Saga New Ship Verandah

• New Saga ship will be delivered in summer 2019

• All cabins will have balconies

• The boutique ship will have capacity for less than 1,000 passengers

(10:45 a.m. GMT) -- Saga Cruises has today placed an order for a new cruise ship expected to be delivered in Summer 2019 with an option to order a second for delivery in 2021.

The all-balcony ship, which will hold less than 1,000 passengers, will be built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. It will have a combination of 540 suites and cabins, each with a balcony. The new ship -- as-yet-unnamed -- will replace one of the existing two ships in the Saga fleet, Saga Pearl II and Saga Sapphire, according to Saga Cruises CEO Robin Shaw.

If Saga exercises the option to build the second ship, it will replace the other existing ship, Shaw confirmed.

Speaking to Cruise Critic, Shaw said: "We have been looking at this for a long time now. Whenever we have old ships we have taken on an existing platform and made that platform right for our guests, but it has always been working within an existing ship. With a new ship we can design the ship we want, with input from crew, customers and captains."

In a nod to Saga's elderly demographic, around 15 percent -- or 81 cabins -- will be for solo passengers.

Saga New Ship Alfresco Dining

Saga's new ship will have al fresco dining onboard.

There will be single sitting dining throughout a range of restaurants as well as a variety of bars, speciality restaurants and al-fresco dining options. There will also be outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and beauty salon.

The 55,900 GT vessel will be approximately 234 metres long and 30.8 metres wide.

There has long been speculation that Saga will add to its two-ship fleet since Saga Ruby was retired last year.

Saga New Ship Britannia Lounge

The Britannia Lounge onboard Saga's new ship.

Shaw said: "Our plan for the first of our new modern and elegant cruise liners is sure to delight our existing passengers and we hope it will entice new passengers to cruise with us. We will retain an intimate small-ship feel, for fewer than 1,000 passengers, a high crew to customer ratio, great public spaces and entertainment facilities and dining can be accommodated in a single sitting."

-- By Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor