Keel-laying for new river ship ‘Spirit of the Rhine‘ is another giant step in Saga Cruises’ history’

Spirit of The Rhine (Rendering, courtesy Saga)Saga Cruises marked the keel-laying of its first new luxury boutique river ship “Spirit of the Rhine” with a ceremony at the Vahali shipyard in Serbia, on December 11.

The ceremony was attended by Robert Goodwin, Saga’s Director of Product and Purchasing, Andrew Iwasyszyn, Head of Product and Purchasing for Saga River Cruising, Vahali owner Vincent Bekker, Johan Rijfers of the ship’s Dutch owners Rijfers River Cruises and guest of honour Gilles Beschoor Plug, the Netherlands Ambassador to Serbia.

In the shipyard’s production hall, the guests watched a crane lower the first part of the keel onto a ‘lucky’ coin.

Spirit of the Rhine will have a capacity of 190 passengers, in cabins 17 metres square – the largest on any ship chartered by the British company, which offers holidays to guests aged over 50.

The Rhine and Dutch waterways will feature regularly in Spirit of the Rhine’s inaugural season, which will begin with a six-night voyage on March 23, 2021.

Travel CEO Robin Shaw said: “This is another historic landmark in Saga Cruises’ history – our first new-build river ship which will echo the luxury styling of our new ocean ships Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure.

“Saga has chartered river ships for many years, so we are thrilled to take another giant step to build a river ship to our own specifications to transfer Saga Cruises’ renowned quality of service, accommodation and cuisine across to river vessels.”

All Spirit of the Rhine cruises will be full-board and include wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and free tea, coffee and water, plus a VIP car service.

Most cabins will have a French balcony with floor to ceiling windows, and facilities will include a lounge, a library area, a spacious main restaurant, a reservation-only restaurant with show cooking, and a large sun deck with a hot tub and barbecue.

The ship will also have a gym area and lift, while wifi will be available throughout.

Other cruises during the year will be joined by TV gardening celebrity Charlie Dimmock, art and antiques expert Raj Bisram, wine connoisseur Jilly Goolden, cricketer and commentator Jonathan Agnew, DJ Johnnie Walker, celebrity chef Nick Nairn and broadcast journalists Alastair Stewart and John Sergeant.