Saga Cruises launched Spirit of Discovery in July 2019, the first of two sister cruise ships (Spirit of Adventure in 2020). These are the first new-build ships for cruising ever for Saga, why had previously bought and refurbished existing cruise ships. The Spirit of Discovery holds 999 passengers and in this I discuss the 8 things that I think are best about the ship, and show and explain why. I also talk about one major watch-out and issue that could stop you from cruising.
My Saga Spirit of Discovery Review Video
Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Jw1VYSLd_eQ
You’re about to discover the eight best things about the new Saga Spirit of Discovery cruise ship, plus one thing that could be a deal breaker and stop you from cruising on this ship
Facts and figures
The Spirit of Discovery is the first of two sister ships being built by Saga Cruises. Spirit of Discovery is the first one, and Spirit of Adventure is the second one.
It holds 999 guests, has 505 crew and 10 passenger decks. Those stats mean that it falls, in many people’s definitions, within the small ship cruising category, which is normally defined as less than a thousand passengers.
The first great thing is the design. It is a great look from the outside. It’s unique. It’s different because it was specifically designed for Saga. But inside, the designers which were SMC (a London-based design organization) have created a boutique hotel feel and that what’s Saga are going for.
The inspiration for the design was taken from London-based boutique hotels. It is a modern and contemporary look.
A couple of things that I really liked about this more as a ship geek is this that there is a really great connection to the ocean. They have an enormous and wide promenade deck. If you walk around
the promenade deck four times you’ve done one mile, and that has disappeared from many modern cruise ships.
At the back of the ship there’s a magnificent terrace area, where you can sit at the back of the ship. It’s multi levels and you can have drinks there during the day and in the evening and look at the ocean.
I love the fact that the design inside is a boutique contemporary hotel feel, and there’s a real sense of nautical connection and a connection to the sea. You even see that in the open spaces. For example, the Lido, which is the pool area. This is also very open. It’s large and again there’s great connection to the ocean.
There’s a real sense of Britishness around the design and the aesthetics. For example, there are 1,000 pieces of artwork across the ship, 400 of which were created for the ship and all have been created by artists that are based in the UK. Most of the suppliers the cheese, the salmon and wine are again from British suppliers.
The second thing that struck me about the ship were the dining options. Saga is all-inclusive and
all of the dining, both speciality dining and regular dining, is included within the fare.
There are six dining options across the ship.
- The most important, of course, is the main dining room which is known as the Grand Dining Room. it serves British and international cuisine. It’s a magnificent traditional liner looking type of dining room.
- You then have the Grill and the Verandah, which is up on the Lido deck and this is the more informal dining, so it’s more buffet. Although importantly on formal nights they have the same menu in here as in the main dining room. So, if you don’t want to get dressed up for formal nights you can have the same menu up in the Grill and the Verandah area. The Verandah is an outside area where you can dine alfresco when the weather is good.
- There are three speciality dining options. The first of which is one that I know Saga are very excited about, and passengers are also very excited about, and this is The Club by Jools Holland. Jools Holland being a well-known British entertainer and musician. The Club is a steakhouse, and, in the evenings, they have cabaret, which is all curated by Jools Holland.
- Then there’s Coast to Coast, which is a beautiful restaurant and it’s the seafood restaurant. This seats 74 diners. It’s a new concept to Saga and is only open in the evening.
- The one which really appeals to me is East to West, and this is an Asian fusion restaurant with beautiful decor. It’s only open in the evenings and holds 76 diners.
- Also, which is included, is your sixth dining option on board the Spirit of Discovery and that’s 24-hour room service. Again, no charge as all of the dining options are included within the fare.
For me, the third most amazing and great thing about the ship is the Britannia lounge. Britannia lounge is a classic on all the Saga ships, and this particular lounge is spectacular. When you walk in there’s a real wow factor.
The Britannia lounge is used during the day for talks, or various events, and in the evening it’s where you can go dancing as there’s a dance floor. You have the Britannia deck outside which has some beautiful artwork there and, as it’s on the front of the ship, you have great views as the ship sails through the beautiful scenery.
Britannia lounge I’ve pulled out as one of the best things about the new ship because I do think it is one of the absolute best parts of the ship. It really is a magnificent space.
The fourth thing that I’ve identified as being really good about the ship are the cabins. I want to talk about a couple of cabins specifically.
- All of the cabins have balconies, so there’s no inside cabins and no ocean view cabins. It is entirely a balcony ship.
- In the brochure and on the website they I identify nine grades, but I think you can better split those down into three key categories: solo cabins, balcony cabins (with two types: standard and deluxe) and then Suites (where there are three types midships, forward and aft).
