The Port of Dover quayside will be transformed with grass into “contemporary garden party” for the naming of Saga Cruises new ship Spirit of Discovery by the Duchess of Cornwall.
The ceremony is to take place on July 5 following the arrival of the 999-passenger vessel from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on Friday.
Spirit of Discovery will become the first cruise ship to be named in Dover for more than a decade, and the first to be docked in the recently developed £250 million Dover Western Docks Revival.
Five hundred guests have been invited to the naming, designed to pay homage to one of the great British traditions of summer. Afternoon tea will be prepared by Saga celebrity chef Kevin Woodford working with Selwyn Stoby, former executive pastry chef at Buckingham Palace and Paul Gayler, ex-executive chef of the Lanesborough Hotel.
The ship will then depart on its inaugural cruise around Britain on July 10.
Details emerged as the over-50s company confirmed it has taken ownership of Spirit of Discovery, the first of two sister ships, following the completion of sea trials.
The keel was laid for second ship, Spirit of Adventure, on June 3 and it will enter service in 2020.
Saga Travel CEO Robin Shaw said: “Now we have completed the formal ownership handover of Spirit of Discovery, we cannot think of a better way to mark the launch of our pioneering new boutique cruise ship than with the ultimate British summertime event; a garden party with a sumptuous afternoon tea.
“As far as we’re aware, this is the first time any ship naming ceremony has been celebrated in this way.”
Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister added: “We are really proud to be hosting the naming ceremony for Saga’s first ever new build ship, 20 years after Saga cruises officially launched here in Dover.
“This momentous occasion is testament to the outstanding partnership we have built with Saga and represents an exciting future for us as a port, as we take a step closer to fully unveiling our Western Docks redevelopment.”
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