Saga names two new river cruise ships at ceremony in Arnhem. Longstanding broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray named as Godmother who will smash ceremonial bottles of champagne at the event

On Saturday, the two newest additions to Saga’s River Cruise fleet, sister ships Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine, will be officially named by Godmother Dame Jenni Murray in a special ceremony held at Arnhem, in the Netherlands.

The two ships build on Saga’s boutique design philosophy of its ocean-going vessels, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery, and will offer a luxury cruise experience for customers on Europe’s famous riverways.

Spirit of the Danube’s planned introduction to the Saga fleet was announced in February 2021 and she has since been under construction at the Vahali shipyards in Serbia and the Netherlands.

Following the naming ceremony, she will embark on her inaugural cruise along the Dutch and Belgian waterways. Due to the disruption of Covid-19, Spirit of the Rhine embarked on her inaugural cruise of the Moselle Valley in September 2021. This Saturday will therefore represent the first opportunity for the traditional naming ceremony for both ships to take place.

With designs inspired by the nature and culture found along the iconic waterways, both ships have been built with guests central to their design. Each vessel has four passenger decks and 91 cabins, hosting up to 182 guests and up to 50 crew. Each ship also features the first-class Saga facilities that guests have come to expect, complete with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in shower. There are two different types of cabin available on both ships.

All have a clean, sophisticated design with Spirit of the Rhine reminiscent of Saga’s larger ocean ships and Spirit of the Danube based on an Art Nouveau and Danube Delta theme, with elements such as migratory birds used throughout the ship.

Ahead of the ceremony, CEO of Saga Cruises, Nigel Blanks said: “After the delays as a result of the pandemic, we’re delighted to formally name both ships. To see them side-by-side, after a challenging couple of years for the industry, it’s fantastic to reach this milestone, welcome two such stellar ships to our fleet, and enjoy the return to cruising Europe’s iconic waterways.”

The special ceremony is being held on Saturday afternoon in Arnhem, including the official naming of the ships. In line with naval tradition, a blessing will be offered for safe sailing and good fortune and be marked with the smashing of a bottle on the ships’ hulls. This will be completed by Godmother, Dame Jenni Murray, who will then be given a tour of the ships and all their distinct features.

On Dame Jenni’s appointment as Godmother, Nigel Blanks continued: “Following her extensive broadcasting career, including the fantastic BBC’s Woman’s Hour, Dame Jenni Murray is a perfect Godmother for Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine. We already know that she is a firm favourite with our customers given her regular column in Saga Magazine, and we are honoured to have her involved.”

On her appointment, Dame Jenni said: “I am delighted to be involved in the naming ceremony of Spirit of the Rhine and Spirit of the Danube. As a keen cruiser myself it is an honour to be involved in this maritime tradition. I wish all who sail on these ships a wonderful time.”

Following the ceremony, Spirit of the Danube will embark on its seven-day Dutch and Belgian Waterways inaugural cruise on 21st March, before Spirit of the Rhine embarks on its next cruise, Keukenhof and Dutch Delights, again for seven nights.