Spirit of Discovery & Saga Sapphire in Dover

Another big day in Dover on the 4th July 2019 when Saga Sapphire met the new kid on the block, Spirit of Discovery. This 58,250grt ship was the first newbuild in Saga's 22 year history of ocean cruising, with a further one coming in 2020.  All the cabins are balcony.  She was handed over in Emden on the 24th and, after a bollard kiss in the Great Sea Lock as she left that night, arrived into her summer home port on the 28th.  A loyalty club visit for the 29th was cancelled due to "health and safety" while the media jolly was delayed from the 2nd to the 3rd, again due to technical issues.  She sailed at nearly 1pm, passing Saga HQ in Folkestone and returned at 9pm. Meanwhile, Sapphire arrived at 1am for their only time together in a UK port.  I went to Dover to see them together, the coach I travelled to Victoria on from Southampton on Bay 1 with the Dover one next to it.

I was met by Nigel Scutt, who runs the Dover Strait Shipping page on Facebook and we went to the cliffs for photos before I checked in.  For some reason, the Port of Dover were paranoid about photos including the preparations alongside Discovery.  We weren't allowed to inside the port yet, not only can it not be helped at times, but it's visible from the cliff!  This was their first naming since MSC Divina in 2008 so I suppose I was used to less restrictive practices of Southampton, especially when there were no bigwigs there, while the grass and garden party had been publicised by Saga already so what exactly was the problem?  Sapphire was scheduled to sail at 4pm but half an hour later called in for a 6.30pm departure - ARGH!!!!  Nigel couldn't stay so dropped me back at the hotel after I picked up some takeaway then went home.  She moved around 6.30pm, going astern to absolute silence between the two ships, which was extremely disappointing.  I returned to the hotel and took the final picture of them together through the window.

To see photos of Spirit of Discovery with Sapphire Princess sailing past the following day, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 4th July 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission