Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

6 2 INTERV IEW SH Minerva’s multifunctional observation lounge can also be used as a lecture theatre During her maiden voyage in January 2022, Swan Hellenic’s newest vessel, SH Minerva, came to a halt to enable guests to admire 20 humpback whales feeding collectively near the Antarctic Peninsula. “We found that they had created a kind of circular vortex of fish to feed from,” says Andrea Zito, CEO of Swan Hellenic, noting that this type of unique experience is just one of many that guests can expect to enjoy while sailing on one of the ship’s itineraries. First established as Swan’s Tours to provide trips from England to Greece in the 1950s, Swan Hellenic has been through several ownership changes and built its first vessel – the original Minerva – in the 1990s when it was under the ownership of V-Ships. Zito, who oversaw the vessel in the 1990s and revived the brand as Swan Hellenic in 2017, is keen to keep its expedition spirit alive by continuing to provide cultural education to guests via the help of expert lecturers and exhibition teams onboard SH Minerva and her two upcoming sister ships. “Guests are looking to buy emotions and memories they can take home – something that cannot be bought in a shop,” says Zito. “You feel the majesty of the Antarctic continent because you find yourself very little in comparison to the height of the mountains – it is an extremely emotional experience. We take guests to see places that other cruise operators cannot reach, offering much more insight.” Built by Helsinki Shipyard in Finland, the new SH Minerva was delivered on 3 December 2021. The 11,000gt ship has 76 cabins, accommodating 152 passengers and 120 crew members. “SH Minerva is classified as a Polar Code class five vessel, the highest class before icebreakers, with strengthened hull and appendages allowing extended operation in the polar areas “ Guests are looking to buy emotions and memories they can take home” Andrea Zito gives Alice Chambers an insight into what guests can expect from Swan Hellenic’s new fleet and itineraries Pioneering cultural and educational explorations