Dancing to France with Saga Cruises
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David Powell takes a cruise on Saga’s new luxury boutique ship
something rather special about cruising on a new ship and there’s something
rather special about Spirit of Discovery!
one of the finest boutique hotels in the world offering indulgent luxury, fine
dining, personal space and first class service. Now put it on the sea and you
have Spirit of Discovery! I was honoured to have been invited by Saga Cruises
to Spirit of Discovery’s naming ceremony at Dover last July and could not wait
to sail on this fabulous ship. My wife and I were booked on the ‘Dance to
France’ cruise from Dover calling at Le Havre, Saint-Malo and Cherbourg. Dover
is just a 30-minute car ride for us and with plenty of car parking space and a
large and comfortable terminal lounge embarkation was a breeze. Although I
chose to drive, every Saga cruise includes a private chauffer service to the
port for up to 250 miles.
was situated on B deck, cabin 022, with a private balcony; in fact, all cabins
on Spirit of Discovery boast a balcony. Our boutique cabin was stunning, so
much thought has gone into the design of the cabins and indeed the whole ship. There
was 215sq feet of accommodation, a walk-in wardrobe, a really comfy bed, flat
screen TV with free movie channel, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24 hour room service,
tea and coffee making facilities, a small refrigerator, mineral water and fruit
basket, binoculars, a sensibly located and easy to operate safe, a nightly turndown
service and a spacious bathroom with shower and luxury toiletries. This made
for a perfect haven to rest and relax on our cruise. I made a short review video
of our cabin that you can view on my YouTube channel and the link is at the
and Verandah Restaurant is up on Lido deck, the Grill being inside with the
Verandah being an outside dining option when the weather is fine, and it was
here we enjoyed a welcome onboard lunch and glass of wine. Soon it was time for
sail away and with a glass of bubbly in hand we watched as Captain Julian
Burgess and his team gently steered Spirit of Discovery away from her berth.
Gathering speed and heading out into the English Channel we stood and watched
as the iconic white cliffs faded into the distance. Now time to unpack before
making our way to the South Cape Bar for pre-dinner drinks. Tonight is a formal
night so everyone is looking rather elegant.
Fine dining and speciality restaurants
know that food is a high priority on a cruise and on Spirit of Discovery you
can expect sensational dining, a smiling first class service from staff with
all the little touches included and speciality dining venues at no extra
charge! The Grand Dining Room (and it really is grand) is the main restaurant
with open seating as standard serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Speciality
restaurants are Coast to Coast, sophisticated and intimate where you can enjoy
the very best of British and locally sourced fish. East to West offers Eastern
cuisine from classic favourites to those with a contemporary twist. If it’s a
steak you’re after, then The Club by Jools is definitely the place to be! This
restaurant has been created with Jools Holland OBE and combines wonderful
cocktails and dining with live music along the lines of famous music lounges of
the 1950s. My favourite was the special Jools’ New York steak cooked to
perfection and accompanied by a choice of wines. So good we visited this venue
twice on our cruise!
following day after a wonderful breakfast it was time to explore at our first
port of call, Le Havre. This is France’s second largest port which was mainly
re-built following World War II which has earned it a place on UNESCO’s World
Heritage list. Saga offered an amazing amount of excursions for this 4-night
cruise and for Le Havre my wife and I chose the 4-hour ‘Glimpse of Honfluer’
tour. Just a short coach journey from the ship this small Normandy port has a
glorious past and is a major centre for arts. A guided walking tour through the
picturesque narrow streets of half-timbered houses and the quayside was
followed by free time before returning to the ship in time for lunch.
the Captain’s Cocktail Party and Captain Julian Burgess introduced us to his
senior team in the Britannia Lounge which is the venue for afternoon tea and the main evening entertainment –
the Musical Motown Show followed by Rocking All Over The World – a lively set
of classic songs which got most guests on the floor dancing.
arrival at Saint-Malo on the Saturday gave us a chance to see the emerald coast
as we approach and anchor just off the town. Continuous tender craft are in
operation all day to the town and back. Again, Saga offered some exceptional
excursions but on this occassion we decided to explore on our own as the town
was just a short walk from the tender. The cobbled lanes and alleys were lined
with bustling cafes and boutique shops, the kind my wife likes, and I’m pleased
to say she supported the local retail economy very well! We had ‘elevenses’ of
coffee and freshly made crépes near the harbour which afforded a great view of
Spirit of Discovery at anchor. We walked to the cathedral which dominates the
old town’s cityscape before returning to the ship.
