HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has become Godmother to Saga’s new boutique cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, in Dover, Kent.

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Robin Shaw, chief executive officer of Saga Travel, said: “This is an immensely proud moment for Saga. We started this journey to build something special some three and a half years ago, and today, we are honoured to be joined by our Godmother, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

“We firmly believe that Spirit of Discovery creates a new British quality standard in the cruising market, and we can’t wait to welcome guests on board.”

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall joined over 500 guests at Spirit of Discovery’s official naming ceremony which took the form of a quayside garden party. Yorkshire-grown grass adorned the harbour surrounded by traditional bunting, table settings, foliage, florals, trees and parasols.

HRH was given a tour of the ‘contemporary classic’ Spirit of Discovery which has been designed and built to be a British ‘boutique’ hotel on the sea.

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While on board, she met Jools Holland OBE in The Club by Jools, as well as Captain Julian Burgess and crew on the Bridge, and entertainers in the Playhouse, the ship’s theatre.

She also viewed some of the 400 plus pieces of original art commissioned by British-based artists and artisans. They include a striking glass work created by sculptor Peter Layton who was inspired by the Royal Gardens at Highgrove.

Following the tour, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall cut a specially made cake, a two-metre long replica of Spirit of Discovery, designed and made by Mark Tilling, award-winning chocolatier and winner of Bake Off Crème de la Crème.

During the official naming ceremony, HRH and guests were entertained by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood and the Morriston Orpheus Choir.

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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally named Spirit of Discovery with a jeroboam of the specially-blended Hush Heath English sparkling wine, before an eco-confetti cannon fired across the proceedings.

The occasion celebrated the start of a significant new era for Saga Cruises, the only remaining British registered, independent, cruise company. Spirit of Discovery is the first ship to dock and be named at Dover Western Docks following the £250m redevelopment of the area.

Spirit of Discovery’s inaugural cruise, named A British First, will depart Dover on 10 July and sail around the British Isles.

For more information, visit saga.co.uk/cruiseint.