Interior View: Saga Cruises’ Spirit of the Danube

The boutique interiors onboard the river cruise vessel are inspired by the areas it will visit

Interior View: Saga Cruises’ Spirit of the Danube

Chris Kennedy

A colour palette of pastel pinks, greens and soft greys run throughout Spirit of the Danube’s interiors

By Alice Chambers |

First established in 1997, Saga Cruises has since expanded to provide ocean cruises to destinations around the world, as well as itineraries along key European rivers. On 19 March 2021, Saga christened its first purpose-built river cruise newbuilds, Spirit of the Rhine and Spirit of the Danube, both of which were designed by Cubik³, outfitted by Vista Interior Projects, constructed by Vahali Shipyards and named after the rivers they will operate on.  

“With designs inspired by the nature and culture found along the iconic waterways, both ships have been built with guests central to their design,” says Saga Holidays on the Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine. 

Spirit of the Danube, for example, builds on the boutique design of Saga’s ocean-going vessels, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery, by using unique artwork, a subtle yet mature colour palette, and bold patterns to create public areas and cabins that provide a strong sense of personality and reflect the character of the destinations along the Danube River. 

The vessel accommodates 182 guests across four passenger decks, allowing Saga to prioritise the delivery of an individualised service. Some of the onboard highlights include a sundeck with a hot tub and barbecue, an indoor and outdoor terrace, a library, a gym, lounges and restaurants. 

Pastel pinks, greens and soft greys have been used throughout onboard areas to create a sense of continuity, with various areas being characterised by featured artwork and different shades of colour. For example, the Panorama Restaurant, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, is decorated with light greens, pinks and greys to create a relaxing environment, while the Lorelei Lounge incorporates pale orange and leaf-based-patterned flooring to offer a modern and inviting area. Meanwhile, artwork has been used to bring the three main colours together in the smaller Delta restaurant, primarily through a floor-to-ceiling peacock piece. 

Both the colour palette and the theme of nature continue into the guest cabins via the use of bird artwork and patterned carpets. The migratory birds displayed in the artwork reflect the pelicans, herons and cormorants that are native to the Danube Delta, which Spirit of the Danube will visit as part of its itineraries. 

All cabins also offer guests a view of the riverbank. Those on the upper and middle decks are 17 metres square and feature French balconies, while those on the lower deck are 14 metres square with windows.  

The asymmetrical shapes, extensive arches and curves, and plant-like embellishments used throughout Spirit of the Danube are characteristic of the late 19th-century architecture in Vienna, Austria, one of the cities that the vessel also visits on its itineraries. 

Vienna’s Art Nouveau buildings are also reflected in the distinctive artwork collection Saga has carefully curated onboard. Artists include Beth Nicholas, who has used ink and liquid lead and the theme of nature in her pieces; Michelle McKinney, who has used contemporary industrial materials to create a delicate 3D bird composition; and Ann Bubis, who has created a mosaic representing the Danube River and the places of interest that run along it. In addition, Claire Brewster has used entomological installations to depict the Danube region in 3D in the upper reception area, while Andrew Malone has repurposed books and paper to create fun pieces of artwork that reflect the bird theme for the corridors. 

“Our guests want an exceptional experience when they cruise with us and so our ships are designed exclusively with them in mind,” says Nigel Banks, CEO of Saga Cruises. “Built with a boutique design philosophy, everything from the artwork to the cabins and facilities offer a luxury cruise experience on Europe's famous riverways.”

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.   

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