On Saturday, March 19, the two newest riverboats of Saga Cruises UK - the sisterships Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine, were officially named by Godmother Dame Jennifer Susan Murray (Jenni Murray) in an official joint-christening ceremony in Arnhem (Netherlands).
The planned introduction of Saga's Spirit of the Danube was announced back in February 2021 and the vessel has since been under construction at the Vahali shipyards (Serbia) and The Netherlands (outfitting).
The ceremony was attended by 100+ people who have been involved in the ship’s build and design. The event included speeches from Saga Cruise’s Commercial Director Peter Wright, CEO of Rijfers Nautical Management Otto Groen, and owner of Vahali shipyard Vincent Bekker.
With designs especially inspired by the nature and culture along the iconic waterways, both new riverboats have been built with passengers central to their design. Each riverboat has 4 passenger decks and 91 staterooms, and a max capacity of 182 passengers and 50 crew.
The ceremony was held on Saturday afternoon in Arnhem. In line with naval tradition, a special blessing was offered for safe sailing and good fortune, marked with the smashing of a bottle on the hulls of the ships - completed by Godmother, Dame Jenni Murray, who was given a tour of the ships and their distinct features.
Dame Jennifer Susan Murray/Jenni Murray (1950-born) is an English journalist, broadcaster and author. She was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1999, and DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2011. Both are British orders of chivalry rewarding contributions to arts, sciences, charitable and welfare works, and public service outside the military. Jenni Murray is best known as the presenter/host of BBC Radio 4's 60-minute program "Woman's Hour" (health-education-culture-politics-themed topics aimed at women) in the period 1987-2020.
After the naming ceremony, Spirit of the Danube embarked on the 7-day "Dutch & Belgian Waterways" Maiden Voyage (March 21), before Spirit of the Rhine embarks on her next 7-night "Keukenhof & Dutch Delights" itinerary.