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Dover welcomes cruise ship, The Spirit of Discovery, for naming ceremony

By Amy Nickalls

A huge cruise ship will be docking in Kent this week for its naming ceremony.

The Spirit of Discovery will dock in the Port of Dover this Friday when 500 guests will join HRH the Duchess of Cornwall for a garden party.

Cruise line Saga officially took ownership of the ship from builders Meyer Werft on Monday.

Spirit of Discovery.Picture: Saga (12066363)
Spirit of Discovery.Picture: Saga (12066363)

The ship will host 999 guests and have 505 crew members working across its 10 decks. It weighs 58,250 tonnes and 774.3ft long.

It is one of only two ships currently being built, with Spirit of Adventure expected to sail next year.

To celebrate the day, the port will host a garden party as homage to a traditional British summer.

Celebrity chef Kevin Woodford will prepare an afternoon tea for the guests, working with Selwyn Stoby who was the executive pastry chef at Buckingham Palace and Paul Gayler, former executive chef of the Lanesborough Hotel.

The quayside at the Port of Dover will be transformed into a garden with grass, bunting, foliage, tress and parasols.

Guests will be served Spirit of Discovery sparking wine, specially blended by Kent vineyard Hush Heath and Anno Kent Gin, from nearby Marden.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Spirit of Discovery

The cake will be a two metre long replica of the ship, made by Mark Tilling, winner of Bake Off Crème de la Crème.

Righ Reverend Trevor Willmott, the Bishop of Dover, will bless the cruise liner before The Duchess of Cornwall christens it with a bottle of the specially-created Hush Heath Spirit of Discovery English sparkling wine.

Robin Shaw, chief executive of Saga Travel said: “Now we have completed the formal ownership handover of Spirit of Discovery, we cannot think of a better way to mark the launch of our pioneering new boutique cruise ship than with the ultimate British summertime event; a Garden Party with a sumptuous Afternoon Tea.

"As far as we’re aware, this is the first time any ship naming ceremony has been celebrated in this way.

"This unique afternoon will symbolise a key moment in both the history, and the future, of Saga. We couldn’t be more honoured than to have HRH The Duchess of Cornwall joining us for this prestigious day.”

Duchess of Cornwall will become the godmother of the ship
Duchess of Cornwall will become the godmother of the ship

Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover said: “We are really proud to be hosting the naming ceremony for Saga’s first ever new build ship, twenty years after Saga cruises officially launched here in Dover.

"This momentous occasion is testament to the outstanding partnership we have built with Saga and represents an exciting future for us as a port, as we take a step closer to fully unveiling our Western Docks redevelopment.”

Following her ‘First Arrival’ on Friday, Spirit of Discovery will become the first cruise ship to be named at the Port of Dover for over a decade,

She will also be the first to be docked at Berth 4 in the recently developed £250m Dover Western Docks Revival.

She will depart from Dover on July, 10, and travel around the British Isles.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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