The ultimate, bespoke luxury travel experiences in the Spirit of Discovery

If your idea of cruising involves being herded ashore as part of a large group and visiting the usual tourist traps at speed, without getting a real feel of the destination, think again. Saga Cruise‘s new ship, Spirit of Discovery, is all about personal discovery, both on and off-shore.

Read on to learn more and to discover how you could win a £500 hamper!

The boutique, luxury small ship, which was designed exclusively for the British market and will take its maiden voyage in Summer 2019, takes less than 1,000 passengers. Packed with unique features, including a private balcony for every cabin and small enough to sail into ports that larger ships can’t reach, Spirit of Discovery brings passengers closer to the action. This means that guests not only see more places, but can also make the most of precious days – and nights – ashore. Where other cruise liners visit ports for a day, Saga often stays overnight in some of the world’s most interesting destinations so that passengers can get a real flavour of a place.

And imagine, at each destination, being able to have the ultimate, bespoke luxury travel experience which is personally organised for you, by a very special concierge-style service. If you fancy eating ashore one evening or soaking up the local nightlife, that’s no problem. The new Spirit of Discovery boutique small ship takes the whole cruise experience one step further, with its innovative Explore Ashore concept. The brand new service helps create unique trips and experiences, designed for you. From an exclusive dining experience with a local dignitary at Reid’s Palace in Madeira to exploring Lisbon from the side car of a motorcycle, the possibilities are endless.

Uncover hidden gems that you don’t normally see in the guidebooks

The Explore Ashore team, on-board Saga’s Spirit of Discovery, has over 20 years’ local experience across multiple destinations. Their unique little black book is packed with the most amazing experiences and contacts, so they’re best-placed to organise an experience exclusively for you or for a small group. You could stop off in Barcelona and spend time with a top chef, exploring the local markets and discovering the best regional dishes. Alternatively you could set off on a bespoke flightseeing tour, search for humpback whales with a wildlife expert, take a railway journey through the mountains, a wildlife safari in Arctic Norway or an urban safari in New York City. Whatever your idea is, the team can create this for you.

Saga Spirit of Discovery humpback whale

Your previous unique experience could win you a delicious £500 hamper

Not only can you book your place in advance for a cruise that could be packed with your own idyllic, unforgettable travel experiences, but Saga Cruises is also giving away a gift collection of award-winning still and sparkling wines worth £500 from its partners, English wine producers, Hush Heath Estate.

Any special place or experience you have had can give you the chance to win. It may be a special restaurant, bar, or an adventure or cultural experience; if you felt it was unforgettable, you should enter to be in with a chance to win. Your suggestion may even be added to the list of Spirit of Discovery’s Explore Ashore recommendations! Leave your experience in the comments below.

Saga Spirit of Discovery Explore Ashore

Exceptional service and experiences plus a 5% discount

Spirit of Discovery is already taking reservations for 2019 and, for the first 10,000 people, Saga is offering a special advance registration offer of 5% off your first cruise. To find out more click here or call 0800 015 4310 to register and pay a fully refundable £90 per person deposit. Saga will then discount your cruise cost by 5% – one of the perks of registering in advance. Once you’ve done that then you can start thinking about what once-in-a-lifetime bespoke experiences you would like to have. All of this will be handled for you by the Explore Ashore team, whether it’s a personalised paella or meeting some local artisans.

Saga Spirit of Discovery Explore Ashore-1

Don’t forget…

Don’t forget to share your unique experiences below to be in with a chance of winning the Hush Heath Estate hamper worth £500. Your suggestion may even be added to the list of Spirit of Discovery’s Explore Ashore recommendations. Deadline for submissions is 30th September 2017, and a winner will be drawn at random.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Saga Cruises.

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Comments (29)

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  1. When we visited Dubai, we spent a morning at the cultural centre there and it was incredible to learn more about the culture and heritage of the place and the people. We were introduced to the traditional cuisine, got to try on traditional outfits and heard of first hand experiences and had our questions answered. My idea is to seek out cultural centres wherever the cruise visits – eg barcelona etc and find out about the history and culture of a place.

  2. This cruise sounds magical! How fab to see a humpback whale in the wild…
    My unique experience was trekking through the Thai jungle in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. We hiked along ridges and through thick bamboo to an Akha village and learned about their traditional ways of life. We cooked on an open fire, slept in a traditional wooden home and had a fantastic and educational cultural experience. I only wish I’d worn something more practical than a long white skirt and flip flops for the 13 mile hike!

