Saga’s new cruise ship Spirit of Adventure was named with a traditional bottle smashing ceremony today dubbed Freedom Day as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed across the UK.
Crew from 49 different countries gathered on the ship’s balconies to wave flags and mark the occasion.
The ship was blessed by the Dean of Portsmouth Dr Anthony Cane before former Britain’s Got Talent winner and ship’s entertainer Paul Potts sang the national anthem and it was officially named by its godmother retired Head of Royal Navy Medical Service, Commodore Inga J. Kennedy.
Officials, VIPs and dignitaries had also gathered to see the spectacle, which was broadcast live to Saga’s social media channels.
Nick Stace, Saga’s CEO of travel, said: ‘Today has been a long time coming for everyone, so it feels symbolic that the naming of our brand-new cruise ship Spirit of Adventure will be part of such an historic day for the UK.
‘Those who love to travel have waited patiently for it to resume, and what better way to mark a return to the freedom that travel gives us than with the launch of a new cruise ship.’
The ship was handed over by the shipbuilder in September 2020 and was due to take to the waters last year but, because of Covid, has remained anchored and waiting to take to the seas.
Spirit of Adventure, which has room for 999 passengers catered for by its 525 staff, will set off on her inaugural cruise around the UK on July 26.
The ship is the latest in a series of bigger cruise ships that have been able to berth at Portsmouth International Port thanks to a huge £18m investment from its owners Portsmouth City Council which saw its facilities upgraded.
Viking’s Venus was the first ship to berth as restrictions were relaxed enough to allow sailings on May 10, followed by Virgin’s Scarlet Lady, Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas and Marella Cruises’ Marella Explorer, plus other.
Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson hailed the event as momentous for the city.
He said: ‘The council has invested a lot of money in to this berth and it is really paying off now due to the number of cruise visitors we are getting. It is absolutely wonderful to see Spirit of Adventure here today.
‘This year we will see around 100 cruise calls which is double what we are used to seeing and we hope to have even more ion the future.
‘It is the first time that a ship has been named in Portsmouth and it is momentous, it is really putting Portsmouth on the map. We are proud that Saga has chosen our city.
‘And we are very grateful to the whole team at the port for all their hard work. It is great for our city as every pound of profit that the port makes goes into protecting council services.’
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Frank Jonas said he was delighted to see the occasion.
He said: ‘She is a beautiful ship and it is very good for the city to have her here.
‘It is such a feel-good factor. We have had 18 months of a torrid time and is exciting to get the cruise ships here again.’
The ship’s captain Kim Tanner said he and his crew could not wait to get back on the water with passengers.
He said: ‘The moment the first passengers are allowed on-board will be a very special moment. We are really looking forward to getting back out to sea where we belong.’
Despite restrictions relaxing in the UK, Saga, which was the first UK cruise ship company to insist on its passengers being double vaccinated, said it would keep some restrictions in place for its guests’ safety, such as face masks in public areas and table service.
Mr Stace said: ‘We’ll continue to follow government advice when it comes to managing the risk of Covid, and we believe prevention is key so we’re asking all customers to have had both vaccines ahead of joining us.
‘We’ve also been working hard to ensure our hygiene standards are above and beyond what is required, which has led to Lloyd’s Register awarding us their Shield+ accreditation - the highest category of health assurance they have.
‘Now, it’s time to get Spirit of Adventure on the water with her sister, Spirit of Discovery and return to doing what we do best – giving our guests an amazing cruise experience.’
About the ship
Spirit of Adventure, owned by Saga, is a sister ship to Spirit of Discovery.
She has 10 passenger decks offering 554 all-balcony cabins including 109 single balcony cabins.
It features five restaurants including The Main Dining Room, The Grill, The Supper Club, Khukuri (Nepalese speciality) and Amalfi (Italian speciality), all of which are complementary to dine in.
The North Cape Bar is the ship’s main bar, and the Living Room offers coffee and snacks as well as a full drinks service. Outdoor facilities include an observation deck, full wraparound promenade and terrace, pool, sports court and deck games.
Entertainment and wellbeing facilities include The Playhouse – a 444-seat theatre with complete unobstructed views seating, the signature Britannia Lounge with a dance floor and live entertainment, The Library with refreshments, craft and card rooms, The Spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam and treatment rooms, The Salon, a gym, shop and medical centre.
The all-inclusive price includes a choice of complementary UK travel to and from the port including a door-to-door chauffeur service up to 250 miles each way, car parking near the port, domestic flights or standard class rail or coach travel.