid tribute to the unstinting work of the NHS before releasing the jeroboam of English sparkling wine from Kent vineyard Balfour Hush Heath Estate, which smashed into the ship’s hull to great applause.
Opera singer Paul Potts then led a rendition of the national anthem.
“Freedom has arrived at last,” said Stace. “Spirit of Adventure is beautiful, luxurious, affordable and safe. We have created an environment that allows people to see the world and be in the safest possible place."
Saga’s newest ship has been described as the twin of Spirit of Discovery “but in different clothes” with the same structure and layout, but a different look and feel with a bolder colour palate.
The all-balcony ship has 554 cabins, including 109 single cabins, plus a spa, library and a 444-seat theatre, The Playhouse, which has unobstructed views.
There are also five restaurants including speciality dining venues that are complimentary and include new dining spot Khukuri House, claimed to be the first Nepalese-themed restaurant at sea.
Spirit of Adventure will spend the next week hosting guests on a short shakedown sailing before its inaugural cruise departs from Tilbury next Monday (July 26) on a voyage around the UK.