  3. What a wonderful concept. :) In Japan we learnt to fight like Samurais, something that I’ve always wanted to do. The energy of the guy teaching us was something else, I’ll never forget it. He is a renowned sword fight choreographer. We learnt how to hold the sword correctly and also how to use if very deftly. To complete the experience we were also taken to learn how to eat and cook like a Samurai. It was an absolutely amazing experience.

  4. Nadeem Azam says:

    Saga’s Spirit of Discovery seems like an incredible concept!

    I haven’t been on a cruise holiday, but something like this would be right up my street.

    My unique experience was going horse riding and swimming with turtles in Barbados. A truly stunning country, with some of the most affable people I’ve ever crome across. It was the holiday of a lifetime.

  5. Matt Falcus says:

    Great idea! Looking forward to hearing more about Spirit of Discovery!

    My unique experience was in exploring the historic riverside of Porto, where the old port warehouses have been turned into fantastic bars and restaurants which reflect the history and culture of the city, all under the wonderful Dom Luis bridge.

  6. We have just completed our 1st cruise of 50 days, and did one shore excursion and that was in St Petersburg where we had to do the organised tour as we didn’t have visa’s. So why only one in 50 days? For the very reasons that Spirit of Discovery are introducing bespoke tours. We don’t like being herded with the masses, eating a mass tourist cafes, and following the flag around. So yes this is appealing. Our most unique experiences, which we organised ourselves, were cooking schools in Tuscany, and a food walking tour in Athens, and another in Lisbon. Being with locals who not only know food, but know their home towns, gives you a greater insight into a destination.

  7. Linda Thorn says:

    I have not been on a cruise but this memory I would not forget.

    Going to Lapland in a log cabin,
    With the fire burning bright,
    Looking at the mountains glistening,
    What a wonderful sight!

    Seeing the streams not flowing covered in ice,
    And seeing my children falling over not once but twice,
    And as I leave the cabin I touch the icy prickling snow
    And noticed my children’s faces all aglow,

    Silver trunks of trees glowing at night
    Snow covered landscapes very bright
    Seeing the northern lights
    The tranquil lights mark the passing of time.

    I watched the skiing joy of the mountains outside,
    Through a gleaming window Cold as ice,
    I guess life would never be the same
    Having this memory of snow on an icy plane.

  8. Kate Green says:

    I love this idea! In Iceland we stayed off the beaten track in the middle of nowhere- there was nothing else around to cause light pollution so when the Northern Lights appeared we were able to watch the magical display from the comfort of our own balcony without crowds of other people. It was a very romantic and enchanting.

  9. Silke says:

    I love cruising! We have so far cruised in the South Pacific and the Mediterranean and have never been disappointed. The trick is to leave the masses behind and go off the beaten path. This worked particularly well in Kotor, Montenegro, where we were the first off the ship to climb the famous city walls. Not only were we undisturbed by our fellow passengers, we also enjoyed the fresh morning air in the shadow of the mountains. An unforgettable experience!

  10. Julie says:

    One of my favourite experiences so far happened on my last visit to Paris. I was looking for a place to eat that was not overtaken by tourists and that afforded me the opportunity to dine on traditional French cuisine. I was recommended a little bistro called La Poulet Pot which was hidden away in the backstreets of Paris. I soon found out why this was the favourite haunt of all the chefs on Paris for their after work feed. A very memorable occasion was had.

  11. Pam Smith says:

    We’re very lucky that we occasionally get to teach ukulele on cruise ships. Our favourite so far has been sailing from Tahiti to Singapore….it was magical.

  12. Saga’s Spirit of Discovery sounds like a very good concept! We have been on a cruise holiday only once and loved it.

    One of the most unique experiences from our travels has been spending a night under the open sky in the deserts of Rajasthan. It was just the two of us with our guide and his helper. We only had sleeping bags and lay down in the middle of nowhere with a sky full of stars and beautiful silence! It was absolutely magical!

  13. Lesley Smith says:

    Many moons ago I was in Santa Cruz in the North of Tenerife. We liked to eat out in the old town as there were fantastic restaurants. One night on a stroll through the old part of town we stumbled across a local bar, with musicians playing. We sat next to a travel journalist who was propping up the bar and he had been ther a while. Apart from him we were the only tourists in the place. We had several rounds of drinks and enjoyed the festivities as they were having a party. When we came to leave and pay for the drinks this was refused as they were celebrating the bars birthday and everything was on the house. A marvellous night and such unexpected hospitality.

  14. I loved seeing the Valley of the Kings from a Hot Air Balloon at sunrise. Going to see Tuts. and Ramses tombs later was great too. Yes Egypt was fun and interesting.

