Swan Hellenic — which dates back to the 1950s as a fledgling tour operator and was once part of cruise conglomerate Carnival Corporation — is once again on travel agents’ radar as a growing independent player in the expedition cruise market.
A fresh fleet of newbuild ships from the line comprises the SH Minerva (launched in 2021), and the SH Vega (launched in 2022), with SH Diana on schedule for 2023.
Its initial pair of ships even eclipses the majority of polar-class vessels most of which are PC6, with their PC5 ice-strengthened hulls and extra-large stabilizers. (The lower the polar class number, the more fortified the vessel is considered to be). Swan Hellenic’s third, slightly larger ship will be configured differently as PC6.
Both Minerva and Vega cater to only 152 guests across nine decks, serviced by 120 crew members and featuring a Scandinavian style. Staterooms and suites range in size from about 205 to 527 square feet, sleeping two guests each. By comparison, Diana will carry 192 guests and 140 staff with accommodations for two, sized between about 215 and 505 square feet.
All three ships showcase a trio of dining venues — the Swan Restaurant, Club Lounge and Pool Bar & Grill — and a dozen expedition guides, speakers and lecturers. Diana will also come equipped with a swimming pool, a spa, a sauna, a gym, a library, an expedition lab and a scenic observation lounge, as well as a Multifunctional Room, a Private Dining Room and two Zodiac-alternative tenders above what her sister ships offer.
Itineraries in 2023
Although Swan Hellenic will predominantly focus on polar regions in 2023, the line will expand its offerings between the poles when Diana begins sailing the Mediterranean, as well as to the Red Sea and East Africa. Minerva will explore the Pacific Ocean as part of its 2023 season, while Vega sails the Atlantic and West Africa. Altogether, the line will depart for all seven continents next year.
Highlights will include a special “touching the islands” route from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Cape Town, South Africa, by way of the remote, inhabited archipelago Tristan da Cunha (in the south Atlantic). Other stops include the Conkouati Reserve in the Democrati Republic of the Congo, South Loango National Park in Gabon, and the Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau.
Swan Hellenic's Partnership With SETI
Among the news setting Swan Hellenic apart in the expedition market is the line’s partnership with the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute), but the collaboration isn’t entirely alien in nature. Guests will be able to better understand astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology and planetary science, plus “the quest to find other forms of life within and beyond our solar system,” according to the line.
The partnership also includes the installation of SETI equipment, including advanced telescopes, onboard.
“The SETI Institute’s work brings humanity’s relationship with our planet, our solar system and the universe beyond into focus,” said Bill Diamond, president and CEO of the SETI Institute. “Over 100 Institute scientists strive to understand humankind’s place in the cosmos. Outreach and public engagement are also central to our mission, and we are delighted with the opportunity to have our scientists and thought leaders interact with the curious-minded adventurers who explore with Swan Hellenic.”