The boss of Saga believes the company’s new 999-passenger capacity ship will transform the business.

Saga Cruises took another historic step on Thursday towards building its first-ever ship after holding a keel-laying ceremony in Papenburg, Germany.

The event at Meyer Werft’s shipyard marked the official start of construction of 999-passenger capacity vessel Spirit of Discovery.

The keel-laying ceremony sees a commemorative coin stamped with the ship’s name and the keel-laying date.

The ship, containing 107 single cabins, will be delivered in Bremerhaven, Germany, on June 20 2019.

Lance Batchelor, Saga’s group chief executive, said: “Our decision to bring two new boutique cruise ships – Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure is in response to overwhelming customer demand.

“It will be truly transformational for our business.

“Both ships have been designed to epitomise Saga’s unique British boutique cruising concept and are the only small, new, luxury ships to be built for the British market.”

Nigel Banks, chief operating officer for Saga Cruises, said the company would continue to reveal features up until the launch of Spirit of Discovery.