Spirit of Adventure (II) Naming Ceremony
The brand new Saga ship, Spirit of Adventure, was finally being named on the 19th July 2021.  Originally due to enter service in 2020, her handover and debut was delayed due to the Covid pandemic then she sat in Tilbury Dock near her sister.  The Godmother would be Commodore Inga J Kennedy CBE, VR, QHNS, QARNNS of the Royal Navy.  I had been invited as a special guest by Nick Stace, CEO Saga Travel and Chief Strategy Officer, six days before the event.  I was also added to the media tour conducted by Nigel Blanks.

I had transport booked for 9am, arriving at Portsmouth an hour later.  My driver, Guy, was slightly early which was fine.  He was really nice and chatty.  Upon arrival, it was time to check-in with your passport and Covid vaccination proof.  I used the NHS England app.  After having your photo taken and handed the cruise card, it was up one floor for the rapid lateral flow test and filling in details again, including travel over the previous 14 days.  Once I was given the all-clear, I was met by Dave from Saga PR.  With me was a couple who had won an auction to visit.  Their next cruise will be the 50th with Saga!  I asked if it was alright for me to take a photo of the ship and Dave said fine.  The lady from outside the testing room took me then asked a colleague if it was okay to take me outside, which he agreed to.  Then I rejoined the others.  We boarded the shuttle bus from the terminal to the ship after going through security and were joined by Kimberley Barber from The News, Portsmouth's local paper.

Once reaching the dock, we waited in the shade and were given a drink.  A few Saga people appeared, including Nigel Blanks  Those of us waiting boarded the ship and waited in the Living Room, the atrium of these ships, where we were given drinks and nibbles.  Once everyone had arrived, those who had wanted to set off on the tour with Nigel.  I have included a small selection as there will be a link to the tour at the end.  Afterwards, we returned to the Living Room and given a cool glass of water then headed outside to take our seats for the naming ceremony.

With the heat and lack of breeze, we were extremely grateful for the shade of the ship.  We were occasionally told how many minutes until they went live on Facebook while the crew practiced cheering from the balconies and bow.  Heidi Mallace hosted, beginning with talking to Nick Stace, Paul Potts then the Godmother.  Various short films were interspersed, including the Bottle Relay, which I and members of my I Love Saga Cruises Facebook group had been asked to be part of.  Then it was what we were there for.  Nick Stace began followed by Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson CBE (Portsmouth Council Leader), Captain Kim Tanner and a blessing by the Dean of Portsmouth, The Very Reverend Dr. Anthony Cane.  The Godmother took the podium next to give her speech then name the ship.  The bottle smashed, crew cheered and waved flags, horn blew a lot and pyrotechnics went off.  Paul Potts came on stage to sing the national anthem and then it was all over.

We mingled on the quayside while media interviewed the bigwigs.  I chatted to Kim Tanner, asking about Perla, his adorable parrot named in a passenger competition after the Saga Pearl II.  Nigel kindly agreed to do a short video message for my group members.  All of those staying for lunch slowly made our way back onboard.  Everyone had been allocated a seat.  I was on table 2 with Nigel, the Dean and a journalist I didn't get the name of.  Nick Stace gave a speech, thanking many, including Nigel and the media company.  Slowly, everyone began to say their goodbyes.  I had a chat with Nigel before I had to and he introduced me to Nick Stace.

Then it was time to leave as my car home was booked for 4pm.  I followed John Sergeant down the gangway, had a photo with him and we chatted a while as we waited for another shuttle bus to the terminal.  My driver turned up just after I entered the building.

It was a wonderful day and one I'll remember for the rest of my life.  It was lovely seeing Sarah again in the dining room a month after she was at my house with Stew to film our part of the Bottle Relay.  It was also nice to met Louise Robinson, editor of Saga Magazine and fellow Bottle Relayer.  I couldn't believe how many people who knew I was from Saga and the events company before the naming had begun.

Many thanks to Saga for suggesting me for the Bottle Relay as well as the invitation plus Rebecca, Sarah and Stew for organising and filming the Bottle Relay.  The biggest thank you goes to Lesley Loades, a member of my group who has since become a friend.  Since other cruise lines were all I knew, it was her idea that I wrote to Nigel Blanks in 2018 with my concerns as I approached 50.  Without her, I wouldn't have built up a good relationship with Nigel and Saga so today would never have happened.

For more photos from the Spirit of Adventure guided tour, click here.  The video of the Bottle Relay can be found here while the We Love Saga Cruises Facebook group is here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 19th July 2021
Not to be reproduced without permission