Britain's new £300m Saga cruise ship to be named in Portsmouth in historic first for the city

EXCITING plans to transform Portsmouth into Britain’s next maritime mecca have been given a major boost after the city struck a deal with a cruise giant.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 7th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 6:10 am

Britain’s newest luxury liner, Spirit of Adventure, will sail into Portsmouth in August where the £300m behemoth will officially be named.

A spectacular fireworks display on Southsea Common will celebrate the 774ft vessel’s arrival, which will be her maiden visit to a British port.

The move by the ship’s owners, Saga, to choose Portsmouth as vessel’s UK debut has been hailed as a massive coup for the city, which pipped coastal rival, Southampton, to the honour.

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Portsmouth welcomes Saga's Spirit of Adventure in city's first cruise ship naming ceremony Saga's Spirit of Adventure

Jubilant city leaders last night insisted the development marked a ‘new cruise era’ for Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council boss Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it would be a ‘huge boost’ in the city’s ambitions to ‘significantly grow’ its cruise offer.

‘We're looking forward to Saga's brand-new vessels becoming a familiar sight in our city,’ Councillor Vernon-Jackson said.

‘Our cruise transformation is already well underway with a significant berth extension plan, followed by a dramatic terminal transformation, which will be completed next year.

Portsmouth International Port will welcome the new cruise ship.

‘This is a new cruise era for Portsmouth and we can't wait for cruise lines like Saga to join us on our journey.’

The development comes as council officials look to strike a deal with Saga to become a base for its cruise ships.

Civic chiefs insist the move could ignite an economic boom, with the city welcoming thousands more visitors each year.

Portsmouth has already agreed an £18.5m expansion of the international port to transform it into a leading cruise terminal.

The spa on board Saga's Spirit of Adventure

While work to extend the port’s facilities allowing it to accommodate ships up to 836ft in length will finish in spring.

Port chiefs will turn their attention to extending the terminal and create a new ‘annex’ capable of handling up to 2,000 passengers, later this year.

Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port director said: ‘We are currently in the middle of delivering the most substantial cruise development ever undertaken.

‘Our multi-million transformation plans signal a new cruise era for Portsmouth, providing the opportunity to work with established brands such as Saga.’

Portsmouth welcomes Saga's Spirit of Adventure in city's first cruise ship naming ceremony Aerial View of Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth

Spirit of Adventure will arrive in Portsmouth on Wednesday, August 19.

The 10-deck liner has 554 all-balcony cabins and 100 single cabins and can carry 999 passengers.

The 58,250-tonne ship features three speciality restaurants including the world’s first Nepalese restaurant at sea – Khukuri House, alongside Amalfi, a high-end Italian cuisine restaurant and the Supper Club, a dining and live entertainment venue.

The ship will also feature a 500 sq metre spa, an outdoor pool, a 444-seat theatre and a large library.

Nigel Blanks, managing director of Saga cruises, was ‘delighted’ the ship would be named in Portsmouth and said it would be an ‘utterly memorable event’.

He said: ‘The city is steeped in British maritime history and it will be another first for Saga Cruises with Spirit of Adventure being the first ever cruise ship to be named in this historic port.’

The Britannia Lounge Bar on the Spirit of Adventure
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, picture with Nigel Blanks, managing director of Saga cruises.