Saga is doubling its river cruise fleet with a new ship, Spirit of the Danube, set to launch next year.
Carrying just 190 guests, the ship joins Saga’s first river cruise ship, Spirit of the Rhine, which is preparing for its inaugural cruise in May this year.
The official keel laying ceremony took place in Vahali’s shipyard in Serbia on Wednesday. A ‘lucky’ penny was embedded into the first piece of hull, as per tradition, to mark the start of construction.
Saga Holidays CEO Chris Simmonds said: ‘Over the past few years, we’ve been focused on redefining river cruise range to provide a Saga designed experience for our guests.
‘Guests will be able to enjoy a range of first-class facilities and we cannot wait to show everything our latest ship has to offer.’
‘Spirit of the Danube joining the fleet marks an exciting milestone in this journey and we cannot wait until she joins her sister ship Spirit of the Rhine next year. Guests will be able to enjoy a range of first-class facilities and we cannot wait to show everything our latest ship has to offer.’
With a design inspired by the nature found along the Danube, the new ship will depart from Amsterdam on its inaugural cruise in 2022 and destinations will include Budapest, Vienna, Tulcea and Rousse.
On board passengers will find a lounge, library, bar, sundeck with hot tub and two restaurants – including an intimate a la carte restaurant created in partnership with Michelin-star chef Mark Sargeant.
He was head chef at Claridge’s for Gordon Ramsey before opening his own restaurants, including Rocksalt in Folkestone, the hometown of Saga.
The celebrity chef will also be on board on select cruises – but he’s not the only star or special guest planning to join Spirit of the Danube once she’s in service.
John Suchet, TV presenter and natural historian Miranda Krestovnikoff, BBC’s Antiques Roadshow regular Eric Knowles and horticulturalist Sir Roddy Llewellynwill be among those giving talks, classes and Q&A sessions.
Releasing images of what the ship will look like, the interiors are luxurious, with touches of wood, gold, burnished metal, cloudy greys and dusky greens reminiscent of a boutique hotel and designed to enhance of the tree-lined banks of the river
Cabins on the main and upper decks have private French balconies and floor-to-ceiling views while lower deck cabins are light and airy thanks to the large picture windows.
The muted colour palette is reminscent of a boutique hotel and is designed around the tree-lined banks of the river
The addition of the new ship comes as Saga, the cruise line for over 50s, announced all guests must be fully vaccinated before they cruise to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew.
In January, the cruise line said all passengers must have had both shots to protect them against COVID-19 at least 14 days ahead of sailing.