  15. Simon Champion says:

    Visiting Tiritiri Matangi island off the coast of Aukland, New Zealand. It’s an isolated nature reserve, and a genuinely magical place to visit.

  16. Gemma Gautier says:

    The most magical moment of our honeymoon in Mauritius was going to La Vanille Nature Reserve and meeting all the giant tortoises. We felt so lucky to be around these amazing creatures, and especially getting to meet and feed Domino, who’s 107 years old!

  17. Marvi says:

    I haven’t been on a cruise ship before but I sure would love to experience one. The way you describe this cruise is awesome! I remember in Mount Pulag (Philippines), we trek for 2 hours (early morning) from our camping area to the summit to witness the sea of clouds. It was so amazing that you will definitely remember to be thankful for the good things in life! <3

  18. Kevin Wagar says:

    I love the idea of a small ship that visit unique places! As for a unique experience, we visited Petra with our children a few years ago. It was during the height of the Arab uprising, so the place was almost empty of tourists. Our guide was amazing and brought us for tea in the Petra cave that he used to call home. We even got to join him and meet his family for tea in the nearby village that they moved to after the Bedouins in Petra were resettled.

  19. Lauren Jordan says:

    Sky diving over Byron Bay, Australia. One of the best moments of my life and I’d recommend it to anyone, young or old. Life is for living!

  20. Jennie Clark says:

    An amazing day trip to Westray, part of the Orkney Islands, and an excursion there which took in some hidden gems – a local man, Graham Maben, with a Leyland DAF minibus who knew every nook and cranny and how to get there. We saw amazing bird life, wild flowers and historic monuments including Noltland Castle. One of those days when you feel really privileged to have been privy to such gems. The man’s wife made us an amazing lunch which we ate, sat on a cliff top watching the Puffins at play. So special!

  21. Long Nguyen says:

    My most amazing moment was the time we visited Cat Tien national park, a primitive rain forest in Vietnam. We sprayed a bit of perfume on our hair and hundreds of butterflies just stayed around us. They thought we were flowers.

  22. Christy says:

    I have been on 8 cruises, but never on a Saga ship yet. This new ship looks like it has a lot of things I like. I’ve been on some of the mega “floating city” ships (just off Independence of the Seas, in fact) but I think now I’ve come to the conclusion I prefer the smaller, more intimate ships. Spirit of Discovery looks exactly like what I need in a cruise ship, and summer 2019 works out perfectly for me. I’m guessing her maiden voyage is already booking up quickly, but I’ll be looking into that. I have to have a balcony cabin though, there is nothing like sipping a cocktail on your own private balcony in the evening watching the sun set.

    Swimming with dolphins is one of my most unique experiences. I’ve never seen it offered on a cruise ship yet; often there is dolphin watching, but rarely can you enjoy going in the water with them.

  23. What a fantastic cruise! My most recent cruise experience was very different – just as well I don’t get seasick because our very small vessel bobbed around on heavy seas like a cork in a bottle as we headed from Lord Howe Island across a VERY deep sea trench to Balls Pyramid, world’s highest rock stack! A fantastic experience – but I can’t quite see it making it onto the Spirit of Discovery offshore itinerary :D

  24. Anisa says:

    Sounds like a great cruise. One of my favorite luxury experiences was a helicopter ride over Niagara falls. It was just amazing seeing the falls from above, definitely something I will always remember.

  25. Kelly says:

    Wow, this all looks amazing. I’d love to spend time with a top chef in Barcelona, or really any fabulous foodie city in Europe!

  26. liz Cleland says:

    When I was in the Dominican Republic I snorkeled for the first time. It was so scary and worth every second. To overcome fear and enjoy marine life.

  27. Our favourite moment was when we were staying in rustic hut accommodation in Thailand on a private beach, and we collected wood to make a fire. We drank local beers and had a fresh seafood bbq – the atmosphere was just incredible and we could have stayed there forever!

  28. Jane M says:

    I love that cruise companies are taking things to the next level and appealing to more adventurous travellers these days.

    My unique experience was on an island in Cambodia with no running water or electricity – Koh Ta Kiev. We went midnight swimming in the warm ocean to have our first experience with phosphorescence.

    Though it was, admittedly, a little freaky wading into the inky black ocean, once the water started to glow and sparkle at our touch, we were mesmerized.

    Jane M

  29. Karen Deighton says:

    To ride on the Funicular Railway in Naples was very interesting as very few Tourists were on the Train. After we got off the Train we went to the Castel which had fantastic views over Naples and Vesuvius. Fantastic day and very peaceful and there is also a Museum in the Castel as well.

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