Reviewed by Amie Keeley.

Overview: Spirit of Discovery is Saga’s first new‑build and the first ship designed specifically for the UK market since P&O’s Britannia in 2015. So unsurprisingly, everything from the ship’s cuisine to the Whitstable beers on tap has been designed with that in mind, but with a modern, contemporary twist. Saga describes it as a ‘floating boutique hotel’ and for the most part that’s a fair summary: from the stylish glass lighting, which changes in each area, to the deep turquoise blues, which feature throughout, to the sparkling spiral staircase on the main deck. It could be compared with Azamara’s ships, both in size (the capacity is 999 passengers) and, to some extent, the decor, but credit to Saga for creating a completely different premium offering for the UK cruise market.

Cabins: Every cabin has a balcony, which is a big bonus. There are nine cabin grades, four of which are single occupancy. The highest-grade Forward Suites measure 745sq ft and feature bespoke artwork and luxurious fixtures and fittings, while the Standard Twin cabin still feels large enough to comfortably accommodate two.


Food and drink: There are three speciality restaurants and two main dining venues on board. Among the speciality venues is The Club by Jools Holland, serving every kind of steak, and East to West, which offers a more exotic menu with a focus on Asian cuisine. Coast to Coast specialises in locally sourced fish – as well as that British classic, fish and chips – with bright and airy interiors, beautiful parquet flooring and calming turquoise hues. All speciality dining, including house wines and service charge, is included in the price, so guests are advised to book ahead. Main dining venues include The Grill, with canteen-style dining and outdoor seating, and The Grand Dining Room, where afternoon teas are served. Sweet snacks and ice cream are available all day in the Living Room – a large space where guests can relax.

Facilities: Despite it being on the smaller side, there’s enough to keep guests entertained. The Playhouse is Saga’s first theatre at sea and hosts West End-style shows and classical music, while Saga’s signature Britannia Lounge hosts day-time talks and late-night dancing. There’s also a card room, craft area (where guests can make their own jewellery), library and pool area with Jacuzzis, plus a spa, which is something of a Tardis.

USP: It has to be its British-ness. But don’t think bangers and mash and the Queen. Spirit of Discovery is designed for the modern-day, 50-plus guest who wants luxurious surroundings without stuffiness.

Book it: Spirit of Discovery will sail itineraries in the Baltic, the Norwegian fjords, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Islands. A 16-night Roman Italy and Sardinia cruise, departing Southampton on November 18, starts at £3,542 for a twin balcony cabin.

Click here to read the September 2019 Cruise supplement online.

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