Riverboat Spirit of the Rhine Keel Laid

Crews at the Vahali shipyard in Serbia laid the keep for Saga Cruises’ first new luxury boutique river ship, the Spirit of the Rhine, on Dec. 11.

Robert Goodwin, Saga’s director of product and purchasing, attended the ceremony, as did Andrew Iwasyszyn, head of product and purchasing for Saga River Cruising, Vahali owner Vincent Bekker, Johan Rijfers of the ship’s Dutch owners Rijfers River Cruises, and guest of honor Gilles Beschoor Plug, the Netherlands Ambassador to Serbia.

In the shipyard’s production hall, the guests watched a crane lower the first part of the keel onto a lucky coin.

Spirit of the Rhine will have a capacity of 190 passengers, in 17 square meter cabins – the largest on any ship chartered by the British company.

The Rhine and Dutch waterways will feature regularly in Spirit of the Rhine’s inaugural season, which will begin with a six-night voyage on March 23, 2021.

“This is another historic landmark in Saga Cruises’ history – our first new-build river ship which will echo the luxury styling of our new ocean ships Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure,” said Saga Travel CEO Robin Shaw. “Saga has chartered river ships for many years, so we are thrilled to take another giant step to build a river ship to our own specifications to transfer Saga Cruises’ renowned quality of service, accommodation and cuisine across to river vessels.”

All Spirit of the Rhine cruises will be full-board and include wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and free tea, coffee and water, plus a VIP car service. Saga offers holidays to guests aged over 50

Most cabins will have a French balcony with floor to ceiling windows, and facilities will include a lounge, a library area, a spacious main restaurant, a reservation-only restaurant with show cooking, and a large sun deck with a hot tub and barbecue. The ship will also have a gym area and lift, while wifi will be available throughout.

Other cruises during the year will be joined by TV gardening celebrity Charlie Dimmock, art and antiques expert Raj Bisram, wine connoisseur Jilly Goolden, cricketer and commentator Jonathan Agnew, DJ Johnnie Walker, celebrity chef Nick Nairn and broadcast journalists Alastair Stewart and John Sergeant.

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