Earlier this year, I was invited to Papenburg in Germany to witness construction of the newest vessel in the SAGA Cruises fleet. By the time you read this, Spirit of Discovery will be escorting guests in comfort around far-flung destinations including Scandinavia, the Canaries, New York and the Caribbean.
Believe it or not, Spirit of Discovery is relatively compact for a cruise ship.
As one of two vessels offering what SAGA describe as “boutique luxury at sea”, the newest addition to the fleet weighs in at a relatively demure 58,250 tonnes, and accommodates 999 passengers and 505 crew.
With a little imagination, it’s possible to
envisage the ship’s vast interior playing host to five high-class restaurants, a spa, a library
and a theatre.
Each cabin has a private balcony and there’s a chance you’ll find a certain well-known jazz pianist providing entertainment at The Club by Jools.
Not that this was foremost in my mind as I watched skilled workers painstakingly assemble this 775-foot long floating hotel.
Many areas of the completed vessel will be seen by only specialist crew, so it was a privilege to photograph the miles of cable and sci-fi film sets that are now concealed behind opulent décor. Should I ever find myself on a SAGA cruise, I will enjoy reminiscing about the time I spent investigating the origins of the Spirit of Discovery.
Returning in late spring to the family-run vineyard that first featured in the previous issue of this newsletter, I photographed the delicate business of bud rubbing, which involves the removal of shoots and buds that are starting to grow on the lower parts of the vines. This process helps direct energy and nutrients into the grapes and canopy during their critical growth period. With warm weather and plenty of sunshine forecast, hopes were high for a bumper harvest. Join me in the next edition of A Photographer’s Notebook to see how picking season unfolded.