evening we experience The Club By Jools for the first time, take in the
Playhouse Theatre show ‘We Are The Champions’ by the Spirit of Discovery Show
Company and, continuing the dance to France theme, party on in the Britannia
Lounge for ‘As The Beat Goes On’ with the talented Mix Party Band.
our arrival at Cherbourg famous as a stop between Southampton and Cobh for the
ill- fated Titanic (281 passengers boarded at Cherbourg and 24 disembarked) and
for the month-long ‘Battle of Cherbourg’ which followed the nearby Normandy
beach landings on D-Day. Here we could reflect on the bravery and sacrifice
made by the 132,000 Allied troops who landed on 6th June 1944 and
were crucial in ending World War II. Organised excursions from the ship were
understandably very popular which is why it’s always a good idea to book
excursions prior to your cruise.
and I head off to Utah beach and the Airborne Troops Museum. This was an
excellent tour taking in the beach where the Americans landed in World War II
followed by the museum tour at St Mere Eglise which was the first French town
liberated by the Allies. Our guide was very knowledgeable and our group were
enthralled by the story of the American paratrooper John Steel who was caught
on the spire of the town church where he hung limply for over two hours
observing the fighting below him and pretending to be dead until the Germans spotted
him and took him prisoner. Today a replica of John Steel and his parachute
hangs from the spire. I made a short video of this tour and a link is at the
end to my YouTube channel.
onboard and it’s time for our visit to the Spa. It’s the perfect setting – a
lovely hydrotherapy pool, infrared sauna and steam room. Treatments range from
a hot stone massage to facials, manicures and hairdressing.
Farewell for now
‘Farewell Final Fling’ night onboard with favourite party hits to keep the
dance floor buzzing as the ship heads back to her home port of Dover and we say
goodbye to newly made friends.
Discovery has 544 all balcony cabins including over 100 balcony single cabins,
she’s luxurious and spacious. With a capacity of just 999 people there’s
fabulous restaurants, comfortable bars and lounges throughout, an observation
deck, a state of the art theatre, library and craft/card rooms. You will also
discover a fully wraparound promenade deck, Lido pool, a gym, shop and outdoor
games area and exquisite artworks throughout the ship.
on Spirit of Discovery was fantastic and both my wife and I can’t rate this
ship highly enough! First class service and great itineraries, we can’t wait to
sail with Saga Cruises again! The decision to build a new ship from scratch was
one of the biggest in Saga’s history and they’ve really excelled and there’s more
to come! Sister ship Spirit of Adventure launches later this year and a new
river cruise ship, Spirit of the Rhine, is currently under construction due to
enter service in the Spring of next year. Exciting times ahead for Saga!
If you’re looking to sample life on board
Spirit of Discovery, there’s a 4-night mini cruise coming up, Escape to the Continent,
which is just the ticket. Saga has lined up two destinations on this cruise
from Dover. Begin with the classic seaside resort of Great Yarmouth which is
justly proud of its ample seaside attractions and long history. From here you
can enjoy a regal day out at the Queen’s private residence, Sandringham.
Next up is the Netherlands’ cosmopolitan
capital, Amsterdam. You won’t feel rushed to see the iconic sights thanks to an
overnight mooring which also allows you time to soak up the intoxicating vibe
of the city’s heady nightlife. If you prefer things of a more sedate nature, Saga
has arranged a magical night-time cruise drifting along the historic canals.
There will also be the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside
further on two more memorable shore excursions. See the colourful Keukenhof
Gardens during spring, the perfect time to visit.
another, experience the traditional side of life in quaint Zaanse Schans and
Edam, famous for its waxed cheese. Three fun-filled days spent sightseeing will
be complemented by spirited nights on board with bands playing dance music or,
if you prefer, there are plenty of places to relax and recount the day’s
Includes: Chauffeur service up to 250 miles, all meals on board, including 24-hour room service,
all on-board gratuities, optional travel insurance, entertainment and activities, welcome cocktail party
and Captain’s dinner, all port taxes and visas. Price from £1,117pp departing Dover 19 April 2020.
more information on this cruise or any Saga cruises call 0800 505030 or
Cabin and Utah Beach review: you can see David’s videos on his YouTube channel at
David was a guest of Saga
Travel Advisor recommends Saga
160 people found this feature helpful