Saga Cruises first ever cruiseship built for the UK operator made a maiden port of call to Dublin Port this morning as part of an inaugural round Britain and Ireland cruise, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Spirit of Discovery departed Dover last week on 10 July having made history as the first ship to use the ferryport's newly refurbished £250m cruise terminal. As part of the investment is a new number 4 berth where the new ship flagged under the Red Ensign berthed in the port's western docks.
This morning's arrival of Spirit of Discovery to Dublin Port first involved having to take a pilot on board from cutter Camac off Howth Peninsula having sailed overnight from Liverpool Cruise Terminal. The day before, the newcomer made a first call to Belfast Harbour docking at berth D1 located close to Harland & Wolff.
The 58,250 gross tonnage leadship was built by Meyer Werft at their shipyard located at the inland city of Papenburg in Germany. The newcomer with a capacity for 999 guests is built for the British market, had berthed in Dublin at Ocean Pier and will remain in port until this evening. The next cruise leg is scheduled with a passage to Cobh, Cork Harbour, thus completing in visiting the main cities on the island of Ireland.
Prior to entering service, the delivery voyage from the German shipyard required a passage upriver of the Ems River to reach the North Sea. The ship which is also to cruise in polar regions has environmental design features. Among them is a first for the shipyard with the equipment of an eSiPod propulsion system delivered by well known German firm, Siemens.
The new 236m long luxury Spirit of Discovery features the design cues of cuisine and levels of service you expect in the world’s finest boutique hotels with a private balcony for every guest. The £346m newbuild was named by the Duchess of Cornwall in a christening ceremony held in the UK on 5 July at the Port of Dover.
Two days previously the keel of a fleetmate, Spirit of Adventure was laid down at the same shipyard and is due for completion next year. With the entry then of a pair of newbuilds, Saga Cruises plan to operate a World Cruise in 2022.
The return to this ship name recalls a predecessor, the much smaller Spirit of Adventure, when operating albeit for a subsidiary brand of Saga. The small ship with just 412 passengers and at just shy of 10,000 gross tonnage had called to Irish ports.
Current operator of the ship, FTI Cruises GmbH, continues to call to Ireland but under the name Berlin which was originally given to when the cruiseship was launched in 1980. Likewise of the new 'Spirit' the older cruiseship was also built in Germany but at a different shipyard.