A steel cutting ceremony was held for Spirit of Discovery, Saga Cruises’ first bespoke-built boutique ship, in early March 2018.

The event took place last week at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany, to mark the start of construction of the 999-guest vessel.

Spirit of Discovery is due to start sailing from Dover in July 2019 and is the first of two ships being built by Saga.

CEO of the Saga Travel, Robin Shaw said: “Today marks a special moment in Saga Cruises’ history – the first steel cutting of Spirit of Discovery which importantly is the only new small cruise ship being specifically built for the UK market.

“We are charting a new course for Saga Cruises – after 20 years in the cruise market Spirit of Discovery is set to deliver timeless, elegant and quality cruising that our past, present and future guests have told us is important to them.”

Also at the ceremony, a selection of mock-up cabins from Spirit of Discovery was revealed for the first time. An example of the ship’s standard cabin, a deluxe cabin and two crew cabins were showcased to attendees.

David Pickett, Saga’s New Build Director, said: “A huge amount of thought and detail has gone into the design of Spirit of Discovery’s cabins, including the implementation of feedback from our customers.

Saga’s first new ship, Spirit of Discovery will replace Saga Pearl II in July 2019 while Saga’s second ship, Spirit of Adventure, is planned to enter service in 2020.

Spirit of Discovery will be a 58,250gt vessel measuring 774.3ft in length and a maximum beam of 102.4ft.

She will sail from Dover in July 2019 with itineraries featuring the Channel Islands, the Norwegian Fjords, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. In the autumn she will sail from Southampton to destinations including the Canaries and a Christmas cruise to New York.

Spirit of Discovery will host 999 guests and 530 crew members.