- One of the things I really wanted to talk about solo cabins. 20% or 109 cabins on board the Spirit of Discovery are solo cabins. Saga really cater for solo travellers in a big way. Also, what’s great is they cater for different budget types within solo cabins. They have a standard cabin, superior cabin, deluxe cabin and even have solo suites. So, catering for solo travellers is a really big plus.
- The other great thing that Saga do is cater phenomenally well for people who have disabilities or need accessible cabins. The accessible cabins I was really impressed with. Of course, it’s a great size to have extra space if you’re in a wheelchair, there is a wet room style bathroom, ramp which heads up and out onto the balcony, but the great thing about it is every single accessible cabin has an interconnecting door to a solo cabin next door. It means if you’re traveling with a friend, family or even a carer, they can have a separate cabin connected to yours – and they don’t have to share a cabin or bunk up with you.
I think there’s real plusses here. Not only do they have a range of cabins for all budgets, but they really cater phenomenally well for solo travellers, with those many different grades, and for people with accessibility needs especially if they’re travelling with carers or friends.
So, the cabins for me definitely are a real big plus.
The fifth thing that I want to talk about is entertainment and their take on entertainment as I think they do somethings slightly differently.
They have the Playhouse Theatre, which can seat 440 at one time. They have production shows in the evening and have guest artists. At other times it acts as a cinema. So, that’s fairly standard and, as you’d expect, it’s pretty high-tech being a new ship.
The other thing which they have, which I think is great, is the Library. The library is a really interesting venue. It’s not only a great looking venue, where they have 3,500 books in an enormous library, they have self-service teas and coffees here, but they have a couple of really interesting
things. They have an enormous craft area, and they run classes on jewellery making and papercrafts. Then they have a large card room. Bridge and card playing is very popular on board, so this dedicated card room which can hold up to 40 people at one time.
In terms of entertainment and activities they have a large enrichment program. There’s always guest speakers and lecturers. The entertainment definitely is more enrichment orientated and they do some great things.
- In terms of social venues, they have a number of places where you can socialise. One of the most interesting is the South Cape Bar. This is the name of a bar which originally appeared on one of their first and earlier ships within the cruise line which was the Saga Ruby back in 2005.
- Another great space, which is part of a hub of the ship is known as the Living Room. During the day this is a coffee bar, and, in the evening, it becomes a cocktail bar. Because it’s right in the heart of the ship and near the atrium, it’s a real hub during the day and in the evening. The living room is a great space, beautiful seating areas and a fun bar.
- Of course, you have the Britannia lounge which I’ve already spoken about, and you have the Terrace at the back of the ship which I’ve also spoken about.
The next thing that I thought was really good, and struck me about the ship, was just how much space and effort was focused on the whole area of wellness.
First of all, they have a spa, which is huge. In the spa you, of course, have traditional spa treatments, a pretty big salon area, a large steam room and sauna area and a great hydrotherapy pool area. So, lots of space dedicated to the pampering side of wellness.
Right up on the top of the ship they have a fitness area and the gym area.
There’s an outdoor sports area, and they have a Fairway golf simulator. So, lots of space and focus on wellness.
Another really good thing on board the Spirit of Discovery is the all-inclusive nature of the fare.
Saga had been pretty inclusive, but from 2020 they’re going completely all-inclusive. So, what does that mean?
Obviously, your accommodation, all the dining as I’ve already mentioned, gratuities, Wi-Fi and from 2020 drinks are included. They also include a pickup service where you get picked up from your home and taken to and from the ship. Insurance is included, and if you don’t take the insurance you can then also get a slight discount on the fare.
Of course, you have extras like excursions, spa treatments and if you buy stuff in the shop.
But, it’s great to know that all the fundamentals of the cruise experience are included within the fare.
So, those are my views about the eight great and good things about the brand-new Spirit of Discovery ship from Saga. So, what about the downsides that could stop you cruising?
Saga is a UK-based company and they do all of their marketing to UK passengers, and they create a very British experience. Now, that doesn’t mean if you’re not a UK resident you can’t cruise on Saga! If you want to cruise on Saga and you’re out of the UK, make sure that you connect through with Saga in the UK.
However, the biggest issue that you face is: in order to cruise with Saga Cruises, you need to be over 50 years of age. However, if you are 50 years of age and your partner or friend is over 40, they can cruise with you. But you do need to be over 50 before you can cruise on a Saga Cruise.
If you want to find out much more about cruising and Saga Cruises, I have many more videos on the topic so why don’t you watch one of those right now!
Note: I cruised as a guest of Saga on a pre-naming shakedown cruise and toured the ship on its arrival into Dover. Saga had no input or say on the content or images used in my video.
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