Saga Cruises has marked the keel-laying of its first new luxury boutique river ship, Spirit of the Rhine, with a ceremony at the Vahali shipyard in Serbia.
The ceremony was attended by Robert Goodwin, Saga director of product and purchasing, Andrew Iwasyszyn, head of product and purchasing for Saga River Cruising, Vahali owner Vincent Bekker, and Johan Rijfers of the ship’s Dutch owners, Rijfers River Cruises.
Also on hand was guest of honour 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 cabins 17 metres square – the largest on any ship chartered by the British company, which offers holidays to guests aged over 50.
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 23rd, 2021.
Saga Travel chief executive, Robin Shaw, said: “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.
“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.”