With just a couple of weeks to go until Saga Cruises returns to operation with on Spirit of Discovery, the ship is being prepared to relaunch cruising operations.

Spirit of Discovery was initially launched on 10 July 2019 so had only just been floated out when Covid-19 locked down the country.

Her first sailing as restrictions lift will see her depart Tilbury on Sunday 27 June on a six-night Scottish Highlands and Islands cruise.

She will then go on to complete two, six-night itineraries from the Northern Isles to the Fjords on 3 and 25 July respectively, and in between will take in a Great British Isles Adventure cruise from 11 July for 14 nights.

Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: “We are so looking forward to welcoming guests on Spirit of Discovery on June 27 as we set off around the British Isles. We know how keen they have been to get on-board and our crew members are excited to give them an incredible cruise experience. We’ve all waited so long to cruise again, and we want to make this as special as possible for everyone.”

When she is at full capacity, Spirit of Discovery will accommodate 999 guests across 554 cabins, although this number is being capped further for these initial cruises to observe Covid protocols.

At this stage, the 540-strong crew are joining the ship over the coming days ahead. Many are returning crew members so regular guests will recognise friendly faces.

Once on-board the crew will re-familiarise themselves with the ship and their roles as well as go through extensive Covid-protocol training ahead of any guests arriving on board.

The ship will also undertake a number of sea trials, which enable the crew to practice and refine key elements like breakfast, lunch and dinner service, theatrical performances, the daily cleaning routine, and restocking at ports.

It takes nearly five days to load the ship with all the supplies needed for her first cruise around the British Isles. During a normal port of call, restocking of the ship takes around ten hours as food, drink and supplies are brought on board.

While she was in dock over the past year, the maintenance crew also took time to invest in further improvements including the installation of handwashing stations at the entrance to all the restaurants.

Photo by Fraser Grey