Carrying a maximum of 999 guests with 505 crew, she will certainly fit into the premium cruise market and suit those looking to sail from the UK, with Dover as her home port. The ship is also notable for offering a private balcony for every guest across all stateroom categories, which range from dedicated sole occupancy rooms to spacious suites.
Your holiday begins the moment you step out of your house, with return chauffeur transfers included up to a 75 mile radius on a private basis, or 250 miles on a shared basis. Speciality dining and room service are included with no extra charge, and guests also benefit from complimentary WiFi throughout the ship.
This was my first experience of a Saga ship, and it did not take long for me to feel at home on board. The first thing that stood out was the amount of outdoor space available. Spirit of Discovery features an outside area at the aft of most decks, an unusual but welcome feature, plus a very good sized swimming pool and endless sun loungers to relax on.
Dining on board was a real highlight. You can have breakfast in the Grand Dining Room, with an à la carte menu, or the more popular Grill, which offers a good buffet selection. If the weather allows you can also enjoy al fresco dining on the veranda, an extension to the grill and a really lovely space to enjoy any meal.
For dinner the Grand Dining Room is open from 6.45 - 9.00pm and offers an open dining policy, so there is no reservation required and plenty of flexibility.
You can also enjoy specialty dining in Coast to Coast, which specialises in seafood, The Club by Jools, with a steakhouse menu, and East to West, where I enjoyed a fantastic meal featuring tantalising Asian cuisine. The Club by Jools has been inspired by Jools Holland, and he will also be sailing on several departures to destinations including the Baltic and the Adriatic in 2020, both sailing from Dover.
After dinner you can enjoy a programme of entertainment, with a show each evening in The Playhouse, or if you prefer you can relax in the Britannia Lounge to the sounds of the house band. This lounge was one of my favourite areas to relax as it features panoramic views out to sea, and it was a perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Our short sailing did not include the opportunity to disembark, so I had plenty of time to enjoy the leisure facilities on offer, with the Spa being my favourite. This spacious area includes an inviting hydrotherapy pool and a range of treatment rooms, plus a hair salon and nail bar. The fitness room features brand new state-of-the-art equipment, and a studio where you can join in with yoga and Pilates classes daily.
Finally I must mention the library, one of the largest I have seen at sea, with comfortable sofas and reading chairs. There is also tea and coffee from a self-service station to enjoy while you read, which is a great feature and will be very popular I am sure.
As we disembarked the ship was preparing for her official naming ceremony, with the Duchess of Cornwall christening her before her maiden voyage on 10th July from Dover.
The Spirit of Discovery is a welcome addition to the Saga fleet, and a truly British way to cruise. Sister ship the Spirit of Adventure launches in 2020, ensuring that a range of itineraries will be available to choose from. Saga have also recently announced that from 2020 both of these new ships will be all-inclusive, and will offer an unlimited selection of drinks throughout the various lounges, bars and restaurants.